Tag: Trust Radius

Austin Chamber Names 12 Startups to its Austin A-List for 2014

Founder of Silicon Hills News

BnEfhvbCEAAFIPpThe Austin Chamber of Commerce Wednesday night named 12 companies to its A-List of Startups for 2014.

In the “Emerging” category, for companies that have raised less than $1 million, the winners were Datical, Compare Metrics, Embrace, TeVido, TrustRadius and Spot on Sciences.

“You look at the companies that won last year and this year, it’s a great honor to be part of that group, because they are next generation of startups that are pushing us forward,” said Bart Bohn, founder of Embrace, customer relationship management software.

“It’s such a strong entrepreneurial business environment in Austin and it’s such an honor to be part of it,” said Jeanette Hill, CEO of Spot On Sciences, the maker of HemaSpot, a medical device that allows for remote blood sampling.

“It really means that all your hard work paid off. People see that what you’re doing is exciting and innovative and game changing and Austin is the place to be game changing,” said Laura Bosworth, CEO and co-founder of TeVido BioDevices, which uses 3-D printing technology to reconstruct and print breast tissue.

In the “Growth” category, for startups that have raised more than $1 million, but less than $10 million, the winners included Umbel, Square Root, Set.fm and TurnKey Vacation Rentals.

And in the “Scale” category, for companies that have raised more than $10 million, the winners were Novati and Chaotic Moon.

More than 250 startups applied for the Austin A-List awards, a 65 percent increase in participation from last year’s list, said Michele Skelding, senior vice president of global technology and innovation for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

BnE3GWTIYAES3kqSkelding and Hugh Forrest, executive director of South by Southwest Interactive, announced the winners at the inaugural State of Innovation event at the ACL Live at the Moody Theatre. Several hundred people attended the event which featured fireside chats by Laura Kilcrease, managing director of Triton Ventures, and Gene Austin, CEO of Bazaarvoice and Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at the University of Texas, inventor of Ethernet and co-founder of 3Com, and Mike Maples Jr., partner at Floodgate Ventures.

In addition, Mayor Lee Leffingwell proclaimed May 7th as “Austin Innovation Day.” He also discussed the city forming an “Innovation District” around the Dell Medical School. And Thomas G. Osha, managing director of Innovation and Economic Development at the Wexford Science and Technology, gave a talk about the development of Innovation Zones.

TrustRadius Aims to be the Yelp of Business Software

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Trust Radius founder Vinay Bhagat taken at Tech Ranch Austin by Leslie Anne Jones

