500 Startups first Demo Day sprint is over and people are trickling out their rankings lists of the 23 startups, or “little monsters” as co-founder Dave McClure calls them. McClure, with a background in marketing, has a unique curator’s eye, and his first batch of companies are an interesting brood, to say the least.
Companies that are part of the 500 Startups accelerator program get a 50K investment from the fund at a $1 million valuation and can stay in the 500 Startups offices for 3-6 months. Companies that are part of McClure’s seed program receive up to $250K in seed funding, and McClure has the option of following on in later rounds. All in all the 500 Startups investment stable includes 110 startups, including Twilio, inDinero and Foodspotting.
Between McClure’s accelerator program and his seed investments, 20 companies presented yesterday, and each of them had an unique story. YongoPal had pivoted from a video English language learning service to English language learning photo sharing app (you can’t make this stuff up). MindSnacks and 955 Dreams skipped out on presentations, because they had already closed their investments.
Because some of these crazy kids just might be on to something, I grabbed the TCTV camera crew and interviewed seven of the most interesting companies yesterday. Bear in mind: “Interesting” here doesn’t necessarily mean “will be successful,” just that these are seven to watch (literally).
Founded by Stewart Langille and Lee Sherman, the team behind Mint’s data visualization efforts, Visually is pretty much the all around Demo Day winner. An impressive presentation and pre-launch partnerships with CNN and Huffington Post mean that we shouldn’t be surprised if their seed round closes before their launch in two weeks.
Founded by an engineering and MIT heavy team, Baydin tries to turn the painstaking and tortuous task of answering email into a game, with timing capabilities, Google Calendar integration and rewards. Just one turn in their email game simulator and I had to drag them in for an interview.
Saygent is a voice sentiment analysis service that already has brought one of its customers, Comcast over $20 million in annual sales. Using crowd-sourcing technology, the SaaS helps clients identify who is really going to bite and aims to disrupt the call center industry.
At first you might think, who needs conference and speaker matching service Speakergram, and then you look at the list of people and companies who hustler founder Sam Rosen has gotten to sign up: Foursquare, Hipmunk, Eventbrite and LeWeb’s Geraldine LeMeur. Getting influential people to let you handle their speaking engagements sounds like a plan, or at least a start.
Social Stork is a Facebook app for moms and babies zzz … Well until you realize that founder Joel Auge is a high-school dropout millionaire, who was a finalist on Canadian Idol, and already has one successful Facebook-based company HitGrab. So why create another company? Exactly.
CrowdRally figured out how to monetize the Facebook newsfeed before Facebook did, got a C&D letter and pivoted into a social video sharing product six weeks ago. I smell acquisition bait.
Punchd is the simplest yet most disruptive startup of the bunch, and made this list primarily because none of its co-founders could tell me why the startup was interesting when I asked. Well taking customer loyalty cards mobile (“in your pants”) is indeed interesting, because it adds value to users and solves a problem, namely “What am I going to do with all these dog-eared loyalty cards?” Plus the founders “iced” Dave McClure during their pitch meeting, and he still accepted them into the program.
While these seven sparked my interest out of the ones that demo-ed, the other 16 in the cohort are also worth a look — the concept of “interesting,” after all, is in the eye of the beholder. Here they are, in no particular order:
InternMatch — Helping students find internships at startups companies beyond the biggies like Google and Facebook.
Spoondate — A social network for people who want to meet over a meal, with group dining options.
Rewardli — A group buying platform for small business.
Wednesdays — A LinkedIn and lunches, a platform that lets you organize your networking over meals.
YongoPal — Learn English while sharing photos with international friends.
Ninua — A news viewing app with a social bent.
Volta — Helps companies test their live phone marketing calls.
955 Dreams — New media publishing with a Music and Education focus.
myGengo — Crowd-sourced translation services.
GinzaMetrics — An SaaS for SEO and social media optimization.
AwayFind — An email notification system for urgent messages.
Evoz — A mobile baby monitor.
WorkersNow — A hiring platform for blue collar workers.
MotionMath — A way to make math learning fun for kids, by making it mobile.
ReadyForZero — Online software that helps you track credit card debt.