The second half of 500 Startups Demo Day opened up with a video rap and an on-stage chat between Dave McClure and AngelList founder Naval Ravikant. These two titans of early-stage funding discussed the alleged Series A crunch, the changing environment of venture capital, and the increasingly global startup scene. Both men are committed to creating an international, interconnected startup network where entrepreneurs, developers and designers, and investors from all over the world can “cross-pollinate.” They are also strong advocates of focusing on the customer over the investor (despite the fact that today is dedicated to fundraising).
“Companies are unfundable until they are oversubscribed,” Ravikant said, before he left the stage and McClure played a pre-pitch video of dancing teenagers.
Here are the final 14 startups sending out their seeds today at 500 Startups Demo Day:
Cubie is a free mobile messenger app where people can create, and share drawings, photos, and videos. It has over 5 million users and has an average of 100,000 new downloads a day. Cubie hails from Taiwan and has spread rapidly across Asia. Founder Cjin Cheng. said it is the number 1 social media app in 16 countries, and is now expanding in the U.S..
Privy is a Boston, Mass. company that provides automated customer engagement services for brick-and-mortar businesses. Founder and CEO Ben Jabbawy said the average local storefront spends $15,000 a year on advertising, but have no idea about the returns. On Privy, merchants set a budget and upload their specials. The technology automates ad buys across search, social, and mobile to deliver customers who want to redeem the specials in-store. Storeowners pay $100-a-month subscription, per location, and McClure said Privy’s “early unit economics” look amazing.
Iconfinder wants to be the world’s leading search engine for icons. The team hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. Founder Steffen Thilsted said they have had 135 million icon downloads to date, and has surpassed Google in this vertical. The content is curated and contains licensing information, to target professional customers. Thilsted said the next target vertical is photos, followed by all kinds of digital media. Iconfinder raised $1.8 million in seed funding last year.
For small businesses and people without extensive expertise, creating animated videos is a challenge. Wideo launched a few weeks ago and claims to be 20x faster than traditional methods of creating video. Wideo is an online platform that allows users to create, quickly edit, and share their own animated videos. The founders are from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and CEO Agu De Marco said anyone can make “awesome animations in minutes.” He demonstrated his point with an animated video featuring Dave McClure’s head, a hot pink background, and peppy music.
WhoAPI provides extensive domain and website information on a massive scale. This “Twilio” for domains hails from Rijeka, Croatia. Founder Goran Duskic said “We may be from a small country, but this is a big ass project.” The Croatian government already invested and there is a long list of pre-orders while they build this service that “many people don’t even understand.”
UniPay is a mobile payment platform for Brazil, along the lines of Square. On stage, founder Sergio Costa compared himself to Jack Dorsey and said that current payment methods in Brazil, like checks and cash, are very inefficient. UniPay turns smartphones into mobile point-of-sales systems and enabling offline transactions.
Australian startup Kickfolio helps publishers promote their iPhone apps. Instead of screenshots or movies, brands can embed interactive iPhone app demos on any web page. Founder Chris Nolet said massive amounts of time and money are spent getting people to download apps. Using one line of code, Kickfolio embeds native iPhone apps into a website, like Facebook or on a tech blog, so users can test it out before they make a decision.
Italian startup Pick1 connects market research information with social media and contextual data, enabling marketers to efficiently exploit this data to better target audience content. Clients so far include Ikea, Nutella, and Toyota. Pick1 has already raised $1 million, according to founder Armando Biondi.
TradeBriefs is a company based in Mumbai, India that helps people become industry experts through a daily email. Founder Sree Vijaykumar said the service has 400,000 opt-ins subscribers in the fast-growing Indian market. TradeBriefs partners with industry experts to compile relevant information to email out. 20,000 C-level execs are using the service and the team is being approached by large brands looking to reach their audience. TradeBriefs is already profitable and sales are growing 20% every month, on track to reach $1 million in revenues this year.
Tealet is a marketplace that connects tea drinkers with tea growers. Founder (and former Peace Corps volunteer) Elyse Petersen took the stage in a pink wig and a tutu, dancing all the way. “This tea party started 2 years ago when I assumed the life of a global tea ambassador, she said.” Petersen traveled the world, partnering with local, small tea growers and helping them connect with consumers. Since then, Tealet has sold 100,000 cups of tea to 23 different countries. By cutting out the middlemen and large distributors, Tealet increases margins.
Cuponomia is a marketplace to search, discover, and share deals and online coupon codes in Brazil. The team is based in Sao Paulo. Founder Vinicius Dornela said the company has grown 10% week-over-week for the past 5 months, without spending any money on customer acquisition. E-commerce is exploding in Brazil, and with it, arises interest in innovative digital marketing programs.
WalletKit is a Software-as-a-Service platform to create, manage, and deliver digital passes to mobile wallets. The founders come from Chennai, India. During his presentation, Founder Kevin William David said the typical mobile wallet is complicated to set up. Using this technology, companies can quickly build a mobile passbook, with WalletKit powering the backend.
Club W is a curated, personalized wine subscription service based in Denver, Colo. It has shipped over 100,000 bottles of wine. Founder Xander Oxman said there is a spectrum of wine consumers, ranging from people buying “two buck chuck” to people buying expensive, $50+ bottles of wine. However, the fastest growing segment is young people that drink $10 to $20 bottles of wine. Club W fills this middle space.
Spanish startup Traity “measures what is inside people” by crowdsourcing personality information. Founder Juan Cartagena said he met his girlfriend online, but at first she didn’t trust him. Companies will spend large amounts of money on personality testing, but these methods are often antiquated and inaccurate. On Traity, people who know you answer questions about you to create a legitimate personal profile and “improve trust between strangers.” Potential customers include contact centers, graduates, care takers, and advertisers.
SupplyHog creates a better way to purchase building materials, so you can Get-Ship-Done. The founders are from Chattanooga, Tenn., so McClure introduced them “speaking hick.” Founder Nathan Derrick walked on stage to country music and greeted the crowd with a “howdy.” He was then heckled by an audience member who said contractors “suck.” On SupplyHog, contractors source and price all the materials they need for their projects. They choose their method of delivery and pay online, which makes the whole construction process easier for manufacturers, contractors, and consumers alike. The team is “the perfect blend between geeks and rednecks” and is looking to disrupt this massive, and mostly untouched, vertical.