Verge Bloomington May 9, Brother’s Bar and Grill

This month’s Verge event featured some really cool ideas, and it was great to hear the founders talk about their work. I was familiar with all three companies, since they’re all related to SproutBox, but I enjoyed hearing their full pitches and getting a more in depth look at their companies. First up was Mike Beckwith from Evacua, a RunUp Labs company, followed by Joey Flores from Earbits, and a fireside chat with Mike Preuss of

Mike from Evacua gave us a sneak peek of his final RunUp Labs pitch, happening today. Evacua helps their members manage emergency evacuations more efficiently, no matter where in the world they are. Primarily aimed at businesses for now, Evacua finds and organizes emergency evacuations using partners’ private aircraft, ensuring that members’ employees can get out of dire situations without having to rely on commercial airports or getting caught up in bureaucratic delays. With Evacua, members can both make their plane available for emergency pickup to other members—and get paid for those members’ use of the aircraft—as well as always have access to other members’ planes to get their employees to safety. This is important, as Mike mentioned, because companies have recently been sued by employees for millions of dollars after not providing adequate emergency evacuation options. Evacua helps businesses manage that risk and provides safety and peace of mind to both the business and employees.

Earbits founder Joey Flores told a great story about how he and his band painfully learned the lesson that passing out flyers outside of bars does not get your music into more ears. Earbits evolved because Joey knew there had to be a better way for indie bands and artists to gain fans, so he set out to build a Google AdWords for music. Earbits is totally free to consumers; bands bid on airtime (like on Google Ads) to get their music in front of listeners, who hopefully go on to purchase full albums, concert tickets, and other merchandise. Joey mentioned one artist who experienced an ROI of 153 percent from his first Earbits purchase! Earbits is available online and through an Android app, which launched to much fanfare on April 25.

I have to be honest about the fireside chat—I didn’t actually hear much of it. I’ve been familiar with Visible for a while, since SproutBox has been working on the tool. Visible helps startups track metrics and quickly report to their investors, while helping investors keep track of all their funds. It’s much simpler than email chains and thrown-together PowerPoints, and keeps everyone on the same page.

However, like I said, I didn’t hear much of what Mike Preuss said, partially because it was exceptionally loud at Brother’s, and partially because I got to talking to my friend Doug Heinz of Pathwrangler. Doug is in town from San Francisco to participate in the final day of RunUp Labs. Pathwrangler helps tour operators and other adventure travelers plan and organize their trips on the web, instead of emailing itineraries, checklists, and other documents, so it fits right in with the RunUp Labs crowd.

This month’s Verge was a little more difficult to follow because of how loud the venue was, but what I heard was still really interesting. I’ve actually been listening to Earbits all morning, and have definitely come across some cool new bands. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the RunUp companies after today’s Demo Day!

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