Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

AngelPad, an Incubator for Entrepreneurs With Credentials

AngelPad, the new incubator created by former Googlers, held its first end-of-session Demo Day last night at its office on a dead-end alley in San Francisco’s SOMA district. It was a familiar format for those who have been to Y Combinator and TechStars Demo Days, and indeed just about every one of the hundred or so investors in the room is a frequent presence at those events.

Thomas Korte

AngelPad is captained by the amiable and energetic former Google product evangelist Thomas Korte, who brought in many of the eight participating start-ups from his personal connections. They included somewhat typical tech start-up fare: A couple of Web curation tools (Curated.by and Snip.ly), a get-together planning app (RollCall) and a simpler interface for selling your stuff online (EggCartel). There was also a user-generated outdoors site (AllTrails) and an app that tracks the energy consumption of computers and other devices (Hug Energy).

Probably the most notable difference between AngelPad and other incubators is the level of high-profile experience most of its founders already have. At least half seemed to have worked on product and engineering at Google, and others come from established companies like Microsoft, Yelp, Playdom and RockYou.

(Also, is it just me, or does the name AngelPad scream for a reality show that would be sort of like “Real World” mashed with “Top Chef” about Silicon Valley start-ups?)

After the demos, I asked MoPub founder Jim Payne, who managed product for Google Maps Premier and AdMob metrics, what he and his co-founders thought the AngelPad differentiator is. He said, “As compared to Y Combinator?” I said, “First of all, as compared to doing this outside an incubator.”

Payne replied that he “wouldn’t and couldn’t” have started his company without an incubator, and that taking that route would be forcibly sitting yourself and your start-up “out in the weeds.”

MoPub is a mobile ad server, and will soon announce its first round of funding, said Payne. He and other AngelPad participants said they liked the small size of the program and the more free-form curriculum as compared to more established incubators.

Sean Plaice of Hug Energy at AngelPad's first Demo Day

Bill Tai of Charles River Ventures, who had been chatting with Payne when I walked up, bid him goodbye with the admonition to let Tai get in on the MoPub round. Tai told me that he thought MoPub and Adku were the most interesting of the AngelPad eight. Adku wants to help e-commerce sites optimize what products they are featuring using real-time data mining about what’s relevant to a visitor’s location and demographic.

Tai said he agreed that founders in the first AngelPad class do have more experience, particularly at large companies. But he added that’s not necessarily always an asset. “At Y Combinator there may be a higher probability of a breakout idea,” Tai said, “because less-experienced people don’t have context.”


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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle