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Start-up tablet app developers pitch venture capital investors

by Michael Singer

March 6 2013

New tablet apps created by startups were spread across many of the display tables at Launch.
New tablet apps created by startups were spread across many of the display tables at Launch.

Tablets are growing increasingly more popular among businesses and with that healthy installed base, products and services that support the tablet ecosystem continue to be the darlings of venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.

SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 50 start-up companies have gathered this week at the 6th annual Launch Festival for young entrepreneurs in search of funding for their various projects. While not all are blatantly tablet related (a $6,000 VisioBike, Internet-connected Good Night Lamp), three of the four top crowd-funded applications were optimized for tablet devices. Of the leader pack, Zillabyte, Jawfish Games, Instaradio all noted their designs were either influenced by or built to optimize on tablet computers.

Ironically, some VCs here were so connected to their tablets they couldn't be bothered to pay attention to the start-up companies they came to see. In a cantankerous exchange, conference founder and host Jason Calacanis attempted to take away judge Dave McClure’s iPad because the famous 500 Startups investor was so preoccupied using it.

Design for end usersGreg Ochab with Cubicle Ninjas shows off his app on a tablet to a potential customer.

Investor’s advice to developers and publishers is to optimize for the user experience that best fits the product.

“Most of the web is ugly. We want to design something modern and clean,” Twitter co-founder Evan Williams told attendees. He was referring to Medium, his latest effort to shape the future of digital publishing.

Greg Ochab with Cubicle Ninjas said his latest application, Sales Fu, was partially designed to optimize on the tablet because that's where salespeople have been asking for help.

“We get calls all the time from sales managers asking if we can help them with a content presentation system that is optimized for tablet,” Ochab told TabTimes. “Because tablets like the iPad are very visual, it makes it an easy choice for us to build software for them.”

Tablets all around

All along the demonstration tables, vendors touted their applications and products with tablets in hand. Luis Miguel Hervella, who founded ChipotleLabs in Mexico, said his company’s iOS-Instagram client really came into its own because of its focus on the tablet experience.

“We know how powerful visual demonstrations are and our app is best suited for larger displays like iPad and Apple TV. Customers are telling us that the high-resolution screens make the app really shine,” Hervella told TabTimes.

The Launch Festival itself is an example of the influence of tablet computers. The company has outfitted a dozen iPad mini devices with Square credit card readers to take payments from the various food trucks outside the venue. Festival staff are also carrying around iPad devices behind the scenes to take notes, coordinate sessions and keep speakers updated.

Michael Singer is the Business Editor for TabTimes

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