Jul 22, 2012
Babson College’s fourth annual “XSite 2012 Accelerating Innovation” conference was a day well spent. Participating in the Wellesley, Massachusetts event were entrepreneurs representing the best and brightest local start-ups in the areas of Healthcare, Clean Tech and Information Technology. Each company’s founding team had a chance to discuss their vision, latest products and future marketplace trends.
One of the highlights was a keynote session delivered by Phil Libin, CEO and founder of Evernote, a company that provides a legendary note taking and archiving technology. The final event of the conference was a business pitch contest that provided ample time for listening to and talking with industry visionaries and local entrepreneurs. While meeting with several company founders I ranked them on both their business plans and the indelible qualities that distinguish visionaries from the rest of the startup crowd.
Here’s my list of “fab-five” startups to watch:
5. The Swaymarkets founding team has an app for real time monitoring and viewing of data usage and trends of a cell-carrier’s network performance and signal strength. The company has some innovative ideas for helping developers incorporate a greater level of network-performance intelligence into their applications, providing the tools for a richer user experiences. This is new and potentially powerful, since before now these calculations have been almost impossible to obtain. In speaking with the founding team, I realized they had the right blend of operational experience for developing solutions tempered with consultative industry vision. Both of these ingredients are critical to the process of moving an idea from concept stage to large scale adoption.
4. Gympact CEO Yfan Zhang has a way to get those extra pounds off by offering the right incentive to fitness conscious and not so conscious consumers. Their carrot is not the orange eatable kind but the green stuff that feeds bank accounts. Members sign up and get paid for working out at the gym by those who oversleep or procrastinate. In just a few weeks this simple fun idea has propelled the early stage startup to a user base of thousands. Gympact seems to be on the precipice of a viral adoptive curve; not surprising, given the highly driven and outgoing nature of the founding team.
3. Kyruus Chief Product Officer, Julie Yoo, is the product visionary behind this big-data driven healthcare company. Kryuss helps physicians monitor their medial profiles and measure their performance against peers and industry standards, providing a way to identify the best practitioners through big-data analytics. Yoo believes that although “privacy concerns prompt us to share big data in an aggregate form, it has an ROI for users.” Kyruus competes in a complex industry overshadowed by regulatory compliance and legacy systems making innovative solution roll-out and adoption both difficult and challenging. They appear to have the right amount of technical wizardry and perseverance to make a lasting impact on the healthcare industry.
2. Backupify’s CEO Rob May is constantly looking to find “profitable and non-sexy tasks” in IT organizations. Backupify grabs user data from cloud apps like Facebook, Twitter or Google app engine and stores it in the cloud in a secure location. May takes routine IT tasks and gives them a new look and feel by securely and unobtrusively repackaging them. When it comes to implementing this type of subtle innovation, big companies notoriously drop the ball.
1. Ginger.io’s CEO and founder Amol Madan’s team is changing the way healthcare uses big data. Using mobile phones, Ginger.io captures passive data about patient activities and displays behavioral analytics on secure web dashboards for clinicians. Amol says, “More data equals more value [to patients].” Clinicians now have access to continuous data about patient activities and are better equipped to treat and manage chronic illnesses. With diabetes and obesity reaching epidemic levels, MIT Media Lab’s founder Amol may be the disruptive force in the healthcare industry’s remote monitoring. Their solution may prove to increase the level of accuracy in data feedback in ways that are more convenient and unobtrusive to patients suffering from chronic diseases.
Apptopia, although not in my top five, is worth honorable mention. This company provides a seamless online marketplace for mobile application developers to sell their apps to the highest bidder. With Apptopia, application developers can bypass difficult carrier or app store approval processes and get their solution into the marketplace easily and effectively.
A comment worth noting is Hubspot founder, Dharmesh Shah’s advice: If you’re thinking of a startup idea, “…just go and do it. Get in the game”; and a way to get the wheels rolling is to attend next year’s XSITE conference.