StartX, a Stanford-affiliated startup incubator, had its ninth Demo Day yesterday, at which 10 new startups and five returning companies pitched to investors and the media.
A Demo Day event occurs at the end of each StartX session, of which there are three each year. Approximately 85 percent of StartX graduates have received funding, which StartX Founder Cameron Teitelman ’10 M.S. ’11 attributed to the program’s unique environment and connections with investors.
“The point of [Demo Day] is to provide access to the really high-quality group of investors that we associate with,” Teitelman said. “It allows founders to get their message across to a large group of investors. This significantly reduces the amount of time taken for fundraising.”
Teitelman emphasized that even after founders graduate the program, they are still encouraged to use StartX’s connections and present at future Demo Days to help them further develop their companies.
“We do a lot of training on how to utilize the network that we’ve built,” he said. “The founders who have gone through the accelerator are still founders and we still support them.”
According to Teitelman, StartX’s Demo Day is different from similar events, like BASES’ 150k challenge, because of the quality of both the companies and the investors who participate.
Teitelman said that many of the founders who attend Demo Day are “far along” and have already raised between half a million and a million dollars, and the investors who are invited to attend are “high-quality, vetted angel [investors].”
“We have hundreds of people trying to be a part of Demo Day, and we turn them down,” he said. “The companies are highly vetted and trained, and so are the startups. We don’t have anyone at the event who can’t make investment decisions.”
Stanford founders in attendance
Arturo Devesa, founder and CEO of MedWhat, a graduate of StartX’s most recent class, said that the program was “amazing,” referencing the office space, Internet service and community of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that it provided.
MedWhat, an electronic medical diagnosis and assistance system, was co-founded by postdoctoral scholar Mario Lanza and Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery Oliver Aalami. According to Devesa, the company aims to address the issue of people receiving inaccurate results while searching on the Internet for diagnoses based on their medical symptoms.
“There’s a mixed quality of sources, and you are on your own to find the answers,” he said. “What we are creating is a questions and answers engine, which provides instant answers to relevant medical questions.”
Devesa said that while at StartX, the company worked on building algorithms to give users instant and direct answers to their medical questions. According to Devesa, the MedWhat app has been featured on the App Store for five weeks in a row.
Another company that presented at Demo Day was SayWe, an instant voice messaging platform for enterprise that can analyze sentiment in voices. The startup, another member of StartX’s newest class, was founded by Ahmad Baitalmal M.B.A. ’12.
“It’s been awesome for us to receive help from some of the experts in the valley, who really have a lot of connections,” Baitalmal said, noting that the opportunity to be “working alongside like-minded people” was also extremely valuable.
Baitalmal said that one of the reasons behind the company’s success was its focus on the enterprise market, as the product can help businesses “know their customer’s sentiment even before the interaction ends,” according to the SayWe website.
“For enterprise, we can do magical things because of the sheer volume,” he said. “For companies that focus on services, having very good control over information and the like that no one is capturing at all directly contributes to the revenue growth.”
Chatous, an online chat site that optimizes interactions using big data algorithms, was another new startup that presented at Demo Day. The company aims to introduce users to others around the world that they might be interested in talking to through either a chat platform or video.
“I had some friends who had been involved with StartX, and we decided to apply,” said Parth Bhakta ’13, one of the founders of Chatous. ”It’s been good so far.”
Bhakta and his co-founders, Kevin Guo ’13 M.S. ’13 and Dmitri Karpman Ph.D. ’17, launched the company in Oct. 2012 after working on a project together in CS224W: Social and Information Networks.
“The class project was about trying to predict human compatibility,” Bhakta said. “We created a random chat site where we wanted to pair people optimally. It became quite popular, and we decided to start a company.”
Alongside Chatous, SayWe and MedWhat, other companies presenting for the first time at Demo Day included analyticsMD, Beyond the Box, BioTX, Docmunch, FlameStower, Spire and Sonitrack. Appfluence, Meet Mikey, NuMedii, VipeCloud and Xola, graduates of earlier StartX sessions, returned to seek additional funding.