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December 21, 2010

500 Startups Announces First Winners Of Its $250K Twilio Micro-Fund

Techcrunch

Earlier this year, 500 Startups, the seed fund run by Dave McClure, announced that it was creating a $250,000 micro-fund dedicated to companies that were based on Twilio’s telephony platform (Twilio is one of 500 Startup’s portfolio companies). Today it’s announcing the first three winners, each of whom will receive $10,000 in return for a 1% stake in the company.

The three companies are Textaurant, OrderMapper, and Voicendo. Textaurant is a service that lets restaurant customers ‘put their names down’ for a table without having to sit around on a restaurant bench for 20 minutes. Instead, they receive a text or voice message (via Twilio) when it’s their turn (this sounds like an alternative to those vibrating gizmos that some establishments hand out). The company says that there’s been a 5-15% decrease in no-shows for restaurants on busy nights that use the service, and that most customers are happy to give the restaurant their phone number to take advantage of it. Come to think of it, I’m surprised this kind of SMS-service hasn’t taken off sooner.

OrderMapper helps restaurants create mobile applications that customers can use to order food, including the completion of credit card transactions. Orders are delivered to restaurants via fax, email, Point of Service, or phone numbers (again, Twilio) and OrderMapper already powers Round Table’s mobile app. The company is planning to launch an API called OrderWiki, which will let other developers hook into the service.

Finally, Voicendo offers a dashboard that lets businesses route their incoming calls and text messages using a variety of rules (which can be quite complex). Rules can be set up using a drag-and-drop interface, and businesses can incorporate options like Text-to-speech instructions and menus.

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