Accelerator NFX Guild unveiled its second startup batch today: Here’s who just graduated

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Accelerator NFX Guild unveiled its second startup batch today: Here’s who just graduated

Bay Area accelerator NFX Guild presented 16 companies to a crowded room of 200 investors down on Sand Hill Road today, and the room was reportedly very energized.

Little wonder. NFX was founded by seasoned entrepreneurs and operators James Currier, Stan Chudnovsky and Gigi Levy Weiss. Its companies are referred to the outfit by a network of 42 scouts — some of them investors, many of them entrepreneurs, and a fair number who work double-time as angel investors. (No company can enter into the program without being routed through them.)

Even more attractive to investors, presumably: These startups are centered around fully formed ideas by the time they hit NFX. Indeed, fully 13 of the 16 companies that presented today had already raised funding, and some were started by pretty big wheels. Wheelwell, for example, a Houzz-like platform automotive parts, accessories and services, was cofounded by the person who established Apple’s Mac Genius service in Apple’s retail stores. Meanwhile, the CEO of Outdoorsy has already led two public companies.

Companies admitted by NFX are given $120,000, along with 30 hours of programming, mentoring, and introductions to investors. NFX in turn gets 7 percent of their company. (If they’ve already raised more than $750,000, NFX asks for 5 percent.)

Today’s batch represents NFX’s second class, and the companies are still meeting with VCs, so it’s probably not too late to kick the tires if you’re an investor — or check out your newest peers if you’re a founder. You can check them out in this slideshow.

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Blueberry

Tagline: Blueberry is a network of neighbors getting home repairs and services done together.

Description: Blueberry aims to turn household maintenance drudgery into non-painful experience by reimagining the neighborhood as a village marketplace, with professionals who serve clusters of homes on regularly scheduled days. The idea is to have these pros drive less and charge less, so consumers get the best value.

Location: San Francisco

Competitors: Thumbtack, Angie’s List, Handy, Home Advisor, Amazon, Google

Employees: 7

Investment: $500,000 to date from NFX Guild and iAngels

Metrics: The company says it reduces service delivery costs by up to 25 percent

Team: Damian Wolfgram, the CEO, spent more than eight years with Wells Fargo Securities. His cofounder, Wayne McVicker, founded Neoforma, an early medical supplies marketplace. A third cofounder, Weston McVicker, has spent more than three years focused on graphic design, UI/UX, and software quality assurance. 

2/16

Crowdcast

Tagline: Connect with your audience over live video, get paid, and grow your following.

Description: Crowdcast aims to help expert grow their online audience, share their knowledge in a live interactive environment and get paid. More specifically, it pitches itself as a one-stop solution for experts and personal brands to connect with their audience for live Q&As, live courses, online summits and webinars.

Location: San Francisco

Competitors: There are many continuing education platforms like Udacity, Creative Live, and Udemy. Crowdcast says it’s the only marketplace for live and recorded learning.

Employees: 5

Investment: $650,000 from NFX Guild, ArenaVC, Rick Marini, Ed Roman, and others

Metrics: Currently there are 500 crowdcasts going live each month on the platform and more than 40,000 people are attending those events, says the company.

Team: Cy Hossain, co-founder and CEO, has been designing and building interactive apps and experiences for the past 10 years. Dylan Jhaveri, co-founder and CTO, is a full-stack developer.

3/16

Finrise

Tagline: Finrise is simplifying the way patients pay for out-of-pocket healthcare services.

Description: Through Finrise, patients get their out-of-pocket bills paid on loan terms that they understand, directly in the doctor’s office, in less than 10 minutes, says the company. 

Location: San Mateo, Ca.

Competitors: CareCredit, Synchrony Finance

Employees: 4

Investment: NFX Guild

Metrics: Finrise says it has secured $2.3 million in annualized loan volume in less than 4 weeks.

Team: Founded by a team of three who met while at the home services marketplace Redbeacon, which was acquired by Home Depot in 2012. In fact, they say it was there that they experienced firsthand the inaccessibility of health-care services.

4/16

Hop

Tagline: Email messaging.

Description: Hop says it’s “changing the way over 3 billion people and teams communicate over email” and says it’s the “first and only email experience redesigned from the ground up for the way we communicate today.” (It’s still operating largely in stealth, in other words.)

Location: San Francisco, Israel

Competition: email

Employees: 4

Investment: Not disclosed

Team: The founders aren’t prepared to come forward publicly just yet but boast that they are respectively the founder of Israel’s largest portal and email provider, and the creator of the first 1GB webmail service (before Gmail).

