utah startups – Stay N Alive

BoomStartup Brings TechStars-like Seed-Capital and Mentoring Program to Utah

I’ve talked often about Utah’s tech scene.  While it doesn’t always get the publicity it deserves, there is an incredible booming tech scene happening here in the Salt Lake City area right now.  Just last Wednesday I attended a Launchup event, where about 100+ entrepreneurs, investors, and bloggers all conjoined in this monthly meeting to hear 3 other startups have their claim to fame.  Kynetx, Simler, and iActionable were all given advice and free help from those 100+ peers hoping for them to succeed.  With a very tight-knit environment, coworking spaces like BetaLoft and CoWork Utah, along with close proximity to the mountains, 15 minutes from great skiing, rock climbing, hiking and other outdoor activities, along with some of the hardest working people I’ve ever been around, it deserves more attention.  Along with all this, BoomStartup, a new Mentoring and Seed-Capital program that hopes to mimic TechStars (out of Boulder, CO) announced it is taking applications for its Orem, Utah (just outside Salt Lake City) location.

BoomStartup brings such mentors as Josh James, former CEO and John Pestana, his co-founder of Omniture, Inc., which just sold to Adobe. Joining them is former Novell Luminary, Ralph Yarro, former Cisco Executive Martin Frey, and former former HP Executive Warren Osborn.  Also participating are Nobu Mutaguchi, one of Utah’s most prolific angel investors and Warren Osborn, an active venture and private equity investor.

John Richards, an early founder of InfoSpace, Inc., and later investor in Omniture and EnticeLabs, founded BoomStartup to “provide current and aspiring tech entrepreneurs an ideal opportunity to get their businesses up and running by presenting each company with seed capital, mentoring and networking from successful entrepreneurs and technologists.”  BoomStartup provides each selected company in the program “with seed capital (up to $15,000), mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and technologists, free office space and resources, and education that takes them through the various steps of getting a tech startup off the ground. Key to the program is the involvement of “investor-mentors” who give of their financial resources and their time as mentors.”

Applicants must meet specific criteria including a founding team of 2 or more, focus on the web, mobile, software, or non-hardware tech, must be scalable, must be able to apply full-time commitment from May to August during the program, work from their Orem, Utah based offices, and have a CTO/master coder with at least 20 percent equity in the company.  They are hosting a series of “Meet the Investor/Mentor” days, the first happening today at 4pm at their offices in the former WordPerfect buildings at Canyon Park Technology Center, Building J (1401 N. Research Way, Orem, Utah).  At the event, applicants can talk and ask questions about the program from the Investors-Mentors.

Living in Utah I’m very excited about this program.  With the wealth of experience here, former Novell Execs, WordPress Execs, and many of the early Web 1.0 startups that formed the history of the software world as it is today, there’s no doubt there will be enough experience to foster some very interesting companies from this program.  I’ve also offered my help if they want it to mentor in the realm of social media, getting blogger attention, etc. so perhaps you’ll see me around as well.

If you’re looking for a cool place to live during the summer, along with some great mentors, and what I know will be a very successful startup mentoring program, I encourage you to apply.  Applicants can apply at http://www.boomstartup.com – and while you’re out here, look me up and show me what you’re working on!

Utah Startup Series: Bungee Labs

logo_bungeelabs-flat_md.png(Sorry it’s been awhile since my last blog – it took me several days to figure out how to get my Flip video imported and exported to and from iMovie. To make a long story short, if you want to export from iMovie and have both picture and sound, you must import your source as something other than MP4 or AVI.)

This is the first article in my “Utah Startup Series“. Starting today I will be circling Utah to find the best and most innovative startups in Utah, and featuring them here on Stay N’ Alive. If you have a hot startup (early to even late stage) and would like to demo for me what your product can do, please contact me – if I have the time and like your idea I’d love to come out and take a look at it!

While at Web 2.0 Expo I had the opportunity to meet with Bungee Labs, a local, well funded Utah company who had “Platform as a Service” down before Google even started thinking about their App Engine. In our meeting they demoed their Bungee Connect “IDE” (written entirely on the web). You can see the video below.

My thoughts – you have to see this stuff in person to understand the full ramifications of what they’re doing. One of the cool things about their service vs. Google’s is they actually integrate with Amazon’s EC2 service (which was announced during Web 2.0 Expo), so you can actually host your other stuff on Amazon’s EC2 platform with the same licensing as your Bungee Connect account. Their licensing structure is very appealing as well – Bungee only charges based on the number of registered user sessions using their platform, not traffic, not bandwidth. If I understand correctly, it’s all based on the number of users actively using your application on their platform. For Facebook and Social Media developers this is appealing, as most Applications are rated based on Application use, not number of users or traffic. With Bungee you only pay for the users that actively use your system.

Overall, the guys at Bungee were Rockstars at Web 2.0 Expo. With their announcements about EC2 integration, flexible licensing terms, features on TechCrunch, EWeek magazine, and a dozen other publications, you can bet Google has a watchful eye on them. Ironically, it was interesting seeing Kevin Marx, head guy over the OpenSocial (and other) efforts at their party on Thursday evening.

Bungee will be presenting at our Social Media Developers meeting this coming Tuesday, showing us a simple “Hello World” example on how to build a Facebook App using their platform. Follow me on Twitter and if we can stream it live you can watch it via my Ustream channel. After demo I may just write my own Facebook App to try out their system – it should be interesting.

Bungee Connect Demo – Web 2.0 Expo from Jesse Stay on Vimeo.

Are You a Hot Up-and-Coming Utah Startup? I Want to Meet You!

I’m thinking about starting a series on this blog of hot startups that I find interesting in Utah. I’d really like to show to the world the great startup scene that Utah has to offer – hopefully other bloggers in the area can pitch in and join in this effort as well. I am relatively new to Utah, and am just getting to know the scene out here, so please don’t take this the wrong way. My hope is that this is only because I’m new to the area – honestly, I only know of one or two established startups. I know of many that are “in the works”, but only a few have an actual business model with customers and revenue stream (or venture/private equity/angel funding to hopefully get to that revenue stream). I’m hoping I am just not “in the know”.

Do you have an up-and-coming startup you’d like me to feature? Do you know of any that stand out to you? I really am hoping those in Utah can step out of the woodwork and share via the comments (I monitor FriendFeed as well so you can also comment there) what you know. I hope to then pick out the best and try to get the word out about what you’re doing. Speak up, or forever hold your peace!