Excelerate Labs, ranked among the leading start-up accelerator programs in America, today announced the companies selected for its 2012 class. Led by accomplished entrepreneurs Troy Henikoff (SurePayroll) and Sam Yagan (OkCupid, eDonkey, & SparkNotes), Excelerate Labs is a selective summer program that connects founders with leading mentors, entrepreneurs and investors, culminating with a demo day on August 29th. For the second year in a row, each participating company will receive capital directly from Excelerate Labs as well as a convertible note from New World Ventures.
This year’s class highlights Excelerate’s increasingly global reach, with companies from India and France moving to Chicago. Other companies hailing from California, Massachusetts, Florida, and Texas further position Chicago as an emerging center for technology innovation, entrepreneurship, and venture capital.
“The success of the graduates of Excelerate’s first two classes proves that our model works,” said Troy Henikoff, Excelerate’s CEO. “The 2012 class brings more diversity in geography, technology, and business model than we have had before. Given that we received 50% more applications than last year, I am thrilled to see what this class accomplishes.”
Excelerate Labs today also announced a new home for its program in partnership with 1871, Chicago’s new digital startup center. 1871, which opens its doors next week, features co-working space for around 400 entrepreneurs, office space for leading venture capital firms, classroom space, and partnerships with leading universities.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the partnership with Excelerate Labs,” said Kevin Willer, president and CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, which manages 1871. “Excelerate is a perfect match with the strategic objectives of 1871: strengthening Chicago’s digital community and helping to build great technology businesses.”
The ten companies selected for Excelerate’s 2012 class are:
· 71lbs – Helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) save money on shipping through data analytics, allow SMBs to easily understand their parcel shipping spend and make better shipping decisions for the first time. Clients recover an average of 4-6 percent of their shipping fees.
· Cureeo – Offers original and limited edition artwork to collectors and novice art enthusiasts without the hassle of personally hunting through physical and online gallery to find that perfect piece. The company provides background about the artist and their work as well as education on how and why to shop for fine art. Customers can share their taste preference s and design needs then receive a selection of artwork options handpicked for them by one of Cureeo’s art specialists.
· Fibroblast – Helps solve three big, interrelated problems in US health care: shrinking margins, convenient access and need for preventive care. The company solves these problems by providing patients with the ability to self-schedule appointments anytime and anywhere by using a cloud-based calendar; by automating appointment notifications; by providing analytics tools for providers to optimize their practices; and by creating a network of interconnected providers to seamlessly refer patients.
· frintit – Acts as the “adsense” of the physical direct mail world by allowing direct mail advertisers to intelligently target a consumer based on their interests. Using a combination of web and mobile data, frintit offers everyone from small business owners to large corporations a direct mail platform to reach the right customer.
· Good Karma Clothing for Kids – A new subscription service that delivers right-sized baby clothes that customers exchange as their baby grows so busy parents don’t have to spend a ton of time and money keeping up with fast growing little bodies. Good Karma delivers bundles of ready-to-wear clothing on request, washed in environmentally-and-baby friendly detergent.
· Lasso – A new service hailing from an uncharted land where friends freely gather with the whip of a hand, where plans manifest in a couple of clicks so friends can greet faces and not profile pictures.
· Orbeus – An advanced computer visual recognition engine that enables computers to perform face detection and recognition, logo and product recognition, optical character recognition, and scene understanding.
· Pictarine – Centralizes photos from all online services including Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and Twitter. Pictarine automatically organizes photos as timelines, backup the best photos, share favorites with friends and help discover new photos.
· SpotHero – Acts as the “Orbitz” for parking spots. The company works with some of the largest parking operators in the country to make discounted parking available to customers by helping drivers get the parking spot that they want.
· Whimseybox – A subscription service for the DIY and craft community. Every month the company ships customers craft product samples, helping to rediscover crafts with a fun and beautiful reminder to express their creativity. Users can visit the company’s Project Gallery for inspiration and ideas or upload and share their projects with the Whimseybox community.