They came to Austin, Texas from far and wide — places as far removed from each other as Atlanta and Austria, Salt Lake City and Stockholm, New York and Tokyo … you name it.
Their mission? Plain and simple: to win the Accelerator competition in their particular category at SXSW’s StartUp Village.
This is the place to not only win, but also to become known.
"Over the past six years of companies competing in SXSW Accelerator, more than 50 percent have gone on to receive funding in excess of $1.7 billion and 12 percent of the companies have been acquired," said SXSW Accelerator Event Producer Chris Valentine.
But making it into the competition isn’t easy.
This year more than 500 startups from all over the world applied. Less than a tenth were invited to pitch in Austin.
And getting in front of the judges and this forward-thinking crowd is actually an end in itself.
Companies such as Flickr, Hulu, Delicious and Groupon have lost the top prize and then gone on to succeed. And while some winners (that you’ve probably never heard of) failed, others are now household names — such as Pinterest, Airbnb, Storify and ElfYourself.
Sunday’s contest centered around six technology categories: Enterprise and Smart Data, Entertainment and Content, Digital Health and Life Sciences, Innovative World, Social and Wearables.
Eight companies in each category were initially invited to present. That list was whittled down to 18, with three companies in each category. The winners were announced Sunday night.
Winner: Tinitell Stockholm, Sweden
What kid wouldn’t want a wrist phone? That’s what Tinitell sells. It’s a cool GPS SIM enabled device with voice recognition that allows you to “Call Mom” by simply saying the words. Perhaps it’s needless to point out that the wrist phone is also for parents. It’s meant to give them peace of mind.
How? There’s a Tinitell app that can not only show parents exactly where their child has wandered off to, but also lets them load the phone with the numbers of relatives, babysitters and so on.
You can learn more in the video below:
Enterprise and Smart Data
Winner: Partpic, Atlanta
Remember the last time you went to fix your 10-year-old lawn mower, snow blower or washing machine? Some weird, rusted thing fell out while you were investigating the problem. You asked yourself: What exactly is it and where can you get a new one? You looked for identification on the part, but there was none to be found. A model number? Worn off.
Frustrated and stuck, that’s how you felt. You couldn’t even begin to fix your product without the right part.
And if you’re working with industrial machines, the problem's even worse because some of the widgets on them never had identification numbers to begin with.
This is the problem that Partpic solves. Instead of leaving you to search through catalogs and websites guessing (and more often than not, guessing wrong) what the part is and where to get a replacement, Partpic uses machine vision algorithms to identify parts by using a photo you take with your phone.
Entertainment and Content Technologies
Winner: Zype, New York City
Zype is a cloud platform for video publishing and distribution that makes it easy for anyone to build and make money with their own branded streaming destinations.
“In just a few clicks, content owners can import video from anywhere and publish to their own branded mobile video apps, set top channels and web destinations,” said Ed Laczynski, CEO of Zype.
Zype’s cloud-based video technology service for premium video owners helps them build, scale and manage direct-to-consumer streaming destinations. It can pull in entire libraries from all video players and distribution end points, including Hulu and YouTube, into a discoverable consumer experience.
What’s Zype’s pitch to premium video content owners? It provides them with the ability to deliver content to any platform or device, without complex development, IT or publishing management, while maintaining their brand with the consumer.
Digital Health and Life Sciences Technologies
Winner: Tinnitracks, Hamburg, Germany
How cool is this? Hamburg, Germany-based Tinnitracks helps you treat Tinnitus with your favorite music.
Here’s how it works. You start by entering your tinnitus frequency (if you don’t know it, you can get it from your healthcare provider or acoustician), then, with one click, your tinnitus frequency is filtered out of your music files. Tinnitracks then checks to see if you’ve got tunes that aren’t optimal and notifies you so can avoid them as you transfer the music to your MP3 player.
Studies, according to the team at Tinnitracks, have shown that this therapy provides relief to patients over a few sessions at first and for longer periods of time when it is used more frequently.
Innovative World Technologies
Winner: Slantrange, San Diego
Slantrange’s promise is that it makes farming more productive by spotting problems in crops that are invisible to the human eye. It leverages remote sensing, drone aircraft, integrated flight data collection systems, imagery analytics, agronomy and more to reveal crop status, health trajectory or projected performance. The end result? Farmers have better and more information with which to make decisions.
Winner: RealSavvy, Austin
RealSavvy looks like Pinterest for Real Estate. And while it may be that, it’s also a platform that hopes to change the way people buy homes.
Here’s how it works: Potential homebuyers pin photos of properties they like on their individual RealSavvy boards using a browser extension or manually.
Individuals from across the web can then view them, share information and insights, and collaborate with others using their collections as starting points. The idea being that the site helps prospective buyers gather information on houses based on an area, location or other identifying detail.
Realtors can use the site to promote their listings, collaborate with clients and get new business.
Part of the beauty of RealSavvy is that it has the potential of keeping realtors connected with homebuyers even as the latter group shops for homes on sites like Zillow and Tulia.