Today's roundtable, as usual, was an international affair, with entrepreneurs presenting from different parts of the US, India, Israel, and many other geographies. Before I share what we heard from them today, I want to highlight an important aspect of 1M/1M that is repeatedly underscored in these roundtables: the international, inclusive, democratic nature of the initiative.
In fact, one of the best ways we can delineate this phenomenon is by contrasting 1M/1M with YCombinator. (Video after the jump.)
This short video explains how the two programs differ:
Bottomline: YC, superb incubator, is a program that applies to less than .01% of entrepreneurs, whereas 1M/1M is an inclusive, global program. The businesses we will discuss today will put this distinction in perspective.
First, Sudhendra Seshachala from Houston, Texas pitched Hooduku, a professional services business that already has significant revenue from cloud integration work. Hooduku is a 1M/1M premium member and is interested in moving away from pure services toward a product+services model.
Sudhi presented the idea of a platform that bridges between Microsoft Azure customers who are also using RackSpace and other Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers for their content management and delivery. He uses a classic and highly successful mode of building products, that of being deeply immersed in customer situations through services projects and using that domain knowledge and relationship to identify opportunities for building products. A major example of such a company is Appirio, which went on to get funded by Sequoia Capital and has since built a strong product-services company in the cloud integration domain.
My advice to Sudhi is to not position his company as a 'platform' but rather pitch the value proposition as an 'integration framework'. These subtle wordings make a huge difference in how a company is viewed.
Buy Or Boycott
Next Doug Lowenthal from Jacksonville, Florida presented Buy Or Boycott, which he came up with at the recent Startup Weekend program. Buy Or Boycott wants to offer consumers an easy way to avoid buying products that have major issues, be it political or environmental. However, the user experience that Doug described to deliver this was not convincing. He proposes to offer a mobile app with which to scan every product in your grocery store shopping cart. I don't believe consumers would do this. When we stand on grocery store lines after a long day or week, the last thing we want to do is scan a bunch of products with our mobile phones.
Then Kaushik Mitra from New Delhi, India, pitched the NXI Group of Companies, a custom hardware vendor that presented itself as a laptop and tablet company. It took me a bit of time to parse through the details and figure out that NXI is NOT a laptop or tablet vendor competing with HP, Dell and Acer. Rather, it is developing custom hardware for consumers with specific needs. For example, they are in the midst of developing RFID-enabled tablets for the universal ID effort by the Indian government.
Kaushik's company already has $400,000 in revenue, and while the business is not a typical venture-fundable one, I see no reason why the company cannot continue to grow in its niche.
Last, Edoe Cohen from Tel Aviv, Israel pitched Koolaring, a SaaS solution for building private alumni networks a la LinkedIn. I have seen numerous startups with this general idea. It makes perfect sense for universities to have their own private alumni networks, and it is only a matter of time before they do. Whether Koolaring will be the winner in that space or not will depend on execution.
So you see, I just shared with you four businesses, none of which would suit YCombinator for a variety of reasons outlined in the video. However, 1M/1M is delighted to help any and all of them.
You can listen to the recording of today's roundtable here. As always, I would very much like to hear about your business, so let me invite you to come and pitch at one of our free 1M/1M public roundtables. We will be holding future roundtables on the following dates starting at 8:00 a.m. PST:
Thursday, February 9, Register Here.
Thursday, February 16, Register Here.
Thursday, February 23, Register Here.
If you want a deeper relationship with me, you are very welcome to join the 1M/1M premium program. If you have any questions about the program, please, first study the website, especially What to expect from the 1M/1M premium program and the FAQs. If you have additional questions, please email me, and I would be very happy to respond. Please note that I work exclusively with 1M/1M entrepreneurs.
I also invite you to join the 1M/1M mailing list for the ease and convenience of getting updates. This way we can stay in touch, and it will help you to decide if 1M/1M is a program for you.