Friday, August 2, 2019

“Venture for America picks six startups for Cleveland business accelerator - Crain's Cleveland Business” plus 2 more

“Venture for America picks six startups for Cleveland business accelerator - Crain's Cleveland Business” plus 2 more


Venture for America picks six startups for Cleveland business accelerator - Crain's Cleveland Business

Posted: 10 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Venture for America has selected six startups for its Cleveland business accelerator, which will run from August through November at The MidTown Tech Hive.

The businesses — which comprise people and groups that are either about to graduate from the VFA fellowship program or alumni — come from Texas, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Atlanta. They operate in industries ranging from financial, music and HR technology to educational toys.

VFA is a New York-based nonprofit that hosts a two-year fellowship program for recent college graduates interested in entrepreneurship and startups. The group launched its first accelerator program in Philadelphia in 2015, followed by the second in Detroit in 2017.

Cleveland beat out both Cincinnati and Columbus to host the latest program.

"We are so proud to have brought together the community to craft a compelling proposal that highlights the opportunities that our wonderful city presents (VFA) Fellows and startups of all shapes and sizes," said Ed Buchholz, StartInCLE managing director and co-author of the Cleveland proposal, when it was revealed in March that the accelerator would be coming to Northeast Ohio. "Cleveland will benefit from having exceptional young founders getting started here and Fellow-Founders will help Cleveland develop deeper ties with an amazing organization. And all this will pay dividends in Northeast Ohio for years to come."

The program culminates with a demo and pitch day in November.

You can read more about the accelerator, its funding and its path to Cleveland here.

Here are the startups participating in the accelerator and some info about them (all details are provided by the VFA):

Company Type: B2C Technology

Industry: FinTech

Origin City: San Antonio

Team Size: 5

For the 78% of early-career employees living paycheck to paycheck who find it challenging to save and periodically find themselves short less than $50 before payday, FloatMe is a digital platform that offers Floats (nano-advances) of up to $25 as well as automated savings tools to help them stabilize their finances and prepare for the future.

Unlike the $46 billion payday lending and overdraft industry, FloatMe offers a transparent $2-per-month pricing strategy, focuses on helping consumers escape the debt cycle, and offers opportunities to graduate to higher financial products.

Company Type: B2B SaaS

Industry: HR Tech/People Ops Tech

Origin City: Cleveland and New Orleans

Team Size: 3

For people operations leaders who don't want to lose their culture and community as their team scales, Gather is an employee relationship manager that makes information actionable.

Unlike traditional HR platforms, Gather is focused on culture-building, not managing tasks like payroll and benefits.

Company Type: B2B SaaS

Industry: Marketing Tech, Analytics

Origin City: Pittsburgh

Team Size: 1 full-time, 2 contractors

For e-commerce owners and marketing managers who want to utilize analytics to better serve their customers and generate higher revenue, Humanlytics dataslinger is a SaaS offering that helps its customers set concrete goals and take effective actions based on their digital marketing data.

Unlike other services like Pave.ai and Wordsmith that focus on just reporting and insights, its products and services focus on helping customers identify, track and assess actions they should take to achieve their objectives so they can improve continuously.

Company Type: B2B Product

Industry: Toys, Education

Origin City: Philadelphia

Team Size: 3

For educators who need to teach empathy, teamwork and STEM subjects, KEVA Planks Education is a construction set and complementary activities that serve as a versatile teaching tool.

Unlike LEGO and other building blocks, KEVA planks allow for precision stacking, unstructured free play, a wide variety of structured activities and easy setup, cleanup and storage.

Company Type: B2C Technology

Industry: Music Technology

Origin City: Atlanta

Team Size: 1

For budding artists who want to spend less time and money on making professional-quality music, Ravel is an intelligent mixing and mastering tool that helps users create polished songs with customized mixes without paying the high price of a sound engineer.

Unlike Landr and Aria, Ravel also focuses on the mixing process and allows users to find the best way to patch together multiple channels of audio before entering the mastering process.

Company Type: B2C Technology

Industry: Music, Video, Technology

Origin City: Detroit

Team Size: 2

For musicians who need music videos, Velvet Video is a web application that allows musicians to create engaging music videos with minimal technical experience and musician-friendly budgets.

"The music business used to be an audio business, and then it became an audiovisual business. Now, I think it's going to become a visual audio business." — Lyor Cohen, 2019 (Def Jam, Warner Music, YouTube Music)

Amazon’s Alexa Accelerator introduces its third startup class - VentureBeat

Posted: 24 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT

A year to the day after Amazon revealed the companies selected to participate in the second annual Alexa Accelerator, a 13-week program that grants 10 startups access to Amazon employees and mentors from the Seattle AI community and Techstars incubator network, the tech giant and Techstars today announced the third cohort.

