Philadelphia based DreamIt Ventures, a pre-seed stage venture firm and incubator founded in 2007 by David Bookspan, Michael Levinson, and Steve Welch, has just announced the most recent batch of startups to complete its second annual 12 week program.
In a similar vein as Y Combinator, TechStars, Launchbox, and other incubators, DreamIt Ventures provides up to $30,000 in seed funding and twelve weeks of tutelage to local startups in exchange for equity. Below is a description of each company in DreamIt’s class of 2009, as provided by DreamIt co-founder Michael Levinson.
Notehall is an online marketplace that allows college students to buy and sell lecture notes and study guide materials to fellow classmates helping them get an edge in their specific classes and best prepare for exams.
Notehall is currently active and generating revenue at the University of Arizona, Arizona State, and University of Kansas and has 13,000+ active users and 5,500+ documents available for sale. In Notehall’s marketplace, college students have earned over $13,000 from selling their class notes and study guides.
While at Dreamit, Notehall has successfully launched an automated recruiting campaign at Drexel University and is planning to rollout its service to more universities beginning in Fall 2009. Notehall is also in the process of completing a capital raise.
OurShelf is a social cataloging site that lets users manage their belongings, lend or find the items they need faster and cheaper. Users save money from borrowing short-use items such as books, music, movies, and videogames from friends and they make money from selling their unused items to multiple third-party sites, like eBay and Craigslist.
The site provides users with a digital shelf. They can catalog their belongings through an import functionality or OurShelf’s search engine. A populated shelf allows users to create a highly personalized shopping and item management experience. OurShelf achieves this by laying an item graph (complete with related items and reviews) over a social graph. It’s like del.icio.us, except for the physical goods users own.
OurShelf is in public beta.
For many people, the amount of information coming into their inboxes is overwhelming. And for news-tracking professionals and resource-strapped small businesses, this information overload costs precious time and money. There has to be something better than Google Alerts.
Parse.ly is a tool that tries to understand users’ unique interests to filter and prioritize content from thousands of news and blog sources across the web. Parse.ly always tries to show users the content most relevant to their interests first, so they will spend less time on low-value items.
Parse.ly also automatically learns users interests, and recommends increasingly relevant content over time. Moreover, Parse.ly is designed with a spare web interface to provide people with the most productive reading experience.
Postling is a tool that helps small businesses face the daunting task of social media marketing. The company comes from two founders of Etsy.com (Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik) and Etsy’s former head of product management (David Lifson), Postling lets users publish content simultaneously to the major social media platforms, including blogs (WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, Tumblr), Twitter, and Facebook. In addition, marketers and entrepreneurs can view and respond to comments left by readers across various social media.
Small business owners told the Postling team that they would be willing to pay for a social media marketing tool that saves them time and spares them from learning how to navigate yet another website. They listened and created Postling. The service costs $9/month or $90/year.
SeatGeek is a web application that forecasts sports and concert ticket prices on the secondary market, analogous to what Farecast (now Bing Travel) does for airline tickets. For ticket buyers, this application helps them determine whether they should buy a ticket now or wait until the price drops. For sellers, it helps them identify the optimal time to sell their tickets and increase their profits margins.
SeatGeek’s crawlers have compiled millions of ticket transactions and have also aggregated other factors that influence ticket prices. SeatGeek’s patent-pending technology uses this data in an algorithm that attempts to accurately predict ticket prices.
Currently, SeatGeek offers a free version for ticket buyers that is monetized through affiliate fees. In October it is launching a premium subscription service for brokers and other ticket sellers
Straight Up English
Straight Up English is an innovative Web-based English-language learning company. Straight Up English is hoping to solve the most persistent speech challenges for non-native speakers of English, helping them improve comprehension and communication in areas such as word stress, intonation, and pronunciation.
The company applies research-based teaching methods from linguistics and education, allows for feedback and self-correction, and has a consumer-oriented, intuitive interface. Straight Up English has a deep focus on oral communication skills unique to English and its multi-modal approach.
It is creating web and mobile applications, as well as cultivating English-as-a-second-language communities among students and teachers to build brand awareness.
Three Screen Games
Three Screen Games is producing social games across all three screens (pc-mobile-tv). Their first game, released this August, will be FanGamb, short for Fantasy Gambling. FanGamb is a new online game for sports fans that creates a competition between friends to see who the best sports bettor is.
FanGamb is designed to overcome the limitations of traditional fantasy sports games by being more fun and keeping players more engaged. While all sports fans can enjoy the game, the marketing plan is focused on reaching male sports fans, ages 16 to 25. Three Screen Games is in the final process of closing a six figure seed round.
Trendsta is a marketing platform that puts products in the hands of the most influential teens on the web. Trendsta tracks those teens as they create buzz about those items. Since this summer, Trendsta has landed a number of notable clients including Atlantic Records, Penguin Books, Neutrogena and Polaroid. Trendsta works with the most connected teens who have been written up in publications including Teen Vogue and the New York Times.
Trendsta’s partners helped build myYearbook, Owned (a top 10 Facebook app) and several lead-generation websites. Now they are solving the problem of how marketers can connect with a generation that can no longer be reached through traditional advertising channels.
Jobaphiles.com is an online marketplace where employers can auction their part-time jobs and one-time gigs. Through a transparent bidding process, Jobaphiles enables employers to hire the most qualified and competitively priced applicant, saving them time and money
Employers post jobs, and job seekers bid down the wages. Job seekers effectively compete for a job by having knowledge of other candidates’ qualifications and their bidding price, and employers are able to hire the most qualified person that fits their budget.
Kidzillions is an online allowance and chore management system that lets kids spend and save online. Unlike other online allowance systems, Kidzillions combines the benefits of budgeting, saving and responsible spending, helping kids learn essential lessons about personal finance and accountability in a cashless society.
Kids like it because they’re able to work for real money to buy real stuff easily, and parents like it because their kids are excited to save and (hopefully) do extra chores around the house.