Last week a handful of QLers attended and volunteered at the first ever Mergelane Demo Day. MergeLane is an accelerator program that mentors and funds companies with women founders. The CEO and Founder of Mergelane, Sue Heilbronner, opened the event with a discussion about pride, and how proud she was to be surrounded by a community of mentors, startups and investors, that have been so supportive of MergeLane’s efforts. The conference room at the St. Julian was completely packed, and the awesome turnout reminded me just how successful Boulder is at instrumenting opportunity for our startup community.
The MergeLane Demo Day stood out from others I’ve attended based on the fact that one of the main focuses for this event was to support women leaders and their companies. But even more so, it was particularly interesting that each startup had a very specific pain point they were trying to solve. These pain points were made extremely clear in every presentation, and the business initiatives these startups were spearheading brought effective solutions to many of the problems people deal with everyday.
Below is a summary of the pain points and solutions described by each of these companies.
- Pain Point: Generating maps that comply with environmental regulations.
- Solution: Eliminating the middleman in the permit process by providing engineers with an easy way to produce maps.
Mapistry seeks to help engineers climb out of mountains of paperwork. By creating ease of use in their tedious daily tasks, Mapistry gives engineers the opportunity to focus on the important parts of their job by spending just a few hours creating maps for permits, as opposed to weeks. The company has focused their efforts on storm water projects, with future opportunities to dive into other civil projects.
- Pain Point: Changing sheets quickly and easily.
- Solution: A sheet where the base stays on the mattress, while the top sheet zips on and off.
QuickZip provides ease of use in changing sheets on everything from cribs to standard mattresses. The product is perfect for new families or the elderly. QuickZip’s growing customer base gives the company amazing reviews on Amazon, proving that people love this product. Last year the company generated $400,000 in revenue with no marketing efforts and is projecting $1.7 million dollars in revenue next year through its direct digital sales channel strategy.
- Pain Point: Drawing useful conclusions from complex financial data.
- Solution: Easy access to comparable financial information, presented online.
Idaciti talked about how there are pages and pages of financial data that companies flip through in order to try and gain a better understanding for their competitive landscape and the industries in which they operate. Idaciti’s high profile beta has already given companies like Nordstrom and American Express access to valuable information that they’ve used to make important business decisions. The subscription based SaaS is available to both private and public companies looking to remain of at the forefront of their industries.
- Pain Point: Clothes for women are often too tight and uncomfortable to wear.
- Solution: A clothing brand that celebrates the tomboy in every woman.
Tomboy Exchange has developed a line of clothing catered towards women who desire high quality clothing with a looser fit. They sell their clothing direct to consumers and have achieved their Kickstarter funding goal. Women absolutely love their branded t-shirts and boxer briefs, which have sold out numerous times.
- Pain Point: There aren’t any desserts on the market that taste good and are gluten and vegan free.
- Solution: A protein enriched snack with paleo and vegan ingredients that tastes delicious and is good for you.
Zaza is a raw, grab-and-go snack and dessert that gives the health conscious consumer something to indulge in. Everyone in the audience got to try their chocolate bar and it is soooo good! The company has achieved nationwide distribution in Whole Foods and Safeway.
- Pain Point: When drug companies administer clinical trials, they often struggle to keep track of the financial, clinical and regulatory information necessary for managing their budgets.
- Solution: A vendor management platform for forecasting financial, clinical and regulatory information, in order to see which hospitals are over or under budget.
Intelligent Eyes has a platform that is well connected to its industry. The company provides a seamless visual display of data through charts, graphs and data tables. Their efforts help get drugs to patients one year faster, while saving drug companies millions of dollars along the way.
- Pain Point: Many times people are given gift that (lets be real), they don’t really like or want.
- Solution: A sweet gift meant to make you feel like a kid in a candy store and delivered conveniently right to your door.
SugarWish is an e-commerce business that provides customers with delicious candies customized to their liking. The company is focusing much of their efforts on corporate gifts, though the product is for anyone who likes candy! Buyers include Google, SendGrid and The Skimm to name a few. This is such a universal gift that anyone can enjoy, and with growing interest 17% of gift recipients turn around and send the gift to another friend. In addition to increased popularity through word of mouth, the company has gained national press on The Today Show and in People Magazine, and SugarWish was mentioned as a trend setter in Forbes.
- Pain Point: Oftentimes it’s difficult for people to find the time and expertise necessary to design their home to perfection.
- Solution: A service in which an individual is matched up with a designer who furnishes their place online.
Havenly surveys customers to find each person’s preferred style, then matches them to a designer who creates design concepts for the person’s home. The customer can then refine the concepts, and the designer molds the concept into a full-fledged living space all for one flat fee. Havenly has seen 20% growth month over month, with $1.6 million in annual revenue. The company just closed with $1.5 million in seed funding.
As you can see, each of these startups have particularly exceptional product offerings for many different types of people. I think we can all check at least one pain point off of our list in terms of the solutions these companies provide. Mergelane was such a success and I can’t wait for the accelerator to dive in with their next class of driven, bright and game changing startups.