And They’re Off! Austin Entrepreneurs begin Capital Factory 2010

We started second annual Capital Factory program which I co-founded with Joshua Baer and Bryan Menell last year. I'm excited about this year's companies, some are further along than others, but I'm most impressed with the entrepreneurs themselves. 

Here are the companies:

  • Hurricane Party (Austin, TX) – a location-based social networking application that helps users create, manage and discover events that are relevant to them.
  • Simpz (Boston, MA) – helps event organizers reach critical mass and sell unused spots through word-of-mouth marketing via Twitter, Facebook, and other existing social networks. 
  • Smackages (Dallas, TX) – a beauty community that connects members with cosmetics brands and helps them make more valuable cosmetics purchases by allowing them to try products before they buy them online. 
  • RecycleMatch (Houston, TX) – an online marketplace that transforms waste into value by connecting companies that have waste with companies that can use the materials.
  • Corkshare (Cleveland, OH) – a simple, visual way to share and discuss collections of web content like photos, videos, links, and more through virtual CorkBoards.

Capfactory We had the welcome kickoff a few weeks ago and a couple meetings since. Already some of the ideas are evolving, which is expected. 70% of startups end up doing something different than what they first ventured. 

There are 20 mentors as part of this program, with heavy experience in fundraising, SEO, engineering, branding, and industry connections. I spend my time with the entrepreneurs discussing product direction and design, business model and marketing. I also make introductions to folks in the industry who can help them.

Capital Factory is an accelerator, not necessarily an incubator. Our job is not to 'nest' the startup until it's ready to jump out…it's to accelerate them to their next point. They should solidify the product direction, business model solid, and accelerate distribution or revenue. 

I'm proud of what Capital Factory is doing. It's a piece of a larger puzzle to make Austin even greater than it is today (Kiplinger named Austin #1 city of the decade!). And for me, along the way, I'm enjoying the collaboration with entrepreneurs, and learning from other entrepreneurs and mentors. It's community, enjoyment and professional development…trifecta!

If you're a developer/engineer thinking about an idea and applying next year, feel free to drop me a note at blog [at] deckermarketing.com

It’s been one year since my last blog post…

Phoenix_rising  Today marks exactly one year from my last post on Deckermarketing. I started blogging in September 2003, and have written many posts on eBusiness, marketing, leadership and life…until May 4, 2009. After that day, I didn’t write another blog post until now. 

This wasn’t by design. Things just "slipped away". One month turned into two months, and that turned into a year. This must happen to others, right? Even John Porcaro – an exec previously at Microsoft who inspired me to blog in 2003 when I was at Dell — has not blogged in nearly a year, and he’s now a social media consultant! 

I thought this one year anniversary of “no posts” is a good opportunity to give a summary of how or why I orphaned my blog for so long.

First, Bazaarvoice has been more than a full time job as we’ve grown from 6 of us in January 2006 to over 550 employees, 9 products, serving 800 brands. In terms of writing (which takes a lot of time) I’ve felt more obligated to blog on Bazaarblog, write articles (such as my ClickZ column), and helping my team produce videos. And then I had other commitments taking time, such as co-founding Capital Factory, launching a web-based chore application, serving on boards, and spending as much time as I can with my family! 

A big factor is my Twitter activity took away from blogging. If I had an idea, I tried to put it in 140 characters and tried to live by a “less is more” mantra. And if the idea deserved more writing, and it was about marketing or social commerce, I ended up putting it on Bazaarblog.

Despite the lapse in content, Deckermarketing blog traffic hasn’t gone down. I still get 100 to 200 visits a day, largely from Google search results. I didn’t expect that.

Traffic
 

Now what? I’m still super busy, however I don’t want to let the investment in this blog go to waste. I'm going to start to post again, at least once a month in depth, and more frequently with a simple post of a paragraph or less. But with so many outlets, it's hard to focus on one. What do you think? Is the same thing happening to you?

Let Their Content Free!

Last week I spent hosting our second annual Bazaarvoice Social Commerce Summit. Over 300 people came to the AT&T Center in Austin to evolve their social commerce strategy. See my wrap up post here.

Last year my team and I produced a video to send a message to our clients, which was a mockumentary music video, "More Than Words".

