And the Vator Splash LA finalists are...

Faith Merino · June 7, 2012 · Short URL:

Ten talented startups will be pitching their ideas to a panel of heavy-hitting VC judges tonight

The big day has arrived and tonight’s finalists are hot.  Ten startups have made it to the final judging round, and in a few minutes they’ll take the stage to pitch their companies to some of the top tech VCs in California, including Javelin Venture Partners, Hatch Labs, KPMG, Anthem Venture Partners, Rho Capital Partners, Science, Start Engine, DFJ Frontier, Amplify, MuckerLab, LaunchPad, and more.  And the finalists are… a personal finance site for kids and parents that allows both to track allowance, spending, and more.  Parents can automate allowance payments and monitor their kids’ purchases, while kids can transfer their money to savings accounts, invest, or donate to charity.  They can even request a loan from their parents and negotiate an appropriate interest rate.

Blueseed: a startup with an ambitious goal, Blueseed is looking to launch an offshore incubator that will gather the world’s top tech talent on a floating campus strategically located in international waters 12 miles off the coast of Silicon Valley so that visas and other travel restrictions need not get in the way of innovation.


Credential Protection: something of an online reputation management system for healthcare professionals.  The startup only works with what it calls “solid practices” and makes sure that their positive reviews make it to the top of Google search listings. an AirBnB for dogs, allows travelers to board their dogs with other dog lovers, who can charge a fee of their choice.  The site allows boarders and hosts to get info on one another first and then meet before agreeing to a boarding arrangement, and provides an initial screening process as well.

Flipgigs: a talent-based skill sharing network that connects businesses and consumers with high school and college students looking for odd jobs and experiences that will pad out their resumes and portfolios.  For example, students looking for tutoring or babysitting jobs can post their services on the site or browse available positions.


MergeLocal: a service that allows mobile phone users to earn money for their check-ins.  Users need only check-in and share their experiences with their friends to earn points from local businesses.  Those points then translate into real money.


OpenStudy: a global peer-to-peer studying platform that connects students from around the world.  Users can find answers to their own questions or gain status by helping others.  Most questions receive answers within five minutes, and the company says 80% of students who have used the platform report improved learning outcomes.

Plink: an online-to-offline loyalty program that allows consumers to earn Facebook credits for making purchases from participating businesses.  Users need only create a Facebook Connect account and then register their credit or debit cards, and then whenever they make a purchase from a Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts, Red Robin, or other participating business, they earn Facebook credits.

RidePal: a service that provides state-of-the-art commuter buses equipped with Wi-Fi to pick up and drop off employees.  Businesses can share the cost with employees or take on the full cost themselves to expand their recruiting reach and retain employees.  Businesses and riders only pay for the capacity they need.

Yatown: a social network for neighborhoods.  Yatown lets neighbors connect to find out what’s going on in their neck of the woods.  The startup currently operates in 193,000 neighborhoods in 25 cities nationwide.





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On AllowanceTree, kids and teenagers manage and grow their real money in a fun, interactive, and parent supervised platform that mirrors the real world. They learn financial literacy and healthy money habits by doing, with their own money. They can save, invest (in their grades), give charity, diversify, take out loans (from their parents) and learn to avoid debt. Ages 9-17.

This product is a much needed and timely solution to the prevailing problem of financial illiteracy. Everyone seems to agree that if children were taught finance in a stimulating, technologically exciting environment, where they could learn to succeed and fail under controlled circumstances, they would grow up far better equipped to deal with the financial stresses that life entails. Our hope is that this product will help spare the current generation of youth from the sometimes catastrophic consequences and burdens that financial illiteracy has placed on the lives, marriages and happiness of their parents' generation.


Joined Vator on is a community marketplace that addresses the $5B market for dog-boarding and pet-sitting. Instead of paying for a crowded and overpriced kennel, our users book with experienced hosts who watch dogs in their own homes. In two months since launch the we have gained national coverage with thousands of approved hosts. 

