Startup competition cohort: Turo, Apartment List, Udemy and Thumbtack
Startup competitions have become a popular way for startups to get noticed and for organizations to find them.
Vator has been hosting its startup competitions since all the way back to end of 2009. In that time, it has put over 200 startups on stage, many of which have gone on to great success, having collectively raised nearly $1 billion in follow-on capital. Some Vator winners have gone on to raise $100 million in follow-on capital, while some have been acquired, or pivoted and rebranded since then. Of course, we don't have a perfect track record. Some invariably have shut down.
Let's take a look at some the companies that have made it on stage to see where they are now:
- Turo (RelayRides)
RelayRides was one of the top 10 finalists of Vator's first startup competition all the way back in October 2009, back when the competition was called Juice Pitcher.
Originally focused on hourly, on-demand rentals, the company eventually began pivoting away from that model and toward longer duration rentals, including weekly and monthly. The company also began to put emphasis airport travel, in which users can rent cars directly at the airport.
In late 2015, the company officially changed its name to Turo, and raised $47 million, bringing its total funding to over $80 million. Investors in the company include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, August Capital, Canaan Partners, Google Ventures, Shasta Ventures, and Trinity Ventures.
Turo is now available in over 4,500 cities and over 300 airports. It provides its users with more than 800 makes and models to choose from.
The winner of Splash in 2010, the online learning company provides an open platform for users to teach or learn from one another online. When the company pitched, it was hosting around 400 courses; there are now more than 55,000. It currently has 17 milion students.
The company has also gone on to raise $173 million, most recently a $65 million round in 2015. Investors have included 500 Startups, Insight Venture Partners, Jeremy Stoppelman, Keith Rabois, Naspers, Norwest Venture Partners, Paul Martino and Signia Venture Partners.
Thumbtack was the winner of the very first Vator startup competition, and has gone on to become one of the most successful as well.
The company, which matches customers with local professionals, went on to raise over $273 million in funding, most recently a $125 million round in late 2015, which turned it into a unicorn, valuing it at $1.3 billion. Investors have included Google Capital, Tiger Global Management, Sequoia Capital, and Javelin Venture Partners.
Thumbtack now offers over 1,000 types of services, and has over 250,000 active professionals who generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue from the platform.
The winner of Vator Splash SF in 2013, PokitDok is a company that once described itself as a healthcare marketplace, and a way for consumers to shop directly from providers for high value health services. It has since evolved, broadening its business by introducing a new platform made up of APIs that are meant to help businesses streamline their health transactions. Over 1,000 third party enterprise applications now run on PokitDok.
The company has raised over $48 million in funding, including a $5 million round in March of this year, from investors that have included McKesson Ventures, Subtraction Capital, Lemhi Ventures, New Atlantic Ventures, Rogers Venture Partners, Charles River Ventures, George Zachary, Jonathan Sposato, Geoff Entress, Albert Prast, and Zac Zeitlin.
While many of our Splash alumni have gone on raise a lot of money, there are other ways to describe success, including big exits. That includes DogVacy, winner of the 2012 Vator Splash LA competition.
The company, which is basically an AirBnB for dogs, was acquired in March of this year by rival pet sitting service Rover. DogVacay operates independently from Rover. The two companies combine for more than 100,000 5-star sitters. To date, millions of services have been booked through Rover and DogVacay combined, generating over $150 million in combined bookings in 2016.
Before being acquired, DogVacay had raised $47 million in funding, most recently taking in a $25 million round from OMERS Ventures, GSV Capital, First Round Capital, Benchmark, Foundation Capital and DAG Ventures in November of 2014.
Traxo was the Vator Splash NY 2012 winner. The travel API provider autmatically detects and aggregates travel information, including itineraries, miles, points, and elite status, directly from over 200 different travel websites. It accepts travel confirmation emails, organizing everything into a single, comprehensive travel dashboard. Users are able to track miles, points, status, expiration dates, usernames and passwords.
In 2013, Traxo launched a B2B platform and now includes Chrome River, Lufthansa, Travel and Transport, Cornerstone Information Systems, iJet and InsideFlyer as customers.
Traxo has raised almost $11 million, including a $5.2 million round in December, led by TripAdvisor. Other investors have included Advantage Capital Partners, Silver Creek Ventures, and Thayer Ventures.
The winner of Splash SF in 2012, Apartment List offers apartment ratings and reviews, neighborhood reviews, pros & cons, and wiki content, social media tools, and peer advice, all designed to help consumers make the right decision when choosing their apartment.
The company has gone on to raise $53 million, including a $30 million round this past November. Investors include Canaan Partners, Matrix Partners and Glynn Capital.
Apartment List now reaches over four million renters monthly.
Kismet, which won the People's Choice award at Splash SF in 2012, also had a big exit to a major tech compay.
