Views on the 2012 Excelerate Labs Startups

Last Wednesday, I met with all 10 of this year’s Excelerate Labs companies, as part of their mentor month.

Rather than give a description of each one (already available in many places including here), I figured I’d share my take on them. Because each meeting only lasted 30-40 minutes, and wasn’t with all the founders, there’s no way I can effectively assess each startup’s potential or team. So my commentary should be taken with a grain of salt.

In order of the meetings:

  1. SpotHero. The energy, enthusiasm, and passion everyone wants to see in entrepreneurs. Very focused on sales, and already thinking about how to support scaling with sound operations.
  2. Orbeus. Smart, passionate technology team; I’m curious about their business/marketing depth.¬†With respect to the opportunity, the world is their oyster (B2B, B2C, military, etc.). So focus and execution are critical for them in the short-term.
  3. Whimseybox. Interesting niche for curated subscription boxes. Question is market size on the other side of the chasm, and how quickly they can get there. Love the passion and tenacity of its founder.
  4. Lasso. Smart young founders who realize they need to find a solution for a problem, not other way around. They also care deeply about that problem. With an interesting concept for their pivot, question is how fast they can execute.
  5. Fibroblast. Put another one on the passion tote board. Seem to understand the market really well and are focused on sales; great place to be. Classic land-grab opportunity so speed and scaling are critical.
  6. Frintit. Classic two-sided market that requires virality and has significant potential. Highly critical to identify early adopters and how to reach them. Admire the team’s humility, coachability, and desire to learn.
  7. 71lbs. As clear a value proposition as there can be. Seasoned founders seem to have strong domain expertise…curious about sales and marketing depth. Branding and positioning could be key to success.
  8. Pictarine. Love the concept, curious about execution. Similar to Lasso…already pivoting, interesting opportunities, and need to go fast. Would like to see mobile/tablet focus and how they can leverage thousands of current users.
  9. Cureeo. Huge opportunity to de-mystify art for people who are enthusiasts but not aficionados. Would like to see tighter focus on target market vs. the artists. Branding will be critical.
  10. Good Karma. Tapping into several trends at once…too many? Classic social venture challenge: how to achieve mission, create value in market, generate investor returns. This team has experience to figure it out.

On a side note, kudos to the Excelerate team for the diversity of this year’s class. Not just from a global standpoint but also in areas such as experience, industry, and business models.

I can’t wait to see how all 10 startups develop over the summer. I welcome your responses to my comments, as well as your thoughts on any of the companies.

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