We provide multiple layers of quality control, a comprehensive insurance policy, emergency support, photo updates, and other pet services like daycare and walking. 

We were founded in 2011 by a husband and wife team who boarded over 100 dogs in their home to make extra money while saving for their weddin. We are now venture capital funded by First Round Capital, Science, and several angels. 



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What's Happening Where You Live?

Yatown is The Trusted Neighborhood Network. Yatown helps you keep up with everything about the place you care most about. Where you live.

We've been called "The Facebook of Neighborhoods". AdWeek singled out Yatown in "One of the 4 Key Trends to watch in 2012". Covering 193 thousand neighborhoods in 25 thousand cities across America, Yatown gives neighbors instant access to neighborhood-level news, events, deals, and messaging with other neighbors.

The Yatown team includes long-time former Googlers, with successful entrepreneurial exits. Yatown is backed by TiE Angels, NarraVC, and a group of experienced SV executives.

Our goal is to provide the best Local-Social experience for people who live in any neighborhood in America. Our long-term mission is "To Connect Neighbors and Strengthen Communities".



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While everthing else seems to have gone social including shopping and online dating, one thing that has been stuck in the past is the way students find odd jobs and gigs. Believe me. When it comes to odd jobs students still  have to knock on doors, ask their parents network or school officials. That's what we had to do many many decades back.  Enter Flipgigs. Flipgigs is a talent based student skill sharing social network connecting savvy consumers and businesses with a motivated, affordable , scrappy network of students in High Schools & Colleges eager  to find gigs and jobs. Our website,

Students also get to build a portfolio of work that can showcase their passion and commitment to prospective colleges and employers. There is not a single site that creates these connections and creates these opportunities. Flipgigs has the potential to be the LinkedIn for students



Flipgigs is currently in Private Beta and is growing virally locally and in communities across the US.


According to a recent post on Forbes, Flipgigs is the top 5 most promising social sites for students and has the potential to be a very large company.

Flipgigs has also been declared Winner of The Best Startup award at  The Startup Conference in Mountain View on May 2, 2012. Flipgigs was unanimously voted by a panel of investors consisting of Dave McClure of 500 Startups, Thomas Korte of Angel Pad , Joyce Chung of Garage Ventures, Manu Kumar of K9 and a few others.


Formidable Target Market Size : About 28.2 million College Students + 16 million High Schoolers in US . 75% of them work part-time.  By the time they are in College they represent about $60 billion in buying power . Something needs to feed that buying power besides the bank of mom and dad.


Flipgigs is the only innovative platform that taps into student talent and provides a solution to the most vexing problems faced by many. If you are looking for cheap affordable scrappy services - maybe you just bought a new Macbook but don't know much about the Mac OS, maybe you need a Math Tutor for your kid and can't pay exorbitant fees, a music mentor or a Varsity Sports Instructor, you have to check out this amazing service.


Unlike some other players in this space that targets retired people or homemakers to run errands, we are less into errand outsourcing and more into top 5-7 kickass student services mainly academic tutoring, music mentoring, sports instruction, babysitting, social media marketing, blogging , translations etc.

At Flipgigs we hope to socially revolutionize the student short and part -time employment market. So far we have been very well received by investors and the greater entrepreneur community and are actively seeking funding.



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OpenStudy is a platform for peer-to-peer study help that's delivered right away from students around the world, to help high school and college students find answers immediately while learning and empower them with a unique brand of celebrity and credentials through helping others.

Since coming out of beta in March of 2011, OpenStudy has grown into a platform that 200,000 students use to study together each month.  Learners come from 180 countries and over 2,000 schools.  Users ask over 2,000 questions per day, and 70% of questions are answered by a global set of peers within five minutes.

OpenStudy is used on, mobile, and embedded on digital content sites such as MIT OpenCourseWare, Yale Open Courses, and dozens more.



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Provide a flexible, social, enjoyable and eco-friendly commute through time-shared wi-fi enabled shuttles.

Businesses or riders only pay for the capacity they need.

