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11/10/2010
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Enterprise 2.0: Meetzi Wins Launch Pad Contest

Product clarity and an adept presentation helped the online meeting management startup prevail.

Meetzi, an online meeting management service, triumphed in the Launch Pad competition at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference on Wednesday.

Launch Pad is a contest in which companies compete to be selected by conference attendees for offering the more innovative software application for the enterprise 2.0 market. Finalists are selected by public voting through social channels like Twitter and the winner is chosen by text message vote following on-stage demos.

The four finalists were Flowchart.com, Itensil, Meetzi, and Moxie Software.

Flowchart.com describes itself as "an online multi-user, real-time collaboration flow charts service." Co-founder Jeff Bhavnanie described frustration with reliance on Visio and made a good case for the need for an easier way to construct collaborative flowcharts.

"There should be a better way to do it," he declared. Though full of appealing features, like being able to run as a Web app on Apple's iPad, Bhavnanie's pitch failed to inspire the audience. And the unexplained appearance of an on-screen dragon during his demo -- likely inserted by a prankster taking advantage of the multi-user nature of Flowchart.com -- didn't exactly sell the enterprise-oriented crowd on the service's control capabilities.

Itensil followed. It's a team-based collaboration solution for business process management. Possibly a useful tool, Itensil suffers from being difficult to explain. Such process-oriented apps aren't sufficiently high-concept to generate immediate audience affinity and the subdued presentation by Itensil principal Doug Olin and CEO Keith Patterson didn't exactly electrify.

Meetzi was just the opposite: Everyone hates meetings so a tool to make them easier to manage was an easy sell. What's more, Meetzi founder Brad Garland showed a clear understanding of public presentation in his demo, making a clear and convincing case for his product.

Meetzi combines meeting scheduling with analytics in an effort to help businesses make meetings more productive. Its function is familiar to anyone who has used any kind of calendaring or scheduling application and its aspiration -- to free valuable time from the sinkhole of meetings -- is something many businesses share. When Garland concluded his demo, it was clear Meetzi was the product to beat.

Moxie Software had a shot at doing just that. Company CEO Tom Kelly had presented a keynote earlier in the morning and even brought Canon USA as a customer to attest to the usefulness of Moxie's employee and customer support software. The company could be a poster child for enterprise collaboration.

Bob Peery, director of product management, had a message the crowd wanted to hear. "We don't believe collaboration should be driven by tools or content," he said "It should be driven by the way people work."

Sadly, the demo gods were not with Moxie: The company's presentation time was frittered away by an unresponsive MacBook Pro that defied attempts by multiple people to get the presentation back on track. (If only they'd tried unplugging and re-plugging the USB mouse. That often works when the OS is fine but the input isn't registering.)

When audience members were asked to vote for a winner with text messages, Meetzi emerged victorious.

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