This morning, we sat among 750 VCs and entrepreneurs and watched eleven promising startups present.
Each was selected from a pool of 600 applicants, making Techstars NYC harder to get into than Harvard or Yale.
Each startup was excellent, and we’re sure you’ll hear more from them in the future. Some, like Immersive and Nestio, stood out above the rest.
Founders: Caren Maio - CEO, Mike O'Toole - CTO, Matt Raoul - COO
The idea: Nestio wants to get rid of apartment search headaches with a clean, organised interface.
How it works: According to Maio, 40 million people in the United States search for homes every year and 1.6 billion hours are spent looking for the perfect place. They're currently hoarding folders of printouts, connecting with roommates and real estate agents via fragmented email chains, and trying to keep track of multiple Craigslist posts.
Nestio will simplify the process by allowing users to easily mark all of the housing information they find for later viewing on its site. Nestio also has a comparison chart application, so users can view multiple listings side by side.
Its mobile app allows house hunters to snap photos and take notes at each place they visit, and upload it onto the Nestio platform. In addition, roommates can be added to the Nestio account, so they can see and comment on every listing their fellow house hunter pulls to streamline the process.
ThinkNear drives customers to local merchants when business is slow by blasting people nearby with coupons
Founders: Eli Portnoy - CEO, John Hinnegan - CTO
Raising: $1.2 million (with $550,000 committed led by IA Ventures)
The idea: Sometimes business is booming. Othertimes it crawls. ThinkNear wants to drive customers to merchants during the slow times by blasting nearby shoppers with coupons.
How it works: ThinkNear's API captures busy and slow times for merchants. It then combines that information with macro-level data, like weather and traffic, to figure out which discounts will most effectively drive customers to stores. Mobile coupons are then sent out.
Since releasing its API two weeks ago, ThinkNear already has 25 apps building on it.
Immersive brings Minority Report to life by using facial recognition technology to make OOH ads relevant
Founders: Jason Sosa, Alessio Signorini, and Christopher Piekarski
The idea: Immersive wants to make digital billboards and OOH advertising smart by using facial recognition technology. In his presentation, Sosa shows a man looking at a digital sign that's advertising Tampax. In real time, the ad changes to Bud Light.
How it works: Immersive's facial recognition technology can determine the ad viewer's age range and sex. It then calculates the most effective ad in its system for the user and displays it. Immersive can also determine how long consumers look at the ads and send interaction time and demographics to advertisers.
'Digital signs and OOH is a $3.5 billion business,' Sosa says. It's the fastest growing advertising opportunity next to internet advertising. By 2016, OOH advertising spending is expected to reach $6 billion.
A company that can minimize waste has the potential to own the industry. Also, Immersive seems to work. Sosa says the technology has been store tested, and it increases the time viewers spend looking at digital signs by 60%.
Founders: Jonathan Wegener and Benny Wong
The idea/How it works: You probably know of friends who need roommates. You also probably know of friends looking for apartments. It's annoying to be the middle man and connect both parties.
Friendslist wants to remove the middle man from the equation and create a network of social listings/classified ads via friends and friends of friends.
OnSwipe makes publishers' content attractive across all mobile platforms without creating multiple apps
Founders: Jason Baptiste and Andres Barreto
Raised: $1 million seed round led by Spark Capital. Now raising Series A.
The idea: 'Apps are bullshit,' Baptiste says. 'They're way too expensive and fragmented across iPads, iPhones, and androids.'
One thing they do offer, though, is great design.
OnSwipe wants to 'make it insanely easy for a publisher of any size to make websites look app-like on every mobile device, without actually creating apps.'
How it works: Participating publishers can set up an OnSwipe account in five minutes, says Baptiste. 'They connect to a CMS like wordpress, or one that's custom-made. Then, they're greeted with thousands of designs. Publishers just copy and paste their urls, choose designs, and they're done.'
The OnSwipe experience uses touch technology. Finger through articles, share what you're reading, and even save articles for later to read offline. OnSwipe also shows users what their friends are reading so articles can be swapped.
OnSwipe believe its tapped into a massive market. 'We sit in between two huge shifts,' says Baptiste. 'There's a shift from print to digital, and from point and click to touch enabled devices. We get a chance to rewrite all the rules.'