This time around, Amazon and Techstars sought early-stage firms in health care, fitness and wellness, enterprise collaboration and productivity, property tech, and machine learning services verticals. (The first cohort honed in on games and interactive experiences, while the second cohort was largely focused on more practical applications, such as water conservation and accessibility.) Over the course of roughly six months, they narrowed down the list of applicants to nine companies that address challenges in retail, management, education, gaming, and a raft of related segments.

"The 2019 Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, offers another glimpse into how Alexa can make customers' lives easier, more productive, and more entertaining," Amazon said in a press release. "[These] early-stage startups [will receive] the support they need to grow their network, gain traction, incorporate Alexa, and engage with investors."

Companies selected to take part include:

  • Ambit.ai: Founded by Greg Lok, Ambit is developing a product that quantifies vocal patterns during team meetings and provides actionable insights and data on how communication behaviors impact team dynamics and business outcomes.
  • Anycart: Grocery planner Anycart — which was cofounded by Rafael Sanches, Silvia Curioni, Renato Peterman, and Payman Nejati — lets users search for meals they wish to cook and surfaces relevant recipes, adding the ingredients to their preferred grocery delivery service cart and providing step-by-step video cooking instructions, along with other recipes that can use excess ingredients. It has amassed over 2 million installs and 1 million monthly active users to date.
  • Ejenta: Rachna Dhamija's and former NASA engineer Maarten Sierhuis' company aims to provide AI-driven remote care technology for the millions of patients living with chronic conditions.
  • Ex-IQ: Ex-IQ — the brainchild of Army Ranger and Delta Force Veteran Chris Donohoe, along with Darren Ward — turns digital documents into interactive audio files, allowing students and employees to highlight and tag written content and dictate notes via voice through a mobile app or an Alexa skill.
  • Midgame: Jason Shen's and Wayne Gerard's Midgame builds video game-specific interactive agents that allow gamers to keep track of in-game activities, query for specific insights, and log achievements hands-free using voice.
  • nFlux: Seyed Sajjadi, another NASA veteran, cofounded nFlux with Anton Safarevich and Danny Pena to create a system that ingests large amounts of unstructured data (like video) and generates contextual insights that can be queried through natural language. It has already participated in the Alexa Fellow Fund at California State University, Northridge.
  • TogethAR: Former Amazon engineers Elena Zhizhimontova and Andrew DiLosa, who helped launch Alexa on Fire TV, are developing an AI and augmented reality technology that can enrich conversations by presenting relevant information and content pertinent to the topic of the conversation.
  • VoiceHero: Amazing Race Canada participant Joseph Truong cofounded VoiceHero with Jacob Chen to build out a suite of tools to launch and market voice skills.
  • YourIKA: YourIKA — short for Your Intelligent Knowledge Assistant — was cofounded by University of Waterloo AI Institute codirector Dr. Fakhri Karray, Dr. Shady Shehata, and Rob Henderson with the mission of transforming the way the world learns by using AI to solve the "most significant problems" in e-learning.

The 2019 program will take place between July and October, Amazon says, culminating in a Demo Day on October 15.

The Alexa Accelerator is part of Amazon's $200 million Alexa Fund, which launched in 2015 and has contributed venture capital to more than 35 startups, including Rachio, Vesper, Owlet, Adero, Ring, Sphero, Twine, and Hatch Baby. Amazon and Techstars invest an initial $20,000 in each company for a 6% equity stake, with potential for an additional $100,000 convertible note.

Meet 12 startups selected by Axilor’s accelerator programme for its summer 2019 cohort - YourStory

Posted: 27 Jul 2019 07:52 PM PDT

Axilor Ventures, a Bengaluru-based accelerator and seed fund, has selected 12 startups as part of its latest summer 2019 cohort of its accelerator programme. This is the ninth cohort and comprises 12 startups across consumer tech, commerce, enterprise, and fintech

Like previous cohorts, most startups in this cohort are bootstrapped, post-launch, and in the early stages of traction. The Summer'19 batch will graduate in mid-August.

Commenting on the new batch, Ganapathy Venugopal (VG), Co-founder & CEO of Axilor Ventures said, 

"Axilor's Accelerator Programme has emerged as the programme of choice of ambitious founders of bootstrapped startups. Going by the results so far, we are quite happy to see the success rate of our startups and Axilor becoming an important pipeline for the top tier VC firms."

Axilor Ventures

Summer 2019 Cohort



Below is a detailed description of each startup of this batch.

