Hub Ventures, Excelerate Labs, MuckerLab & DreamIt Announce New Startups

The startup accelerator scene is booming, and that means there will be days like today, when a bunch of news from the various incubators around the country hits all at the same time. Today, we’ve got the details from several of the newer programs, some of which are announcing their new spring classes, others which are wrapping up with demo days. The result, in either case, is that there are now dozens upon dozens of new companies making their grand debut today, across a number of verticals that include everything social networking to health care.

Below, we’ve rounded up the new launches and announcements from Hub VenturesExcelerate Labs, and MuckerLab. In addition, DreamIt Ventures is preparing to start its summer program in NYC next month, and is hosting a kick off party tomorrow night. [Update: DreamIt’s lineup has been added].

Hub Ventures

Hub Ventures, the San Francisco-based startup accelerator focused on funding entrepreneurs “building a better world,” (and new member to the Global Accelerator Network championed by TechStars) is announcing its Spring 2012 cohort of startups. Something notable about this group is the gender diversity – there are six female co-founders and key team members, representing five of the startups in the group.

This spring, the focus is on transportation and personal safety, infant and maternal health, collaborative consumption (fractional car ownership), information technology for development, financial tools for small businesses in the developing world, and clothing up-cycling to enable insourcing and job creation in the U.S. Startups received $17,500-$20,000 and are eligible for an extra $75,000 if chosen by key investor  Lakeland VenturesDevelopment. One spot is being held for a innovation hackathon prize, also sponsored by Lakeland Ventures.

Hub Ventures says it received 209 applications for 10 spots this year – up 200% from 75 applicants last year.

  • Refuel by StreetOwl – Ofer Raz, Neel Ganjoo, and Cyndy Sandor:  a rewards platform to encourage safer driving, save lives, and disrupt the $200B insurance industry
  • CheckInOn.Me – Deb Levitt:  an automated, mobile phone based personal safety system
  • DIIME – Theresa Fisher and Gillian Henker:  innovative medical devices to improve infant and maternal health in low-resource settings of Africa
  • Givkwik – Jason Rosado:  one-click mobile app and online giving to enable impulsive philanthropy
  • Africa’s Talking – Eston Kimani:  an SMS-based web and communication platform to solve information poverty in Africa
  • Acopio – Paul Goodman, Iris Shim, and Ariel Chait:  management information systems for agricultural cooperatives that improves transparency and traceability
  • Repat – Ross Lohr and Nathan Rothstein:  up-cycling old unwanted t-shirts into value-added products and creating sustainable insourcing jobs in the US
  • Inventure – Shivani Siroya and Jon Blackwell:  an SMS-based financial tool for small businesses in the cash economy of India [Update 4/27/12: founder had to pull out]
  • Mesh Motors – Ezra Goldman:  an innovative approach to car sharing via the fractional ownership model

Excelerate Labs

Chicago-based Excelerate Labs, led by entrepreneurs Troy Henikoff (SurePayroll) and Sam Yagan (OkCupid, eDonkey, SparkNotes) is announcing its Class of 2012. The selective summer program will wrap up with a demo day in August. This year’s class, the third for the organization, features companies from India and France, which are moving to Chicago, as well as others from California, Massachusetts, Florida and Texas.

Excelerate Labs has also partnered with digital startup center 1871, which offers working space for 400, plus office space for V.C.’s, classrooms and partnerships with universities.

This year, the incubator said it received 50% more applications than last year. Then ten companies chosen are below.

  • 71lbs – Helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) save money on shipping through data analytics,understand their parcel shipping spend and make better shipping decisions for the first time.
  • Cureeo – Offers original and limited edition artwork to collectors and novice art enthusiasts without the hassle of personally hunting through physical and online galleries to find that perfect piece. The company provides background about the artist and their work as well as education on how and why to shop for fine art. Customers can share their taste preferences and design needs then receive a selection of artwork options handpicked for them by one of Cureeo’s art specialists.
  • Fibroblast – Aims to help solve three big, interrelated problems in U.S. health care: shrinking margins, convenient access and need for preventive care. The company addresses these problems by providing patients with the ability to self-schedule appointments anytime and anywhere by using a cloud-based calendar, and automates appointment notifications. Providers get analytics tools to optimize their practices. Also creates a network of interconnected providers to refer patients.
  • frintit – Acts as the “AdSense” of the physical direct mail world by allowing direct mail advertisers to intelligently target a consumer based on their interests. Using a combination of web and mobile data, frintit offers a direct mail platform to reach the right customer.
  • Good Karma Clothing for Kids – A new subscription service that delivers right-sized baby clothes that customers exchange as their baby grows so busy parents don’t have to spend a ton of time and money keeping up with fast-growing little bodies. Good Karma delivers bundles of ready-to-wear clothing on request, washed in environmentally and baby friendly detergent.
  • Lasso – Direct quote: “A new service hailing from an uncharted land where friends freely gather with the whip of a hand, where plans manifest in a couple of clicks so friends can greet faces and not profile pictures.” (We have no idea).
  • Orbeus – A computer visual recognition engine that enables computers to perform face detection and recognition, logo and product recognition, optical character recognition, and scene understanding.
  • Pictarine – Centralizes photos from all online services including Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and Twitter. Pictarine automatically organizes photos as timelines, backups the best photos, lets you share favorites with friends and helps you discover new photos.
  • SpotHero – Similar to ParkingPanda and others, the company works with some of the largest parking operators in the country to make discounted parking available to customers by helping drivers get the parking spot that they want.
  • Whimseybox – A subscription service for the DIY and craft community. Every month, the company ships customers craft product samples, helping them o rediscover crafts and express their creativity. Users can also visit the company’s Project Gallery for inspiration and ideas, upload and share their projects with the startup’s community.


