Start-ups dive into pitches in Boston’s ‘Shark Tank’
Highlights from Scott Kirsner's Innovation Economy blog.
Five Boston start-ups and one from Manhattan made pitches to a panel of Boston investors Thursday in a session modeled after the ABC reality show "Shark Tank." The investors had promised to invest as much as $100,000 in the start-ups, which they had selected from 70 applicants.
They blew past that goal.
The investor group included Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot, Dave Balter of Boston Seed Capital, and Fred Destin of Atlas Venture.
Shah offered to invest $29,000 in the digital marketing start-up Jebbit and $28,000 in CoachUp, a marketplace for private sports coaches.
Gus Weber of Polaris Ventures (who was not present) offered $10,000 to Sidewalk, which helps start-ups sell to local businesses.
Balter, chief executive of BzzAgent as well as a partner in Boston Seed Capital, said his firm would invest $150,000 in Timbre, a music app developed by Intrepid Pursuits, while Destin offered to put in $200,000.
Balter offered $25,000 to NBD Nanotechnologies on behalf of Boston Seed. Arcbazar, focused on connecting consumers with architects, piqued the interest of Destin at Atlas, Google Ventures, and Lucy McQuilken of Intel Capital, but did not get any investment offers.
Each entrepreneur had four minutes to pitch to the investors, followed by a few minutes of Q&A. Here are summaries of their presentations:
■ Sidewalk helps salespeople sell to local businesses more efficiently. Cofounder Avand Amiri said Sidewalk is hoping to raise $400,000, half of which is already committed. It is based in New York, with team members in Boston and San Francisco.
■ Jebbit helps advertisers ensure users are learning about their products, rather than ignoring online ads, by offering users financial rewards. Initially targeting college students. Bose, Zipcar, and Coca-Cola are among the 50-plus companies that have tried the service. It is hoping to raise $250,000, with $125,000 committed.
■ NBD Nanotechnologies: “We pull water from the air,” said founder Deckard Sorensen, using nanotechnology that mimics the way beetles in the Namib Desert extract humidity from desert air. The company plans to license its technology to others. One application would be for irrigation, another for a selfrefilling two-liter water bottle. The company is seeking to raise $1 million.
■ Timbre: It’s an iPhone app that presents information about live music shows near you, including song samples and ticket purchases. About 70,000 users have downloaded the app, founder Mark Kasdorf said. The company was seeking to raise $300,000, in part to make the app available in other countries and on the Android operating system.
■ Arcbazar is creating a competition platform for architectural design services thatwould provide clients with multiple conceptual designs for a given project. So far, the start-up has distributed $200,000 in prize money to participating architects for more than 200 projects. (The top three designs split the prize money.) Arcbazar pockets between 15 and 25 percent of the prize money offered. Arcbazar is hoping to raise $2 million, but founder Imdat As asked for $100,000 in exchange for 2 percent of the start-up’s common stock. That didn’t fly.
■ CoachUp, an online marketplace, helps athletes achieve their potential by finding private coaches. Revenues are growing 50 percent month-over-month; and are now at about $17,000. The company has previously raised $488,000. Founder Jordan Fliegel said he is seeking $1.25 million.