After beating out more than 1,600 applicants and three months of hard work, 13 startups debuted this morning on stage at TechStars Demo Day NY.The early-stage companies presented before a room of 500 investors and press at Webster Hall.
We met most of the founders last week and got the back stories on their startups.
Idea: Invest in local businesses. A different take on crowdsourcing, Smallknot allows users to fund neighbourhood businesses in exchange for goods and services.
Founders: Ben Rossen, Jay Lee, and Jason Punzalan. Two of the cofounders met in law school. Rossen went on to do financial litigation and Lee was a securities lawyer. Punzalan has a digital agency and startup background and serves as the startup's CTO.
The story behind the startup: Rossen and Lee started working together in 2008, just after Lehman Brothers collapsed. 'All these local businesses shut down and there was no way to invest locally,' says Rossen. The idea for SmallKnot blossomed from there.
'There's a coffee shop in Park Slope that's doing awesome on our platform' Rossen tells us. 'It wants to build a retractable awning, and in turn they're offering classes on how to roast coffee and hosting dinners for the investors.'
Rossen sees his business very differently than Kickstarter. 'For one, it's only for businesses, especially ones that may not fall into a Kickstarter category. The long term vision is to drive community optimization and give people a real stake in their neighborhoods.'
The startup has been working with cash mobs--locals who show up at businesses and all agree to spend a set amount there that day. 'We see ourselves as a virtual cash mob,' says Rossen.
The team says it's tapping into a $22.7 billion market. It's raising a $750,000 seed round.
Idea: 10Sheet is tapping into the $65 billion dollar bookkeeping industry with its web-enabled bookkeeping service for small businesses. Send it your receipts via mobile pictures or have FedEx deliver them, link up your financial statements, and 10Sheet does the organizational work on its platform. It says it automates 95 per cent of bookkeeping labour.
Founders: Ian Crosby, Jordan Menashy, Pavel Rodionov, and Adam Saint all moved from other countries to participate in TechStars NY--one from Russia and the rest from Canada.
The story behind the startup: Crosby and his team have been working on 10Sheet for two years. He was formerly a bookkeeper at a video game company, and he realised how horribly inefficient the process was. 'He was actually able to automate the whole process to the point that the other bookkeepers were shuffled into different departments,' Menashy tells us. 'We thought, what if we take a central corporate bookkeeping department and have small businesses plug into it?'
That's essentially what the team has created with 10Sheet, which lets small businesses bulk upload receipts and pull in credit card statements to shave loads of time off their legally-required bookkeeping reports. 10Sheet is able to offer the product for $69 per month with an 80 per cent margin. Traditional bookkeepers cost about $250 per month.
10Sheet is raising $2 million. We overheard Alan Patricof saying he was impressed by 10Sheet.
Idea: If you're craving an after work pottery or yoga class, where do you find one? Classtivity is creating a database of creative and athletic classes so you can sign up on the go, all in one place.
Founders: Payal Kadakia, Sanjiv Sanghavi, Atul Ohri
The story behind the startup: Cofounder Payal Kadakia has been a dancer her whole life. One day after work, she was craving a ballet class but was frustrated when she couldn't find one easily. Kadakia went to MIT, so it wasn't hard for her to get to work on a solution.
Her cofounder, Sanjiv Sanghavi is a black belt in three forms of martial arts and is a talented break dancer. Atul Ohri is an expert DJ.
Right now Classtivity only shows New York classes, but it's launching in L.A. and San Francisco in the next few months. It has raised a $750,000 seed round and has partnered with appointment scheduling software company, MindBody.
Condition One lets you watch videos like you'd watch something in real life. But instead of turning your head, you turn the iPad or iPhone to dictate the camera angle.
Idea: Hold your iPhone or iPad. Watch a video. Move the iPhone or iPad up and down or left to right to see different camera angles. You control how you view a video.
You can imagine advertisers like Mercedes being all over this, letting users explore every inch of their cars in an experience they control from a single video. It's currently only available for big media companies to produce, not for individuals.