TrustRadius founder Vinay Bhagat taken at Tech Ranch Austin by Leslie Anne Jones

If you want a hamburger, there are thousands of reviews available online for Austin joints. But until recently, if you wanted a business software package – which might cost a thousand times more than a gruyere-smothered Angus patty – it was much harder to find aggregated peer reviews.
“Over the last decade consumers have benefited from greater transparency,” TrustRadius founder Vinay Bhagat said. Now, his website gathers reviews for business software, striving to do for business people what’s sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp and Cars.com have done for consumers.
The model isn’t exactly the same. Yelp relies on a vocal minority: only about 1 percent of users actually write reviews; and a committed foodie might share his opinion on 100 restaurants. Whereas most people using TrustRadius are familiar with about five software products, according to Bhagat, and top users might be familiar with up to 60. Thus, the site has to drive a higher participation rate to gather enough information.
To do so, the site is set up so users must register to receive continued access to reviews. Then the site asks people to profile themselves and encourages them to review products they’ve used. About 30 percent of TrustRadius’ registered users have reviewed a product.
The website relies on crowd-sourcing, but it also has a clear editorial standard to drive quality content. An in-house research team checks all reviews, and they wind up rejecting about 5 percent of submissions.
Reviews are structured in fixed sections (usability, implementation, customer support, etc.). This makes it easy for those researching products to find the precise feedback they’re looking for, and it also encourages more comprehensive review writing.
Reviewers receive emails on how many people have viewed their write up, and these updates might include an editorial question, prompting them to expand part of their opinion if they skipped over or wrote little in certain sections. Research Director Alan Cooke says in the beginning they had a 15 percent response rate to these prompts, but that has increased to 30 percent due to tweaks to the editorial process.
This careful focus on providing quality content has allowed the site to quickly ascend Google’s search results. TrustRadius isn’t doing any paid advertising, 70 percent of people find the site through Google searches, the other 30 percent through social referrals. The site is up to 50,000 visitors per month and has grown by 20 percent per month since last May, according to Bhagat. Mattermark, a company that provides research to venture capital firms, ranked Trust Radius as Austin’s second fastest-growing startup (behind Bitcoin processing company CoinTerra).
“It’s really the first website that I found I was really comfortable with all the information in the reviews,” said Debbie Personette, the HR system coordinator for Houston-based LINN Energy, who found the site while doing research. “The only think I didn’t like about it was there just weren’t enough reviews.” Though as she spoke, Personette looked at the site and noted there were now many more reviews for the product she was interested in.
TrustRadius isn’t the only website gathering peer reviews for business. Sites like Credii and IT Central Station have similar objectives (though both appear to be more targeted at IT professionals, where Trust Radius covers all business software). But Bhagat is no stranger to stiff competition: His first start-up Convio, a provider of relationship management and marketing software for non-profit organizations, was founded in 1999, had its Initial Public Offering in 2010 and was bought by software supplier Blackbaud for $325 million in 2012.
“When I started Convio there were twenty other people trying to bring Internet marketing to non-profits,” Bhagat says.
It was actually the pain of a miscalculated purchase at Convio that got him thinking about how to improve the buying process. The company bought a $100,000 human resource software package that didn’t perform as needed. “We’d been oversold by a sales person,” Bhagat recalled. “The company who bought us had made the same mistake.”
As Convio was being acquired, Bhagat had more time to think about what to do next and to research whether other businesses had similar software-buying problems (they did). Convio sold in May 2012, and TrustRadius incorporated in June. In November 2012 they launched a private beta site and on May 1, 2013 the public site went live. Then on June 28, they received $5 million from Mayfield Fund, one of Silicon Valley’s oldest venture capital firms.
imgres-17TrustRadius bootstrapped through its first year, and Bhagat says they’re still keeping things lean. Presently, the team is nine people, eight in Austin and one in Iowa (a star employee from the Convio days, Bhagat says).
The site plans to begin monetizing in the first half of this year once they’ve reached a critical mass of content. In the future they might offer paid premium content, but the site will initially generate revenue from the vendor side: Users who decide to buy the products they’ve been researching will be encouraged to connect to sellers through TrustRadius.
“Monetization is part of the plan for 2014,” Bhagat said. “But the first priority is scaling and providing deeper, richer coverage.”

