5 startups to watch from DreamIt Ventures NYC
demo day 2012
By Ki Mae Heussner
Aug. 8, 2012, 3:57pm PT
After three intensive months of refining concepts, building out
business models and testing new products, fifteen startup founders
took the stage Wednesday to pitch their hearts out at startup
accelerator DreamIt Ventures’ NYC 2012 demo day.
The companies, which were selected from a pool of 500 startups and
make up the program’s second New York class, ran the gamut from
an online marketplace for connecting artists and venues to a
location-aware gaming studio to subscription services for beauty and
romance. All presented to the crowd hoping to raise seed, if not
Series A, rounds of funding.
DreamIt Ventures, which launched in Philadelphia and will be adding
Austin, Tex. to its program in 2013, has graduated six classes in total.
As of today, the accelerator has helped launch 80 startups, including
social media ad buying startup Adaptly, online tickets marketplace
SeatGeek and teaching app ShowMe (previously Easel).
The startups that debuted today originated from all over the world,
including several from Israel and others from Stockholm and Costa
Rica. Here are a few that I’ll be watching.
IndieWalls founder and CEO Gavriel Wolf on
stage at Dreamit Ventures NYC demo day.
Recognizing that hotels, cafes and other venues inevitably need art
to decorate their walls, and artists are always looking for space to
show off their work, IndieWalls wants to be the marketplace that
beings both parties together. It charges venues a monthly
subscription fee between $200 and $1,000, which allows them to
choose from a selection of curated work from local artists.
The service allows local businesses to change up their decor and stay
current without spending a premium to outright buy new art. For the
artists, it provides a mechanism for showcasing their artwork in
rotating exhibits and, potentially, making new sales. All of the art is
displayed with QR codes and links so that passersby can purchase
the items on the spot (IndieWalls takes a 25 percent commission). So
far, the marketplace includes more than 2,000 pieces of artwork from
100 artists and is hosting 28 current exhibitions.
One of the more buzzed about startups in the current class, Tripl
launched last month with a website showcasing friends’ travel stories
based on their Facebook and Foursquare activity. Several startups,
including Wander (which graduated from TechStars NYC in June) want
to give people a dedicated, travel-centric social platform. But Tripl’s
focus on storytelling won me over.
As my colleague Ryan Kim noted in a piece about the startup, Tripl
aggregates pictures, comments and check-ins into a story that is
supplemented with Wikipedia information, stock photos and pricing
data on flights. It not only gives users an interesting day to day
window into their friends’ journeys, it can also serve as a good
resource for people when they’re planning trips. The startup has
already raised a $700,000 seed round and launched an iOS app
To be honest, I was a little skeptical about this one when I heard that
it involved a speech-enabled personal assistant. I was intrigued when
Apple launched its own voice-activated assistant and then quickly
tired of playing the ‘Let’s ask Siri’ game. But my interest piqued all
over again when I saw the Winston demo (and I don’t think it’s just
because I’m a sucker for British accents).
The app, which is set to launch this fall, connects to Facebook,
Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks, as well as social news
apps, and gives users an audio update on the latest activities across
those platforms. For people who live in a text-centric world, the app
could be a nice alternative for keeping up with friends’ updates, top
headlines, the weather and shopping deals in more of a “lean back”
way. As people get ready for work in the morning or as they’re
preparing dinner, they could listen to the updates as they might listen
to the radio, for example. The team has just been working on the app
for four months, so I expect it to have a few kinks to iron out. But I
appreciate the innovation around the new interface and am curious to
see where it goes.
KidNimble estimates that, every year, parents spend upwards of $25
billion on summer camp and about $8 billion on after school
activities. And, said CEO and founder Darius Goore, they expect their
kids to come home from camp “fluent in Mandarin and with a curve
ball.” But despite the significant amount of money and time they’re
willing to invest in their kids’ extracurriculars, parents don’t have the
most sophisticated tools for researching activities or communicating
with other parents about those activities.
Initially launched as CampGurus, KidNimble gives parents a platform
for searching for activities and reviews, as well as way to
communicate and collaborate with parents who might not be their
friends, but are the parents of their kids’ friends. Through the site,
parents can find out more about local camps, get opinions on after
school programs or figure out the best day for their kids’ soccer
practice to take place.
Sabor Studio’s first game Pota-Toss was built by two guys in four
months with just $14,000, which they raised from Kickstarter. But it
helped the Costa Rica-based company get attention from press all
over the world. The game, which is like Angry Birds but features
flying potatoes, reflects the developers’ focus on making location-
aware games. As users play the games, the scenery is dictated by
the user’s location. A player in New York, for example, would see the
Empire State building in their game; a Parisian would see the Eiffel
Tower. The company said it currently has 65 locations in its game
and plans to drill down to venues (like Starbucks locations and other
stores) in the future. Mobile gaming is certainly a crowded field but
given the interest Sabor Studio was able to generate with its first
game, I’m interested to see what the developers do next, as well as
how they use the location context for advertising opportunities.
5 startups to watch from DreamIt Ventures NYC