DOWNTOWN — In a dimly-lit room off an alley behind the Third Street Promenade, Temitope Sonuyi jumped on stage and prepared to address the audience.
All was relatively quiet inside The Westside Eclectic, filled with just a few whispers and some giggles as eyes turned to Sonuyi.
What came out of his mouth was in stark contrast to the performers who have taken that same stage at the comedy club before him, talking of Web applications and advertising instead of cracking jokes.
After the one-minute pitch about his venture — an advertising tool that allows business owners to market via text messages to their customers — the mic turned to the audience where the fellow entrepreneurs began offering their suggestions.
It was open mic night, but for entrepreneurs eager to receive feedback on their ideas.
“There’s a lot of smart people in there, a lot of good ideas here and people who know more than me or know different things than I do,” Sonuyi, the co-founder of Duffled, said.
He was one of several dozen people who took the stage during Bloblive at the Westside Eclectic on Monday, sharing innovative ideas that ranged from starting an online collaborative and interactive storybook for social networking sites, to an online forum that seeks to connect the outdoor anti-gymnasium fitness types.
The event, which started about six weeks ago in the Los Angeles and Philadelphia regions, is an offshoot of Ideablob.com, a Web site that allows aspiring entrepreneurs to post their ideas for a chance to win a monthly $10,000 prize.
Sponsored by Advanta Bank in Philadelphia, the site has given out about $150,000 in prizes over the past 17 months. Approximately 80 percent of the winning business ideas have related to socially-conscious ideas.
Called the out loud and offline version of Ideablob.com, Bloblive has been held about eight times in both metropolitan areas since it launched, including at SOUTH on Wilshire Boulevard last month. The event on Monday, which drew about 75 people, was co-sponsored by MaxGladwell.com, a site founded by Rob Reed that focuses on social media and green living.
“Instead of submitting the idea to the Web site, people can come up in front of others and share any kind of entrepreneurial idea,” Erick Brownstein, the MC and L.A. organizer for Bloblive, said. “It could be for-profit, nonprofit, it can be for a new business they just thought of 10 minutes ago.”
Brownstein said he intends to organize a Bloblive event in Santa Monica and other L.A.-area venues every month, eventually expanding it to other cities across the country.
While the first event is free, members are required to pay $20 a month for unlimited access. The membership also includes a pitch coaching session.
Among the presenters was Gini Graham Scott, a Santa Monica resident who explained an idea to promote her recently published book by producing several video chapters.
She said the book — “Want to see it, get it!” — is similar to the “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, a best-selling self-help book that encourages its readers to focus on positive thinking to realize results.
Her idea drew some comments from the audience, including one who suggested that she use a distribution company for the video chapters.
A live feed of comments from blob users from across the country who were watching a video stream of the event was projected behind Scott as she discussed her book, showing suggestions and opinions about the idea.
“Sounds just like ‘The Secret,’ how are you different?” one online user asked.
Scott, who has written several books, said she attended her first Bloblive event last month at SOUTH where she mentioned that the book, which has since published, is due out soon.
The Bloblive member said that she believes the events are useful for getting the word out about a business, but feels they should be moved to a bigger location, pointing out that there was little space at the theater, which made networking more difficult.
“I think when you see how the project resonates with other people, you can modify it accordingly,” she said.
Patrick Ford, who has been attending Bloblives around the Los Angeles area since its launch, said the events are a perfect opportunity to meet and bounce ideas off innovative people.
The Mar Vista resident sat in the audience with a small yellow index card in hand, containing a list of entrepreneurial ideas, from a video game company to an online comedy training business.
What he presented was an idea to create an online “story board” that would allow its users to easily produce videos by inserting photos and clips into appropriately labeled spots that have been predesignated.
For example, a user who wants to create a wedding video can ask their guest to directly upload shots and clips they have from various moments, whether it’s the procession or cake-cutting or the bouquet toss, Ford, a self-professed serial entrepreneur, said.
Ford said that he didn’t feel nervous speaking in front of the audience, noting that he has made dozens of presentations to venture capitalists.
The difference with the Bloblive is that it’s a “quick hit,” he said.
“This is a way to meet more people and hear new ideas,” he said. “You never know where the next great idea will come from.”