Ten new startups demoed publicly last night at StartX’s Spring Demo Day, and five others returned with updates. StartX is the Stanford-affiliated startup accelerator housed in AOL’s Palo Alto headquarters on Page Mill Road. The non-profit – which is a startup itself – celebrates its third birthday and ninth class with the close of the Spring 2013 session.
To kick off the event, StartX founder Cameron Teitelman made some acknowledgements and announcements. Intuit has just come on board as its newest signature partner – joining AOL, Microsoft, Kauffman Foundation, Blackstone Foundation, Cisco, and Greylock Ventures who support StartX with more than $1.65 million in cumulative funding. Intuit will implement workshops in design methodologies and leadership at StartX similar to those it has held internally.
Who’s in the room?
StartX Demo Day is geared primarily toward potential investors, who comprise the majority of attendees other than StartX staff and participating founders. The latter stand at tables that line the walls, ready to pitch and spiel and network with investors like those from August Capital, Battery Ventures, and Collaborative Fund wandering around the room.
analyticsMD leverages data already being collected in hospitals to make operations more efficient. Current consulting methods give feedback with a four- to six-month lag. The analyticsMD team, led by Mudit Garg (Stanford MS ’08, MBA ’12), hopes to reduce wait times, improve patient care, and make healthcare more accessible and cost-effective by allowing hospitals to implement changes to operations based on timely feedback. A web-based solution that fits neatly with hospitals’ existing data-collection methods, analyticsMD is “very easy to deploy across platforms.” Powerful predictive algorithms help hospitals anticipate patient volume based on past data as well as external sources such as weather forecast, holidays, and more.
Beyond the Box is a digital sports media company that aims to “to give fans real-time commentary and insight” using analysis and visualization of sports data. Since over 60% of sports fans use a tablet while watching TV, the team has already built an iPad app that addresses the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL – which made it into the top 25 sports apps – and are working on expanding coverage to other leagues, sports, and platforms. Fans can follow specific teams before, during, and after games using Beyond the Box, which currently aggregates data primarily from social media.
BioTX was founded by two Electrical Engineering PhDs from Stanford who have applied their miniaturization technology to treatment of metabolic disorders in the gastrointestinal tract using neurostimulation. Partnering with experts at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and University of Texas Medical Branch, they are looking to combine the proven therapies with their enabling miniaturization technology to treat symptoms of diabetes and help curb obesity, among other possibilities, with less invasive procedures.
BitBuilder (SayWe)’s short instant voice messaging platform combines voice and text to facilitate communication, documentation, and analysis for enterprise. Geared thus far particularly at service-providing enterprises, SayWe can integrate into existing app or system or be used separately. Users can send brief voice messages to one another that immediately get transcribed into text, and both components are saved. Visitors to Demo Day who tested SayWe’s voice recognition found it to be very accurate.
The platform also provides sentiment analysis, behavior analysis, and performance metrics. Ahmad Baitalmal – who graduated from the Stanford GSB’s Sloan program in 2012 – hopes SayWe will help enterprises find a happy medium between relying on phone (too expensive) and text (too inconvenient) in order to “increase productivity, increase customer satisfaction and retention, and to drive revenue growth.” The product, launched in January, is already being used by two large undisclosed companies, and will bring in $150K in revenue by the end of 2013. Baitalmal is currently raising a seed round.
Chatous is a “social discovery platform through conversation.” The site uses a data-driven approach and algorithm to predict which users will be compatible for conversation, and learns about users as they engage in more conversations. Founded by three Stanford Computer Science students, Chatous grew out of a project the team worked on in CS224W: Social and Information Network Analysis. Whereas previous attempts like Chatroulette and Omegle often led to “spam and vulgarity,” Chatous hopes to filter these users and only provide people with relevant matches.
Co-founder Parth Bhakta recently spoke to someone in Spain about good places to see in Barcelona, and fellow co-founder Kevin Guo chatted with someone in China who helped him with his Chinese homework. The site has had more than one million unique visitors in the last six months. The team is working to develop its mobile applications in the next couple month to broaden the network available for conversation beyond those currently online to provide better matching.
MedWhat provides instantaneous health and medical information in response to users’ questions. Rather than sifting through search results of varying quality and accuracy, users type or speak in a question and MedWhat provides instant answers based on content from the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and other reliable sources. “The longer your question, the better the answer,” says co-founder Mario Lanza. It seems the sophistication and reading level of the answer will tend to match that of the question, providing the user with palatable information.
“65 percent of the questions you ask your doctor could be solved by finding the right information online,” Lanza says. With its constantly-updated, high-quality databases, a Natural Language Processing (NLP) unit, and machine learning algorithms, MedWhat is a scalable solution. Applications include low-income populations and those in rural areas around the world where doctors are scarce. You can currently ask MedWhat questions in English, Spanish, or Chinese. The app has been featured for several weeks in a row as a top free medical app in the AppStore.
FlameStower is an energy, materials, and design company that has produced a cell phone charger powered by heat energy from any open flame. In a world where “500 million people have cell phones but no electricity,” and mobile devices provide inroads to communication, education, banking, health, agriculture, and more, people forgo meals to pay for electricity to charge their cell phones. Instead, co-founders Andrew Byrnes and Adam Kell – both of whom studied Materials Science Engineering at Stanford – hope to harness existing energy from cooking fires and other sources to help these users keep their phones charged using a simple portable generator. Our vision, says Kell, is that mobile phones – and subsequently ways to keep them charged – are the fastest way out of poverty.
Flamestower recently won awards at Stanford’s Business Association for Entrepreneurial Students’ (BASES) Product Showcase and Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. After testing 50 units in various locations, Flamestower will be launching at the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City this summer.
Read more about Flamestower from The Dish Daily here.
Spire (Breathware) is a wearable sensor that tracks both physical and psychological data – and the first ever to track breath. The small sensor clips onto clothing and sends data to your phone using algorithms that process breathing patterns. Founder Neema Morajevi hopes Spire will teach people to breathe calmly, increase self-awareness, and reduce stress – leaving them less exhausted after a long day.
The app notifies users when their breathing patterns are consistent with stress, a developing asthma attack, sleep apnea, and more. By “gamifying” the experience, Spire gives users incentive to work on their breathing, the only stress indicator you can control. Spire has numerous applications: programs for pregnant women, athletes, and soldiers returning from war as well as companies and organizations. Morajevi believes Spire can make better, more productive employees. “We have an algorithm for being in the zone,” he says. Spire was invited to present at TEDMED in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.
SoniTrack Systems’ technology “integrates robotics and ultrasound imaging to enable non-invasive radiation treatments for cancer that continuously adapt to anatomy in motion.” Radiation is used to treat over 50 percent of cancer patients, says co-founder Jeff Schlosser (Stanford PhD ’13), but current radiation practices are unable to account for motion caused by breathing, digestion, etc. SoniTrack Systems uses a robotic ultrasound device that indicates when a tumor is in the target zone and turns the radiation beams on and off accordingly. Thus, the tumor is targeted with necessary force, while sparing the healthy tissue that surrounds it. The team recently received IRB approval for a patient study later this year.
Docmunch creates structured data out of unstructured sources. Founders Michael Feng and Max Cantor are both Penn graduates – the former also holds a master’s in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford – and have 14 years of experience in finance. Drawing on their time in the industry, they recognized a need to develop a more efficient way to collect, extract, and clean data in preparation for analysis. DocMunch is a faster, less expensive method compared with custom IT solutions and outsourced data-entry services.