(photo: Jeff Fernandez and Bambi Francisco)
At Vator Splash, 10 great startups compete, but only one can take home the mid-grade bottle of champagne. I'm proud to announce that the first startup to win Vator's very first New York City event is Grovo, an online training platform that uses video courses to teach people how to use popular Web sites.
CEO and co-founder of Grovo Jeff Fernandez returned to the stage to deliver his sharp pitch in a shortened 90-second format (or 120 seconds, if you asked moderator Ezra Roizen). With quick but efficient two-minute videos (see examples), Grovo introduces Internet amateurs (noobs, to us weathered Web aficionados) to the essential features of the best websites, from Facebook to eBay, LinkedIn to Google Analytics. Around the world, 240 million people sign up for the Internet for the first time every year, according to Fernandez, so don't think there's no market for this.
After watching through some videos, users can take a short test to be certified for that particular website.
For businesses and nonprofit organizations, Grovo provides a quick introduction to Web resources that could potentially drive customer and supporter engagement. Educators can use Grovo to either teach technology or train staff. For the everyday individual, the possibilities are limited only by the number of sites currently available on Grovo.
Here are highlights from the live Splash Box:
--Owen Davis of NYC Seed said Grovo is a great idea, but wondered, "How much have you thought about doing customized content for enterprises versus pre-canned stuff?" The basic Google/Twitter lessons can only take the company so far. Fernandez replied: "We're focused on a lot of the best websites for now, but eventually we'll move into more targeted areas." The current focus of Grovo is to appeal to a lot of customers though.
--David Tisch of TechStars NYC had only positive things to say: "This is brilliant, something totally unique, I give you a lot of credit." Though a lot of startups are doing online education, Grovo has taken a novel approach.
--Drew Lipsher of Greycroft, noted that Grovo could taint one of the best parts about the Internet by eliminating discovery. What about all the startups, like the ones at Vator Splash on stage and in the demo pits, that don't have their own lessons on Grovo? Eventually, Fernandez replied, the site would like to open up so other people can create content, meaning even startups could share their services through Grovo.
--The fourth Splash Box host, Adam Ludwin of RRE Ventures, thinking in the long-term, asked Fernandez whether he wanted the service to be bigger than just a "how-to-use Twitter" site. What's beyond the core product? "We certainly want to be a very large business," replied Fernandez confidently. The certifications aspect of the site could be a big growth area.
--"Have you played with the format?" asked Davis, when Fernandez explained that videos on Grovo are normally limited to around two minutes each. Longer videos, different kinds of content--there's plenty of room for experimentation. Fernandez answered in the affirmative, saying that videos were originally five minutes and with nothing attached, which turned out to be too long and too cut and dry. Now, the short videos are snappier and more entertaining and also feature takeaways.