After spending 90 days under the mentorship of TechStars, 11 startups pitched their ideas to an enthusiastic crowd of investors and members of the tech community at NYC Winter 2015 Demo Day on Friday morning.
For many of these companies, Demo Day is the first time to show their product to a captive audience that includes press and potential investors.
The mood at Friday’s Demo Day was especially upbeat given New York-based craft marketplace Etsy’s IPO just a day earlier.
Every presentation from Techstars’ demo day was good — but these startups really stood out.
Going through traditional ISPs to get your internet — Comcast or Time Warner Cable, for example — typically sucks. That’s why Joseph Fasone, who spent four years as WeWork’s director of technology, came up with something that brings better internet to small businesses in urban cities. Pilot provides fibre optic internet that’s 400 times faster than the FCC’s definition of broadband, and 10 times faster than Google Fibre, Fasone says.
Companies like NYU, Greycroft Partners, Planet Fitness, and BaubleBar are already using Pilot’s super-fast internet. Fasone says Pilot’s already doing $US100,000 in monthly recurring revenue, and that it’s seeing 30% month-over-month growth. And that’s just in Manhattan, where Pilot currently and exclusively operates. Pilot plans to expand its services to Chicago next.
CEO: Shane Scranton
Instead of using virtual reality for its gaming use-case, IrisVR is an enterprise virtual reality company that wants to change how architects and designers build things. Right now, if you work in engineering or architecture you can use tools like SketchUp or Rhino, but these are two-dimensional and not immersive — you don’t really feel like you’re in the room.
You can use IrisVR to do a virtual walkthrough of a building without being confined to looking at and imaging the design through a computer screen. IrisVR’s software, which you use with an Oculus Rift or any other VR headset, is already being used by 1200 beta customers, including Gensler, Mortensen, and IKEA.
CEO: Mackenzie Barth
Spoon University has built a massive food network for millennials. The startup began as a college publication about food at Northwestern University, but soon, students from other schools approached Spoon University’s founders to ask if they would open chapters at their schools.
Spoon University’s growth has been entirely organic — students at more than 100 college campuses have approached the startup in the past year. Spoon University’s network of 3,000 college student contributors are publishing stories, pictures, and videos that attract 2.5 million monthly unique visitors.
CEO: Sathish Naadimuthu
Stefan’s Head is a text message-based e-commerce brand. You text 646-759-0904 to opt into texts from Stefan, a guy who sends you texts once a week about the limited-edition products he designs and sells. It works because it’s exclusive and it’s meant to feel like a friend is tipping you off to a cool new product. More than 2,000 people have signed up since Stefan’s Head’s launch a month ago, and they have found out about the company through word of mouth, influencers (Mark Ecko tweeted about the company), YouTube, and Twitter.
Currently, Stefan’s Head offers merchandise in the form of t-shirts, hats, crewnecks, and button-downs, catering to guys. Eventually, Naadimuthu says, Stefan’s head will expand to give women some options too.
CEO: Jonathan Cornelissen
Companies need people who can turn data into insightful analysis, but they’re having a really hard time finding people who can do that, Jonathan Cornelissen says. And that’s where his company DataCamp comes in.
Offering dynamic, online courses to teach people data science, DataCamp works by giving users personalised feedback to help them understand what they’re learning, and to help them get the right answers. DataCamp says that people complete its courses at 3x the rate of competitors. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Accenture use DataCamp’s services, and 100,000 people are using it to learn data science.
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