Go Seattle! The Innovate 100 Pitch Slam at pii2010

pii2010 logopii2010 (privacy identity innovation) got off to a fine start yesterday with a great opening reception and the Innovate 100 Seattle Pitch Slam.  While a few of the participants were from the Bay Area, Seattle-area startups Optify, InternMatch, and Pathable took the top three spots, with Tweetajob and IdeaScale also representing well.  Go Seattle!

And props to the Innovate 100 team and pii2010 for getting a more diverse group of participants than we often see in events like this.  As well as good racial diversity, two of the speakers were women — quite a contrast to the all-male feel of TechStars, Y Combinator, or last spring’s NWEN First Look Forum.

Shameless plug: speaking of the First Look Forum, we’ve extended the application deadline for the fall event to August 23.  If you’re an early-stage startup, please check it out!  If you’re thinking of applying, there’s some tips here and here.

The pitch slam started with a one-minute “Quick Pitch” competition, with Secret123, Puzzazz, Open Mobile, aNEWSme, wishpot, and InternMatch competing for the last open spot in the finals.  I was impressed by how well most of the presenters conveyed what they were doing in just 60 seconds.  The crowd went wild after InternMatch’s dramatic reveal at the end of their minute: the person giving the presentation was actually an intern!  Gotta love that.   So it wasn’t at all surprising that they moved on to the finals.

And a lot of people I talked to thought InternMatch should have been the overall winners as well.  Nothing against Optify, but I really felt like they shouldn’t have been allowed into the competition: they’ve already raised $2.1 million from Madrona, where their CEO used to be a venture capitalist.*  Ah well.  Such is life.

InternMatch’s business is matching students with internships.  In his five-minute presentation their CEO Andrew Maguire made some great points about the strategic importance of interns and why the area’s so ripe for reinvention.  They’ve got a large pilot in Washington State that’s going well, and the very young founding team clearly gets the challenge from the interns’ perspective.  One big question they’ll face is what prevents Monster.com or another large company from getting into the space.  On the other hand that’s also an opportunity: if they can get out there and establish their brand and technology, they could be a very tempting acquisition target.  During the presentation, Cathy Brooks tweeted that Andrew is somebody to watch, and I certainly agree.

Tweetajob is another company with an impressive CEO facing a similar challenge/opportunity.  Carmen Hudson (a former recruiter at Amazon, Starbucks, and Microsoft) summed up how Twitter really changes the game for job searches both for companies and for job seekers — and how much people on Twitter dislike “job spam”.   She describes their technology as being uniquely able to get people information on the jobs that they’re interested in, and applying more broadly than just Twitter.  If so, they’ve got a chance to carve out a nice business, or perhaps be a key feature for a larger company.

So, a very good event. Sarterus has videos, and my tweetstream has some details if you scroll back.

pii2010 continues today and tomorrow; if you can’t be there in person, you can follow along on the #pii2010 hashtag.  Seattle Geek Week goes on through the weekend, and the hashtag is #seagw.  Stay tuned!


* a good example of yet another way that it’s easier for guys to get funding then women.