Another year has come and gone, and with it a brand new class of Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator graduates. At demo day today, we saw ten companies launch out of development and into the public eye. Yes, all of them are interesting, disrupting industries from real estate to big data to financial services. But a handful of companies truly stand out as potential game-changers in the tech world.
So without any further ado, these are TechCrunch’s picks for the ERA Accelerator spring class:
Online dating is more than a trend these days; it’s how young people make connections. Acquaintable focuses on some sort of common thread, connecting people who have mutual friends. According to the company, Acquaintable has a much lower cost for user acquisition because the friend-of-friends model offers natural virality. Plus, it has a better shot at actually creating relationships that last, as the company says that 70 percent of couples have met through friends.
Using Acquaintable is easy. You hit up the website, give the service Facebook access, and then see pictures of those you might be interested in. It has a similar set up to HotOrNot.com or FaceMash, letting you approve or disapprove of someone’s picture and basic info before moving on to another suitor.
All your “likes” and “passes” are completely anonymous. Only after you and your suitor show a mutual interest can you begin communicating via messaging. Acquantainable has had an Alpha out for a while now, with 15 percent of users returning daily, and 35 percent of users sharing and inviting an average of four people. Plus, since Acquaintable focuses on friends-of-friends, it’s less of a sausage fest than online dating services that don’t ensure that this is a real, normal human being and not a creepy stranger.
Acquaintable is available now here.
Consignd is trying to give power back to the social influencers who determine shopping habits, while still providing perks to big brand retailers and businesses. Anyone with a web presence, like bloggers, pinners, and website owners can open up a store on their site. Founder Neil Parikh explained that you can do this without ever having to source or ship inventory. Sounds weird, right? But wait.
Consignd believes that inspiration and discovery play integral roles in shopping. In fact, 48 percent of products that were bought last year were discovered socially. The breakdown between big brand retailers, affiliates, and independent retailers causes problems for all of them. Retailers lose track of where their product is sold, whereas independent retailers can’t focus on their product because of the stresses of SEO and discovery.
The idea behind Consignd is that the responsibility of bringing an audience to a retailer no longer falls on the shoulders of the retailer, thanks to sites like Pinterest and Tumblr. So as pinners and bloggers have more and more influence over shopping habits, Consignd wants to give them the credit, and the cash, by letting them open up their own store front.
When you think of NYC, it’s hard not to imagine the thousands of wannabe actresses, singer/songwriters and models who are moonlighting as waitresses until their career takes off. The problem, however, is that their careers do take off, and they leave the restaurant. In fact, most restaurants have an annual turnover rate greater than 50 percent.
Easy Pairings, one of our favorites out of ERA, is changing the way restaurants find their staff. The Easy Pairings service is available as an app, so you don’t have to run to your desktop the second you need to make a hire. Once you download the app, you can choose from the type of worker you need (server, bartender, hostess) and see who’s available for an interview.
So far, Easy Pairings has scheduled 200 interviews, and led to the hire of over 50 workers at restaurants. According to the founders Darren Wan and Peter Lada, restaurants are just the beginning, as the service can work in any industry that experiences high turnover. The company is looking to raise $500k with over $190k committed.
Startist is a platform that lets professional creatives connect and collaborate on projects with a rich-media experience. Yet, unlike most creative collaboration platforms that focus on a certain genre of artistry, Startist doesn’t discriminate. Projects can range from film and music to games and technology.
The big idea behind Startist isn’t just that creative professionals can work on projects together, but that creative professionals can form meaningful connections. Looking for bandmates or directors for your film project or models for your photography is a tough task. It isn’t just a job, it’s a relationship, and an important one at that.
Classified ads are the alternative. There are 20,000 classified ads posted by musicians every day, yet creatives aren’t able to truly express themselves in this format. Startist lets you showcase your work and search for other interesting creatives with all the originality and creativity you can muster.
Startist is opening up their private beta today, which you can check out here.
The Square Foot
The Square Foot is a real estate platform that focuses on the commercial space. It lets prospective tenants, brokers, and landlords connect quickly and easily. Searching for commercial real estate isn’t easy, especially without a lot of cash to put behind a broker.
But The Square Foot helps small businesses find the right space by aggregating available office spaces. But the Square Foot goes even further than that. For one, the service doesn’t hand you off at the browser. The Square Foot follows the transaction all the way through to completion to make sure you have everything you need to get to business.
Plus, the service connects users with service and product providers to help set up the space for work, buy furniture, move, etc. As of now, the Houston-based company has over 75 percent of the Houston area searchable on the site. The team is now working on expanding this service to the wild world of New York City.
So far, the company has raised $400k, but they’re still looking for strategic angel investors.