President of Israel Shimon Peres Loves Pricetag

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President of Israel Shimon Peres Loves Pricetag

By Arturo Sheimberg
March 7th and 8th, 2012
Launch Festival, San Francisco Design Center Exhibition Hall

Before boarding our flights to San Francisco we knew attending the annual Launch Festival was essential to Pricetag’s growth, so we understandably had high hopes for this trip. Just 72 hours later, after speaking with the President of Israel and pitching to remarkable people, such as Thomas Korte of AngelPad, and Don Dodge of Google, we found ourselves exhausted and elated as the trip far exceeded our expectations.

Here’s how it all went down…

Bright. Early. Low 40’s. There was a special vibe outside the San Francisco Design Center that morning. Pricetag team members, Andres Garzon and Arturo Sheimberg, stood with dozens of eager entrepreneurs as we all waited for the doors to open so we could get Launch Festival 2012 started. But security had a different idea, they wanted us to wait. Burly guys wearing suits and earpieces appeared with two bomb-sniffing dogs. They checked the area and went inside. Turns out it was the Secret Service – who knew we merited such tight security!

 So there we were, among backpacks with laptops, boxes with LED screens, cases with banner stands, and a basket filled to the brim with Pricetag’s Granny Smith apples.

Startups with brilliant ideas had flown in from all over the world; Between (South Korea), Meine Spielzeugkiste (Germany), Anthm (Canada), and of course, NYC and the Bay Area. Finally, after a 75-minute delay, the doors swung open and we all piled in like cattle, but civil techie-cattle, of course.

Our table was set in the far end of the Demo Pit, surrounded by other great startups, such as Alltuition, Scoot, and Wello. We set up shop quickly, and by 9:00 AM all our hardware was fired up and ready to go.

Attendees were still signing in but it didn’t take long for our stand to generate interest – acclaimed author and former Inc. 500 CEO, Robert Jordan, asked to see how the quoting tool worked. He liked what he saw and enthusiastically discussed our market potential, current user base, and plans for new features. It was a pleasure to speak with such an accomplished journalist and executive; his feedback was invaluable and we look forward to staying in touch with him as well as reading about Pricetag on his blog.

President of Israel talks with entrepreneurs Garzon and SheimbergThe day clearly started off on the right track as we had already made a couple pitches before 9:00 AM, but we never imagined we’d have the chance to show Pricetag to Shimon Peres, the President of Israel and Nobel Prize winner. Peres was on a 4-day tour of Silicon Valley, during which he visited Facebook, Google, and the Launch Festival.

After his on-stage conversation with Yossi Vardi and Jason Calacanis, The President walked through the Exhibition Hall shaking hands and briefly stopping at very few tables, yet seemed to have plenty of time for us. He clearly showed a special interest in our budgeting tool, and after chatting with us about our backgrounds, he requested we demonstrate how Pricetag works. The conversation was then reported in the SF Examiner, Yahoo! News, and other media outlets, so it was obviously the media highlight of our trip, but there were still many investors, entrepreneurs, and journalists we wanted to speak to. Fortunately, the day was still young and attendees continued to request we show them what makes Pricetag so special.

During the first day of the festival we met dozens of interesting people, but instead of naming them all, we’ll highlight a few individuals that showed a particular interest in Pricetag or gave us vital feedback: Google Developer Advocate, Don Dodge; eBay Sr. Analyst, Mika Kasumov; Crushpath CEO, Sam Lawrence; and Tekton Ventures Founder/Managing Partner, Jai Choi. 

As the second day got underway, the conversations about Launch 1.0 companies (those without press or blog coverage prior to launching at the festival), were centered on awesome ideas which eventually won awards and significant investment (bookmark each one, because you’ll be hearing much more about them):

Spacemonkey --- amazingly fast and small device that privately encrypts all your data and distributes it geographically.

Minbox --- email client built from the bottom up, focused on people, not messages

Captricity --- easily converts paper documents into digital form

Appstack --- app that makes it easy for local businesses to get mobile customers

 We love what they do, but let’s circle back to Pricetag…

The first person we’d like to highlight from this day is Max Shapiro, CEO of PeopleConnect, a staffing firm that connects promising companies with talented people who can bring their company to the next level (usually through equity in the company). Max knows virtually everyone in the business, exudes positive energy and is a pleasure to be with. Meeting him felt just like hitting a home run, and we’re sure much more will come of this as Pricetag continues to grow.

Remember that awesome rush you get when your team hits back-to-back homeruns? That’s exactly how we felt after our first home run of the day, was followed by this grand slam:

The Founder of AngelPad, Thomas Korte, stopped by and challenged us to lure him in with a 30-second pitch. We succeeded. He asked to see more, applauded the design and user interface, was very interested in our growing user base, and most importantly, enormous potential for growth. We exchanged smiles and business cards and agreed to be in touch to discuss next steps. If things go well, the next blog post may very well have an update on this front!

Korte’s visit left us pumped and with a full tank of energy for the rest of the day as we met another slew of impressive entrepreneurs, such as; Manish Vij of Daring, Julia Serbulov of Mingly, Matthew Wickstrand of Kareer.me, and Kurt Daradics of CitySourced. Looking forward to speaking more with all of them and following their growth.

The festival was winding down. Awards were announced and angel investments were revealed as we all happily popped open an Anchor Steam, or two, and toasted to each other.

It was a spectacular experience with significant inroads into the angel community, vital feedback from designers, developers, and the startup community, as well as unforgettable moments.

We’re back in NYC implementing new features, improving the user experience, and making sure Pricetag, (aka, your right hand), continues to help you lure and secure clients.

More pictures of our trip can be found on Flickr.

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