From e-commerce to e-mail to politics and paperwork, startups of all kinds were on display Friday at the Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator’s Demo Day in New York. The accelerator program, which just launched last year, debuted its third class of startups, bringing its total portfolio to 30 companies.
The 10 startups ran the gamut from marketplaces for custom goods, catering and yoga gear to companies looking to optimize online video, totally digitize paperwork processing and simplify group travel. Here are a few of my favorites:
Email may be decades old, but mxHero is trying to make sure it keeps up with the times. The Sao Paulo-based company has a bunch of cool services – from self destructing messages to the ability to hide email addresses from out-of-company recipients to enhanced email monitoring – to help enterprise clients improve email. It also allows people to send attachments of any size, block or track the use of BCCs, and add email signatures to everyone in an organization. In the last six months, the startup has added 1,300 companies, and several of its apps are already ranked among the top 10 in Google Apps.
I wasn’t expecting to get excited about a marketplace for catering, but something about the site’s Seamless-meets-Pinterest vibe really pulled me in. CaterCow, launched by a team of former Airbnb employees, gives caterers of all kinds – from local bakeries to food trucks to independent foodmakers – a place to showcase their services. And it gives businesses and individuals an easy-to-navigate place to discover and pay for catering. The packages range from traditional appetizers and desserts to Sno-Balls, frozen bananas, and custom cocktails. The company takes a cut of the transactions, and said that since launching earlier this summer it’s processed about $9,000 in transactions.
Juniper & Trade
Seizing on the anti-mass production movement driving artisan food, local breweries and handmade products, Juniper & Trade is a marketplace for custom-made home goods. Through the site, people who might otherwise head to retailers like Crate & Barrel can find reasonably priced custom home products and have them delivered to their door. It’s true that woodworkers and other craftsmen can already offer these kinds of products through Etsy, the biggest site for handmade goods, or CustomMade, which offers a range of custom-made items. But, unlike those sites, Juniper & Trade exclusively focuses on home goods. And, as the success of One Kings Lane is showing, the demand for home goods online is strong. The platform has not launched yet but will start with 18 makers in New York.
Services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (s AMZN) can put an army of human laborers at your disposal to complete small tasks. But the problem, according to Houdini’s founders, is that there’s no quality control, no training and no assurance that you’re actually getting the best people for your needs. Companies come to Houdini with a particular need, and then Houdini screens and trains workers to complete that task, and also reviews their work.
Citing management firm A.T. Kearny, Houdini said outsourcing as we know it will disappear in the next five years. And, as that transition takes place, companies taking advantage of web-based “cloud laborers” could be well-positioned. Since launching earlier this year, the company has seen impressive traction. It’s logged 8,000 man hours of work for over a dozen customers and has a waiting list of 380 businesses eager to use the platform once it opens out of private beta.