Update: Though 500 Startups’ Bedy Yang says, “There were many winners” at today’s Google Demo Day, Player’s Health of Minneapolis took home the Judge’s Choice and Knowledgehook of Waterloo, the Game Changer award.
According to judge Frank Chen of Andreessen Horowitz, Player’s Health hit home because he has three kids in organized sports. “No software to automate communication is an obvious problem to myself,” he said.
Steve Case closed out the pitch event by presenting a “Rise of the Rest” Challenge: $100,000 to any of the 11 startups that raise $1 million in the next 100 days. Stay tuned in coming months to see if Durham startup Mira meets the challenge.
While we all wonder if Mira has what it takes to bring Durham and American Underground its third consecutive Google Demo Day win, let’s consider who the startup is up against.
First, an overview on the companies pitching today at Google headquarters. These teams seem earlier stage than those in years past, and most have participated in at least one accelerator program. Most have also raised some seed capital—only one has raised more than $2 million (according to published reports). To participate in Google Demo Day, each company must be raising a Series A round, which Google defines as between $1 million and $4 million.
Mira is the only advertising technology company in the bunch. There’s a transit technology startup, a sports health app, a mobile fashion community, two EdTech companies, a platform for distributing classical music digitally, a digital apparel printing company, telehealth software, contract management software and a SaaS platform for retailers to track competitors’ pricing changes.
It may be the most diverse group in the bunch by demographics too. Nearly half of the companies are located outside the United States and some aren’t even targeting the U.S. market. Four of the companies are led by women and many have foreign-born founders.
Let’s get started with Dart Music, which launched out of Nashville’s Project Music accelerator and is based at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. The company, founded by a classical music composer, raised $1.5 million after completing the program last year. Its software attaches metadata to classical music for the first time, allowing classical composers to distribute and sell music digitally through services like iTunes and other online stores.
SPLT, which stands for “splitting fares”, helps connect people traveling similar routes for their morning commute. It promises cost savings, a reduction in traffic and emissions. The startup, which partners with major corporations to offer the service as a new commute option to employees, participated in the first class of Techstars Mobility accelerator program in Detroit last year, based at the Google Tech Hub Grand Circus.
It also was selected as one of 15 startups to participate in the national Clean Energy Trust Challenge and a regional finalist for the Hult Prize Challenge in Shanghai.
Repping Austin is Chiron Health, a three-year-old telemedicine company that works within a medical practice’s existing workflow to make video chat seamless for doctors and patients and also allows for full reimbursement from payors. The company raised $2.3 million late last year from Capital Factory, where it’s also headquartered, as well as a pair of venture capital funds.
Player’s Health is a mobile app that lets coaches and athletes communicate with each other about health and injuries (similar to Chapel Hill-based Fit for 90). Recently relocated from Chicago to the Minneapolis Google Tech Hub called Coco Northeast, the company was founded by a former Canadian Football League player Tyrre Burks. It’s targeted to clubs and associations, leagues, tournaments, teams and parents.
Player’s Health graduated from the gener8tor accelerator in Wisconsin and raised more than $1 million in seed funding. Its larges deal to date is with USA Wrestling, which offers access to up to 200,000 athletes.
There are six teams with roots or headquarters outside the United States.
Representing Canada is Knowledgehook, which takes a data-driven approach to helping teachers and school boards understand the subject matter causing struggles and then offers up new ways of teaching the material. Knowledgehook has been part of Google Tech Hub Communitech’s accelerator, a program focused on companies in need of sales and marketing strategy, as well as a mentorship program called AC JumpStart which came with $40,000.
PACTA is the other Canadian representative. The husband and wife-led startup, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a software platform for creating, tracking and managing contracts. Just a year old, it graduated from the Propel ICT accelerator and FounderFuel (based at the Google Tech Hub Notman House in Montreal) and was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Up and Coming information and communications technology (ICT) companies by industry analyst Branham Group.
It’s got some funding from a large New York company that media reports say was its first client, along with $300,000 from Canadian investors BDC Capital, Innovacorp and Real Ventures.
A pair of Latin American companies are in this year’s competition. There’s Kuona Analytics, based in Monterrey, Mexico and Palo Alto, a shopping list app that notifies users the cheapest store to buy items, organizes lists by location in a store and offers personalized deals. It also lets retailers track prices of their competitors and receive notifications and alerts for more sudden price changes.
Kuona participated in Start-Up Chile in 2013, earning investment from naranya LABS and NXTP Labs, and then MassChallenge in Boston in 2014.
TiZKKA is led by a Uruguayan team but based in Mexico City. This app, initially launched in Brazil and only in Portuguese, gives fashion enthusiasts access to personal stylists and fashion experts in real time. The company raised $343,500 in 2014, the same year it launched across South America and with Spanish and English language versions.
Next up is VIDA, founded by a Pakistani entrepreneur who previously worked in product development for Microsoft’s Xbox division.
The San Francisco company does digital textile printing (similar to Durham-based Spoonflower). Designs are submitted by artists and global designers and printed on silk and cashmere scarves and blouses on-demand, or as they are ordered by customers. The company has a charitable mission too, paying living wages to workers in its factories in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. It raised $1.3 million in 2014 from big name investors like Google Ventures and Universal Music Group.
Finally, representing 1879 in Chicago is a software that child care centers can use to update parents on their kids’ learning and developmental progress through any channel they’d like. Called MyChild, the five-year-old company is sending more than a million emails to parents each month. Its founders are Portuguese and went through a startup accelerator in Lisbon. They’ve raised $260,000 according to AngelList.
Judges for the competition are Steve Case of the DC venture capital firm Revolution, Frank Chen of Andreessen Horowitz and Bedy Yang of 500 Startups. More details on the event are here. And stay tuned for a recap after the winner is announced.