The Super Bowl for Startups: Announcing Powder Keg’s Top 12 Competing Startups

Drum roll, please…

The moment I – along with many of you – have been waiting for. We are proud to announce the 12 most impressive startups selected to compete in this year’s Powder Keg Startup Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium! What’s more, one of these motivated startups will walk away with something sweet to fuel their growth.

Startup Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium

Indianapolis-based startup conference, the Powder Keg, has teamed up with Microsoft Corp. and Elevate Ventures to offer 12 startups from across the Midwest a chance to compete for a $15,000 startup-growth prize package and enrollment in the Microsoft BizSpark Plus program in the first ever “Startup Bowl” at Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 18.

The application process was selective and the competition was tough. The top 12 companies were selected for their passion, potential, and profitability. Come join us to watch these startups woo the hearts of potential investors and battle for audience support. Be inspired by the driven individuals we’re brining to the stage. The energy will be contagious.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce our startup all stars, in no particular order:

CoatChex is focused on bringing innovation and value through today’s technology to an industry that hasn’t been touched in decades. The patent-pending process optimizes coat check-in and retrieval functions and reduces the risks that are commonly associated with checking coats, making it the hassle-free solution to running a secure, profitable, and efficient coat check station.

Team Mash
TeamMash is a daily email for sports fanatics. Every day, their editors scour the web for the best sports content. Each morning, they email you a mashup of what happened with your favorite teams in the past 24 hours. It even contains links to hand-picked articles from around the web.

FoundOPS is developing an operations platform to help small field service operate more efficiently by gamifying carbon savings. In one, easy to use cloud based system, they’ve incorporated GPS technician tracking, drag and drop dispatching, and intuitive customer service management. The platform is provided for free, but customers are incentived to purchase premium features such as route optimization, QuickBooks integration, and BI reports in order to increase their carbon savings.

Adproval is a service that streamlines the process of direct ad sales for small and medium bloggers while allowing them to maintain relationships with their advertisers. Working with an approved advertiser lets bloggers use their voice – by means of product reviews, featured posts, etc. – to back them as a sponsor, making ad space on that blog more valuable. Bloggers set up their sponsorship offerings with Adproval and put a page on their blog where advertisers can choose what they want and make an offer. If the blogger finds the advertiser suitable and approves of them, the ad image is automatically uploaded to their blog, the payment is automatically transferred, and the relationship is managed through their dashboard on Adproval.

Lisnr aims to change the way that consumers experience audio by turning what has historically been a passive experience into an interactive engagement platform. Lisnr is an app that allows music or any other audio medium to passively trigger consumer interactions, direct to their mobile device, during a consumer’s listening experience. Lisnr is completely source agnostic as notifications can be sent from audio being played anywhere.

PetBookings is the first and only website to offer instant and confirmed online reservations to the $3.5 billion professional pet care industry. They are launching v2.0 of their website platform Friday October 5, 2012 and are armed with some remarkable test data going to market. Pet owners (B2C) are not only experiencing the convenience and benefits of booking online with instant confirmation, but pet care facilities (B2B) are also seeing a significant impact on their bottom line. is a teaching and learning marketplace. It’s like iTunes, but with lessons and courses instead of songs and albums. It is “the simplest way to learn” and is currently in beta-testing.

Bonfyres are private groups created around events where you can share chats and photos. All of these shared photos become part of group photostreams, called Memories, and are accessible only to others at that bonfyre. Simple event planning, private real-time sharing and collective group photos in one app, just like it should be.

Squarejive is a free mobile application that recommends things to do nearby. The app is built upon a mosaic design that allows users to seamlessly find and share events across Facebook, Twitter, SMS Text, and Email. With Yelp integration, the app also includes business profiles for over 400 venues in Indianapolis. They intend to launch Squarejive version 1.0 on October 13th at the Broad Ripple Music Festival.

Modulus helps developers spend less time configuring servers and more time building products. Modulus does this by providing a complete platform that companies can use to host and scale their internet-based applications. We add to that an integrated database and file storage solution, and wrap everything under a powerful statistics engine.

Visit Apps
Visit Apps empowers Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVBs = tourism agencies) to harness the mobile channel to deeply engage their visitors. Visit Apps has built a proprietary platform that allows any CVB – from the quaintest of towns to a bustling metropolis – to have their own mobile app. Visit Apps is a SaaS startup in the explosively growing mobile sector (available in iPad, iPhone and Android devices). The Visit Apps team is led by Santiago Jaramillo (serial entrepreneur of University Storage &

In an effort to eliminate the problems associated with effective communication and care during on-call medical encounters, Diagnotes has developed an integrated software solution that provides critical information, secure communication and convenient documentation for healthcare providers via their smartphones, focusing initially on on-call physicians and the 50-100 million such patient encounters conducted annually in the US.


