Editor’s note: The following report comes from Don Dodge, who blogs at Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing and is a Developer Advocate for Google. TechStars is a seed accelerator program that selects about ten companies and provides funding of $18,000 per team, as well as support and mentorship. Dodge covered the last Boston TechStars class in September, 2009.
TechStars has now been operating for four years. According to results data that TechStars has published, six of the first twenty companies to go through the program have been acquired by larger companies, and about 70% of its companies have been funded and/or are now profitable. This week, TechStars debuted ten new startups from the second Boston class. The teams presented on Tuesday to about 250 VCs and angel investors for the first time. These companies are about three months old and have two or three founder employees. Don was in attendance and these are his notes on the startups that presented.
Just nine months ago, I attended the inaugural Boston TechStars demo day where companies such as oneforty and Localytics presented. Since that time, TechStars has shifted the Boston program to operate in the spring instead of the summer, so ten new companies presented. Below is a summary of each one.
Mogotest is a front-end testing tool to help companies ensure that their web sites render properly across various web browsers and platforms. MogoTest can spider your web site or test individual pages to help you spot browser inconsistencies. The company demoed a very easy to use comparison tool that visually puts two browsers side by side so you can quickly spot inconsistencies between various browsers. It works with all browsers and all platforms including mobile browsers.
Monkey Analytics powers mathematics and data analysis in the cloud by providing on-demand computing resources, analysis tools, and a socially driven marketplace for analysts, algorithms, and data. Today, complex math and data analysis is commonly done in applications such as Matlab and R. Monkey Analytics is bringing those sorts of analysis tools to a cloud based system so that it can be accessed by anyone from anywhere with at scale and on demand.
Marginize augments pages on the web with an independent space owned by the visitors where they can meet each other and interact freely. For example, you can see what people are saying about the Marginize homepage here. Marginize cleverly makes use of existing Twitter content about each page, and allows visitors to “check in” to the page and comment. The most active community member becomes the “curator” for that site, and other recently active users are shown after they check in, hinting at possible game dynamics to come in the future. Investor Dharmesh Shah agreed to fund the company on the spot.
Appswell is a mobile crowd sourcing system that allows people, companies, and brands to harness the wisdom of crowds. Appswell is their own first client of the platform, with a crowdsourced contest for iPhone app ideas and has redeployed the platform to power Brightidea Mobile. Appswell is now working with interactive agencies to offer turnkey crowdsourcing solutions for brand advertising campaigns, which can be launched quickly and cost effectively.
Loudcaster lets anyone create interactive online radio stations quickly and easily. Their model is to sell Internet broadcasting tools to DJs and to generate revenue by aggregating their audiences and inserting advertising. Loudcaster has been running a stealthy limited beta, working with 100 DJ’s, and there are 200 more waiting to use the product. The company plans to officially open to more DJ’s by June 30th.
SocialSci helps academic and professional researchers source and survey participants for their scientific studies. Today, universities and researchers find study participants offline and they’re overpaying to do so. SocialSci helps source them more efficiently online, and delivers the research studies to them through their own integrated surveying tools which are designed to be secure and private. Currently, SocialSci is tracking over $5 million being paid out by live research studies and is operating a private beta of their online research platform with several major universities.
Sparkcloud introduces you to interesting people who are around you in realtime. The company has several early applications to demonstrate how developers can leverage Sparkcloud to more easily create their own real-world social applications ranging from urban gaming to location-based dating. SparkCloud will introduce you to 12 new people every day based on profiles, preferences, and social data.
StarStreet is a sports stock market that allows sports fans to make real money based on their skill in trading players and their knowledge of sports. It works similar to the real stock market. You buy shares in a professional sports player. If the player does well the value of the stock theoretically goes up as more fans want to own that stock. You sell your shares and make money. As we know from the real stock market, you can also lose money.
TutorialTab lets non-developers add interactive help systems that make web sites easier to learn. For example if you hover your cursor over a text input field it will pop up a text box that explains what you should enter in that field. TutorialTab makes it easy for web sites to create hands-on tutorials to guide their users. They are currently pre-launch, but you can see a preview video on their site.
UserMojo is an emotion analytics platform that measures the quality of user experience to help site owners understand not just what their users are doing, but also why they’re doing it. The company records emotions from users via a simple feedback mechanism, and then allows customers to see heat maps of emotional response to various pages over time and to understand what’s driving actual user behavior. When users hover over any area of a web page they are presented with emoticons that relate to how they feel about that content. The web site owner can see the results visually on the page.