Founders: Danfung Dennis and Takaaki Okada
Story behind the startup: After college, Dennis traveled to Afghanistan where he worked as a photo journalist. There, he fell out of love with photography; he felt 'visual imagery was losing its impact.' He tried his hand at video and found a way to reinvent the motion picture.
Dennis created Hell and Back Again, a documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award about what it's like in Afghanistan. What he tried to do with the cinematography is what shaped his vision for Condition One, which has gone on to raise a round of financing led by Mark Cuban.
'This visual language is dying,' he says on Hell and Back Again's site. 'The traditional outlets are collapsing. In the midst of this upheaval, we must invent a new language. I am attempting to combine the power of the still image with advanced technology to change the vernacular of photojournalism and filmmaking. Instead of opening a window to glimpse another world, I am attempting to bring the viewer into that world. I believe shared experiences will ultimately build a common humanity.'
Condition One says its software can be used on 30 million cameras in the world, and it's already working with companies like the NBA and Reuters to produce C1 videos. Next it will work on a consumer product.
It is raising a $2.5 million round with $1 million committed.
Company: Condition One
Moveline makes moving more efficient and has created software to do all the things van lines do by hand.
Idea: Moveline helps you move efficiently and cheaply. Take a quick mobile video of every room that needs to be packed up and Moveline will get you quotes on all the items. It works with truck rental companies, container companies and freight companies. It can even estimate how long it will take you to pack, and then tell you the best solution.
Team: Frederick Cook and Kelly Eidson
Story behind the startup: Lawrence and Eidson met in Blacksberg, Virginia. Eidson worked for a company called Modea and Lawrence attended Virginia Tech. Modea partnered with an $80 million moving company founded by Chip Lawrence. She saw how inefficient certain aspects of the business were, especially when trying to coordinate different vendors. She and Lawrence teamed up and created Moveline. Lawrence helped finance it.
Cook says the company will be profitable from the beginning. On average, Cook says it only costs Moveline $40 per mover and it will make $400 per customer.
Pickie is the first personalised shopping magazine. It pulls in social, editorial and product information across the web—think Gilt and Bloomingdales all in one place.
Idea: Pickie scours tons of retail and brand sites to produce a regularly updated iPad shopping magazine. It aggregates, social, editorial and product information, from descriptions of the items to cost. Everything in the beautifully displayed magazine can actually be purchased, too.
It also uses social networks to show each user his or her own magazine based on what it thinks they'll like. It looks at recommendations from friends and professionals on places like Pinterest and Facebook before pulling in the items.
Founders: Sonia Sahney Nagar, Abhijit Rao and Ryan Weber
Story behind the startup: Nagar was always interested in content versus commerce. She worked at Amazon for a few years and studied at Michigan. Weber attended UPenn. Rao worked for Microsoft for 6 years.
When asked why Pickie is an iPad product instead of a website product, Nagar replied, 'We ran a test in December and had 20,000 uniques--most of it was coming from tablets. Having a magazine-like experience is meant for the tablet. Then we'll focus on the web, then mobile.'
Pickie is raising a $1 million seed round.
Website: Pickie (the domain only cost them $2,500!)
Karma is social bandwidth. It's a pay-per-use mobile hotspot that fits in your pocket and earns you free gigabytes of data when you share it.
Idea: Karma is a 4G hotspot you can carry in your pocket to share WiFi with people around you. Free gigabytes of data are dished out when nearby people tap into the network. It's a pay-per-use model ($14/gigabyte), plus the cost of purchasing a hotspot ($69). 'Bring Your Own Bandwidth to any Karma device worldwide,' says the team.
If the pocket hotspot is leaving the building, it sends a warning message to those who are connected to the network so they don't lose Internet unexpectedly.
Karma isn't a hardware-only company; most of what it does is software.
Founders: Robert Gaal, and Steven Andrew van Wel
Story behind the startup: The company was founded in Amsterdam, and has since moved to NYC. Co-founders, Robert Gaal, Steven van Wel and Stefan Borsje have all built startups for over 10 years.
