Last night the Founder Showcase held its quarterly event in Mountain View, featuring pitches by ten seed-stage startups, as well as talks by Maholo CEO Jason Calacanis and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. The Founder Showcase is an open start-up pitch and networking event, hosted by TheFunded, a community of over 14,500 registered CEOs to rate sources of venture capital and discuss issues and strategies related to small businesses.
Calanis kicked off the event with a talk full of advice and attitude. Calacanis told his personal history of entrepreneurship and shared his thoughts on what he calls the “pay-to-pitch scam.” He also stressed the importance of entrepreneurs “knowing when you suck” and figuring out how to improve it and the value of being “persistent humble and classy.”
Following his talk were the pitches by the ten startups, judged by a panel including Calacanis, journalist Sarah Lacy, VC George Zachary from Charles River Ventures, VC Rebecca Lynn from Morgenthaler Ventures, and VC Jed Katz from Javelin Venture Partners.
The ten companies pitching were:
- Geotoko, aplatform for location-based contests and sweepstakes
- TouristWay, a tool to help travel agents build websites
- TribeVibe, a tool to help track social media influence
- Seeport, a video telepresence technology
- Ergolution, an online assessment tool to help eliminate workplace injuries
- MediaShares, a way to crowdfund an SEC-approved IPO on your website
- FatPencil, an online tool for pilots to log flight information
- Liv, a social shopping tool
- Aprendi Learning, a service to help universities build scalable online courses
- ShareSquare, a way to link print promotions to the mobile web
The winner of the pitch event was Seeport, whose video-over-IP tool impressed both the panelists and the audience with its plans to build an electronic device that was easily adoptable by a non-techie consumer.
Following the pitches, Sarah Lacy interviewed Tesla CEO Elon Musk about his thoughts on risk, entrepreneurship, and investment. Echoing Calacanis, Musk stressed the importance of the relationship between investor and entrepreneur. Speaking about his desire to build big, world-changing companies, Musk offered those present the following advice: “Starting companies is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.”
Shards of glass and the abyss of death aside, the event offered a lot of advice for the startups onstage and the entrepreneurs in the audience. As Geotoko co-founder Rasheed Akhtar said, “these sorts of networking events are important for meeting people, sharing ideas, and seeing what others in your space are working on.”