The DreamIt Ventures accelerator brought its show to Times Square this week, hosting a demo day for eleven startups from its latest New York class.
A highly mixed bag of companies took the stage, including fashion and e-commerce startup Browsy and Acorn, whose app triggers reminders and messages based on the user’s location (Read about the demoing companies in the slideshow above). A twelfth company, Balloon, is not currently seeking funding and chose not to demo with the rest of the batch.
This was the first New York demo day with Andrew Ackerman in the driver’s seat. In February, he was named managing director for DreamIt New York. Ackerman told me he was already very familiar with the accelerator, having served as a mentor, and he also has a history as a consultant, entrepreneur, and angel investor. “I’ve mentored for a number of companies and a number of different accelerators,” he said. “I’ve had a bird’s eye view of all the moving parts.”
Drawing on his experience as an investor, Ackerman said it is important for the accelerator to introduce potential backers as early as possible to the startups. “One of the things I hated about demo days,” he said, “I’d just find out about a company and then was expected to make a decision within two weeks if I wanted to invest or not.” By the time this week’s demo day came around, Ackerman said, some of investors had already met with the founders several times.
That familiarity—and a sense of whether the startups were gaining traction—prior to demo day was useful for J. Skyler Fernandes, managing director with Simon Venture Group. “It helps de-risk what we’re doing,” he said. “They have validations beyond just an idea.”
Fernandes said he is interested in seeing new ideas emerge in e-commerce, particularly on the supply side in contrast to demand-side platforms such as Amazon.com. “We’ve had the growth of Amazon and PayPal, but there hasn’t really been any other really big multi-billion dollar companies that’ve come up,” he said.
Though the DreamIt program is largely industry agonistic, Ackerman said a financial technology track is in the works for the future for the New York accelerator. “When we do focus on a sector, it’s usually because we have a partner who wants to go after [it],” he said. “We’re in discussions with financial services providers who might want to sponsor that.”