08/31/2014

Entrepreneurship Datebook

Tech egg SALES FOR STARTUPS: Jorge Soto of Sales4Startups and Twitter is leading a workshop on “B2B Sales Fundamentals for Startups” with applied takeaways for participants, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, at Venture Hive, 1010 NE Second Ave., Miami. $10-$20. Buy a ticket here.

WEB ANALYTICS: Venture Hive will host Hands on Web Analytics, featuring four speakers on topics such as "7 Simple Steps to Online Conversion Optimization" and "Big Data Experiences” plus a panel discussion about the issue for startups, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, 1010 NE Second Ave., Miami. Free but registration required here.

STARTUP GRIND: This month’s featured interview is with John Duffy, founder and chief executive officer of 3Cinteractive, a pioneer in mobility for businesses, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sept. 10, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St. $5-$25. More info and tickets: Startupgrind.com/Miami

STARTUP SHOWCASE: Selected startups will give short pitches and the audience chooses the winner at Tech Cocktail’s Miami Mixer and Startup Showcase, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sept. 10, The Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. $15-$35. More info and tickets: tech.co/miami

STARTING GATE

Venture For America, an organization that matches recent graduates with startups, announced its first class of seven Miami fellows. The Wynwood parking issue makes the news again and a compromise is reached. Read recaps of GCVCA’s Meet the Angels and Refresh Miami’s DemoDay and keep up with startup news and community views on the Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

08/29/2014

Meet the winners of Refresh Miami's DemoDay

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Glip, a Boca Raton startup with a serial entreprenuerial co-founding team, took home the big win at Refresh Miami's DemoDay Thursday night. Refresh Miami's annual DemoDay was attended by more than 400 people.

Glip  is modern business messaging with built-in productivity tools. It allows workers to plan, share and organize work in real-time, said co-founder and CEO Peter Pezaris (pictured above), who gave the pitch and  demo. 

Glip was founded in December 2012, the product was launched nearly a year later, and already thousands of companies are using the tool, he said. Glip has generated an average 40 percent month-over-month growth since launch. Glip's core co-founding team has been together for 19 years and has started and very successfully exited several other  startups, including Multiply, inventor of the first social news feed, Pezaris said. "Keeping that nucleus together has helped with recruiting," he said. Glip has 15 employees; nine are in Boca and the rest are in California and New York, where Glip also has an office.

Glip's development has been self-funded so far but the company is raising a multi-million dollar Series A round now.

Waleteros, the second-place winner, enables underbanked and unbanked consumers to cash checks, pay bills, send money internationally and receive small loans using their mobile phones -- anywhere, anytime. Etienne Gillard, part of the Venture Hive accelerator's second class, gave the winning pitch.

Waleteros has also been chosen, out of 870 applicants worldwide, as a  finalist for this year's BBVA Open Talent competition in the  "New Banking" category and will compete with nine startups, including Venture Hive's Quotanda for the chance to win a € 30,000 grant and other prizes this fall.

Fish Indie won third place. It is a one-click ad-network that eliminates the hassle of ad creation and management for Etsy sellers and small businesses, said co-founder Hugo Seijas, who presented the winning pitch.  The founding team has experience in tech and creative design.

The prize pool, that was split amongst the winners, included $5,000 In legal services by Kevin Levy of Gunster; $1,200 cash from tickets and donations; $100 cash from Lean Startup Machine; $3,500 in social media consulting/managing by SociallyBuzz for first-place winner; three months of co-working space by Gos24.com for first-place winner; and one year of cloud server by Server Pronto. The other seven pitching companies will receive $500 in credits from Zeel, Massage on Demand.

The other finalists were: Accredify, a  system to verify  investors; CanUStart, which streamlines restaurant hiring; FiNe, providing discounts for brand loyalty; Hello Show, a scheduling and messaging tool for real estate agents; Kloset Karma, an app for clothing exchange (and the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge People's Pick winner); Marquee, a publishing platform; and Wave Interactions, a mobile gaming platform.

Judges were Sean Smith, Ivan Rapin-Smith, Mario Cruz and Stonley Baptiste (pictured  below). The nonprofit Refresh Miami is South Florida's largest tech-entrepreneurship group, with 8,000 members, run by Brian Breslin and Peter Martinez. It holds monthly events, and its site hosts an events calendar, jobs board and more.  

