Our favorite startups from 500 Startups’ 18th class

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Our favorite startups from 500 Startups’ 18th class

500 Startups’ 18th demo day wrapped up this afternoon in San Francisco. The companies that presented ranged from financial technology all the way to yet another attempt to try and fix conference calls.

500 Startups has to compete with a lot of other accelerators like Techstars and Y Combinator, and in order to be successful it needs to generate hits from these classes. The firm has had some successes — cloud-based call center software startup Talkdesk being one of the most successful — but there’s always a lot of variety in the companies that launch.

Here are our picks for our favorite startups from the 18th batch from 500 Startups.

1/16

SureBids

SureBids wants to extend the gift card market to Africa. People can send gift cards that can be used for groceries, topping off mobile phones and also paying utility bills, among others.

The company already works with a series of partners like Samsung and Jumia — where the team came from — and operates in three cities. With Africa’s economy quickly becoming one of the biggest opportunities for large tech companies, gift cards actually offer an interesting vector to getting brand awareness and gain customers in the continent.

2/16

Squadle

Squadle is building two solutions to help restaurateurs better manage operations and compliance. The company is producing a wireless zone thermometer to collect real-time data and a “checklist” device that lets restaurant owners manage day to day operations off of a tablet to replace old-school paperwork. Squadle already has relationships with eight of the 50 largest chains as it looks to address a $4.5 trillion dollar market.

3/16

OnFarm

The seven person OnFarm team is building an agtech platform to help farmers grow more food to keep up with global demand. Companies like Ocean Spray and Anheuser Busch are already using OnFarm to manage their data needs. The software is particularly timely given the proliferation of real-time agricultural drone data. The team cites $30,000 in monthly recurring revenue and believes its platform can help farmers aggregate data from disparate platforms with a single minimalistic solution.

4/16

Voxeet

Conference calls are terrible. Really. We will buy drinks for whoever fixes the experience.

Voxeet wants to take a crack at it, at least. The company builds a conference calling experience where users can “move” the people around, and that alters the direction and volume of the sound they make. For example, you can move someone to the right on the screen, and their sound will come from your right speaker or headphone.

The goal is to make the calls less confusing, with less interfering voices. Also, you can finally move that really loud participant away from you without having to yell at them for being too loud.

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5/16

HeavyConnect

HeavyConnect is latching on to the agtech trend of 2016 with a new tool to take regulatory, compliance, and fleet management online and out of the digital dark ages. Dole, Driscoll, and Green Giant are already using HeavyConnect in the field today to facilitate collaborative workflows and streamline employee management. Founder Patrick Zelaya previously spent nine years working sales for John Deere, and his hope is that farmers will be able to spend more time in the field and less time attached to their desks.

6/16

BeaconsInSpace

BeaconsInSpace helps developers leverage beacons to monetize their apps without the need for ads. Applications can connect directly to BeaconsInSpace to monetize user foot traffic data using beacons listed online by hardware owners.

This data can then be bought by businesses for use in retargeting campaigns. Importantly to the app users, all of the data remains anonymous. With the innovative model, the team has been able to grow its data set week over week at a rate of over 90 percent. Retail intelligence pulled from beacon technology can provide data granularity specific to the isle a particular customer is shopping in.

7/16

Siren Care

Siren Care wants to thread sensors into fabric that can help detect potential injuries in the human body. The company says it has sensors that easily weave into thread in existing infrastructure — so, if they can actually get into textile factories, they might be able to pull it off.

So far, the company is starting off with temperature-sensing socks for diabetic patients. The goal there is to ensure that people who might not be able to feel painful injuries that might develop into worse conditions will be able to keep track of what’s going on.

8/16

Outsite

Working in shared spaces in homes in Silicon Valley has its advantages. You’re right next to bigger companies, can find some new talent, and are right in the investor community.

