We’re here at the TechStars 2013 Summer class Demo Day, and the graduates are nothing short of delightful, from a service that helps church congregations make donations to a Fitbit for cars to a service that helps expecting moms plan for baby’s arrival.
The TechStars accelerator is one of the nation’s biggest and most notable tech startup programs, and the NY-based class should make Silicon Alley proud. So without any further ado, here are TechCrunch’s picks from the 2013 Summer class:
Fayez Mohamood and Mahmoud Arram started Triggermail to help ecommerce companies send their customers relevant triggered emails in a similar fashion to Amazon’s personalized email service. For those of you who don’t have a degree in marketing, triggered emails are marketing emails that are sent after a certain event (or trigger) like your birthday, 90 days passing since you’ve visited the site, or your purchase of a product on the web site.
As it stands now, the founders believe that marketers are segmenting users based on geography, age and gender, but that there could be a much higher ROI where there is a deeper level of personalization. When Triggermail signs up a client, they give the client code to put on their ecommerce website to track users’ behavior. Meanwhile, the client gives Triggermail the copy for emails, and Triggermail returns with the five best triggered emails that brand should send. The brand chooses which emails they’d like, and then Triggermail populates the content within the copy for each individual user.
For now, the team is still price testing, but cost to clients should be in the $1000s.
weeSpring was born out of a personal pain point. Co-founder Allyson Downey found herself in tears at a Baby’s “R” Us when she was pregnant with her first child, overwhelmed by the variety and her unfamiliarity with the brands. As she delved into preparing for the baby’s arrival, she found that the standard practice among other expecting mommy’s was an excel spreadsheet, which is then passed around between other mommies for recommendations on brands and things to add to the to-do list.
Clearly, this is not the best use of technology to solve this problem. And so weeSpring was born. The site lists thousands of products that have been recommended by other moms, whether they’re in your social circle or part of the weeSpring network. The site opened to the public in January and went from 300 pre-populated products to now over 1,500 products, with over 30,000 product ratings. Each product has been recommended by at least one user.
According to the founders, a married couple, they built the site expecting to see anywhere between 5 to 10 ratings per user, but rate an average of 15. Users can choose to view recommendations and ratings from friends only, or the entire network, and if you cross 25 ratings you become a featured mom, floating to the top of the reviews thread.
Faith Street is a mobile and desktop network that helps you find a congregation, connect with others, and give to your church. Eventually, the social platform will tap into synagogues, mosques, and all of the various faiths, but for now the team of Christ co-founders is working on building up the network for Christian churches.
Churches set up their own specific network for their congregation, wherein events can be planned, prayers can be heard, and (yep, you guessed it) donations can be made. And yes, Faith Street is taking a small percentage of the tithings. I asked them upfront, being raised in a Christian background myself, how they could justify taking a sliver of what is biblically commanded funding for the church. They explained that they believe online giving tools will actually end up bringing more overall money into the church anyways.
Over 12,000 church leaders have come to the platform to sign up for the free service. The team only processed their first donation last week, but in a world where over $100 billion is given to churches each year, they’re likely on a road to quick profitability.
Before we go out each day, there are a select number of circumstances we check, namely the weather. But the folks at Placemeter believe that, one day, we’ll also check to see how crowded or traffic-filled our intended destination is before we ever leave the house.
Using highly sophisticated algorithms and the livestreams already available online covering Manhattan, Placemeter can determine how crowded that Forever 21 is or how packed the coffee shop around the corner is by counting the people walking in and out automatically. In fact, the team only needs 2,000 more cameras deployed to cover the entirety of Manhattan.
Eventually, this will result in a mobile app, but for now the team is working on data acquisition. They don’t only need consumers of their data, but folks who are willing to contribute. After all, Waze has 50 million users, but only around 70,000 contribute data to the mapping service.
That said, Placemeter is asking users to sign up to contribute, and place an old camera phone outside their window to contribute streaming video over Wifi using their app. Early contributors will have access to that data, and an app meant for consumers will be out in the fall.
Dash is a Fitbit for cars. In every car made after 1996, there is a port underneath the steering wheel called an OBD (on board diagnostics). This port is what allows mechanics to run diagnostics quickly on your car, a practice they often overcharge for. With Dash, users can simply buy the OBD plug-in and connect it to the Dash mobile app to run their own, constant diagnostics on their car.
The app gives them feedback on their driving across a number of touchpoints, including accelerating to quickly, braking too hard, etc. But it also acts as an OnStar-type system, detecting if you’ve been in a collision and calling emergency services. Plus, you’ll always have a gauge on your car’s health and get an estimate from the app of what it’ll cost you to fix a problem.
Dash is available as an iOS and Android app, which is currently in beta. It will operate with a freemium business model, where users can unlock further data about their driving and car through in-app purchases.