 

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Posted Aug. 29, 2014

 

Brookings study: Miami draws big share of foreign students, but not in STEM fields

GradcapPerhaps not surprisingly, South Florida ranks among the highest areas of the country for attracting foreign students. The metropolitan area also ranks high nationally for retaining foreign talent after graduation.

Yet, the Miami area ranks near the bottom among metro areas for foreign students who study science, technology, engineering or math, a new Brookings Institution report found.

The report, "The Geography of Foreign Students in U.S. Higher Education: Origins and Destinations," tracks the local origins, size and growth rate of the foreign student population on a metropolitan level. Based on student-visa data from 2008 to 2012, the report identifies the 118 metro areas with the largest numbers of foreign students and measures their monetary contributions to their U.S. metropolitan destinations. The report was released as part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase.

"Just last year, a record 21 percent of the world’s students who are going abroad for their education came to this country,” said Neil Ruiz, associate fellow for the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and author of the report. “It’s important to understand how students from fast-growing foreign nations can help build global connections and shore up our local economies and businesses. This report provides the data to do that.”

 Ranking 10th of 118 metro areas, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area had 18,617 student visa holders in 2008 to 2012, the study found. All told, these foreign students paid $422,655,219 in tuition and $258,380,068 in living costs. The mammoth New York area was the most popular destination for international students, with 101,586 foreign students.

Another key finding of the report: The Miami metropolitan area ranked 4th out of 118 metro areas on the measure of foreign student retention, with 69.6 percent of them opting to stay in the area. New York, Honolulu, Seattle and Las Vegas also ranked high for students who remained in their areas to work after graduating. Nationally, on average, 45 percent of foreign student graduates extend their visas to work in the same metropolitan area as their college or university, the study found. 

“Foreign students are a significant source of earnings for U.S. metro economies in several ways,” said Ruiz. “First, they open up markets in their home cities which facilitates trade, foreign direct investment and knowledge transfer. In addition, they infuse revenue into local communities, and they help fill demand for jobs requiring specific skills in local labor markets. Our business and community leaders need to develop better strategies that retain their talents after they graduate."

However, for the share of foreign students pursuing a STEM degree, Miami ranked 110th of the 118 top areas; Just 19.4 percent pursue degrees in STEM. The report found that it was the small U.S. metropolitan areas that drew the most STEM degree seekers per capita: Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX, home of Lamar University, Palm Bay, FL, home of Florida Institute of Technology and Anderson, SC, home of Clemson University, had the highest ranking for STEM degree seekers, the report found.

According to the report, the students coming to South Florida were most likely to come from China, Venezuela and India. During the 2008-1012 time period, 823 students hailed from Caracas. They are most likely to attend Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Lynn University, Nova Southeastern and University of Miami, in that order.

Nationally, over the five-year period of 2008 to 2012, foreign students contributed $21.8 billion in tuition and $12.8 billion in living costs to 118 metro areas that are each home to at least 1,500 students. Just 45 percent of these students, however, extended their visas after graduation and got jobs, under the optional practical training (OPT) program, in the regions where they studied. OPT allows foreign students on F-1 visas to work between 12 and 29 months after they graduate from a U.S. higher educational institution, the report said.

Read the report here.

 

08/28/2014

Angels in the house: What's their view?

Panel

Photos by David G. Bates

By far the No. 1 complaint I hear from startups is that there is a dearth of serious local investors. So when I received an invitation to  an event called Meet The Angels, I wasn't sure what to expect.


By sheer numbers, there were a lot of angels in the house. Eighteen angel groups participated in panels and 565 people attended the event Wednesday night at the Boca Raton Embassy Suites ballroom put on by the Gold Coast Venture Capital Association. Most of the groups were from the tri-county area though a few were from Central Florida and Tampa, including the Florida Angel Nexus, an investor in Miami-based startup Kairos. Some of the groups were not very active in terms of number of investments in South Florida companies.

"The whole idea of tonight's event was to make it easier for entrepreneurs to come to one spot and meet all the relevant groups in the South Florida region and to meet some bonafide funds that actually do invest in early-stage growth companies," said Bob Fitts, who heads the nonprofit GCVCA, whose mission is to connect entrepreneurs, service providers and investors in the tri-county region. He said about half of the audience were entrepreneurs, 30 percent were service providers and about 20 percent were investors. "Of course the entrepreneurs wish it was reversed," he said.

