TechStars’ First Class of Boston Startups Launched at Microsoft-Hosted Gala

9/11/09Follow @wroush

One of the big tickets in town last night for the tech startup community was the TechStars Investor Evening at Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge. (The other was a big Polaris-hosted party at Fenway Park for Woburn, MA-based LogMeIn, celebrating its July IPO.) The TechStars event, where the Boulder, CO-based venture incubator program officially launched its first class of Boston-based startups into the real world, drew a capacity crowd of 300 entrepreneurs, venture and angel investors, and reporters.

The audience heard remarks from TechStars organizers Shawn Broderick and Brad Feld, local tech entrepreneur and investor Bill Warner, and Massachusetts state government official Jason Schupbach, but the TechStars companies themselves were the main event. Each of the nine companies gave a presentation aimed at eliciting the seed investments that will help the startups prove their nascent business models and grow to the next level. Microsoft’s Don Dodge has published an informative writeup about all nine companies. [Update: Mass High Tech has posted a handy list that includes a rundown of which TechStars startups will be staying in Boston and which will be leaving, and Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe has handed out informal awards to the TechStars startup "most likely to be acquired," the company with the "wittiest PowerPoints," and so forth]. My summary is below.

AccelGolf
Founders include: James Sulinski, Will Sulinski, Mike Nelson
Raising: $550,000
Contact: contact@accelgolf.com

Golf is a global obsession that generates $76 billion a year in revenues, making it larger than movies or video games. And serious golfers will do almost anything to improve their game—including buying costly GPS-based golf range finders like those sold by Skycaddie, Garmin, and Callaway. Twin brothers James and Will Sulinski of Portland, ME, developed AccelGolf as an inexpensive yet powerful alternative to these devices. Their free iPhone application serves as an electronic scorecard and a versatile course map and range finder; for $30 per year, users can upgrade to a version that includes predictive software that advises them on which club or shot to try in each circumstance based on their past record.

Amp Idea
Founders include: Sumant Yerramilly, Praful Mathur, Sergey Grabkovsky
Raising: $150,000
Contact: founders@ampidea.com

Baby monitors are a $350 million market in the U.S., with more than 4 million devices sold every year. But Amp Idea says today’s monitors are essentially pastel-colored walkie-talkies, built on 1970s technology. The startup wants to build what is in essence a mobile baby computer. In addition to allowing parents to remotely hear or view their baby the device would let parents snap photos for a baby journal, play soothing MP3 songs, track and predict their baby’s sleep patterns, and look up baby-care instructions. “We provide information and services when parents actually need it,” says founder and CEO Sumant Yerramilly. The company is in discussions with potential manufacturers such as Fisher-Price; it would make money by selling content and applications for the device (both its own and those written by third-party developers).

Baydin
Founders include: Alex Moore
Raising: Self-funded, but “interesting in having conversations with people passionate about this space.”
Contact: info@baydin.com

The word baydin means “foretelling the future through magic” in Burmese, and Baydin’s tool may seem like magic to any user of Outlook, Microsoft’s desktop e-mail management program. The problem with Outlook and similar tools, according to Baydin founder and CEO Alex Moore, is that … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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