More than 175 companies, more than 3,000 people voting, and one company left standing onstage.
The Vator Splash competition culminated at the Splash event, with the final round to find the overall winner consisting of voting among the 375 attendees gathered at the Cafe du Nord in San Francisco.
The overall Vator Splash winner was Rentcycle, a startup that wants to be the OpenTable for rentals. Rentcycle beat out the other nine startups who gave three-minute pitches to the audience. These top 10 finalists that made the stage were chosen through a two-prong voting process.
The first round consisted of the popular vote. During that period, 176 companies participated and well over 3,000 people voted. The popular vote whittled down the number of companies to a short list of 20 companies. In the second round, the judges -- digital media investment banker and regular host of Vator Box Ezra Roizen sat alongside Dana Settle, a partner with Greycroft Partners, Patrick Chung, a partner at NEA, and Brian Ascher, a partner with Venrock -- rated all 20 companies. The judges and popular vote were then combined to come up with the top 10.
As you can see, Rentcycle founder and CEO Tim Hyer made it through three rounds of vetting to get the top spot.
For another version of Splash Box highlights, see Ronny Kerr's excellent coverage in his article, written that evening.
The bottom line from the investor feedback was that the idea is "simple." To that end, it's attractive to investors in that it has clarity in its goals - to help organize the rental business in an online marketplace.
The challenge, as all the panelists pointed out, is getting enough critical mass around "demand" and determining which verticals - party goods, sporting equipment, tools - to promote and focus on. The advice from the panelists was to establish success in one particular region and then move to other regions. Also, the panelists advised Tim to look at other sites servicing local businesses - like Yelp - and make the user experience fun!
To learn more about Rentcycle, be sure to check out the latest episode of Startup Sessions, which features Hyer hard at work in his entrepreneurial lifestyle.