So how do you get the attention of an angel? "Instead of a spray and pray to every group out there, do some research and try to get to one of the members who is particularly interested in your industry who can champion your startup and get in that way," advised Juan Pablo Cappello of Accelerated Growth Partners. AGP has made five investments in the last few months, he said, and AGP's members are seeing interesting clusters forming around Latin America, logistics, healthcare and entertainment.

GCVCAAll the angel groups I talked to said they have seen improved deal flow and much better quality Florida companies in the past year. This is a change from discussions in previous years, where angels said  quality deals in South Florida were hard to find.

At the earliest stages, Miami Innovation Fund has made five investments so far this year, all "somewhere north of $50,000."  Palm Beach Angels launched earlier this year to invest in Palm Beach County companies, and is interested in tech, products, Internet of things, among other verticals, said Jeff Brown, who believes entrepreneurs should strive to take only the minimal amount of angel capital as needed -- and only if necessary -- to get to the next level and find their path to revenue as soon as possible.

Another very new fund is Thesis Ventures, an institutional early stage investment group that typically invests $250k to $500k in the consumer space. Mike O'Donnell, one of the partners, said Thesis is very hands on. If fact, it typically moves the  portfolio companies into its building. "We're 90 days old and have already made five investments," he said.

Tamiami Angel Funds' newest fund has invested $1.5 million in five companies this year.  Caerus Ventures likes the consumer space and typically will make investments of $250,000 to $1 million, and will do follow-ons. New World Angels does about five deals a year, as well as  several follow-ons; $1 million to $7 million is the sweet spot. "I have been doing this for a number of years, and this is the deepest I have ever seen angel capital get," commented Franc Nemanic of Crunchfire Ventures.

And the angels had plenty of advice for entrepreneurs: Execution is your single biggest differentiator. Know thyself, and mitigate your weaknesses by building a strong management team around you. Pursue your passion, and make sure you really, really love what you are doing. Never lose sight of the value proposition. Know what you don't know and be coachable.

At early stages it is more about building strong strategic partnerships than valuation, said Joanna Schwartz of EarlyShares, a funding platform for accredited investors. "Don't get into business with jerks. You are going to be married to these people for a very long time," added Zack Cherry of Caerus Ventures.

Crowd
 Photos by David G. Bates

08/27/2014

DreamsCloud of Miami raises $2 million in funding

Sleep

Wake up -- this is no sleepy startup.

DreamsCloud, a comprehensive online platform for dreams and their dreamers, announced it has raised $2 million in Series A funding to continue development of DreamsCloud and its recently released  DreamSphere app, make additional engineering and developer hires, and expand the company’s marketing reach. The Miami company’s first institutional investment was led by Sphere Capital Holding, part of the first round investors in Miami-based CareCloud and Canvas.

DreamsCloud allows you to collect, analyze, safe-keep and share your dreams, and to do so in the way that makes you most comfortable, the company said in its news release. Users can do online dream journaling and access its panel of “Dream Reflectors” who help them self-reflect on their dreams, all via  www.dreamscloud.com or its free app.

Built on DreamsCloud’s interactive database of more than 1.8 million dreams from around the world, DreamSphere’s stand-out feature is its Global Dreams Map on the home screen. Updated in real-time, users can use the map to search for dreams according to location, date, popularity, what’s trending, from connected friends or by keyword – opening a portal to dreams from every country, all over the world. Here’s a recent story based on a life-saving dream journaled on DreamsCloud.

 "Over the past few years we’ve seen enormous public interest in recording and having conversations about understanding dreams -- we have dreams from the whole planet," said Jean-Marc Emden, chief visionary officer and co-founder of DreamsCloud, who lives and works in Miami.  “We’re excited to have trail blazed the concept of dream journaling, reflection and sharing online, and our mobile app signals our commitment to continue to innovate around dreams. This funding round positions us to expand our DreamsCloud and DreamSphere platforms, giving our users more opportunities to track, reflect on and socialize their dreams – especially as dreams become a better understood indicator of overall health and wellness.”

