Favorite Startups from 1776’s Challenge Cup!


The 13th and final stop in 1776‘s global Challenge Cup tour took place at RocketSuites in San Francisco last Thursday. After 12 regional Challenge Cups in leading cities such as London, Beijing and Tel Aviv, the last 19 startups pitched for the chance to enter the final round in DC and win funding!

All of the startups pitching in the 4 categories, Education, Energy, Health and Smart Cities, were amazing but I found 2 especially interesting: Scoot Networks and HandUp.

Scoot Networks

Scoot Networks

Scoot Networks is like City Bike Share for electric scooters!

Super simple, easy and cheaper than getting a Lyft. You download the app on the Apple or Android app store, sign up for a quick orientation meant to explain how everything works and get you comfortable driving the scooters, then check out the map for the nearest Scoot location to grab your ride.

It’s a great alternative to buying a car or scooter, and at $4-6 (my own average) a ride, much cheaper than Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services!

HandUp

Hand UpI always feel uncomfortable giving cash to homeless people. I really want to help, but I worked hard for that money and want to make sure it won’t end up paying for drugs, alcohol or worse… so I fell in love as soon as I heard the pitch for HandUp.

HandUp has a smart phone app that allows you to donate money to a homeless person if they choose to give you their HandUp number or landing page, and donations go through HandUp to pay for food, shelter and other daily life necessities. Plus each beneficiary has a case manager there to help members make the best use of donations, and you can see where your money helped them go.

Follow HandUp and the other San Francisco winners’ progress in the final round of the Challenge Cup here!

Start in Paris Recap


I attended my last Start in Paris last night =/ It was a great one though so it was great to end on a great note =]

The evening started with a great potpourri of tips from melty founder Alexander Marsch. Here are a few excerpts:

  1. Your team is THE most important thing. Make sure you have a sales guy (no, your engineer who is kinda OK at sales will not cut it), a CFO and someone in charge of product development/all the techy stuff. Having a competent person in charge of EACH one of these important aspects–sales, vision, development–will inspire trust and win you big bucks with investors (or at least make it possible for you to win all that $$$.)
  2. Continuing the human theme–get your self a kick ass advisory board. Network you ass off to meet people who are not only influential in your industry (to get you clients and partners) but also knowledgeable. Their expert advice will help you with development and market positionment. It will make your job considerably easier.
  3. Don’t raise funds right away. If you do, you will not have complete control over your product, you will get used to having $$ to spend (a good reason Marsch mentioned NOT to raise a lot of money when you do raise btw), you will not be able to adjust to user feedback as quickly and efficiently, and you won’t be able to raise as much money with the same number of shares as you would have with the time to prove your idea. Was that clear enough? Money is bad (in the beginning.)
  4. Surround yourself with people who motivate you. Entrepreneurship is hard, really hard. You are going to jump for joy, feel like the world is caving in and coming to an end, want to give up… so make sure you have people there to give you a good kick in the butt and tell you to keep going.
  5. Last but not least, this one isn’t new, but failure is an amazing teacher. Failure is not the end of the world. If anything, it’s the beginning of a startup that will be even better than your last one.

After that amazing advice, 5 startups took part in the pitch competition:

FioulReduc helps Frenchmen (and women) buy fuel to heat their homes more cheaply.

Sportlinkd is a social network that helps you find someone to play sports with locally.

Potati is a safe internet navigator for kids.

Whoozer you already know from my previous article.

HumanoGames created Happy Life, a Facebook game that teaches players about entrepreneurship all while funding microcredit in real-life and fascilitating players’ transition from Facebook user to real-life donator.

And the winner is.... HumanoGames!

Why Being Social Is Awesome (Check Out My Bike!)


I haven’t gotten my camera memory card back yet, but I couldn’t resist sharing one of the coolest moments from Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH conference with you.

One of the things my boss wanted me to do at the conference was to go around and find judges and somehow entice them to come to our booth (we were just one of dozens of startups in the demo pit, but if one judge found our startup really cool they could have brought us on stage to pitch in front of the whole conference.)

That’s not a very good strategy though. Have you ever been hunted? For anything… a favor, money, even a homeless person trying to get a few coins? It’s NOT an enjoyable experience. So I had the following thought process: if I was a judge, would I get sick of entrepreneurs chasing me around trying to get me to go check out their cool SoLoMo startup? Um… yeah! I would! Would I avoid anyone making a bee line for me? Heh, well… I would be a little cautious. So why the hell would I do that to them?

The way I saw it, our best chance at success (and at my actually enjoying the conference–the first day was pretty boring since all I got to do was stand at the booth) was to just be my usual social, cheerful self =] so that’s what I did. I walked around the stands chatting everyone up, trying on costumes (no joke! Pictures will go up once I get my camera memory card back) and taking pictures… and lo and behold, I ran into judges!

So I just kept going =] One judge I ran into had an awesome bike! So what did I do? I asked for a ride ^^ and I got it!! He let me do several laps around the conference! Yeah… I was proud =D He had me film a little schpeel about how the bike rode for his blog too ❤ (I’ll post the link once I’ve got it.) And we did end up stopping by the stand so I could grab my camera, so he learned about Contract Live too.

Told you that ride was awesome! Can you see the peddals?

The coolest part though? Bill Warner (the judge in question), a famous entrepreneur and Angel investor, asked for my opinion on an investment he was considering. Oh was I proud then! I’ll have to save those details for another post though ;D I want to see what y’all think about the startup he was considering.

So? Are you gonna be even more social and awesome now that you’ve read how awesome it can make your day? =]

*As if that encounter wasn’t cool enough as it is, he told me I should go into tv =]

On Great Contest Ideas


I have to invite her, but where?

I stumbled upon something awesome today! Ben & Fakto (French startup I wrote about in my first Mash Up post) is giving away 3 bags of Deexies condoms for Valentine’s Day. Deexies is a social business that gives away a free condom to an NGO for each condom bought. With problems such as HIV and other STDs infecting millions in developing countries each year, what better way to enjoy some naughty fun than by having a clear conscience?

To help them in their selfless endeavor, Ben & Fakto will give away 3 10-count bags on Valentine’s Day to whoever posts the best photos. Here’s the deal: Fakto fell in love with a girl but has gotten trapped in the undesirable friend zone. Ben, loyal friend that he is, decided to help and is reaching out to all of you. He’s asking you to think up a romantic location where Fakto could reveal his affection to his beloved and snap a picture. Upload your picture here and get voting! The photographers who took the 3 most popular pictures will receive a cute bag of 10 Deexies condoms.

You can like Deexies on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

My Startup’s on BFM Académie!


Yup, Mathieu Lhoumeau (pictured on left), co-founder of Contract Live (where I work =] ), is on BFM Business Radio‘s entrepreneur competition BFM Académie this weekend. Each week, 2 entrepreneurs face off and listeners are invited to vote online until the following Thursday (January 12, 2012 for us.) This is where you guys come in!

As promised, I will volunteer if Contract Live wins this first round =] As of now, “giving little kids English lessons” is winning on my poll, but “organizing picnics/leading workshops for handicapped people” is a close second! I’m not cutting it off yet, so go ahead and vote there too if you would like.

To be completely honest, I’ll volunteer even if Contract Live doesn’t win. I really would appreciate it if you would at least check out the interviews here though and vote if you feel inclined to do so =] (there are videos on the “and vote” link too.)

Thanks everyone, and have an awesome weekend!

❤ Sophie

P.S.