Look At Me Now
We feel a little guilty. We’ve been fickle and easily distracted. Last year, the first two TechStars NYC classes were all we could talk about. But when their programs ended, we kind of forgot about them and directed our attention to the newest TechStars NYC class. Shame on us!
But back in the day, those first 23 companies were all the rage. Like shiny new toys, they were exciting and fascinating. There was even a reality television show about them. So even though their three-month, highly-competitive startup accelerator program has ended, these companies are still around. They didn’t just vanish into thin air. (Well, some of them did).
But all of this begs the question, where are these companies now? How have they fared in the big, bad world? Did they flop? Or surpass expectations?
We didn’t know, so we decided to find out. And it turns out that we weren’t the only ones who were curious about what these companies have been up to.
In advance of of the release of his new book, “The Ultralight Startup: Launching a Business Without Clout or Capital,” Onswipe CEO and cofounder Jason Baptiste is letting readers access the entire thing for free for the next 24 hours. Onswipe, which has picked up $6 million in funding from Yuri Milner, SV Angel, Thrive Capital, Betaworks, Lerer Ventures, and more, offers a nifty platform that lets publishers make their web content iPad-ready in a flash. Starting at 10am EST today, book will be available here . . . and in tablet form via Onswipe, naturally. (You didn’t think Mr. Baptiste got a book deal by being a wallflower about his product, did you?)
The book is being released by Penguin, the same publishing house that backs Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and Nick Bilton’s recently-outed Twitter project. “It’s essentially the hands-on guide I wish I had five years ago to know how to go from idea to launch to traction to funding,” Mr. Baptiste said of his book, which will feature cases studies from Onswipe, as well as Twitter, Foursquare, and Dropbox.
Startupthe startup rundown
BLAST FROM THE PAST. Now, thanks to BuzzFeed, you can show all your friends how vintage chic your technology was—before it was cool. Prompted by the fairly recent Facebook timeline, BuzzFeed has introduced a Facebook app that lets users retroactively post images to their timeline. Checkout the “What Was Your First Computer?” question and reminisce about the nineteen eighties like it’s the 2020′s. The launch of this new app is probably just the beginning of a trend we’ll see as Facebook prepares to unveil its new timeline backdating ability.
CLICK CLICK FLASH. Pixable, the photo sharing complement for social networks is rolling out a couple big features. First, is a hashtag feature that allows users to tag their photos or their friends’ photos for an easier experience when recalling and organizing snapshots. #drunkenregrets?
At the same time Pixable is being integrated into the Facebook timeline technology. Users will be able to share their photo viewing and tagging activity in the Facebook ticker just like when listening to tunes on Spotify.
Web to Go
The savvy folks at Fusible picked up on a new service from Google based on the search giants purchase of several domain names. Google seems to be offering a way to optimize any site for mobile with a service called GoMo. This is the game that New York startup OnSwipe is playing, giving publishers and WordPress blogs a simple way to get their site’s looking good on smartphones and tablets. The entrance of a big player like Google to the space is sure to shake things up.
The Real TechStars of New York
Last week on the premiere of TechStars, the startups got the good news about their golden ticket into the inaugural New York class (more selective than Hahvard, didja hear?). Last night, the reality show’s second episode (you can watch the whole thing here) focused on Lesson One: Humility–as in, it just might behoove you to get some. Fast. One startup picks up $1 million in funding. One startup goes to Hollywood to meet their idol. And we learn that you don’t have to know a whole lot about gaming to throw around the words “gaming mechanics.” Here’s what you missed!
Real TechStars of New York
OnSwipe’s Jason Baptiste better watch his back!
As the promo reel for TechStars new reality show make clear, Bloomberg producers are trying to frame one startup as a “winner” from the inaugural New York class for the live series finale in October based on whoever picks up the most funding. “One will score a $5 miiillion dollar check!” intones the announcer moments after we see Jason Baptiste cracking his neck in preparation for Demo Day. OnSwipe, of course, already scored a $5 million “Series Awesome” round in June.
But today’s announcement that CrowdTwist, a startup that uses game mechanics to encourage brand loyalty and rewards programs, picked up $6 million in funding from SoftBank Capital, Fairhaven Capital, and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (LiveNation, Sony Music, and Kelly Clarkson have used the service) may have just thrown production for a loop.
Real TechStars of New York
New York’s tech set has finally hit the big time, you guys! At 9 p.m. EST tonight, TechStars new reality show premieres on Bloomberg TV. And the vaunted ranks of IRL housewives, spray tan-happy Italian-Americans, and people with something to lose have nothing on the drama of trying to fund, launch, scale, keep afloat–and especially name–your startup.
In fact, by our count, since January, the TechStars New York inaugural class has already had four name changes, one big win, one pivot, one abandoned idea, and one fail.
If you think about it, the reality show format is a natural fit for a seed stage accelerator like TechStars. Like America’s Next Top Model and American Idol, you have the desperate audition to actually make it on the cast, only with PowerPoint decks instead of strutting and singing. Then once you’re in, your work is constantly being scrutinized by a panel of experts, which makes David Tisch the Heidi Klum (albeit with a filthier mouth) to Roger Ehrenberg’s Nina Garcia. But as every reality show “winner” can tell you, getting anointed by the powers that be doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in the real world.
But you didn’t think Betabeat would let you wade into the expletive-laced, frothy territory on your own, did you? Here’s what you need to know before the premiere.
OnSwipe, the breakout start-up from TechStarsNY that converts websites into iPad-ready HTML5, launched to much fanfare last week. But now that people have had some time to play around with it, not everyone likes what they see.
Entrepreneur/NYU j-school scholar Dave Winer began a post last night on ScriptingNews with, “I’m really getting annoyed with OnSwipe.” This morning, Mr. Winer tweeted a link to a thread on Hacker News with Bay Area coder Danilo Campos declaring, front-and-center, “Fucking crimony do I hate OnSwipe.”
LOOKBACK. And the most popular rumor item last week was… TechStars intelligence! Readers have been pinging the rumormonger trying to find out the names of the founders since we teased that 12 companies were on the shortlist. Sorry kids–we made a deal with the devil, a.k.a. Dave Tisch, who promised to give us the full scoop as soon as papers are all signed. You can always crash by Pivotal Labs, where some of the companies have already started working.
KNIGHT TO DISTRICT 14. At last, Peter Thiel has convinced CollegeOnly/YouAre.TV founder Josh Weinstein to move to Silicon Valley. ”Peter Thiel loves Josh,” lean start-upper Trevor Owens told us. “They’re both chess grandmasters.” Mr. Thiel was a U.S. Chess Master; Mr. Weinstein was a “nationally-ranked” tournament chess player. Betabeat, sad to see one of the weirdest web products in New York go, pinged Mr. Weinstein to verify the news. “Was going to follow up with you individually so it didn’t make it to Betabeat… yes, I’m moving out to CA,” the founder said. “Leaving next week.” At first, we wondered if Mr. Thiel just wanted to have someone to play chess with. But YouAre.TV just recruited a new CTO, so we guess there are still plans to build a company. Godspeed, Game of Boxes.
TechStars NY grad Onswipe just announced its series Awesome, complete with an actual term sheet bearing that header.
The round will be led by Spark Capital and followed on by Lightbank, Yuri Milner, Lerer Ventures, SVAngel, Betaworks, Morado, Eniac and Thrive Capital.
The tablet publishing platform is prepping a launch for June 21st Read More