A sign in the conference room of Klowd.com carries a simple, yet disruptive message.
Everyone else is trying to fix PowerPoint. We fix presentations.
Klowd is part technology company and part psychologists couch. The small year-old startup in Eagle has developed a product aimed at engaging audiences and corralling crowd responses in venues from required company safety classes to business meetings laden with snoozy PowerPoint presentations.
But beyond that, company CEO Ken Holsinger envisions a platform where distilling crowd emotion into data bits isnt limited to a few people in a room, but could be harvested from a statewide televised forum to help shape policy on issues of the day: Idahos education reform or the Affordable Health Care Act, for example.
This whole crowd-engagement mobile platform we are building is a discovery process, he said.
Holsinger, 40, started Klowd.com, located at 645 E. State St., in August 2011 with the help of investors, after returning to the Treasure Valley a few years earlier.
Customers include Verizon and Salesforce.com, which provides software for companies to track potential customer leads and ways to manage those customers. Holsinger declined to say how much revenue the company makes in a year.
Holsinger grew up in the Treasure Valley and attended high school at Maranatha Christian School, part of the Central Assembly of God church in Boise.
He studied business at the University of Alaska before beginning a career selling audio visual products and technology. He later coordinated with architects for installation of audio visual equipment as part of a buildings original design.
Inspiration for SlideKlowd, the app that uses Internet-based computing the cloud to deliver immediate feedback to presenters in meetings, was born in the down-to-the-wire football game between Boise State University and Virginia Tech in September 2010. In the passion of the win, Holsinger sat in the stadium and immediately tried to call Boise State to order season tickets. He never got through.
By the time I got back to my hotel room that night I had calmed down, he said. My wife and I ... had a conversation about this several thousand dollar purchase I was getting ready to make on the spur of the moment.
He never did it.
But he had a brainstorm.
We could combine mobile technology with the power of crowd emotion and crowd motivation, he said. He brought on Justin Foster to run marketing and Casey McMullen as the chief technology officer.
The three, along with five other employees, developed the smartphone and tablet app, which is intended to give presenters at meetings instant feedback on who is engaged in the audience or to poll them on issues.
SlideKlowd made an appearance at a luncheon honoring Idahos top private businesses last October when Jeffery Sayer, Idaho commerce director, used the device to poll businesses on several economic issues.
He found strong support from the audience for a competitive tax structure and building a robust workforce in the state.
I wanted feedback," Sayer said after the luncheon Were trying to find out what people think.
Sayer will take to the stage again Thursday at the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce annual legislative forum SlideKlowd in hand to measure responses from an audience likely to be filled with state lawmakers.
SlideKlowd, which can tell an audience leader how many people are tuned in, how engaged they are and how they respond to a variety of questions instantly, was created with millennials 18- to 34-year-olds in mind, Foster said. They were brought up in a team-building, social environment where they eagerly give their opinions and, in fact, expect to be asked what they think, he said.
Businesses time-honored approach to training putting someone on stage with a glitzy PowerPoint presentation doesnt engage that kind of audience, said Foster, 42, whose background is in market branding.
In response, many companies try to spruce up their presentations with better graphics but are still using a tired format. Foster said he thinks that isnt the solution.
Its like blaming large pants for obesity, he said.
Beefing up presentations is a crowded business space, with companies developing more eye-catching ways to attract audience, Foster said. SlideKlowd is in the business of measuring audience dynamics, which he thinks give them a unique niche.
In Idaho, SlideKlowd is being used at College of Western Idaho and Boise State University.
Brad Arendt, Boise States director of student media, uses SlideKlowd during orientation programs for media staff.
Arendt faces a concern each year that as the staff works closely together, then some may invite fellow staffers for a beer after work. But some of the employees in the media area are under drinking age. So he uses SlideKlowd to engage those in orientation and poll them on their ages so they see those numbers on the screen.
It is kind of an aha! moment, he said, adding that its more effective than him just trying to warn workers about his concern.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts