Startup Competition Guide


Vator Splash alumni: which companies raised money in 2017

Turo, PandaDoc, ShareRoot, FairClaims and many more are continue to attract VCs

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
December 26, 2017
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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 the end of 2009. In that time, we've selected more than 200 startups and put them on stage in front of investors. Many have gone on to great success, having collectively raised more than $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 that have made some news in the past year:



  • 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.

In September, Turo raised a $92 million Series D round of funding, co-led by Mercedes-Benz manufacturer, Daimler, and one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, SK Holdings. The company's total funding it now over $192 million.

Turo also announced plans to expand to Germany in the next year.


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.

Earlier this year, PokitDok raised a $5 million round from GIS Strategic Ventures, the strategic investments arm of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, bringing its total funding to over $55 million.

The company used the new capital to fund the development of DokChain, blockchain for healthcare, and expand access to PokitDok’s API solutions. 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.'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.


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.

In November the company was awarded two grants totaling $2.3 million in funding from the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union under the SME instrument, and Belgian based Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship funding agency.


PandaDoc, a tablet and web-based app that allows its users to send, track, negotiate and sign documents on the go, was a finalist at Splash SF in October 2013.

In May, the company raised a $15 million Series B in funding, in a round led by Rembrandt Venture Partners. Microsoft Ventures, HubSpot, EBRD, via the EBRD Venture Capital Investment Programme. Altos Ventures also participated in the funding round. This brought PandaDoc's total funding to over $21 million.


The winner of Splash LA in 2014, iUNU is a provider of energy efficient plasma lighting and control systems for horticulture applications. It lowers operating costs, enabling more dependable, healthier, and sustainable indoor plant growth.

In August, the company announced that it had raised $6 million in funding from 2nd Avenue Partners, Initialized Capital, Fuel Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, and that it was launching its "flagship greenhouse solution," called Luna, which is powered by computer vision. That allows Luna to learn, and remember, the moment her cameras and sensors are first installed in the greenhouse, giving growers historical records of every detail of every plant in the system, as well as live information.


Countable was the winner of the Startup Showcase Alley at  Vator Splash Oakland in 2015. It's an online web- and mobile-based governmental application that provides information about key legislations for eligible voters. In March, the company raised $2 million in a round led by Canaan Partners. 

From just inauguration day to March, Countable sent 2.7 million messages to Congress on behalf of its users. 


ShareRoot was the winner of the People's Choice award at Vator Splash Oakland in 2015. Its a content marketing platform, which aggregates user generated content from Instagram and Twitter in a platform that brands can access and securely request for the rights to those images.

The company raised $1 million in July. Its user base nearly doubled quarter-on-quarter to 180,000 users at the end of June, up from just under 100,000 active users at the end of March.



Vator Splash Health 2016 cohort DocDelta is a talent engine for healthcare. The company helps hospitals make millions of dollars in additional revenue by helping them to hire the best clinicians more cost effectively and win the war for talent. 

In April, DocDelta was selected to be part of the second cohort from Newark Venture Partners Labs, the accelerator formed by Newark Venture Partners, which invests $200,000, including $100,000 upfront in convertible note and equity and $100,000 co-invested into the company's venture-backed raise.


Part of the Vator Splash Spring 2016 cohort, The History Project connects memories and artifacts, which have been scattered over various digital, social, and physical platform, allowing users to collect them in order to collaborative, and interactive life narratives.

In August, the company raised $1.2 million from Amasia, and changed its name to Enwoven.


Part of the Vator Splash Spring 2016 cohort, Hostfully is a platform that helps hosts in the alternative lodging industry (e.g. Airbnb, HomeAway) create guidebooks that contain essential hospitality information for their guests - a "virtual concierge". Hosts share key home-sharing information, as well as local recommendations for food, shopping, entertainment and more - on mobile, web, and in print.

The company raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding in May from Acceleprise.

Since mid 2016, Hostfully has helped thousands of people across 80 countries create content over 20,000 times.


Iris Plans

Iris Plans, which won Vator Splash Health 2017, is a technology-enabled service delivering Advanced Care Planning (ACP) through a video/ telephone conference platform.

