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StartupCamp Generates Interest, Excitement, Contacts - and Money

TMCnews Featured Article


February 04, 2011

StartupCamp Generates Interest, Excitement, Contacts - and Money

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC


A young fellow named Michael Koetting last night captured the hearts and minds of the audience and panel of judges at StartupCamp, an ITEXPO East co-located event that took place in a large and busy room at the convention center in Miami. But last night was also a big success for at least one other company that presented.


StartupCamp was hosted by Larry Lisser (News - Alert), principal of Embrase Business Consulting, and featured a brief keynote followed by short presentations by a handful of startups, which were then judged on their abilities to communicate their business propositions. 

Koetting, the CEO of Hoot.Me LLC, which is based out of the University of Texas at Austin, was third at bat among a lineup of five startups. He opened strong by announcing that the first version of the Hoot App was being launched officially at StartupCamp that (last) night.

Hoot.Me is an application that enables students to get help on homework via Facebook (News - Alert) through an app that includes multi-person video communications. There’s a free, P2P-based aspect of Hoot that enables students to work with their friends to solve a problem. But the company hopes to make money by charging students to use paid tutors on the service. Koetting said Hoot.Me estimates the average cost of a session will be about $3.59 and that it only needs 1.4 percent of its sessions to be paid to subsidize the unpaid part. The service is up at the university in Austin and the company plans to replicate its marketing with the nation’s biggest, and biggest brand (Harvard, etc.), schools.

“I love this. This is really good,” said panel judge Thomas McCarthy-Howe, who is with Light and Electric, and runs the Cloud Communications Summit that is co-located with ITEXPO (News - Alert).

Howe went on to note that a company called Ingenio offers a service that allows people to find experts on various topics, such as taxes. But Howe mentioned that this is a great new twist on this theme.

“You will eat their lunch because you will make a ton of money,” he added.

More good news for Koetting came when someone in the audience from tutoring giant Kaplan invited him to touch base after the show.

The presentation by Trent Johnson, half of the charming Canadian pair from Hookflash, was heavier on charm than on detail. But word is that it was a very good night for this company, which solves the problem of provisioning mobile IP endpoints.

Another startup presenter last night was Gerald Plamondon (another Canadian!) of SatCourier, which pitched his idea for a small device that sits between a cellular device and an Iridium (News - Alert) satellite gateway to effectively boost the signal for better coverage. The solution – which Plamondon said will cost in the $400 range for hardware but will deliver service for about half the cost that a satellite phone could – requires a simple plugin for the mobile phone and leverages Bluetooth technology.

Wireless was also the subject of the presentation given at StartupCamp by Call Loop’s CEO and co-founder Chris Brisson. He talked about the drop over time of e-mail open rates and how the open rate for SMS text messages is at 97 percent. Call Loop allows companies to easily send out SMS text messages, and its solution integrates with popular e-mail, ecommerce and CRM programs.

Finally, FastCall411 (News - Alert) CEO Rich Rosen talked about his solution to help local businesses generate new business.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi







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