Karma raised close to one million dollars from angel investors, including Werner Vogels, Kal Vepuri, Chang Ng, Jerry Neumann, David Tisch, David Cohen, BOLDstart Ventures, 500 Startups and Collaborative Fund.
Lua Technologies is a suite of digital tools that helps teams communicate and collaborate via phones—not computers. Its for on-the-go workers, like those in the construction or entertainment industries.
Idea: Lua Technologies wants to be collaboration software for mobile devices. It targets workers who depend primarily on phones, not computers, for work-- like those in the construction and entertainment fields.
Lua's technology makes mobile workers two clicks away from calling, messaging, or sending documents to each other.
Founders: Eli Bronner, Michael DeFranco and Jason Krigsfeld. They met at Wesleyan University. There are nine full-time employees all working in New York.
Story behind the startup: The three founders met at college where they started thinking about problems associated with mobile workforce collaboration.
They started with the entertainment industry, where there are thousands of people across thousands of locations, and hundreds of millions of dollars on the line. These on-the-go industries rely on outdated tools like paper call sheets and walkie talkies. So the founders set out to make a more modern solution.
YouTube is partnering with Lua and bringing it to the Olympics with them this summer.
It is raising a $2.5 million seed round.
Website: Lua Technologies
Marquee is a publishing tool that lets authors sell one-off content. It's all served over an open API, so content produced on Marquee can be integrated into any device, platform, or application.
Idea: Marquee provides an authoring tool that's as simple to use as dragging and dropping pictures and text.
But Marquee is not just a simple blogging tool--it's also a way to sell content online as one-off articles. And all of the content is served via API so it can be read on any device without needing to download multiple apps. The founders call it 'future-proof content.'
Founders: Luke Dupont, Alex Cabrera, and Katrina Brickner
Story behind the startup: Before Marquee, the cofounders lived in Miami and ran a development agency that worked with and incubated startups, as well as local retailers.
There, they hacked together a tool that helped them publish content in a 'really pretty way.' It took plain text files and turned them into HTML pages, and it launched last October. From there, Marquee was born.
Idea: Poptip helps businesses and organisation get instant feedback via social networks by asking questions and sorting through the results. It works on Facebook and Twitter.
It's kind of like Quora in that the answers all get placed on one SEO optimised page. Poptip also pulls out major data points from the responses.
'We're hoping to build a brand of transparency around feedback,' Falter tells us. 'All of the results and comments can be parsed in real time. Right now, companies are counting results by hand.'
Founders: Kelsey Falter
Story behind the startup: Falter never quite finished college. She left with a few credits to go to start Poptip and join the TechStars class.
In school, Falter studied design. 'One of the reasons was because I was really interested in the creative process,' she tells us. She found feedback to be extremely important. 'Nothing changes without it, and nothing moves forward without it,' she says.
Ever curious, she's been founding feedback tools for two years.
Idea: Rewind.Me allows people to use past checkins, posts, tweets, and other social media tools to remember their digital history.
Once it gathers data, Rewind.me provides the information visually and rewards users based on their activity across 300 categories. Unlike other reward networks, Rewind.me measures activity rather than influence.
'The digital history that we're each creating with the apps and services we use, has the potential to dramatically improve our lives,
Wander is a diary for places you've been, and places you want to go. It's a new way to talk about locations.
Idea: Wander is a way to share and experience the world through places. Like the @ symbol represents people, Wander wants asterisks to represent how we talk about places. On Wander, people can keep track of the places they've been, the places they want to go, where their friends have been, and their memories.
'Every place is connected,' says Fisher. 'Every post about a place is connected to every other post about that place. The places you've been and the places you dream of--all the places you're connected to and the story that tells. That's your Wanderlog.'
Team: Jeremy Fisher and Keenan Cummings
Story behind the startup: Before founding Wander, Fisher started other ventures including food discovery site Dinevore.
It was the first TechStars company in this batch to raise more than $1 million.
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