Graham Lawlor, founder of Ultra Light Startups put together an interesting mix of startups for the investor feedback pitching contest held at Microsoft’s offices in midtown. The large room was packed with people evaluating the nine companies that presented that evening. The attendees voted by email and overwhelming picked three startups that had huge marketplaces and solid growth potential. The first place winner of the pitching contest was Tyler Felous with his startup Glyph, an iPhone app that tells users what credit cards to use to earn better rewards. Ben Kosinski came in second with Sumpto, an online platform that measures the social influence of college students. Chris Bradley came in third with Mana Health, novel decision support platform for electronic health records.
Out of all the other varied startups that presented – ranging from FreshNeck, an online subscription service for men’s neckties; Vestorly, a community to connect investment advisors through people that users know and trust; and Vidaao, a video production market place, winners came from three solid sectors — FinTech, Health and Social. While it was the crowd that voted for their favorites, it did seem as though they were chosen in sectors that the panelists and the co-organizers knew and liked.
But Lawlor, who sees hundreds of startups, had his own idea of which sector would be the largest growth area this year:future energy. He sees a lot of energy pitches and ideas including solar companies, wind companies, geothermal, nuclear, biofuels and biochemicals. “Future energy is game changing, that’s the idea. We want to find revolutionary technologies that in five to ten years on are going to revolutionize the industry. We saw some nuclear technology that was crazy coming from Laurenceville Plasma Physics. I call it cold fusion, but they don’t like that phrase. It has something to do with an electric arc, that’s creating a plasma, that’s creating fusion for a tiny tiny microsecond. In terms of radical game changing that’s probably the biggest one out there.”
David Carlos, founder of myhomepayge and co-organizer of the Ultra Light event, said he is seeing a lot of integration with big data and analytics. “What’s big is being able to take behavioral information about what people are doing. It’s about taking large numbers of people at a very granular level way — beyond that which has been available before. Then loading it into mass databases, analyzing it, and turning it into something actionable. So there are many companies trying to get in on the bandwagon and take advantage of the mass of storage and mass of computational power that’s available very cheaply these days. Build it in the cloud and get it to market and make a million dollars.”
The remaining three startups were also worthy of note. Curioos provides high-quality art prints and accessories designed by talented artists around the world. NimbusBase is an iCloud alternative. Content Galaxy is streaming video and digital downloads, differentiated by its paid channels that pool together related content from many different sources.