The startup, which originally launched as a mobile-dating app, and then became an app to find people nearby, launched a Snapchat competitor called Blink in 2013. That service got the attention of Yahoo, which acqui-hired the company in 2014, shutting down both Kismet and Blink in the process. Both of Kismet's founders stayed at Yahoo until 2016, and now they both work at GoToMeeting.
Before its acquisition, Kismet had raised just $770,000 in funding from AngelPad, Triple Point and NEA.
One of the newer entrants on this list, Laugh.ly was a competitor at Splash Spring in 2016.
The company, which is a streaming app dedicated solely to showcasing stand-up comedy from both established and new comedians, raised $2.25 million in seed funding in January. The round was led by the New York Angels, and included investments from venture capitalist Barbara Corcoran, the Wharton Alumni Angel Network, Social+Capital, Backstage Capital, Treehouse Capital, Accelerator Ventures and Atlas Holdings.
Laugh.ly's comedy library has albums from more than 700 comedians. Launched in August of last year, the app has been downloaded more than 150,000 times on iOS and Android. Users are currently averaging more than 60 minutes per session.
Carrum, the winner of the People's Choice Award at Vator Splash Health in 2016, allows SMBs to contract directly with healthcare providers in order to provide price transparency to the market, and to offer lower cost, higher quality care to employees.
The company raised a $6.5 million round of funding in May from SJF Ventures and SpringRock Ventures. That was the company's first funding since being founded in 2014.
Over the past year, Carrum Health went from having one employer group in early 2016 to currently serving more than 400 employer groups on the West Coast of the U.S. The company currently offers over a dozen bundles in orthopedic, spine and cardiac care.
- (Bloomlife) Bloom Technologies
Bloom Technologies, which received honorable mention at Vator Splash LA 2016, has since changed its name to Bloomlife. It provides a a smart pregnancy wearable that allows women to see each contraction as it occurs and learn how it corresponds to the sensations they feel.
The company has raised $6 million, including $4 million in August of last year, in a round led by investors Marc Benioff and Efficient Capacity, LanzaTech Ventures, MeusInvest, Hanmi IT, The Chernin Group, Kapor Capital, and Act One Ventures.
Industry, the winner of the Vator Splash LA startup competition in 2016, is like a LinkedIn for the hospitality industry, acting as a professional network, marketplace, and hiring solution for the space.
The company has raised $2.5 million in funding, including a pre-seed round of $200,000 in 2015 and a $2.3 funding seed round in October, closing right after Splash Health LA 2016.
Industry's current clients include MGM Resorts International, Disneyland Resorts/Parks, Hell’s Kitchen, Cohn Restaurant Group, Fox Restaurant Concepts, and Stone Brewing Co.
Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs
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Thumbtack helps you accomplish the personal projects that are central to your life.
Whether you need to paint your home, learn a new language, or plan your daughter's birthday party, Thumbtack is the easiest and most dependable way to hire the right professional for your projects.
Get started by answering a few questions about your specific needs. Within hours, Thumbtack will introduce you to several available and qualified professionals. Compare custom quotes, reviews, and profiles and hire when you’re ready.
By connecting customers like you to the right pros, we enable independent professionals to grow their businesses and do what they love. We’re proud that many of our pros have doubled or even tripled the size of their businesses through Thumbtack.
Thumbtack is available nationwide for more than 700 project categories.
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RelayRides is the world's first peer-to-peer carsharing service. Our revolutionary service provides the technology, infrastructure and marketplace for car owners to securely and conveniently rent out their vehicles when they are not using them personally. This provides people seeking convenient transportation with a new option, and makes it easier for urban dwellers to enjoy mobility without owning a car.
As the average US car is driven only 66 minutes a day, RelayRides represents the first opportunity for car owners to monetize this underused asset. By providing the infrastructure, technology and marketplace for car owners to rent out their vehicles, RelayRides gives current car owners the means to monetize a largely underused asset. By enrolling in RelayRides, owners turn a car from an expense into a cash machine, with average profit of approximately $3,550 annually (net of depreciation costs).
How RelayRides Works:
Car owners list their vehicle on the RelayRides website, designate availability, rental price, and who may rent the vehicle (via Facebook and other social networks). Car renters browse available vehicles on RelayRides.com, reserve a car by the hour or day, and swipe an issued card over a card reader sensor on the vehicle for access during rental.
To streamline the rental experience, gas and insurance are included.
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Udemy is a website that enables anyone to teach and learn online. Udemy tries to democratize online education by making it fast, easy and free to create online courses. Udemy is an open platform, so anyone can build an online course by posting videos, presentations, writing blog posts, or hosting live virtual classroom sessions.
Udemy tries to solve a simple problem: there are millions of smart people in the world (authors, speakers, coaches, trainers, subject matter experts and teachers) who want to teach over the internet. Currently, it costs $10,000 to create a website to teach, and there are thousands of instructors doing this (we've talked to them; they hate it). We provide instructors with the ability to create their own course without any up-front costs. That way, they no longer have to deal with the technology and can focus entirely on teaching.
