TechStars NYC Demo Day Recap

October 18th, 2011 by Caroline Scheinfeld View Comments

On a bleak Tuesday morning, Silicon Alley investors and entrepreneurs, threw back caffeine and prepared themselves for the TechStars NYC Summer 2011 class pitches. Ironically, a song from “foster the people,” played, re-emphasizing the core of Techstars. The TechStars incubator is all about supporting, executing and inspiring peoples’ ideas.

A special guest, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, charismatically shared his support for Techstars as well as petitioned for NYC to be a hub for startups.

With initial roots in Boulder, CO, Techstars is a “mentorship-driven seed stage accelerator program,” which lasts three months and boasts admission to be harder than Harvard.

The TechStars team, which includes Dave Tisch and Adam Rothenberg, did  another phenomenal job mentoring the companies.  Each entrepreneur elucidated his or her ideas with humor, poise and grace. As TechStars co-founder Brad Feld said, “entrepreneurs can struggle with presenting what they do, why it matters and why people should care” but today “the presentation dynamic and caliber were off the track across the board.” Here is a quick preview of the 12 companies who presented at Demo Day.

Contently enables brands/companies to become publishers without having to hire any in-house employees. Freelance writers set up profiles on the site where they can showcase their writing and be paired with the brands they are qualified to write for. has taken the fragmented local industry of online food delivery and created an open national platform. It is a restaurant platform that connects any restaurants with any clients.

Urtak is a question and answer tool, which can be added to any piece of content in order to increase audience engagement. With yes, no or I don’t care, Urtak strives to replace comments with their Q and A’s, which in turn organizes the world’s opinion.

mobintent make it easier for businesses to manage and create mobile ad campaigns. Through their technology, mobintent breaks down the barriers for advertisers enabling them successfully and smoothly run mobile campaigns.

Spontaneously is a mobile service for sharing and finding out plans based on peoples’ availability. It is the evolution of the calendar, showing you what you can do and what your friends are currently engaging in.

Piictu is a visual network where interactions happen through the exchange of pictures. Piictu is building the first mobile platform for collaborative self-expression in a generation where pictures are no longer objects of memory but of interaction.

Sidetour is a peer-to-peer marketplace for experiences. Authentic experiences are sold to real people who can experience and discover explorative activities locally.

Ambassador is a social referral platform where brands can turn customers into their own brand ambassadors. It is a social customer acquisition platform for e-commerce.

ChatID is a SAS product that retailers, brands and publishers can use to connect with their consumers all over the web. Through one API, chatID is a universal chat platform enabling businesses to communicate with any customer on any device.

Wantworthy is a shopping utility that bridges the gap between browsing and buying. It enables women to save items they like and provides them with a neutral place to make purchase decisions.

Dispatch enables users to see and manage their cloud in one place. It also makes cloud file sharing simple.

Coursekit reshapes education for the Internet age with a social network for education. Classes, homework help and other channels of distribution are available for students all in one place.

Mayor Bloomberg further fueled my passion for Silicon Alley with his growing support for NYC as a place for startups. As an entrepreneur himself, he understands the emotions associated with creating one’s own job. He claims “being an entrepreneur was the most exciting time…the first year you are enthusiastic and you don’t listen to your friends and family…the last year you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, the light wasn’t a train but it was the end of the tunnel.” One of Bloomberg’s aspirations is “when people talk about startups. I want them to talk about New York.”

After hearing the 12 companies pitch at Demo Day, I think Bloomberg’s dreams for New York are closer to reality than he may believe.



About Jay Levy

Jay Levy

Jay Levy is a co-founder and principal of Zelkova Ventures. Jay focuses most of his time in working with the current portfolio company and looking at new investments in the software-as-a-service, internet media and green tech space. More »


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