changing the world one idea at a time

Techstars Boston: Top 9 Startups from Boston

TechStars debuted nine new startups from the inaugural Boston class this month. The teams presented to about 200 VCs and Angel investors for the first time. These companies are few months old and have two or three founder employees. TechStars debuted nine new startups from the inaugural Boston class.

TempMine is looking to change the temporary staffing market. Temp workers create a profile on TempMine that is automatically updated as placements occur, providing more transparency and traceability to the process. Employers can search directly for temps across the inventory of multiple agencies, finding the right fit. Agencies retain control over placements of their best temps. The temp agency only gets involved after the employer finds the exact temp they want.

LangoLab is the most entertaining way to learn a new language—by watching popular TV shows and videos with subtitles. LangoLab leverages the American media machine that is constantly churning out entertaining content and then provides an engaging “watch and learn” experience complete with translations, definitions, user generated language notes, and self testing. Many people have learned English just by watching TV with subtitles, and this is the online equivalent. English as a second language is the largest market

Localytics provides mobile usage data and analytics for the mobile market, similar to companies such as Flurry and Medialets. Localytics says that it has both real time and “deeper” analytics than the competitors, allowing you to slice and dice the data in a variety of ways to gain better and more immediate insight into the usage of mobile applications. They also explained that they’ve open sourced critical components so that developers can know exactly what they’re putting into their applications, and that their mobile components are highly optimized for performance. Localytics is cross platform and already supports Blackberry, Android, and iPhone applications, with Windows Mobile, Symbian, and Palm planned for the near future.

AmpIdea is working on web-enabled baby monitoring as a platform for delivery of various services such as video monitoring, sleep tracking and analysis, statistical comparison, music streaming, and even an integrated baby encyclopedia (Baby 411) which suggests techniques to soothe sleeping babies based on age. While they’re at it, they’re using wifi as the delivery mechanism for audio and video monitoring, which eliminates the static and range issues that plagues traditional baby monitors. The sleep scheduling monitor keeps a record of when the baby is sleeping and waking up over time. This helps the parents schedule when to put the baby down for naps and night time sleep. AmpIdea sells the monitor hardware and charges for additional services.

HaveMyShift has built a tool that allows hourly shift workers to trade shifts online. The company is using a grassroots approach and encourages employees to sign up and trade shifts with or without the blessing of the company itself. They’re seeing strong viral adoption in the Chicago area market where, for example, 80% of Starbucks stores there already use the application. Many of the listings offer “bonus money” to tempt others who work for the same employer to pick up a shift, and last-minute shift changes can be filled with paid emergency promotional placement. HaveMyShift makes money by taking a percentage of the bonuses offered to other workers to cover a shift.

oneforty is creating an app store for Twitter applications, open to any developer who wants to build and sell a Twitter app. The company organizes the apps by category, allows for ratings, media coverage, profiles (showing what applications are used by various users), and the necessary e-commerce infrastructure. Oneforty takes a percentage of every sale.

AccelGolf 30,000 golfers are already using AccelGolf, after just 3 months in beta, for stroke tracking, range-finding, and personalized improvement of their golf games. The company showed off their BlackBerry and iPhone applications and explained that the heart of their system is really the community of avid golfers who are now connecting and building their own social network. AccelGolf offers personalized improvement tips by analyzing strokes of golfers who are just slightly better than you, and presenting areas for improvement based on your past performance. AccelGolf suggests which club to use, and where to place the shot, based on your past performance on a specific course.

Baydin uses email, and the words in the email, to create keywords to search for other relevant information. It is similar to Xobni, but goes beyond email data and searches all the files on your hard drive, and document repositories across your corporate network. It automatically launches the search in the background while you are reading the email, and presents the relevant results in a side panel in Outlook.

Sensobi bills itself as a personal relationship manager (PRM) and also reminds me a lot of Xobni , but it goes beyond email and looks at phone calls and other activity on your phone contact list. In practice, it’s a BlackBerry address book replacement that shows you the last time you communicated with your contacts, who’s falling off your radar, and who you need to get back to quickly. You can set a reminder for each contact to remind you to connect with them within a specific time interval. It does this by analyzing the email, contacts, text messages, and phone calls on your Blackberry and then presenting your contacts in a relationship-focused view. For any contact you can see the last several communications of any kind with them.


Filed under: Startup Demo, Technology, Web 2.0, , , , , ,

Y-Combinator Launches 9 Startups

Y Combinator
YCombinator, the Silicon Valley start-up incubator, launched its ninth class of companies yesterday. Here is the initial list of companies.

FlightCaster: Predicts flight delays up to six hours before airline notifications (pictured right). The team of 11 uses algorithms incorporating weather reports, earlier flights and FAA notifications to predict when flights will arrive. The company plans to focus on consumers at first and help companies track their corporate passengers. Later on, the plan is to offer the service to airlines that want to improve their customer relationships.

