Startups

My Favorite Companies From The Seventh 500 Startups Accelerator Class

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It’s demo day again for the 500 Startups crew, as the seed stage investment firm and accelerator is showing off the latest batch of companies that have survived its three-month accelerator program. Those companies are presenting their products and services to investors and press for the first time in Mountain View, Calif.

There are 28 companies presenting today, but I’ll be honest: I don’t think I’ll be able to take notes and keep track of everyone that gets on stage. After all, demo days are exhausting and I’m just one dude.

If you were an investor at this demo day, you wouldn’t be writing checks to every single one of those companies (unless, of course, you were 500 Startups). You’d be picking those which you personally thought had the most potential. So I’m going to pretend for a day that I get to pick and choose who I would invest in, and just tell you about my favorites.

Anyway, here they are, in no particular order:

RealtyShares

As a sort of “LendingClub for Real Estate,” RealtyShares has provided a crowdfunding platform for investing in commercial real estate, allowing investors to avoid all the hassles that come with it. Users can pre-buy shares in rental properties that are being purchased or built, without having to come up with all the capital necessary to do so. Already, the platform has signed up more than 1,100 accredited investors, and 70 percent are repeat investors.

On the property management and development side, RealtyShares has signed 150 companies who are signed up to raise capital through the platform. That allows them to focus on what they do best — own and manage real estate. For that, they pay between 3 percent and 5 percent administrative fee for access to investors.

RealtyShares has funded $1.1 million in deals since being launched in beta, and is now sourcing $1.5 million per week in real-estate transactions per week.

PlateJoy

We’ve already covered PlateJoy, but I still think it’s a good idea, so here goes. The company provides a platform that enables users to shop for groceries by meal, rather than shopping for individual food items.

PlateJoy gives users a choice of different meals, and then provides them with the ingredients and recipes to make those meals. By doing so, it enables users to eat better and reduce waste.

PlateJoy partners with large grocery chains to source and deliver food to customers, so there’s no inventory or overhead from that perspective. And it’s seen a fair bit of success from customers, with more than half coming back to order a second time.

Partender

Partender gives the folks who work in bars an easy tool to manage inventory and order of all the liquors that they have sold or need to order. Using a simple mobile app, as well as Partender’s backend platform, bar workers can easily keep track of how much is sold or how much is needed.

With the app, workers only need to point to where on a bottle the liquor is filled up to to estimate how much has been used, and it records the result. That allows bars to track how much is being sold day-to-day and to estimate how much inventory they need going forward.

Depending on what features they need, Partender charges $99 to $899 a month, and has more than 550 bars and restaurants signed up to use the platform.

EquityZen

EquityZen provides a platform that enables employees to sell equity in hot startups to investors who would like to purchase them on secondary markets. It hopes to provide an alternative to offerings like SecondMarket by giving the companies that those employees work for or have shares in to have more control over secondary transactions.

“Secondary markets today are broken. The sellers get cash, buyers get access, and all the company gets is a headache,” said founder Atish Davda. EquityZen, by contrast, is designed with company in mind, giving it control over who gets to sell equity, how much, and when.

Builk

This company is building a big data platform for the construction industry. By providing a Mint.com-like interface for managing budgets and purchase orders, Builk enables construction companies to better understand the costs of their projects. They can also save time and money in doing so.

But how does Builk make money? It gets that data for free, and can then sell it back to suppliers, giving them real-time information that can be used for understanding their customers to help increase sales. Builk is all over Southeast Asia already, and has grown 40 percent over the past three months.

OLSET

OLSET uses the power of big data to personalize travel booking. It’s developed patented technology to enable any travel booking site to offer hotel recommendations that appeal to individual users. The goal is to update travel booking, which is way too complicated and more confusing than it needs to be.

OLSET isn’t looking to offer these direct to consumers, but through partners. An example is Any.Do, where users can get personalized hotel results right in the app, showing users which hotels are right for them.

Honorable mentions:

  • BTCJam – Aiming to provide global loans at reasonable rates around the world. And hey, it’s based on Bitcoin.
  • Launchtrack – Runs a next-gen ticketing platform that offers up customer information generally not available through other ticketing platforms.
  • Ubiome – You send them poop in a box, they send you information about your relative health.

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