ALICE Receptionist Wins StartupCamp 8 at ITEXPO

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ALICE Receptionist Wins StartupCamp 8 at ITEXPO

StartupCamp 8, located at ITEXPO featured startups giving their product pitches, pitting one startup against another until there was one man standing. Or should I say woman, since the winner was ALICE, a cool receptionist designed for visitors to corporations that have trended away from paying for receptionists near the front door just to greet guests.

StartupCamp 8 begin with a keynote address by Jeff Bonforte Communications Platform SVP at Yahoo. Bonforte told a great story about when he previously worked Yahoo the first time and as one of the lead negotiators, he missed an opportunity to buy Twitter for $25 million, Twitters drop-bottom dollar amount and Yahoo offered $20 million. $5 million separating Yahoo & Twitter and preventing Jeff from becoming a deal-making legend. Jeff then explained 12 steps that companies should do to be more innovative and he talked about the changes in Yahoo's culture.

When his keynote ended, The startups presented for five minutes, and then took questions from the judges and the audience. Perch, went first and featured a product designed to bridge the culture gap between multi-site offices. It leverages Apple iPads or Android devices mounted to walls in common office areas acting as virtual "windows" into other offices. Think of it as an always on video feed. It can detect faces and increase the quality and bandwidth usage automatically.

TextGen, was an interesting solution that lets you use your existing phone number and enable txt/SMS conversations on that number. The example gave was his family was running late for a dinner reservation, so he asked his kids to contact their family, friends and the restaurant to postpone the reservation. He returned to find out the kids did contact their family & friends via SMS, but no one wanted to make a voice call to call the restaurant. Thus, TextGen bridges this gap by SMS-enabling business phone numbers.

Up next was Perzo, a communication application that helps people organize their interactions and manage time in a personal network, as well as share information securely.

Last to give their pitch was ALICE Receptionist which enables businesses to present live customer service agents on desks, kiosks, and other digital signage devices, enabling two-way and one-way video interaction with customers and employees. The only drawback is they said they don't replace security door or intercom systems that have door strike mechanisms to buzz open the door. Instead they said they work "with" them, but the impression I got was ALICE is positioned inside the office after the guest has "cleared" the door. But if they've cleared the door by speaking to someone using the outside door intercom, then they've already spoken to someone and they're on their way to greet them. Door intercoms with speakers are pretty ugly. So I'd like to see ALICE's sexy iPad interface greet me when I visit an office. Then I can have an audio or video interaction with an employee and then they can buzz me in the door. A second ALICE device can sit on the front desk to allow me to check out ALICE's other features such as virtual maps, corporate info, corporate directory, etc. Nevertheless, I did like ALICE and I voted for this product.