A cohort of 11 companies — three of which are based in Philadelphia — begin the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars Tuesday.
Hundreds of applications came from more than 40 countries, LIFT Labs said. The chosen startups represent industries such as media, healthcare, gaming and tech, and follow new focuses: advanced connectivity, future of work, interactive and immersive experiences, and personalized experiences.
While several of these themes are especially salient now, when the pandemic has brought internet access and remote work into sharp focus, they were selected back before apps opened in January.
“The more specific focus areas are chosen with input from dozens of business leaders across the enterprise (Comcast NBCUniversal and Sky) based on business priorities that rise to the top,” LIFT Labs head Danielle Cohn told Technical.ly earlier this year.
The 11 startups will participate virtually due to the pandemic. The program kicks off today and lasts 13 weeks, with a Demo Day slated for Dec. 3. The cohort is made up of more than half of companies self-identifying as having an underrepresented founder, and almost half self-identifying as having a woman founder, per LIFT Labs.
Techstars’ KJ Singh will serve as managing director of the 2020 accelerator. He’s managed 12 accelerator programs at Techstars since 2013, and invested in more than 100 companies that have gone on to raise over $300 million from top-tier angel investors and VCs. Singh will be working with Cohn and Senior Director of Startup Engagement Luke Butler on product and market fit, business development and fundraising strategies with the startups.
The 2020 cohort includes these companies, with descriptions provided by LIFT Labs:
- AfroLandTV (Dallas) — AfroLandTV is an OTT streaming media platform for Pan African TV shows and movies.
- Beam Health Group (New York) — Beam Health empowers healthcare professionals and health systems with premium telehealth services to provide quality, convenient care to patients.
- Cast (San Francisco) — Cast’s automated audio-visual reports with embedded call to action helps customers understand complex concepts and drive high-value actions.
- Covatic (London/Birmingham, UK) — Covatic’s mobile SDK empowers media companies to deliver exceptional in-app experiences by identifying when, where, and how each individual can engage with content without needing to expose personal data.
- Glow Up Games (Brooklyn) — Glow Up Games develops and publishes character-driven mobile games for underrepresented gamers and gathers key data on this overlooked demographic to encourage more diverse characters and storylines in the gaming industry.
- Introvoke (San Francisco) — Introvoke provides white label technology that powers virtual connections, hybrid live events and elevated networking in a branded experience.
- Kidas (Philadelphia) — Kidas is an AI service that protects children from cyberbullying and online predators by alerting parents about potentially dangerous activities in their child’s digital life.
- Percepta (Philadelphia) — Percepta leverages unbiased, AI-driven computer vision technology to analyze existing security camera feeds and alert employees of shoplifting incidents in real-time
- Seshie (Philadelphia) — Seshie is a marketplace of expert guides offering live and virtual team building experiences for organizations to increase employee morale and build company culture.
- Showcase (New York) — Showcase is a video-first hiring platform that uses asynchronous videos to help companies streamline the recruitment process by eliminating repetitive interviews.
- WorkChew (Washington, D.C.) — WorkChew is a marketplace connecting a community of mobile and remote workers to workspaces in restaurants and hotels across the U.S. and beyond.
Each previous cohort included only one Philly-based company to start, though 2019’s class did see one — NICKL — move its HQ from Brooklyn.
The companies will be mentored by industry leaders from Comcast NBCUniversal and Techstars and participate in workshops on fundraising, partnering with corporations and communicating through the media. They also receive a year of free office space at the Comcast Technology Center in Center City as well as seed funding up to $120,000 per team in exchange for 6 to 10% equity.
“Entrepreneurial passion is more important than ever,” said Sam Schwartz, chief business development officer at Comcast, in a statement. “Curiosity and different thinking can help society and business emerge to what’s next — and we’re ready to start working with these companies focused on areas that are important to our company and customers.”
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