MuckerLaba new L.A.-based startup accelerator, also a member of the Global Accelerator network, is having its Demo Day today. The program, founded by Erik Rannala, formerly of Harrison Metal, and William Hsu, who most recently served as Chief Product Officer at AT&T Interactive, doesn’t always focus on media and entertainment startups, despite its location. Rannala previously told us that ad tech and e-commerce have also thrived in L.A., but they’re not limiting their focus at this time to any particular vertical.

Selected startups received $21,000 in seed funding, and the usual benefits like shared office space, various discounts on hosting and software, and legal assistance. This year’s group of eight fits with accelerator’s goal of having five to ten startups to kick off its launch.

  • Instacanvas, a marketplace for social media art and artifacts.
  • Laffster, a distribution and discovery platform for premium comedic content through YouTube, and beyond.
  • Lifecrowd, a marketplace for social activities connecting people, interests and culture.
  • Penango, browser-based encryption and security solutions for cloud applications.
  • Surf Air, a membership-based, private airline thatbrings the ease and comfort of flying private to a new audience.
  • Retention Science, a big data retention-marketing platform for e-commerce.
  • OttoLikes Labs, an interest curation engine that’s pioneering an entirely new category of algorithms to provide consumers with ideas for online and offline products and services.
  • Wallaby Financial, a network-branded (Visa) payment card that dynamically routes transactions across a consumer’s existing credit cards to maximize rewards, cash back or savings.
  • Ecinity – an automated marketing solution for small to mid-sized businesses to attract new customers without paying for advertising and with no or minimal effort from the merchant.

DreamIt Ventures

DreamIt Ventures, which operates programs in Philadelphia, N.Y., and now, Israel, is kicking off its 2012 Summer program tomorrow night with a party at Google’s NYC office. DreamIt has selected 15 companies, 5 of which are participating in the newly launched DreamIt Israel. This program brings Israeli startups to NY, giving them access to U.S.-based mentors, investors, and up to $25,000 in seed funding. DreamIt Israel is already underway now in Tel Aviv, and the companies will join DreamIt NY in NYC on May 14th.

Another 5 are in DreamIt Access, a dedicated effort to launch 15 minority-led startups over the next 12 months. Comcast Ventures, the venture capital affiliate of Comcast Corporation, is an investor in DreamIt Access.

The organization also just signed its NY lease for the old office space on 8th Ave., which is where the companies will now work.

DreamIt’s Demo Day will be August 8th. Stay tuned.

[Update: DreamIt’s NYC 2012 lineup is below]

  • Bazaart, Haifa, Israel: personalized fashion catalogs for tablets
  • CallTrackingFox, New York, NY: data-driven inbound marketing platform
  • CampGurus, New York, NY: clearinghouse for kids programs
  • Cubiez, Tel Aviv, Israel: platform delivering desktop apps with a mobile user experience
  • FirstCrush, Boston, MA: personalized wine subscription service
  • Giver, Tel Aviv, Israel: turning employees to community through gamified solutions
  • Indiewalls, New York, NY: online marketplace connecting local artists and venues
  • JustUs, Tel Aviv, Israel: Weesh app helps romantic couples share mutual experiences
  • Saborstudio, Alajuela, Costa Rica: location-aware mobile games
  • Tripl, Stockholm, Sweden and New York, NY: connecting people through travel
  • Urban Cargo, New York, NY: personalized grooming product recommendations for men
  • Vantageous Video, Ithaca NY: apps for multi-angle video creation
  • Winston, Boulder, CO: a personalized social newscast