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Investor panel at FutureM conference puts $442,000 into five startups: Timbre, NBD Nanotechnologies, Jebbit, CoachUp, and Sidewalk

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 25, 2012 05:48 PM

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Five Boston startups -- and one from Manhattan -- pitched a panel of Boston investors this afternoon in a session modeled after the ABC reality show "Shark Tank." The investors had promised to invest as much as $100,000 in the startups, which they'd selected from a set of 70 applicants. They blew past that goal.

The investor group included Jean Hammond and Joe Caruso, right, along with Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot, Dave Balter of BzzAgent, Rob Go of NextView Ventures, and Fred Destin of Atlas Venture.

Shah offered to invest $29,000 in digital marketing startup Jebbit, which had pegged its pre-money valuation at $5 million, and $28,000 in CoachUp, a marketplace for private sports coaches that hadn't yet established its valuation. (CommonAngels, NextView, and Jean Hammond also expressed interest in meeting with CoachUp founder Jordan Fliegel.) Gus Weber of Polaris Ventures (who wasn't actually present) offered $10,000 to Sidewalk, which helps startups sell to local businesses, at a $3 million pre-money valuation. Balter, a partner in Boston Seed Capital, said the firm would invest $150,000 in Timbre, a music app developed by Intrepid Pursuits, and Destin offered to put in $200,000. (The company asked for a $1.5 million pre-money valuation.) Balter offered $25,000 to water startup NBD Nanotechnologies on behalf of Boston Seed, at a $4 million pre-money valuation. Arcbazar, focused on connecting consumers with architects, piqued the interest of Destin at Atlas, Google Ventures, and Lucy McQuilken of Intel Capital, but didn't actually get an investment offer.

Each entrepreneur had four minutes to pitch to the investors, followed by a few minutes of Q&A. Here's a run-down of the companies that presented:

- Sidewalk: Helping salespeople sell to local businesses more efficiently. Co-founder Avand Amiri said Sidewalk is hoping to raise $400,000, and said they've got about half that amount committed. Based in New York, with team members in Boston and San Francisco.

- Jebbit: Helping advertisers ensure that users are learning about their products, rather than ignoring online ads, by offering users financial rewards. Initially targeting college students. Bose, Zipcar, and Coca-Cola are among the 50-plus companies that have tried using the service. Hoping to raise $250,000, with $125,000 already committed. Founders Tom Coburn, Jonathan Lacoste, and Chase McAleese are still enrolled at Boston College.

- NBD Nanotechnologies: "We pull water from the air," said founder Deckard Sorensen, using nanotechnology that mimics the way the Namib Desert beetle extracts humidity from desert air. Company plans on licensing its technology to others. One application would be for irrigation; another would be a self-refilling two-liter bottle of water. Company is seeking to raise $1 million. When questioned, Sorensen mentioned that his co-founder, Miguel Galvez, couldn't be at today's presentation; he was at a meeting with Carmichael Roberts of North Bridge Venture Partners.

- Timbre: iPhone app that presents information about live music shows near you, along with song samples and the ability to buy tickets. About 70,000 users have downloaded the app so far, according to founder Mark Kasdorf, and about 18 percent of the user base opens the app at least once a week. Company is seeking to raise $300,000, in part to make the app available in other countries, and on the Android operating system. Kasdorf says that he has been contacted about potential partnerships by companies like Spotify, Live Nation, and Ticketmaster.

- Arcbazar: Creating a competition platform for architectural design services, which would provide clients with multiple conceptual designs for a given project, like turning an attic into useful space. So far, the startup has distributed $200,000 in prize money to participating architects, over more than 200 projects. (The top three rated designs split the prize money.) Arcbazar pockets between 15 and 25 percent of the prize money offered. The company says 56 percent of the design projects it facilitated stayed in the U.S., with 44 percent going overseas. Arcbazar is hoping to raise $2 million, but founder Imdat As asked the Shark Tank for $100,000 in exchange for 2 percent of common stock.

- CoachUp: Online marketplace that helps athletes achieve their full potential by finding private coaches. Revenues are growing 50 percent month-over-month (they're now at about $17,000). Company has already partnered with the Positive Coaching Alliance. Company has previously raised $488,000. Founder Jordan Fliegel said he is seeking $1.25M, but that valuation and other investment terms haven't yet been set by other investors.

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Entrepreneurs waiting in the green room before the Shark Tank session.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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