11:50am

Mon May 14, 2012
The Upstate Economy

For 9 companies, 100 days to get off the ground starts now

When the first StartFast Venture Accelerator begins this morning in Syracuse, the clock will start ticking for nine startups hoping to turn their big idea into a profit maker.

Modeled off of similar accelerators around the country, the teams have 100 days to soak up as much advice and support as they can. They're also given seed money and workspace.

StartFast is the creation of two local entrepreneurs, Chuck Stormon and Nasir Ali. In return for the investment and admittance into the program, Stormon and Ali get a small stake in the company.

Assuming the new companies go anywhere, that is.

The investment

"A big part of the philosophy of this is taking a leap of faith and trusting these entrepreneurs," Stormon says. "There is a level of trust that they are going to complete the program and they are going to do something with that."

Some of the companies picked for the accelerator are central New York based, but some teams hail from as far as Denver and Israel. They are responsible for finding their own lodging and living expenses over the summer.

The teams:

  • Mozzo Analytics (Syracuse and Philadelphia) Extracts all the links from your gmail and sorts them by people, topics, and time.
  • PadProof (Orlando, Fla. and New York City) A photo proofing app for smartphones that allows users to preview, share, and purchase photos from a photographer with the swipe of a finger.
  • BitePal (Ithaca) A restaurant discount app that delivers coupons directly to your cell phone.
  • Cayo-Tech (Tel Mond, Israel) A mobile application that, in the case of an emergency, will notify your family and friends with the information they need to help you.
  • RevoPT (Ithaca) Web and mobile applications to make physical therapy more personalized and more effective. 
  • Tivity (New York City) A social network for people looking to find, schedule, and share active lifestyle activities with people around them.
  • Streamspec (Syracuse and New York City) A next generation, image-based internet advertising company.
  • CanVita (Denver and New York City) A digital resume maker for the era of the social web.
  • YouGift (New York City) A digital platform for gifting anything, combining greetings and gift cards sent via social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Stormon, Ali and other investors will put $18,000 into each team in return for a 6 percent stake in the companies.

Big ideas

Stormon and Ali say vetting the people behind the idea was just as important as the concept. They realize not all participants' ideas will be successful, but they say hopefully after the training, their next ideas may be.

"What we're looking for is: are they looking to go after a vision and a change that is large enough to draw the attention of investors and get the world to pay attention," Ali says.

The job of the mentors is to provide the startups with the guidance to get their products there, Ali says.

The teams will work out of office space rented in downtown Syracuse. Stormon and Ali don't agree on how many hours the teams should put in each day, but neither think it should be less than 16 hours.

The accelerator will culminate with an Investor Day on August 16.