Less than two weeks into the program, the 2017 Sprint Accelerator cohort introduced themselves to the community on Wednesday at 1 Million Cups. The accelerator recently welcomed seven startups representing its two tracks — ag tech and digital — that arrives from all around the country. Hailing from states like Texas, New York, Florida, Georgia and Colorado, the startups have had a quick immersion in Kansas City culture, Sprint Accelerator managing director Doug Dresslaer said.
Dresslaer told the crowd at 1 Million Cups that the cohort has already recognized the openness found in the Kansas City Community.
“This year, we are an open program — that’s why we’re here today,” Dresslaer said. “We’re not waiting until demo day to share our companies with you. If you want, get involved. If you or someone in your network has resources, mentors, access to experts that you think could really plug into what these seven companies are doing, please reach out to me.”
The 2017 Sprint Accelerator has a new flavor and approach in when compared to past programs. In addition to parting ways with accelerator firm Techstars, the revamped Sprint Accelerator announced its new focus in October to foster corporate partnerships with startups. The accelerator has partnered with the Dairy Farmers of America, Pinsight Media and Virgin Mobile for its 2017 program to drive ag tech and digital innovations.
Dresslaer expects both tracks, despite their differences, to learn from each other.
“It’s a weird combination if you look at it — we’ve got people who are putting ear tags on cows and people that are working on targeting advertisements,” Dresslaer said. “But, if you look at all seven of these companies, they’re all collecting, tracking and analyzing data. They’re going to learn from each other and learn from their corporate sponsors.”
Here is more about the companies.
Melissa Brandao, CEO of HerdDogg
Hailing from Longmont, Colo., HerdDogg developed “smart tags for cows.” The system identifies and monitors the health of livestock.
CEO Melissa Brandao said it is difficult to gather data from animals and believes her product will foster healthier herds. Brandao added that she’s grateful for the opportunity to be in Kansas City.
“As a startup, you’re always looking for an ecosystem where your business can thrive,” she said. “A few of us have been through a few accelerators along the way in some sort or another and I have to say that Doug and his team have been absolutely amazing. To the community of Kansas City, we love you.”
Micah Brown, CEO of Centiment
As the latest Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner reminded us, some ads just miss the mark. CEO of Centiment Micah Brown wants to change that.
He sad that bad advertisements can cost brands up to $27 billion a year.
“The fact that bad advertising exists is a big problem,” Brown said. “It hurts people socially, economically and psychologically every time a bad ad is served. We want to make advertising better for everyone and, most importantly for me, more equal.”
The New York-based machine learning startup wants to bring emotion back to the advertising industry. The artificial intelligence software will analyze the emotion of content and will generate the likelihood of an ad’s success, based on its target market.
Mitch Norby, CEO My Dairy Dashboard
Dairy Dashboard automatically gathers all of relevant data for dairy farmers together in one spot. The software helps collect and manage data from herd and feed operations and allows users to visualizes the data in a connected way.
From Frisco, Texas, CEO Mitch Norby said that cows don’t get a vacation — and the people tracking them don’t either.
“One thing that I think that’s been absolutely critical (about the program) is the sponsorship with the partnering corporations,” Norby said. “All of us are very excited about making a connection with somebody in the industry that we’re in. A connection that can make use of our technology, partner with us and make sure that it is what it needs to be.”
Bruce Ras, CEO of Ag Voice
AgVoice is a mobile voice-interaction device designed for food and agriculture professionals to capture on-the-go insights. The firm is based in Atlanta, Ga. but CEO Bruce Rasa has roots in Missouri.
“It is great to be home,” Rasa said. “My family is a 5th generation western Missouri farming (family) and has spent 150 years of paying taxes in this state. Why we’re here is that we want to partner with the best food and agriculture companies in the region, so thank you.”
Michael Chow, CEO of DART Technologies
From New York, N.Y., DART Technologies is a software company that builds location-based solutions for transit and urban development.
“I’m happy to be in Kansas City,” Michael Chow said. “Together, with Sprint and Pinsight Media, we look forward to building the future of connected mobility.”
Ahmed Moledina, COO of Oodles Rewards
Oodles Rewards is an Austin, Texas-based mobile customer loyalty platform made for small businesses. The platform allows for retailers to make data-driven marketing decisions.
COO Ahmed Moledina said that the firm is particularly focused on transportation and offers fuel rewards.
“Oodles is also for connected car partners, where we are capable of serving millions of drivers with a loyalty application right there on the car’s dashboard, thereby saving consumers like us money and driving demand for brands and retailers,” Moledina said.
Vijay Harrell, CEO of TradeLanes
TradeLanes is a software-as-a-service platform from Miami that enables shippers, merchants and traders to better control their supply chain.
CEO Vijay Harrell said that the platform will save 30 to 80 percent of time on export trade management and allows merchants to be paid up to 30 days faster.
Harrell told the crowd that he expects ag tech to be a hot topic in the coming years.
“We’re about to see a shift and some successes in ag tech,” Harrell said. “From an industry perspective, most people don’t understand it — they just want it to work. There are more entrepreneurs looking at this specific sector because they understand how vitally important it is for the world economy.”