Big congratulations go out to the well-prepped companies that painted compelling pictures at 500 Startups Demo Day this week. (Disclosure note: I am an advisor to 500 Startups.)
It's hard to pick just one favorite, so here are my personal top ten, clustered along leading themes from the evening. Given that most of my interest nowadays follows a mobile <--> social <--> commerce <--> cloud continuum, this high hit rate is no surprise:
- Appetizer – Automated mobile app builder for small businesses; the company can deliver a startingly complete app using existing Facebook Page information.
- Daily Gobble – Sabre for restaurants; their go-to-market plan targets fast casual chains.
- LaunchBit – Ad network for email newsletters.
- Snapette – Photo sharing and fashion discovery.
- Loku (FKA Borrowed Sugar) – A Flipboard-like experience for local news, deals, and search.
- OVIA – A video screening platform that sharply reduces the time and expense spent interviewing job candidates. Current clients ran the gamut from Hasbro to Taskrabbit.
- Singboard – Online karaoke, unexpectedly interesting and the best pitch of the night.
- LaunchRock – Platform for product launches that moves customer relationships (auth and user management) into the cloud.
- Tinfoil Security – Security screening and live monitoring for SMB web sites. Know where hackers can crack their way in.
- ToutApp - Salesforce–like email and email templates, structured along a freemium model. This sounds bland, but is quite cool in action. I'm definitely signing up as a user on this one.
Note: after a bit of consideration, I removed "mobile" as a theme...given the trends around connected devices, most models incoporate a substantial mobile component. There's also a notable amount of small business targeting, given both the consumerification (an ugly buzzword) of business services and the surfeit of mindshare allocated to local deals.
Though I forced myself to pick ten (leaving out plenty of other interesting companies), the class was uniformly impressive and there are a bunch of betas I'll be signing up for. Check out the bunch for yourself.