Out of the 77 companies that demonstrated their products at this week’s DEMO conference, only five won the coveted DEMO God award. These startups don’t only have great businesses, but were awesome on stage. Here they are:
Stress can completely paralyze some of us during life’s most important moments; for others, it’s more of a silent killer, leading to anxiety, insomnia, poor digestion, alcohol or drug abuse, and other health problems. Bandu detects changes in your motion, temperature, and skin conductance to identify signs of increased mental stress. If stress flags start to fly, the device will alert you with an invitation to use your smartphone to take your mood in a different direction. It might ask you to listen to some music, play a game, or call a friend or family member.
Neurotrack provides a simple-for-consumers but highly sophisticated diagnostic test that tracks eye movement to diagnose Alzheimer’s three to four years before any symptoms occur. You sit in front of a computer screen with an eye-tracking device and view a series of images, some novel and some not novel. Based on how much time you spend looking at the novel image versus the image that hasn’t changed, Neurotrack can give you a prognosis. Neurotrack’s second product removes the need for the eye-tracker, making the test even more accessible and affordable for families and indviduals around the globe. The redesigned test uses a mouse or track pad. The company hopes people will take the test and help pharmaceuticals develop drugs to fight the effects of Alzheimer’s.
Electnext’s free survey helps you discover where you stand on the political spectrum and which candidates are the closest match to your interests. You can register for free by signing in with Facebook or Twitter (don’t worry — it doesn’t post your political views to your news feed). It asks you to order the issues that matter to you the most, including health care, immigration, and education. It then prompts you on how strongly you agree or disagree with controversial statements. At any time, you can peruse comments and discussion threads to get a better handle on an issue. Ultimately, the goal for the site is to increase access to information and stimulate civic engagement.
Birdeez is an iPhone app that makes it “ridiculously easy” in the words of cofounder Jeff Simeon, to identify birds and then share your sightings on Twitter. Birdeez takes you through the identification process via a few simple steps (see screenshots below). Figure out its rough category, select a size and color, and then narrow it down to matching species. Once you’ve found a match, you can read a detailed description and behavioral information. If you press the “spot it” button — the high tech version of writing down the bird in your life list — Birdeez will save the time and place of your sighting, and optionally let you tweet it.
Birdeez is still pending approval from the Apple iTunes App Store.
Flinja is a startup that uses the talent, energy, and financial need of college students to create a freelance workforce. On the marketplace, students post services they want to provide, which alumni and staff can directly book. The site provides an opportunity for students to build their professional networks, find jobs and internships, and make a little extra cash. The site securely processes all transactions with a third-party payment system and escrow facilities.
The company is launching on a school-by-school basis. It is already available to the University of Southern California community. So far, 12 percent of the current USC population are registered Flinjas, with significant adoption from members of the class of 2016. An official Flinja student association is also on campus.
Ube — People’s Choice winner
Ube is a startup focusing on bringing the Internet of things to life inside the connected home, starting with an iPhone app and three hardware products: Smart Dimmer, Smart Outlet, and Smart Plug. Ube brings a centralized, cloud-based brain and central control system to all your home’s web-connected electronics. All you need is a smartphone, “no professional custom installation required.” Better still, it’s free.
Rentlingo — Alpha Pitch winner
Rentlingo was created by a group of Standford students who wanted to be able to tap into how their friends find apartments. The company is creating a social network around finding an apartment. It scrapes the Internet for listings but also provides places for you to interact with friends who may have lived in that area, or potential roommates. It connects through Facebook in order to maintain “a trusted community of real people.” But the company has big competitors like Craigslist, which already has a big following among college students on the rental lookout, and emerging competitors such as PadMapper.
Photo credit: Stephen Brashear