BY ANDREW MOORE
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
After 12 weeks of work at Capital Factory in downtown Austin, the nine startups finally took to the stage at the Bullock Texas State History Museum to pitch their companies to potential investors.
DreamIt Ventures is a startup accelerator similar to the TechStars program – helping startups make over a year of progress in just three months. The program is in Philidephia, New York, Austin, and TelAviv, Israel. It has completed 9 classes since its start back in 2008. The DreamIt ventures program offers qualifying startups free office space, a stipend for living expenses, dedicated mentors, legal and accounting services, and access to tons of potential investors. While the program generally lasts 14 weeks, the following nine startups had to be ready in 12 so they could have their demo day at South by Southwest Inactive.
When trying to put together a big tech conference, getting sponsors and investors to provide funding is crucial. But reeling in those sponsors can be tricky, if there is no proof that people will attend. CEO and co-founder Kyle Christian Steel presented a solution to this problem.
Doccastor is designed to help show investors how much buzz their event is getting. It accomplishes this by creating a virtual locker that holds all the information for a given event. When users log into Doccaster with Linkedin and look at the event information, their activity is tracked to show their level of interest. The event creator using Doccastor can then show potential sponsors how many people are checking out the event and considering participating. Any sponsor or user who posts information in the locker can see the basic profile information of any user who viewed their content – giving sponsors valuable feedback and more incentive to participate.
Doccaster also makes it easy for users to find out about what events are happening around them. The service can be logged into with any mobile device, and users can view all related documents as well as contact the event creator. Additionally, users can see any other doccastor events happening in close proximity.
Doccaster has just started a $1 million round.
Presented by CEO Eric Paradis, NewsTastic was created to link local journalists with paying local jobs. They have created a marketplace where local companies who need an event covered can sponsor journalists and pay them for an article.
“We were able to see firsthand just how outdated and inefficient existing news organizations are,” says Paradis. “NewsTastic has a better approach”.
Companies have several incentives to do this. First, it’s an easy way for them to find a journalist to cover the company’s local event without hiring a PR agency. Second, the company can get its name out by sponsoring coverage of local events that affect potential customers. Any articles written will have the sponsor information visible to readers.
The service is also a way for local freelancers to build a reputation and earn extra cash. Reporters who are able to establish their credentials will automatically get access to paying jobs. New reporters can have access to jobs that don’t pay, but boost their credentials. Successfully completing those assignments will increase their credentials and unlock paying assignments.
NewsTastic has already signed an agreement with Microsoft to cover events at SXSW. They will receive around $150 per story from Microsoft and pass along $100 to the journalists who covered the story.
Newstastic is now opening a funding round of $800,000.
Pincam was presented by Kevin Kim, who works with an app development team for South Korea-based SK planet. The Pincam app is a video recorder that lets the user “pin”, or mark while recording, their favorite five second highlight segments to later combine into one highlight reel.
“Pincam is the only app that insures users capture the best moments in their special days,” says Kim.
Pincam can do this while recording an original video or can be used to edit a video the user already has on his iOS device. Edited videos can be grouped together into channels for other users to see. The channels can be open to everyone or restricted to a group of contacts such as family and friends. The app also makes it easy to share the video with Gmail, Facebook, or other outlets.
Presented by Conall Arora, Seer is a web app that congregates all the important data that a user needs access to every day into one location.
Seer is an intelligent desktop that can pull in multiple kinds of files from Gmail, Google Drive, Exchange, Dropbox, Evernote, and Apple desktops. Once the user gives it access to one of these sources, it will pull in and index to one single personalized desktop. That content can then be organized for easy access. When you select any of those files to work on, Seer pulls up a menu of any content related to it such as emails or word documents.
Seer is also in the process of implementing an intelligence component where the program can figure out what information you need to see first each day you wake and turn on your computer. Arora Claims Seer will be even able to prioritize the most important people in your life. By analyzing words or phrases in your content, Seer will bring you information related to your closest contacts before any other information.
Seer will release a beta in April to the first 700 people on their waitlist. The app will be launched in June.
