Chiapas es un estado del sur de México, en el que se produce café orgánico de calidad.
Luis Miguel, de 33 años y quien siempre se ha considerado emprendedor, recuerda quería poner una tienda cerca a su casa para que los niños pudieran comprar dulces cuando salían a correr, porque el mercado más cercano estaba a 10 cuadras. Le llamaba la atención tener libertad de crear e innovar, así que decidió estudiar comunicación.
Le vendieron la idea de Startup Weekend, cuando trabajaba en la incubadora de la Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas, en Tuxtla, pero estaba muy reacio a creer que en 54 horas se pudiera crear un startup, porque veía todo el trabajo que requería dentro de la incubadora, sin embargo por curiosidad empezó a ver videos de eventos pasados y compró el boleto para asistir a uno de los eventos.
La idea con la que iniciaron fue crear una página para distribuir café de pequeños productores orgánicos, pues Chiapas es el productor número uno de café orgánico del mundo. Berenice, su esposa y quién es ahora la co-founder de su startup, conocía a los productores y los detalles para poder continuar con un club de café.
MyCoffeeBox.com, es una caja en la que te llega por suscripción café orgánico de la mejor calidad de pequeños productores. Durante ese primer fin de semana, lograron 4 suscripciones -dos en el Distrito Federal, una en Tijuana, y una en Guanajuato-, y como era esperado desde el primer día los productores estaban felices por que ganaban 300% más que antes.
El 24 de febrero cumplieron 2 años de operaciones, y únicamente utilizan dentro de su producto cafés de certificación orgánico y de comercio justo. Han logrado llegar hasta este punto, pues a través de los contactos de Startup Weekend, un inversionista los contactó y les ofreció 10K dólares para continuar con la idea.
Decidieron entonces renunciar a sus trabajos e irse a una ronda de inversión de 500 Startups. Se dieron cuenta del beneficio social que tiene su startup y al día de hoy MyCoffeeBox.com se encuentra así:
- Alrededor de 400K tazas de café se pueden hacer con el producto vendido en un mes.
- Exportan a 8 países, incluyendo Rusia, Francia, España, y Canadá.
- Hacen envíos a más de 64 ciudades de México.
- Han conseguido más de 600 clientes en los 2 años que llevan en el mercado.
- Tienen alrededor de 350 clientes recurrentes.
- Compran el café a 6500 pequeños productores de Chiapas.
- Se envían alrededor de 450 cajas al mes.
El éxito de MyCoffeeBox.com es la flexibilidad que tienen para los productores y los clientes, quienes pueden ordenar desde medio kilo de café, y además pueden hacerlo semanal, mensual o bimensualmente.
Actualmente tienen un revenue de 50K dólares al año y durante el 2015 el plan es crecer tres veces ese ingreso para seguir apoyando a los productores. Para ellos lo más importante es satisfacer la necesidad de los consumidores. Con un equipo de tres personas fijas y 5 de medio tiempo el objetivo es seguir creciendo y llegar a más ciudades y países.
Luis Miguel cree que MyCoffeeBox.com es un ejemplo de tenacidad, pues aunque han tenido problemas, han logrado demostrar que inclusive dentro de una comunidad pequeña, se pueden crear compañías que impactan de una manera positiva la sociedad.
Para más información acerca de startups o si quieres contar tu historia, contáctanos a firstname.lastname@example.org.
A massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), MegaBits is a smartphone game played in the ‘real world’ through being reactive to each player’s environment. The company launched at Startup Weekend Pittsburgh in 2012, and the game’s community consists of around 1,000 users.
MegaBits allows users to catch, train and battle monsters. The MB team has created a customized game world by combining real-time map and weather data with an 8-bit design.
Click arrow to scroll through gallery.
“We’ve had to adapt our product to a more modern, mobile gaming system,” MegaBits founder Patrick Perini said. “We’ve learned the lesson from our alpha and beta process that we can’t just copy traditional [role playing games]…MegaBits is unique in its pairing of location-based augmented reality with the popular monster training genre. Unlike other mobile games, MegaBits creates a real-world-based experience that is ever-changing and evolving.”
