Idee's new iphone app – TinEye Music

I am hanging out at Idee where they are demoing their new iPhone application.

I have to say I am impressed. The application allows you to take a picture of a CD (books and other products coming soon) and the app will then come back with pricing and other information. In the case of a CD, you can sample the tracks and buy them directly from the iTunes store.

After seeing TinEye, a lot of people have asked “what is the killer app for search?”, I really don’t have an answer, because it isn’t really the kind of stuff I think about, but this represents the kind of innovation and interesting applications that can come out of this kind of technology. This might not be the killer app itself, but it shows that there are dozens of problems that Visual Search can solve.

The message I got tonight was that Idee is just getting started in building tools that make use of their core visual search technology, and that we are going to be seeing a lot more in the months and years to come.

This iPhone application should be available within a few weeks, depending on how quickly the iTunes store approves it.

Leila Boujnane, Idee’s CEO, will be speaking at StartupEmpire in November. – know your neighborhood when buying a home

HomeZilla, a real-estate companion site, is launching publicly today. When I first saw the site back in February of this year, it still had a long way to go in terms of usability, and it looks like they have really been working hard in the time since then.

It is practically impossible to do anything worthwhile online for the real-estate market in Canada. The Multiple Listings Service is a monopoly and the ultimate gatekeeper of listings data. They protect themselves with anti-competitive contracts and stifle any sort of innovation. They regularly shut down websites and startups who come up against them. The most famous of which was the Real Estate Plus project by Bell Canada.

So, what do you do if you are passionate about this market, but can’t play fair? You go around the bullies and provide value in other ways.

HomeZilla provides neighborhood information that helps you make a decision about where you want to buy. Where are my local pubs? Schools? Child Care? LCBO? It is all in there.

The Toronto based company has a lot of work ahead of them to get exposure during a time that has seen real estate purchased drop like a rock in Toronto (down 22% to 30% by some estimates) and other cities. That said, I think HomeZilla will play an even more important role for a new type of buyer who will be a lot more picky about where they are purchasing, and they will have time to browse around, rather than bidding on every house that comes on the market.

I do not know exactly what HomeZilla’s revenue model is, but I can think of a handful of obvious opportunities to provide add-on value for real estate agents.

Personally, I think we need more startups like this, who demonstrate the possibilities of what can be done in the real estate space, and who I hope will collectively give a big middle finger to the MLS monopoly.

HomeZilla was founded by former Yahoo! manager Sandy Ward, who recently returned to Toronto from San Francisco.

Top 5 Do's and Don'ts for Raising Funding

After what seems like a very short summer break, things have started up again at the Maple Leaf Angels. We held our first investment breakfast of the season in September and look forward to another great season of seeing great companies and closing deals. Since the group was started in early 2007, Maple Leaf Angel members have made investments in over 10 companies.

One of the functions of the board is to do company screening and select the companies that will present at our investment events. Having seen pitches ranging from very good to very bad, I thought I would start off my first post of the season with my top 5 do?s and don?ts of securing investment.

1) Do start early – raising money takes time

Remember that the timeline in the referenced article assumes you go from start to finish and close the deal. You may very well find you get part way through the timeline with one investment group only to be turned down. That means you need to start over again with alternate groups. The best time to look for financing is when you are in a position of strength (i.e. things are going well with your company) and not when you are in dire need of financing to survive.

2) Do ensure you have the fundamentals down pact (product, market, competition, management, financials, goto market)

Throughout the funding process investors will want to gain a comfort level with a potential investment in your company by assessing these areas. Not being prepared with details will seriously weaken your prospects of getting funded.

3) Do be memorable for the right reasons

During the early stages of the investment process, the goal is to stand out from the other companies pitching and get people interested in your company to want to spend the time to undertake a due dilligence process. At any organized investment event you will be one of many companies presenting to a group of investors. All will be pitching with the same message (our company has a great new idea, that can be sold to a large market, and make a lot of money). Often time the amount of interest you garner is largely dependent on the person who is presenting. You have probably all been to industry conferences & events where you have sat through presentations where you had to try hard not to doze off. But every once in a while you have attended a presentation with a great speaker that you leave feeling energized and challenged. This is the type of person you want to give the pitch to get people interested and excited about investing in your company.

4) Don?t have an unrealistic idea on valuation

Valuation can be complicated and difficult to determine an exact value for your company. However, when you are first asked what your valuation is, do not give an unrealistic number if you are an early stage company (i.e. a pre-revenue company is generally not going to support a valuation in the 8 figure range). Also, if asked about valuation during your initial meeting, always preface it that it is open for discussion. At this point each side is only just beginning to get to know each other and what they bring to the table. Being adamant about an unrealistic valuation number (usually mistakenly rooted in the belief of not wanting to give up more than 51% of the company as to retain control) will quickly cause people to loose interest.

5) Don’t have people walk away from your pitch presentation without having a clear idea on what your company does and how it makes money

Even if your product is a very technical product, you need to be able to clearly articulate what it does, what pain point it is solving, and how your company makes money. You would be surprised how many pitches I have sat through and left without having a clear idea on what the company did. If you cannot cross this basic hurdle, your chances of getting investment are going to be very slim.

Seems pretty basic – right? You would be surprised how many pitches get passed over as a result of tripping up over one of the above points. The ability to secure funding will play an important role in your company?s strategy and growth. Make sure you put your best foot forward!