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The Pitch: "It's the Twitter of Video Chat"; "the Instagram of Shoes"

At DemoFall, geocaching for shoes didn't seem to catch on, but Instagrams for videos had some appeal

2 min read
The Pitch: "It's the Twitter of Video Chat"; "the Instagram of Shoes"

Like movie executives, hopeful entrepreneurs tend to describe their new companies in terms of successful ones that came before them. It’s not clear whether they do this because they’re hoping some of the magic pixie dust that turned a previous idea into gold will trickle down to them, or because they think an analogy is the best way to get the world’s attention, or because they didn’t have a original idea and are simply evolving an old one. But it’s so common it inspires parody, like youtube videos that pitch Pandora for cats, among other imagined technologies.

At this year’s DemoFall conference held earlier this month in Santa Clara, Calif., these mini-homages to successful startups were everywhere. There was OnCam, “the twitter of video chat;” Itography, “geocaching for shoes;” Flinja, the “Airbnb for college service providers” (college students who do freelance jobs); Omnicloud, “the Dropbox for apps;” Givit, one of several “Instagram for videos;” and Wiresurfer, the “Kayak for business telecom services.”

And then there was OrbitFront, a reviews site with a 14-year-old founder who decided one analogy was not enough and touted his startup as having “the community of Twitter, the expression of Youtube, and the profitability of Amazon.” 

Will any of these nascent companies turn into successful enterprises? It’s little early to tell, but the venture capitalists, analysts, and already-successful entrepreneurs critiquing the demos, while not so enthusiastic about geocaching for shoes, did seem to agree that the world is actually waiting for “Instagram for Video.” Today, while it’s easy enough to take videos with a mobile device, editing and sharing them isn't, and a company that takes away the pain and becomes a standard for video sharing could succeed. And while it’s not clear that any of the mobile video editing companies who presented their wares at DemoFall are going to replicate the sold-to-Facebook-for-$1-billion success of Instagram, that possibility is what keeps the startup energy flowing.

Follow me on Twitter @TeklaPerry.

Image: Author's mashup representing a geocaching Instagram for shoes.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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