Eric Spengler is an attorney at Spengler & Agans PLLC, a law firm that works with local startups and small businesses (and, full disclosure, they are proud sponsors of PitchBreakfast).
There are few places in the Queen City more entertaining at 8 a.m.—the second Wednesday of each month—than Uptown’s Packard Place for PitchBreakfast, the premier pitch event for Charlotte’s entrepreneurs. (For those of you who aren’t familiar, think ABC’s Shark Tank—but replace Mark Cuban and the other investment-minded “sharks” with a mostly friendly panel of judges and a live studio audience.)
This month’s event featured four companies. Each startup gave a two-minute elevator pitch with no slides, followed by 10 minutes for Q&As with the judges and audience.
The judges for December were Lister Delgado, founder general partner and managing partner at IDEA Fund Partners, and Bob Dunn, CEO and founder of Dunn Growth Advisors.
Here’s what you missed if you couldn’t make it this time:
Co-founders: Dan D’Aquisto and Alex Smereczniak.
The company’s tagline says it all: “Time is money, and 2U Laundry saves you loads of time.”
2U Laundry is bringing premium door-to-door laundry services to Charlotte. The company is the first of its kind in the Queen City to offer pickup and delivery for both dry cleaning and regular laundry. For a per-use fee ($1.50/lb) or a monthly membership starting at $59/month, 2U Laundry will pick up, wash, dry and fold your clothes—and return them to you within 24 hours.
The company started as a student-run operation at Wake Forest University, where the idea caught on quickly. The company has smartly identified its target audience in Charlotte, expanding its service area from its initial rollout to upscale, Uptown apartments.
One Baby Boomer in the audience, trying to put himself in the shoes of the Millennial customer, described the need for 2U Laundry in his own words: “I like the on-demand economy; I don’t do any planning; I’ve got dirty laundry and need to do it now.” Sounds like a common occurrence to me.
My lawyer brain has me wondering if 2U Laundry could be liable when the sock monster strikes on their watch. (How is it that the socks always go in, but rarely make it out together?)
Co-founders: Eric Welke and Matt McGlothlin
RepRevive, founded by two local entrepreneurs with years of experience in SEO and web design, provides small companies with software tools designed to receive more useful customer feedback and to manage their online reputations across various platforms (e.g., Yelp, Urban Spoon, etc.). The startup currently works with around a dozen small businesses, mostly in the restaurant industry.
RepRevive’s business model relies on distinguishing among customers based on their net promotor scores. For “detractors,” the goal is to seek out constructive criticism that will help the company improve its customer service (but that might not be broadcast to the world). For “passives,” the goal is to re-engage the customer and give the company a second chance to win their support. And for “promoters,” the goal is to invite the customer to share their positive experience with the rest of the online world.
In other words, RepRevive helps companies identify the Marilyn Hagertys of the world. Don’t know who I’m talking about? Ms. Hagerty is an octogenarian whose glowing review of the new Olive Garden in Grand Forks, North Dakota went viral a few years ago. With the help of RepRevive, it won’t be only the mega-restaurant chains of the world who receive online praise from their biggest fans. (Not riping on Olive Garden – I agree, Marilyn, the chicken Alfredo can be “warm and comforting on a cold day,” not to mention their exquisite breadsticks.)
Chief Operating Officer: Tim Martin
UCXchange is the real deal in the startup world. After a previous seed round, they are now raising a Series A round of funding.
UCXchange is disrupting the way cloud storage space is currently bought and sold. In a nutshell, the company is creating a marketplace for the purchase of cloud storage space, just like any other commodity (whether a bushel of wheat or a barrel of oil).
The current system relies on an allocation-based model where buyers of cloud space use only 20% to 50% of the space they purchase. The new system would be based on a consumption-based model where purchasers pay for only what they actually use.
On the flip side, for suppliers of cloud storage space, UCXchange offers the ability to sell excess capacity on the wholesale market. The chief operating officer for the company, Tim Martin—who used to be a professional golfer—explained that computing resources are like fresh food, in that whatever is not used is wasted (and costs money).
The company “leverages a patented single unit of measure called the Workload Allocation Cube (WAC) to enable standardized measurement of IT infrastructure.” This single WAC unit allows for an “unparalleled ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison” that is necessary for the commodization of cloud storage computing.
There is a whole lot more going on with UCXchange that was, frankly, a bit over my head. I left Tim’s presentation deeply impressed—and with the realization that he and I share little in common. Really, I’m not sure which is worse: My golf game? Or my understanding of how the WAC works with cloud computing?
Founder: Dillon Teander
Holding politicians accountable is the raison d’être for Dillon Teander. With Regage, he envisions a platform that will spur political engagement in everyday citizens on the political issues that matter most to them.
Regage is in the process of forming as a 501(c)(4), a type of nonprofit organization that can spend unlimited amounts of money on issue advocacy. (Unlike the WAC, I have some understanding of campaign finance law after an internship at the Federal Election Commission the summer following the Citizens United decision.)
Regage would allow individual citizens to pool money behind lobbying efforts—“to be able to use the same tools that big money uses” in effectuating change. Interestingly, Dillon is not seeking to push his own ideological agenda with Regage. Instead, he envisions that Regage would be agnostic and potentially could seek contributions from both sides on a given issue (e.g., from both pro- and anti-gun control donors).
If you missed this month’s event, you can catch the next PitchBreakfast the second Wednesday of next month (February 10). And even if you’re not pitching a company yourself, the event is a great opportunity for business-minded Charlotteans to network with professionals and find inspiration from other entrepreneurs.