Recently, NYU Stern’s Entrepreneurs’ Exchange Club hosted a demo day showcasing 10 startups. The event kicked off with two keynotes by Ellie Wheeler (Greycroft) and Charlie O’Donnell (Brooklyn Bridge Ventures).
Ellie gave a great presentation on the state of VC, complete with charts and data points à la Mary Meeker. She hit home some of the trends others were already observing, namely, the poor returns of VC funds over the past decade and the inherent advantage of smaller-size funds in returning profit to investors. Charlie drew upon his recent experience fundraising for his new seed-stage fund. Today’s LPs are far more sophisticated given the transparency of VC’s and the pervasive media surrounding early-stage companies, which is both good news and difficult news for VC’s. When asked “What’s next?” in tech trends, Ellie and Charlie both had the same answer – build for the problems you are passionate about, not for a market opportunity that exists out there.
The event showcased a dozen startups affiliated with NYU students/alums. Here are some of the ones I found most interesting:
Bizodo is an online form builder that helps collect and manage information. A common use case of the product is in HR – employee on-boarding usually requires a slew of forms that ultimately gets tossed in a box, never to be found again. If Bizodo is to address this pain point, it’ll have to have bulletproof secure data hosting, as well as a robust tablet/mobile offering. I like this business because there is a huge market opportunity and the problem it’s trying to solve is very real. As an ERA company, Bizodo has already established partnership with complementary companies, such as Box to enhance its offerings.
EchoFriendly’s core product is real-time, location-based chatrooms, initially targeted at people looking to make new friends. However, I found its business application much more compelling – the ability for stores and brands to connect with their customers in real-time, at the point of sale. Location-based commerce is an under-served vertical (see: Groupon Now?) that has yet be to figured out – perhaps EchoFriendly’s product can address that missing link between the consumer, the vendor, and the brand. (I could also see some serious synergies with Get Satisfaction’s engagement platform.)
While StudyCure sounds like EdTech, it’s actually a tool that allows users to monitor their own health by setting mini-tests. The user can enter simple hypothesis related to health and well-being (ie. “If I take a daily multivitamin, then I will have more energy.”), and then track their progress to test that hypothesis. The science geek in me is totally loving the scientific method approach, but I doubt whether the average user will bother to update on a daily basis. What I can see is how useful this tool would be in any kind of health or behavior study, where the study participants can report their status in detail, directly to the researchers.