Distilled Intelligence 2.0 – DC Area Start-ups Thriving

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending day one of Distilled Intelligence 2.0, a fast-paced, start-up pitch competition put on by Fortify.VC. It’s one of the area’s leading early-stage venture capital funds and sponsored by Microsoft and an A-list of area companies and service firms.  This is the second year for the event and featured 100 companies competing for exposure and $100k in prize money. On day one,  50 companies that have raised $100k to $1 million competed. Another 50 companies who have raised $100k or less are competed on day two.  The format for each day is the same. Each company gives a one-minute elevator pitch. The top 20 are selected to give three minute pitches with slides. Then the top 10 are selected to have a four-minute Q&A session with selected investors. Finally, the top five are announced and the top three are awarded prize money. First place, $35k, second place, $10k, and third place, $5k.

It was an interesting process to watch, and it was great to see so many passionate entrepreneurs pitching their companies. Many were from the DC area, but others came from across the U.S. or other countries, like Brazil. As each company made their one-minute pitch, I rated them in my book on a scale of 1-5. It was nice to see most of the ones I liked move to the later rounds and ultimately, take home some prize money. You can see a full list of the participants on the Distilled Intelligence site, but here is a list and description of the top five, as well as a few others I found interesting and worth keeping an eye on:

1st Place – Speek (http://www.speek.com) A vastly improved way to easily setup and handle conference calls.

2nd Place – CampEasy (http://www.campeasy.com) A tool and marketplace that helps parents easily find and schedule the best camp options for their kids.

3rd Place – TistaGames (http://www.tistagames.com) A social gaming company that hopes to be the HBO of games testing and releasing them as weekly episodes.

4th Place – 410Labs (http://410labs.com) A multi-product company focused on de-cluttering information and presenting their application, Mailstrom, that helps you clean out and organize your email inbox.

5th Place – Hallway (http://www.hallway.co) A company founded and currently run by local high school students that helps students study and connect with friends, classmates and students around the world on specific subjects and classes.

Congratulations to day one’s top five!  An incredible job and great companies!  I have already signed up for Speek, CampEasy, and Mailstrom. I also expect to tell my kids about Hallway, both as an interesting way to learn and get answers to questions they may be struggling through collaboration. It’s also an example of some innovative students creating real businesses.

There were a few more that I liked and think you might want to check out, invest in or keep an eye on for the future.

  • Dasdak (http://www.dasdak.com) is a company that, although is in desperate need of a name change, is making money by providing a service that currently lets fans at RFK stadium and National’s park order food and have it delivered right to their seats in minutes for a small convenience fee.
  • Distil (http://www.distil.it) is an innovative company that helps protect your online content by preventing web scraping and stealing of your content. We might need this at ReveNews, as this article will be scrapped and re-posted on many sites shortly.
  • Fleksy (http://fleksy.com) is a new keyboard for touchscreen devices that makes it easier to type without looking at the screen and has been successful in helping blind users type on their iPhones. I actually just send this to a friend of mine with a blind child who loves technology.
  • Micronic Technologies (http://micronictechnologies.com) is a company with technology that purifies water supplies less expensively by creating controlled tornadoes.
  • Ruzuku (http://ruzuku.com) is a company the helps experts earn money by creating and selling online courses.
  • Umba Box (http://umbabox.com) is a subscription gift service delivering top-quality, handmade products. A new deal with Facebook could see their subscribers grow. Also, it’s probably a good company in need of an affiliate program.
  • Wahooly (http://wahooly.com) helps connect start-up companies looking to gain traction and online influences (e.g., high Klout score) connect and mutually profit from a relationship.

Unfortunately I was unable to make day two of the event, but it will be fun to follow the live blog to hear what happens and check out some of the winners.

About Adam Viener

Adam Viener is the Chairman & Founder of imwave, inc, a leading performance search engine marketing agency. Imwave focuses primarily on building and launching effective pay-per-click search engine keyword marketing campaigns for companies paying commissions on sales and leads generated. In 2009, 2010, 2011, & 2012 Imwave was recognized as one of the fastest growing privately held companies by Inc. Magazine. Imwave recently announced they had served over 5 Billion ads for their clients!

Adam is also the founder of Yazing, a new site that not only pays you cash back on the things you buy online, but also lets you earn cash rewards recommending the top brands on the internet. Yazing gives you instant access to top commission rates from the leading online brands without having to join each affiliate network or program directly.

Adam, a serial internet entrepreneur, founded one of the first commercial internet service providers (ISPs) in 1993. He has a deep understanding of internet technologies and profitable internet marketing tactics.

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