Stanford’s StartX Launches 10 New Startups—The Story in Pictures

2/11/13Follow @wroush
Welcome to StartX Demo Day

Welcome to StartX Demo Day

StartX founder and CEO Cameron Teitelman welcomed investors and journalists to the eighth demo day for the non-profit accelerator, which helps Stanford-affiliated entrepreneurs launch technology and life sciences startups.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

StartX Milestones

StartX Milestones

Since its own launch in the summer of 2010, StartX has raised $1.5 million (including $400,000 in just-announced funding) and has taken on 31 full-time and support staff. About 7 percent of the Stanford population applied to enter the accelerator this year, Teitelman said.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

Pixlee

Pixlee

Co-founder Kyle Wong says the idea behind Pixlee is to help online brands market themselves using user-generated photos. The company finds and collects photos posted to social and photo-sharing sites and helps companies centralize, filter, and redeploy them.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

Pixlee, continued

Pixlee, continued

Working with the San Francisco 49ers, Pixlee gathered 50,000 fan photos that helped bring the 49ers site 72 million impressions, Wong said. "Instead of seeing stock images customers will see photos targeted to them," he said of the service. "This is going to create the look and feel of advertising for many years to come."

Photo by Paul Sakuma

Distinc.tt

Distinc.tt

Distinc.tt is a mobile app for iOS and Android that helps gay people find places to go and things to do, according to co-founder Michael Belkin. Drawing on Foursquare's place database, the app ranks locations based on their popularity among users.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

Distinc.tt, continued

Distinc.tt, continued

Given that 91 percent of gay men in the U.S. own a smartphone, and that they collectively spend $30 billion on travel, there's a "huge opportunity" for apps like Distinc.tt, Belkin said. "There are a lot of apps like Manhunt and Grindr, but they are all about sex and believe it or not being gay is about more than that," Belkin said.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

VipeCloud

VipeCloud

Co-founder Adam Peterson calls VipeCloud a "video business in a box." While services like Amazon Video, iTunes, and (soon) YouTube let content creators sell their videos online, none of these services let content owners engage directly with customers. "They are like grocery stores," Peterson says. "You can promote and advertise and use their shelves, but if you want to measure what's working, build relationships, and optimize revenue you are on your own."

Photo by Paul Sakuma

VipeCloud, continued

VipeCloud, continued

Peterson said VipeCloud's video hosting service lets content owners measure which customers are watching which videos, reach out to the best customers, and "up sell" to qualified leads. The startup plans to target professional trainers and life coaches as its first market.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

Insynctive

Insynctive

Jeff Kostermans of Insynctive says he and his co-founders started the company because they were frustrated with the quality of human-resources outsourcing vendors. "All the HR folks we spoke with expressed pain about the ridiculous technology stack they have to deal with," Kostermans said. The company's platform simplifies service delivery for these vendors.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

Insynctive, continued

Insynctive, continued

"We said, let's build a solution that fits nicely between the three parties [employers, HR providers, and employees], unifies communications, and buttons everything up with metrics," Kostermans says. He hopes Insynctive will dominate the $3 billion market for SaaS-based HR services.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

SpotOn

SpotOn

SpotOn is all about time-based search, according to co-founder Smita Saxena. "There are these chunks of time where we're not sure what the optimal thing to do is," she says. "We match the right activity to the right person at the right time."

Photo by Paul Sakuma

SpotOn, continued

SpotOn, continued

Once you've connected SpotOn to your calendar application, it finds your open blocks of time and suggests local activities that match your interests. The company's first target market is parents with children under 5 years of age---a group that spends $5,000 per family per year on kids' activities, Saxena says.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

NuMedii

NuMedii

Gini Deshpande, CEO of NuMedii, says the company's mission is to reduce the high failure rate in drug discovery. The company has collected vast amounts of data on disease biology that allow it to help pharmaceutical companies match molecular profiles of disease with drug action and predict which drugs will work against specific conditions. To date, all of the six new indications that the company identified for existing drugs have been borne out in animal models, Deshpande says. See Xconomy's recent profile of NuMedii.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

Meet Mikey

Meet Mikey

Andrew Lockhart, co-founder of Meet Mikey, says "e-mail is good for handling messages but lousy at finding information and prioritizing tasks." The company's first products are Gmail plugins that let users sort their e-mails according to which ones contain links and which ones have attachments. Another feature lets users insert a "yes or no" button into their outgoing e-mails when they need a quick answer. "Big, nasty corporate e-mail needs to be destroyed and rebuilt, and Mikey is the guy to do it," Lockhart says.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

ReadImagine

ReadImagine

Phat Phuong, a former lead technical director at Pixar, says there's a shortage of high-quality children's content for tablets and smartphones because traditional publishers lack the expertise to create interactive content, and interactive developers lack access to publishing platforms. ReadImagine's service is designed to solve that problem. It's about "removing barriers of cost and technology so that people who create amazing content can finally access the mobile space," Phuong says.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

MyProject.is

MyProject.is

The dirty secret about crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, says Jon Leland, is that 80 percent of the money donated comes from the friends of project creators. Since existing networks are so crucial to the success of a crowdfunding campaign, there's a need for a platform that "engages your crowd before you fund," Leland says. That's what MyProject.is is about.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

MyProject.is, continued

MyProject.is, continued

MyProject.is lets users publish stories about their projects, get AI-driven suggestions about people in their networks who can help. The idea is to "transform supporters into participants," Leland says.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

Kidaptive

Kidaptive

Kidaptive, which has already won a round of seed funding from Menlo Ventures, is building a tablet platform for puzzle-based learning apps that provide parents with detailed feedback about their kids' progress toward mastering key cognitive skills. To demonstrate the platform, says co-founder Dylan Arena, the company is producing a 25-episode series called Leo's Pad; the first two episodes are already getting "glowing reviews" in the iTunes App Store, he says.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

It’s hard to believe StartX is already on its 8th demo day; I remember attending the first one back in the pioneer days of 2010. Since then, the startup accelerator for Stanford students and other affiliates has supported more than 250 entrepreneurs, and four of the more than 100 companies it has spawned have already been acquired. (The rest have racked up more than $100 million in angel and venture backing.)

I motored down to AOL West in Palo Alto to attend the latest demo day last Thursday. In the slide show above, you’ll find summary descriptions of the 10 companies graduating this spring. (The photos were taken by  veteran photojournalist Paul Sakuma and are used by permission of StartX.) For the record, the companies are Pixlee, Distinc.tt, VipeCloud, Insynctive, SpotOn, NuMedii, Meet Mikey, ReadImagine, MyProject.is, and Kidaptive.

StartX shared some news of its own this week, announcing that it has raised $400,000 in new funding, including $100,000 from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. That brings the organization’s total backing to $1.5 million; other supporters include the Kauffman Foundation, Cisco, Microsoft, AOL, Greylock Partners,  and Founders Fund.

StartX says its mission is “to accelerate the development of the best entrepreneurs through experiential education and collective intelligence.” Unlike most accelerators, the organization does not grant money and does not require an equity stake from participating founders; benefits come in the form of  mentorship, on-the-job education, legal services, and office space at AOL’s facility on Page Mill Road in Palo Alto. StartX startups run the gamut from consumer Internet and mobile companies to biotech, healthcare, cleantech, and education.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy.

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