Udemy Live is Udemy’s live virtual conferencing and classroom tool. It is entirely web-based and built on component architecture. Each component was built separately, and there is an internal API so third party developers can build components on top of Udemy’s virtual conferencing tool. The API is not currently public.
Udemy was founded by MobileCrunch writer Gagan Biyani, Eren Bali and Oktay Caglar. Eren and Oktay worked at SpeedDate.com, an online dating site that has received over $8M in funding from Menlo Ventures.
Udemy will start by focusing on a specific niche: Poker education. We will roll out Udemy to enter the $100M business of online poker education. Udemy has deals with more than 15 extremely popular poker instructors to teach on Udemy Poker over the internet. After that niche, Udemy will begin to enter additional markets in which there is a willingness to pay by consumers and a clear set of high-quality instructors interested in teaching.
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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.
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DogVacay.com 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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Healthcare is unreasonably complex and costly. At Carrum Health, we’re applying a common sense approach to simplify the payment model and produce greater value for employers and their employees. We do so by directly connecting progressive self-insured employers to top-quality regional healthcare providers through the industry’s first comprehensive bundled payment solution. Our innovative platform reimagines how care is paid for and delivered, improving the value of health benefits for employers and their members.
Good for employers. Even better for members. No tradeoffs.
Carrum’s solution is a “win” for all parties, a rarity in healthcare:
- Employers achieve significant cost savings and predictability without risk or hassle.
- Members receive top-quality care and a concierge experience for zero out-of-pocket costs so they can focus on recovery instead of medical bills.
- Providers gain streamlined administration allowing them to do what they do best – deliver expert care.
For more information about Carrum Health, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Traxo is the world’s most advanced personal travel organizer.
The free service automatically detects and aggregates travel information, including: itineraries, miles, points, and elite status, directly from over 200 different travel websites, and accepts travel confirmation emails from over 1,000 travel providers, organizing everything into a single, comprehensive travel dashboard -- essentially a next-gen Tripit or Mint.com for travel.
Traxo users become part of a smart, savvy online travel community and are rewarded with rich and informed social travel experiences. Conceived by founders Andres Fabris, Andy Chen and Richard Pendergast, Traxo’s executive team is comprised of business veterans with years of industry experience at companies such as Sabre and Travelocity.
For more information, please visit www.traxo.com.
Check out Splash NY Dec 2012 Winner, Traxo's presentation
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Provider of a cloud-based application programming interface (API) platform designed to make healthcare transactions more efficient and streamline the business of health. The company's platform enables third-party developers such as payers, health systems and digital health companies to process eligibility checks, claims, scheduling, payments, and other business transactions, enabling hospitals and health systems to build new patient-centered experiences. With DokChain, an evolution of PokitDok’s platform utilizing blockchain and other distributed technologies, PokitDok seeks to remove even more waste from healthcare administration while enabling new value creation by healthcare and other industry stakeholders for the consumers they serve.
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Laugh.ly is launching the first streaming app dedicated to stand-up comedy. The app not only allows listeners to stream comedy from professional comedians (such as Chris Rock and George Carlin), it allows emerging comedians to upload and publish comedy albums of their own. Laugh Radio has acquired comedic recordings of hundreds of professional comedians. We also have direct distribution deals with the largest media publishers in comedy such as Comedy Central. No other platform has the ability to capture a significant portion of the $10b comedy market. We've built a cutting-edge on-demand platform for entertainment media.
We've launched and here is a snapshot of our success:
- Selected by the Apple Store editors as one of the "New Apps We Love"
- We peaked at 10,000 downloads, now averaging 3,000 downloads a day and just hit 50,000 installs
- Average app rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars across 100+ reviews
- Overtaken Seeso and Comedy Central.com in category rankings (went up to #33)
- Ranked #1 in search terms Laugh, Standup, and Comedy
- Average listen time per day 48 minutes (compared to Pandora's 22 minutes/day)
- Day 1 retention rates are 33% without any retention marketing efforts (compared to an industry average of 20%)
- Week 1 retention rates above 50% (compared to an industry average of 30%)
- App store conversion is at 60% (compared to an industry average of 40%)
- Our push notifications have a response rate of 11% (compared to an industry average of 3.5%)
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Bloom is designing the future of prenatal care with technology designed to improve the health of moms and babies. We combine wearable devices with data analytics to reassure moms and provide doctors with better information to improve birth outcomes.
Our first product, Belli, measures the most important health parameters of mom and baby from conception to birth. This includes pregnancy specific information no other wearable can measure today (contractions, fetal movement, fetal heart rate). Moms receive personalized feedback on her baby and her body to take the guesswork out of pregnancy and provide much needed peace of mind.
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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.