LaunchHouse Accelerator Gears Up For Showcase Day
The LaunchHouse Accelerator program, also known as LHX, is set to present ten exciting technology based companies to the investment community at the LHX Showcase Day on Wednesday, November 28, from 4-9 pm. The ten teams preparing to graduate from LHX were exposed to a range of topics including concept validation, revenue modeling and customer acquisition. The integration of customer development, first-class mentors and speakers from around the country helped to take these companies to the next level.
The start-ups were selected out of applicants from around the world for the program, which started September 2012. The companies provide a range of cutting-edge, broad-based technologies including smart phone apps, online marketplaces and adaptable platforms.
Out of the ten companies that will be showcased, I have picked the ones we love:
Sliced Apples is a blogging platform that empowers businesses and brands. With Sliced Apples, publishers can dynamically create new writing assignments and crowdsource those opportunities to relevant experts and fledgling writers. Those experts compete to provide content, and publishers select their favorite submissions. Publishers get new, fresh content for blogs, and writers earn money, get published and develop new professional relationships.
In addition, the Sliced Apples solution provides businesses with an integrated platform that can be embedded within their own websites to share their own ideas or solicit outside experts for insight. Blogging platforms like WordPress and Tumblr are plentiful, but they don’t solve the problems that discourage businesses from adopting content marketing solutions: time and bandwidth.
HooftyMatch is a digital marketplace for buying and selling locally produced meats. Founders Jonathan Yale and Phillip Williams have always had a passion for quality food, but they created HooftyMatch when they realized that most of the food out there was just bad. Buying directly from local farmers is a typical solution which is exactly what Jonathan and Phillip started to do. They were having a great time meeting farmers, supporting local agriculture, eating healthier, living more sustainably and savoring delicious food – but the breadth of options for meat, in particular, simply didn’t exist. To get a specific product like grass-fed strip steak they had to manually organize a group of up to 10 people to buy 500 lbs of meat and drive at least an hour to collect the product from a local farm or processing facility. Clearly, they thought, there had to be a better way.
The HooftyMatch technology (1) makes it easier and more efficient for farmers to get their product to the market and (2) creates a more pleasurable, local buying experience for consumers. The online platform launches early winter 2012 with both buyers and sellers being able to sign up. Buyers will be able to request and buy product. Sellers will be able to list product and sign up to find out how to more efficiently reach their market.
FitVia is a mobile scheduling application for people that are interested in finding partners for exercise routines. The app allows users to post and view exercise schedules. FitVia users can create a schedule of different exercise activities and open that schedule to all of their friends and social networks. When the users create a schedule, it will automatically post that schedule to Facebook, as well as their app profile where their network of friends can see and click to join a workout. This will give each user a unique opportunity to instantly create a support and accountability network in a non-threatening environment.
FitVia was created out of a necessity when its CEO Brandt Butze was struggling to lose weight and needed motivation. He created a network of friends and family to join him daily on walks through Cleveland. He posted a daily blog with pictures of each walk with friends as a way to keep him accountable. What followed was an instant following of supporters and people who shared their own struggles. The FitVia team is comprised of CEO Brandt Butze, President Aaron Marks, COO Jonathan Schultz and CTO Kevin Rahilly.
iOTOS is a platform that allows any internet-capable device to communicate with its API, servers and to become a “thing” within the online operating system. This platform results in consumers’ ability to begin coordinating intelligent behaviors between multiple “things” regardless of their individual manufacturer. When people leave their house, their garage door should be down, their lights should be off and their thermostat should be turned down. iOTOS makes all of that possible, and users don’t even have to think about it.
iOTOS’ primary focus is to license their technology to consumer product manufacturers that want to bring internet connectivity to their product lines. By using iOTOS, these manufacturers can reduce both initial development costs and ongoing recurring costs associated with this type of platform. Manufacturers also gain the advantage of bringing their connected devices to market sooner than if they developed this type of system in-house. In addition to the consumer product manufacturer market, iOTOS also offers custom engineering solutions at a premium rate to businesses needing specific problems solved.
Company building can be hard work as the teams found out, but missteps only led to greater progress toward the main goal: launching a successful company. Collaboration was a key ingredient in helping these teams to get off the ground. LHX provided $25,000 in seed capital – provided by $200,000 ONEFund grant and a $50,000 matching grant from Cleveland-based, Clarion Direct Investment – and a “structured chaos” environment where the companies were developed and given access to mentors.
LaunchHouse is the first and only accelerator in Northeast Ohio chosen to receive the ONEFund grant from the Ohio Third Frontier Program. Being a part of this program enabled LHX to attract talented speaker and mentors, such as:
Showcase Day marks the culmination of the 12-week LHX program, where companies will demonstrate a proof of concept to investors, potential customers, other entrepreneurs and a public eager to learn about new business growth in the region. The event will be hosted at Shaker LaunchHouse.
via press release