The Future of Web Advertising

4 AdTech Startups That Could Change The Marketing Landscape for Online Retailers in a Big Way

4 Startups That Could Change The Marketing Landscape for Online Retailers in a Big Way

Hear pitches from 4 companies who are changing the way online retailers advertise to consumers. Learn how these innovative entrepreneurs plan to disrupt the web ad online advertising space and dig down to learn more about their ideas and business models.

5 minute presentations by each of the teams, followed by 5 minutes of questions by our panelists which include a distinguished group of VCs.

We showcase the 4 following startups:

Album+ – is the easiest way to aggregate location specific event photos, in real time. We use mobile technology, and geolocation, along with a web app and some API`s to make shooting, collecting, organizing, sharing and purchasing photos from the same event; automatic. Our target market right now is weddings, and our business model is charging the host for the service. The app is free and can be found here

Appside – Founded in 2011 AppSide is the first end-to-end content marketplace for motion-controlled entertainment devices. With years of experience in the motion field, AppSide provides the “missing link” between hardware manufacturers, developers and end-users, in the fast growing market of motion-controlled/Natural Interaction entertainment devices. AppSide`s end-to- end marketplace (platform and content) gives users easy access to innovative motion controlled games and apps using the best device experience possible. The company is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, and is backed by Wekix, a technology and new-media start-up accelerator, as well as high-profile US and European private investors.

Immersive Labs – provides adaptive advertising technology designed to optimize content based on actual viewership on digital signs for retailers and out-of-home advertisers. The technology is a combination of anonymous facial detection, sophisticated machine learning and strategies specified by the marketer. Immersive Labs is a Techstars NY company and was selected as one of the Top 25 hottest startups to watch in New York City by Business Insider.

Lemon – (an acronym for Location Enhanced Mobile Opt-in Network) is a digital media company providing total B2B solutions for location-based mobile marketing. The company offers state-of-the-art white label software that can be integrated into any app on the Android, Blackberry, or iPhone platform. When installed, the LEMON software enables push messaging based on precise locational awareness and specific user behaviors, resulting in highly targeted and relevant messages delivered at exactly the right time and place for maximum impact. The company also offers agency and consulting services, including strategic planning, custom app development, campaign planning & management, and metrics & reporting.

Panel Moderator:
– Lori Hoberman, Partner, Chadbourne & Parke LLP

Panel Speakers:
– Peg Jackson, Gridley & Co.
– Erik Nordlander, Google Ventures
– Jeanne Sullivan, Starvest Partners

Start-up Bootcamp

Learn how to plan your business with speed and flexibility in this interactive workshop.

Create and Pitch a successful business plan
If your business plan is scribbled on a napkin, you could be in for some nasty surprises. On the other hand, a 40-page term paper is a waste. Instead, invest just time enough to make smart choices, and be prepared to pitch your ideas in a compelling way. Learn how to plan your business with speed and flexibility in this interactive workshop.

David Ronick is a co-founder of, which helps founders start up smarter via on-demand courses, coaching, and webinars. David has helped over 100 founders plan and launch new ventures, and is the author of Hit The Deck: Create a Business Plan in Half the Time with Twice the Impact. Prior to upstart, David co-founded an early social network, and an out-of-home ad network. David is a contributing writer for and, and a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Business School, where he`s a judge of their business plan contest.

Leaving a Big Company To Start Your Own

Or, how to go bald in under a year.

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. If you currently have a secure job at a big company you probably have a nice healthcare plan, a steady, dependable paycheck and colleagues that you hopefully enjoy working with. The early days of a start-up include lots of sleepless nights, no health plan, no pay, and lots of alone time as you build out the early stages of your vision. As I can attest to, entrepreneurship puts hair on your chest. Fortunately, it hasn’t taken any from my head. Yet.

In the above interview, I talk to Sabir Semerkant about leaving a big company to start his own business.

I always ask entrepreneurs what business productivity tools they use in hopes that others may learn what works for different people and why they chose the tools they use for everything from project management to accounting, sales-force automation, customer relationship management, document creation, back-up, storage, Web hosting, etc.

Below you can learn about the tools Sabir chose for the early stages of his business.

Business Productivity Tools For Startups

I asked Sabir what productivity tools he uses to manage his business. In no particular order, he mentions:

Online Marketing Tactics for Start-ups

Do the things that don’t cost you money right so that when you do spend money you get high ROI.

