Announcing the finalists for Vator Splash SF!

Steven Loeb · September 27, 2012 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/2a7d

10 startups are about to pitch their ideas to some of the top tech VCs in California

Vator Splash SF is finally here.

On deck and ready to present are 10 startups that were chosen through an a couple rounds, including an online popular and judges' voting round from more than 80 startups. In just a few minutes they will begin to take the stage to pitch their companies to some of the top tech VCs in California. 

At the end of the night, the judges will vote for their favorite! That startup will be the Vator Splash Winner. At the same time, the audience will vote for their favorite. That startup will become the People's Choice Award winner. 

Here are the startups vying to win Vator Splash SF!

Playmysong is a free app and web service that allows users to both play songs in social jukeboxes. Users can also host their own social jukebox experience in a matter of seconds. Users are allowed to choose the music that is playing around them, at bars, parties, and more, simply by using their smartphones.

Showbucks is a social app platform that brings  human interaction back to social apps by combining social video with social games. It develops a series of social apps on iOS and Android that allow users to play with their friends face-to-face on video.

Tie Society offers a monthly service, where members choose to have either 1,3,5, or 10 spots available in their online closet. Tie Society allows members access to hundreds of different ties each month to fill these spots. Shipping is free both ways, with all necessary packaging already provided.

Kismet connects you to your existing friends in the real world by simplifying getting together face to face. We show you which of your friends are nearby or alert you when the app isn't open, then make it simple to invite them to meet you.

Users can invite their friends whether or not they are Kismet users. Non-users can easily reply from the web or their phone without having to install the app.


Fandrop 
allows users to accurately capture the best part of their web browsing experience and share to any network. Any fragments (videos, maps, flash games, images, articles...) of a page can be saved and shared at ease, while preserving their original functionalities. 

Addvocate simplifies and systemizes the task of posting, scheduling, training, archiving, & governing the social voices of your employees.

It aggregates and connects employee personal social channels to extend the reach and impact of company messages.

Apartment List brings millions of listings from around the web into one elegant interface, drastically reducing the time it takes renters to find an apartment. Apartment List launched in September 2011 at TechCrunch Disrupt and won a 2012 Webby Award for Real Estate. 

Conga discovers the social relevance between people - whom you should know, within a group, at an event, or wherever you are. Its science applies sophisticated machine learning algorithms to understand the underlying factors behind your professional relationships 

Contur is a virtual assistant for email. It scans all incoming emails and determines whether those emails fits into existing labels, task lists, and projects. Contur infers how the user wants the emails organized based on metrics like the title, sender, and content of the email.

The interface also has an integrated to do list, and the user can turn any email into a task with a meaningful title, deadline, and reminder. With a dedicated space to keep track of the user's tasks, projects, follow ups and meeting, the user will be able to stay on top of everything.

KitchenNetwork is a multi-browser, cross-platform app that empowers cooks everywhere to publish, discover and share their favorite recipes. KitchenNetwork also includes broader recipe management solutions and a recommendation engine for discovery based online preferences – all wrapped with a unique social layer for the consumer.

 

 

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Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs

Addvocate

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Every company thinks they need to be social. As such, they're spending millions of dollars to do so. Unfortunately, they're underutilizing the most motivated asset they already have -- enthusiastic employees.

Your workers want to talk about their company, only they don't know what to say, or they're afraid to say the wrong thing. Instead, they do nothing.

We're simplifying and systemizing the task of posting, scheduling, training, archiving, & governing the social voices of your employees.

Competitive advantage

There is no product on the market that caters directly to the needs of companies wish to become social enterprises. Tools today only work for small teams and are too cost prohibitive to roll out to all employees.

 

Kismet

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Kismet connects you to your existing friends in the real world by simplifying getting together face to face. We show you which of your friends are nearby or alert you when the app isn't open, then make it simple to invite them to meet you.


When you're planning to get together with a group of any size, Kismet makes the experience simpler and more social. Users can invite their friends whether or not they are Kismet users. Non-users can easily reply from the web or their phone without having to install the app.

No longer do you need to send hundreds of text messages or try to follow long email threads just to meet for Happy Hour. Users are also notified automatically when other users arrive and depart the event, meaning you’ll never have to ask “Are you here yet?” 

