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Chicago’s Accelerator Excelerate Labs Announces Latest Startup Class

Excelerate Labs Summer 2012

For the third consecutive summer, Excelerate Labs, which ranked among the top startup accelerator programs in America, announced today the companies selected for its 2012 class. Excelerate Labs is led by entrepreneurs Troy Henikoff (founder of SurePayroll) and Sam Yagan (founder of OkCupid, eDonkey, & SparkNotes). Excelerate Labs offers a summer program that connects founders with mentors, entrepreneurs and investors, and culimates with a demo day on August 29th. For the second year in a row, each participating startup company will receive capital directly from Excelerate Labs, as well as a convertible note from New World Ventures, which is similar to the funding opportunities offered by other top accelerators.

Troy Henikoff, Excelerate’s CEO, had this to say about the new class:

“The 2012 class brings more diversity in geography, technology, and business model than we have had before. Given that we received 50% more applications than last year, I am thrilled to see what this class accomplishes.”

So let’s take a look at the 10 startups from Excelerate Labs 2012 class:

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 and lets you backup the best photos, share favorites with friends and 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. We’ve covered SpotHero previously here.

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.

We covered the 2010 class and 2011 class previously, as Excelerate Labs has been a crucial part of the continued growth and evolution of Chicago’s tech startup ecosystem. One new development with the program is that Excelerate Labs is moving its office to 1871, the new community coworking and collaboration space in the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. As a past mentor and Demo Day attendee, I look forward to getting to know the teams as they prepare for Demo Day on August 29th.

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About the Author

Frank Gruber is the founder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech Cocktail. He is an entrepreneur and new media journalist focused on sharing his tech product expertise and analysis on emerging technologies. Previously he built products for millions of users while at AOL and Tribune Company. He is a startup advisor and investor. He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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