Venture Atlanta just named Springbot to their list of Atlanta startups to watch this year and we could not be happier about it.
With the new year comes new challenges and new opportunities for the startup community. Here are the five editor’s pick for startups to watch this year. [Note: Size of funds raised nor “coolness” factor were not primary factors.]
Led by Bart Foster and founded in 2007, SoloHealth provides consumers free and convenient access to healthcare through its SoloHealth Station, a self-service kiosk offering complimentary vision, blood pressure, weight and body mass index screenings, overall health assessment and access to a database of doctors.
After a successful pilot in 2012, SoloHealth Stations are now located in more than 3,500 retail locations across the nation including Safeway, Sam’s Club and Walmart stores. Consumer adoption as measured by engagement with the kiosks also appear to be rising. According to the company, users are spending approximately 4.5 minutes per session and more than 40 million user interactions were recorded in 2013.
Turning Adversity to Opportunity
The Affordable Care Act, while controversial, served as an opportunity for SoloHealth to position its kiosks as convenient information hubs for confused consumers. The company inked a partnership with the Department of Health & Human Services to help promote awareness and information around the new insurance exchanges and Healthcare.gov.
Julie Bataille, director of communications for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, said, “These organizations are natural places for people to learn about the marketplace, and we want to make sure that [organizations] have access to the tools and information to respond to people who want to sign up and enroll for coverage on Oct. 1.”
Additionally, SoloHealth also announced a partnership with EHealth Inc., the parent company of eHealthInsurance wherein its plans and comparison tools will be made available on SoloHealth kiosks in selected geographies.
“The idea behind these partnerships is to link potential buyers with plans to help consumers make the appropriate decision for their insurance needs,” said Bart Foster, CEO of SoloHealth.
Pindrop Security has come a long way since taking the top prize at the 2011 GRA/TAG Business Launch competition. The company’s Phoneprinting™ technology phone fraud by analyzing and fingerprinting individual phone calls, providing the caller’s true location and calling device and matching them to Pindrop’s fraud database.
Cost of Phone Fraud
Perpetrated by organized crime rings, phone fraud uses a blend of social engineering and account manipulation to steal money via wire transfers, account clearinghouse (ACH) transactions, and payment cards. Attacks are generally directed at financial institution call centers. According to Pindrop, the typical phone fraudster targets anywhere from a handful of accounts to hundreds of them. A study commissioned by Pindrop found that one of 2500 calls to a call center is fraudulent and the cost of each incident is 57 cents.
Pindrop’s solution combines authentication and anti-fraud detection technology to verify legitimate callers while detecting malicious callers. The company was named SC Magazine 2013 Rookie Security Company of the Year, a Gartner “Cool Vendor” in Enterprise Unified Communications and Network Services for 2012 and one of the 10 Most Innovative Companies at the 2012 RSA conference. Its solution is targeted at enterprise call centers and phone users.
New Market Category
“Security and fraud prevention are coming together because so many breaches happen at the application layer,” said Wendy Nather, research director of the enterprise security practice at 451 Research. “At the same time, the battleground between attacker and defender is moving to the mobile phone. Pindrop Security is one of the newer vendors bridging all these areas, with its focus on phone fraud.”
Anyone who hasn’t heard of Bitcoin by now has been living in a cave with no WiFi! The cryptocurrency took the world and this country by storm in 2013 after first making its debut in 2009. Florida transplant Bitpay is one of the hubs in this ever growing ecosystem. [Bitcoin prima here. Stay tuned for more on Bitcoin in next week’s blog post.]
Simply put, Bitpay enables merchants to accept bitcoins for payment just as they would Mastercard, Paypal or cash. Participating merchant choose the percentage of revenues that are to be kept in bitcoins and the percentage to be converted to a fiat currency and direct deposited daily into their bank account. Bitpay charges a flat 0.99% fee to process and convert payments paid.
