Last summer, Adam Draper and Brayton Williams launched Boost.vc, a 12-week accelerator program for early-stage startups. Taking a familiar approach to business incubation, the San Mateo-based accelerator and investment fund offers a handful of on-site services to its chosen companies, including housing, office space, mentoring and seed funding.
To set his accelerator apart in a space that’s become increasingly crowded over the last few years, Draper has looked to take a hands-on approach with Boost.vc. He’s also in the somewhat unique position of being able to leverage his experience as a fourth generation venture capitalist and entrepreneur to give teams access to an active support network of successful entrepreneurs and executives and bring in notable speakers to offer advice on how to navigate the critical early stages of business development.
Since launch, Draper has looked to experiment with the accelerator formula by diving into particular verticals in order to offer more targeted support and acceleration to startups focusing on that market. Having been an early supporter and proponent of Bitcoin — such that he was subpoena-ed early last month — Draper decided to start with digital currency, dedicating half of its second batch (seven startups in total) to companies building products and technologies around the emerging Bitcoin ecosystem.
In a commitment to helping to establish Bitcoin as the next digital frontier for startups, Boost.vc raised a follow-on or “Start Fund” for each of the Bitcoin companies that graduate from the accelerator. So, in addition to the $15K in seed capital that each of the 17 companies receives (in exchange for a 5 percent equity stake), Boost.vc’s Bitcoin startups will receive an added $50K investment at the end of the program. The fund itself is anchored by Lightspeed, Rothenberg Ventures, The Bitcoin Opportunity Fund and Beluga founder Ben Davenport.
Last Friday, these Bitcoin startups were able to tap into their “Start Fund” capital, as the accelerator held its second Demo Day last Friday, in which the 17 startups took the stage to pitch their businesses in front of hundreds of investors.
Draper tells us that the first cohort of startups to graduate from Boost.vc is growing slowly, with the seven startups having raised a couple of million in follow-on financing to date. While they haven’t blown the roof off in the funding department, all are alive and well, he says, including, most notably, Bang With Friends. The founders of the infamous “Facebook for casual sex” initially joined the accelerator to develop a much less provocative dating app, and threw the Bang With Friends site up to amuse themselves while working on their other project, only to watch it take off almost overnight.
With over 1.3 million users, the founders naturally decided to pursue the idea and see where it would take them, and Draper assures us that, while the company has been quiet, it’s still kicking. The team is also rumored to have raised a round of seed capital and is preparing a big re-branding. They’re not ready to share details yet, but stay tuned for more.
The Boost.vc founder also said that Favor, an Austin-based startup from its first batch, has found some promising early traction for its on-demand food delivery service. Putting a spin on the successful GrubHub and Seamless model, Favor is an on-demand, personalized delivery assistant initially focused on the Austin area, but has plans to expand in the coming months.
As to Boost.vc’s second batch, each of its 17 startups are in the process of raising follow-on seed rounds, and 5 of the 17 are putting the finishing touches on their fundraising campaigns. One of the startups in the accelerator’s second class, AuditFile, closed a $300K round of seed funding prior to Demo Day and has already signed on five enterprise clients.
The company has found early interest from investors and customers thanks to its tackling a decidedly unsexy yet underserved market — accountants. The startup is building a secure, cloud-based solution for CPA firms that allows them to run more efficient audits, manage audit risk, track progress in realtime, is peer-review compliant and optimized for BYOD usage.
Another company that’s seen early investor interest is Gliph, a startup and mobile app by the same name, which offers users a simple and easy way to send Bitcoin. The app provides a secure texting and Bitcoin payment network, which can be used to, say, buy or sell on craigslist with strangers while remaining anonymous — and without needing to give away an email address or phone number. Gliph has currently supports over 2,000 Bitcoin wallets within its secure messaging platform.
The two other startups that seemed to be attracting a lot of attention from investors were Dreambox, a 3-D printing vending machine that aims to bring 3-D printing to the masses and CourseOff, a fast schedule planner and schedule sharing solution for students.
But, without further ado (and in no particular order), below you’ll find a round-up of the 17 startups to debut at Boost.vc’s second demo day. Be sure to chime in with your thoughts.
There is 36B dollars spend every year on digital content payments, but they use paywalls in order to monetize. Bitwall is creating a new kind of paywall that allows you to pay for one article for 10c, rather than an entire subscription for $20 a month. The company has 10 publishers signed up for their payment method, and their goal is to annihilate paywalls all together.
