With Elevatr, his tool for tracking, sharing and developing ideas for startups, David Spiro is making a bet that startup culture is mainstream culture.
The market for such a tool seems fairly niche — how many people out there have so many ideas for startups that they need a whole separate app to manage them? Surely a simple spreadsheet or text document could do the trick, right?
The answer, so far, is 40,000. That’s how many people have downloaded Elevator, the iOS app, within the first month of it going live in the App Store. Spiro says the fact that his mom calls him regularly with app ideas is proof that entrepreneurship is creeping into mainstream culture. “People are enamored with startups,” he says. I wrote about that phenomenon about a year ago:
When a tech CEO’s wedding is tabloid fodder, we know a cultural seachange is afoot. A hipster music festival now dedicates two days to entrepreneurship. Two startup-themed reality shows are in the works. Ashton Kutcher is no longer an anomaly – Adrian Grenier, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Jay-Z, Shakira, and Will Smith are now all angel investors. It is very cool to be in tech.
This helps explain why Elevatr has spent its entire first month at the top of the App Store charts in the Productivity category. It helps, of course, that the app is beautifully designed (thanks to help from mobile development agency Fueled) and simple to use.
Spiro says Elevatr is purposely simple to invite anyone — not just Silicon Valley types — to develop and share ideas for startups. “The look of the app appeals to anyone, not just developers,” he says. Elevatr allows users to categorize their ideas for startups and share them with potential collaborators. These tools could be applied to other creative fields, such as book proposals, game ideas, or even restaurant concepts, Spiro says.
But for now, Elevatr’s primary focus is startups working on their elevator pitch. There is a business model there, too. Many entities want to be around companies as they are starting up — that’s when they make many important decisions about which vendors and services they’ll use. In that way, Elevator plays into the the whole “selling pickaxes in a gold rush” idea. The company is already working on partnerships with seed funds, development shops, incubators and business plan competitions. “Our goal is to become the default way to pitch anything,” Spiro says.
That’s attractive to investors; Elevatr is about to close a $500,000 seed round of funding to continue development. The next stage is to make sharing and soliciting feedback around startup ideas, target markets, product features and business plans more collaborative within the app. At the moment, sharing within Elevatr is very basic, but Spiro says he would like the app to allow for more back and forth between collaborators.
When startups selling things to other startups can become big businesses, it would be easy to cry “bubble.” Regardless of whether that is a good indicator, startups are having a mainstream moment. Some people are just capitalizing on it.
- ElevatrThe Future of Entrepreneurship
What started as an observation - that people used apps like Evernote as (terrible) ways to organize their business ideas - evolved into Elevatr. It's the first mobile business planning tool.