April 20, 2017

Catching New Innovations at Launch Festival

Verizon Ventures is proud to support founders and inspire innovation by sponsoring Launch Festival. We attended this year’s event to catch the latest developments in various tech verticals. From drones and robotics to food and water, we saw a number of startups providing unique solutions to complex problems.

Day one of Launch Festival was bustling with roughly 12,000 founders making their way throughout the Innovation Hangar at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Verizon Ventures and R/GA hosted office hours to promote our recently-launched Verizon Media Tech Venture Studio program. We also held roundtable lunch discussions with five of our portfolio companies and other innovators who attended Launch. 8i, Civis Analytics, Swiftmile, Veniam, and Verdigris moderated discussions and fellow entrepreneurs exchanged insights on topics like AR/VR, data science, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and IoT.

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That evening I took to the Festival Stage to judge eight startups participating in Launch Festival’s Pitch Session Competition. The judging panel saw innovations from a highly diverse range of startups, confirming there is no end in sight to the concept of disrupting markets and industries.  

On the last day of Launch Festival, Ed Ruth hosted a fireside chat on the Startup Summit stage with Steve Raymond, CEO at 8i, about how 8i’s volumetric capture technology is making mobile augmented reality more human. Steve stressed the importance of capturing and projecting an authentic performance with holograms, with the objective to “not be the avatar, but to be with the user.” The discussion also touched on the opportunities that volumetric 3D content can open up, especially with advertisers and media companies that can play in this space. It’s clear that holographic communication is the future, and we look forward to seeing how it evolves and is applied across a number of industries.

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On the same stage, I participated in a judging panel listening to emerging startups in the VR/AR space. While consumer-focused companies are capturing immersive experiences that can be shared with friends, a number of startups tackled major pain points for the enterprise and beyond. It was great to see our old friends from Bounce Imaging hit the stage - who took the top prize in Verizon’s 2015 Powerful Answers Award contest. They developed a 360-degree tactical camera with sensors for first responders that can take a beating - literally. Bounce Imaging allows users to throw the camera into a room to see what lies ahead in hazardous situations and improve civilian safety.

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While Verizon Ventures is focused on strategic investments that are aligned with the larger organization’s direction, participating as a judge on these panels is always eye opening and provides insight into what verticals are taking off and which founders are leading the charge. For founder Colin Roche of Swiftmile, also a Startup Summit participant, Launch Festival provided an opportunity to gain investor leads, explore partner possibilities, and increase pre-orders for installing Swiftmile’s eBike transit system.

At Verizon Ventures, we are always interested in cutting-edge technology and innovation.  Launch Festival always gives us a glimpse into the latest and greatest in tech, and this year was no different. Beyond hearing from the hungry founders themselves, I value the conversations with other investors, media, and we’re looking forward to what next year’s Festival brings.

Tags: Launch Festival , Ed Ruth , Veniam , Paul Heitlinger , Verdigris , Swiftmile , 8i , Civis Analytics , event recap