Paul Hammon, StartupRoundsBy Paul Hammond, Startup Rounds co-founder and CEO

ELEVATOR PITCH

Startup Rounds showcases exciting new products, where customers can discover amazing startups and influence winners. The platform aims to accelerate emerging businesses by hosting competitions and events to facilitate community. This in turn connects startups to customers, investors, mentors, sponsors and cash.

PRODUCT/SERVICE DESCRIPTION

Startup Rounds brings business competitions to a public arena. The platform showcases a startup’s unique offerings where customers can discover and purchase innovative products and services. We empower customers to be the judges, and their purchases help the startups demonstrate market validation so they can advance and win.

FOUNDERS’ STORY

After years of directing tennis programs and managing tennis facilities, I decided to go for an MBA at Babson, the number one school for entrepreneurship. I worked with startups in both the tech and consumer product space, and also worked with the VC firm General Catalyst.

Since I participated in every business contest or case competition I could, I noticed that there was a real opportunity to create a platform that brings these types of competitions to the masses. I then reached out to Dan, the founder of the highest iOS rated job searching platform—JobAware. Dan and I grew up together, and we began building the platform, establishing sponsors, and getting startups on board to participate. We figured what better way to score the startups and engage the public than to incorporate sales and/or crowdfunding. We shared a vision of creating value for startups who can validate the market, and want to build an accelerator to help scale the companies that are successful through the platform. For us, this is just the beginning.

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MARKETING/PROMOTION STRATEGY

Our goal is to create a platform where startups can engage their audiences, and where customers can peruse the wide range of unique startups and cool products that are sold through the platform. We aim to facilitate a community environment by engaging the audiences of our sponsors and partners, and by building our brand online and in person. We host events, and have an annual showcase which highlights only the best startups and brings the community together.

MARKET OPPORTUNITY

The $7.8 billion crowdfunding market size is doubling year-after-year, and the reward-based portion of this is about $4.7 billion. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have really validated the reward-based crowdfunding space, but this is still a newly established industry which has huge growth potential globally. The problem is that traditional crowdfunding sites are only skimming the top of the invaluable possibilities for businesses that these types of platforms offer. Startup Rounds looks to promote business growth for new ventures and create opportunities for customers to discover innovative products that they would otherwise never see.

HOW WE DIFFERENTIATE FROM THE COMPETITION

We looked at existing competitions for new or aspiring ventures and saw that the decisions were in the hands of a few people that don’t necessarily see the value of the products for the current consumer market. We are creating not only a funding space, but a platform where customers are empowered to be the judges, essentially democratizing business competitions to let the people who use these products decide on the most deserving winners.

Unlike other crowdfunding or crowd-supported platforms, we look to place the focus on supporting entrepreneurs who seek real business growth, exposure, and credibility. Any business can apply to participate in the competition’s wide range of categories. We also aim to promote business growth for new ventures and create opportunities for customers to discover innovative products that they would otherwise never see.

Also, the major concern in the media about crowdfunding is the ability for startup founders to deliver on their promises. This is why Startup Rounds screens all applicants, and accepts only startups that have at least a working prototype. We review each startup on a case-by-case basis.

BUSINESS MODEL

Currently Startup Rounds takes commissions on sales. There are different tiers that startups can achieve to pay lesser commissions. In the future, we will build on our media solutions, advertising, and investment funds for startups to build into our accelerator model.

CURRENT NEEDS

We are actively looking for investors and partners, and are in the process of raising $250,000 to hire talented people.

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StartupRounds_logoHEADQUARTERS: Boston

WEBSITE: www.startuprounds.com

FOUNDERS: Paul Hammond, Dan Sandland

INVESTORS: Angel investors

YEAR FOUNDED: 2014

TWITTER: @StartupRounds

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/startuprounds

CRUNCHBASE: crunchbase.com/event/startup-rounds—final-showcase-awards-2015115

ANGELLIST: angel.co/startup-rounds