The NewMe Accelerator, a startup incubation program founded last year aimed at under-represented minorities in the tech world (namely African Americans, Latinos, and women), held its second-ever Demo Day today for its latest class of entrepreneurs.
A total of seven startups presented their wares to a packed room full of investors, reporters, and fellow entrepreneurs at Google’s downtown San Francisco office — the energy was high and the crowd’s response seemed really strong. TechCrunch TV was on site, and you can watch the video embedded above to get a look at the general demo day scene and see our interview with NewMe’s founder Angela Benton about the program’s growth so far and its plans for the future.
A bit about NewMe’s program: It’s intense. For twelve weeks, the entrepreneurs all live together in the same house in San Francisco, where they are meant to “eat, sleep, and breathe” their respective tech-focused projects day and night. Meanwhile, big-name mentors such as Mitch Kapor, Ben Horowitz, Vivek Wadhwa and others drop by regularly to offer up advice and insight.
Diversity In More Ways Than One
What most people first notice about NewMe is its focus on gender and racial diversity, but at Demo Day it became apparent that the diversity angle extends to all aspects of the program. From a super modern restaurant menu app, to a system that connects local farms directly to consumers, to a website that lets clothing and accessory companies let their customers design their own individually-customized apparel, each NewMe company was totally unique from the next, making this Demo Day especially fun to watch.
What is also cool about NewMe to me is that it’s not just about encouraging racial and gender diversity — geographical diversity is important as well. Talking to NewMe’s entrepreneurs, who hail from all over the United States and even other parts of the world, it becomes clear that each startup has been inspired and influenced in some way or another by the geographical history of its founders.
A Closer Look At NewMe’s Latest
We also spent time at the NewMe house last month when this class of startups was in the thick of the experience, about halfway through the 12-week program. At the bottom of this post, I’ve embedded the two videos we shot there — one in which we interview NewMe partner Wayne Sutton, and another in which we get full pitches from each of the Spring 2012 NewMe startups.
First though, in alphabetical order, here is the full list of NewMe’s Spring 2012 class:
AgLocal, Founder: Naithan Jones
This is a web and mobile marketplace aimed at connecting regular consumers and restaurant owners with local farms that supply meat products.
Butlr, Founder: Andre Gabriel
This is a social shopping game that gives users virtual currency that can be put toward purchasing real-world items.
Citizen Made (formerly The Modulus), Founder: Rachel Brooks
Citizen Made is a software platform that lets any e-commerce company include the ability for their customers to customize and live-render their own individually designed versions of their products on the web.
Helpr, Founder: Tendekai Muchenje
This is a social media-enabled web and mobile platform that lets people make customer care inquiries and complaints through the Internet, rather than telephone help lines.
Kairos, Co-Founders: Brian Brackeen and Amanda McClure
This is a suite of software tools to help retail and service companies manage their employees’ schedules and performances using facial recognition and augmented reality technology.
PictureMenu, Founder: Christopher Lyons
Aiming to put an end to outdated, dog-eared menus, PictureMenu replaces paper menus by bringing photo-rich restaurant menus to diners’ smartphones and tablets.
Ubi Video, Founder: James Norman
This is a multi-platform video delivery program that provides a single place to watch all types of online video through one portal, with features that let you create personalized viewing schedules and more.
Here is our interview with Wayne Sutton and a sneak peak at the vibe of the house:
And here are the full pitches we received from the founders during our visit, mid-way through the Spring 2012 program: