(Photo by Tyler Woods)
From drones taking pictures in the stratosphere to putting sensors on cranes at construction sites, there are nine new Brooklyn companies trying to fix the problems of urban living.
Startup incubator Urban-X, in partnership with venture fund Urban Us, unveiled the companies of their fall and winter cohort Thursday morning at the A/D/O space in Greenpoint. It’s the incubator’s third cohort of startups (check out the first two here and here.)
“We see a lot of machine vision and machine learning,” explained Micah Kotch, the managing director of Urban-X, when asked if he saw any commonalities among the startups in the cohort. “We’re talking about more livable cities, designed for people.”
One of the founders in the cohort, Marie Quinquis of Qucit, came here from Bordeaux, France.
“We have some customers in France, but we have never tested the American market and we are excited to be accompanied by Urban-X to test our products and have some experts surrounding us,” she explained. Her company uses data analytics to predict inefficiencies in modes of urban transportation, like bike shares and traffic.
A bit closer to home was Benjamin Schmidt, from RoadBotics, who grew up in Croton-on-Hudson, in Westchester County. He seemed equally excited to be in the Greenpoint cohort.
“I remember when you didn’t come here [to Brooklyn], so this is awesome, it’s radically different,” he said.
In from San Francisco was Ezra Goldman, cofounder of Upshift, which provides hybrid rental car delivery via text message, who explained why he was interested in coming east.
“We see an opportunity here and in Manhattan as well,” he explained. “We know people want to go out to Montauk and the Hudson Valley and we think there is a strong market for shared vehicles.”
Always present on the scene, Charlie O’Donnell, partner at venture fund Brooklyn Bridge Ventures was there as well, checking out the new startups in the borough.
“One of the cool things is Adam [Price], from Homer [Logistics] is here and Amanda [Weeks] from Industrial Organic is here, it’s cool to have two successful portfolio companies and just bump into them here,” he said. O’Donnell was happy to be able to talk to Price about how how to plan to hire 200 more bike delivery people for Homer Logistics.
But the event was, of course, about the startups in the new cohort, so let’s get to them:
Qucit stands for quantified cities. It uses data and artificial intelligence to provide predictions for urban systems, especially of transportation, including for bikes and traffic.
Hosta Labs uses images and video of interior space to create 3D building models. Cofounders Rachelle Villalon and Jose Pacheco met at MIT while working on tech commercialization and augmented reality.
Good Goods is doing space as a service, for brands. Companies can rent retail space within their markets and sell from there, rather than just online. The company will be opening its first space in SoHo next week.
Swiftera uses drones to take photos of terrain from the stratosphere for cities, construction sites, insurance companies and whoever needs location data. The company uses balloons rather than rockets to launch their vehicles, which is cheaper and faster.
Lunewave makes a sensor and antenna for connected vehicles, like autonomous cars and drones. The antennas operate on the millimeter wave part of the electromagnetic spectrum and could be used in the communications systems of 5G technologies.
According to Urban-X’s Micah Kotch, Blueprint Power is “converting buildings into power plants and real estate into an energy business.” The company aims to help commercial buildings participate in a transactive market for energy.
Upshift provides hybrid cars on demand via text message. Users simply send a text for when they need a car and it’s delivered to their address. Right now, the company is only in San Francisco, but plans to move to the New York market soon.
RoadBotics uses machine vision and machine learning to take accurate inventory of the quality of roads, allowing municipalities to automate or semi-automate a process that is typically labor intensive. The team comes to Brooklyn from Carnegie Mellon University.
(Not pictured: Startup Versatile Natures, whose founders are still on their way over from Israel.)