If you were at Techpitch 4.5, you could have found out why underpants hold the secret to web business success, and found so many great investment opportunities that you’d struggle to remember them all.  Here’s what you missed…

The event, run by 2Pears, was hosted by Mike Butcher from the famous TechCrunch blog.  It was a panel discussion and pitching platform, focussed on the new generation of web innovators looking to raise funds, and become The Next Big Thing in their sectors.  The evening was a fantastic opportunity to get hot-off-the-press business insights to apply to your own web projects.

The event started with a panel discussion, teaching the audience the latest trends and news from the high-stakes world of VC funding.  The start-studded panel was stuffed with big names in the start-up world, such as Eden Ventures, Bootlaw and Moonpig.  It was the audience’s opportunity to cross-question the industry’s movers and shakers.  Warnings buzzed about a bubble emerging, with multi-billion-dollar valuations for businesses like FaceBook & GroupOn raising fears of hubris in the market and a possible return to the days of the dotcom crash.  I personally think there’s a lot of sense in this.  Can GroupOn’s unfocussed offer be sustained in an internet of long-tailed niches?  Can FaceBook ever pull in the stellar revenues to justify its stellar valuation?  I’m not sure, and here’s where the underpants come in.  I raised the question to the panel that dull stuff like underwear that are the barometer of internet business.  I bought some boxer shorts online for the first time just last week, and on Monday spoke to a retailer looking for investment for expanding their underwear brand.  Of course, there’s nothing special about underwear, and that’s precisely my point – it’s just one of a zillion classes of product and types of business which are moving online.  Each small step does little to affect our lives, but together they represent an army of businesses marching online.  Together, they’re catching the massive consumer and industrial spend moving online, which brings business opportunities to investors far beyond the core of traditional, headline-grabbing firms such as Google.

The night lined up a plethora of investment opportunities for those who made the effort, each offering the opportunity to catch a possible rising star in these new niches.  Some of my personal favourites were:

Duedil – a handy application which allows users to quickly run due-diligence checks on firms in real time.  Next time you pick up the phone, duedil could be helping you get the lowdown on the firm behind the pitch.  Great software, but can they find a clear monetization and marketing strategy?  Mike Butcher asked for clarification on this, so maybe more work is required.

Yearbook machine – big in the UK, and huge in the US, the yearbook gives a lasting record of the ‘best years of your life’.  This firm’s automated software allows quick and easy production of high-quality school and college yearbooks, with healthy profit margins.  Already showing traction, they need to make their product creation slicker and more automatic, and also ‘land grab’ the customer base with a marketing push.  Could you be one of the investors to help them reach the Elysian fields of market-dominance and share the profits that come with this?

Fisikal – where health providers and patients meet in the cloud.  This software is a one-stop-shop for the SME physical healthcare sector: physio, chiropractic, personal trainers, etc.  The integrated approach handles appointments, accounting and patient education in one package, keeping things simple for professional and patient alike.  The platform provides everything from booking to payments, and lets the professional get on with adding value, leaving the cloud to run all the dull bits!

DBVu – one for the geeks, this smart piece of software helps owners of large databases check things are running smoothly.  A great business proposition for end-users, and I’ve got high hopes for this firm.

Namaste – if you like World of Warcraft (or at least the huge sales it generates) you’ll quickly see the potential in this venture.  This firm enables third-party developers to create massively-multiplayer online games, without generating the raw code needed to run the game.  This means that the creative process is exactly that, slashing development times and costs, enabling new games to be quickly and easily developed and distributed.

The overall winning pitch was from EngageSciences, which offers businesses the platform to engage followers and friends on social media, turning fans into customers using basic but innovative tools such as online coupons.  With a hungry market of tech-clumsy customers scrambling to dominate the social web, this firm impressed the panel with their commercially-sensible approach.

As with all 2Pears events, this was right on the pulse of the start-up world, with exciting firms and serious investors meeting to drive the web forward.  Held at the rough & ready TechHub venue at Silicon Roundabout by Old St. tube, this was about as close to the beating heart of London’s Tech scene as you can get.

If you are a serious investor, or if you want to learn some serious insights into the core of Europe’s web industry, you needed to be here.  Next time, just make sure you don’t miss out.  Further TechPitch events are planned, and you can check out http://www.2pears.com/