#OpenCoffeeLou 33: Roobiq and Steel Fashion talk accelerator life

Rob Rosario (standing) presents to OpenCoffeeLou 33.

Rob Rosario (standing) presents to OpenCoffeeLou 33.

What a great turnout for #OpenCoffeeLou this morning. We were easily pushing 40 attendees with a bunch of new faces. We ran out of coffee before the meeting was over.

Adam Fish of Roobiq is back in town with his fiancee for the Fourth of July holiday. He stopped by to tell us about his experience with AngelPad, a 10-week accelerator in downtown San Francisco.

Fish relocated to San Francisco in March with Chris Vermillion (John Receveur stayed behind and continues to work on Roobiq from his home office here in town) to attend the accelerator which he describes as “intense.”

AngelPad was co-founded by Carine Magescas and Thomas Korte, former Google employees. Most of the mentor/investor network that AngelPad introduces its companies to also hail from the Googlesphere.

Fish said, “It’s much more close-knit than TechStars. That has positives and negatives.”

A refresher on Roobiq: it’s mobile CRM with integrated natural voice technology that works with Salesforce. The company has 65 customers signed on to the beta version and upwards of 2000 users. Everything from Fortune 100 to smaller companies.


Salesforce is located in San Francisco, so that was a big motivation to apply to AngelPad. Also, Google and Microsoft live there, and they’re doing significant work with natural voice technology.

“But it was more intense than I anticipated,” said Fish. “They forced us to rethink everything in the business. It was tough at times. Coming out of it we have a better understanding… a vision of the company and where we want to take it. It was a tough but very rewarding experience.”

Fish said that they raised a seed round. Nothing major that they’re announcing yet. They are indeed setting up the company in San Francisco.

“I’m sad to leave Louisville from a personal perspective,” said Fish. “Hopefully we’ll be able to continue to build the company and reflect some of that success back here.”

Fish said that no one has figured out mobile CRM. Oracle recently partnered with Salesforce and they haven’t figured it out.

John Receveur said, “The experience validated a lot of what we thought.” Customers want a way of pushing relevant sales data to sales people.

An audience member asked: “How were some of the other teams helpful to you?”

Fish responded: “As great as the feedback from the advisors was, just being around the 11 other teams was very, very cool.” Roobiq’s classmates included companies as diverse as  fashion blog automation to software for drones.

An audience member asked “What’s your advice for others in accelerators?”
“Get to know your classmates,” said Fish. He says despite the size of the community,  everyone knows everyone still in the Bay area. You’ll want to make use of all these connections. Accelerators are about relationship building.

Audience member: “What’s a typical day?”
Fish said that there are meetings one or two nights a week with a presentation or speech from an advisor or investor. There are one-on-one meetings on a case-by-case basis. AngelPad does not have as much programming as Tech Stars. All of the companies work out a central location. AngelPad tries to minimize distractions. You’re there to build a company, not to waste time with much beyond that. When you’re looking at accelerators, says Fish, look at what kinds of teams they choose. You’ll spend more time with them than anyone else.

Interesting side note: Last week, AngelPad announced that they were going “bi-coastal” and launching a NYC version of AngelPad in the fall. According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Hiring engineers has become prohibitive for some startups in Silicon Valley, Angelpad’s co-founders believe.” Looks like the “Talent Problem” exists everywhere. It’s just a different problem in different places.

We’ll have more on this and more from Adam Fish later in the day. 

Next, Rob Rosario of Steel Fashion, one of the companies currently housed in the Velocity accelerator pitched the group and did a Q&A. We wrote about Rosario’s company in mid-June.

Steel Fashion is a digital stylist, an online luxury styling solution for men. The website currently has very, very basic model of how this works. You can currently match a “shirt and tie” look on the website.

Rosario delivered his pitch and then took questions. One of the questions he fielded was whether or not he had given much thought to how the Steel Fashion experience is for women. Rosario said that in his research he has found that 20 percent of ecommerce website traffic for men’s products is women. There was a show of hands of men in the audience who have had experienced being shopped for by a woman (as adults). And nearly every hand was raised.

“Social stereotypes of fashion for men are fading away,” says Rosario.

Being at the accelerator has helped him focus in on the luxury market (even though Louisville is lacking in stores that sell the highest-end designers.” He says, “Everyone deserves a piece of caviar in their closet.”

When asked what the most important thing he’s gotten out of Velocity thus far, Rosario said: “Mentors shake your foundation. They’ve helped me see beyond just e-commerce into the importance of data.”

Announcements and notes:

Vision Louisville Town Hall Meeting tonight. “Louisville is undertaking a bold initiative to create a plan that will guide how our community looks, feels, and flows in 2040. Be a part of the conversation!” Entrepreneurs are needed to add their voice to this discussion. The meeting starts at 5:30 and goes until 7 p.m. at 1310 S Beckley Station Rd.

Village Capital VentureWell Happy Hour 5:30 p.m. at the Ali Center on July 10. Largely social. No programming.

Open Hack is tomorrow, July 2 at 6.p.m at the iHub, 204 South Floyd Street. From the announcement: “You can hack on anything! Any language, framework, public/open-source, personal, etc. Skill level doesn’t matter. Come to network, learn (or teach) and build something.”

Thanks, as always, to Heine Brothers for providing the coffee, iHub for hosting and thanks to Elizabeth Rounsavall for bringing the zucchini bread.