MegaBits hopes to progress the depth of the MMORPG experience for gamers through greater integration of a player’s environment, while developing more fluid in-app spending opportunities. Perini believes MegaBits is an example of how game platforms can be grown like any other kind of startup.
“Mobile gaming is full of pain points; in-app purchase models, general inanity, poor controls, and [MegaBits] is uniquely positioned to address many of these issues, and create a mature mobile gaming experience,” Perini said. “The mobile gaming market is crowded. And though we’ve carved out an identifiable niche, we still have to find their attention and keep their attention.”
The ‘right thing,’ in the case of MegaBits, is a more dynamic world of pixelated monster hunting– built upon the already-validated market demand for MMORPGs on smartphones. MegaBits currently has six full-time employees, of whom Perini is the only remaining Startup Weekend member.
“At the beginning of 2014, I was fielding other job offers and genuinely considering closing up shop, before the product even got to market,” Perini said. “When the Google Maps Pokémon Challenge launched, I was able to corral user response into evidence of market demand, and use that [to] raise our most recent round of funding.”
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Slide used in the MegaBits Reddit AMA to show market demand.
As you can see from the MegaBits launch party, there is no shortage of enthusiasm with this team of gamers. Check out megabitsapp.com for product updates, information about MMORPGs, and for a free download.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Sep 2012, Startup Weekend
Jan 2013, Kickstarter
June 2013, AlphaLab
Oct 2013, Alpha shipped
May 2014, Seed raised
June 2014, Beta shipped
Startup IMPACT Story Questions
Jan 2015, Release with day-1 revenue
Andrew Hart (lead developer)
Ryan Hestin (architect & engineer)
Pat Kelley (game & sound design)
Vinh Duong (graphic design)
Kaeli Hood (writer)
Ben Sanders (intern: art)
10 including freelancers
1 round + incubation
It was Roy Leban’s love for building things that brought him to a Startup Weekend in 2009 – not his desire to become an entrepreneur.
“I don’t think it makes sense to say someone is or isn’t an entrepreneur,” Leban said. “It’s an unnecessary label that serves more to exclude than include. I like building things and have since I was a young kid.”
Leban pitched and built FriendMosaic, an algorithm for compiling mosaic portraits from a user’s Twitter followers that can be placed on merchandise or other social profiles. Leban and team made their first sale during the Sunday night demo.
“It was a hectic weekend of furious design and coding, but we built a fully-functional prototype and were able to demo it live for the judges,” Craig Huizenga, Leban’s teammate and future co-founder, said.
They auctioned off the right to be FriendMosaic’s first customer. Brian Gorbett, who worked for Microsoft BizSpark at the time, triumphed in some spirited bidding, with a final price of $200. The team sold another 150 shirts that night, one for each person in the room. In a rarity for Startup Weekend, the FriendMosaic team was left with some profit. That immediate profit allowed the company to make a splash at the Twitter Conference three weeks later, by giving away shirts to all the speakers.
Picture (2009): The first shirt that was sold to Brian Gorbett at Startup Weekend, even UP Global CEO Marc Nager got a shirt.
“It’s not a ‘problem’ company,” Leban said. “It’s a fun company – give people something fun they couldn’t have gotten before.”
Leban and Huizenga teamed up after the event and took some time to ‘make it real.’ Huizenga spent 100% of his time on development while Leban spent about 75% of his time on development and the rest on getting the business going.
Forty-five days after their debut at Startup Weekend, FriendMosaic was entirely automated by Huizenga and Leban. This allowed Huizenga to return to developing music management software and Leban to build puzzle technology startup Puzzazz. Five years later, FriendMosaic sold to Mosaically Inc, who acquired the site and the technology behind FriendMosaic to bolster their online mosaic offering.
“Because we built the system on top of the Zazzle API for product creation and fulfillment, it was able to run itself, with minimal maintenance necessary,” Leban said. “The decision to use Zazzle was one of the best decisions we made. I always say startups should do one thing, and our thing wasn’t actually making physical products.”
Other companies with mosaic software use fixed or uploaded libraries of images, but the FriendMosaic Twitter feature was new and dynamic.
