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Dec. 7, 2012 10:31 am

DreamIt Ventures 2012 Philly Demo Day: 4 things we learned [VIDEO]

It’s a rite of passage for every DreamIt Ventures company: Demo Day. Hosted at World Cafe Live on Wednesday morning, fifteen startups from the accelerator’s fall Philly class pitched to a packed room. Or, well, sixteen startups if you count Jing.ly, a motley crew of DreamIt entrepreneurs with a musical bent that pitched last. Catch […]

It’s a rite of passage for every DreamIt Ventures company: Demo Day.

Hosted at World Cafe Live on Wednesday morning, fifteen startups from the accelerator’s fall Philly class pitched to a packed room. Or, well, sixteen startups if you count Jing.ly, a motley crew of DreamIt entrepreneurs with a musical bent that pitched last. Catch part of their performance here or at the end of the post.

Below, we detail four things we learned at Demo Day. If you’re interested in learning more about each company, find our original list here with details on the startups that rebranded below.

It felt like a no-brainer trusting Vinny Pujji, cofounder of men’s style startup TrendBent, with fashion matters because of his impeccable get-up.

  • Embody your company. We were struck by a few pitches during which the entrepreneurs really exuded their businesses, whether it was through the way they dressed or certain details they highlighted. Here are some examples:
  1. It felt like a no-brainer to trust Vinny Pujji, cofounder of men’s style startup TrendBent, with fashion matters. Clad in perfectly-fitting jeans and a tie that matched his turban, he almost didn’t need to speak about his startup to convince us.
  2. Then there was the team behind Altair Prep, a personalized, online test prep company. Front and center on their “team” page was this fact: all three team members scored better than 2300 on their SATs.
  3. Sometimes, it’s simply about personality. Cofounders Aaron Frazin and Junaid Kalmadi presented Charlie, an app that preps you with important information about your contacts before a meeting, by saying that the app would help you be more like Bill Clinton, the quintessential likeable guy who always remembers little details about those he meets. But what got us was the fact that Frazin and Kalmadi actually seemed like those quintessential likeable guys who would remember little details about you. It gave us the sense that they understood their product.
  • The minority-focused DreamIt Access program is going strong. Program manager William Crowder said that DreamIt Access, the accelerator’s minority entrepreneur program with Comcast Ventures, has launched 15 companies, including six in this cycle [check back next week for coverage on the DreamIt Access entrepreneurs]. The program will continue in DreamIt’s next New York cycle, Crowder said.
  • These DreamIt companies’ are looking to raise rounds ranging from $450,000 to $1.5 million. Most companies tended toward the lower end of the spectrum, looking to raise $500,000. The biggest ask ($1.5 million) was from FlagTap, a brand engagement startup running what it calls the world’s biggest online game of Capture the Flag. Some, like mobile app maker Applique, had already raised some via angel rounds. Others, like TrendBent, were not looking to raise any money at the moment.
  • We need local investment to grow Philly’s tech scene. Granted, this isn’t exactly news, but it’s worth pointing out again. DreamIt cofounder David Bookspan appealed to local investors, telling them to “come out and represent” by investing in these companies because that’s what will get them to stay.  Out of last year’s Philly DreamIt class, nine startups out of 12 initially stayed, Bookspan said, but two of the nine companies eventually left because they received investment outside of the region. According to our (very preliminary) reporting, it looks like the percentage of companies staying in Philly from the 2012 cycle will be lower than that of last year’s.

Below, parody startup Jing.ly sings about DreamIt Ventures.

[tech]LTQALZLVNvA[/tech]

Here’s a list of DreamIt companies that rebranded during the fall cycle.

  • Tripkno, “a social, ecommerce travel guide” became Vizy, an app that lets you store memories in the form of photos and videos in places using geolocation.
  • The Whoot, a social planning service, became Spruceling, a marketplace for gently used baby clothes.
  • brandrep.ME, which “crowdsourced brand marketing campaigns,” became NinjaThat, a vetted jobs board for students.
  • Men’s style startup TrendBent was not on the original list of DreamIt startups, but cofounder Vinny Pujji formerly worked on DreamIt company Altair Prep.

Check out our photo tour of the 2012 DreamIt office space here.

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technically Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.

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