Our SOMA neighbor and “clubhouse for entrepreneurs” Founders Den had its second Demo Day today, out of its spacious office in SOMA. Many of the startups presenting were niche plays, trying to tackle the issues of curation and data in various verticals like education, eCommerce and health care.
My personal favorites? Kaggle, a way to crowdsource the parsing of data through friendly competitions between scientists, and Wanelo, a Pinterest-like site focused on products.
So what makes a Founders Den startup? “We have only one goal for Founders Den, creating a community for experienced entrepreneurs,” said Founders Den co-founder Jason Johnson, “We don’t make money charging rent and we don’t take equity.” They also have a really good catering service.
Here’s all fourteen, in order of appearance …
BetterDoctor — Attempting to solve the very real problem of how to find a good doctor, BetterDoctor is OpenTable for doctors – using Yelp Reviews to help people find the ideal provider in their area for specific categories.
Santa.com — With a domain name valued between $5-15 million, Santa.com wants to build the world’s largest social commerce site. Essentially a data play, the site right now functions as a place to build wish lists for both kids and adults, and founder Will Weismen eventually hopes that its “Tell Santa button” will be available everywhere.
Coursebook — Coursebook wants to be the definitive platform for online learning, letting users aggregate lessons from Creative Commons content like Ted.com, Udemy and Stanford courses. Aiming to help people learn across web and mobile, Coursebook lets you bookmark these lessons, allowing you to both see what your friends are learning and providing you with learning recommendations based on your prior choices.
Urbantag — “Pinterest for places” Urbantag uses geo-tagging to let people bookmark their favorite locations. Powered by Google maps, the company thinks of itself as a publishing platform for places, allowing you to follow your friends and
their recommendations via iPhone app. “The potential for offline discovery is completely untapped,” said founder Andrew Hoag “Urbantag becomes a tool for curating the places you’ve been, or that you want to go, but not necessarily where you are.”
Showbucks — Founded by an engineer who developed marketing materials for Hollywood movies like Titanic, Showbucks wants
brands to better market themselves through its live social video marketing platform on Facebook, using white label games to attract and engage potential customers.
Socialcam — With 3 million downloads, Socialcam aspires to be the default app for video. “We see that the idea that people are walking around with a video camera in their pocket and don’t actually use it as a huge opportunity.” Socialcam founder Michael Seibel wants to compete on speed, creativity and community. The startup makes posting and interacting with videos simple: click the big red button, post it to Socialcam, and watch as your family and friends interact with the product.
AmplifyHealth — Amplify Health is a platform focusing on preventative health versus post-disease treatments. Founder Eric Page says that the lack of preventative health costs the US $290 billion dollars annually and that his platform will give doctors a way to eliminate these costs by letting doctors share information like which apps are likely to keep patients on a helpful path.
DataSift — DataSift is a cloud-based platform focused on aggregate data. The darling of the semantic web, it aids companies in parsing real-time social information like geolocation and sentiment, helping companies maximize their social presences.
Prima Table — If you want to go to a really great restaurant this weekend, there’s no option really available for you according to PrimaTable founder Jamie Davidson. Using techniques from the yield management and travel industries, the startup gives people last-minute access to fancy pants restaurants like Michael Mina and Gary Danko.
Spitball Entertainment — Spitball is a game developer focused on “character-based” brands. Its first offering lets players become Miya Mackenzie, a Hannah Montana-like character who navigates through a virtual Hollywood.
Linearware — Linearware uses QR codes to give merchants the option to include an Amazon One-Click button on ads. Linearware sends payments directly to merchants, and helps them close customers without the friction between them seeing an ad and eventually coming home to purchase. Founder Chris Kim sees a lot of potential in cosmetics, where women see ads in magazines and then go online to shop.
Kaggle — Kaggle is basically the Netflix prize as a data-driven business. “The argument is that there is a mismatch between those with data and those that have the skills to analyze it,” says founder Anthony Goldbloom, “To solve this Kaggle holds competitions for data scientists to build predictive algorithms. Goldboom says that a problem that had alluded NASA for 10 years was solved in a week in a half using Kaggle and the competitive nature of nerds.
Questli — Gaming platform Questli wants to be the “Facebook of the connection between web and reality” hoping to accomplish this by creating scavenger hunts between the web and the real world.
Wanelo — With half a million products posted, Wanelo (from Want, Need, Love) is a bookmarking site that functions as a social store curated by users. “The way that we’re different from Pinterest is that we’re focused on commerce and shopping,” said Wanelo founder Deena Varshabskaya.