DreamsCloud was founded in 2010 in Miami and its Emden and its board members are here, but  it currently has most of its operations in Reston, Va. Emden said Wednesday that he is planning to move the company back to Miami this fall. The company is now in the process of hiring a director of marketing to be based in Miami, Emden said, and other hires will follow.

 Emden, who has lived in South Florida since 1989, said  that Miami is a smart market for DreamsCloud for more reasons than you might think. Hispanics are showing they are much more likely to journal and share their dreams than their anglo counterparts, he said.  Who knew?

 Posted Aug. 27, 2014

Wynwood parking issue on the menu at #WaffleWednesday

Waffle1At LiveNinja's weekly #WaffleWednesday,  chef Alfonso Martinez's creations are  always yummy. But this week's main course was a spirited discussion about the Wynwood parking issue.

Art Noriega, CEO of the Miami Parking Authority, mingled with the crowd and then took part in a talk moderated by documentary filmaker Billy Corben and also including Mario Cruz, Choose Digital's CTO who kicked off the community debate with this Starting Gate post. You can get an idea about the issues  the Wynwood tech and arts community are concerned about -- primarily safety but also parking accessibility, cost and lack of public transit options --  in the numerous comments on that post, too. In response to the debate, which has moved from online to the real world in community meetings, the MPA added more decal parking on certain streets.

  Waffle3"Art was very responsive in adding back some spaces," said Cruz, who also wrote a follow-up guest post here. "But we still face issues ... we need better transit, we need better security... and we want to be involved in the discussions. Tech is here to stay. In seven months, [tech companies] have created 100 jobs in Wynwood."

Noriega, who brought some of his staff and MPA board member Marlon Hill, noted that there are a lot of different needs -- short term parking, long term decal parking, accommodating peak hours. He also said the MPA is still figuring it out, and will tweak and modify the plans as needed, as it has already done with the decal parking.  And he took a lot of questions. Among the answers:

* The long-promised, long-awaited DecoBikes is supposed to roll out by Oct. 1 but which sections fo town it will be available in first is unclear.

* Noriega said the MPA is involved in negotiating a couple of parking garages within Wynwood, and one is moving fairly quickly (though don't look for it before 2016). He said he learned the hard way from Coconut Grove that smaller spread-out parking facilities work better than one large one on the outskirts. 

* Noriega said he would look into why the parking app only charges in increments of an hour. "we can certainly modify that." He also said the MPA is looking at extending the 3-hour limit on short-term parking in some places and hours.

* Noriega said the MPA would be doing away with the surcharges on the pay-by-phone in coming months.  

* As to why Wynwood doesn't have a trolley stop, while that isn't under the MPA, Noriega said new stops and trolley expansion is being discussed in the city manager's office now and he recommended "getting in there now and pushing for Wynwood to be a piece of that .. reach out to Alice Bravo, the assistant city manager."

Waffle2The issue is clearly an evolving one, and no one has all the answers.  Hill suggested a parking hackathon is needed. 

LiveNinja CEO Will Weinraub explained that LiveNinja's #WaffleWednesday grew organically, starting as a weekly team gathering when the startup moved into its larger space with a kitchen. Soon team members began to invite friends  from other Wynwood businesses and as awareness of the fun event grew, now -- at least some weeks -- it has also evolved into a community platform to talk about issues. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado has been invited to next week's #WaffleWednesday -- no confirmation yet, however.

 Posted Aug. 27, 2014

08/26/2014

Venture for America chooses its first Miami Fellows

Venture for america

Venture for America has selected its first Miami Fellows.

The national nonprofit recruits top-caliber recent grads and sends them to startups looking for talent. VFA focuses on communities with promising companies and a low cost of living - ideal places for a young person to launch a career while creating value for a growing company. Its fellows are already at work or heading to work in more than a dozen cities, including Miami.

“Venture for America will help bring more top-tier college graduates to Miami, expanding both the city’s talent pool and helping Miami entrepreneurs build thriving, job-creating businesses,” Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami, said in April when it announced it would provide a $126,000 grant to help bring a chapter to Miami.

Venture for America set out to recruit, select, train and place seven Venture for America Fellows with Miami startups, which also were vetted by Venture for America. These recent college graduates underwent a five-week training camp at Brown University to hone skills they needed to contribute to high-impact local companies. With their companies, VFA Fellows will serve as core team members, receiving first-hand experience in building startups while helping them grow, and will receive $38,000 a year plus benefits for two years.

