LIFT Labs' 2021 accelerator launches today. Meet the 11 startups in the fourth cohort - Technical.ly Philly

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LIFT Labs’ 2021 accelerator launches today. Meet the 11 startups in the fourth cohort

Philadelphia is represented this year by Employee Cycle, cofounded by HR tech veteran Bruce Marable.

The 2019 LIFT Labs accelerator cohort.

(Photo by Hector Davila)

Correction: Bruce Marable is cofounder, not founder, of Employee Cycle. Mention of cofounder Salas Saraiya has been added. (8/20/21, 2:40 p.m.)

A cohort of 11 companies — one of which is based in Philadelphia — begin the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars Monday.

This cycle of the annual accelerator took startups focusing on connected living, “next gen” entertainment, future of work and personalized experiences. The applicants came from more than 40 countries, with the final cohort representing the U.S., France, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Founders will participate in workshops on fundraising, corporate partnerships and PR during the 12-week program, which kicks off today and will conclude Nov. 4 with a Demo Day. As with previous cohorts, startups will receive seed funding up to $120,000 per team in exchange for 6 to 10% equity.

Techstars’ KJ Singh, who has managed more than a dozen accelerators with Techstars since 2013, will serve as managing director of the 2021 accelerator. Singh will be working alongside LIFT Labs head Danielle Cohn and Senior Director of Startup Engagement Luke Butler.

The cohort will also meet with experienced founders, business leaders and subject matter experts. These mentors include leaders from the Xfinity technology, product, and experience teams, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast stations, NBCUniversal cable networks, Universal StudiosUniversal Theme ParksDreamWorks Animation, Comcast Business, Comcast Ventures and Sky.

Bruce Marable. (Photo via LinkedIn)

Since the first 2018 cohort, 32 companies have completed the accelerator, and about 75% have secured pilots of deals with a division of NBC Universal, according to the company.

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Philadelphia is represented this year by Employee Cycle, cofounded by HR tech veteran and CEO Bruce Marable and CTO Salas Saraiya. The company makes an analytics dashboard that automates HR reporting.

The rest of the 2021 cohort is made up of these companies, with descriptions provided by LIFT Labs:

  • Hollo (Paris) is an AI-enabled talent experience platform that helps HR teams prequalify candidates for roles and helps resurface past applicants for future jobs that are a better match while making the communication more efficient.
  • Holodia’s (Zurich) platform, HOLOFIT, is an immersive, hardware agnostic, connected FitTech platform that merges gaming and fitness leading to increased user engagement and physical activity.
  • HUSSLUP (Los Angeles) is a networked marketplace of individuals in the creative industry making discovery easier via  personal profiles, verified credits and encrypted creative samples to increase diverse hiring.
  • LootLocker (Stockholm) is a game backend-as-a-service that unlocks cross-platform services for development teams, saving time and money.
  • Nagish’s (New York City) 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.
  • Paco (New York City) is an intelligent workflow assistant that helps teams eliminate distractions, capture to-dos and tasks from multiple communication channels allowing employees to focus on their work.
  • Peek (London) is a social reading app that creates a multiplayer reading experience, allowing users to purchase books, discuss in text, engage with authors, and interact with other readers in real time.
  • Sidewalk (New York City) connects communities of business operators to give them access to modern property and liability insurance at a significantly lower cost than other insurance providers.
  • Think Confluent (Paris) is an AI assistant that analyzes free form text feedback from employees to provide individualized action plans for employees and actionable insights for managers to increase team satisfaction.
  • Zoog (Tel Aviv) is an asynchronous communication platform that allows users to take any children’s book and bring it to life using modern AR, ML and advanced animation capabilities.

Last year’s cohort included three Philly-based companies — Percepta, Kidas and Seshie — although companies operated remotely through the pandemic. This year’s programming will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual.

A big reason Comcast hosts the LIFT Labs accelerator is to learn from companies working in fields relevant to its own work, and possibly partner with or buy services from them. Connected living, next gen entertainment, future of work and personalized experiences were the focus areas picked for the latest cohort based on the telecomms giant’s 2021 business priorities.

“This accelerator gives Comcast the opportunity to build long-term relationships with these carefully selected high-potential startups and I am excited to welcome this diverse and talented group of  entrepreneurs into our fourth class,” Comcast Chief Business Development Officer Sam Schwartz said in a statement. “We will work hand-in-hand with these companies to help them grow, learning as much from them as they learn from us.”

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