I am always on the lookout for start-ups with innovative solutions and business models. Here are a few that have caught my attention. By no means is this an absolute list. A number of start-ups I have listed are working on web communication, collaboration, and IPTV / video applications. I encourage you to tell me about your favorites and why.
What are some of my criteria for putting a start-up on my watch list? In general, I look for some combination of following:
- Game changing value proposition
- Growth industry or segment (...but not always)
- Solution changes and redefines the rules
- Leverages the internet
- Adoption of new paradigms
- Pushes control and / or purchasing power out
- Sustainable business model
- Radically new business model
- Significantly more efficient supply chain
- The beta / freeware version has created a community effect
- Positive signs of community adoption (x million users etc.)
- Potential for network effect or aggregation point
- Tier I funding (a/k/a "smart money")
- Evidence of execution
- Crisp and focused marketing messaging & strategy
MY START-UP WATCH LIST
I am hoping to provide a more in-depth analysis of some of the more notable initiatives like Zimbra. I'll also highlight the ones I think have the ingredients for a successful exit (big IPO or acquisition candidate).
Zimbra - Definitely an IPO / acquisition candidate. One of my favorite start-ups to watch. They are getting a lot of attention by the media and investment community. Next generation open source Ajax-based web collaboration and messaging software. Investors include Redpoint Ventures, Benchmark Partners, and Accel Capital.
Jaxtr - A voice communication widget that brings voice to social networks and blogs. You can allow your online visitor to talk to you over any traditional phone device without your ten digit phone number being disclosed. Investors include Mayfield Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and a number of early investors into Google, Skype, and Facebook.
Joost - If you already use Skype, chances are you have heard about this new disruptive way of watching TV. Given their last successful exit to ebay, I would consider Joost a contender in the free IPTV space.
Vuze - Take Joost, YouTube, and the popular P2P BitTorrent application, and you get Vuze. My dear friend Christian Leybold at BV Capital was the first to clue me into Vuze by Azureus. Vuze provides Hi-Def DVD quality video content produced by both community and traditional media content providers. Pretty cool. Investors include Redpoint Ventures, BV Capital, and Greycroft Partners.
SnapVine - Voice and mobility for social networks.
SayNow - Another mashing of voice, social networks, online communities, and mobility.
Pinger - Think of it as text messaging voice. Instead using your keypad to create and send a text message, simply talk into your mobile phone. Lots of tier I media coverage and investors like Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
Angel.com - Web-based IVR. Key PBX features businesses need presented in a Salesforce.com model.
GotVoice - Forward existing voicemail boxes to e-mail. You can also broadcast a message. Significant user community. Investors include Ignition Partners and Second Avenue Partners.
EQO - Take your favorite IM buddies with you on your mobile phone. BDC Venture Capital.
GrandCentral - Create one number for all your other phones. You control where it rings. Simple and service independent. Funded by Minor Ventures.
Hullo - Makes communication more transparent. Create some cool calling applications by mashing IM, presence, e-mail, and mobile phone features.
Jajah - Use the internet to make your phone events work better.
TalkPlus - Add a second line to any mobile phone. Very cool.
KishKish - Record and analyze all your Skype calls. Think of it as a lie detector.
Tumara - Add some missing must have business class PBX features like call transfer to your Skype.
Swarmteams - Mobile group messaging.
VaporStream - Recordless e-mail and IM.
SpinVox - Get your voice or voicemail into any of your text based application like e-mail, blog, etc.
ChatStat -Very innovative. A must for any e-commerce or online business. Talk to any of your website visitor in real-time via IM or popular VoIP clients like Skype. Started by founder of Price.com and MonsterCommerce.
SMBlive - Web-based collaboration and project management utilities delivered in a web 3.0 SaaS model. Matt Howard, CEO, was a senior member of Groove Networks, which was acquired by Microsoft. You should check out their blog. Matt is one of the few out of the box net head execs I have met in my region.
Don't forget to send me your start-ups. If you know any of these organizations very well, I would love to hear your perspective.