With no further ado, meet the new Fellows:

Aldo Avanzini, graduate of Columbia University/mechanical engineering. Going to: Rokk3r Labs.

Nazli Danis, graduate of Barnard College/art history and architecture. Going to: Kairos.

Ari Fine, graduated from the College Scholar program at Cornell/psychology, finance and the art market. Going to CrowdSettlements.

Seth Forsgren, graduated from Princeton/molecular biology, global health, health policy. Going to: Rokk3r Labs.

Jackson Morton, graduated from Duke/biomedical engineering. Going to: Cirle.

Austin Rhoads, graduated from Elon University/marketing and international business. Going to: Vero Water.

Leigh Sevin, graduated from Georgetown/American studies and economics. Going to: Zeel.

Download Class of 2014 Miami Fellows

Posted Aug. 26, 2014

 

08/25/2014

Miami, the next big tech city because we care

By @MarioCruz

MariocruzjpgTwo weeks ago I posted an article about Wynwood’s parking issues and thanks to the responsiveness of the Miami Parking Authority, we have come to a compromise that works. However, for the last couple weeks many people have asked me: “Why did you get involved in this endeavor and why I should I care?” And they are valid questions.

As a small business owner I am directly affected, but more importantly this struggle is about the future of Miami as a technology hub and an entrepreneur-friendly community. Wynwood has so far been exactly that for many businesses, and more than 100 jobs have been created there. I will highlight a few:

LearnerNation, a platform that adaptively reinforces knowledge to meet community business performance goal, has created eight jobs in the last five months and moved out of The LAB Miami to continue its growth.  

LiveNinja, another Wynwood tech startup, has added seven new employees in this same time period and is set to create more jobs in Wynwood before the end of the year.

The LAB Miami has been central to all this tech growth. Wifredo and Danny, The LAB Miami’s founders, shared a vision of making Wynwood a place to find, meet, share, and validate business ideas with help from a thriving Miami tech community. This has been done organically with conferences, meetups, hackathons, and the support of the Knight Foundation.

LAB residents have also created over 29 jobs in the past seven months.

These jobs are not all technology-based either. Zak the Baker, who got me to eat my vegetables by way of some incredible soups, has created 14 new jobs in Wynwood in the last three months and there are countless galleries also creating jobs.

Passionate people and an interconnected community make Miami a technology hub. The goals of Wynwood entrepreneurs are to inspire people to follow their passions, connect members of this community with each other, help shift our city's culture to creating products, and facilitate partnerships between local government, businesses, and other organizations. Silicon Valley investors and tech analysts have noticed some of our businesses. It’s time Miami commissioners and planners, especially those charged with the Wynwood district, start noticing too.

That’s why I took an interest in this issue. We should take interest in the struggle to allow job growth, businesses and economic stability to flourish in our beloved city.

Mario Cruz is the CTO of Choose Digital, which employs nine in Wynwood.

Condo.com leverages lucrative niche to become a market leader

Swerdlow

Photo of Richard Swedlow by Peter Andrew Bosch/Miami Herald 

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com

The success of Condo.com, an online marketplace, can be attributed in part to that old real estate adage: location, location, location.

Condo.com was started by Internet entrepreneur Richard Swerdlow, and it is part of eRealEstate Holdings, which also owns Condos.com, Houses.com, Property.com, Properties.com and Location.com. But acquiring those valuable Internet domains is only part of this entrepreneurial story.

Swerdlow was a public finance lawyer at Greenberg Traurig with an interest in outer space ventures in the early ’90s when the entrepreneurial bug bit. In 1993, he and a partner founded Everything Wireless. “With a $15,000 investment, we built what became the largest online retailer and cataloger for cellphones and accessories,” he said. They grew it to about $100 million in revenue and sold it to a unit of Federated Department Stores in 2000.

Then Swerdlow went to work in the family business — his father is well-known South Florida developer Michael Swerdlow — and helped develop data centers that were popular at the time. When the market turned and condos became hot, he began working on those projects, including a new condo development in Daytona Beach.

Remember 2005 when people were camping out for pre-construction condos? Swerdlow and a partner were driving back and forth from Daytona on Interstate 95, passing billboard after billboard hawking pre-construction condos. “We said to ourselves, ‘Something bad is going to happen — there is going to be a global oversupply. Why don’t we create an online marketplace that can generate liquidity in the condo space?’ ” Swerdlow said.

