Earlier this week, the season finale of Bloomberg’s Techstars show aired.Eight of the eleven startups from the incoming class reunited to talk about what has happened in the six months since Demo Day.
Some raised financing. Some changed ideas. Some died.
We caught up with all eleven startups and found out where they are now.
Current status: Alive and funded
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.
Where it is now: Nestio is still alive. It raised $750,000 and has been implementing +Nestio buttons on partnering sites so users can easily add listings to their folders. Nestio's partners include eBay classifieds, Curbed, Prime NYC and Naked Apartments.
Current status: Alive and funded
Founders: Eli Portnoy - CEO, John Hinnegan - CTO
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.
Where it is now: ThinkNear is still alive. It moved out west to Los Angeles and raised $1.63 million; many of its investors were mentors in the Techstars program.
Current status: Cofounders broke up, but still alive and funded
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%.
Where it is now: Immersive struggled throughout the program and after Demo Day to keep its cofounders together. Jason Sosa decided to go it alone and raised $1 million to pursue his smart billboards. This fall, Sosa says Immersive is launching with RMG Networks in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.
Current status: Dead...ish. Pivoted. Now called 4SqandSevenYearsAgo.
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.
Where it is now: Friendslist has pivoted to 4Sqand7yearsago, a company that keeps track of your Foursquare checkins and sends you an alert one year later to remind you what you did. It is still working on the product and has made no public funding announcement.
Current status: Alive and funded
Founders: Irving Fain, Mike Montero, and Josh Bowen
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.
Where it is now: Crowdtwist raised a $6 million series A round last month for a total raise of $7 million. It's also working with a number of major brands, including Sony and Fox's X Factor.
Current status: Changed its name from MigrationBox to ShuttleCloud, raised a small round
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.
Where it is now: ShuttleCloud closed a $250,000 seed round with High Line Ventures Partners, SV Angel and angel investors. The New York-based company's team has doubled in size since the program and the startup is cash flow positive.
Red Rover, an efficient employee training program for enterprises, continued generating millions in revenue.
Company: Red Rover
Current status: Alive, generating millions in revenue, and bootstrapped.
Founders: Kevin Prentiss, Tom Krieglstein and Dan Storms
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.
Where it is now: During Techstars, Red Rover was generating millions of revenue. It's continued to grow its business without funding from investors (although it did get a small amount from the Techstars program for participating).
'We continued to deliver on the vision, which was making individuals successful and organising the community around them,' says founder Kevin Prentiss. 'We were able to get all the financing we wanted from customers that believed in that vision, and so that's what we've done. We spent the summer working with those customers, taking what works and applying it to them. We've been working with the customers in our pipeline, segmenting out the different levels that will work with our software, we've grown the team, we've moved into new offices, we've launched a new website, we've got a new UI...it's been fantastic.'
Status: Alive and funded.
Founders: Reece Pacheco, Dan Spinosa, Henry Sztul and Joe Yevoli
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.
Where it is now: Shelby.tv pivoted during TechStars from a sports video platform called HomeField. Pacheco and Spinosa's cofounder of HomeField, Joe Yevoli, stepped up to keep HomeField growing while Pacheco and Spinosa focus on Shelby.
Founders: Lee Hoffman, Brian Tobal, and Angela Kim
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.
Where it is now: 'We raised a round from some of the smartest, most well known investors in the world. We've been adding amazing brands on like American Express Open Forum and just growing like crazy,' says founder Lee Hoffman.
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