Noah Karesh, the CEO and Founder tells a very compelling story about not being able to find Guatemalan food in Guatemala, until he stumbles across an avocado salesman who welcomes him to his mothers house for dinner. What AirBnB has done for housing and Lyft has done for driving, Feastly is doing for food.
The difference between the netscape web browser 15 years ago and the google chrome web browser of today, visually is nothing. Cycle aims to change the way that people interact with their web browser by supplying the best user interface for mobile.
Bitbox has done nearly $400k in transactions over its platform. Making it the number 5 Bitcoin exchange in the country. There is no great way to buy large block of Bitcoin over the internet today, Bitbox is changing that.
Right now the non-profit software that companies use to manage their donations is really complicated. Commit Change changes all of that . They are already being used by 19 non-profits, and they have only been doing this for 30 days. Roderick Campbell, the CEO and Founder, who has a large background in the non-profit space and understands that the technology is bad, explains that its working because of a very simple value add, “Less time drowning in technology, more time helping people.” This is in reference to the $219B online giving space.
There is no brand loyalty in recipe sites today. People just search for google and hope that what pops up is high enough quality to cook. Battr plans to change all of that by focussing their recipe website around the chef. Chef’s list high quality pictures and descriptions and fill out a resume of recipes. Chefs need a place to show off their skills, and Battr is the place to do that.
Gneo is launching their new app next week. Their last app already has 250k downloads and has grossed them 125k in revenue over the last 12 months. Productivity is a problem and Gneo is solving it with their focus on prioritization of to-dos.
In Sebastian Serrano’s life, the CEO of Bitpagos, the currency has of Argentina has been wiped out three times. On top of that if you currently purchase a room for a night in a hotel in Argentina from the US, 30-50% of the money will be lost due to currency exchange rate and taxes. Bitpagos is changing that. By using Bitcoin, they are allowing hotels in Argentina to retain that 30-50% of the electronic purchase.
Arbiter was created because Andy Zinsser and his brother August built an online betting game, and realized that it’s very difficult to build a game when money comes into the picture. Arbiter is an API that takes care of all the difficult technological and regulatory challenges a developer would have to deal with when building a betting game. Just announced being integrated into a game that has 150,000 users.
The technology behind doing an audit has not changed in 15 years. Steve Bong and his brother Kevin who has a background in both engineering and accounting decided to do something about it. The space is very compelling. Steven Bong shows a slide of all of the competition in Tax and Book keeping software and how crowded the space is, and then shows the competition in Auditing, and there are only 3 competitors in the space. Audits are about to get sexy.
In the Bitcoin world, one of the hot topics these days is something called KYC or Know Your Customer. It’s a process to verify the identity of people who have accounts for banks, or even more so, Bitcoin exchanges. Right now the process for online verification is very manual, comparing documents with passports. Verify BTC has built technology that can verify someones identity in real time. Saving both time and money.
You know when you are in college and you have to register for 5 classes, and in order to use the software, you have to be trained when you are a freshman, and it take 2-3 hours to make the perfect schedule, and then you miss something, and you have to restart the process. Courseoff has helped 30,000 student create schedules in 5 minutes with their easy to use interface. But the scheduling of classes is just the beginning.
Appfuel built an online game application network. They have taken the friction out of sharing games in their network. This cuts the cost of growing a video game on iOS. It eliminates all the middlemen.
Avish Bhama has founded Vaurum to help online brokerage firms gain the ability to trade Bitcoin. Consumers already trust online brokerage brands, and so this would be a huge step in getting Bitcoin to go mainstream.
Nick Reed, the Founder of Emailbox, found that the reason that innovation doesn’t really exist in the email space is because, “Email suck for developers.” There is no easy way to build email applications to enhance your email. So Nick built an API that takes care of the complex parts of an email client, in order to make it easier to build customizable applications on top of it. 7 applications have been built using the API including an app that alerts you when someone sends you an angry email.
Rob Banagale started with a secure messaging platform, and found that it was the perfect place to integrate Bitcoin. Now Gliph has integrated into the biggest wallet providers, including Coinbase, Bips and Blockchain.info. They have 20,000 users and 2,000 attached wallets, growing every day. 60% of the new users are people who have not used Bitcoin before.
Dreambox has dedicated their companies life toward making 3D printing accessible to everyone. Originally that started with a 3D printing vending machine that the Berkeley team built while they were still at school. But one experiment changed all of that. They built a 3d scanner, and in the first day, made $1000. They are building the future of the photograph, trying to capture moments in 3D.