Fintech

Canopi India - Founded by Prabal Krishna, Abhay Asrani and Mahesh Sagde in September 2017, Canopi India is a supply chain finance marketplace, connecting MSME vendors and dealers with institutional lenders. The startup runs supply chain finance and trade finance programmes for its MSME clients and works with Banks, NBFCs and leading corporates. It specifically focusses on the large but unserved MSME export finance market, helping export focussed MSMEs access collateral-free credit. It has customers in the pharmaceutical, chemicals, textiles, logistics and FMCG sectors.

TimePay - Founded by Pawan Bindal and Animesh Kejriwal in June 2018, TimePay is a virtual collections manager that helps businesses get paid faster by their customers. Small businesses in India are losing $3 billion each year due to delayed payments from customers. TimePay is helping solve this problem using a unique CRM approach. It is already processing annual invoice value of over $250 million and has helped improve collections by 15 percent.

Enterprise SaaS

AssetFit - Founded by Bhagawat Rawat, Anand Tapadia and Sai Raju Penmetcha in January 2019, AssetFit is a mobile-based maintenance management applications for hotels. It helps hotel maintenance teams track requests, eliminate paper checklists and automate PM schedules. Currently, it has 10 ongoing pilots with branded hotel chains in the US.

SensiWise - Founded by Puneet Jetli, Lokesh H and Sudhir Shankarappa in October 2017, SensiWise Solutions creates ready-to-deploy enterprise IoT solutions for specialised supply chains that value product integrity. Its solutions find wide applications in FMCG, pharma, life-sciences and FnB logistics. It is currently live with a leading FMCG company. 

Consumer

Dice Toy Labs - Founded by Phalgun Polepalli and Shwetha Badarinath in May 2018, DICE Toy Labs is India's first D2C (direct-to-consumer) brand of toys and games. It has built a product line with a unique modular model. Its first game Yudhbhoomi is currently open for orders. An online-first brand, DICE Toys has already built a loyal fan community of over 37,000 followers on social media. Its first MVP was sold out in less than two months and plans to launch two new products in the next few months.

Feedbayk - Founded by Krishna Patil and Sandip Patil in November 2017, Feedbayk is a mobile app to receive real-time reviews of products from verified product owners through one-to-one chat. It currently focusses on the car segment and has recorded 28,000 instances of real-time feedback through chat from verified car owners, growing 15 percent week-on-week. Over 40 percent of potential buyers purchase a car within a month of taking feedback on its app.

UnFound - Launched by Anushree Bishnoi and Ankur Pandey in March 2019, UnFound is an AI engine that combats misinformation. UnFound's first product is an AI-powered news platform geared towards readers and exam aspirants - which ensures authenticity, context and multiple perspectives for news that matter to its users. It currently has 30,000 downloads. UnFound previously collaborated with BBC, Google News to fight fake news during elections.

Wealthstatus Technologies Private Limited - More than $12 billion of unclaimed money is lying with different financial institutions. In India, Wealthstatus is building a claims management platform that makes it easy for consumers to track and claim what is due to them. Founded by Ashok Rawat, the startup has aggregated 30+ million unclaimed records and has so far helped 80,000+ searches of unclaimed money. Currently, it is in pilot with a few leading online brokerages.

Commerce

AgroTribe - Founded by Jaspinder Singh in December 2018, it is a full-stack model that uses AI-based shelf predictor technology and intelligent warehousing to deliver predictable supply, consistent quality and reduced wastage for the HORECAs (hotels, restaurants and cafes) segment and cloud kitchens. AgroTribe provides 24 percent cost efficiency during procurements for a customer and currently has 40 live customers with 93 percent retention.  

Book My Diamond - Launched in 2017 by Sankalp Goyal, Pinank Kamdar and Govind Chintapalli, Book My Diamond is a diamond trading platform for diamond manufacturers and jewellers to trade in diamonds. Over 400 jewellers use the platform for search, discovery and trading diamonds.

EasyCommute - Founded by Mayank Chawla and Aditi Goswami in January 2016, EasyCommute is an app-based affordable ride-sharing platform based out of Hyderabad. Having completed over 1.6 million rides till date, EasyCommute is clocking over 5000 rides a day with industry-leading metrics on engagement, pricing, route profitability, utilisation and per-ride metrics. It recently partnered with Hyderabad Metro to provide first and last mile connectivity.

inroadz - Founded by Abhishek Singhal in February 2018, inroadz is a B2B commerce platform connecting brands with retailers in the baby care and kids segment. At present, it is clocking a GMV of Rs 6.5 crore, growing 40 percent month on month, with more than 70 percent repeat customers in five major states. Live with over 500+ retailers in five states and over 120 International and Indian brands like Britax, Bumberry, Fevermates, Skillmatics, Shifu, Chicco and Mamaearth.

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)


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