Today, seed fund and accelerator, TechStars, will be hosting its “Demo Day” in Boulder, where it will showcase its 12 newest startups. The accelerator expects over 500 people to be on hand, including investors and venture funds, who will be on hand to vet the young founding teams and potentially take out those checkbooks.
Founded in 2006 in Boulder, TechStars has expanded its operations to include New York City, Boston, and (most recently) Seattle, where the accelerator holds seasonal programs for 10 to 15 startups, investing up to $18,000 of seed capital in each team at a 6 percent equity stake. And, so far, TechStars has proven valuable to its entrepreneurs; according to TechStars’ website, 81 percent of its alumni remain active or profitable, 10 percent have already been acquired, with 8 percent having gone out of business.
Yesterday, TechStars announced an upcoming reality TV series that will follow a recent batch of New York City companies through the trials, tribulations, and pivots they experience as part of the accelerator program. Many of TechStars’ New York mentors, like Dennis Crowley of Foursquare and Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, make cameos, which will no doubt make for some good startup TV.
Yet today’s Demo Day is all about Boulder startups, so without further ado, here is a look at the 12 startups launching today in Colorado:
Creative Brain Studios is a game development engine that solves many of the common problems facing game engineers. Their turnkey solution offers easy management of audio and visual files, incorporates game play, analytics, hosting, and monetization, as well as leveraging HTML5 to publish the game once and deploy it across smart phones, tablets, and desktops.
Because tours and activities don’t have a mature distribution system, online travel companies are losing out on a $20+ billion opportunity. FlexTrip offers its API to online travel companies to monetize one of the most profitable areas of travel: tours and activities. The startup claims to boast “the world’s largest selection of tours and activities” as well as a unique recommendation engine to ensure the traveler gets matched with activities most suited to them. FlexTrip has already tallied a few cool integrations, including one with TripIt.
FlixMaster creates technology that enables anyone to build what they call “branching-path video mash-ups”. This allows people to pull videos, audio files, forms and images from all over the web, enabling viewers to travel different paths through the video — all right within the video player. Their branching path video mashups provide a richer and more engaging experience for the consumer.
FullContact is an API that keeps contact information current. Developers can easily tap into FullContact’s database of more than 100 million contact records to quickly turn partial, out-of-date contact records into fresh, complete contact records. They use a crowdsourcing model to update the contact information, only share contact information that’s publicly available on the web, and unlike competitors like Plaxo and Jigsaw, they allow any software application to leverage their contact database via their API.
GoSpotCheck is crowdsourced secret shopping for brands. They provide brands with realtime insights, such as price checks, shelf positioning, photos, and videos of in-store displays via a smartphone-weilding mobile workforce. Shoppers get paid cash to conduct these ‘missions’ simply by completing these simple tasks in the stores they’re already visiting. Unlike GigWalk, which allows for a range of activities, GoSpotCheck delivers a customized solution for brands in their retail settings.
InboxFever is a platform and marketplace to build and sell email-powered applications. Email-powered applications are a new breed of applications to help people do common tasks faster on the web. They allow you to control your web applications simply by sending an email – no logins, no new user interfaces, no downloads. Test it by sending any word document to firstname.lastname@example.org and watch it return to you in seconds as a PDF.
MealTicket provides a mobile, social web platform for foodservice distributors to better engage with their restaurants. They do this via a deals and promotions social marketing tool that foodservice distributors pass on to their restaurants. The deals and promotions are distributed via MealTicket’s mobile app, Twitter and Facebook apps, and most importantly, their API partners, who ensure the offers are distributed across many web channels. The foodservice distributor and restaurant can collaborate on creating deals and promotions, ultimately protecting the restaurant’s bottom line, leveraging the salesforce of the foodservice distributor, and enabling the restaurant to leverage the social web with little-to-know social media expertise.
According to the startup, Mocavo is “the first and largest free genealogy search engine”. Previously, genealogists and family-history enthusiasts had to visit dozens of disparate websites to conduct searches, or pay an expensive monthly fee to find limited content. Today, people can now start an ancestral search for free at Mocavo.com.
ReportGrid provides an API that makes it easy for SaaS vendors and technology platforms to give their customers deep analytics and insightful reporting. Different than normal analytics tools — this API plugs into a SaaS vendor’s product, allowing visualizations and analytics to become part of the product offering to their customers.
Simple Energy is changing how millions of people save energy by changing how utilities engage their customers. Their web and mobile application uses game mechanics to compare real energy usage to friends and neighbors, making energy efficiency social, fun and simple while addressing an $11 billion-a-year problem for utilities.
SocialEngine turns any company into a “social engine” through an array of products. Their flagship product, a downloadable social networking platform, is in use by over 7000 customers today. The newest addition to their toolset is a recommendation engine that gives tactical and practical suggestions on what to post, who to follow, what to read, what to reply to — in effect turning anyone into a social media guru.
TruantToday instantly contacts parents when students skip school, bringing students, and funding, back to the classroom. Current truancy products contact parents too late, at the wrong locations, or in a non-native language to the family. Because TruantToday contacts parents instantly, they have the ability to return the student back to the classroom and keep funding in schools. TruantToday is founded by Zak Kukoff, the 16 year old who is the youngest founder ever to participate in TechStars (and yes, he does plan to go back to school while operating the startup).