Image Credit: Tom Cheredar
The city of Austin, Texas continues to impress with a high volume of interesting startups.
Case in point: Yesterday, I had a chance to check out the fall demo day event from Austin-based startup incubator Capital Factory, and I came across five really interesting early-stage companies.
Running a campaign for public office is challenging given that a lot of U.S. citizens don’t actually make it to the polls. With that in mind, data analytics platform VoterTrove wants to help campaign offices identify the best use of their time by eliminating promotional efforts to sway constituents that either aren’t voting for their candidate or aren’t voting at all. The platform provides analytics on the best groups of people to target in order to get more votes, gain attention for a candidate on a particular issue, and more. VoterTrove does select clients that lean conservative, which has traditionally been a group underserved by campaign analytics tools, according to founder and CEO Justin Gargiulo.
Gargiulo later told me that he sees a bright future for his company’s technology beyond campaigns — helping out the growing number of sharing services like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, for example. These companies face big obstacles getting local governments to revise outdated laws that don’t allow them to operate. In these instances (which will likely increase as the sharing economy gains prominence), social marketing platforms just aren’t sufficient. VoterTrove could help these companies target locals who are interested in weighing in on regional politics.
The amount of time doctors spend with patients during face-to-face visits is in decline, due in part to doctors’ offices bringing in lower revenue, according to Chiron Health founder Andrew O’Hara. My last three doctor visits, which were non-urgent, took less than five minutes (not counting time spent in the waiting room).
Plenty of other people have a similar experience, which is why Chiron Health’s service sounds like an attractive option for both patients and doctors. Chiron is offering live video conferencing between doctors and patients for non-urgent or routine checkups. The technology is HIPAA-compliant (the set of federal regulations a health tech provider must follow to ensure personal medical data stays secure) and doesn’t require patients to download any additional software — everything is done through the web browser. The service costs about $400 per month per practitioner, which might be worth it for some doctors if it means increasing the number of appointments per day without sacrificing the amount of time spent with patients.
(For more on emerging health-care technologies, be sure to check out VentureBeat’s upcoming HealthBeat conference, Oct. 27-28.)
Fantasy sports are sort of a big deal these days, in case you haven’t noticed. More specifically, fantasy sports services that offer cash prizes to winners are growing in popularity. While football gets much of the attention, fantasy league startup Togga thinks soccer might be where the real money is. The service tracks 20 different statistics during Premier League games, and it tracks competitions on a weekly basis.
Founder Scott Faust told me that soccer has a lot of room for growth when it comes to fantasy leagues because games happen year-round, unlike football. On top of that, soccer is the most popular sport in many countries, which is why the startup sees 40 percent of its users coming from outside the U.S. “Because we track 20 statistics to determine who wins the cash prizes, a 0-0 soccer game can still be very exciting,” he said. Togga is likely to be pretty popular with media companies for that reason — getting people to engage more closely while watching the game on TV.
You don’t need billionaire investor Peter Thiel to tell you that going to university is more likely to land you in debt than guarantee you a high-paying job. Even the jobs that do offer higher-than-average compensation without a college education still require training, and that training isn’t always easy to obtain. VChain Solutions is a startup that sees this problem quite a bit in the supply chain industry, which founder Bar Bruhis said makes up about 10 percent of the U.S. economy.
VChain offers a training program that gives people the skills they need to get hired in supply chain jobs, while working with local businesses in the area to build a connection with students. The cost of training is placed on the students, but the fees are far less than they’d pay for multiple semesters at a reputable university or community college. And with the higher education system failing to produce better job prospects for students, VChain seems like an interesting alternative for those newly entering the market, as well as those looking for a career change.
Media companies can have a hard time keeping track of what data lies within the massive amount of audio and video files being created and uploaded on their sites every day. This poses a problem, because that content usually needs to be vetted for it to be useful in finding and increasing audience size.
Media data startup Clarify’s platform intends to do this by scanning these files for distinct bits of information as they’re uploaded, which can then be plugged into APIs or used to improve search results or enhance recommendations. Founder Paul Murphy told me after his pitch that what Clarify is offering is sort of like a version of The Echo Nest that focuses on everything except music. The startup is backed by Mass Relevance founder Sam Decker, who helped pioneer using social data from Twitter that big media was (is) very interested in.