Kismet was one of the most talked about companies of SXSW 2012, in the hot "ambient location" and "social discovery" space. Founded in 2011, Kismet was part of AngelPad's Winter 2011 class of startups, and has been lauded as one of the most privacy and user conscious apps in the space.

 

Tie Society

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

At our simplest, we are the original Netflix for neckties. What we offer is a monthly service, where members choose to have either 1,3,5, or 10 spots available in their online closet. We allow our members access to hundreds of different ties each month to fill these spots. Shipping is free both ways, with all necessary packaging already provided. When you'd like to exchange for a new tie, just send one or all of them back- and you can do this an unlimited number of times each month. We'll send our ties from our door to yours in 3 days or less, and members always have the option to keep the ties they like most. Since our inception in November 2011, we've grown to now ship over 2,500+ packages a month. Our users are loving our service too, as we've been able to achieve a 96% retention rating among members.

We carry top brands such as Burberry, Armani, and Brooks Brothers, but the real strength is in our direct partnerships. We work with great smaller tie companies, such as Mosaic and Brier & Moss, to provide them with a location for distribution and in turn, receive product at a highly-discounted price. But Tie Society isn't done yet- we're selling the full look of style to young, aspirational men. While we currently carry ties, pocket squares and cufflinks, our service is expanding to include other accessories and apparel. Curated outfit selections/fashion advice, member discounts for our partners's products, and item recommendations are all established in the new version of our site- launching within the month of September. Ties are just the beginning- soon Tie Society will be able to connect you with the resources to complete the full outfit at the lowest cost possible.

That being said, ties are still a huge market, and are growing in popularity each day. We'd like to refer to it as the "Mad Men" effect. We've heard that their are well over 5 million jobs in the US that still require guys to wear a suit and tie Monday through Friday. Beyond that you have weddings, job interviews, dates, bar mitzvah's, etc... The US is just a beginning for us- we're constantly being told to set up shop in London or Japan and with your help we'll get there!

For the month of September, Tie Society has, once again, officially partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation in their efforts to end prostate cancer. For more than 16 million men and their families fighting prostate cancer globally, the PCF is a primary source for new research information. Keep checking www.tiesociety.com for more updates on this year's events.

Competitive advantage

We've been doing this for longer and our service simply works much better. We have an expansive stock of ties, and are adding more each day. While competitors do exist, we are confident in our team's abilities- as well as our moves to expand into offering customized style advice and curation. Ties are just the beginning...keep checking back as a major shakeup is headed soon.

Fandrop

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Novelty/Innovation:

Fandrop is a fastelegant and fun way to discover and share the best content on the web while preserving their look and feel. It's as easy as pie. It's web surfing, reinvented.

Most people are frustrated with discovering and saving relevant web content. Existing tools had relatively rigid features and were not built to have network effect.

Fandrop allows users to accurately capture the best part of their web browsing experience and share to any network. Any fragments (videos, maps, flash games, images, articles...) of a page can be saved and shared at ease, while preserving their original functionalities. We have filed for a provisional patent on some of the technologies we are using. 

As Fandrop gather the best curated content from users, it's effectively breaking down the web into fragments via collective intelligence. Content distribution and discovery will no longer be based on plain URLs or links, instead they will be based on highly relevant fragments of the best browsing experience. It's internet indexing, reinvented. 

 

 

 

Competitive advantage:

1.

Existing discovery tools had relatively rigid features and were not built for viral sharing. Existing products also focus only on only a subset of the problem but not trying to solve the big picture. In order for the mass to adopt, the service needs to cover all bases and be so intuitive to use that once you look at it, you get it. 

Fandrop solves the pain points of web discovery and content sharing with ease by combing the best elements of existing tools. The interface is intuitive and anyone can figure out quickly. It’s easy to organize and can be accessed from anywhere, anytime.

2.

The Fandrop team has the technical advantage of being very product oriented. We have filed for a provisional patent on some of the technologies we are using. We are data driven and extremely analytical. We understand marketing of this app would depend greatly on network effect and viral growth.

3.

