MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Thirty-one early stage entrepreneurs pitched 31 start-ups today at the 500 Startups event. (See news of previous 500 Startups launches.) The company I was most interested to see pitch: LaunchRock. It's a service that enables small companies to quickly put up "coming soon" pages. It collects e-mails and looks professional.
It's a fine service. But, really, from the outside it looks like just a feature. Is it a company?
I talked with co-founder Thomas Knoll about the venture, and there is, thankfully, more behind it. In addition to sending e-mail addresses to customers, which any form builder could do (I prefer Wufoo), LaunchRock is big on the analytics. It knows where e-mails come from, which people who've signed up via the e-mails are the best at referring new users to sign up, and so on. It's customer intelligence before a company has customers.
The success of this business will hinge on the execution: the simplicity and usefulness of the data that LaunchRock sends to its customers. Knoll doesn't actually have the intelligence side of the app built out for customers yet, but he's working on it. He says he has 3,000 start-ups using the service already. The upstart airline PlaneRed is a customer, and is happy with it. Wade Eyerly of PlaneRed told me, "We sent out about a half dozen e-mails announcing our placeholder LaunchRock site to friends. In the eight weeks since, we've had more than 9,000 sign-ups and 100,000 page views."