Looking back over the last three Demo shows,I’ve been very impressed by one company that has solidly executed its plan and is on the brink of wild success, a small startup called TourWrist, that appeared at Demo 2012 in a scholarship stage spot.
TourWrist is one of the best Demo Launches to share the show’s stage in the last several years. the small startup was selected in one of the first groups who brought to Demo under the show’s Scholarship program.
TourWrist’s product, called “Sphere”, is a free immersive graphics technology that lets professional or amature photographers easily create 360 degree spherical images which are stored and served from Amazon’s cloud environment.
My first look at this startup was in a conference room as they rehearsed their on-stage presentation. I liked its technology although at first I didn’t fully understand its deeply disruptive nature.
TourWrist’s Sphere is covered by nearly 20 pending patents and is made possible by Smartphone an tablets that incorporate gyro and accelerometer technologies. There are very few other developers who have harnessed the full capabilities of modern tablets and smartphones (although Philippe Khan’s M-Power--but which is not in the same catgory as Sphere comes to mind).The second time I watched the company’s Founder and CEO Charles Armstrong practice his pitch, I understood what this startup's technology could do and how it could transform large portions of the entertainment, hotel, resort destination and real estate industries.
As I watched TourWrist’s rehearsal,I noticed Armstrong's willingness to depart from carefully sculpted powerpoint bullets and pivot his pitch to show what the company’s Sphere brand technology could do.
What makes me believe this company is a great blueprint for any startup launching at Demo or other technology showcase event, was its action packed Demo and its response to the audience’s enthusiasm. As Armstrong walked around the stage, he seemed immersed in the TourWrist’s spherical 360 degree images but never missed a beat when it came to explaining his value proposition. As I watched this first time Demo entrepreneur show off his technology, he literally took over the stage using an iPad to power immersive 360 degree images.
At one point I thought Mr Armstrong was so drawn into his demonstration, I thought he might fall off stage. But that didn’t happen and the audience reacted to his pitch by giiving him a Demo God award and Tourwrist the Demo’s People’s Choice Award.
Interest in TourWrist’s Sphere demonstration and technology carried over into the Demonstrator’s Pavillion which where technologists and potential investors were clamoring for personal demonstrations of Sphere.
TourWrist did several other things that help improve any Demo appearance; it had customers when it launched at Demo and its management was incredibly selective about accepting potential investors-- both of which Mr. Armstrong believes are contributing factors to the start-up’s success at and after the show.
Since it appeared at Demo,TourWrist has rebranded itself as "Sphere,"and inked approximaytely $1.75 million in investment capital and is now well on its way to a multi-million dollar Series A round, sources close to the company report.It's website,"TheSphere.com" has links to several Sphere videos,which are best viewed using an iPad or current and recent members of the iPhone family
But even more importantly, Sphere has attracted marquis-grade customers such as the Sands hotel/casino chain,the HomeAway vacation rental site, and consumer electronics maker Samsung which is installing Sphere Samsung Edition on its Galaxy NX camera.
Sphere has recently inked a deal with Motrr,a Santa Cruz,CA crowd-source funded robotics designer which makes a wheeled robot called the Motrr Galileo. Fitted into Motrr’s Galileo ,Iphone 4S.5, 5S and 5C cell phones, tablets or smart cameras loaded with Sphere can autonomously capture 360 degree images of interior or other spaces.The Galileo Sphere pairing screams out for a potential market-- the US Defense Department-- which has been overlooked for years by all but one Demo Company-- IRobot.
With Demo right around the corner,I believe Sphere/TourWrist could be a presentation that the more than 50 companies slated to appear at Demo in mid-October could use as a schematic for successful company/product launches.--Jim Forbes 9/29/2013.
(mandatory disclosure: I was the founding producer of DemoMobile and co-produced Demo events with Chris Shipley--jmf)