Over the last few weeks we reviewed over 500 startups and talked (phone, skype, etc.) with over 100 startup founders. This was our shortlisting process to get to 15 companies that will make it to our Spring 2013 batch at the Accelerator.
First, we reviewed a lot of travel startups. Especially the problem of helping travelers with trip planning. A list of things to do, places to see, restaurants to eat, etc. With all the data available from multiple sites including Yelp, Facebook friends recommendations, and other online sources there seems to be enough data to form a more informed trip plan. Unfortunately we picked none of them. Its too hard to see what will differentiate one company from another. Some claim it is their User experience, others their recommendation algorithm and still others their human-powered technology planning.
Second we reviewed many more gaming applications than we did in the previous batch. Zynga’s performance notwithstanding, many folks are jumping on the in-app purchases and social gaming concept. Most start with a web social game though, not mobile. That’s fair, since the number of mobile smartphone early adopters in India is still far and few between. Again, we passed on all of them since the teams did not seem complete and hiring design talent is amazingly hard in India.
Third we reviewed many SaaS applications in the help desk and customer support area. There were 3 teams with excellent experience & background in the space and all had some initial customer traction. Many were gunning for BMC Remedy, but my sense was although the market is fairly large, nothing set one team apart from another. They all pretty much had the same feature set as ZenDesk or FreshDesk.
Bonus trend – we saw many education “ERP” applications. School management, test preparation academy management, College alumni management etc.