Being a sponsor and supporter of LAUNCH Festival, we had the privilege of attending LAUNCH’s inaugural Bastille Day demo event in San Francisco’s Presidio last month. On a picturesque afternoon, LAUNCH paid homage to the French by organizing a full-scale Pétanque tournament for attending companies, and serving a wide array of cheeses, drinks, and made-to-order ratatouille crepes. Of course, the main purpose of the event was to showcase LAUNCH’s newest class of six incubator companies that founder Jason Calacanis and the rest of the LAUNCH team had chosen for their spring program.
LAUNCH’s intense 12-week incubator focuses on six-to-eight startups for each of their three yearly sessions. LAUNCH works very closely with each startup to help develop the product, provide networking opportunities, and hone each company’s pitch. There are weekly dinners every Thursday where each startup presents their product, and immediately gets in-depth, constructive feedback from Jason and the LAUNCH team. Over the course of 12 weeks, each startup improves their pitch until they are ready to present at LAUNCH’s Demo Day event.
After seeing the six spring class startups, we understand why Jason and the LAUNCH team chose them from over 350 applicants, and put so much time and effort into helping them grow. Each startup had four short minutes to pitch their company and describe their plan to disrupt a market.
Here’s a quick look at the startups:
Rescour – “Market research for commercial real estate”
Described as the “Zillow for commercial real estate,” Rescour presented a new way to tackle the $15 trillion market. Rescour’s data aggregation technology collects commercial public and private real estate listings, news, demographics information and more, and displays it all on a map that users can filter by location, category, and date. Rescour essentially replaces call centers with tech, saving clients time and making data easier to access.
CRUX – “Slack for college students”
Crux is a community messaging app that is used by college groups and clubs, but aspires to expand to a larger demographic. CRUX is easy to use and keeps group conversations organized. With wide adoption of well-established apps like Slack and Skype, it’s a crowded marketplace to break into. However, a notable success story that could indicate the potential for adoption was that it was used by 15% of students with a 55% retention rate when made available at UC Irvine. CRUX has also been a featured app on iTunes.
Captiv8– “Manage and monetize your social audience”
Captiv8 is an influencer marketing platform that intrigued the LAUNCH judges because it has a chance to win its space. Captiv8 allows brands to define goals and parameters for marketing campaigns on social platforms like Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and YouTube, and then partner with influencers in the space. As far as analytics, Captiv8 provides social metrics, suggests topics for brands to write about, monitors competitors, and identifies advocates.
LeadIQ– “Collect leads faster”
LeadIQ’s software makes sales and business development specialists' jobs much easier. It scours the Internet for relevant sales prospects, and includes contact info like emails, locations, phone numbers, social activity, and more. LeadIQ automatically puts this information in spreadsheets or a synced Google Drive.
Wrapify – “Get paid to wrap your car”
Wrapify is an advertising model that takes cars getting “wrapped” in advertisements to the next level. Available in major cities, Wrapify gives drivers with cars from 2008 or newer a passive revenue stream by wrapping their cars in partner advertisements and paying the drivers based on how many miles they drive. Similar to a cab, drivers switch on the Wrapify app whenever they are driving, and get paid based on the number of miles they drive. With a seemingly endless number of ride-sharing partnership opportunities, it will be interesting to see where Wrapify takes this model.
Scout – “On-demand travel concierge”
Scout is an on-demand travel concierge that connects travelers with local guides that plan exciting experiences. What differentiates Scout from most travel services is that users receive a custom itinerary that’s catered to their interests rather than a pre-planned tour. Scout hand-picks their guides to ensure that they know the area and are able to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience.
All in all, we were impressed by all the startup demos we saw, and know they have grown by leaps and bounds by participating LAUNCH’s accelerator. We wish them all the best, and encourage you to learn more about all the LAUNCH alumni here.