The Real TechStars of New York
After three long months of toiling away at 36 Cooper Square, TechStars NYC’s spring 2012 class is finally ready to say, “Hello, world.” Or rather, “Show me the money.” This morning, 13 startups will present their exhaustively-rehearsed pitches to a crowd of more than 700 for the program’s third Demo Day. (Check out our live-blog from Webster Hall.)
Back in March, managing director David Tisch promised us his most visionary class yet. “They all take big swings,” he told Betabeat. “I think the ideas are all going for something big. I don’t think there are lot of safe bets or small bets.”
Second Is The New First
“Better team, better product, better market. The trifecta,” said Jeremy Fisher, cofounder of the travel-centric site Wander, which hit gold with a viral marketing campaign earlier this year. He was referring to the secret as to why he struggled for a year with one product before hitting a triple with the next. Mr. Fisher, his cofounder Keenan Cummings, and a team of three developers just scored $1.2 million from SV Angel, Google Ventures and other top-shelf funds. Wander is also in the current class of TechStars NY.
Mr. Fisher, a former Morgan Stanley banker, had been pitching Dinevore, a restaurant discovery and sharing tool, for more than a year. About half his current investors passed on Dinevore, he said. ”It just seems to take, in many cases, about two years to really get to a good place,” he said, citing fellow New York startup Yipit, which endured a dressing-down from Founder Collective before going on to find success. ”The product itself owes a big debt to lots of lessons that we took away from Dinevore. Which still exists, by the way. People are still using it.”
Be Like the Virus
Remember when Hipster.com launched with a splash page and some incentives to tweet or whatever, and it went totally viral before no one even knew what it was? (We still don’t know!) Well, New York-based Wander has done them one better, soaring to new heights of social media insanity with a completely baseless viral marketing campaign. Already it’s been endorsed by @FAKEGRIMLOCK and Chris Messina and blogged about by Wired. What is it? “Love the typography on Wander…! Curious what this site will be about… did you reserve your username yet?” Mr. Messina wrote on Google+.
The “incentiveless” sign-up process (in the words of Wander’s co-founder and CEO Jeremy Fisher, formerly of Dinevore) consists of a splash page and a leaderboard.
Dinevore’s Jeremy Fisher won GA’s local hack day this weekend with a nifty service, Wander Mapper, to help foursquare noobs find their footing.
“It’s basically a re-envisioning of the Foursquare new user experience / game mechanics. We use your Foursquare check-ins to build an illustrated map featuring 8 distinct districts (corresponding to the top level Foursquare categories, retsuarants, nightlife etc.). Every district has four levels, each with it’s own art (in other words, a lot of art! 8*4 = 32 custom illustrations, plus all the other art). The point is to level up in each district.”