There may not have been any blood in the water, but the smell of money was certainly in the air Thursday afternoon as six startup companies—five from Boston—pitched a panel of powerful Hub investors live at the FutureM Shark Tank event in Cambridge.
As the night kicked off with opening remarks from emcee Karl Büttner, the Chief Mentorship Officer at MassChallenge, the crowd and startup owners alike expected the investors to give out $100,000.
When the seas had settled, however, the Sharks had coughed up an impressive $442,000, with further negotiations in the works as well.
The investors panel consisted of Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot, Dave Balter of BzzAgent, Fred Destin of Atlas Ventures and Büttner, as well as an additional “Piranha Pool” including angel investors Jean Hammond and Joe Caruso and others, all represented by Lucy McQuilken of Intel Capital.
After the Jaws-inspired music had died down, the pitches had been delivered and the judges had had a chance to deliberate, Shah kicked things off by offering to invest $28,000 in CoachUp, a private sports coach database led by confident front man Jordan Fliegel, that also garnered interest from several of the Piranhas. Shah also put up $29,000 in online advertising pioneers Jebbit, the brainchild of Boston College students Tom Coburn, Jonathan Lacoste and Chase McAleese.
Sidewalk, aimed at helping salespeople sell smarter, received a $10,000 offer from Gus Weber (who wasn’t in attendance) of Polaris Ventures. After hearing that NBD Nanotechnologies hopes to have a self-filling water bottle prototype by mid-2014, Balter offered $25,000 to the techy startup on behalf of Boston Seed. Arcbazar, an innovative crowdsourcing platform for architectural design services, didn’t walk away with any money but secured meetings with Destin at Atlas and Google Ventures, among others.
The biggest shark tamer of all, however, was Timbre, a band discovery app developed by Intrepid Pursuits and spearheaded by Mark Kasdorf. After haggling over terms, Balter committed Boston Seed to investing $150,000 and Destin, not to be outdone, invested an additional $200,000 after commenting that the design looks “f*cking awesome.”
Top pitch marks go to Fliegel, Kasdorf and, perhaps most surprisingly, Coburn, who appeared remarkably calm and confident, especially for a college kid. (“We practiced a lot,” he told me afterward with a grin.) And while his presentation was far from perfect, NBD founder Deckard Sorensen proved once again that badass tech beats bad pitch any day.