Today in Mountain View, Calif., Dave McClure’s 500 Startups unveiled the latest class of companies to participate in its Accelerator program. This batch had startups addressing an incredibly wide variety of spaces — from kid’s computer games to necktie shopping, and beyond. Founding partner Dave McClure said during today’s program that with this batch of companies, 500 Startups aimed for one unifying thread: “Hopefully, these pitches make sense and solve problems that matter,” he said, whether those problems affect consumers, parents, or small business owners.
All the pitches were compelling, but we picked out seven that seemed especially interesting. Here are the top seven startups from the class, in no particular order:
Chalkable – Rather than using the same old musty text books year after year, Chalkable hopes to bring classrooms into the 21st Century. It plans to do that by providing schools with a unified app store that curates all the best digital teaching aids, along with tools to manage budgets and track student performance. The platform includes a feed of classroom activities, as well as a gradebook and analytics for students. Frankly, it’s the kind of school experience I wish had been available to me when I grew up. Chalkable plans to charge schools $10 per student, of which $5 will be available for purchasing school aids. Despite just launching in the spring, the startup has already piloted its platform in three public and private schools, and will be expanding to more than 50 schools in the fall.
Tuckernuck – This startup is focused on providing an e-commerce platform that curates clothing from thousands of small fashion brands, all of which are focused on serving the $18 billion “American lifestyle” market. Think that classic, preppy whitebread style. It’s not just about aggregating different brands all under one roof — there’s also a community aspect, where customers can upload pictures of themselves in certain styles that others can purchase as well, leading to a sort of virtuous cycle of sharing and shopping. The founders come from fashion backgrounds, and so have gotten their partners to take care of shipping for them — meaning no inventory risk and better margins. In just eight weeks, Tuckernuck has topped $60,000 in sales, with an average shopping cart of $125. Tuckernuck sees a huge opportunity to go beyond everyday apparel and to also introduce offerings in verticals like Home, Tots, Pets, and Weddings. So its clothes might not be for everyone, but for the market it’s focusing on, Tuckernuck seems to have built something pretty cool. And I mean, how can you go wrong marketing to rich white people?
Wanderable – Why would anyone want to crowdfund a honeymoon? For one thing, not everyone wants to collect more *stuff* as part of a wedding registry. Plus, not only are honeymoons expensive, but a lot of times, the friends and family of a married couple don’t get to share in the experience. Now Wanderable has created a platform that allows a couple to grab funding from friends and family, and in return provide content back to the people who have contributed to the campaign. It’s like a wedding registry specifically for experiences. Wanderable is focused on honeymoons, but it’s collecting data which could be used to expand into other types of live events.
Ingresse – Event organizers in Brazil don’t have a lot of the same tools that we do in the U.S. There’s no Ticketmaster there — the site was shut down not long ago — and no one like Eventbrite has really rolled in to take over the market. Ingresse wants to provide that platform for the Brazilian market. Not only is Ingresse focused on ticket sales and integrated with payment processors, but it also wants to provide a platform for discovery of local events. By integrating with services like Facebook and Last.fm, it can tell you when your favorite artists or other events are happening nearby, as well as telling you which events your friends are going to. It’s hosted more than 400 events in Brazil so far and made more than $200,000 in revenue. With another $1.2 million in financing already raised, it’s looking to grow even faster.
TenderTree – How many people here have parents? Most all of us do, right? And so at some point, inevitably, most people have to think about elderly care for their family. TenderTree is a marketplace to connect families and caregivers, by allowing families to see reviews, background, and interests of those nearby. TenderTree has launched in the San Francisco Bay Area and has done $40,000 worth of revenue since it rolled out there, with half of that coming in the last month. There’s already a waiting list of 2,000 users signed up, so it shouldn’t have any problem reaching that demand.
Monogram – What is it about these fashion startups? Maybe it’s that shopping online sucks, and yet, it’s something we all do. Anyway, Monogram has released an app which it positions as your “personal shopper on the iPad.” The app works by essentially aggregating clothing from multiple different sources, doing away with the need to browse and shop various different e-commerce and deals sites to find clothes on sale and in your personal style. It remembers your clothing preferences, and autofilters for size, along with using a professional stylist to curate individual looks for users. The startup claims that about 87 percent of iPad owners shop on the device, and they spend an average of 30 percent more than the average web shopper. So why not make it easier, you know, and more personal, seamless and frictionless to spend your hard-earned cash on your favorite fashions? Looks like that’s what Monogram is trying to enable — and largely succeeding at it.
Fontacto – Business telecom in Mexico and Latin America sucks. So says Fontacto founder Ricardo Cacique. Companies have to pay as much as $5,000 in U.S. dollars just to get set up with phone service, mainly due to a highly regulated market place. What Fontacto is trying to build is a virtual telco service for businesses, targeting the 5 million small and medium-sized businesses in those markets. It’s gotten a license to operate telco services in Mexico, which has a commercial value of about $1 million there. It’s also rolled out its own proprietary infrastructure, which allows it to offer phone service at about 84 percent cheaper than traditional commercial phone services.
We’ll have video interviews with these folks coming up soon, as well as an interview with the man himself, Dave McClure.
(Additional reporting by Colleen Taylor, the most awesome TechCrunchTV talking head ever. Photo by George Kellerman)