Demo Daze

Love Was in the Air at DreamIt Ventures Demo Day

Who knew marriage needed so much disrupting?
photo2 Love Was in the Air at DreamIt Ventures Demo Day

Dejamor’s Rodrigo Fuentes

Bow chicka wow wah,” someone yelled from the packed, cheering audience at the Time Life Conference Center this morning. The rowdy crowd was there for DreamIt Ventures Demo Day, a first opportunity for investors to see the startups who just finished a three-month stint at the well-regarded New York City incubator. The event featured seven-minute presentations from 15 different startups, five of which were part of DreamIt’s new program, DreamIt Israel.

The general “dream” of this year’s crop of startups? Love. Weesh, pronounced “wish” with an Israeli accent, is an application that helps couples break out of a routine rut. The platform provides couples with a relationship timeline and helps them discover date-night ideas, which the startup calls “weeshes.” The “weeshes” are saved in an easy to access “weesh-list” which serves as scrapbook for all activities, photos and memories the couple have shared together. CEO and cofounder Ofir Beigel, a Zell Entrepreneurship graduate, is a veteran of the dating industry. In 2006, he founded a dating school in Israel where he taught men how to interact with women. “I had no idea what I was doing [when talking to women], so I set out to teach guys the principles of how to do it,” he told Betabeat, adding, “The way I describe it is the same way you study martial arts. You study a technique and you gain a form of knowledge and skills, whichever way you choose to use it is up to you.”

Weesh wasn’t the only monogamy-minded startup to present today. CEO Rodrigo Fuentes pitched Dejamor, a subscription commerce company that delivers romantic–and intimate!–products for couples to, shall we say, enhance their relationship. Mr. Fuentes, a practicing lawyer, husband and father, said he got the idea for the startup after watching the spark and fire fade from his marriage. Think of it as a Birchbox for the marrying kind. Once a month, couples receive two boxes, one for the man and one for the woman. The boxes contain a romantic, sexy or erotic idea, instructions, and a kit for an easily-implementable and one-of-a-kind experience with their loved one. “We tell you how much prep time there is; it’s very parent-friendly.” Mr. Fuentes swears that this idea has saved his own marriage. “Not only am I the president, I am also the member,” he quipped, riffing off the Hair Club for Men tagline. 

Companies, apparently, are also in need of some passion. Irad Eichler, CEO and co-founder of Teamayala, aims to make employees more engaged with their jobs and with each other. “We are trying to make the dynamic in the work environment friendlier and cooperative, which will make employees more productive in the work environment,” he told Betabeat. The process begins before employees even set foot in the office. According to its site, new hires receive a Welcome Wall where existing employees can greet them, they can learn about the company’s goals and culture through an interactive game, and they receive tips from current workers to help them navigate through their first few days.  The company launched two weeks ago and already has seven clients using the service.

Branch.ly, the last startup that caught our eye, falls more on the friendly end of the love spectrum. The company was founded by two Harvard undergraduates: Nuseir Yassin, a Palestinian-Israeli, and Peregrine Badger, a fencer with an eye on the Olympics. Mr. Nuseir got the crowd’s attention by solving a Rubik’s Cube in 30 seconds. Branch.ly capitalizes on the fact that people often don’t actually know whom they know. The startup lets you people-search your social networks to help answer the question, “Do I know someone that …” It uses an algorithm that identifies the best candidates, both in terms of similar interests and likelihood to respond to a request.

Mitchell Golner, managing partner of DreamIt Israel, said that DreamIt Ventures gives the 15 participating companies up to a $25,000 stipend ($5,000 per company and $5,000 per founder). It is set to begin its accelerator program in Philadelphia on September 7th and will launch a new accelerator in Austin, Texas, this December.