Tuesday, August 14, 2012
LA Technology Scene: StartEngine Entrepreneurs Mix It Up With Mentors
Story by Travis Oberlander
It's a warm summer night in Westwood and 35 entrepreneurs are mingling with a collection of the new SoCal silicon-set. StartEngine, the startup accelerator, which launched earlier this year with ten hopeful businesses, is now in the middle of its third and largest class to date. At a recent Mentor Mixer for the accelerator, held last Thursday, the group ran through pitches and mixed and mingled with mentors.
"I'm really excited for them," said Howard Marks, StartEngine's co-founder and patron saint. "They're already having a lot of interaction with mentors, some of them have customers and traction, some of them even have investors already lined up."
However, despite the good news, Marks and his entrepreneurs all agreed that their work is far from over. Besides meeting new mentors and exchanging business cards, the main focus of the night were the pitches. Five startups: Contur, Enplug, FitKit, Afterschool.me and Where My Dogs At practiced their demo pitches - a dry run in anticipation of the September 19th demo day.
"They need a lot of practice. I hope they realize that they are nowhere near where they need to be." Marks advised.
While all of the pitches were impressive, Enplug caused a stir with its ambitious business plan. Flying in the face of the typical lean startup methodology, the company appears determined to not only build a unique display advertising platform, but also manufacture custom computers and monitors to install into participating venues. The company's founders, Nanxi Liu, Alex Ross and David Zhu, are quick to point to the many venues they have ready and willing to utilize their platform. However, it remains to be seen whether this can convince advertisers to take a risk on the new technology.
Travis Oberlander will be visiting local accelerators and events for socalTECH, to show more of the region's growing startup scene.