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August 15, 2014

StartupCamp9 Judges and Audience Split on Winner

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

StartupCamp9, the incredibly popular version of Shark Tank which drew its usual packed and raucous crowd at the recently concluded ITEXPO in Las Vegas was a classic case of “different strokes for different folks.”

Judges Brad Bush (News - Alert), CMO at GENBAND; Dave McLaughlin, founder and CEO at Vsnap (former Startup Camp participant) ; and Catharine Trebnick, senior research analyst for Wall Street firm Dougherty & Co. were wowed by a solution aimed at enhancing caller ID capabilities and the ability to leverage it for more context-rich and accurate user profiles for contact centers. The audience however was more impressed, possibly showing a sensitivity and preference to solving personal experience challenges than practical business ones, with ONKOL’s Internet of Things (IoT) hub for helping primary care givers stay alert to status issues regarding the elderly whose primary care is done at home rather than in assisted living or nursing home setting.

As a participant in the audience voting myself, it is worth noting that all three of the three minute pitches were quite good. Not only did they impress the judges and audience but they made picking a winner extremely difficult. This included, the pitch from runner-up helloMD, whose solution to match well-heeled overseas patients with top U.S. doctors certainly is looking at what is a lucrative opportunity regardless of how one feels about the accessibility of quality healthcare.  

In the name of full disclosure, I voted with the judges. That said, however, my take on why these two resonated is they are aimed at two huge and growing sweet spots that are ripe with innovation because of their growing criticality.

Next Caller, an enabler for building better user profiles that can help contact center agents be better informed and hence provide enhanced customer experiences, represents where innovation in the contact center is at where it is heading - along with provisioning omni-channel interactive capabilities. Knowledge is power, and giving agents more user context is key to upping customer satisfaction scores. Plus, upping the accuracy of caller ID means less time spent asking people for the basics when they call, freeing agents to be responsive to issues rather than becoming data takers. 

The ONKOL solution, as noted above, speaks to a real need that IoT/M2M is ideal for. As the baby boomer generation deals with pressing issues regarding their parents health and as the population considered elderly explodes over the next many years, being alerted in a real-time and inexpensive manner of changes in behavior or health status is the next great frontier of telemedicine. The trick is to get those being monitored to agree to use the technology. And, while there a lot of effort going into this around the world as a prime driver of home automation and at a host of price points, ONKOL may be on to something here due to its simplicity and functionality for the care giver and lack of need for elderly interaction with the technology, and the relative low cost for implementation.

In short, two great opportunities that are aimed at totally different but growing markets, and two companies to keep an eye. Congratulations to the winners. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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