I went to the Silicon Valley New Technology Meetup for March to see demos of hot new web2.0 technologies and mingle with fellow entrepreneurs and investors. I can’t stop raving about this Meetup group with over 2000 members and its organizer Vincent Lauria. Take a fantastic lineup of new tech firms, and add to that mix – free pizza and beer, what’s not to like?! On Tuesday, we saw yet another great lineup of some of Silicon Valley’s best up and comers.
Lendingclub.com [Rob Garcia] – Featured on CNBC, this site offers a platform for peer to peer lending. The revenue model was traditional financial industry standard – processing fee and portion of the interest as management fee. Interesting concept for sure, especially for the un-creditworthy or low credit rating population. However, concern about privacy and lack of recourse in case of non-repayment didn’t win this venture many fans, at least in the room.
Photocrank.com [Jeffrey Tannenbaum]- This site allows you to add comments/call outs to any photo online. While some comments are hilarious, some can be quite tasteless, given that the masses are free to add their own twist of humor to the photos and one person’s sense of humor is another one’s … The revenue model sounded like it included a mix of revenue-sharing and product placement fees.
Genietown.com – [Florian Brody] This site offers a way to connect local folks with local services, where even amateurs can pitch their services like dog-walking, exotic dancing, etc. since as the site claims, everybody is an expert on something. I thought this was the most entertaining presentation of the evening. The presenter/founder has a very dry humor. He got his point across on the importance of localization by giving an example of how a cleaning lady in Vietnam is no good when you live in the bay area. Point well-taken! However, monetization was iffy since the final transaction can be conducted off the site. One more interesting feature is the ability for vendors to rate their customers. He quoted eBay as the inspiration for this mutual feedback policy, but anyone who’s been following eBay news lately knows that eBay has modified its policy and sellers are no longer allowed to leave negative comments for buyers.
Caachi.com [Tom Hicks]- This by far was the hands down winner for the evening. Caachi allows indie film makes to have an online channel of distribution and get 75% of the proceeds. Members can view films that have typically only been available at film festivals for a download fee of $.99 and above. I thought it’s a brilliant concept and has a very promising revenue model where the site gets a percentage of the sales from the movies, but this fell short on the (OMG) social networking functionality. The site doesn’t offer any way for viewers to rate the films which probably hurts the viral word of mouth marketing that sustains most social sites but the founder assured the audience that member rating and reviews are coming soon.