Hassan F. Johnson, chief executive officer of ThaTrunk, has developed a savvy mobile application geared toward connecting creative professionals such as musicians, authors and artists to their consumers.
“We give them a better sales channel to distribute content to and sell merchandise,” Johnson says of ThaTrunk’s application.
“There is a great need for creative people to sell their content on the individual level as well as the e-commerce level.”
ThaTrunk uses mobile commerce and geocast technology to help digital creators resonate with their fans and consumers. For example, the company’s mobile application enables musicians to geocast their music live from stage.
“Since we have the platform, I can see our business taking off and really working with large entertainment companies,” says Johnson, whose firm seeks to raise $750,000 in capital.
Johnson, who hails from Austin, Texas, represented one of 14 tech start-up firms who participated in the recently held DreamIt Ventures Demo Day event.
Demo Day offered participating entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their ideas before an audience of angel investors and business executives. The diverse array of start ups ranged from specializing in offering mobile applications for printed coupons to developing a system designed to streamline the supply procurement process for contractors to offering an online platform designed to connect voters with political candidates.
The companies represented bright entrepreneurial talent and included students and alumni from top academic institutions.
Companies who participated in the DreamIt Ventures business accelerator program spent the last three months working out of shared office space in the University City Science Center. The accelerator program provides selected participants with up to $25,000 in seed capital, donated accounting and legal services and mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. This marked the fourth year that DreamIt Ventures held a program in Philadelphia. The initiative was also held in New York over the summer. In the last four years, DreamIt entrepreneurs have raised more than $25 million.
Five of the participating companies were selected in partnership with Comcast Ventures, the venture capital affiliate of Comcast Corporation as part of the Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP). MEAP was established to address the lack of minorities in the startup community. MEAP is the first investment initiative from the $20 million fund created by the NBCUniversal transaction that is committed to expanding opportunities for minority entrepreneurs. The five startups that participated in MEAP included owners who are African American, Asian, Hispanic and Indian.
According to William Crowder, managing director, MEAP, the five companies were chosen from hundreds of applicants.
“The goals with those companies were no different than the goal that we had with all of other companies. We wanted to give them the same things that we feel are critical for young startups to be successful,” said Crowder.
Crowder noted that similar business accelerator programs are cropping up in cities across the country.
“It’s really critical that we get more minorities into these programs. They need to have these opportunities and more importantly they need to start looking and applying for these opportunities. It’s just such a critical experience for them to have,” Crowder stressed.
Participating MEAP African American-led firms include ThaTrunk; Kwelia, a service that allows property managers to optimize their prices using rental market data and metaLayer, a visual search company that summarizes online data and prioritizes relevant content.
The application process for the next Philadelphia-based DreamIt program opens on May 17, 2012.
For information visit www.dreamitventures.com.