“When you don’t have money you get creative”, Sabir Semerkant told me while explaining how The Vitamin Creek drives traffic to its e-commerce Web site. Sometimes, when building a business, not having money is a blessing in disguise. It forces a company to be smart in both product development and marketing. Having too much money allows a company to get a little lazy and pick up bad habits that can be hidden by money.

A successful professional quarterback or pitcher learns and fine tunes proper mechanics throughout high school and college. Similarly, an aspiring start-up needs to start by building a solid marketing foundation on top of which it can run various pay and free marketing initiatives. Build a weak foundation, and the money you spend will not deliver as efficient a return on investment than if you have a solid foundation in place.

The Vitamin Creek focuses on making marketing initiatives that take internal time and resources as efficient as possible. For example, the company has thousands of product detail pages. The company is focused on making sure each page, starting with the most trafficked pages, has plenty of high resolution product photos, product descriptions, and other page level details that make it easy for a customer to quickly decide that yes, indeed, this is the right product for me, and put the product in his shopping cart.

If your goal is to drive traffic to a Web site, it’s easy to get enamored by quick fix solutions such as buying key words on Google. Start-ups should analyze the acquisition cost to acquire each new customer as key words become more competitive.

About 60% of traffic to Web sites comes from Google organic search. The time a Web site owner puts into optimizing the site so that it is easily found through search can provide huge returns. Search traffic is free. But optimizing a Web site through search engine optimization tactics and seeing the results of the effort takes time. It’s not a quick fix like buying keywords on Google Ad Words, but rather a sustained effort.

Spyfu is a tool to measure the velocity of keywords – who is bidding on it, what the bid price is. A good key word that has a high price might make a good word or phrase to focus organic efforts around. Develop content on your site that includes those key words. Let others pay for the side of site ads when people search those terms. Discover the hidden gems – keywords that aren’t expensive but still get a fair amount of searches and pay for them instead.

Sabir plans to engage bloggers that focus on his industry vertical next. These are people who blog regularly about nutrition, health and vitamins.

Twitter is a platform that allows you to keep track of keywords related to your products so that you know who is talking about products you carry. You can then engage consumers who are shopping for these products. Just make sure you engage them in an authentic, helpful way, rather than immediately trying to sell them something. Help someone out and start a conversation with them about what they are researching. People generally appreciate getting a helpful response to their questions. Make a connection, person by person.

TwapperKeeper allows you to save searches for specific keywords on Twitter, such as the brands you carry. You can see who tweeted those keywords and engage that person in a dialogue.

Sabir uses TweetDeck as his Twitter platform. I do too.

Got Video? Now You Have Text

New York startup SpeakerText tackles the age-old problem of how to turn fantastic video into rich, SEO-optimized text.

SpeakerText: (from left) Tyler Kieft, Matt Mireles & Matt Swanson.

Writers are told to write what they know. Well, former journalist Matt Mireles knew there was a fundamental problem in the way the internet reads video —it doesn’t — so he wrote an entire company to rectify the problem. Called SpeakerText, his team hopes to forever change the way wordsmiths integrate video into their work.

“I’d been a journalist and gone from being a writer to being an interactive storyteller,” 29-year old Mireles says of SpeakerText’s roots. After branching into photography, Mireles then evolved into video, and found a problem: “I wanted quotes to link back to exact moments in the video, but audio and video are not searchable. They’re part of the ‘dark web.'”

The internet has two faces: the content we see, and what happens behind the scenes. Unfortunately for some, particularly journalists, so much of what remains hidden comes in video form. Video needed to be read like text: “Video is like a book. You want an exact moment”

To solve his problem, Mireles tapped his savings, reached out to a programming friend, paid freelancers with iPhones and started SpeakerText. “We needed a way to fit video into the web’s text calculus,” remarks Mirelese. “So we developed a program called QuoteLink: any time you copy text, it goes to an exact moment in the video.” A little over a year later, in January of 2010, they launched SpeakerText. From there it was upward and onward.

With version 1.0 on steady ground, Mireles began assembling a more permanent team: Front End Developer Tyler Kieft, a 23-year old who turned down a job at Lockheed Martin to join SpeakerText, and Chief Technology Officer Matt Swanson, 25, whom Mireles met through a mutual friend and sealed their deal over beers in the East Village. Swanson is a serial entrepreneur and former Artificial Intelligence researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.

As a way of saving money, the trio lived together. Some fledgling companies would crumble under such a scenario. Mireles insists their arrangement helped SpeakerText flourish: “Living together helped the team mentality: our creativity grew exponentially.”

