Georgia Startups Have New York on Their Minds at Flashpoint Demo Day
A flotilla of fifteen startups from Atlanta presented their ideas in New York on Wednesday for a demo day at the offices of Union Square Ventures. Merrick Furst, director of the Flashpoint accelerator at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said the program helps entrepreneurs develop their concepts beyond their startup phase. “They are trying to figure out what the business opportunity is,” he said.
Flashpoint offers entrepreneurial education to startups, access to mentors, and opportunities for early-stage funding through the Flashpoint Investment Fund, angel investors, and other sources. Furst said the startups that presented at demo day are backed by the Flashpoint Investment Fund, which typically invests $15,000 to $25,000 at a time. The Atlanta startups presented ideas ranging from improving corporate data security in the cloud, to preventing phone scams that spoof caller ID systems, to a 3D scanning technology that runs on iPhones.
Furst said the Flashpoint startups visit cities to seek potential backers. Wednesday’s demo day was sponsored in conjunction with the Harvard Business School Angel Alumni Association and ff Venture Capital. Union Square Ventures provided space for the event. Flashpoint takes some of its inspiration from the Y Combinator accelerator program and plans to bring its startups to visit venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in Menlo Park, CA next.
Social Fortress, the first startup to present on Wednesday, offers technology to help companies in regulated industries such as financial services and health care use the cloud more securely. Adam Ghetti, co-founder of Social Fortress, said such companies view the cloud as a major security risk. “They have data that’s very important to them,” he said. “They have laws and regulations that say they can only do certain things with that data in certain places.”
Ghetti said Social Fortress’s technology abates some of that risk by encrypting data before it is shared on the cloud. Social Fortress’s technology can also track how data is used after it’s shared with a third party such as Salesforce.com. Ghetti says angel investors have committed about $1.5 million to back Social Fortress and the startup is talks to raise another $500,000.
Trimensional, another startup presenting at demo day, already has a bit of New York connection. Grant Schindler, founder of Trimensional, developed an iPhone app that captures objects and people in 3D. After his presentation, Schindler told Xconomy he connected with MakerBot, a Brooklyn-based maker of 3D printers, in January 2011 shortly after Trimensional’s app went live. “The day I released the app, Bre Pettis [CEO of MakerBot] emailed me,” Schindler says. The companies developed a way for users to export 3D images captured by Trimensional’s app for use with MakerBot 3D printers, which print objects layer-by-layer using thermoplastics.
Schindler says his technology gives consumers access to scanning technology that might otherwise require expensive equipment. It may not be on par with the gear and technology used by Hollywood studios, he says, but it offers some other novel uses. For example, Trimensional’s technology can digitize photos of everyday people so they can be pictured in the background of video games and movies in place of the synthetic characters the studios create to fill space. Schindler said special effects studios Industrial Light & Magic, which is owned by George Lucas, and Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop have expressed interest in his technology.
Here is a quick rundown of the other startups that presented on demo day:
Badgy: A social search engine optimization platform for consumer brands and marketers.
Billfold: A software-as-a-service billing system aimed at improving security and automation.
CodeGuard: A platform for monitoring changes made to websites that lets web administrators revert to previous versions of their pages.
CollectorDASH: A community marketplace aimed at serious collectors of action figures and other items.
eCommHub: A fulfillment platform for e-tailers who rely on third-party vendors rather than maintain their own inventory.
IdeaString: A platform for identifying experts and sources of knowledge within businesses networks.
Lucena Research: Web-based technology that helps individual investors search for opportunities in the market.
N4MD: A content-aggregation publishing platform that lets media companies and bloggers turn their work into e-books and electronic magazines.
Pindrop Security: Creates a unique fingerprint for phone calls based on point of origin and other information in order to identify fraudulent calls that fool caller ID systems.
Saving Grace: A daily deals-style platform that churches can use for fund raising programs with local merchants.
Simmer: Leverages social media and other communication tools to alert others about personal conflicts among family members.
Soket: A platform that businesses can use to manage customer relationships across social networks and their own websites.
SportsCrunch: Aggregates social media and sports news content so users can relive favorite sports moments.