Tandem Entrepreneurs, for those unfamiliar, is a Silicon Valley-based accelerator and capital fund that focuses exclusively on early-stage mobile businesses. Like other accelerators, Tandem works hand-in-hand with its founders on everything from strategy and product design to user acquisition and employee recruiting. However, unlike others, it seeds each startup with a $200K convertible note in exchange for 10 percent equity, and keeps the size of its batches small (two to four teams) in the belief that smaller size equates to higher returns and higher success rates.
Each team spends six months in Tandem’s acceleration program, with new batches beginning each season. There’s no demo day, or set graduation date, as Tandem likes to avoid making its founders feel like they’re about to get kicked out. While Tandem has been operating as a capital fund since 2007 — having funded and worked closely with startups like Play In The City, Playhaven, and Zumodrive — its mobile accelerator only launched in July. And, today, Tandem is officially unveiling its inaugural batch of four startups, as well as giving us a sneak peek at the two startups chosen to participate in its winter program.
Below you’ll find a description of each of the four companies, as well as the accompanying teaser. For those interested in applying, the accelerator is also accepting applications for its spring batch, with a deadline of April 3rd at midnight. Those interested can apply here.
BitRhymes is a social game development company, which is focusing on building social casino games for women that can be played across online and mobile platforms. Its first game, Bingo Bash, was released in December, and has already attracted 1.8 million monthly active users on Facebook. BitRhymes’ first social game combines the basic tenets of Bingo with some creative collection and rewards mechanics, adding the ability to collect treasures (gems) and power-ups to make a game that’s traditionally reserved for older folks into a far more exciting, addicting, and social experience. Heck, there are even synchronous chat features and sometimes crowds of more than 100 playing at any given time.
BitRhymes will soon be bringing Bingo Bash to iOS and Android, and is currently in the process of releasing several new titles. The startup’s team counts members who have previously built titles like Vegas, Salon Street, The Warlords, and Tagme, which have collectively seen over 25 million installs.
Flit is an online shopping tool that allows people to enter a search just once, and use that term to search for products or merchandise across their favorite stores. Using this patent-pending Go Search tool, users can initiate a single-click search across 275 retail sites, from fashion and home goods to electronics and sports products.
The startup has been beta testing its service, and is looking to focus more specifically going forward on making shopping on the tablet fun — for women. It is developing an app that builds on its previous online experience, allowing women to find items they like from hundreds of online stores, while saving products for later, and sharing their favorites with their friends. Flit plans to launch its tablet app this month, so stay tuned.
UpOut is an online event discovery service that is targeted at busy people who may not have had a lot of time to plan, but suddenly decide, say, after leaving work, that they want a fun, local event to check out. Thus, UpOut provides a realtime listing of local events that are accessible on the go, and currently offers over 2,000 events in San Francisco. The startup plans to officially roll out of beta early this month, and bring its service to a host of new cities over the course of the year. You can read more about the startup’s beta launch at TechCrunch here.
Gimmie is developing a real-world reward program that lives within mobile apps that aims to boost in-app purchase revenue for mobile developers, while connecting consumer brands to mobile app users. As Kim-Mai wrote at Inside Mobile Apps, Gimmie is a hybrid between the install networks that give gamers virtual rewards for watching ads or downloading apps with services like Kiip, which turns in-game achievements into coupons. Gimmie was co-founded by a long-time Popcap Games engineer, Roy Liu, who just so happened to be the lead developer for Plants V. Zombies. Liu left when Popcap was acquired by EA last year.
Gimmie is now working with over 50 developers (which, combined, have millions of active users), and beta launch titles include Peter Pog, Art Jam Trance, and Ziggurat, among others.
As mentioned above, Tandem is also officially announcing the two startups that were chosen to participate in its winter program, which is still ongoing. Both startups’ products are currently in stealth, so they’re not saying much about them. But, what we have been able to gather is this: The first, called Sift, is an intelligent shopping service, which was co-founded by former executives from Digital Chocolate and VMware. The founders have dubbed their product “a Flipboard for brand promotions.”
The second, Tydy, is an interest-based content discovery service. Tydy was founded by former Opera executives, and plans to offer a better way to filter the droves of content we share on a daily basis, based on customized, personal filtering mechanisms. According to the team, it has struck distribution partnerships to have Tydy be “included on tens of millions of mobile devices for its initial launch.” Obviously, we’re looking forward to learning more, and will share when they’re ready.
Again, applications for Tandem’s spring class are due by April 3rd at midnight. Apply here.
Tandem is made up of a few entrepreneurs who have founded companies and taken them to liquidity. They now invest their time and money in othersâ€™ early stage software and Internet startups through Tandem. The Tandem team does not consider itself a VC firm. They refer to three primary types of capital that are required to make a startup successful â€“ Financial Capital (money), Human Capital (sweat) and Social Capital (friends). Tandem explains that VCs bring mainly financial capital, some...