Just a few years ago, starting a company meant renting out or buying an old storefront somewhere, swinging a hammer over a few nails until it looked just right, and selling some odd number of trinkets or plumbing services.
With the onset of the World Wide Web, intangible digital wants are becoming needs as we are able to buy things we never dreamed of before from our mobile phones, share ideas with old and new friends over “the airwaves” in ever increasing new ways, and turn concepts into reality with a few taps on the iPad. To the traveler from the 1992, it’s simply unreal.
About 3 million college grads are entering the market this year, all eager to pursue their dreams and make their mark on the world. Thanks to start up incubators like the StartFast Venture Accelerator in Central New York, some of those dreams will become realities. StartFast is the “number one” accelerator in Upstate New York, helping over two dozen companies take off in the past few years.
The program is “mentorship driven.” Every year 5-10 tech companies are chosen to travel through the incubator oven complete with experienced entrepreneurs, business experts and investment money! At the end of the 3 month “baking period,” the organization holds a Demo Day.
#SFDemoDay this year was Thursday, August 14.
Venture capitalists and angel investors from all over the country were in attendance. Last year’s Demo Day was the largest ever gathering of tech investors in Upstate New York.
This year’s program was hosted by Leslie Jump, Founder and CEO of Startup Angels and a previous executive at Fortune 500 companies.
Delivering the keynote was SU alum Patrick Ambron, co-founder and CEO of BrandYourself.com. Ambron is, according to Inc. Magazine, one of the “coolest 35 under 35 entrepreneurs.”
Ambron’s advice was simple and deep.
“Stand-out best at one thing, […] Enjoy the ups, remember the downs, […] Hire the best, pitch them just like an investor, […] Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers and their work, […] Know how you’re different and make sure everyone else knows too.”
Demo Day, as the speakers attested, is “about finding the next gem.” The “stones” in the line-up this year included six budding companies that each took the stage.
Instamour is just what it sounds like: a Philadelphia-based company that offers one the chance to “Never have a bad date again,” by offering “real personalities” in a world where deception of the cybersphere is all too easy.
“Online dating sucks,” said founder Jason Sherman, “So about a year ago, I said to myself, someone has to fix this.”
And to attest to the “power of StartFast,” Sherman remarked, “We came [here] with only 10,000 users. I am proud to announce that as of today we have 100k.” They are also attracting a number of investors from the Philly area.
Up next was Platypus TV (read the New Times Tech article on Platypus here) created by SU alums, Nomi Foster and Sarah Roche and developed together with RIT grad, Connor Vanderpool. The app allows users to connect across space and interest verticals to talk about TV, in the midst of other noise coming across the major social channels.
Platypus is testing marketing techniques with new users over the android version and is now available on the iPhone.
And the market is hot. $70 billion alone, this year, was spent on TV ads, a lucrative milieu for any TV-focused 21st century app.
Wyzerr is a software that allows businesses and consumers to receive and give direct feedback. According to the site, 91% of disgruntled customers will never come back, 95% will take action as a result, and 75% want to voice concerns. Wyzerr offers them the chance to do just that and for the business to track response analytics.
Wyzerr is being adopted locally by Destiny USA, Dave and Busters, and the Syracuse Downtown Committee.
In today’s e-commerce world of savvy millennial shoppers where every little tweak to the shopping experience is pivotal to success, Wyzerr is here to smooth the road towards perfect customer service.
Coming to the stage next was Zursh, the “first crowd-sourcing research engine,” designed to help professionals get more than just a Google search answer to serious professional questions. Zursh connects users with the right researcher to get labor intensive research by your deadline, minimizing cost, effort and time for top quality research – a commodity professionals will no longer have to fret over.
MassMosaic is an “online cashbah” of “wants and haves,” offering people the chance to buy or trade anything, making “exchange easy so you can live life.” MM is in the marketing and on-boarding process and has venture interest once they begin transacting.
Last but not least was Interface Foundry, allowing users to share data in “micro-world” bubbles pinned to locations and times. The app creates interesting applications for festivals, conferences, neighborhoods, shopping malls and other brick and mortar connections. It’s like Dropbox meets Yelp with Google Maps, but easier to use and more Facebook-esque. They are set to reach their goal of 1 million data bubbles by the end of the calendar year.
To date, StartFast has taken over 26 companies under their wing, helping them fund $40 million, ten times angel investments. Two of the 26 have had successful exits.
Find out how you can be a part of the next big thing at StartFast.net.