Riders get convenient commuting options and put their commute time to use. RidePal makes commuters happier.

Companies can extend their recruiting range, better retain employees and increase productivity. There is a diminushing return after a few buses, which can be reduced if buses are shared.

Also the more buses the more overhead in managing the program. Google has a full time team of several people to manage the program. For other companies, this was the reason why they dropped the program.

Transportation companies achieve more revenue and efficient utilization of their vehicles.

Market Size

Total Addressable market in the US is $1bn in revenue across all top 20 markets (> $500M in profit) -

We believe that there is also an opportunity internationally

Other trends that are helpful (see LA deep dive in uploaded documents, private space)

  • Companies organized in clusters (usually by vertical)
  • Residential areas organized in clusters too (societal change, people tend to gather up with like-minded people, similar education background, similar professional aptitude, etc...)
  • outdated public transportation networks and very expensive to adapt. Not matching current commuting patterns
  • Huge traffic issues
  • A lot of alternative transportation models already deployed in those areas and are changing people's driving habit, showing that the idea that 'Americans just want to drive' may be no longer true
  • Prioritized market and urban areas based on these configurations, usually leading to very congested roads + total number of commuters that drive alone to work today
  • We have already received inquiries from Atlanta, Denver and Los Angeles
  • Urban areas with these characteristics represent $1bn in revenue for RidePal sustainably


Customer Problem: Companies have a hard time recruiting remote top talent because of a long Commute. They pay a 20% premium on salaries to compensate, or become a high cost transportation agency to remain competitive. Commuting is the daily task most injurious to happiness for people and present serious health risks. This forces people to make suboptimal personal and professional decisions.


Product/Services: RidePal pools demand across companies for shared buses with a turnkey solution. Using real-time ridership data, its route planning technology keeps the routes relevant and efficient for both riders and transportation companies. Social features personalize the experience and build tight communities around each shuttle. Ancillary services organized around RidePal hubs and buses increase loyalty and profitability.


Sales/Marketing Strategy: Seed: direct to Premium Plan companies as anchor  to cover Bus Minimums – neighboring companies on Professional Plan to ride along. There is therefore no need for companies to collaborate, they sign up with RidePal to buy seats or Rides as a professional plan, and Premium can create routes (and easily share cost with employeesm later further discounting themselves as they accept to share their shuttles). Create pull among Riders. Scale: Viral nature of product, HR  outsourcing/recruiting firms.  Distribution via WageWorks and CommuterChecks, on-bus branding, online advertising, local radio, word of mouth, online and social advertising and earned media.




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Plink ( is an online-to-offline loyalty program that rewards members for dining and shopping at their favorite national restaurants and offline stores. Plink members create an account at, then safely and securely link the credit or debit card of their choice, and begin earning rewards sthat can be used on Facebooke or at, The Gap, Home Depot, iTunes, Nike and Target. Members can earn Plink rewards at Arby's, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Quiznos, Red Robin and Taco Bell, among others.  Plink’s loyalty platform connects social media and online marketing to offline sales.



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Blueseed is the Peter Thiel-backed visa-free offshore startup incubator situated on a ship 12 miles from the coast of Silicon Valley.

Being located outside the jurisdiction of the United States, but only half an hour by ferry from Silicon Valley, Blueseed will be an excellent platform for non-U.S. startups to develop their ideas in close proximity to the capital and talent from Silicon Valley.

For more details, please see




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Mergelocal is a mobile app that allows users to check in at their favorite places and get paid for telling their friends on Facebook and Twitter about their experience. 

Credential Protection®


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Credential Protection®, a California LLC, protects the public with Verified Reviews®, the gold standard for reviews™,   for healthcare professionals, products and services. Credential Protection®provides unbiased and ethical third party oversight of reviews posted through our proprietary system of patient satisfaction surveys.  Healthcare providers subscribing to our service have their Verified Reviews® listing appear on the first page of Google with star ratings based upon the composite score of their patients’ reviews. The public is protected from false, misleading and spam reviews.