Acquisition of TechStars prodigy highlights incubator’s Demo Day
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Cameron Houser, co-founder of Given Goods Co., pitches her company during Demo Day at the Boulder Theater. Given Goods is an online marketplace where every product sold makes a social impact.
The four TechStars cofounders, from left, chief executive David Cohen, president David Brown, Brad Feld and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. - gather on stage at the Boulder Theater for a quick update during the Aug. 8 Demo Day.
Perhaps that’s why GoodApril became the first company in TechStars’ seven-year history to be acquired before graduating from the startup incubator program that started in Boulder and has since branched out to cities such as Boston, Chicago and London.
The Aug. 8 announcement of GoodApril’s “successful exit” highlighted TechStars Boulder 2013 Demo Day, at which 10 startups made their pitches to potential investors and the public. The event at a packed Boulder Theater capped three months of tweaking business plans, receiving mentorship from successful entrepreneurs and meeting with investors.
San Francisco-based GoodApril’s story was a bit of a Cinderella story as it relates to TechStars. TechStars Boulder managing director Luke Beatty told the crowd that GoodApril was one of the hundreds of TechStars applicants to receive an email stating that it had not been selected for the program. But after a restless night of regret at not including GoodApril in the program, Beatty called the founders the next morning to tell them they were coming to Boulder.
GoodApril became the 24th TechStars company to get acquired when it was purchased by Intuit, the makers of TurboTax.
GoodApril’s pitch is one that could get anyone excited. The company’s online tax-planning platform eliminates tax-day surprises, thus ensuring a “Good April.” The platform connects users’ financial accounts to provide a real-time tax forecast and offer suggestions about how to find tax savings and reduce their bills on tax day. Need to increase withholdings? GoodApril can generate a W-4 form with the blanks filled in to take to a taxpayer’s human resources department the next day.
“We make tax planning effortless,” GoodApril co-founder and chief executive Benny Joseph said, noting that Americans leave $22 billion in tax savings on the table each year.
This year’s TechStars Boulder class included four Colorado-based companies. Elihuu, Prediculous and Brandfolder are all based in Denver. Given Goods Co., an online marketplace for “products that give back,” is based in Boulder.
In addition to the pitches, Demo Day also included the four TechStars founders – David Cohen, David Brown, Brad Feld and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. – gathering on stage for a quick update on the venture. Cohen is chief executive of TechStars, while Brown recently returned to serve as president.
TechStars has locations in Boulder; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; London; New York and Seattle, in addition to “powered by TechStars” programs for corporate sponsors such as Nike and Microsoft. All of the success, Feld said, “wouldn’t exist without the community and the network that’s built from that.”
Each startup in Boulder receives $18,000, and in return, TechStars receives 6 percent equity in each startup. Founders of the startups have access to a cadre of advisers for a three-month period. Companies also have the option of taking a $100,000 convertible note.
Class of 2013
The TechStars Boulder 2013 graduates, their founders and their pitches are:
AdsNative: Founded by Satish Polisetti, Dhawal Mujumdar, Kuldeep Kapade and Philip Foeckler. The pitch: A platform for mobile publishers to manage native advertising themselves and monetize mobile traffic.
Brandfolder: Founded by Brian Parks, Paul Arterburn and Ryan Urabe. The pitch: Provides a space where companies can shape and manage their brand identities, cutting down on misrepresentation on the Web and in the media.
Elihuu: Founded by Dorian Ferlauto and Alex Henry. The pitch: A sort of “Match.com for manufacturers and designers” to help innovative products make their way to consumers.
Given Goods Co.: Founded by Cameron Houser and Riley End. The pitch: An online marketplace where every product sold makes a social impact by, for instance, donating to a cause somewhere in the world.
GoodApril: Founded by Benny Joseph and Mitchell Fox. The pitch: Makes tax planning something every American can do, helping provide a real-time tax forecast to help users pay less in taxes.
Hull: Founded by Romain Dardour and Stephane Bellity. The pitch: Provides developers the tools to build and maintain custom social applications.
Kato: Founded by Andrei Soroker and Peter Hizalev. The pitch: Attacks the “enterprise communication disaster” by providing a platform that aggregates all of the communication methods a company uses into one organized, archived and searchable application.
Prediculous: Founded by Howie Spielman and Taylor McLemore. The pitch: Provides customized fantasy sports applications, usable on all platforms, for any business to help generate leads.
Shopventory: Founded by Bach Le and Rares Saftoiu. The pitch: Provides automated inventory management and analytics for companies that rely on mobile points of sale.
SnowShoe: Founded by Claus Moberg and Jami Morton. The pitch: Uses customers’ smartphone browsers for all types of authentication applications, from wireless network access to loyalty apps.
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