DreamIt Ventures, a Philadelphia-based accelerator program, graduated its first New York class yesterday, sending 14 new start-ups into the wild. I enjoyed the demo day and the investor pitches and I find it always inspiring to see entrepreneurs making a play for the big time.
DreamIt’s class tackled education, e-commerce and app publishing and a few used video conferencing in interesting ways.
Here are three that stood out to me:
Take the Interview. Hiring manager and recruiters often lose time winnowing down the field of applicants to a handful they can bring in for real interviews. Often, there’s a lot of time devoted to scheduling and conducting phone screening interviews. What Boston-based Take the Interview does is provide a video interviewing platform that allows companies to solicit up to five video-recorded answers from applicants that they can review.
It allows HR teams to screen candidates more quickly and get a better feel for people using a medium that many younger applicants are already used to: video. The videos can be organized by question and can be shared and commented on within an organization. Recruiters can also pull up an applicant’s LinkedIn profile while watching a video. Take the Interview launched this summer and has about 80 companies participating in its beta, including Deloitte and Bausch + Lomb. Monster and Craigslist have also started embedding a Take the Interview button on their sites.
I like Take the Interview, because it seems like a simple way to get gain more valuable information from candidates and use video to really see if there’s a potential fit with an applicant. And as video conferencing and webcams become a common way for people to communicate, it makes sense to leverage that more for hiring.
Re-Vinyl. This Los Angeles-based start-up is taking on the demise of albums with an application that allows labels and artists to create their own digital albums complete with cover art, streaming music, lyrics and liner notes. There’s also an opportunity for high quality advertising within the app including promotions for the artists themselves.
There’s also a chance to include more interactivity with fans using a Remix feature, in which an artist can ask questions of their audience and fans can respond by dragging and dropping media into the app. Right now, Re-Vinyl is working with artists to create apps, which can take about a week, but the company is poised to release a self-serve tool to allow artists to make these apps on their own.
That, I think, will be cool because it will allow serious and also budding musicians to create next-generation digital albums. We’ve seen some of the promise of this kind of interactive multimedia apps from Push Pop Press and 955 Dreams. But this could be, if it catches on, it a way to help musical albums make the transition to the app world. Re-Vinyls plans to make money by selling Vinyls or subscriptions, taking a percentage of advertising revenue or through sponsored content.
AppAddictive. While brands move to social media platforms to advertise and engage their users, it’s not always easy or very effective, especially as they try to branch out to multiple networks. AppAddictive, based in New York City, is working to solve that with a marketing platform that allows companies to manage their content, ads and analytics on multiple networks. It comes down to AppAddictive’s ability to engage with users using mini-apps like quizzes, contests, coupon offers, video galleries.
That makes a brand’s page more dynamic and interesting and allows them to gather more information from users on what they like and are interested in. And by leveraging social networks, it can bring in new customers through viral channels for less money. Founder Michael Onghai, one of the first employees at Geocities, left his hedge fund job to give AppAddictive a try. He said already 5,500 companies are testing the apps and 50 million people have tried one of the apps. The company plans on making money through performance-based advertising.
I think as advertisers look to tap the power of social media, having a tool like AppAddictive makes some sense. They can make their brand pages smarter and more engaging and they can gain valuable information on their users while lowering the cost of user acquisition.
I also enjoyed Hoot.me, an interactive learning platform built on top of Facebook that allows users to study with friends, connect via multi-person video chat and bring in tutors to aid in learning. KeepIdeas is also interesting, allowing people to organize recipes and food content in the cloud. You can view a longer list of all the graduates here.