In terms of user acquisition, we do not have a chicken and egg problem. First of all, the fact that it is a utility itself, does not require other users to be in the network to begin with. Secondly, as you join through existing networks (facebook, twitter), we automatic pull all the content you have previously shared and save to the app. This enrichment of content from the get go yields high conversion rate. Thirdly, the app itself has built in virility as every time content’s being saved to the user’s account, it has the opportunity to spread through the user’s other networks (facebook, twitter etc).  

 

 

Conga

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Brief description:

Conga discovers the social relevance between people - whom you should know, within a group, at an event, or wherever you are.

Brief highlights:

Our science applies sophisticated machine learning algorithms to understand the underlying factors behind your professional relationships 

The problem or opportunity:

The value of social networks is stalling.  They have become saturated with "the people we may know." 

“New insight, experiences, and capabilities…come from “the edges of our social networks.” (John Hagel et al., For Ways to Use "Pull" to Increase Your Success, HBR 4/22/2009)

"People we should know," is a hard - yet important - problem.  Conga's science is able to accurately predict and recommend new relationships.

Conga does Social Discovery and People recommendation as a Service.  Companies from large to small are finding the need to make recommendations between people. From global technology forums to local social application services, the people matching/recommendation function has become a ubiquitous need. Conga is the platform that meets this need with science.

By focusing on the recommendation science and making the recommendation results available through our API, we give developers access to better technology more quickly and at lower cost than they can achieve on their own.

Competitive advantage

Social relevance is typically relegated to a "people you may know" algorithm in such social networking sites as LinkedIn and Facebook.  Other companies in the social discovery space rely on fact matching such as "you both like Lady Gaga and follow Barack Obama" as their basis for social recommendation.

Conga uses applied science by identifying a pool of ~100,000 factors that characterize the motivations behind your social connections and train the Conga social relevance engine. No input more than the linking social networking sites is required of the user. 

Conga is the first platform solution to the problem of predicting social relevance.

Our team includes serial entrepreneurs (founder, Ribbit), stellar CTO (chief architect for Platform as a Service at Sun Microsystems), and PhD entrepreneur neuroscientist as chief scientist.  

Playmysong

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Playmysong has reinvented the jukebox for the smartphone era. It’s a free app and web service that allows users to both play songs in social jukeboxes and to host their own social jukebox experience in a matter of seconds. Playmysong’s business model is based on selling premium services for participating venues and brands. Founded in Finland in 2011, the company launched its operations in the USA in January 2012. 

Team

Rami Korhonen, Co-Founder & CEO: 14 years in executive management- and business development positions at Small Planet, Iwa Labs and Laika Mobile.

Timo Kari, Co-Founder & CTO: 8 years of software engineering experience from Aspiro and Loistava Interactive.

Zack Beatty, USA Business Development: 12 years in executive management positions at EMI Music, Capitol Records and MTV Networks. 

Advisors

Petteri Koponen, Lifeline Venture (Google, Jaiku, First Hop)

Sean McCullough, Launchrock.com (Ping.fm)

Gian-Luca Cioletti, Moblasted (Nokia, HP)

Q&A

1. What is the problem you are solving:

For everyone: We all love music, but often we end up in situations where the music could be much better. Playmysong gives us the chance to see what music is available in the music collections of the bars and parties we are in, and to select the songs we'd like to hear there right now - for free. 

For venues: Competition between bars and cafes is tough. Playmysong's interactive music experience gives venues the chance to serve their customers better than their competitors. When customers can influence the music around them, they will stay longer, buy more and tell their friends via Playmysong's in-built social features: "I just played Green Day at Idle Hands Bar."

For party-organizers: Music can make or break a house-party and the party host's music computer or ipod is often the center of attention for music loving party guests. But should the party really be about hunkering around a PC to queue up songs? We think not. With the Playmysong Spotify app party guests can use their own mobile phones to select songs to be played and the host can set up limits on how often one guest can play a song and how often one song can be played. This makes it fun for everyone and less beer is spilled on computers.

 2. Why would venues pay for the service?

With about  $1 investment per day, any bar or café will be able to provide an immersive interactive music experience for its customers. Here's what Marc Schapiro, the owner of Idle Hands Bar in New York, said about Playmysong:

 "What we noticed, aside from the simplicity of integrating Playmysong into our venue, was that some of our regulars began staying even longer than before, and the social nature of the app created an organic viral effect that generated new business."

