Investors and entrepreneurs packed Webster Hall in New York on Thursday for TechStars NYC's third demo -- or pitch -- day. Thirteen of the startups that went through the TechStars incubator program presented, but we've narrowed that list down to five that are focused on disrupting the media and marketing industries.
Alex Cabrera thinks Marquee can be the content-management tool of the future, and has Wordpress in its crosshairs. Marquee's philosophy is that beautiful web experiences shouldn't be the exclusive domain of professional designers and programmers. Instead, Marquee lets anyone design the layout of a webpage, by simply dragging and dropping images and text, and expanding the size of different page elements by grabbing and sliding their corners in and out. He said that content published on the platform will appear optimized for any device, making it "future-proof." The platform will include simple, e-commerce layer on top to support digital downloads and digital subscriptions. "The future of content is beautiful, open, and profitable," Mr. Cabrera said.
It's easy to get buzz when Mark Cuban is your lead investor, but the technology that this company has built is worthy of the hype. Founded by war photographer Danfung Dennis, Condition One's software turns regular videos into 180-degree immersive experiences that viewers can explore by swiping their tablet screen or moving the device side to side to focus on parts of the captured scene that would usually be in the periphery. No special lenses are needed for the more than 30 million cameras that are already compatible with Condition One's technology, Mr. Dennis said. Popular Science has released an app using the technology and Mercedes has signed on as a pilot partner.
PopTip is looking to disrupt the online survey space by taking surveys and polls to social networks and automating the gathering of results. Right now, PopTip allows brands to tweet from their PopTip dashboard a question for their followers along with answers to choose from, each written as a hashtag. As the brand's followers tweet back their responses, PopTip automatically tallies the results for each answer choice, whether or not the brand's followers use a hashtag in their tweeted answer or spell their answer exactly right. Next, PopTip is planning to bring its service to Facebook. ESPN, Pepsi and the NBA have signed on.
Founder and CEO Craig Danuloff proclaimed: "This is the next generation of ad tech." But Rewind.Me isn't about cookie targeting; it's about being able to market to people based on their past purchases, check-ins and activities that they share through social applications such as Foursquare, Facebook, and Fitbit. Rewind.Me aims to help consumers manage their digital histories all in one spot and let them profit off of that history of check-ins, activities and purchases by getting deals and rewards from brands. What will power those deals and rewards will be scores that Rewind.Me will assign to consumers across 300 categories based on past purchases, places visited, and activities done. On the other side of the equation are marketers, who will bid to serve offers against scores, not individual users. In the pitch, Mr. Danuloff gave an example of a new bicycle shop choosing to offer deals specifically to nearby users on Rewind.Me who score high for cycling based on the amount of miles they have logged in a social, fitness app. The store or brand doesn't know who a user is until they accept a deal or reward. The company has raised $800,000 in a seed round lead by First Round Capital.
"What we're building is the product graph," CEO Sonia Sahney Nagar said. In Pickie's case, that idea manifests itself in a personalized iPad magazine that curates products and product-related content from a user's social graphs on sites such as Facebook and Pinterest as well as favorite websites and blogs. Think Flipboard for shopping. Content in the app is broken down into a few sections: social content, which shows only products that your friends have shared; trending content, which displays products surfaced for you based on the brands you tell Pickie are your favorites; editorial pages, which display editorial content based on the brands you like. The company plans to make money on e-commerce transactions and targeted advertising.