Founders: Irving Fain, Mike Montero, and Josh Bowen
Raised: $750,000 seed round, currently raising Series A.
The idea: Most companies don't know who their loyal users are. CrowdTwist helps companies find their most loyal users and reward them for promoting the brand to social networks.
How it works: CrowdTwist is a white-label platform that presents users with a number of ways to earn points across all social channels. CrowdTwist also has a dashboard that shows statistics on every social interaction, from user engagement to demographics, so clients can measure their campaigns.
So far, CrowdTwist seems to work. Live Nation was one of its clients and it saw 900% increased engagement. Ticket sales also doubled, says CrowdTwist's Irving Fain.
Company: Migration Box
Founders: Eduardo Fernandez and Carlos Cabanero
The idea/how it works: Migration Box helps people migrate everything, including email messages, contacts, documents and appointments, to the cloud.
According to Fernandez, only 5% of people have moved their valuable information to the cloud. By 2014 however, that number will be 70%.
Migration Box is a platform that works with a number of services to move all of that information seamlessly and painlessly for users.
Founders: Melanie Moore and Eric Jennings
Raising: $750,000 ($250,000 already committed)
The idea: Most products go on sale at some point. Sometimes, they're so deeply discounted, customers feel like they're getting a steal.
In those situations, customers would have been willing to pay more for the product. Unfortunately merchants never see all of that missed money they could have had.
ToVieFor wants to close the gap between what a product is actually worth and what it sells for by holding auctions.
How it works: 'There are only two steps between a woman and her bag,' says Melanie Moore. 'She has to decide if she wants to buy or vie. If she vies for it, then she enters a live auction and can bid on it immediately. Her goal is to be the top bidder by the end of the auction. If she is, she wins the bag for that price.'
Moore says retailers can sell products for a 50-55% higher gross margin on ToVieFor than they do on flash sales sites, which typically sell products at 75% off.
Since launching 10 days ago, ToVieFor already has 5,000 users, $15,000 in revenue, and gross margins of 51%. Not to mention the online fashion industry is a $30 billion market -- that's bigger than the entire online advertising industry.
Company: Red Rover
Founders: Kevin Prentiss, Tom Krieglstein and Dan Storms
Raising: $1.5 million
The idea: Red Rover is a peer-to-peer learning platform that helps businesses eliminate wasted time.
How it works: Employees make companies money. They're also a company's biggest expense. They waste a lot of time trying to solve problems on their own, when a more experienced peer could be quickly helping them out.
But some companies are so large, not all of the employees know each other.
Red Rover connects every employee to an online directory. It pulls in LinkedIn profiles, Twitter pages, and more. It then introduces employees to each other and helps colleagues, who otherwise might never have met, interact more efficiently.
Founders: Reece Pacheco, Dan Spinosa, Henry Sztul and Joe Yevoli
Raising: $500,000 and already have first commitments
The idea: Shelby.tv aggregates all of the video links your friends share on social networks and turns them into one, customised channel.
How it works: Millions of online videos are watched daily, but the way people find videos to watch is fragmented. One friend's link might take you to YouTube, and another's to Facebook.
Instead of driving you to multiple sites to watch videos, Shelby.tv bring you to one place where users have custom-made video channels based on friends' recommendations. Videos can be tweeted and liked from Shelby.tv too.
User engagement on Shelby.tv has been high so far, averaging 15 minutes per user per day.
Founders: Lee Hoffman, Brian Tobal, and Angela Kim
Raising: $750,000 with $300,000 already committed
The idea: Veri wants to take all of the world's content and turn it into a fun trivia game online, created by users.
How it works: 'We don't build Veri, our users do,' says Hoffman. 'They create a question, submit a learning link, and come up with answers to stump friends.' Users blast their quizzes out to social networks, and compete for high category rankings on the site.
When people answer questions right, they're awarded points that go towards their overall ranking.
When they answer questions wrong, they're given 'learning moments.' A video clip or article pops up to teach the person what they missed.
Veri makes learning competitive, fun, and more than that, addicting. The average time on the site is over 27 minutes.
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