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Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Winners Of The 2009 Get Funded Challenge!!

It has been a great month. I evaluated many plans and have spoken to scores of entrepreneurs. In a perfect world I would recommend that they all get funded. However, I stuck to my strict evaluation criteria. I have only recommended companies that adhere to or came close to adhering to my "10 Best Ways To Get Funded In 2009" guidelines.

I am not any different from any other VC, partner in a VC firm or individual investor. We all have our prejudices and biases based on our history, education, industry experience and the people we interact with. We have a tendency to pick investments based on those prejudices and biases.

Just because I have not picked a company to get funded in 2009 does not mean it will not. Another investor with an entirely different set of evaluation criteria could invest in your company.

However, the companies I have chosen are at a stage and have demonstrated qualities that many of the other companies have not. I do not want to diminish their accomplishments and hard work. These are difficult times for all businesses. Startup operations in particular really have to be special to get the attention of the investment community.

I have chosen three companies that deserve to get funded in 2009. I have chosen one as honorable mention. I will explain that later. The companies are not picked in any order of importance. They should all be evaluated equally.

www.identity.net - This company is a swing for the fence opportunity. If it is successful in raising funding and reaches its full potential it will have an extremely high valuation. This assessment is based on the problem it is solving and the amount of people and businesses that will be impacted.

The problem of accurately identifying who you are, your associated trust factor and geographic location have plagued the Internet since its inception. Companies want to know who you are to determine if they should or should not transact with you. Individuals want to know if they should contact you or associate with you on the web.

Identity.net wants to solve this problem. Until now most companies have attempted to solve this problem by compiling information from government databases, credit scoring companies and financial transaction companies. This approach has been inherently flawed because these data sources are incomplete, stale, geographically limited, lack a common format and in some cases are proprietary.

Rob and his team at Identity.net are taking another approach. They are going to supplement this information with user created content. Individual Internet users will provide the content that fuels the identity database. I find this compelling and clever.

Identity.net is going to monetize this in a number of ways that encourages business to participate in the process.

Rob's team is seasoned having successfully operated a number of companies. They have also leveraged an existing technical platform from another company to bootstrap them and get them to market quicker.

They already have a litany of business partnership arrangements that will give them access to IP location and identity and they are prepared to offer a full suite of security related products to their customers.

If you would like to contact Rob he can be reached at rob@monsterventurepartners.com.

www.myonlinetoolbox.com - When I first reviewed this company I was not completely convinced that they would be a winner in the challenge. They had many of the elements including an experienced management team, an operational business, a clear revenue model, etc. However, it did not become completely clear to me what wave they were riding until the Obama stimulus package began to unfold.

Myonlinetoolbox provides a work flow and accounting system that pulls together contractors, suppliers and consumers into a single system that optimizes the construction process for all parties engaged in the process.

Historically the construction industry has been fragmented, behind in the adoption of information systems to optimize the building process, lacking in real accountability and consumer confidence.

Myonlinetoolbox has set out to address these issues. They have created a platform that helps contractors do a better job at a better price. It links building supply companies into the network to provide just in time product and materials to the contractors. It helps individuals, government agencies and companies find contracting firms that are accountable and reliable. Above all it makes sure that all work and material is accounted for.

I can not see the stimulus package working without something like this. What will happen to the billions of our tax dollars if they get invested in the current construction status quo. I can not imagine.

Brian and his team have this sorted and deserve to get funded for the benefit of all of us.

Brian can be reached at bjaveline@ServusXchange.com.

www.agreatertown.com - Myspace meets CraigsList, meets Yelp, meets Citysearch, etc. This is what agreatertown.com is all about. What an obvious and great idea!! If you want to find out what real estate listings are hot, what show to go to tonight, a video clip of your artistic neighbor all focused on your community or a community you are about to visit this is the place to check out.

Talk about diamonds in the rough. Where have the investors been on this one?? This company is already knocking off business partnerships left and right for companies that want to become a part of this. If I had a business in a certain community and agreatertown .com was building up the inventory of content I would jump in.

I like this companies traffic potential and I really like its sponsorship revenue model. Everyone gets to benefit from this one.

The recent developments in Internet technology including light weight languages such as PHP and Ruby On Rails connected to a DB that can handle diversified content such as video and graphic content are perfect for his platform.

If you want to know more about this business contact Drew at drewknapp1@gmail.com.

Now to my honorable mention group. I am a bit of a globetrotter and have been fascinated by the mobile computing phenomena. We really do not see it in the US. because of our sophisticated high bandwidth infrastructure and our private spaces. However, for the 68 other countries that are represented on my blog I have been on the hunt for a winner in the mobile space. My recent blog item "How Will Web 3.0 Change Your Life?" talks about this phenomena.

I have come across a group from Kenya. Yes Kenya! Called 3KG Limited. They have created a mobile centric trading platform for stockbrokers and individuals that want to trade from their mobile device.

In point of fact that is not the most important part of what they are doing. The fact that they have developed this in a third world country for everyday consumers is the important bit. They have built a mobile computing platform that takes into account the unreliability of networks in these countries and have figured out a way to deliver content based on the state of the network. From SMS up to high bandwidth 3G delivery is part of the package.

They are early stage although they have launched a service in Kenya. I think they are great candidates for the Gates Foundation meets a traditional VC.

If you would like to know more contact Bernard at bkahiga@gmail.com.

Hopefully, you all have a chance to review the web sites mentioned and contact the entrepreneurs directly to discuss their achievements and to congratulate them for doing a great job in convincing me that they are the ones that will get funded.

This evaluation was hard work but it also was very rewarding. Good luck to all entrepreneurs seeking funding and all investors looking for good companies to fund.


Brian Javeline said...

www.MyOnlineToolbox.com positioned for the rebuilding of America, with or without the stimulus initiatives. Kevin, thank you for selecting us. I would like to use the opportunity to further clarify the target for www.MyOnlineToolbox.com.

There are 128 million existing homes in the U.S., a huge base of ready business for home-improvement professionals. The average age of the U.S. home is 32 years - prime remodeling age, and a time of needed repair or replacement. With the slowdown in the housing market, people are more likely to keep their existing home and maintain it rather than buy a new home. The target markets of our platform are the two million small mobile contractors servicing the sector, product manufacturers who want to sell to contractors and homeowners, and the $200 billion in transactions between them all. MyOnlineToolbox addresses the fundamental need for automation, efficiency gains along with advertising for an industry predominantly running its business on pen, paper, napkin and drywall.

Funding Roadmap said...

Congrats Brian !
Great job Kevin!
Good Luck to all the winners!
Ruth Hedges CEO

PhotoHand said...

There is nothing new about MyToolBox. There is a very smart company that does the same thing - QuoteCity - http://www.quotecity.com.

Brian Javeline said...

Hello PhotoHand,
The company you referenced is not even close (since our models are different other than we deal with homeowners). The other company you mentioned is "specifically" a match making service between homeowners and contractors, and there are many out there. A homeowner looks for a contractor, then the matchmaker hooks up the homeowner to a few contractors, generally charging the contractors a fee of some sort to get the lead, then the service is over. MyOnlineToolbox helps contractors manage leads, turns them into estimates and get the job, then allows them to deploy work orders to their employees or subcontractors, purchase orders for materials, invoicing the customer and managing the collections. A contractor will use MyOnlineToolbox to manage their business. A contractor will use one or more match making services along the lines of any other form of advertising, but they still need to have a tool to run their day when a lead comes to the door, and that is MyOnlineToolbox.