Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA) is one of the newest startup incubators to launch in New York City. 10 early-stage startups participated in ERA’s inaugural summer 2011 program, which kicked off at its Times Square offices on June 6th and culminates today at Stern Business School with the program’s first Demo Day.
At the heart of the program is its 180 plus mentors, a group of all-star experienced entrepreneurs, operating executives, technologists, and investors including Fred Wilson, Esther Dyson, Jos White, Geoff Judge, Charlie Federman, Brian Cohen, David Pakman, Jeff Stewart and Howard Morgan, who have come together over the past 4 years to form the Entrepreneurs Roundtable, a global nonprofit organization active in USA, Japan, India and Turkey with the sole aim of helping entrepreneurs become successful.
“Over the 3-month course, we had over 200 mentors and 10 operating partners, resulting in over 1,500 mentor meetings,” said Jonathan Axelrod, Managing Director.
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The ER Accelerator includes 3 co-founders: Jonathan Axelrod, a technology and media entrepreneur who previously co-founded MusicGremlin, Inc., a New York-based venture-backed start-up; Charles Kemper, an entrepreneur and investment professional; and Murat Aktihanoglu, a technology entrepreneur. Aktihanoglu was the original founder of the Entrepreneurs Roundtable 4 years ago.
Meet the 10 startups who gave their final investor presentations today at ERA’s first Demo Day in New York City:
“BuzzTable is a mobile CRM platform for restaurants,” says co-founder Warner Siebert, kicking off his demo today.
Remember the old school table buzzers at Applebee’s? “They represent a loss of $6,000 a year for restaurants,” said Siebert. Next, he blended up a restaurant survey, table buzzer and a punch card to symbolize that BuzzTable will be replacing them all.
BuzzTable establishes a direct line of communication between the restaurant and their customers with a built-in loyalty program for individual merchants, allowing them to directly connect with customers. Instead of waiting for a table idly, customers receive a text message when they’re table is ready and now the restaurant has that customer hooked. The BuzzTable app replaces the table buzzer, coupons, restaurant surveys and the punch card with one, easy to use mobile interface.
Buzz Table has already helped restaurants connect with over 1,000 customers and has partnered with 4 restaurants including Dinosaur BBQ in NY. The company is also in talks with Ruby Tuesday to replace restaurant buzzers later this year.
Raising: $750K to aggressively attack the market and reach the next set of milestones.
While there are plenty of ways to find local businesses online, there isn’t a lot of visibility around hours and pricing. U.S. consumers spent $350 billion on local “every day services” like haircuts, locksmiths, massages, oil changes, and yoga classes in 2010, yet finding prices and hours online is tricky. Silicon Valley transplant, Centzy is a new search engine where consumers can find accurate prices, hours, and ratings for every service in their city.
“Paid crowdsourcing is Centzy’s secret sauce,” says co-founder Jay Shek.
Centzy focuses on every day services that cost less than $100. Let’s say you’re in the West Village and looking for a cheap haircut. Centzy pulls up all locations in your area and lets you search by price and services in under a minute. Centzy’s mobile app is also in beta to let you search on the go. The system is extremely fast, scalable and cheap. According to Shek, launching a new city the size of Philadelphia costs only $15,000. To monetize, Centzy is partnering with local lead generation and booking companies so users can seamlessly book that service on partner sites.
Raising: $500K seed round to develop partnerships and scale.
CEO Josh Abdulla, who studied social entrepreneurship at NYU, announced the world’s first open giving platform, “like the Twilio of charitable giving”. LetGive is a way to let developers and publishers turn their products into fundraising vehicles for nonprofits and charities for socially conscious consumers.
“Every day, 560 apps are added to the app store…LetGive enables developers to distinguish their app in the marketplace,” says Abdulla.
LetGive released a developer platform two weeks ago. Current partners include Nexercise, which donates money if you don’t reach your fitness goals; RenderDragon’s Derfwood, the first game on the platform where purchases are donated; and CityHarvest and OpenTable are partnering so when you book a table you can leave a tip for the CityHarvest charity in the process.
Snooze is LetGive’s first product, which is an alarm app that triggers a $.25 donation to your choice of nonprofit every time you hit Snooze, making you feel just a little bit better about sleeping in. The revenue model is simple. LetGive receives up to 20% in transaction fees. The entire donation and distribution process is managed seamlessly by LetGive.
Raising: $750K to ramp up distribution and grow revenue.
Today, Bespoke Post is making its public debut and shaking up online shopping for men. Until now, the team has kept its business entirely under wraps. Szaronos and Prahbu have built a curated subscription service for products men want.
Their members receive a recurring personalized package filled with guy stuff: like a skinny tie, a grill set, fine wine, or a slab of bacon. Bespoke Post is focusing on food and booze, home and office and “mancessories”.
Szaronos says most men “hate shopping,” and while there are resources out there like Gilt and various newsletters, those processes require action. Bespoke Post puts the discovery process for men’s goods in autopilot. The company is targeting 13 million guys between the ages of 25 and 45 who “like nice things but think the current shopping experience is broken”. Boxes start at $40 per box.
Raising: $500K seed round to scale operations and to “litter the United States in awesome.”