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5/16

Ivy

Tagline: Ivy is the market network for the $76 billion interior design industry.

Description: Interior design firms use the platform to run their business and manage their network (think billing clients, purchasing from suppliers, and centralizing everything digitally).

Location: San Francisco, Israel

Competitors: Laurel & Wolf, Studiowebware, Design Manager

Employees: 6

Investment: $1.7 million from Pitango, Disruptive and NFX Guild

Metrics: Ivy launched in February with 15 beta users, all of whom moved their business to Ivy, says the company. It adds that these beta users alone put $1.5 million of bookings through the Ivy system in February and that they’ll put $3.2 million of bookings through the Ivy system in March.

Team: Alexandra Schinasi is graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Prior to founding Ivy, she was a creative director in London, Tel Aviv and New York City. Lee Rotenberg is a Boston native who previously ran an international art and design platform for suppliers and retailers with Alexandra Schinasi. Rotenberg is a graduate of Colby College.

6/16

JetInsight

Tagline: Air travel, personalized.

Description: JetInsight is aiming to build the world’s first distributed, on-demand airline. It’s starting with the lowest hanging fruit by attempting to make aircraft charter more transparent, cost-effective, and accessible.

Location: Menlo Park, CA

Competitors: NetJets, JetSmarter

Employees: 4

Investment: Undisclosed amount from Pejman Mar Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, and NFX Guild

Metrics: The company is focused on adding charter operators and aircraft to the platform at the moment. It wouldn’t share specific numbers, saying only that 2016 has been “off to a really strong start.”

Team: Dave Benjamin, the CEO, is a Princeton engineering undergrad with a business degree from Stanford. CTO Lou Montulli was on the founding team of Netscape and Epinions, he served as VP of Engineering for Shutterfly, and he cofounded the cloud-based back-up company Zetta.

7/16

KimKim

Tagline: A human-powered conversational interface to plan and book travel.

Description: kimkim connects travelers to travel experts who help them plan and book their trips.

Location: Palo Alto, Ca.

Competitors: TripAdvisor, Expedia

Employees: 4

Investment: $1 million, plus NFX Guild funding

Metrics: The company launched in December and says it has seen its first half dozen bookings, whose booking value on average is $2,200.

Team: Joost Schreve, the CEO, was formerly VP of mobile at TripAdvisor and founder of EveryTrail. CTO Benoit Zeler was formerly head of Android at TripAdvisor. (We wrote more about kimkim on TC here.)

8/16

Kwik

Tagline: Simply connected.

Description: Kwik is trying to democratize one-push ordering by enabling all brands to go direct to consumer with the push of a physical button. How? The company says its network connects the existing ordering system of the brands to any delivery and payment services, while providing data to the brand and enabling a direct relationship with the consumer.

Location: Palo Alto, Ca. and Tel-Aviv, Israel

Competitors: Amazon

Employees: 13

Investment: Prior to NFX Guild, raised $1.1 million from unnamed Israeli investors

Metrics: Five brands customers signed. The company says it also plans to deploy the first few thousand consumer accounts in the next 45 days.

Team: Ofer Klein, the CEO, is a former Israeli Air Force pilot with more than 11 years of extensive managerial experience in the areas of IOT, augmented reality, virtual reality and networks, including leading the product and human factors group at Elbit Systems, a multibillion-dollar defense electronics company. CTO Shlomi Atias has more than 20 years experience in development, research, product definition and management.

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9/16

Merlin

Tagline: The market network for marketing professionals and agencies

Description: Merlin says it enables marketers to form teams, win and manage clients, build a marketing business and get paid – all on one platform.

Location: Palo Alto, Ca.

Employees: 7

Investors: Not disclosed

Team: Melvin Yuan, CEO, cofounded YFind Technologies, an indoor positioning company that was acquired by Ruckus Wireless in 2013. He also founded Omnifluence and The Commissioned. His cofounder and head of product, Howie Chang, was formerly the director of products for Redmart, which is South East Asia’s largest online grocer. Chang was also formerly he head of UI/UX for Viki, acquired by Rakuten for more than $200 million.

10/16

Modify

Tagline: Modify is a turnkey merchandise platform and marketplace. 

Description: Modify provides free e-commerce storefronts for brands, social media influencers, nonprofits, artists, musicians, groups and more. These customers send Modify a logo; Modify creates a suite of products that they can offer their fans. (Modify offers a line of code to embed the shop, making it easier for fans to visit a brand’s site and find this merchandise.) All products are produced on-demand, via Modify’s partnerships with four factories.