Five Austin Startups Demo Products at the InnoTech Beta Summit

Evan Baehr, co-founder of Outbox

By L.A. LOREK, Founder of Silicon Hills News
The Beta Summit at InnoTech Austin on Thursday featured five innovative startup companies.
Joshua Baer, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Capital Factory, served as the event’s moderator. He pitched his startup, OtherInbox, at the InnoTech Beta Summit a few years ago.
The startups each had eight minutes to showcase their companies to the standing-room only audience of more than 150 people. The startups included TrustRadius, Outbox, Ube, Skyence and Compare Metrics.
First up, TrustRadius, a company so new that Baer hadn’t heard of them yet, gave a demonstration of its enterprise software review site.
With consumer services like Yelp, people can find a thousand reviews of Home Slice Pizza on Congress Ave. but few reviews on expensive enterprise software programs companies buy to run their businesses, said Vinay Bhagat, TrustRadius Founder and CEO.
That’s the problem TrustRadius seeks to solve. It has launched a beta program for its review site for company software.
The site providers users with a template to evaluate a software product based on quality, customer service, ease of use and more. The reviews can also be sorted according to company size and industry. So a company technology professional can get relevant results for a small, medium or large business.
TrustRadius plans to make money through partnerships with software vendors and through subscription plans to premium content, Bhagat said.
Next up, Evan Baehr, co-founder of Outbox, gave an overview of his startup seeks to disrupt the bureaucratic and slow-moving U.S. Postal Service.
Outbox received $2.5 million in funding to create a new and better way to deliver mail to people in the digital age, Baehr said.
They built a product that digitizes all postal mail and delivers it to a user’s computer, phone or iPad. The product is in beta testing in Austin and already has 200 users.
Outbox seeks to innovate where the U.S. Post Office has failed, Baehr said.
“We’re young, we’re hip,” Baehr said. “We’ve got great outfits and really cool cars.”
Everyday Outbox’s employees, decked out in bright red Under Armour shirts, drive their white Outbox Prius cars to pick up customers mail. They then open the mail and scan each piece into a highly secure website. Customers can then access their mail and decide which items they want hard copies of to keep. Those items are delivered every Friday to the customers.
Outbox charges $4.99 a month for the service. Customers only need to send a picture of their mailbox key to Outbox to get started. Outbox then scans the key and creates a copy of it using a 3-D printer, Baehr said. The service is available in 40 zip codes in Austin right now. In the coming months, Outbox will expand to San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, Baehr said.
Outbox plans to integrate online bill paying into its service to make it easy for its customers to pay everything online, Baehr said. Right now, only 14 percent of bills are paid online, he said.
In the beginning, Outbox tried to partner with the U.S. Post Office. Baehr and other Outbox employees met with Postmaster General in Washington, D.C. to pitch their idea for digitizing the mail. The U.S. Post Office was not receptive, Baehr said. So they pursued the idea on their own.
At the end of the presentation, Baehr handed out postcards with a code for free two-month discount to the Outbox service.
Baehr talked so fast and enthusiastically that at one point he joked he felt like he was selling a Ronco Knife set.

Utz Baldwin, CEO and founder of Ube, demonstrates the Ube app to turn on lights

Next, Utz Baldwin, CEO of Ube, joked “That’s what happens folks when you feed your kids Redbull for breakfast.”
Ube recently won the People’s Choice Award at DEMO Fall 2012. The company plans to launch next month its free iOS app to control IP-enabled devices in the home like lighting systems, smart TVs and thermostats.
Baldwin is a former CEO of CEDIA, the global organization representing the connected home industry.
“The Internet of things is here,” Baldwin said.
Right now, creating a connected home can costs thousands of dollars and requires all kinds of hardware. Ube replaces all that, Baldwin said. With the app, anyone can control lights, TV and other devices in their home using a smartphone, a Wi-Fi router and the Internet.
Baldwin demonstrated how he could dim lights with his smartphone. He ended his presentation with a question to the audience.
“What will Ube controlling next month?” Baldwin said.
The fourth company to pitch, Skyence showed off its cloud services management software. The company launched six months ago and is in a private invitation only beta, said Tony Frey, its co-founder.
The software helps companies manage their files in the cloud on services ike Yammer, Shoutcast and Dropbox, Frey said. Skyence filters across all the cloud services, he said.
Skyence can track files and let management know who is using them and who are they sharing the files with online, he said.
Lastly, Compare Metrics’ Garrett Eastham, founder and CEO, provide an overview of his feature-driven search engine for e-commerce sites.
“We’re adding a new layer of interactivity and discovery on top of e-commerce sites,” Eastham said.
Compare Metrics has created a platform that delivers only the most relevant features to a customer. The platform becomes more intelligent the more a user interacts with it. It learns a person’s preferences and then makes product suggestions based on certain features. The company has a patent pending on its feature discovery and comparison platform.
Compare Metrics makes money by selling categories to e-commerce sites on a monthly basis. It is a software as a service company and charges $500 per month per category to retailers.
Its first customer, LivingDirect.com, goes live next week with Compare Metrics’ platform, Eastham said.

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