According to Bitpay, the advantages of Bitcoin transactions over credit or debit transactions are instantaneous and irreversible so there can be no chargebacks without the merchant’s consent and payments can be made anywhere there is an Internet connection. Since no personal information is included with a payment in bitcoins, Bitpay also touts the elimination of identity theft for customers and costs associated with PCI compliance for merchants as additional benefits.
Merchant and Consumer Adoption Grows
While the $2.7 million in funding Bitpay raised in May 2013 was eclipsed by the $25 million round closed by competitor Coinbase, the company had a banner holiday season. It processed 6 percent of all transactions on the global bitcoin network on November 29, 2013 alone. Its merchant network has expanded from 2,000 to 14,000 in less than 12 months and is growing daily.
Despite the legal and regulatory uncertainties surrounding Bitcoin, its proponents include politicians, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs and with the price of one bitcoin reaching as high as $1000 last December, 2014 looks to be another interesting year for the cryptocurrency ecosystem including Bitpay.
Founded in 2012 and led by CBeyond [NASDAQ: CBEY] co-founder Brooks Robinson, Springbot seeks to help small to mid-sized online merchants compete with the likes of eBay and Amazon for the multi-billion dollar U.S. ecommerce market. It leverages the cloud and data analytics to deliver a marketing platform to commerce businesses that helps them understand and optimize the return on their marketing spend across channels.
Ecommerce Marketing Mix Optimization for the SMB Market
The company’s solution integrates data, content and multi-channel marketing tools that help online merchants drive more traffic, conversions and a larger slice of the ecommerce pie which Forrester Research predicts will grow to $370 billion in the United States in 2017.
Since graduating from Flashpoint at Georgia Tech, the company has grown to 14-employees and is a Gold Magento partner.[Magento is a popular ecommerce platform among Springbot’s target audience.]
Expect an accelerated pace in product development and customer acquisition in 2014 as the company uses funds from the $3 million Series A round closed in 2013 to fuel growth. The company will also have the benefit of advice from business development and go-to-market guru Glenn McGonnigle of TechOperators this year. McGonnigle joined as board observer as part of the last funding round.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the country spends about $1.2 trillion annually for energy. Given the magnitude of that money involved, even moderate cuts can pay off. But that requires data.
Sanjoy Malik, founder and CEO of Urjanet, Inc., lives his mantra of, “Having good data key is the key to good decision making.” Since closing on a $6 million Series B round of funding in early 2013, the company has hit its stride as a provider of “energy data as a service.” The company’s first offering, utilityCONNECT provides enterprises with electricity, water and natural gas billing, demand, consumption, history, tariffs and rate plans from their utility providers.
Data-Driven Energy Management in the Enterprise
Cox Enterprise, which spends $100 million each year on electricity and natural gas, uses utilityCONNECT. The service automatically feeds utility data from Cox Enterprise’s 40,000 accounts across 190 utilities into the company’s energy management system eliminating the need for the manual collection and tracking of this data via spreadsheets.
In 2013, the company introduced three additional data services that add new functionality and intelligence to utility data thereby enabling users to take a proactive stance to managing energy consumption and spend.
- alertCONNECT notifies users of anomalies in their utility accounts including unusual deviations in costs as well as usage, as well as late fees, tariff changes ,etc.
- weatherCONNECT provides data regarding local weather conditions from 5,000 certified weather stations across North America that helps users calibrate energy performance specific to each facility across an enterprise.
- meterCONNECT provides customers of smart meters access to advanced meter information without installing any hardware or software.
According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, there is only a 23 percent market penetration of smart meters. Green Tech Media Research predicts this will double by 2015. “There’s still a lot of geographic area left for smart meters,” says Zach Pollock, a GTM Research smart grid analyst and this bodes well for Urjanet since like its other products, meterCONNECT subscriptions are priced per meter.
Bloomberg of Energy Data
This coming year is particularly noteworthy for Urjanet as it continues to pursue its strategy of becoming the “Bloomberg of energy data.” It is targeting the approximately 450 energy management companies that could white label its products and integrate them into their own applications that are in turn offered to enterprises and industrial customers that want to optimize their energy consumption and spend.