Our first ever Vator Splash Oakland has come and gone, but there were some amazing finalists who took the stage on Tuesday and Wednesday to compete in the OakTown Tech Startup Competition, sponsored by Oakland Forward and 2014 mayoral candidate Bryan Parker. The finalists were:
Yozio: A “mobile growth platform” that is essentially an analytics company that helps companies optimize their mobile apps. Yozio’s algorithms help companies determine who their strongest customers are and how to retain them. For example, Yozio’s algorithm might find that for a commerce company, women are 2.7 times more likely than men to make a purchase, but they only make up 20% of the user base. Or it might find that users who make a taste profile are 3.8 times more likely to use the app for six months or more than those who don’t.
Gigawatt: A crowdfunding platform that specializes in “blitz fundraising.” Calling itself the “snapchat of fundraising,” Gigawatt has developed a signature “24 hour formula” that allows organizations to meet their funding goal quickly using automated crowdfunding and team collaboration tools. Each "Blitz" follows a pre-launch plan. According to the company: “While other crowdfunding platforms only offer ideas about running a crowdfunding campaign, we've built tools around and automated the process that makes a 24-hour campaign successful.” Notably, Gigawatt’s technology helped Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania raise $150,000 in 24 hours.
MileMe: A productivity app for those who do lots of driving for work and need to log their miles. The always-on app senses velocity and automatically logs your miles for you when you’re in motion, allowing the average driver to add $2,000 in after-tax income by accurately and automatically keeping track of mileage. Interestingly, there’s never a point where you have to turn the app on or off. It syncs with your calendar and transmits data back to the cloud, which users can edit and use to automatically prepare an expense report or a report for taxes.
Back to the Roots: Founded by Berkeley students Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, Back to the Roots got started when the two heard you could grow gourmet mushrooms in pots of coffee grounds. So they tried it in their dorm room—and it worked. That gave them the idea to create a kit that would allow anyone to grow their own mushrooms at home. The startup was recognized at the White House during last year's Empact Awards, and the co-founders have been awarded Inc’s 30 Under 30, Forbes 30 Under 30, and Businessweek’s Top 25 Social Entrepreneurs. The company’s follow-up product is the AquaFarm, a self-cleaning fish tank that also grows food.
Rockbot: an app that lets users select the music at a bar, restaurant, or other establishment. Users get to pick the songs playing at businesses that have Rockbot, vote on upcoming music to impact the order of what's played, share their plays on Facebook and Twitter with photos and tag friends, discover and download songs that are playing at the venue, sync favorite music from their device, Facebook, and Last.fm, and unlock rewards, enter giveaways, and view food and drink specials at the venue. Rockbot is currently working with brands and enterprise chains such as Miller Lite, Buffalo Wild Wings, Burger King, JetBlue, Caesar's Entertainment, LuckyStrike, The Melt, and more.