via Tom Cheredar of VentureBeat
The second batch of companies to come out of DreamIt Ventures’ Austin incubator program pitched to a full room of investors today.
Nine companies presented as part of the demo day, which allotted founders seven minutes to make a convincing case for why their company will be successful. VentureBeat has rounded up the five most promising startups, which you can check out below.
SecondMic is a service that lets you listen to an audio feed for unofficial sports commentary during a live game or create a channel where you can offer your own commentary that others can tune in to. This seems like a relatively simple function, but since sports games are most exciting when watched live, experiencing a delay on an audio feed for outside commentary can be annoying. That’s why SecondMic built a patent-pending technology for syncing audio with live games that offers a delay of 40 milliseconds or less.
Right now the service is only available for college and NBA basketball games, but the startup has plans to expand to other sports in the near future. SecondMic founder Francisco Prat told me the startup will generate revenue through promotional partnerships with big brands. SecondMic claims that users have logged 300 hours listening to custom sports commentary since launching a beta version of the service six weeks ago.
If there’s a gem among this year’s DreamIt Austin bunch, it’s most definitely Swan. The startup’s service lets you book appointments with beauty professionals (hair stylists, nail techs, massage therapists, etc.) at a location of your choosing. Users can pay for these services directly though Swan’s iOS app, and beauty professionals get paid via their own PayPal account at the time of the transaction.
Founder Julia Andalman told VentureBeat that Swan is appealing on two levels: Customers love having professionals come to them, and professionals in turn get a chance to book appointments during times that are usually spent doing nothing at a salon. Andalman said the startup only needs 1,200 customers to reach $1 million in revenue annually. Swan is only available in Austin and Dallas, but Andalman said she wants to launch in New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago in the near future.
Livewire‘s business is based on the premise that taxes are difficult to file for most of us – even for the so-called professionals at companies like H&R Block that usually have no formal training in accounting. Its solution? Build a service that lets you video conference with a trained accountant to file your taxes and ensure everything is in order. Livewire said its service is superior to the Liberty Tax Services of the world because their people are better qualified and are often less costly. It also offers an advantage over tax software because it allows Livewire (or the professional working on your taxes) to be accountable for errors should the IRS audit you. The startup has 10 full-time employees and is raising a seed round of funding.
EyeQ wants to bring physical retail stores better information about customer activity while in the store. It does this in three main ways: collecting usage data from touchscreen displays within the store, using the on-board camera on those displays to anonymously determine demographic data on that customer (age, gender, etc.), and tracking movements within the store from a customer’s smartphone (provided that customer has Wi-Fi enabled). EyeQ’s service is currently in beta testing and has four retail stores signed up.
The startup generates revenue by charging a fee for each device it sets up within a store. EyeQ CEO Michael Garel said he’d also like the service to eventually help bridge the gap for businesses that operate both physical and online retail stores, but such a move would require customers to opt in to sharing their shopping data first.
Obtaining loans for any type of powersport vehicle (motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, PWCs, etc.) is different than for regular automobiles, and it hurts your credit each time a loan application is sent. On top of that, the process dealerships have to go through to apply for loans on these vehicles is also unique in that they have to fill out an application for each bank they solicit loans from for each customer. As you can imagine, this process isn’t exactly great for dealership businesses.
Austin-based Octane Lending built a SaaS platform that simplifies this process, allowing powersport dealers to fill out information once and then seek out banks for a loan. The startup has also set up a pre-approval loan process that prevents a dealer’s customers from taking a hit on their credit score. Cofounder Jason Guss told me after the demo that the company will generate revenue by charging a flat fee for each approved loan. This allows powersports dealers to use the service for free. The startup already has 41 dealers using the service and loan agreements with four banks.
via Christopher Calnan of Austin Business Journal
Two Austin-area startups are using mobile technology to target the enormous demographic market of people who watch sports and other events.
Although SecondMic Inc. and Cheggin Inc. are taking different approaches to tap into that market, both companies are part of the DreamIt Ventures accelerator operating in downtown Austin, after relocating from the East Coast.
SecondMic, which launched in New York last year, is designed to enable users to listen real-time to non-network sports commentators and experts during other events such as the Academy Awards. Cheggin was founded in Boston but launched this month the beta version of mobile application than enables users to traded group text messages and access statistics during games.
via John George of the Philadelphia Business Journal
Independence Blue Cross, Penn Medicine, and DreamIt Ventures are once again teaming up to support early-stage health-care companies.
Applications are now being accepted for their second DreamIt Health Philadelphia program, set to begin in July. Start-ups selected for the program get a $50,000 stipend along with workspace, mentoring, access to business contacts and other support services to assist them in further developing their businesses.
Last year’s class featured four local start-ups and six from outside the region that were developing new ways to deal with a range of health-care industry problems and issues, such as hospital readmissions, cost transparency, clinical communications and mobile diagnostics. Eight of the companies are still in the region.
via Tom Cheredar of VentureBeat
The microfund, which will run through apartnership with AngelList, allows accredited investors to crowdfund money for startups. Everyone who participates in DreamIt Austin’s microfund will need to make a $2,500 minimum investment that will fund all nine companies within DreamIt’s Austin program — that means you can’t just pick and chose to fund only the companies you like.
by Bonnie Halper of AlleyWatch
He’s certainly no stranger to the New York startup scene. And if you’re someone like Andrew Ackerman, who has experienced all sides of the startup coin, from entrepreneur to angel investor to mentor (DreamIt NY and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator), it seems that the next logical progression is to take that insight and experience you’ve gleaned along the way and step into the top spot as Managing Director of DreamIt Ventures’ New York accelerator.
