At the Sept. 27 NJ Tech Meetup, held at Stevens Institute of Technology, three startups, including one from New Jersey, pitched apps that were designed to solve common problems.
Ho took the stage first, telling the audience that Nookhub solves the problem of how to find safe indoor parking for bicycles. When bikes are parked on the street, they are often stolen or stripped of their parts. The New York City Police Department reports that 100,000 bikes are stolen in that city every year, she noted.
Many bicyclists ride around without locks, and Ho realized that they often park their bikes indoors, so she developed an app to match parking locations with bicyclists’ destinations.
Nookhub has scouts who find indoor parking spaces. These may be parking lots, gyms or other businesses with available space, she said. To use the app, a rider enters his or her destination; then the app finds the closest parking spot and provides information on parking hours and proximity to the subway. The spot can be reserved, and the reservation will be held for 45 minutes. One bicycle can be parked for up to 24 hours. Spots cost $7.50 each, but there are volume discounts.
Pitching next was WashClub NYC, which provides convenience for the on-demand, “I want it now” culture of today. Rome is in the laundry business himself, and he developed this app initially for his own company. He now offers this app as a Software-as-a-Service for other laundromats.
The app handles laundry pick-up and delivery. The laundromat must have its own drivers, each equipped with a tablet. Both the driver and the laundry’s location are tracked, so customers know where their laundry is in real time.
The app helps laundromats utilize slack capacity. Washers typically run three to four loads per day, but they can run 24 loads a day. With WashClub NYC, a laundromat can extend its storefront into a 30-mile radius and run at full capacity, Rome said.
He added that the app will provide a return on investment within six to nine months, when it will typically become more profitable for a laundromat to operate with the app than without. The app is profitable in both suburban and urban areas, he noted.
Goldberg pitched his app, isports360, which allows coaches to provide immediate assessments of a child’s performance to the parents.
Half of the parents of children who participate in sports believe that their offspring should be getting athletic scholarships, yet only one out of 100 actually do. In addition, many parents feel that coaches don’t communicate enough with them. Goldberg’s isports360 solves this problem while relieving coaches of the stress of confronting parents. This gives coaches an incentive to use the app to inform parents about the skills their children must work on.
The app has evaluation criteria, room for comments and two-way communication between coaches and parents. It was well received after being used by 160 teams and 129 families.
Goldberg noted that Sports Illustrated and other sports concerns are acquiring sports apps to build up their sports-app platforms. There are currently no competitors for player-development software, according to Goldberg. He’s hopeful that there will eventually be a buyout, and is now looking for investors to take him to the next level. “Now is a good time to buy in before the buyout,” he told the audience.
Eleanor Handley of GK Training and Communications (Brooklyn) provided public speaking coaching for the presenters. To improve “linguistic precision” (the reduction of “um’s), she suggested taking a breath before expressing the next point. This pause will give you a second to think of what to say next, thus enabling you to avoid “um’s.” She noted that one of the presenters did provide a lot of context, such as the problem he was solving and information about his industry, but he did not tell his story well; for instance, he did not describe how his app works, the savings he provides or the incentives to use his app.
While pointing out that another speaker was clearly well-rehearsed, Handley noted that he lost his poise when there was a technical glitch in the equipment he was using to present his slides. She suggested three ways to deal with this common setback: Fake it. Feature it. Fix it. Either pretend it never happened, use it as an opportunity to show the audience what you are presenting or excuse yourself and fix it, she said.