US Condo Exchange, the first iteration of what would later become Condo.com, launched in 2006.

The idea behind the original site was that condos were trading almost like a commodity, thus the name. The online marketplace would make money from developers’ advertising, but there was a problem with that business model.

“We got to a point where we couldn’t scale the business model,” Swerdlow said. “We needed a lot of bodies on the phone to make sales calls. [Developers] would only buy on credit, so we ran up receivables, and we got hit when the market fell out.”

But in 2007, Swerdlow began talking to the investors behind Hotels.com about investing in his company. They encouraged him to buy the domain names Condo.com and Condos.com. The investment deal fell apart but Condo.com and Condos.com, while expensive, were still available. “My wife said ‘you only regret the things you don’t do so let’s go all in — if you really want to be the online condo guy, you need to have Condo.com,’ ” Swerdlow recalled. “We bought those domains.”

Condo.com was generating a lot of traffic, yet condos at the time accounted for 10 percent of the overall housing stock. That means there were a lot of single-family homes — so eRealEstate Holdings bought Houses.com. Later the company bought Property.com and Properties.com.

Continue reading "Condo.com leverages lucrative niche to become a market leader" »

Startup Spotlight: Sktchy

 

Melnick

Sktchy

Headquarters: The LAB Miami

Concept: Share photos to inspire artists around the world to draw you, paint you, maybe even sculpt you, and browse inspiring photos shared by others so you can get creative, too. The Sktchy community includes active artists in more than 60 countries, and to date they have created and shared more than 25,000 original artworks inspired by the photos in Sktchy’s user-submitted gallery.

Story: Sktchy grew out of a local art project called Sketchy Miami. “Our mission was to empower local artists by giving them an opportunity to connect with art lovers in a fun and meaningful way. We expected 50 people at our launch party. Five hundred showed up. Our next event drew 1,000-plus attendees and soon artists around the world were asking us if they could participate. We ended up building the mobile app so anyone anywhere could join the Sktchy community, find artistic inspiration and share their creativity with the world,” said Sktchy founder Jordan Melnick (picktured above), a journalist who also founded the culture blog Beached Miami.

Launched: The Sktchy iPhone app launched in September 2013.

Management team: Jordan Melnick (CEO, project manager, marketing), Alexander Lavrinenko (senior developer), Branson Lundemo (UX design)

Website: Sktchy.com

Financing: Recently raised an initial seed round to make big sharing and design upgrades and plans on raising more funding in the fall.

Recent milestones: Built a community that includes includes active artists in more than 60 countries; surpassed 25,000 submitted original artworks; raised seed funding.

Biggest startup challenge: “It took us a while to clarify Sktchy’s core mission: We’re here to inspire people to share their creativity with the world. Now everything we do, from design to development to partnering, is about advancing that mission,” Melnick said.

Next steps: To make big improvements to the Sktchy iPhone app (emphasis on performance and sharing) and start bringing a richer Sktchy experience to the Web so that non-iPhone users can join the community. Launching an Android version is a big goal too. “We believe everyone has creativity worth sharing with the world, and we want you to be able to join Sktchy’s amazing community regardless of what phone you have in your pocket — or if you have a phone at all),” Melnick said.

The team is beginning to explore revenue opportunities in a way that is supportive of artists and non-intrusive to the user experience. “We really are still figuring it out,” Melnick said. “We’re also exploring partnerships with other amazing companies with a passion for creativity and building the artists community.”

Strategy for next step: Hard work and focus.

Investor’s view: Mark Kingdon, an angel investor who invested early in Twitter, Fab.com,<code_dp> Refinery29<code_dp> and other companies, said he immediately liked the app and its traction, and believes it has a lot of potential targeting the creative class worldwide. He also thinks Melnick has assembled a great team.

“The team has created a simple user experience. I think the fact that it has been kept super simple, it really really works. There’s this great interaction between the artists and the people who post the pictures, it’s touching,” Kingdon said. “When I think about the app, I think about Instagram for artists. I think it can be bigger than portraits, as big as inspiration.”

 

Sktchy
 

See past Startup Spotlights under the Startup Spotlight category of this blog.

Posted Aug. 25, 2014