We first wrote about numberFire when it predicted the SuperBowl winner earlier this year [story here]. The incredibly impressive analytics platform uses quantitative modeling to bring new insights and analysis to the world of sports and boasts an average time spent on the site as an impressive 6 minutes. numberFire’s founder Nik Bonaddio launched the company using $100,000 he won on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” “You might say that Regis Philbin was my first angel investor!” he jokes.
“numberFire’s secret sauce? Applying math to sports data,” says Bonaddio.
There are 30 million Fantasy Sports players who spend 9 hours a week on average on their fantasy teams. Bonaddio’s product has massively growing traction and tons of room to grow as football season kicks off in the USA. Today, numberFire is operating with the best names in business including Sports Illustrated and SB Nation.
Raising: $750K. $400K already closed.
“Parking sucks. It’s expensive. And it still takes forever,” says Parking Panda co-founder Nick Miller. “We felt compelled to solve the problem. Our solution is simply, ‘Airbnb, but for parking’.”
Let’s say you own a parking spot online, you can then rent your space out on Parking Panda, a mobile, real-time parking discovery app. It enables parking space owners to rent out their underutilized spaces to a community of drivers, potentially earning hundreds of dollars a year. People in need of parking can save money and time by finding a place to park and paying right from their phone. Parking Panda is now live in Baltimore, Maryland.
Raising: $750K to expand into 2 more cities.
Time to fire your SEM consultant! Pricing Engine is your new savvy business intelligence tool for digital marketers to boost ROI during campaigns. It provides users with a simple visual interface to discover actionable insights for improvement and includes patent pending advertising optimization and valuation across the full range of creative and targeting options, media choices, and pricing models. In short, CEO Jeremy Kagan says he’s, “Simply improving digital advertising.”
Currently, users can access self-service platforms like Google AdWords or Microsoft Advertising adCenter or expensive platforms like Marin Software and Clickable. Pricing Engine is focusing on the small businesses who want more control but are spending less than $10K a month. Pricing Engine’s 7-tiered freemium model offers a low barrier to entry. Pricing spans from free to $149.99 and up for enterprise customers. As Pricing Engine grows it will employ a content marketing strategy.
Kagan, a professor at Columbia Business School, has built the Pricing Engine beta with 12 active customers and is getting ready to launch it with his CTO Yagmur Coker, formerly of The Knot. Kagan says by the end of 2011, they will have over 1,000 people using the platform, and 100,000 people by the end of next year.
Raising: $750K seed round to grow the product and their 2-person team.
How many times have you wanted to call your local government about something in your community but didn’t know who to turn to or where to go for help? Potholes? Garbage pick-up? Community services? In New York City, we have 311, but small-medium sized municipalities can’t afford a service like this. PublicStuff’s web-based solution addresses the service needs of both local governments and residents by increasing consumer participation while also driving down costs for public agencies. The municipal platform allows agencies to cost-effectively manage communications with the public and better manage the delivery of services; its consumer platform allows the public to request a variety of services.
You don’t see a lot of startups operating in the public sector but Public Stuff is very likely to be a leader in the space. PublicStuff is now in over 35 cities nationwide, serving $1 million residents.
PublicStuff’s algorithm has resulted in a total of $320,000 client savings. The image above is of the company’s recent Plano, TX a town with a population of 260,000, which PublicStuff has already saved tens of thousands of dollars. According to founder Lily Liu, the service pays for itself in one month of operation.
Today, Public Stuff is announcing contracts with 35 cities, the largest mall in the world in Dubai, which serves $47 million visitors and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
Raising: $750K, 25% of the round is committed.
We covered Sitesimon‘s public beta launch this week when it announced its new social browsing tool that makes it easy to find and enjoy never before seen content online. Users can share their browsing seamlessly, connect with what their friends and others are looking at, and be recognized for discovering sites that others love too. Recommendations are shown on the main page alongside a stream of web content shared by other Sitesimon users.
“Think of it like Gmail’s Priority Inbox, but for browsing the web,” said CEO and co-founder Steve Gutentag. “We pull out the articles, videos, and other content that you care about but haven’t seen yet, while also aggregating the content curated by the people you care about and cataloging it for when you have the time and want a serendipitous discovery experience.”
With so much content on the web, Sitesimon wants to make discovery effortless and personalized.
Raising: Raised $500K in a seed round; Now raising $3million to scale technology and build product.
“There are $700 billion of stuff that people have in their closets that they don’t use and don’t really want,” said WebThriftStore’s co-founder Douglas Krugman.
Thrift stores are a $13 billion business in this country, and it’s one that hasn’t been disrupted by the Web- yet. WebThriftStore enables anyone to turn their unused stuff into tax-deductible, charitable donations. No more thrift stores, no warehouses and no dropboxes. It’s all virtual. It makes it easy to offer anything online, and then allows consumers to use their social networks to convert it into cash for the charity of their choice. Say you have a lamp sitting around your house, simply type the product in, WebThriftStore will locate it, then pick a charity to associate it with. Once someone buys its, WebThriftStore ships you a pre-paid mailing label and box to ship the product out, and the tax-deductible sum goes to the charity of your choice.
WebThrift Store is going live with the Disabled Veterans, Classwish, Maccabi USA and ASPCA, a several million donor organization.
Raising: $1.5 million. Already closed $625K.
Today, ERA announced its next session starting in January 2010, making it one of the only major accelerators running this winter. Applications are now open.
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