Excelerate Labs’ Stellar 2012 Startup Class
In case you missed it this past week, Excelerate Labs, a Chicago based accelerator, held its 3rd demo day for the Startup Class of 2012. Hundreds of companies apply, but only 10 are chosen each year to participate in the intensive three month program. Like the other highly recognized accelerators like Y Combinator (http://ycombinator.com/ ) and Techstars (http://www.techstars.com/), Excelerate helps these 10 companies refine their businesses while immersing them in sessions with mentors, advisors, investors, and fellow entrepreneurs. At the end of the summer, everything crescendos to a rocked out demo day appropriately hosted at the House of Blues in Chicago. We got to hear the polished pitches of these companies and have picked out a few standouts for you to keep your eyes on.
Started by CEO Mark Lawrence because he was sick of getting parking tickets, SpotHero allows drivers to compare and reserve parking spots (up to 30% on any given day) from their mobile phone and web. They’ve already partnered with the 3 largest parking vendors in Chicago in Chicago to help them fill unused parking spots (up to 30% on any given day) in their lots. For demo day, they even worked out a great deal for those that drove to the event. Anyone that parked using Spot Hero’s app got to park for $12 instead of the normal $35. They dubbed themselves the “Orbitz of parking” and are well on their way.
Monthly boxes are pretty hot right now and that’s what WhimseyBox is currently focused on executing. However, to limit them to the $15 monthly subscription box is short sighted. The craft and DIY marketplace is a $30B underserved opportunity. There are lots of individual content creators out there, CEO Alicia DiRago knows, she was one of them. But, one key thing missing in the cycle of craft is helping these DIYers efficiently acquire all the materials needed to create the awesome ideas that are floating around all over the internets. It’s not just girl scouts and grandmas in the craft game these days. It’s the Pinterest and Amazon Prime Generation. Shockingly, Michael’s, the behemoth we all know in the craft space, did $4.2B in sales last year… and literally $0 of it was online. What?! WhimseyBox has lots to focus on, but they’ve found one of those untapped and underserved arenas to play in.
Orbeus is the first cloud-based, all-in-one solution focusing on facial, scene, and object recognition. With the explosion of photos and images on the web, it’s clear we need better ways to organize and understand the content being created. Developers all loved Face.com, but so did Facebook. After Facebook acquired Face.com and closed down its open API so that it could use it for their own photos (you may have also heard of their other photo related acquisition, Instagram), it left a gap for developers that Orbeus is hoping to fill. In fact, it’s looking to fill it with something better. The team is comprised of MIT and Boston doctorates and they had the quote of the day. “Even our interns are doctoral candidates.” Net net… Orbeus helps computers see.
For more info about Excelerate and each of the startups in the Class of 2012, visit http://exceleratelabs.com/