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Affordable Car Loans: A Look At The Winner(s) Of The Founder Showcase Pitch Competition

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Last night, over 500 people gathered in San Francisco for the eighth Founder Showcase, a quarterly startup pitch event that brings together technology CEOs, investors, and early-stage startups for a night of networking and pitchin’. The event is hosted by Founder Institute, but is an open competition — any early-stage business (less than two years old and with under $250K in funding) can enter. And they don’t have to pay.

Public voting reduces the applicants to a group of quarterfinalists, from which the finalists are chosen by Founder Institute, among others. At last night’s event, ten companies took the stage to pitch in front of a panel of judges that included VCs from Morgenthaler Ventures, Javelin Venture Partners, Blumberg Capital, and K9 Ventures.

Taking home the “Grand Prize” was Neo, a startup that finances car loans for first and second-time car buyers. While most consumer loans are dependent on credit scores, Neo is looking to go beyond these shaky indicators of creditworthiness by taping into financial and social data to better evaluate prospective loan applicants and to provide more affordable car loans.

Each year there are 6 million first and second time buyers with limited credit history looking for a loan, but 40 percent of those people are declined, while those that are approved generally have to struggle with interest rates that are 10 percent and higher.

While loan institutions are risk averse and shun away from offering money to those without significant credit histories, the default percentage even for subprime car loans is three percent, the founders say, because people simply need their cars and tend not to default on payments for this important asset. This is especially true for young, Gen Y car buyers, which make up 40 percent of the car buying population — a demographic which just doesn’t have significant credit histories.

FICO, one of the biggest credit scoring systems, tends to be an imperfect indicator of creditworthiness, so Neo’s underwriting technology assesses realtime credit risk based on numerous resources, refinancing loan applicants to as little as 6 percent rates. The startup is partnering with dealerships during its beta, which will send the startup 20 to 40 applications per month to assess their credit risk, on which Neo will make $600 per transaction.

Below, you can check out Neo’s pitch and the responses from judges:

The runner up was I-DISPO, a community for sharing and booking appointments online. The Paris-based startup recently secured a partnership with Bing in France to power all restaurant reservations directly on the search results page. At the event, I-Dispo also announced their entry into the U.S. market.

A quick look at the other startups pitching:

Be Scrappy is an online marketplace that connects people who need tools for home improvement and do-it-yourself projects with lenders that have them. The startup just launched with four tool rental locations in San Francisco and will soon enable peer-to-peer rentals.

ClientMagnet is an online service that helps SMBs drive retention by analyzing their customers and then recommending a marketing strategy based on hundreds of ready to run print, web and email campaigns.

Explorence makes outdoor video games, turning your phone into a Wii and you into the controller. (Read TechCrunch’s coverage here.)

Gushcloud is a social media platform where users get rewarded for promoting the brands they like, and companies can reach their target audience with any budget.

Pllop is an About.me for creative expression. It allows you to easily create touch-enabled micro-sites that work great on both tablets and desktops.

Say Mmm makes meal planning and grocery shopping simple with a set of online tools that do the work for you. The company’s latest feature will automatically convert any recipe or recipe URL into an organized grocery list with nutritional information.

Takeoff is an online tool that makes it easy to collaborate during video production. It’s like Basecamp, but for video.

TouchBase is a private family network that builds trust by enabling sharing of things like location and status, without tracking a child’s every move.

Also of note: Founder Institute announced last night that it will be “rebranding”, as it was able to secure the “fi.co” domain name, joining 500 Startups and Angel List startup resources operating under the “.co” domain.