The Lowdown on Durham's Competition in Google's First-Ever Demo Day

Windsor Circle and Automated Insights are among 10 startups to compete in Google's April 2 Demo Day in Palo Alto

BY LAURA BAVERMAN@laurabaverman3.4.14
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Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

In case you missed the breaking news on TechWire today, Durham has two companies representing in Google for Entrepreneurs' first Demo Day in Palo Alto next month.

Matt Williamson of Windsor Circle and Robbie Allen from Automated Insights will get an all-expense paid trip to Google headquarters to pitch alongside eight companies selected by Google's six other tech hubs from across North America. Google is promising at least 100 investors in the audience.

So naturally, we're wondering what our hometown boys are up against. Can they win the hearts of investors and Google? Who else is vying? I spent a couple hours this afternoon digging up as much as I could find about the other eight companies. Here's the scoop:

Docalytics was born at a Minneapolis Startup Weekend in early 2012 as a way to help people find sales and marketing materials about a potential vendor without having to commit to the sales process. The tool collects data about the documents and the way they're used, collecting potential sales leads and data about what content works and what doesn't. The company completed the city's gener8tor accelerator program and raised $319,000 from Confluence Capital late last year.

GoSpotCheck is a 2011 Techstars Boulder graduate that has since raised $2.97 million for a mobile platform for teams of retail field workers to collect data in real-time. The tool helps consumer product companies analyze the retail environment in which products are sold, letting field workers collect data on the sales strategy of workers, the placement of products and quality of display in a store. Clients include Dannon, Gerber Gear, Beech-Nut Nutrition and Sphero, and, according to a recent interview with Bloomberg TV the startup has tested the platform with AB InBev.

Kidizen is a peer-to-peer marketplace for used (mostly high end) kids stuff based in Minneapolis. It just launched in February (though the founders previously had a similar site Itizen) and is going head-to-head with the resale site thredUp only with an option for parents to ship items directly to buyers. Investors like Emil Michael, senior vice president of business at Uber and a Klout board member, have put $185,000 into the company.

WeDeliver took first place at a 2012 Startup Weekend Chicago, and so far this year has raised $800K in seed funding from about a dozen investors. The company calls itself ‘the first crowd-sourced hyperlocal delivery platform', borrowing the ‘sharing' business model of Airbnb (for homes), TaskRabbit (for chores) and Lyft (for cars) to empower anyone to make deliveries on behalf of local businesses like florists, dry cleaners and restaurants. According to a recent story in Crain's Chicago Business, WeDeliver only just began testing the concept in February.

Mojio of Vancouver has a cloud-powered device that collects data about your car—from speed to location to fuel to safety (for example, it tells you if someone is trying to break in or if it's being towed)—and delivers it through a smartphone app. The company also has an open source platform for developers, retailers or car manufacturers to build their own apps for vehicles. The company's CEO previously helped build a vehicle-to-grid management system for electric vehicles, with clients like the US Army and Chrysler. Mojio raised $2.3 million last October from Relay Ventures, 500 Startups, BDC and others, and its device is due for release early this year. Entrepreneur Magazine in January named it one of the coolest tech startups at CES this year.

MarkITx is another marketplace, but for enterprises to buy and sell used computer hardware like servers and hard drives. According to Crain's Chicago Business, the Chicago-based company's founder is a serial entrepreneur who in the early 2000s started a marketplace that bought and sold used retail cash registers and other IT equipment. Though it hit $20 million in sales at its peak, the company went bankrupt after the recession. He's taken his learnings into this business—MarkITx doesn't keep any inventory. It charges companies a membership fee and takes a 20 percent cut of any sale. The startup has raised $4.67 million and counts more than 1,500 customers today.

The only healthcare-oriented company in the bunch is Nashville's InvisionHeart, which has software for smartphones and tablets that transmits cardiac patient data between health care providers and cardiologists in real time. According to the Nashville Business Journal, the idea came from a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and is being developed with the help of a Vanderbilt professor of biomedical engineering and a local entrepreneur. The company graduated from the accelerator Jumpstart Foundry in August 2013. It's not clear whether the company has raised any money yet.

iRule is one of those companies trying to connect all of our devices together in one remote control—the smartphone. The company launched in 2009 and has raised about $550,000 from a handful of Detroit-area investors. Compelling about this business are the thousands of software licenses iRule has already sold through iTunes and Google Play. It was recently named the Consumer Electronics Association's Home Control Product of the Year and it has also made an acquisition. In February, it purchased a home control and automation system for dealers and installers. Today, iRule is focused on home entertainment and lighting control but it is well positioned to sync up the future generation of connected devices too.

Visit ExitEvent tomorrow for more on Automated Insights and Windsor Circle's journey to Google.

Companies We Mentioned In This Post

Automated Insights
Google
Windsor Circle







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