Venture accelerator TechStars NYC hosted a demo day for its spring 2012 class of startups on Thursday (June 14) morning. The event was primarily a showcase for tech investors, but since the program’s based in the advertising capital of the world, it’s no surprise that a number of the fledgling companies are right up Madison Avenue’s alley. Here are five to watch:
Second-screen TV is an emerging industry, but Condition One has developed technology that makes others in the space seem dated. Rather than attempting to gamify the video-watching experience through rewards like badges or quizzes, Condition One’s iPad app promises to augment the TV viewing experience with more than just supplemental content. Or as CEO and co-founder Danfung Dennis said, “it brings the second screen to life.”
As users watch a TV show they can play cameraman with their iPad. More specifically, while watching a show on Discovery Channel, for example, viewers can physically pan the iPad in any direction and expand the video’s window (imagine watching The Deadliest Catch and seeing different camera angles or sections of the boat via your iPad).
Condition One's tech can enhance advertising as well; Mercedes-Benz has already signed on as a pilot partner. The auto brand could run a TV spot or online video ad that focuses on a celebrity sitting in the driver’s seat talking about the car. But via a Condition One-powered Mercedes app users could aim their iPads off-screen behind the driver and check out the backseat of the car. Futuristic as it sounds, Condition One is compatible with most cameras in the market, so just about anyone will be able to create videos using the technology.
Plus Condition One said it’s building a network of digital agencies and production companies that will be able to embed the software within their own iPad or iPhone apps. The NBA, Discovery Channel and Thomson Reuters have also signed up, and Dennis said the preview app has received 40,000 downloads in less than two weeks since launching in the iTunes App Store.
Pickie claims to be the world’s first truly personalized shopping magazine. Pickie’s iPad app aggregates product-related content from a user’s Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest profiles and connections, as well as influencers, brands and publishers, and presents that content in an interactive magazine/catalog mashup. Pickie’s in-house editorial team creates original magazine-like content, and another section of the app pulls together personalized content based on a user’s in-app actions. “At Pickie, we’re moving beyond the interest graph. What we’re building is the product graph,” said CEO and co-founder Sonia Sahney Nagar.
The app, which updates content daily, is currently invitation-only, but the team plans to launch it in the iTunes App Store this summer. Initially Pickie will serve simply as a product showcase rather than an e-commerce engine, but co-founder Abhijit Rao said the startup plans to eventually add the ability for users to buy items within the app.
Brands already use Twitter to solicit consumer feedback, but that feedback is often the product of a social media team digging through social posts and responses for insights. Poptip’s claims its back-end technology can process that feedback and display responses within a dashboard.
For example, a brand can post a question to its Twitter followers, e.g., “What’s your color? #red #blue or #yellow,” and Poptip will tabulate real-time responses into a scoreboard so the brand can see that #blue won with 234 mentions. But Poptip isn’t just about running polls. The startup collects not just feedback but social data. CEO and founder Kelsey Falter predicts that eventually a brand or publisher could take Poptip users' poll responses and personalize their site accordingly. For example, ESPN could see that a user most often responds to baseball-related polls, so when that user visits ESPN.com, the site could prioritize its MLB content atop the homepage. In addition to ESPN, Poptip is working with Pepsi, ABC, Frito-Lay, CNN, the NBA and MLB.
Rewind.me founder and CEO Craig Danuloff wants to turn the ad tech landscape on its head. Right now the startup is akin to Klout Perks, but only for Foursquare users. It enables merchants to deliver offers based on a user’s check-in history using Foursquare. Its ambitions are much larger, however.
Eventually Rewind.me users will be able to connect their accounts to other data sources like a Nike+ FuelBand, so that a running shoe brand could promote deals to consumers who put in the most miles. Rewind.me serves as a matchmaker between brands and consumers; merchants can’t access users’ information but can serve offers based on users’ scores as calculated by Rewind.me’s algorithms—which grade users in more than 300 categories based on how they spend their time, money and attention, claimed Danuloff. Brands looking to work with Rewind.me include Virgin Mobile, Victoria’s Secret, Warby Parker, Birchbox Uber and Savored, he said. “This is the next generation of ad tech,” said Danuloff. “When personal information replaces the cookie, it’s going to massively disrupt advertising.”
If the Tumblr folks designed the Foursquare activity feed, it might look like Wander. Users of the app get a Wanderlog, which they can use as a scrapbook to compile places they’ve been, want to go to or are just interested in. When users upload content, they include a caption that mentions a location with asterisks around the location’s name. Those asterisks serve as a hashtag or “@” handle to let Wander aggregate location-related content. So if a New Yorker just came back from a trip to Hawaii, he or she could post a photo of Waikiki with the caption “Missing *Hawaii*” and have that photo and caption posted to the user’s Wanderlog as well as the app's dedicated Hawaii page.
CEO and co-founder Jeremy Fisher said Wanderlog will monetize through sponsored posts that will function like Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, so that a company such as North Face or Patagonia could promote content on Mount Everest’s Wanderlog, for example.