Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars has now graduated its fourth cohort of startups, with the 2021 class presenting about their growth and partnerships at the program’s annual Demo Day at the Comcast Technology Center Thursday.
Founders gathered in person for presentations, live-streaming on the stage to investors and supporters online. Founders in this cohort traveled from the US, France, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and make up the “most international cohort we’ve ever been,” per LIFT Labs.
All of this year’s startups focus on connected living, “next gen” entertainment, future of work and personalized experiences. Out of the 11 startups, eight secured pilots or agreements with Comcast NBCUniversal and its subsidiary Sky following their time in the accelerator. As with previous cohorts, startups will receive seed funding up to $120,000 per team in exchange for 6 to 10% equity.
Sam Schwartz, Comcast’s chief business development officer, said these 11 companies join 32 others who have graduated over the program’s four years, and that more than 65% of these companies are founded by women or people of color and have gone on to raise a combined $85 million. Just recently, 2019 cohort member Sporttrade raised $36 million from a collection of investors.
Here’s how each 2021 company fared through the 12-week program:
Employee Cycle (Philadelphia)
Cofounded by HR tech veteran and CEO Bruce Marable and CTO Salas Saraiya, this company automates HR reporting by bringing disconnected employee data across HR systems into one centralized, real-time, shareable dashboard. Marable said during his presentation that the company is open to partnerships and investments.
The average job takes more than 50 days to fill a new position, cofounders Thomas Moussafer and Andy Mpondo Black say. This AI-enabled talent experience platform helps HR teams prequalify candidates for roles and resurface past applicants for future jobs that are a better match. Hollo has since launched a proof of concept with Comcast and completed testing with Sky Labs.
This startup makes the HOLOFIT, an immersive, hardware-agnostic connected fittech platform that merges gaming and fitness. As VR is more widely adapted, the startup is using the technology to build what founders Shahin Lauritzen and Bojana Knezevic call “an app for the metaverse.” They say the app has 5,000 subscribers, with a $10-per-month subscription model. The company has worked with the Comcast Fitness Center on a pilot to deliver their platform HOLOFIT to Comcast employees.
HUSSLUP (Los Angeles)
This network marketplace of creatives aims to make discovery for collaborations easier with personal profiles, verified credits and encrypted creative samples to increase hiring within diverse circles, founder H Schuster says. Schuster is now partnering with studios and production companies including Universal Pictures, Universal Studio Group, DreamWorks Animation, Keshet Studios, Westbrook and AGBO to launch its invite-only beta in November. Schuster says HUSSLUP has thousands of creatives on the invite waitlist and is targeting 50 million users globally.
This game backend-as-a-service unlocks cross-platform services for development teams. The company is addressing a $204 billion gaming industry, and 3.2 billion gamers globally, say founders Alexander Bergendahl and Andreas Stokholm, and is now working with G4, NBCUniversal and Game Jolt on a 2022 Game Jam focused on the next generation of game developers and creators.
Nagish’s (New York City)
This mobile app allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate via phone by converting speech to text and text to speech faster and more accurately than ever before, according to founder Tomer Aharoni. Nagish’s is launching a pilot to interview and communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing Comcast employees and candidates.
Paco (New York City)
This intelligent workflow assistant startup aims to help teams eliminate distractions by capturing to-do lists and other tasks from multiple communication channels. Through the accelerator, Paco has began working with Comcast’s Xperience product team and has launched a proof of concept, founders Sumit Suman, Sameer Narang and Nitin Pande shared.
This social reading app creates a multiplayer reading experience, which allows users to purchase books, discuss in text, engage with authors, and interact with other readers in real time, say founders Deborah Igunma and Emmanuel Ojo. It was developed as a solution to engage with reading the same way users engage with other digital platforms. The team is open to partnerships.
Sidewalk (New York City)
This startup connects communities of business operators to give them access to modern property and liability insurance at a significantly lower cost than other insurance providers, say founders Brennan Pothetes and Jenn Sammarco. The team is open to partnerships.
Think Confluent (Paris)
This startup’s AI assistant analyzes freeform text feedback from employees to provide individualized action plans for their managers, with a goal of increased team satisfaction. The company aims to help managers understand their employees’ needs in five minutes a week with anonymous feedback. During the program, Think Confluent secured its first revenue, ran a successful pilot with Comcast and Sky Labs, and reached ARR in their sales pipeline. The company has 650 companies on the waitlist for its service at $8 per user per month, per founders Sarah Allali and Nicolas Cabrignac.
Zoog (Tel Aviv)
This is an asynchronous communication platform allows users to take children’s books and bring them to life using advanced animation capabilities, say founders Yoav Oren and Matan Guttman. Its creation was inspired by the founders’ own children trying to keep connected to extended family through the pandemic. Since its launch, 10,000 people have engaged with app, and Zoog has entered discussions to bring NBCUniversal children’s content from Dreamworks to life, the founders announced.
Apps for LIFT Labs Accelerator’s 2022 cohort open March 1.
Thank you for joining the 2021 Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by @Techstars Demo Day. To learn more about the 11 game-changing companies and our program, visit the link below. Applications for the class of 2022 open March 1! 🚀 https://t.co/IzOyKh07Nc
— Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs (@LIFT_Labs) November 4, 2021