From Children’s Clothing to Live Events: NYC SeedStart Demo Day 2011

9/16/11Follow @arleneweintraub

Today the newest class of graduates of NYC SeedStart participated in a demo day at the Time Warner Conference Center in New York. SeedStart—a summer incubator sponsored by New York University and a number of supporters, including AOL, News Corp., and Polaris Venture Partners—is in its second year. The seven companies that completed this year’s program are finding ways of employing Internet and mobile technologies to retail, event planning, publishing, and more.

Owen Davis, who runs NYC SeedStart says prevailing themes this year included crowd-sourced content, next-generation ad technology, online education, the social graph, and “real-time, last-minute” services. All the startups are facing fierce competition, Davis acknowledges, so much of the coaching during the 12-week SeedStart program focused on getting the entrepreneurs to properly position themselves in their markets. “The biggest lesson was that you can’t just make a list of your competitors, you have to define how you’re different,” Davis says. “Refinement happens in the competitive analysis.”

Meet the SeedStart class of 2011:

Adsurance
Adsurance provides tools to help online ad servers solve problems, such as discrepancies between between the types of ads publishers want on their sites and what they get. The company’s technologies automate the process of monitoring ads and debugging problems. Adsurance is currently testing its products with three clients.

Bebarang
Kids grow out of their clothes really fast—a “global problem” jokes the founders of Bebarang. Their startup allows parents to rent fancy clothes for their children for special occasions, such as weddings, holidays, and family photos. The website offers sizes between 0 and 6, at up to 80 percent off the retail price. The company believes it can break even quickly by offering its pieces for about $20 each, plus shipping and insurance.

Categorical
Categorical makes tools that help publishers with content automation. Its algorithms let publishers create customized link feeds and put them into websites, newsletters, and the like. Categorical’s feeds provide a filtered list of the most relevant articles for clients, distilled from the whole Web. Users can select the articles they want, or they can automate the entire process. The company estimates it is addressing a $1 billion global market.

GenJuice
This company bills itself as “content discovery for 20-somethings.” GenJuice seeks to provide a community-like feel for young folks by turning its users into content jockeys, who curate articles, videos, and other online material. The founders liken GenJuice to a music playlist, but for content. Users can import their contacts, so they can recurit their friends to check out the playlists they have curated.

Guidesly
“Share what you know” is this startup’s catch phrase. Guidesly’s mobile and Web platform allows people to easily share their expertise on any topic. Users can create step-by-step guides, complete with multimedia elements such as video. Want to show people how to make a pizza with unusual ingredients, such as eggs? Guidesly’s drag-and-drop tools are designed to make it easy for anyone to be an instructor.

Olapic
Olapic’s business is photo crowd-sourcing. The company is creating tools to help online publishers use photos to engage with their audiences in different ways. Early clients include the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, and Mashable. The company announced today that Pepsi has also signed on as a customer.

UsherBuddy
This startup seeks to solve a problem that many event organizers encounter: Unsold tickets. On UsherBuddy, people can register to be alerted about last-minute “rush” tickets for concerts, comedy shows, and other live events. They can buy tickets through the site, and share information about the events with their friends. Ticket sellers can get information on a number of metrics, including who’s buying last-minute tickets and what they’re paying for them.

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