Excelerate Labs selects 2012 class, moves to 1871

Chicago’s leading start-up accelerator Excelerate Labs just announced its summer 2012 class—this year’s 10 young companies entering the 13-week program, now an anchor tenant in the 1871 non-profit digital startup center.

And while Doejo is not actually affiliated with Excelerate Labs, now in it’s third year, we can’t help but geek out about their reality-show-like intensive program. Think about it, these ten stage one companies come together with remarkable business models, in the middle of Chicago’s tech-startup renaissance, hoping to build Chicago’s next Groupon or Grubhub. Seriously, they are a confessional room and a reunion show away from being the most thrilling show not on television.

As you may or may not know, each of these startups are given $25,000 from Excelerate Labs, $50,000 in convertible debt from New World Ventures (Chicago’s largest VC) and the invaluable opportunity to get one-on-one advice from hundreds of tech mentors and entrepreneurial leaders over the adrenaline-rushing course of three months. And this year, according to a release, Excelerate saw a 50 percent increase in applications from 2011. So, expect this group to be the best of the best.

But which companies made the cut? Glad you asked. This year, two of the companies are traveling abroad to Chicago all the way from Bangalore, India and Paris, France, respectively. By the way, Whimseybox and Cureeo sound amazing, check them all out. From the Excelerate release

The ten companies selected for Excelerate’s 2012 class are:

  • 71lbs – Helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) save money on shipping through data analytics, allow SMBs to easily understand their parcel shipping spend and make better shipping decisions for the first time.  Clients recover an average of 4-6 percent of their shipping fees.
  • Cureeo – Offers original and limited edition artwork to collectors and novice art enthusiasts without the hassle of personally hunting through physical and online gallery to find that perfect piece.  The company provides background about the artist and their work as well as education on how and why to shop for fine art.  Customers can share their taste preferences and design needs then receive a selection of artwork options handpicked for them by one of Cureeo’s art specialists.
  • Fibroblast – Helps solve three big, interrelated problems in US health care: shrinking margins, convenient access and need for preventive care.  The company solves these problems by providing patients with the ability to self-schedule appointments anytime and anywhere by using a cloud-based calendar; by automating appointment notifications; by providing analytics tools for providers to optimize their practices; and by creating a network of interconnected providers to seamlessly refer patients.
  • frintit – Acts as the “adsense” of the physical direct mail world by allowing direct mail advertisers to intelligently target a consumer based on their interests.  Using a combination of web and mobile data, frintit offers everyone from small business owners to large corporations a direct mail platform to reach the right customer.
  • Good Karma Clothing for Kids – A new subscription service that delivers right-sized baby clothes that customers exchange as their baby grows so busy parents don’t have to spend a ton of time and money keeping up with fast growing little bodies. Good Karma delivers bundles of ready-to-wear clothing on request, washed in environmentally-and-baby friendly detergent.
  • Lasso – A new service hailing from an uncharted land where friends freely gather with the whip of a hand, where plans manifest in a couple of clicks so friends can greet faces and not profile pictures. 
  • Orbeus – An advanced computer visual recognition engine that enables computers to perform face detection and recognition, logo and product recognition, optical character recognition, and scene understanding. 
  • Pictarine – Centralizes photos from all online services including Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and Twitter.  Pictarine automatically organizes photos as timelines, backup the best photos, share favorites with friends and help discover new photos.
  • SpotHero – Acts as the “Orbitz” for parking spots.  The company works with some of the largest parking operators in the country to make discounted parking available to customers by helping drivers get the parking spot that they want. 
  • Whimseybox – A subscription service for the DIY and craft community.  Every month the company ships customers craft product samples, helping to rediscover crafts with a fun and beautiful reminder to express their creativity.  Users can visit the company’s Project Gallery for inspiration and ideas or upload and share their projects with the Whimseybox community.
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