TechStars NYC Spring Class Demos Their Ideas for Investors

6/14/12Follow @jpruth

A fresh batch of TechStars graduates held their demo day in New York today to show off ideas they believe can change how we shop, watch videos, invest in local businesses, and even move to new homes.

The spring class of 13 startups pitched their platforms and technology to a full house at Webster Hall. David Tisch, managing director of TechStars NYC, said the class was drawn from the largest pool of applicants to date—1,600 startups—who wanted to enroll in the New York branch of the highly competitive accelerator and mentorship program.

It was the third demo day for TechStars NYC, which launched in the city 18 months ago. And there was plenty of interest in seeing what New York technology companies can cook up, with a crowd of some 700 investors, entrepreneurs, and startup watchers on hand. The spring class, which began in March, includes startups with five women founders, four of them as CEO—the largest representation of female founders for a TechStars NYC class.

The startups got a bit of advice from guest speaker Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, who talked about the importance of culture within businesses. Hsieh previously co-founded LinkExchange, an online advertising startup that was sold to Microsoft when the company grew to more than 100 people. Though he grew the business from a small team, Hsieh felt something was lost as LinkExchange matured.

“The culture went downhill and it wasn’t a fun place to work anymore,” he said. Hsieh—who was also in town for Venture for America’s event Tuesday night—emphasized the need for entrepreneurs to maintain values they believe are important as they scale up their businesses.

The TechStars startups demoed widely different technology. For example, Danfung Dennis, CEO of C1 (Condition One), is a combat photographer whose company developed software for displaying panoramic video. The footage can even come from cameras not originally designed to take panoramic shots. Meanwhile, Smallknot created a platform that lets users invest in neighborhood businesses such as bookstores and pizza shops in exchange for incentives from those companies. “People are hungry to be part of the places they love and the places where they live,” said CEO Jay Lee.

Other ideas from the startups included Moveline’s mobile app that lets users take inventory of their personal items via video before they move. The platform also connects users to moving companies with reviews and ratings on the movers available.

Rewind.Me offers users a look back on their personal digital histories through check-ins, but moreover, that platform can be leveraged by advertisers. Users of Rewind.Me will be able to see, for example, all the restaurants they visited based on Foursquare check-ins. An algorithm also analyzes their buying trends, which can be used anonymously to match deals and offers with the users. “Rewinde.Me gives brands a new marketing tool,” said CEO Craig Danuloff. “This is the next generation of ad tech where personal information curated on your behalf replaces the cookie.” Virgin Mobile, Victoria’s Secret, and Birchbox have already agreed to work with the company to offer incentives to users.

A snapshot view of all the companies that demoed:

10sheet  — Automates bookkeeping by electronically processing photos of receipts and bank statements, cutting out the labor of handling paperwork.

Bondsy  — A social bartering platform for exchanging personal items such as books, cameras, and toys with others.

Classtivity  — An online directory for finding nearby recreation and fitness classes such as tennis, yoga, and martial arts.

C1 (Condition ONE) — Software for displaying panoramic video that can be used by individuals and advertisers.

Karma  — 4G connectivity provider that lets users buy blocks of data bandwidth rather than charge fees or subscriptions.

Lua  — A project management platform that helps coordinate mobile workers such as roadies for concerts and movie production crews.

Marquee  — Drag-and-drop content publishing that lets users put video, audio, and images directly into pages without tinkering with HTML code.

Moveline  — Users take inventory of personal items before moving by shooting video. The platform also connects them to moving companies who can bid on the moving jobs.

Pickie  — An online personal shopping magazine that aggregates daily mentions about products from the users’ social networks.

Poptip  — Finds the common threads in feedback from the social sphere that brands and marketers can leverage to better understand consumers.

Rewind.Me  — Gathers users’ past check-ins to create an anonymous record that brands and marketers can tap to offer special deals.

Smallknot  — A crowd investment platform for supporting local small businesses, such as pizza shops and bookstores.

Wander  — A photo-centric website that lets users share their experiences at locations they have visited.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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