Night at the Hatchery, an American Idol for Apps

hatchery yao Night at the Hatchery, an American Idol for Apps

The Hatchery's Yao Hui Huang

“It’s supposed to be like American Idol,” we were told about The Hatchery’s “Are You Serious?” pitchfest, wherein five entrepreneurs pitch a panel of four investors, who then deconstruct the presentation and give a score out of 22 possible points. Last night’s scores were 9, 20, 12, 14 and 9.

No one said “Are you serious?” but judges did compare the first app, LikeBids, to a “16 year-old boy that just wants to get laid quick” and the second app, Bindo, to notorious dot-com flop Kozmo: “The reason Kozmo went under was because they were spending an obscene amount of money on an unprofitable business.”

One entrepreneur with a daily deal-esque site charmed the audience with the fact that people in China organize flash mobs online to storm physical stores, demanding a discount. “I’ve seen six or seven of these. Everyone has that story about the people in China,”  Jay Levy of Zelkova Ventures said. Would the business succeed? “Stranger things have happened,” one judge said.

The best part of the event was the running commentary by a pair of giggly grandfather-aged men sitting next to Betabeat, exulting in schadenufreude. “I like it!” one said after the first teardown. “It’s tough!” the other agreed. “Knocks the stars right out of their eyes!” said the first.

The apps: LikeBids, which enables brands to give away free stuff to people based on how many friends they convince to “like” it.

Bindo, a site that puts local stores’ inventory on the web and allows customers to buy online (this was the 20/22).

CartMob, a reverse daily deal site which lets consumers name their own prices for items with the expectation that brands will offer that price after critical mass is reached.

Takeoff, a web app for collaborative video editing.

And finally a platform for brand-hosted contests that incentivizes bloggers to participate, which Betabeat didn’t catch the name of–it was something like RankClimber. That presenter got a 9/22; the judges found his concept spammy. “So you’re saying if I’m successful I will ruin the blogosphere?” he asked defensively, quickly adding, “Kidding, of course.” (“He couldn’t handle it,” one of the men sitting next to Betabeat murmered.)

“I’m not sure the blogosphere hasn’t been ruined already,” David Blumenstein, managing partner at The Hatchery, said sagely.