In this Internetty bubble we so rarely leave, it’s easy to forget that millions of people in urban areas are within range of a functioning WiFi connection, but can’t necessarily afford it. New York-based startup KeyWiFi wants to help change that, by allowing individuals to rent out their unused WiFi connections for a nominal fee to those who can’t afford Internet.
the startup rundown
HILL COUNTRY. Made in NY: Austin will celebrate New York based tech startups at South by Southwest on March 11 from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Fast Company Grill at Cedar Door in the Texas Capital. The event will be hosted by Gust, and the New York Tech Meetup and will be attended Read More
What's Mine Is Yours
Brooklyn Bowl, the hippest bowling alley east of the East River, was invaded—not by bushy beards and skinny jeans—but by New York techies vying for the approval and adoration of a brutally scrutinizing panel at last night’s Common Pitch, an uncommon sort of pitch competition for startups with a collaborate consumption bent.
Nine startups, narrowed down from an initial pool of about 70, pitched the panel—including a two time Grammy winner, Foodspotting cofounder and Fast Company editor—for a shot at $3,000 (in singles), expert advice from strategist Daniel Karpantschof and other prizes. Each startup had five minutes to make their pitch. If they went over, cofounder Alex Bogusky would throw a yellow penalty flag (read terry-cloth dish towel) to let them know they had 30 seconds to wrap it up. Panelists would then react and tell the presenters what they liked—or didn’t.
Onto the pitches!
the startup rundown
FUNDING FUN. Who is surviving the seed stage slaughter? General Assembly, obviously, which raised $4.25 million from some Russian billionaire and other folks. Crowdtap, the on-demand user testing service, just raised a $7 million Series A financing round led by the Foundry Group. “The funds will be used to help continue the rapid growth we have experienced in our first couple years and continue to build a world class platform to help brands connect to, manage and market with their influential consumers.” AppFirst, the “next generation application problem resolution system for the application performance management market,” announced it closed its Series A for $4 million, led by Javelin Venture Partners. “FirstMark Capital and First Round Capital, original backers of AppFirst, also participated in the financing agreement.”
STEALTH RUMBLINGS. Philip Kaplan, a.k.a. Pud of FuckedCompany.com, just sold his startup TinyLetter to MailChimp and is banging away at another, Fandalism, which is some kind of tool for musicians of all types. Fandalism has 197 fans on Facebook, but when’s it coming out? “Within the next 4 weeks-ish, hopefully. Sorry for the delay.”
The Start-Up Rundown
The biggest start-up news of the last week was probably Google+ sucking up The Fridge, but New York start-ups are pushing features and hiring and having parties and moving to New York City:
WE’RE GOING TO NEW YORK CITY! Philly-and-New York-based mobile payments start-up Venmo will be setting up full-time shop in New York next week on the heels of announcing some new iPhone app features including the most commonly-requested passcode lock, which lets you lock the Venmo app with a four-digit PIN “in case your cat gets a hold of your iPhone.” You can also now scan a credit card by snapping a picture and check a box to check in on Foursquare when you split a bill.
INCREDIBLE JOURNEYS. New York start-up KeyWifi is trying to get people and businesses to share their wifi hot spots, bringing it up against security issues and legal challenges and other logistical hurdles. Betabeat spoke to founder Adam Black some months ago and we were not encouraged that the idea would ever get off the ground. But there’s been some movement: today the start-up announced three new hires. “KeyWifi is also feverishly growing, updating our technology and growing our customer base. To make this happen, our high-spirited, company founder, Adam Black, expanded the arsenal of KeyWifi talent with Product Director, Tom Hughes, Senior Technology Officer, Justin Fields and Community Development Manager, Jenn Lackey.”