Location: San Francisco

Employees: 10

Investment: $1.2 million, including from NFX Guild, Bee Partners, Rich Chen, Itamar, Novick, iAngels, Ligaya Tichy Great Oaks Venture Capital

Metrics: $200,000 in gross merchandize volume in the last quarter and expecting $3 million this year. 

Team: Aaron Schwartz founded Refill Revolution and Modify Watches. Ashil Parag founded Design Apart Studios. 

11/16

Outdoorsy

Tagline: Outdoorsy is the “number one marketplace for recreational vehicles.”

Description: Outdoorsy provides a marketplace for renting RV’s, including all the online and mobile workflow required to calendar, book, insure, pay, and provide customer service.

Location: San Francisco

Employees: 6

Investment: Undisclosed

Team: CEO Jeff Cavins is the former CEO of two public companies, FuzeBox (formerly Callwave), and LoudEye.

12/16

RobinHealth

Tagline: Making the pharmacy personal again.

Description: RobinHealth is aiming to provide a better pharmacy experience by eliminating the errand and delivering in as little as 60 minutes, as well as making consultations private and comfortable through in-app chat.

Location: San Francisco

Competition: ScriptDash, PillPack, Zipdrug, CVS, Walgreens

Employees: 6

Investment: Not disclosed

Metrics: None disclosed

Team: CEO Elliott Poppel was formerly a venture investor with NXT Capital, as well as CEO at App.io. Cofounder and engineer William Newby worked formerly for the software company Avatar Syndicate. HBS grad Kevin Holub worked as an associate at NXT Capital and has held brief roles in business operations at Infinio and LinkedIn.

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13/16

Say Wearables

Tagline: World’s first social media platform for wearables

Description: Say is a “wearable social platform” that provides a link between physical self-expression and social media.

Location: Palo Alto, Israel

Employees: 6

Investment: $1.5 million from angels, including executives from Google and Samsung Metrics (plus new funding from NFX Guild)

Metrics: The company says it secured pre-orders of more than 20,000 units from the major U.S. retailers before its product launch and has agreements in place with numerous brands.

Team: CEO Uri Keren is a serial entrepreneur who has previously founded two venture-backed companies. President Eitan Lev was a VP of R&D at several startup companies. CTO Suriel Bendahan was chief architect at the Israel-based software company Conduit.

14/16

Spinach

Tagline: Spinach is a network of businesses that generate more sales by buying from each other.

Description: Spinach provides businesses with credit they can spend with any other business in the network, ostensibly resulting in more sales for everyone. Credit is re-balanced by selling one’s own services back to other members in the network.

Location: Oakland, Ca.

Employees: 5

Investment: Not disclosed

Metrics: 82 percent of businesses that made their first transactions (buy or sell) have gone on to make their second or more transactions. The company says it has seen 100 percent organic growth, with zero marketing spend so far.

Team: Elan Perach, the CEO, managed Adwords budgets for SMEs and startups as a freelance consultant; he was also a full stack Ruby on Rails developer at 500Tech. Ofir Avigad, CMO, founded a P2P trading network in Israel that grew to more than 16,000 users.

15/16

Storyhunter

Tagline: Create video anywhere.

Description: Storyhunter is a market network for video services

Location: Brooklyn

Competitors: AP/Reuters, Vidwrx, other small players

Employees: 12

Investment:  $2.5 million from undisclosed sources prior to NFX Guild investment

Metrics: $1.3 million in gross sales in year one

Team: Jaron Gilinsky was a former video journalist for the New York Times and Time Inc.; Alex Ragir was a Bloomberg News reporter

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Wheelwell

Tagline: Wheelwell is a Houzz-like platform for the $138 billion automotive parts, accessories and services market.

Description: Wheelwell is a market network that aims to provide consumers with everything they need to make fast, confident purchases of automotive products and services. The company has created a platform that enables knowledgeable enthusiasts and professionals to catalog the products they use, share their experiences and show off their work. Wheelwell then uses that information to present real-world purchase trends that everyone can use to find and buy what they need for their vehicles.

Location:  San Francisco

Employees: 5

Investment: $500,000 from angel investors, plus funding from NFX Guild

Metrics: User-generated content is growing 30 percent week over week. The company notes that users are entering detailed information about the automotive consumer space that no one else has, including what brands consumers are buying, where they’re buying, how much they’re spending, what vehicle they’re buying it for, and even how well it works.

Team: Co-founders are Michael Gonzales and Andrew Johnson. Gonzales is a data scientist who worked in Apple marketing for 6 years. Johnson built successful computer consulting companies prior to being recruited by Apple to establish the Mac Genius service in its retail stores.

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