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ASU entrepreneurs win Lean Startup Competition for new veterans website


May 17, 2012

A new Arizona-based startup, which provides an online platform for military veterans and participants in wars and conflict situations to record and share their stories, has won the AppSumo Lean Startup Challenge, winning a prize package valued at $50,000 that includes software development from New Context.

AppSumo is a daily deals website based in Austin Texas which was setup in 2010 that strongly advocates the Lean Startup methodology.

AlphaStripe involves a number of ASU entrepreneurs, including two previous founders of ASU Edson Student Startup companies, as well as U.S. Marine and Air Force veterans. AlphaStripe is a global, online networking platform for military service members, military families, civilians, and humanitarian organizations to share war-time and conflict zone stories in video, photo, audio, and journal formats. The site is currently in beta testing with a group of military personnel and veterans, and will officially launch in the coming weeks.

“We are honored to win the AppSumo competition and are excited to be launching AlphaStripe to the wider market very soon,” said Eli Chmouni, co-founder and CEO of AlphaStripe. “Based on our research, veterans want to share their stories of conflict but do not want to do it on public social channels, such as YouTube, where their serious and emotional video is posted next to videos of kittens.”

“We have talked to veterans in the US and in other countries, and there is a specific need to share stories and reconnect” said Peter Chinnici, Chief Veterans Officer for AlphaStripe. And Chinnici should know, having served two deployments for the U.S. Marine Corp in Iraq.

“We are interested in partnering with organizations that want to reach out to this global community, not just veterans but family members, and others who have been in conflict situations,” said Matt Schmidt, chief operations officer for AlphaStripe. People can sign up for AlphaStripe in advance of the launch on alphastripe.com.

The ‘telling stories’ core of the product will be underpinned with strong social and commercial elements that will allow people to connect and do business as the platform develops. The market is huge, with more than 92 million current military members (active + reserve) across 173 countries. Based on recent US Census figures, the number of military veterans in the United States in 2010 was 21.8 million.

“The founding team for AlphaStripe fits the criteria for success, not just in terms of experience and backgrounds but they all have their own connections to the world of conflict, through direct experiences of the military veterans co-founders, through those in the team who were born into conflict situations, and through the veterans in their families” said Gordon McConnell, executive director of the ASU Venture Catalyst, which is working with AlphaStripe as they prepare to launch in late May.