Three startups went head to head in the first session of SXSW Accelerator, the Oracle sponsored competition for startups.
Each startup got five minutes to pitch its business in front of a live audience and judges. The first session focused on startups creating big data solutions for enterprises. I really thought they were going to declare a winner of the session, but apparently that wouldn’t revealed until the final rounds.
Short for “The Evolution of Insurance,” this startup solves inefficiencies for companies looking to buy insurance policies by effectively matching the company, insurance broker, underwriter and insurance policy. CEO Matt Foran was grilled by the judges, which included David Rose, CEO of Gust and Scott Weiss, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Maybe it was the fact that he went first, but he received pointed queries about how this was saving companies costs, what the pricing structure was, and how many subscribers it already had. To Foran’s credit, he remained pretty composed (and monotone) through most of it. Decidedly unsexy subject material, but it appeared to be solving a real problem.
Fieldwire: This startup also solves inefficiencies, but for the construction companies. Founder and CEO Yves Frenault bounded onto stage with plenty of enthusiasm, and in an endearing French accent, explained how his chidlhood growing up on construction sites with his developer parents inspired him to help build better technology for the process. “Most constuction sites use technology before they start building, we want to enable them to use it while they are building,” said Frenault. Fieldwire is a mobile collaboration platform that allows construction supervisors to order material, schedule tasks by geo-tagging and remotely manage the building process by recording, tracking and sharing critical data. Seemed like the judges were a little more enthused about Fieldwire, going easier on the questioning and sounding genuinely excited about it. Although one of them did ask a question about how the startup was going to combat the influence of organized crime within the construction industry. Don’t think Silicon Valley is ready to “disrupt” the Mafia just yet.
Pat Phelan, the co-founder of this online identity verification platform recreated Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar moment when he tripped on the steps walking up to the stage. Nevertheless, the burly Irishman recovered from the fall and delivered a straightforward, elegant presentation on how his company helps e-commerce sites quickly determine if their customer is real.”Fraud is the biggest barrier to e-commerce, it causes a $20 billion loss a year,” said Phelan. “Because there’s so much fraud $25.5 worth of genuine orders were refused to due to fear of it.”
The platform however, works in spooky ways. It tracks your location through your IP address, cell phone number, and then it trawls your social media presence to see if you are actually who you say you are and located where you say you are. It’s telling that none of the judges asked about privacy concerns.
Despite my personal reservations about being investigated for online fraud every time I want to order toilet paper from Amazon, I can see how valuable e-commerce companies could find this service.
Online identity vacation, burly Irishman, . Look at IP, email verification, IP location, social fingerprinting.” One EU’s hottest startup of the year