Over the next few months the men worked at perfecting SpeakerText and its QuoteLink technology to meet Mireles’ vision: seamlessly transcribing video into text, thus feeding the alphabet-hungry internet valuable information.

“We’ve built a radically new assembly line to create text. We break video into chunks based on voice recognition, use crowd-sourcing, add time stamps,” he explains. “It’s broken down into microtasks that allows a lot of volume in a short amount of time.” Now they just needed to get some attention.

It turns out SpeakerText didn’t need a publicist, something some start-ups see as absolutely essential. Matt just used what he had: a blog and Twitter. “I write a personal blog called the Metamorphosis that has gotten a lot of attention and that, combined with Twitter, has helped me build relationships with investors and others who have helped us network our way to journalists, potential clients and business development partners.”

More than just networking, Matt’s efforts also drew in angel investors to give the nascent company a financial boost.

Now that it has launched, Mireles and his team are marketing SpeakerText — whose direct competition are closed captioning services — as subscription program with scaled rates starting at $19.99 a month based on the number of videos and transcriptions a customer submits.

That subscription, Mireles says, works as an incredible search engine optimizer, fully indexible by Google. “We’re selling it as a video SEO ability that helps a video become viral,” Mireles says of their business plan. “It’s a premium service for small media companies and media bloggers, so it has to be affordable.”

SpeakerText comes in two flavors: a WordPress plugin, and as an API (Application Programming Interface) that requires users to add a few lines of code to accommodate video transcriptions. With those pieces in place, a subscriber uploads their video to YouTube, Vimeo, or whichever video site they prefer, and then sends SpeakerText a list of the videos they wish to have transcribed.

SpeakerText then imports the finished product, complete with SEO keywords, into a text box below your site’s video within 24 hours.

“We wrap the video in text,” says Mireles, ultimately making the video content more searchable, keeps readers on one’s site and, most importantly, helps create a stronger narrative.

“By building this text layer,” insists the former journalist, “we hope we can help people tell stories better, digest news and make money off of it.” Yes, if nothing else, SpeakerText represents a lifeline to the news industry. “I was a journalist. I saw the whole industry collapsing, but, at the same time, I saw a real opportunity for better storytelling.”

Looking forward to growing the company, Mireles relays the best piece of advice he’s received along his remarkable short journey: never give up and network.

Those may sound simple, but Mireles makes his case: “By networking, and forming relationships with people, you put yourself in a position where you can’t give up. There’s a cost of failure: you’ll let people down.”

Startup Tools

Startups need tools to organize themselves. Here’s what SpeakerText uses behind the scenes.

  • Customer Relationship Management: Mireles says he tried Saleforce and other programs and wasn’t completely satisfied. Now he’s using “my new favorite tool,”, which allows you to carbon-copy a reminder to, well, followup on a client.
  • Accounting: QuickBooks
  • Project Management: Mireles says he uses BaseCamp, but reluctantly. In general, he’s not too pleased with 37 Signals’ product line.
  • Cloud Computing: Amazing Web Services
  • Internal Communication: Google Apps
  • Site Analytics: Google Analytics
  • Email Marketing: Mireles said he just signed up for MailChimp, although has not yet formed an opinion.

Opportunities and Challenges for Entrepreneurs in Media and Technology

Are you a media or technology entrepreneur? Are you thinking about becoming one? Watch Columbia Business School alumni participate in a candid discussion on the opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs in media and technology.

Are you a media or technology entrepreneur? Are you thinking about becoming one? Watch Columbia Business School alumni participate in a candid discussion on the opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs in media and technology.

The conversation was moderated by Jack Kaplan, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School and president and founder of Datamark Technologies Inc.

25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech

The always on-it earth2tech crew has a run-down of 25 entrepreneurs who crossed over from the bubblicious infotech markets to the verdant pastures of cleantech.

Interesting cast of characters, but who will give me the closed-loop solar/geothermal arctic phytotron fungi factory I’ve been asking Santa Claus about since I was a wee permaculturist?

The always on-it earth2tech crew has a run-down of 25 entrepreneurs who crossed over from the bubblicious infotech markets to the verdant pastures of cleantech.

Interesting cast of characters, but who will give me the closed-loop solar/geothermal arctic phytotron fungi factory I’ve been asking Santa Claus about since I was a wee permaculturist?

Oh yeah, and if you missed it back in February, earth2tech also posted a map of 101 Cleantech startups, amongst others.

Ready for a roadtrip of map-mashing meta media madness? Methinks so…