Playmysong Pro customers can also set custom in-venue marketing messages that the users see when playing songs from the venue's Playmysong jukebox:

 "Thanks! Your song will be played in 8 minutes. Did you know that we have happy hour with $1 off any beer every day from 4pm to 8pm? Welcome!". 

 In the future Playmysong Pro features will be enhanced with many new innovative ways of bringing more business for the venues. 

3. What is your go-to-market strategy?

Playmysong's consumer service is based on the free mobile app and the free Spotify desktop app. Since the launch of the company's Spotify app in July 2012, Playmysong social jukebox has been used in over 7000 private occasions, parties and get-togethers. The company's organic user base growth has also accelerated 10 times since the launch of the Playmysong Spotify app. 

When more and more people get used to playing their favorite songs in Playmysong powered house-parties, the word gets around and reaches bar and café owners who can then purchase the Playmysong Pro subscription from the company's website and soon with in-app payments directly from the app.

Playmysong is also partnering with some the biggest existing business background music system providers in the world to provide the "social layer" on top of their existing solutions. This will also mobilize the large sales forces of these companies to sell the Playmysong Pro subscriptions for venues around the world.

4. What is your competitive advantage? 

Our “jukebox meets location meets social networking” approach sets us apart from competitors just trying to make jukeboxes usable with smartphones. We are on a mission to get rid of random music from planet earth and the mobile jukebox experience is just one piece of the puzzle. Our upcoming social features will grow our community even faster and in the future we will be the standard in being able to influence the music around you.

Some comments from the AngelList community:

"Playmysong is a fantastic idea with an awesome team behind it. It's a privilege to be on their advisory team. Looking forward to helping this become a hit." - Sean McCullough, LaunchRock

"I've known Rami for 12 years; he's hard charging, user focused and knows mobile better than anyone having launched 100's of apps, services and campaigns across continents during his career." - Scott Hannan, Facebook

"A small, solid team with a big mission. I know Rami from way back and he is a fighter." - Petteri Koponen, Lifeline Ventures

"Rami & Timo created one hell of a great product. Finally I can choose the songs in a bar…:-)" - Timo Poijärvi, Hitlantis

"I invested in the company. I believe that Playmysong is a great service and the team is amazing!!!" - Gian Luca Cioletti, Moblasted

KitchenNetwork

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

KitchenNetwork is a multi-browser, cross-platform app that empowers cooks everywhere to publish, discover and share their favorite recipes.   

The Problem

1) On the digital publishing side, it’s not easy to have your recipes discovered, published and distributed as an app (or across other platforms) affordably and professionally.

2) On the consumer side, there’s no current digital/tablet-optimized resource to manage and share your existing recipes or be exposed to new, high-quality ones – all in one place.

 The Solution

 1) KitchenNetwork not only provides an easy-to-use, affordable and feature-rich recipe specific platform to do so professionally, but also the network and community to distribute and grow an audience.

2) KitchenNetwork allows you to organize, discover and share recipes in a whole new way. Customers are able to follow their favorite chefs, bloggers and friends to discover new content as well as manage and share their favorite recipes in one place. In addition, these cooks can publish their own “personal recipes’” as an app.

Competitive advantage

We view our competitors in two camps: 1.) App creation platforms & digital publishing companies and 2.) recipe Apps & websites. 

To date, no one has built a company that combines all of the above – namely, a platform to specifically publish recipe Apps and then aggregate them under one “storefront.” KitchenNetwork also includes broader recipe management solutions and a recommendation engine for discovery based online preferences – all wrapped with a unique social layer for the consumer.

 Potential Competitors:

Wattpad: Currently not recipe App focused.

MobileRoadie: Currently not recipe App focused, and no storefront with a community

MagicTown: Currently not recipe App focused, and no storefront with a community

BookBaby: Currently not recipe App focused, and no storefront with a community

Comixology: Currently not recipe App focused and no community

Yummly: Currently, no recipe App self-publishing, nor a community

ZipList: Currently no recipe App self-publishing

Foodily: Currently no recipe App self-publishing

Epicurious: Currently no recipe App self-publishing

Rezape: Currently no recipe App self-publishing, nor a community.