That’s all, folks! We’ll have more info released over the next week as we approach the Startup Bowl. For now, get yourself registered to attend and the first annual Powder Keg. See you there?


Powder Keg Conference Brings Another 5 Keynotes Into the Lineup

More you say? Why, certainly.

We are proud to announce yet another five speakers for the Powder Keg today! Once again, thanks to all of you for your support. And a another huge shout out to ExactTarget for their collaboration with our event. Take a peek at these impressive additions to an already jam-packed speaker lineup – all the more reason to snag your ticket, while there are still some left! Want the definition of a go-getter? I think I have five for you to choose from below.


Carla Valdes,

Carla Valdes

General Partner at

Carla is the lady of the land when it comes to Founders Funding Founders. Along with Jonathon Perelli (another Powder Keg speaker!), she has helped grow, a D.C.-based investment fund, and co-founded their accelerator, The Fort. She knows social, marketing, PR and portfolio management and strategy as she works to find, mentor and grow successful startups time and again.


Chris McCann, Startup Digest

Chris McCann

Co-founder at StartupDigest

You can call him an entrepreneur, writer, or lifelong student of psychology and philosophy. He’s led the entrepreneurial programs at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, co-founded StartupDigest, helped start TEDx Silicon Valley, served as a mentor for the Thiel Foundation 20 Under 20 program, and on and on. When it comes down to it, he’s recognized around the world for his entrepreneurial drive and expertise, especially when it came to creating a new group structure for StartupDigest’s 300,000 member community, thinking about events as an entry point to new communities.


Brent Hieggelke, Urban AirshipBrent Hieggelke

CMO at Urban Airship (Connections Presenter)

Hailing from Portland, Brent has built several strong brands in his career. He can talk brand strategy, web analytics, behavioral targeting, site optimization, and, most passionately, entrepreneurship. In the midst of his impressive marketing career, he co-founded Second Porch, which was then acquired by a larger online vacation rental platform, HomeAway. He’s now the CMO at Urban Airship, an ExactTarget partner and highly successful mobile technology company.


Learn more about Powder Keg >>


Manpreet Singh, Seva CallManpreet Singh

President & COO at Seva Call

Manpreet started early. He began his entrepreneurial career running a social networking startup in high school with his brother and continued his entrepreneurial drive as first employee at a D.C.-based investment management firm, Profit Investment Management, which went on to grow its assets 100 times over. While studying full-time, he became one of the youngest CFA charter holders in the world. Today, he’s President & COO of Seva Call, which recently went through a $1.3 million funding round and plans to launch nationally. He’s on a roll.


Matt Blumberg, Return PathMatt Blumberg

Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman at Return Path (Connections Presenter)

Matt is a technology and marketing entrepreneur in NYC, Colorado, California, and event London or Paris, depending on the day of the week. He’s an internet industry veteran of 16 years and started a company called Return Path in 1999 that boasts status as the global market leaders in a corner of the email universe called email certification and deliverability. He still runs it today. He’s also played his hand at marketing and online services at MovieFone, venture capital at General Atlantic Partners, and consulting at Mercer Management Consulting. Not to mention, he’s a Princeton grad. Oh, and he blogs.


Get Ticket Info >>

Powder Keg is a Verge production, supported by a passionate, growing startup technology community, including our wonderful sponsors. Learn more about our sponsors, speakers and conference passes at

Parties, Show Girls and the Right Kind of Relationships

Happy Wednesday afternoon, all!

Hope your week is off to a productive start. If it isn’t, well, it’s not too late to change that.

Last time I wrote, I shed light on my time out at’s annual conference, Dreamforce. It’s only been a week since returning from the madness, and it already feels like a lifetime ago. But, I’m attributing that to the drastic differences in the San Francisco environment when compared to that of Indy.

I’ve also had that short “lifetime” to digest some of what I saw, heard and experienced. This is what I’ve come away with:

1. For those of you in the emerging tech scene, we are absolutely in the right space.If there’s one thing that was affirmed for my team (here at Right On Interactive), it’s that we are playing in a heavily competitive space, but the right space, regardless. Who ever said competition was a bad thing? I don’t think I ever have. If anything, it shows that there’s a definite need or want for what you’re working to provide. And, even with the number of technologies and solutions out there growing as we speak, I still see the tech world getting smaller and smaller. How I still managed to run into familiar faces while out at an 85,000 person conference is a mystery to me.

