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October 05, 2010

ITEXPO: Companies Present Business Plans to StartupCamp 2 Crowd and Panel

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines

StartupCamp 2 was rockin’ last night. The event, collocated with ITEXPO (News - Alert) this week in Los Angeles, featured five upstart companies doing rapid-fire presentations to a standing-room-only crowd.

New companies AdelaVoice, cloud telecomputers, GroupMe, VAL 9000 and Vokle (News - Alert) each had a few minutes to explain their business plans to the audience and a panel.

The panel consisted of Andy Abramson, blogger for VoIPWatch; Jeff Bonforte, CEO of Xobni, the event’s keynote speaker; Brett Shockley (News - Alert), vice president of emerging products and technology at Avaya, and the founder and former head of Spanlink; and Scott Wharton, CEO of VidTel. Following the presentations, the audience and panel were invited to ask questions and, at the end, vote for the companies they think have the best potential.

This group of companies was selected to participate in StartupCamp 2, which was sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent, Skype (News - Alert) and twilio, from a group of 35 applicants.

Representing AdelaVoice at StartupCamp 2 was John Nogrady, co-founder and vice president of business development. A company that went live just last week, AdelaVoice offers a voice-to- web texting solution to help reduce driver distraction due to texting. Nogrady provided some statistics on driver texting, such as the fact that more than half of adults have texted while driving, motorists are four times more likely to get into an accident if texting while driving, and 86 percent of teens text and drive although they understand the risks. Nogrady concluded that AdelaVoice believes people will be willing to pay for the ability to reach these drivers.

Jim Willenborg told the audience about cloud telecomputers, which offers an Android (News - Alert)-based business phone. He said the company designed its solution with the assumption that there’s a computer on the desk and a smartphone in the user’s pocket. But despite all that, he said, the phones on employee desks still look like they have for years. The phone from cloud telecomputers offers an intuitive interface and CRM/Salesforce integration. And while the company put together both the hardware and software for the solution, Willenborg said cloud telecomputers is really a software company and would like to license its software to other companies – namely Avaya.

Also in this mix last night was GroupMe. Brandon Keene, the company’s vice president of engineering, explained the company’s solution to enable free group texting and free conference calls via a unique number that offers “an open communications channel to everyone in your life.” It works on every phone (not just smartphones) with texting, he said, noting there are 240 million “dumb phones” in use today. GroupMe matters, he said, because people create groups with people they actually know, people they interact with every day. And he talked about how this technology could be used to allow parents of athletes to easily communicate, friends to connect for outings, and third parties to offer these groups special promotions tied into their locations and numbers. The company’s technology enables that through short messaging and in real time, he added, noting that 97 percent of SMS transmissions are read within two minutes.

Richard Koffler, co-founder and executive VAL 9000, told the crowd about his company’s solution, which enables doctors and others in the health care space to call in to a system to access healthcare records on particular patients and offer guidance on the treatments of those patients. What’s great about it, he said, is it allows authorized parties to access the information wherever they are and whatever they’re doing, even if they don’t have access to a computer and keyboard. It’s also nice, he added, because no training is required to use it – everyone knows how to talk.

The solution includes a conversation engine, a rules engine and data interfaces engine. And because it’s hosted in the cloud, there’s no capex investment for the infrastructure on the health care organization’s part. While VAL 9000 is self-funded, Koffler said, the company is looking for OEM relationships and customers. Its target is organizations like nursing homes, he said.

Vokle also used StartupCamp 2 as a forum to promote its business. Edward Dekeratry, co-founder of the organization, said Vokle is staging a fight against uni-directional broadcast communications. The company offers a live blog casting feature that opens events to audience members, which as a result can ask questions and make comments via video. Vokle aims to address the needs of film/music/merchandisers, virtual town halls, and content creators, he said. Dekeratry foresees Vokle customers using this feature as part of free events with video ads, paid subscription content that is ad-free, ticketed events to desirable speakers, and merchandising efforts. The company, which launched in December 2009, already has logged more than five million visits, gets significant traffic from Twitter, and has been used by the Huffington Post.

Edited by Tammy Wolf


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