Vator Splash is underway at Café du Nord on a balmy February day in San Francisco, and the party’s hoppin’! Ten Splash finalists are getting ready to pitch to the VC panel, which includes David Thacker from Greylock, Dara Bazzano of KPMG, Saad Khan of CMEA, Jed Katz of Javelin, Jay Jamison from Blue Run, Tim Chang of Norwest, and Raj Kapoor of Mayfield (also the lead singer of Coverflow).
So let’s take a look at the startups that are about to go in front of the VC judges.
Twezr: a free iPhone app that acts as a personal organizer. The app organizes all of your contacts and the content they’re sending your way, including emails, direct messages, tweets, or posts on your wall. The app alerts you when you get a message, showing one dot if it’s a wall post or tweet, and showing two dots if it’s an email or a direct message. The company employs a freemium business model and expects to reach a $3-4 billion market by 2013.
Codif.ly: a mobile QRcode and link shortener, Codif.ly features a dynamic system that identifies the type of device reading the QRcode (Android, iPhone, RIM, etc) and pushes the user to the correct app store. This solves the problem of trying to market an app in a cost-effective way, and without having to develop several different links to different app stores. The company's ideal client is a startup with a national advertising campaign or a mobile application across multiple platforms.
LaborVoices: a social for-profit company that aims to end labor abuses by creating a rating platform (like Yelp) where employees can anonymously rate their employers, thereby giving employers an incentive to provide fair working conditions to their employees to improve their ratings. The platform is unique in that it's completely mobile, allowing potential employees to call ahead to get information on a prospective employer. The company is currently running a pilot project in Bangalore, India and has plans to reach one million workers by 2012.
e-Appointments: a website that allows customers to schedule appointments online from any Internet-connected computer or smartphone. By simply entering a zipcode and the type of provider needed (dentist, doctor, chiropractor, etc.), the user can quickly and easily set up an appointment using the easy-to-navigate e-Appointments user interface.
uBlanket: a Web-based "up-cycling" startup that converts old materials into new products. Right now the company is offering a blanket made out of customers' own T-shirts. By signing up, customers receive a welcome kit with a prepaid shipping bag for their shirts. They follow that by going online and designing their own quilt on the website, which the company produces using the T-shirts and mails back to them.
Who’s Free: a mobile app created by MeeBee that allows users to locate nearby friends and find out who is free to hang out. It's like a cross between Foursquare and Twitter. Your friends check in and set their status as either free or busy, and should you be looking for someone to grab a beer with, you can simply check the app to see who's around and available.
Arrivu Technologies: a company that calls itself a "software platform for dummies." Using artificial intelligence, the platform cuts the Software Developer out of the equation, allowing the user to build business applications like dashboards, data analysis, etc., simply by telling the computer in plain English (as opposed to code) what he/she wants. Arrivu Technologies has already raised $2 million in funding.
iBuildApp: exactly what it sounds like. Similar to social marketing, iBuildApp emphasizes mobile marketing by helping businesses create and manage their own apps and engage customers across different mobile platforms, including iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. The free DIY platform requires no coding and currently hosts more than 2,000 apps from over 100 different countries.
Job Rooster: a mobile platform that texts job alerts to customers' phones as they pop up. Mobile phone owners don't need a computer or even an Internet connection. By simply texting the word JOBS to 27697, entering their zip code and preferred job type, Job Rooster will begin sending job postings to customers' phones sourced directly from job boards like Job.com and Beyond.com. Users can also get volunteer opportunities and classes sent to their phone.
uBoost: a platform for encouraging student retention and performance, uBoost utilizes gaming mechanics, social tools, and virtual currency to engage at-risk students. The company has worked with Kaplan, Scientific Learning, Connections Academy, and K12 Inc., and clients claim to see dramatic improvement in student performance and retention rate.
90-Day Guides, Inc: an online media company built around the idea of helping users set, track, and achieve their goals and resolutions within 90 days. The site currently features a 90-day guitar guide and claims to offer a scientifically valid process through which users can set and achieve their goals. Each 90-day guide topic will feature commentary and lessons from an expert in the field.