Ackerman began his career as a consultant to Fortune 100 companies and quickly turned his attention to tech when he worked for Kaplan Online. Later, he joined the founding team of Bunk1.com and built the company into the leading provider of web services in the summer camp industry. He went on to manage a family office, where he was responsible for managing over $50M in alternative assets, as well as incubating new ventures.
“The world is smaller than you think,” said Ackerman when we sat down recently over coffee on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
It was just last year that he decided to write for the then newly-launched AlleyWatch and profile angel investors. One of the investors he sat down to speak with none other than Mark Wachen, DreamIt New York’s founding Managing Director, who is now Managing Director Emeritus and still very much involved with the accelerator. His new position will give him more time to focus on his passions – advising and mentoring the companies.
by Stephanie Baum of MedCityNews
It’s a bit surreal to go to a science fair at a hospital. But the group of health IT companies from DreamIt Venture’s accelerator coupled with demonstrations of technology from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania helped set the scene for a new initiative by DreamIt that’s starting at CHOP. The program is designed to help companies and institutions develop enterprise software and commercially viable companies.
DreamIt Ventures’ Open Canvas@CHOP is a one-year program at the pediatric hospital to help it further develop its reputation for pediatric innovation but in enterprise software. The program will also see two teams from the institution take part in DreamIt Health’s next accelerator class in Philadelphia this summer.
“The Science Fair is to open people’s minds and see some of these ideas in their infancy,” said Steven Welch, a founding partner with DreamIt Ventures. He told MedCity News that the Open Canvas program fits in with a broader trend of companies wanting to do a better job of using their employees’ innovative ideas to improve their business. It piloted the program in Austin with Korean company SK and plans to expand the Open Canvas program to companies in other locations where DreamIt has a presence, such as New York, Tel Aviv and, most recently, Baltimore.
by Harrison Webber of VentureBeat
Mark Wachen, the founding managing director of DreamIt Ventures New Yorksince 2011, has been replaced by Andrew Ackerman, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. With this change, Wachen will take on the title of managing director emeritus and will shift his focus towards mentoring DreamIt’s portfolio companies.
According to Ackerman, there’s no bad blood in this change. “Mark was personally happy to give me the logistics and operations side,” says Ackerman.
Ackerman tells VentureBeat that in addition to his new role, DreamIt has hired former STAR Angel Network director Erica Duignan Minnihan to serve as managing director of community. Ackerman will report directly to DreamIt managing partner Kerry Rupp, as did Wachen.
The current startup ecosystem is one to be optimistic about, overall. Different industries are being disrupted, launching a startup is cheaper than ever before, and there are many organizations and programs dedicated to mentoring and fostering these businesses.
As Paul Graham, Founder of Y Combinator, says, the biggest decision startup investors have to make is determining whether the startup is going to take off at some point in the near future or whether it will fizzle out. Granted that even veterans in the angel investing space have made poor decisions by passing on, what later became, wildly successful startup opportunities, there are some basic screening guidelines startup investors should observe to help increase the likelihood of getting a greater return on their investment. This particular subject is something that I am fascinated by given that the company I cofounded, RockThePost, a leader in the startup investing space, has to review thousands of applications per year, when ultimately only a faction make it through to fundraising on our platform.
I gathered insights from David Bookspan, Founding Partner of DreamIt Ventures, David Cohen, Founder of TechStars, and Halle Tecco Co-Founder and CEO of Rock Health on how they sift through thousands of applications and the key factors they look for in a startup. TechStars for instance, a well-known accelerator, which was founded in Boulder, Colorado, but now operates in a dozen markets, sifts through approximately 12,000 applications per year.
via Harold Brubaker of The Philadelphia Inquirer
Independence Blue Cross said Monday that it would invest up to $50 million in health-related venture funds and individual start-up companies that could help the region’s largest health insurer improve quality and reduce the cost of health care.
The time frame for the investments by the Strategic Innovation Portfolio has not been determined, but IBC chief executive Daniel J. Hilferty estimated that it would be five to seven years.
The investment fund is a new element in a multipronged effort – now consolidated in what is called the IBC Center for Health Care Innovation – to turn the Philadelphia region into what Hilferty called “the national magnet” for companies developing technologies that could improve health care.
via Sarah Gantz of the Baltimore Business Journal
National health organizations are constantly updating the treatment guidelines doctors are expected to follow. These guidelines come to hospitals and doctors daily and must be manually added to the hospital’s electronic record-keeping system. It’s drudgery, and at one time was the domain of Noah Weiner while working at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
That work led him to ask a question that has sparked many an entrepreneurial venture: “There must be a better way to do this.”
And that’s how Weiner and his brother Nate Weiner, who worked in Hopkins’ facilities department, got the idea for a new virtual marketplace where hospitals and doctors could more easily access new treatment guidelines from national health organizations.