This year, I did another music video parody to George Michael's "Freedom! '90" to communicate the idea to our clients that their customers will be their best marketers if they "let their content free". The Title of this is "Freedom! '09 (Let Their Content Free)". Here it is:

Capital Factory Invests in Five Startups for 2009 Fund

Capital-factory-logo As a co-founder and one of 20 mentors for Capital Factory, I'm proud and excited to get started our first year with 5 startups! Here's the release that we just put across the wire today! The program starts with these entrepreneurs May 22 going through August.

And you can follow all 5 startups on Twitter!
@CubitPlanning
@FamiGoGames
@Homstie
@Hourville
@PetzMD

Capital Factory Invests in Five Startups for 2009 Fund
Also Recognizes 5 Additional Finalists

Austin, TX (PRWEB)
April 22, 2009 — Capital Factory, an early stage technology incubator
in Austin, Texas, announced investments in five emerging technology
startups selected to participate in its inaugural 2009 summer program.
Each company will receive a cash investment of up to $20,000, more than
$20,000 in free services, and mentorship from some of the top
entrepreneurs in central Texas. The free services include office space,
legal counsel from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosatti, public relations support from Porter Novelli, and accounting support from The Accounting Group and vCFO, among many other benefits.

Investments:

    * Cubit Planning – Environmental reports at the click of a button
    * FamiGo – Mobile games that bring the family together
    * Homstie – Person-to-person marketplace for storage space
    * Hourville – A marketplace for services by the hour
    * petzMD – Website for Pet Health, from A to Z

Capital
Factory also recognizes five additional finalist startups that were top
runners among the program applicants as well, including:

    * Infochimps – An open marketplace for data
    * Notesmart – Buy & sell classroom notes efficiently
    * Pear Analytics – Marketing decision analytics
    * POLCO – Public policy portal for measuring your representation
    * ProspectIdentify – Sales intelligence tool to find who to call, when, and what to say

The
five startups were selected from a list of more than 250 applicants and
five additional companies were recognized as finalists. Applications
were submitted from all over the country although more were from Texas
than any other state. Four of the five startups were already located in
Austin and one, Homstie, will be relocating from California this summer.

"We
were only planning on investing in three startups this year," said
Capital Factory managing director, Joshua Baer. "But we received three
times the number of applications that we expected and ended up
investing in five! We just couldn't pass up the opportunity to work
with these entrepreneurs."

The selection process included
a one page application and five minute video. After reviewing hundreds
of applications, about five percent were invited to in-person
interviews with the mentors. With many promising entrepreneurs to
choose from, the mentors focused on startups who they could help the
most and with the greatest chance of success.

"The
interviews helped us understand what these companies needed and the
extent to which we could help them," said Sam Decker, Capital Factory
managing director. "All of them stated that the money helped, but the
mentorships were what they needed to get their idea off the ground or
to the next level."

The mentorship program starts on May
22 and lasts throughout the summer, ending with a "Demo Day" where the
five startups will present their business to investors, the press, and
the world.

About Capital Factory:

Capital
Factory is an early stage technology incubator based in Austin, Texas.
Startup companies participate in an intense 10-week summer program that
gives them up to $20,000 in cash, more than $20,000 in free services,
and mentorship by a group of successful entrepreneurs. The program
culminates in a demo day where the startups present to investors, the
press, and the world. For more information on Capital Factory, visit
the website at www.capitalfactory.com or on Twitter @capitalfactory.

For press inquiries, contact:
Caroline Traylor
Porter Novelli
(512) 241-2239
carolinetraylor [at] capitalfactory.com

How Toyota Followed Baby Boomers

Last week I presented on a panel with Professor Arturo Perez-Reyes (UC Berekeley) at an event in San Francisco we put on with Jupiter Research. One story the Professor shared about Toyota was something I hadn't heard before…

He said that Toyota followed the baby boomer generation as a market. They looked at the demographics and spending power of that generation. I think it went something like this… They started with the Corolla, then Celica for when they got into college, then Corona/Camry, then launched Lexus when they had discretionary income. They followed the 'bulge' of spending the baby boomers had.

It's an interesting way to think about the markets you're going after. Is it big? how will it evolve? How will it effect your product strategy?