Presented by CEO AJ Bruno, Trendkite is a media monitoring company. It helps companies find out where their PR efforts are best spent by monitoring the web for articles, Facebook messages, and tweets about that company.
“We are helping organizations understand what the world thinks of them, and act accordingly.” says Bruno.
Trendkite gives companies a dashboard that gives them several different metrics for how often their business is referenced and where. They search and scan millions of articles a day. The metrics can be filtered to include only the data a company wants – such as financial articles or press releases. The dashboard can also help target certain information, such as what the press is saying about a company’s CEO. Additionally, Trendkite allows companies to compare themselves to their competitors on different metrics.
The company has as an annual subscription fee for their service. They have already acquired several bigger clients such as Opentack and Gamefly.
Trendkite has just opened a $750,000 round.
FastFig does for math what Microsoft Word does for writing. Presented by Brian Peacock, FastFig is intended to help students learn math more efficiently. His team wants students to spend more time on math and less time crunching numbers.
“The students are spending too much time crumpling up pieces of paper because they missed one number, rather than focusing on how to understand and set up the problem.” says CMO Greg Heller-LaBelle.
FastFig intends its product to be used by freshmen and sophomores in college to more quickly crunch numbers after setting up complex equations. They also see it being used by advanced high school students. The processor can do basic math, algebra, and calculus – and it can tell the difference between math and English so that note taking is still easy. The processor is browser based, making it available on almost any device. The math documents are also very easy to share.
FastFig is currently being utilized at the University of Pittsburg as well as a couple high schools. It is starting a $250,000 round of funding which will enable it to put the technology in 30 schools across the country.
Presented by CEO Jason Keck, Stereotypes is trying to make music personal again.
“It’s a group messaging app that lets you have real, two-way conversations with your friends around music,” says Keck.
You can share different music with different groups of friends. The app is designed to push messages with memorable songs to groups of people, letting them somewhat relive memories of listening to the song.
According to Keck, test users stay on the app for an average of 8 minutes and messaged groups have an average of 8 friends. They will take advantage of this by offering the app for free and then using established revenue models such as ads and in-app purchasing. Keck also sees the app being used successfully by different music groups to connect with their fans.
They will open a $500,000 round this summer.
Yevvo is a video sharing app presented by founder Ben Rubin. The company is based in Israel. Yevvo allows its users to share live, raw video from their mobile phones almost instantly. App users just press one button and their phone is a live camera.
Once a Yevvo user is live, any other users linked to him gets an alert that there is a live stream happening and can follow that stream by accepting the alert. The video is not saved – it’s designed to be a one-time opportunity to glance into the life of another user wherever they are.
“The power of video is in the feeling of drama, anticipation, uncertainty. This unfiltered intimacy we have with the audience,” says Rubin.
There is currently a real-time lag of about 7 – 12 seconds, but Yevvo is working to cut that time down. The person serving the live video can see the number of viewers grow in real time and will be able to identify what friends are tuning in.
Yevvo has just finished a closed beta of 300 users. Of the 100 sampled, users spent an average of five minutes using the app each day.
Yevvo is now available for iOS devices in the app store. Rubin claims the app is currently registering 10 users per minute right now.
Planana is a rewards platform designed to help brands maximize visibility during the events they sponsor by interacting with attendees.
“We turn event attendees into brand advocates,” said presenter and CEO Anna Sergeeva. “And we convert that social momentum into actionable data for brands to use events as a viable way to increase their sales.”
With Planana, a user who signed up to go to a sponsored event is given incentives to reference the sponsor in social media for a reward. By tweeting that they are at a Microsoft event, for instance, a user might receive special seating or a free drink. Users can tweet a default message but can create their own as well. Planana also tracks who attends events and whether their attendance resulted in a conversion – or a purchase of some sort. They can even track some conversions weeks after the event – creating extremely useful analytics for brands.
Planana has been generating revenue for 5 weeks and claims to already be profitable. Six major companies have already signed on. They are starting a round of $500,000 in order to scale up their services and sales team.