Jamie Oliver’s Recipes App:  No recipe App self-publishing, nor a community with recipe management. 

Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything App: No recipe App self-publishing, nor a community with recipe management.

Launch Parnters:

To date, we have over twenty high-profile partners signed-up for our launch, including the Chefs, TV Cooking Personalities and Food Bloggers & Cookbook Authors below:

Chefs:

Bruce Hill (http://www.bixrestaurant.com/chef.html)

Dean Fearing (http://www.fearingsrestaurant.com/dean.aspx)

Michael McCarty (http://www.michaelssantamonica.com/about.html)

Jacques Torres (http://www.mrchocolate.com/)

TV Cooking Personalities:

Sara Moulton (http://saramoulton.com/)

Joey Altman (http://www.joeyaltman.com/)

Food Bloggers & Cookbook Authors:

Amanda Haas (http://www.onefamilyonemeal.com/)

Amy Sherman (http://cookingwithamy.blogspot.com/)

Katherine Cobbs (http://katherinecobbs.com/).    

We’ve also almost finalized partnership deals with four Publishing Houses to create recipe Apps for some of their cookbooks:

Abrams Books (http://www.abramsbooks.com/)

Hachette Book Group (http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/)

Andrews McMeel (http://www.andrewsmcmeel.com/)

Welcome Books (http://www.welcomebooks.com/).  

 

Apartment List

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Apartment List is the fastest-growing online rental marketplace, and we’re on a mission to help everyone find a home they love while making the search process simple. By asking our renters the important questions, we offer personalized results that meet your apartment wishlist. With over four million units on the site, we’ve reached over 150 million renters in over 40 cities.

Since inception, Apartment List has raised $110 million in funding from investors including Allen & Company LLC, Canaan Partners, Industry Ventures, Matrix Partners, Passport Capital, Quantum Partners LP, a private investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management LLC, Tenaya Capital, and WTI.

Founded in 2011 by CEO John Kobs and COO Chris Erickson, Apartment List calls San Francisco home.

Learn more at www.apartmentlist.com.

Contur

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Contur Main

 

We are creating a virtual assistant for email. Our semantic algorithms scan all incoming emails and determine whether those emails fits into existing labels, task lists, and projects. There’s no need for the user to set up any rules; Contur infers how the user wants the emails organized based on metrics like the title, sender, and content of the email.

The interface also has an integrated to do list, and the user can turn any email into a task with a meaningful title, deadline, and reminder. With a dedicated space to keep track of the user's tasks, projects, follow ups and meeting, the user will be able to stay on top of everything.

Overall, the interface and technology is designed to help the user stay organized, and save him hours every week.

Showbucks

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Showbucks is a social app platform that brings face-to-face human interaction back to social apps by combining social video with social games.

Social video (i.e. Socialcam) and social games (i.e. Draw Something) are growing rapidly on mobile devices. However, there is no face-to-face human interation in these "social" apps. Just random video sharing and repetitive gameplay with computer graphics. These "social" apps are turning players into an army of clones.

Showbucks brings face-to-face human interaction back to social apps by combining social video with social gaming technology. We create a series of social apps on iOS and Android that allow you to play with your friends face-to-face on video.

Showbucks is incubated at the Founders Den and Turner Broadcasting's Media Camp. Our investors include Turner Broadcasting and former Chief Marketing Officer and Vice Chair of AOL. Our advisors include MC Hammer and partners of Founders Den.

Founder and CEO Michael Yuen is an award-winning entertainment and technology entrepreneur who started his career creating 3D online games for movies like The Titanic and The Fifth Element. Michael was the founder and CEO of Apptera, a speech and mobile app platform handling over 100M calls per year for Bank of America, Fandango and MovieTickets.com. Apptera was funded by Lightspeed ventures and Walden Capital.

Competitive advantage

First to market - first mobile platform to deliver social apps combining social video and social games

Experienced founder - proven serial entrepreneur who founded Apptera

Viral Growth - eveyone who downloads the app with play with 10+ friends

Advanced technology - Patent-pending asynchronous social video gaming system

Established marketing alliance -  celebrities like MC Hammer and media like Turner Broadcasting network