Bare Naked Ladies at Dreamforce

The Bare Naked Ladies performing at Dreamforce.

2. Partying is the new networking. I’ve quickly learned that, in the tech space at least, the best connections are those made in a non-professional environment. Techies are partiers. When guards are let down, so to speak, when people speak more freely and openly, and everyone is, generally, in high spirits – that’s when the magic happens. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about this one. Don’t get me wrong,  I love a good party. I love having fun with new people (those of you who know me I think can definitely attest to that). But, at what point does this genuine-natured fun lose it’s appeal because it’s infiltrated by an emerging group of new age networkers? Or, is it even fair of me to call this trend new? My bet is that many of you have already picked up on it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one, actually.

3. Major conferences are “show off your swagger” shows. At Dreamforce, I saw companies dropping a couple million bucks on good shows, impressive (or intimidating?) looking booths, – if you could still call them that, as they dwarf everything else in the room – and crazy amounts of swag. Heck, I even saw show girls at some of the booths. Yes, I said it. I thought you only saw those at automotive trade shows these days. I guess you just can’t beat that age-old tactic. 😉

So, what does this mean for startups trying to get value out of shows like this? It’s hard. As soon as you mention you don’t have a booth (sorry, Marc Benioff, some of us don’t have $50K to spare, yet), it pokes a major hole in your clout bubble. But, I will say, if you know how to party with the right people, you’ll end up with more value coming out of it than you expected. This value won’t necessarily surface the week after you get back, but it willshow it’s head months on down the road.

This leads me to a personal and professional mantra of mine. It’s all about relationships. Decisions I make are driven more and more by the people that specific decision will surround me with. The power of genuine, strong relationships is behind every successful entrepreneur, idea and startup. It’s the same reason you hear time and again that VCs invest in a person or a team, not necessarily an idea.

So, I’ll leave you all with this: take personal assessment of your relationships today. What do they say about you?

To San Fran and back – the tech scene gets smaller

I’ve been in Indianapolis just over two years, which is hard to believe. I’ve also invested a lot of time and energy, over those two years, to really get to know the Indy tech community. It’s fascinating. I’ve met entrepreneurs, techies, influencers, VCs, CEOs, and a ton of other people like me – those who are somewhere in between these common personas, but driven by interest and the desire to learn. I’ve come to be pretty comfortable in my Indianapolis bubble. Excited by the boom of the startup tech, enjoying meeting other Indy companies, making friends. But, I finally had the chance to put it all into perspective.

I was sitting on a plane en route to San Francisco – a golden land (arguably, the golden land) of tech startup culture – realizing that I’ll be an outsider looking in for the week, absorbing everything that comes my way, and seeing, firsthand, what Indy’s up against.

I didn’t go to San Fran for some vacation time (although, I would certainly take it!), but for’s biggest user conference of the year – Dreamforce. Have any of you been to Dreamforce before? With the attendee count reaching 85,000 this year (crazy, right?), I would imagine the chances are pretty likely that some of you know what I’m about to experience. I went on behalf of my company – Right On Interactive – to connect with potential partners and customers, learn about trends and competition, speak the good word about lifecycle marketing automation, and season myself with some West coast experience. I began preparing myself to suddenly become a small fish in an enormous pond. Or, would it end up being a smaller world than I’m anticipating?

At any rate, I went into it with the starry-eyed, optimistic idea that national and global events like these are what fuel new trends, budding partnerships and maybe even put innovative ideas into action. They’re energy generators, that’s for sure. And I’m always ready to be motivated.

So, now I’m thinking, how do we bring this kind of generation of energy to Indy? I think Verge has the right idea. We need more events. We need to bring people in and redefine their stale impression of the Midwest. The Powder Keg has the potential to start a powerful tradition that not only brings in fresh perspective with out-of-state attendees, but also replenishes our community with a type of energy that comes with the numbers and collaboration.

It’ll be interesting to see how a conference like Dreamforce is conducive to startup company growth, or if it’s designed, at the core, to benefit those already at the top. With extravagant price tags attached to sponsorship opportunities, hosting parties, speaking gigs and the like, it’s hard to imagine having the means to break into the ranks of the tech titans. So, what else can we do, but get creative.

I’ll be sure to report back in the next few days, after I’ve had a chance to fully digest the experience and get a feel for how well local Indy companies fared with the experience. It’ll most likely shed new light on my experiences and probably lead me to a few new, delayed impressions – as is the nature of learning through experience. But, for those out there who have been the travelin’ conference (wo)man, I’d love to hear how you managed to navigate it all. The expo halls, the sessions, the random (but, 24/7) networking, the parties. What were some of the most insightful tips you picked up along the way?