“I’m glad we found an acquirer that has built a solid platform and will be able to take our adaptive mosaic creation technology to the next level,” Leban said.
BY THE NUMBERS:
- August 28, 2009 – pitched at Startup Weekend, 7-person team organized
- August 30, 2009 – demoed working version at Startup Weekend
- First sale, an auctioned-off “first” T-shirt (sold for $200)
- Second sale, an order for 150 shirts from Microsoft, event sponsor
- September 2, 2009 – decided to found a 2-person team to take it forward
- September 18, 2009 – first shirt delivered
- September 21, 2009 – Launched in Beta
- First public shirts at the Twitter Conference
- First sale on web site
- October 14, 2009 – Out of Beta
- December 1, 2014 – Acquired by Mosaically Inc
In the hundreds of thousand
Not disclosed. We made money, we didn’t get rich
The Notable Startup series highlights entrepreneurs who’ve started-up with help from an UP Global program.
“I’m all in. Can you quit your job too?”
Arry Yu couldn’t believe the challenge from Stuart Owen, a teammate she met only two weeks earlier at Startup Weekend Seattle.
“What!? Are you serious?” she asked.
The challenge was real. Owen was all in, having just scrapped his own startup endeavor.
Yu didn’t have to think very long about her job with Logic 20/20.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll quit my job. Here you go—technical cofounder. Bam!”
And as simple as B–A–M, GiftStarter was transformed from a cool idea into a serious startup.
Yu knew she was on to something after pitching her idea (she wasn’t planning on it), finding a team (the team found her), and winning a Startup Weekend in late March 2014 (the Sunday-night demo was a hit). She realized that the team and the momentum she had achieved were rare in any endeavor, including startups. She described the decision to go all in as “really a no- brainer.” When you hear this from an overachieving Cornell graduate and former management consultant with enterprise clients like Microsoft, Cisco, Google, and T-Mobile – you appreciate that the phrase “no-brainer” is not used lightly.
Growing up in upstate New York, Yu had every intention of pursuing a career at an investment bank on Wall Street. But early on she was exposed to entrepreneurship by watching her mother start several small businesses. Yu’s formative years also included stints as an artist, musician, furniture maker, and waitress. Her most recent “real jobs” were with Microsoft and management consulting firms while she dabbled in startup ideas on the side. Listening to her recount these experiences, I begin to see that her savvy mix of artistic sensibility, determination, and intelligence is better suited for a startup than for Wall Street.
We’re chatting over coffee in a conference room high above downtown Seattle at SURF Incubator and 9Mile Labs on a cloudy Seattle morning. Yu is previewing GiftStarter with me while describing the human and emotional touches that are missing from most digital gift giving.
“We are a very human-centric company. It has to be emotional,” she says, unveiling a beautifully personalized print piece that precedes every GiftStarter gift delivery. I see—and feel—what she means.
It wasn’t always so clear. What started out as a “Kickstarter for gifts” in March proceeded into the Startup Next program (a benefit of winning a Startup Weekend.) There it “pivoted several times a week—and came out as a slightly different company. But with more tough muscles— and with the realization of how quick we have to move and how to do customer validation. That DNA was drilled into us and remains with us today.”
“They were like, ‘Let’s see how you hustle!’”
While Startup Next provided great training, the application process for 9Mile Labs’ accelerator upped the level of rigor and effort. “Over July Fourth weekend—on Wednesday—they said, ‘You need to interview to six brands that are retailers and then 10 customers and report back on Tuesday’ We were like, ‘It’s Fourth of July weekend!’ They were like, ‘Let’s see how you hustle!’”
I got the impression that hustle and success haven’t been much of a problem for Yu and her growing team. They went on to be accepted into 9Mile where they just completed their November Demo Day.
GiftStarter is one of 10 startups in the recent accelerator program at 9Mile Labs.
Like most accelerator teams in coworking spaces, the GiftStarter team is huddled around a few small tables, with computer screens, whiteboards, and Post-it walls taking up almost every inch of real estate. However, it’s clear the clutter doesn’t take anyone away from focusing on the product, the experience, and the customer.
