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September 21, 2012

Young Companies Find Opportunity, Investors and Success at ITEXPO's StartupCamp

By Amanda Ciccatelli, TMCnet Web Editor

As the world’s largest communications and technology event, ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers a variety of exhibitions, keynote sessions and resources for the communications and technology community each year. Specifically for companies looking to get their start, StartupCamp is a forum hosted in conjunction with ITEXPO that targets early-stage entrepreneurs in communication technology. At StartupCamp, industry leaders, investors, developers and media can all come together to network and validate entrepreneur pitches for startup companies and ideas.

TMCnet recently sat down with two companies that attended StartupCamp at ITEXPO West 2011 to find out how their businesses are doing now.

As the winner of the 2011 StartupCamp, Flash Valet, a provider of valet parking mobile management solutions, was officially founded in June.

These days, Flash Valet gives valet parking customers ultimate convenience by requesting their car and the option to pay and tip right from their mobile phone.  Through Flash Valet’s SaaS (News - Alert) cloud-based solution, valet parking providers can track vehicles in real-time to control and boost revenue, manage employees’ time and attendance, and accept credit cards through mobile payments.

“Flash Valet handles both sides of the coin: the valet parking customer’s experience as well as the valet parking provider’s experience,” Juan Rodriguez, co-founder of Flash Valet, told TMCnet in an exclusive interview.

At StartupCamp last October, the young company had a product in the beta stage and just one customer based in Austin, Tex. Participating in StartupCamp allowed it to make strong connections. At the forum, Rodriguez even met a gentleman who became Flash Valet’s first investor that enabled the company’s establishment.

Since starting up Flash Valet, the company has expanded from Austin to multiple U.S. cities as well as internationally, with locations in Chicago, Atlanta, Birmingham, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Miami, San Antonio, San Diego, West Palm Beach, Scotsdale, and even London. Flash Valet is currently working with some of the large providers in the U.S. with thousands of valet locations. “We expect to be in at least 40 cities in the next eight to 12 months,” said Rodriguez.

Today, valet parking companies choose to work with the company because it provides convenience for the customer as well as revenue control, time and attendance and hourly rate services for the valet parking companies.

Recently, Flash Valet secured a $1.25 million Series A round of funding. Led by Trellis Partners, with participation from Austin Ventures, G51 Capital, and 186K Ventures, the funding will support development and expansion of the parking technology into new markets.

Another company that came out of ITEXPO West StartupCamp 2011 with great success is call recording provider Calltrunk.

The company not only provides call recording, but also allows users to store calls online, search them for information and share the ones that you want to. With Calltrunk, users can make a call using any phone and no matter how or where the call is made because the recordings are stored in a single secure account in the cloud.

Calltrunk was in the midst of reexamining its targeted customer base, and StartupCamp really helped the company commit to an SME customer focus.

“The feedback we got from StartupCamp was essentially pointed us in one of several possible directions, and we came to the conclusion that it was the right one,” commented Paul Murphy, co-founder & CEO of Calltrunk.  “This change has put us on very solid ground from both a revenue and investment perspective.”

Since that time, Calltrunk has executed on that decision and is in the process of raising money with several new partnerships as well as new clients. Calltrunk’s business success is even better than the company had hoped after its participation in last year’s StartupCamp.  “We are really happy with where we are,” said Murphy.

Recently, Calltrunk was selected as a winner of the 2012 LT-Innovate Award at the recent Language Technology Innovation Summit held in Brussels, Belgium for ARGO Search, a tool that allows users to search recordings for spoken words, phone numbers and dates associated with a conversation, i.e. the audio recording, call notes, transcriptions, and meta-data. Murphy concluded, “We are by far the smallest company to have won this award.”

StartupCamp6: Comms Edition is happening Oct. 4, 2012 in Austin, TX. Don’t miss it!

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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