Following on the heels of a similar lunch Cruiseable put together in May, yesterday we hosted the second Angel Investors-Startup Founders Social Lunch in San Francisco, given our role as technology innovators in the travel space.
The idea was to connect angel investors with startup founders — in this case, mobile and travel startups — in a more thoughtful way than the typical big-stage event or the "speed dating" feel of too many events where founders get to pitch their idea in as little as 2 minutes.
Here, founders gave a 4-minute summary followed by 5 to 10 minutes of Q&A by investors, all during a free 5-star Burmese lunch prepared by SF chef Ma in the Garage venue in SoMa arranged by social dining startup Feastly for the occasion.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableChef Ma explains the fresh ingredients in her Burmese dishes.
Here's a quick recap of the event. I kicked things off with my view that, when 98 percent of startup pitch applicants don't make it onto the event stage at big conferences like Launch or TechCrunch Disrupt, the likelihood is that many (perhaps most) of the most successful, innovative startups are in the audience — let's call it the Startup Long Tail Effect. Pillsbury Law agreed to underwrite the event and sort through all the applicants with Kristen Gorts as the point person, and they surfaced four startups with particularly promising business decks.
John Ricci, founder and president of US Angel Investors, said all four pitches were impressive and worthy of attention. He and Henry Soo, president of Gold Ocean Capital Corp. in Vancouver, both found the social lunch idea to be a winning idea and one they thought could be a valuable addition to the angel investor ecosystem. (Inexplicably, angels from DreamFunded, Bay Angels, Ahead Innovation and a few others confirmed that they would attend but didn't show, without explanation.)
Croissant: A new way to be productive in your city
Co-founder Dave Idell (bottom left in the photo at top) of New York-based Croissant gave the first pitch, outlining the New York startup's goal of solving multiple pain points in the co-working space. Croissant has a subscription-based service that lets you access the best co-working spaces in New York City, Boston, and Washington DC with one membership, giving you access to reliable Wi-Fi and a space where you can be productive. (They're pitching at the 500 Startups Demo Day today.)
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableElisabeth Mouchy of Daylighted during her pitch.
Daylighted: Bringing art to hotels, digitally
French-born co-founder Elisabeth Mouchy explained how SF-based Daylighted provides a contemporary portfolio of thousands of contemporary art as well as digital displays to a number of hotels. Its "smart gallery" is a digital canvas that can rotate photos at will and in real time, enabling curators to change exhibits on the fly. While many startups are focued on achieving one utilitarian thing, Daylighted strikes me as a much-needed breath of fresh air, bringing a soulful visual poetry into spaces that could surely use it.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableMauricio Madrigal of Getabed during his talk.
Getabed: Score a last-minute hotel deal
The next startup, Getabed, currently operates only in Mexico but hopes to make its U.S. debut in 2017. Founder Mauricio Madrigal described the startup as solving the problem of finding a room in slightly different ways than Hotel Tonight (also a mobile app that lets you find rooms at the last minute, but Getabed offers travelers more flexibility) or Airbnb (while Getabed works only with established hotels with unsold inventory). ￼This looks to be chiefly aimed at millennial travelers looking to score a lower hotel rate with amenities that can be ordered on demand.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableKristen McClellan, co-founder of Snappy Screen, during her pitch.
SnappyScreen: Make sunburns a thing of the past
Two-thirds of people get a sunburn while vacationing in a sunny spot. Three Cornell University students, including CEO Kristen McClellan, took on that problem head on by founding SnappyScreen, a sunscreen application system. Based in Locust Valley, NY, the startup sells pretty little kiosks to hotel chains like the Four Seasons and Hyatt for placement near their outdoor pools. Through the use of a special camera in the kiosk that only shows UV light, they're able to demonstrate that a SnappyScreen user receives full coverage.
A final word
Thanks to Kristen and everyone who contributed to the success of our second Social Lunch. We'll likely do the next one in late January. Email me if you'd like to know about it as plans firm up.