GiftStarter seems to have gotten it right without losing the spark of that Sunday night pitch back in March—or at least their partner roster would indicate as much. It takes Yu, Owen, and GiftStarter’s partner lead Roy Shin an average of 15 minutes to close after making initial presentations.
Rounding out the rest of her company profile I ask Yu which vertical they operate in. “We are a meta market maker,” she responds. I take this to mean that she intends to create a unique market of gifting across verticals. “I suppose you could call us a social commerce enabler,” she adds. Her response makes it clear to me that Yu is truly an entrepreneur. Nothing is ever boring to her, and no category is beyond being busted.
Check out GiftStarter’s new gifting experience here— www.GiftStarter.co—just in time for the holidays.
Arry Yu: CEO and co-founder
Stuart Owen: Tech lead and co-founder
Christie Gettler: Design lead and co-founder
Roy Shin: Partner lead
Chris Cashion: Product lead
Damon Gjording: VP of Marketing
John Peck: Engineering
BY THE NUMBERS:
- Startup Weekend: March 21–24, 2014
- Startup Next: April, 2014
- Idea to MVE (minimum viable experience): 100 days
- 9Mile Labs: August 1–November 20, 2014
Jobs created: 7
Products shipped: 100 gifts (with virtually no marketing beyond friends and family)
Average gift size $350
Customer statistic: 20% of people who pitch in for a GiftStarter gift become GiftStarters for the next group gift
Brand partners signed up: 9, including:
Funding secured: 35k pre-seed money from 9Mile Labs
Fund-raising in progress as of this writing.
Industry: Social commerce enabler, aka meta market maker
Platform: Python and Google app. engine. (back end); Stripe payment processor (which makes Yu’s developers very happy).
The Notable Startup series highlights entrepreneurs who’ve started-up with help from an UP Global program.
How did I get from home improvement videos to the latest R-rated music video? Very quickly, that’s how.
And thinking about this progression is enough to make any mother of a tech-savvy child worried.
Mamtha Banerjee, of Magicflix, was tired of witnessing her two children stumble onto inappropriate content online. Banerjee, a former director of tehnology at Travelocity, searched for her own solution with friend (and eventual co-founder,) Nandini Shrinidhi.
The two brainstormed while training for a half-marathon together, and pondered startups that could offer direct value to parents. A mother with more than 12 years of experience in the software industry, Shrinidhi was a natural partner for Banerjee, and after completing their race, the two had found something else to achieve together.
Magicflix currently offers age-appropriate videos for young kids 12 and under, in an app that is closely curated by educators working for the company. The videos are selected based upon how well they blend fun and education for youngsters.
Banerjee told Geekwire last month that the secret sauce was their visual discovery-based user experience, curation, tagging, analytics, age-based insights and their recommendation engine all combined together.
Sometimes, adolescents seek out content which is meant for more mature audiences. Othertimes, they stumble upon it accidentally– particularly in the age of tablets.
Magicflix is designed to allow kids to share in the joy of streaming-video, without the body parts or violence of other video apps. Children can indulge in fun, educational content that has been picked out for them based on specific interests.
Magicflix launched in the app store Monday, a year after the two mothers began planning. Their startup has spent the last year researching the way in which children interact and learn from video, and are hours away from finishing Techstars Seattle.
The Magiflix team also completed UP Global’s Startup Next program in preparation for being accepted into an accelerator. Banerjee had this to say about how Startup Next was able to help her startup grow.
“Startup Next was a great stepping stone for our company – a forcing function which helped us think through several aspects of the business beyond the product; the mentors, the sessions, the network and the guidance exceeded our expectations. While the support and encouragement we received from the program bolstered us on several fronts.”
Company: Magicflix, The Safe Kids Video App
Location: Seattle, WA
Program Graduate: Startup Next
Products Shipped: Preloaded on over 100,000 kids tablets
Revenue Generated: Monthly subscription service will be activated soon
Partners signed up: Magicflix is preloaded on the Kurio and ClickNKids Kids tablets, which are available at retail outlets like Walmart and ToysRUs.
Funding secured: Techstars Seattle
Industry: Mobile, Kids, Education, and Entertainment