Techtify: 5 Cool Startups Barely Getting Started

Written by Dallea Caldwell

Here’s when today’s new/now/next obsessed culture gets a little insane: when tech-heads go gaga over launches that haven’t even happened yet or stop traffic over so-called disruptive technologies few people even know about. It’s like placing bets on who will win the playoffs during the NFL off-season, before the draft.

Still, since what we know of the universe is only 10% information and 100% speculation, what’s so wrong about getting all worked up with perspiration from an exercise in anticipation?

Here are 5 early-stage, cool startups that seem to push the definition of what’s possible and seem mind-blowingly and/or world-changingly cool.

Techtify: 5 Cool Startups Barely Getting Started - Seva Call

What it is: HelpAround, a crowdsourcing tool for people suffering from Diabetes

Launch Date: June 2013

Founders: Yishai Knobel and Shlomi Aflalo

Status: Currently raising

Why it’s cool: Online data collection has literally reached a point where Target knows more about my boyfriend than I do. And, it’s a shame that more research goes into your shopping preferences than finding a cure for leukemia or solving the debt crisis. But, HelpAround co-founder Shlomi Aflalo is using ad-targeting technology for good.

The location-based app data-mines the web to find fellow sufferers and caregivers nearby to form an instant support network for people with chronic conditions. The biggest pay-off is a potential reduction in emergency room visits and other hassles associated with meeting routine urgent care needs.

Techtify: 5 Cool Startups Barely Getting Started - Seva Call

What it is: Outbox, your snail-mail… digitized

Launch Date: February 2013

Founders: Evan Baehr,  Jason Seriff, and Will Davis

Status: Oversubscribed series A (July 2013)

Why it’s cool: As a member of the Seva Call team where online search meets offline connects, I really dig Outbox’s seamless union of real and virtual reality. Three times weekly, Outbox takes your snail-mail, which you normally lose or improperly discard anyway, and scans it to become view-able and organized via your iOS device. Never lose an invite, bill, or payment stub again

Vetted staff people upload your mail to your profile and then shred documents automatically- leaving scammers fewer opportunities to find personally identifiable information strewn thoughtlessly in the trash. Users can even request original copies of the mail they want in-hand, such as concert tickets or fancy ribbon-tied wedding invitations with adorable save-the-date refrigerator magnets included. Folks outside Austin and San Francisco, however, will have to settle for the old basket storage method while Outbox gradually takes over the world.

Techtify: 5 Cool Startups Barely Getting Started - Seva Call

What it is: CamFind, an image-based online search engine

Founders: Dominik Mazur and Bradford Folkens

Launch Date: April 2013

Status: Currently raising

Why it’s cool: They say a picture says a thousand words, but with CamFind, a picture is worth a million search engine results as well. Snap a pic of any object via an iOS device, and search the image to gain information about the object, (eg: definitions, related images, and even price comparisons).

Techtify: 5 Cool Startups Barely Getting Started - Seva Call

What it is: Casetext, a Wikipedia for expert explanations of legislation around the world

Launch Date: TBA

Founder: Jake Heller

Status: Currently raising

Why it’s cool: An informed public is essential to a healthy democracy — and, it’s also essential to any unhealthy and near-death authoritarian regime. So score one for the  ‘merican way when the free market births a database that crowdsources legal experts for simple explanations of laws all over the world. Plus, with the money law-firms will save when they no longer have to build multi-million dollar legal databases, it may bring legal costs down enough that you can post bail… hypothetically speaking, of course.

Techtify: 5 Cool Startups Barely Getting Started - Seva Call

What it is: uBiome, big data fact-finder for bodily flora

Launch Date: November 2012

Founders: Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte

Status: Currently raising

Why it’s cool: Although not an app or website, this is the greatest venture since the Human Genome Project, and it raised $200,000 on IndieGoGo. Plus, we can’t think of a nerdier path to self-discovery than paying $89 to have a scientist tell us all about ourselves. [By “we” I don’t mean Seva Call, you and I, or the royal we. I mean “we” meaning the multitude of bacterial life inhabiting my body and helping me digest food, fight disease, and (according to new research) have this shining personality.]

Participants use the uBiome kit to send samples of bacteria from their nostril, mouth, ear, and even certain unmentionables to the laboratory. In return, participants get information about their bacterial population and how to best take care of a body with a bacterial profile just like theirs. Plus, they get to use their bodies to advance science without the risk of having their brains pickling away in some creepy laboratory jar.

It’s an exciting new year, and I have no words to express my excitement and optimism over the kind of tomorrow which is already in the making. Fortunately, Arthur O’Shaughnessy has expressive words enough for all of us:

“With wonderful deathless ditties, we build up the world’s great cities, and out of a fabulous story we fashion an empire’s glory….A wondrous thing of our dreaming– unearthly, impossible seeming. The soldier, the king, and the peasant are working together in one till our dream shall become their present, and their work in the world be done.”

– Arthur O’Shaughnessy

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