In October, the company raised $5.1 million in a Seed funding round led by Activate Venture Partners and LiveOak Venture Partners, bringing its total funding to $5.9 million.

The company will invest new funds in the technology platform, growing the engineering team and extending products and training for healthcare professionals. It expects to do another round of funding in 18 to 24 months.


Catalia Health

A finalist at Vator Splash Health in March, Catalia Health is a patient care management company that provides an effective, scalable, AI-powered patient engagement platform for individuals managing chronic disease or taking medications on an ongoing basis. 

The company raised two rounds of funding this year: first, a $2.5 million round in May from Khosla Ventures, along with NewGen Capital and Macnica Ventures, as well as Q Venture Partners Limited, InnoLinks Ventures, Abstract by Flight.VC, DeNA and Lucky Capital; then a $4 million Series A round in November led by Ion Pacific along with Khosla Ventures, NewGen Ventures, Abstract Ventures and Tony Ling.

With the second funding, the company also announced Charles Wu as its new Director of Product Management. 




At Vator Splash LA 2016 ArbiClaims, an online dispute resolution platform, was the runner up winner in the startup competition. 

In March of this year, the company announced that it had changed its name to FairClaims. Then, in July, it raised $1.8 million from Fika Ventures, Crosslink Capital and Greycroft.

FairClaims protects over 30 million individuals and businesses through their enterprise offering and works with companies and partners like Turo, HomeAway, Better Business Bureau and US Legal. 



A finalist at Vator Splash LA in 2016, Heartbeat rewards millennial women for being themselves on social media. It has built a community of women through its lifestyle products and social content, and it connects its audience with the brands who are trying to reach them.

The company raised a $1 million round of funding in December led by Sinai Ventures, along with Firebrand Ventures, as well as Heartbeat’s existing investors, including Right Side Capital Management. The round brought its total funding of $2.9 million.

Heartbeat has a total audience of over 411 million, as well as over 130,000 ambassadors. The platform saw over 112 million likes and over 9 million comments in the last week.

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Related companies, investors and entrepreneurs

Description: RelayRides is the world's first peer-to-peer carsharing service. Our revolutionary service provides the technology, infrastructure a...
Bloom Technologies
Description: Bloom is designing the future of prenatal care with technology designed to improve the health of moms and babies.  We combine wearab...
The History Project
Description: The History Project (THP) is changing the way our history is captured and told by re-inventing a new form of digital time capsule. As a p...
Description: IUNU (pronounced “you-new”) is changing the way we grow food. We solve the core problems preventing indoor agriculture from b...
Iris Plans
Description: Iris Plans reduces the cost of complex care by 25% with our Advance Care Planning (ACP) solution for health insurers and at-risk provider...
Catalia Health
Description: Catalia Health is a patient care management company that provides an effective, scalable, AI-powered patient engagement platform for indi...
Description: Countable is an iPhone app, Android app and website where users can learn about issues, influence their representatives in government, an...
Description:   PandaDoc is a tablet and web-based app that allows you to Send, Track, Negotiate and Sign Documents on the go, fast and eas...
ShareRoot, Inc.
Description: ShareRoot has created a SaaS platform that gives brands the ability to source UGC from various social channels. We currently utilize A...
Description: We help hospitals make millions of dollars in additional revenue by helping them to hire the best clinicians more cost effectively a...
Carrum Health
Description: Healthcare is unreasonably complex and costly. At Carrum Health, we’re applying a common sense approach to simplify the payment mod...
Description: Provider of a cloud-based application programming interface (API) platform designed to make healthcare transactions more efficient and ...
Description: <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> <o:PixelsPerInch>96</o:PixelsPerInch> </o:OfficeD...
Description: We reward millennial women for being themselves on social media. We've built a network of 30,000 everyday millennial women who are "brand...
Description: Hostfully is a platform that helps hosts in the alternative lodging industry (e.g. Airbnb, HomeAway) create guidebooks that contain ess...
Description: FairClaims is the most efficient, most cost-effective online dispute resolution platform for enterprise.    We help companies r...

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