But for the same price, those people looking to work in those co-working and co-living spaces could easily rent out a place on a beach in Santa Cruz. Sure, you lose the benefits of being in a geographic location, but Outsite is hoping to build the same kinds of communities that those cramped spaces have.

There’s another potential opportunity here as well — company retreats.

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9/16

Arthur Health

Not only does Arthur Health want to provide internet of things solutions for pharmaceuticals, it also wants to become its own pharmacy someday. The company’s philosophy is that the drug industry is still operating using archaic technologies that are having a real impact on the health and safety of regular people. Arthur Health’s smart pill bottles can track doses and send reminders at low cost to maximize market adoption.

10/16

INZMO

If you wanted to get renter’s insurance for your furniture or expensive devices, you might have to go through your bank. INZMO wants to relieve the difficulty a little bit by serving as a go-between for insurance companies and smartphone owners.

Users can incrementally insure the things they own, from computers and devices to bikes and travel insurance. Users pick the package and take a photo of the asset they want to insure, and then save a card to keep those covered on a recurring basis.

There are going to be plenty of challenges here — like avoiding fraud and managing regulatory issues as it expands — but incrementally insuring the things you own through an app seems like a good starting point.

11/16

Infraspeak

Keeping track of mechanical failures and other problems in manufacturing is an incredibly expensive process for warehouse and factory owners. Infraspeak is trying to build a tool that essentially allows workers to identify problems with an NFC tap — like a peg — and that information is forwarded to upper management to rack and maintain infrastructure.

The company is hoping to expand to IoT-based devices, though it’s going to have to deal with the potential security implications of bringing warehouse and factory infrastructure online.

12/16

WhereFor

Booking hotel rooms and flights remains a massive pain despite the almost overwhelming number of travel assistance services available online. Expedia and Kayak have provided some degree of help to consumers, but the process still lacks transparency and requires dozens of clicks. Unfortunately it’s even worse for business travelers stuck using company-sponsored travel portals.

WhereFor wants to address this problem for businesses and frustrated employees. The company offers a personal assistant where users can enter in meeting information and relax while the service curates a travel itinerary optimized for your corporate policy. Existing b2b services like Travelport and Sabre are optimized for destination but not price, an opportunity that has enabled the company to raise $1.1 million.

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13/16

Croissant

There are plenty of co-working companies and spaces like WeWork. But what about freelancers that might just want to pop into a space for just a bit, or try different locations whenever they can?

That’s the need Croissant is trying to satisfy, which is essentially a marketplace where people can rent out spaces at various co-working spaces. The company says it has partnered with 50 co-working spaces in 4 cities. While it’s piggybacking on a lot of other companies, it seems like a good HotelTonight-ish way to fill up those places whenever possible.

14/16

Datatron

Datatron wants to catch the AI wave and help corporations speed up demand forecasting. Today forecasting is significantly delayed by up to 24 hours because infrastructure struggles to keep up with the growing amount of data being managed. Datatron believes they can help companies increase revenue by over 10 percent through a 100X speed improvement that enables real-time modeling, and the group says it’s already in talks with several multi-national corporations.

15/16

Andromium

Despite the fact that the operating systems our smartphones run has been optimized for limited screen real estate, the team behind Andromium still wants to unlock the power of the devices we all carry – you may not believe it, but a top shelf Android smartphone today is more powerful than many top of the line laptops from just a few years ago.

With the company’s solution, anyone can run multi-window applications that are familiar to desktop users from their mobile phone. Andromium has done 3.5 million in sales since august, keeping in mind of course that their demographic is limited to Android smartphone users.

16/16

Melodics

Sam Gribben, the former CEO of Serato, is looking to help democratize the process of learning to play an instrument with his company Melodics. Online music lessons are not new, but Gribben wants to combine a habit based approach with a cast of artists including DJ Jazzy Jeff to make you actually enjoy learning to play music. The company has achieved $20,000 in recurring revenue thus far and is continuing to build out strategic partnerships.

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