ERA's Summer 2012 Demo Day: Politics, Planes and Paperwork

By Erin Griffith , written on September 21, 2012

From The News Desk

Today the ten companies making up Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator's 2012 summer session will make their debut. Check it out below.

The ideas span the mundane--paperwork, outsourcing and email--to the boutique--custom ordered furniture--to the delicious--catering. Plenty of the ideas are familiar territory, which I suppose is a slightly obvious and dumb observation to make. If Facebook has taught us anything it's that an idea doesn't have to be original or first to succeed. It just has to be executed the best.

(The inverse is true, too. The company with the best execution doesn't always win--otherwise we'd all be streaming music on MOG or Rdio and not Spotify.)

Nevertheless, VidRocket will be competing directly against Virool, a recent grad from Y Combinator. Houdini will be competing against Crowdflower, Taskus and Odesk. Jetaport is like TripSplitter, combining elements of Flightfox and Hipmunk with Spittable or SpotMe. Etc. But that's okay--Zuckerberg himself said there are only six people in the world with good ideas and the rest of us just sponge off of and improve upon them. Several of the companies presenting today have the right elements to do so.

Here's a rundown of the companies:

AngelPolitics Fundraising tool of politicians. Big data fundraising! Analytics platform! Turnkey! For politicians! Incredibly politicians don't have particularly strong tools at their disposal to track their donors by providing profile pages of them. The company charges a SaaS fee for setup and a percentage on transactions done on its platform. It's already working with 25 candidates.

Bizodo Paperwork elimination, as documented here. The company is heroically killing the fax machine. As I wrote over the summer: The company syncs, organizes, and manages data. The company operates on a freemium model, where users can have three different forms with up to 150 submissions per month. There is a partnership with that allows automatic syncing. The available alternatives now cost upwards of $10,000 a month, and Bizodo has already launched with enterprise clients including local governments, law firms, and companies like AOL, HP, Univision, Paypal, and Aflac.

CaterCow Catering marketplace. Two of the first three Airbnb employees created a site to connect caterers with party-throwers. The catering industry is a $60 billion market that's opaque and difficult to navigate. So CaterCow has a Pinterest-y looking site that displays catering options in a standardized format. Within a few months, the site has already done more than $9000 worth of transactions--it's only in New York thus far. The company takes an impressive 11% cut from transactions.

HealthyChic Seller of yoga and related lifestyle items. Twenty million people do yoga each year and it's a growing population. They spend $40 billion on yoga lifestyle merchandize. Apparently, companies like Lululemon, etc, fail to provide the a comprehensive place to buy things they want or need--activewear, yoga apparel, yoga accessories, detoxing foods, accessories and gadgets, anti-aging products, home spa stuff. They company launched yesterday with more than 100,000 registered users. Curated lifestyle e-commerce is a hot trend, right? These guys are doing it for yogis. Omm.

Houdini Curated peer-to-peer marketplace for magicians. Just kidding--it's an outsourcing platform for tiny tasks. Traditional outsourcing is moving toward what Houdini calls "Cloud Labor," where data entry and other tasks that are too complex for Amazon's Mechanical Turk are outsourced through Houdini's platform. Houdini provides higher quality workers than the Mechanical Turk because it vets its workers. The company met some excited applause after showing strong early traction, having completed 8000 hours worth of hours of work and already bringing in a small amount of revenue in private beta.

Jetaport Travel booking for groups. The company has a partnership with Expedia to supply its inventory. The company makes up to $3 per flight booked and 7% on accommodation bookings. The company markets itself to bloggers and the media, focusing on bloggers interested in things like bachelor parties, music festivals or spring breakers. The company has raised $100,000 thus far.

Juniper & Trade Formerly, which apparently did not work out. Now a curated marketplace for custom home goods. The company earns a fee when it connects makers of custom furniture with customers. Juniper & Trade has 18 makers on its system; there are 400,000 in the country. E-commerce is the fastest growing channel in the commerce industry, founder Sandy Lin said.

mxHero Email ninja-ry. Send self-destructing emails that can't be reread, forwarded or saved. And lots of other email improvements. So many companies promise to make email less horrible, and still it remains a source of macro-angst. Each time I meet a new one, I have so much hope it will be the one to do it. Save us, mxHero! Already the company is showing signs of promise. With zero advertising, the company has signed up 25,000 users at 1300 companies and rocketed to the top ten Gmail apps.

SaleMove Marketplace for sellers and buyers of complex items (jewelry, cars, real estate). The company helps buyers navigate the buying of products that are complicated to buy online. There is a personal consultation that goes beyond livechat and Skype that is "high touch" and sans pop-outs. The idea is that sales reps, even at car dealerships, can do this kind of thing while they're wasting time waiting for customers to come in. Jewelry sellers, car salespeople, life insurance brokers and real estate agents all have an online presence, but they don't have the tools they need to make people transact online. The company officially launches today with a handful of clients in each vertical on the platform.

VidRocket Digital video marketing tools. Provides promotions, insights and analytics for all sides of the video content distribution channel. Potential clients include media creators like Machinima, traditional creators of video content like the networks, and distributors like Google. The dashboard costs $99 per month at its entry level product.