Startups strut stuff in first-year showcase at 80/35 Music Festival
Customer engagement platform FreeBeeCards used 80/35 to showcase its virtual gift cards.
The inaugural year of Start-Up Central at 80/35 was modest — a single tent, promising information and a bit of shade on a sweltering day — but festival officials and startup founders alike see potential to build on the relationship between technology and music.
"We actually share quite a bit in that we need to be creative," said John Jackovin, co-founder of Bawte, comparing artists, musicians and entrepreneurs. He compared the potential for growth to South By Southwest, which started as a music festival but grew to include technology. Justin Schoen, president of the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition, also made a comparison to SXSW.
Eight companies took part in the four-hour showcase, hoping to spread their message to the record-breaking crowd — and maybe catch a set or two themselves (Death Cab for Cutie, Atmosphere and Christopher the Conquered were the favorites in our very unscientific 80/35 poll).
Didn't make it out? Here's a recap of the startups that participated (in alphabetical order):
Bawte: Visitors could download the app and tag a pack of gum to be entered to win a $100 gift card. This is Bawte's second big exposure to a wide audience in recent weeks, in addition to a promotion with Kum & Go.
BettrLife: The healthy shopping and recipe company was excited to be in front of a "variety of demographics," BettrLife's Amy Hudson said. The team was using QR codes to direct concertgoers to like their Facebook page.
Dwolla: The online payments startup had a game of bags (left) to lure people over to Start-Up Central, and participants could win money (after creating a Dwolla account, of course) or a T-shirt. Dwolla intern Jeromy Sonne noted that the 80/35 crowd tends to be early adopters and that Dwolla is convenient for festival vendors.
Electric Dream Machine: The company that converts gas cars to electric wanted "to educate people that this can be done," co-founder Nabil Hanke said, "that the technology already exists." The young company was conducting surveys, showing off an electric bike and raffling a test drive.
FreeBeeCards: The team was out creating buzz with a FreeBeeCard that could reveal $5 to $50 when scanned. They also had a tablet on hand to demonstrate how the cards work for small businesses.
Locusic: "This is our scene," said Liz McDonough, media and marketing manager for the local music service, "These are the people who want to find out more." McDonough said she was especially excited to connect with people from the Twin Cities, where Locusic recently launched.
ShareWhere: "It's always great to be able to have a presence in a location with this many of our target market," founder Dylan Hamilton said. The team was offering a chance to win $100 for signing up for the TukTuk Goose Chase.
SocialWise Media Group: The consulting firm was promoting its raffle of $100 in Google Ad Words for clients that sign up by Aug. 27. Visitors could also enter to win an iPod touch by liking the company on Facebook.
Eight companies set up shop on Saturday under the Start-Up Central tent at 80/35.
Disclosure: Silicon Prairie News is a media sponsor of Start-Up Central.
Credits: Photos by Sarah Binder