(Photo by Hector Davila)
The second cohort of startups in the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars presented on their biz growth over the past 13 weeks at a demo event this Thursday.
The event, held at Comcast Technology Center, featured presentations by founders of each company before a large crowd of business professionals and program mentors. According to Danielle Cohn, VP of entrepreneurial engagement and head of LIFT Labs, around 100 mentors assisted in the LIFT Labs program, offering the startups connections and business advice.
Startups receive $120,000 in capital in exchange for 6% equity stake in the company going to Techstars, as well as office space during the 13 weeks, with the option for companies to continue using the space for the year following their participation. Founders of this year’s cohort came from India, Ukraine, Canada and cities across the U.S. and work in media, entertainment and connectivity.
From tools to bypass article blockers to manipulating your voice to sound like your favorite singer or actor, here’s what the 11 startups’ founders shared onstage about their development over the past few weeks, and plans for continued growth:
- What it does — Sports content, experiences and community for women
- Recent growth — Launched in the U.S. in September, starting with Philadelphia as a market; 10% growth per week with high engagement rates
- Overheard from Toronto-based cofounder Jacie deHoop — “GISTers have been loving all of it. Since launching in July of 2018, we’ve grown our audience to over 40,000 in Canada alone. Launching in the U.S. just five weeks ago, we’ve seen rapid growth so that we are now reaching over 50,000 GISTers across North America.”
- What it does — A podcasting solution allowing businesses and individuals to record, edit and publish unlimited episodes for free
- Recent growth — 28% growth in shows published as well as multiple paid partnerships with Comcast NBCUniversal teams
- Next steps — To provide podcasting to closed communities in a projected $5 billion market
- Overheard from Los Angeles-based founder Molly Beck — “It can take up to 18 hours to produce a podcast. Our simple editor allows users to drop off multiple clips, cuts out background noise, and insert music from library. Once finished you hit published. It will immediately be distributed to Apple podcast, Google podcasts, and Spotify.”
- What it does — A tool for enterprise teams to pass article paywalls via a membership through one platform
- Recent growth — Acquired 200 paying corporate customers
- Next steps — Comcast employees will soon have access to NICKL Passes
- Fun fact — Founder and CEO Sumorwuo Zaza has moved the company’s HQ to Philly from Brooklyn, thanks to the accelerator.
- What it does — An AI-powered tool that provides a step-by-step process to analyze data just by asking a question through its platform
- Recent growth — Acquired its first paying customers, including Comcast
- What it does — A tool that lets live sports watchers make predictions about games for cash prizes
- Recent growth — Launched a pilot with Comcast Business to showcase GameOn via the Xfinity X1 platform in bars and restaurants
- What it does — A headless CMS, GraphQL API and static site generator for developers, content creators or product managers to build and manage websites
- Recent growth — Inked partnerships with Universal Pictures and Comcast NBCUniversal to incorporate TakeShape into their current and future web projects
- Next steps — Potential long-term projects with additional Comcast teams
- Fun fact — Brooklyn-based cofounders Mark Catalano and Andrew Sprouse launched the JAMstack Philly meetup group in August.
- What it does — AI recognition of sports players to create personalized, real-time content for viewers across smartphones and TVs
- Recent growth — Launched a pilot project with Comcast’s Watchwith Xfinity platform
- Next steps — In talks with NBC10 and Telemundo62 Philadelphia for sports and news content, and with Universal Pictures for entertainment content
- What it does — Minimizes fitness instructors’ prep time
- Recent growth — 10% weekly growth of instructors
- Next steps — One of 30 companies selected for Apple’s entrepreneurship camp and Harvard University’s innovation program; plans to expand to new types of fitness classes; goal of digital fitness subscriptions to 50 million Americans
- Fun fact — Los Angeles-based founder, CEO and trainer Amira Polack felt overwhelmed with all the prep time spent ahead of fitness classes for little gain in return. Thus, the idea was born.
- What it does — Converts a person’s voice to sound like someone else via AI
- Recent growth — Locked in a Hollywood studio deal and sped up delivery of converted speech
- Next steps — Pursue partnerships in animation and increase interest in the audiobooks market; perfect real time use in customer services
- Fun fact — The Ukraine-based company’s system selects a well-known voice and continuously variates it, as a cofounder demonstrated live to the audience using a recording of Cohn’s voice, to the audience’s delight.
- What it does — A financial exchange — think Robinhood for sports — allowing live trades in app during any sports game
- Recent growth — 30% growth month over month
- Next steps — Goals of usage in five states by 2021 and 15 states by 2022
- Overheard from Philly-based founder Alex Kane — “We plan to role out our regulated product in September 2020, just in time for next year’s football season.”
- What it does — Training and analytics for amateur and competitive gaming athletes via computer vision and AI
- Recent growth — Launched first product, Uncanny.gg, and proved out an effective customer acquisition strategy; partnering with Comcast Spectacor’s new esports venture, T1 Entertainment & Sports, to develop data-driven tools and provide unique analytics targeted at the organization’s professional players
- Next steps — In discussion with esports team Philadelphia Fusion for a potential future partnership with the team and the forthcoming Fusion Arena
- Fun fact — The esports coaching industry is worth $12 billion, according to Boulder-based CEO David Sturgeon.
Apps for the third LIFT Labs accelerator cohort will be open Jan. 6. through April 5.
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