RethinkDB: This company offers a database engine that’s designed for solid-state drives, which use flash memory chips and are several times faster than traditional hard drives relying on rotating disks or platters to store data. RethinkDB says databases today are slower because they are designed for that older generation of hard drives. They optimize for high-seek latency, or how long it takes for a rotational drive’s platter to move, which costs valuable time.

DailyBooth: This start-up is a “Twitter for pictures.” Instead of using 140 characters to describe what you’re doing at the moment, you snap a picture instead. The site has rapidly become popular among teenagers, who use it to take pictures at least once a day and round up comments from followers. Founder Jon Wheatley says the site has zoomed past 3 million unique visitors a month.

JobPic: Have secret yodeling skills you want to teach? JobPic is a marketplace where service providers auction off what they can do. It’s kind of similar to Elance or Odesk, but what makes it different is that sellers can suggest services instead of leaving all the power to buyers to define what the market demands.

Mixpanel: Any developer that’s creating applications for Facebook, the iPhone or other platforms probably wants to keep track of how their users are engaged with their work, whether that’s convincing consumers to buy goods or battle zombies. Mixpanel is a real-time analytics platform that tracks how users work with these applications. The developers can define whatever actions they want to track by inserting Mixpanel’s script into specific places in their code. Mixpanel targets that middle-market of developers who might find Google Analytics too basic and high-end services like Omniture too expensive.

JobSpice: Making resumes are a pain. You have one format for print, for which you’ve used the same Microsoft Word template for years. Then converting it to PDF is another hassle. And then if you want to send it online, you have to worry about messing up the formatting. JobSpice is an online tool that pledges to solve that by giving you pre-made or user-generated templates that work both online and offline. JobSpice prompts you for the basic information like your address and work history and formats it into the template of your choice. The company plans on partnering with university career services or working with companies who want a more unified application process.

HighlightCam: This start-up takes long videos and automatically condenses them to the most interesting parts. Founder Michael J.T. O’Kelly, an MIT physics Ph.D. student developed the product because he and his wife wanted to see what their pet rabbits were up to while they were gone. O’Kelly and his partner Mike Katsevman are hoping to target mommy bloggers who want to keep tabs on their babies, the security camera market and content providers with large video collections that need highlight reels of their libraries. The company has a free version and a premium product that costs $8.99 per month. Their software works by giving each frame in a video two ratings: one for motion and another for audio. If there are sudden changes in the frame’s composition or sound, it will highlight them.

Olark: This company has created a chat widget to make it easier for visitors to engage with the business behind a Web site. Users will stop by a Web site and see a chat prompt hovering in the corner, asking them to communicate with business if they want. For example, a real estate agent might want to make it dead-simple for a homeowner to contact them. Instead of digging out the real estate agent’s contact information, they can type into the floating chat prompt and reach the business owner if they’re available on the other end. Olark works seamlessly with a number of chat clients including GTalk, iChat and AIM.

Bump Technologies: This company got a bit of viral attention earlier this year when it launched an iPhone app that let you share contact information just by bumping your phone against another one. Bump Technologies, however, has far more in mind than just sharing contact details. Founders David Lieb, Andy Huibers and Jake Mintz see it as a platform for sharing content like your favorite music and as a ubiquitous standard for physical interactions between mobile devices.

RentHop: This site tries to outdo Craigslist in the apartment rental market with more specific search features and a function that lets you schedule showings. You can narrow down your search by specifying how many bedrooms you want or your price range. There’s also a drag-and-drop feature for limiting your search to a particular area on a map. The site has multiple payment structures. It can charge by listing or by actual conversions, meaning when the site helps a landlord finalize a deal with a tenant. The site is already profitable: it’s made close to $15,000 in its first 30 days.

FanChatter: This start-up tries to bridge the gap between big-name brands and their consumers through social media. The company focuses on sporting events, concerts and conferences. They’ve designed marketing promotions like a user-generated photo campaign for the Minnesota Twins. Fans e-mailed photos in from their mobile phones to appear on the scoreboard during a real game. FanChatter then turned that around, creating online galleries that fans could turn around and share on social networks. They’ve also supported Twitter chat boxes on sporting Web sites.

Listia: This company is trying to be the eBay of free stuff. It’s a site where you can give away belongings that are too nice to throw away but too much of a hassle to try and sell. Listia is a place where you can auction off these goods, and either keep the proceeds or donate them to charity. Prospective buyers bid on goods with Listia credits, which they can purchase outright or earn by referring friends or auctioning other items.

Directed Edge: This start-up is trying to get past search as a way to find content that’s meaningful to users. Directed Edge sees itself as a real-time recommendations engine fueling product, social application and ad suggestions. The company has a number of potential product lines. It works with online retailers, analyzing consumer purchasing and product ratings data to recommend goods to customers.

Filed under: Enterprise 2.0, Ideas, Mobile, Startups, Technology, Web 2.0, , , , , ,

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