I see a lot of startup pitches every year. And the more I see, the more I've realized that brilliant business ideas come down to two things:

  1. Is it simple?
  2. Does it solve a real problem?

This was made even clearer to me recently while I watched startup pitches in Charleston, South Carolina, at Dig South, a conference combining great entertainment, cutting-edge technology, pitch events, and fantastic networking

Here are three fantastic startup pitches I saw--and why they caught my attention:

Eatabit

I hate calling in to a restaurant to place a to-go order. In fact, it's probably the No. 1 reason that I don't place to-go orders more often. I have to repeat my order multiple times to make sure there is no confusion, and when I pick up the food, it's often not quite right.

Eatabit addresses this problem by tapping into something we do everyday, something my teenage daughter does to the tune of 7,000 times a month--text messaging. So why not use text messaging to order food?

Eatabit allows you to text your order to your favorite restaurant. The order automatically prints out in the kitchen and is ready to be picked up when you arrive. If there is any confusion, you can just show the restaurant your text message.

Zubie

The most common problem I have had in my history of owning cars is a dead battery, which often happens at the most inopportune time. In fact, more than 50 percent of breakdowns are battery related.

Zubie solves this problem. It plugs directly into your car's onboard diagnostic port and captures valuable driving data for car owners and drivers that includes location tracking, driving patterns, and, most important, vehicle health.

Because Zubie allows the car to always be connected and collecting data, it enables some really compelling features, such as theft or tow detection and battery-drain alerts. Zubie can alert you before your battery dies. It even assists you with your taxes by helping you easily separate personal and business mileage.

Podanize

As the parent of a teenage daughter, I can tell you that one of the most complex parts of my life is trying to keep up with her schedule. Between orchestra, Odyssey of the Mind, viola lessons, tutoring, and everything else that comes up in her active social life, making it all work can be time consuming and stressful. My wife and I are constantly digging through email and exchanging text messages to try to keep it all straight.

This is where Podanize comes in. It is an online platform that can be easily accessed on your computer, tablet, or phone, and it helps you keep your family organized on a day-to-day basis.

Dig South and these apps are evidence that the best innovation often comes from improving something simple, something that you think doesn't work as well as it should.