NEW YORK — Wednesday is Demo Day for 15 firms participating in the latest Dreamit Ventures program, with each hoping to capture attention and funding from venture capitalists and angel investors.
Dreamit is a start-up accelerator founded by three former start-up entrepreneurs: David Bookspan, Michael Levinson and Steven Welch. Dreamit provides up to $25,000 in seed funding to the program’s participants, with participation by invitation only. The program includes shared office space, mentoring, administrative assistance and opportunities to meet potential investors. At the program’s conclusion, the firms participate in Demo Day, when they get the chance to pitch to investors at Dreamit’s office at 330 West 38th Street here.
The participants this year range from online art exhibition gallery site Indiewalls.com to a mobile app via Facebook called Weesh that offers suggestions for date nights. Among the fashion and beauty firms pitching to investors are Bazaart, TopShelf and Urban Cargo.
Bazaart is a tablet app that bridges Facebook and Pinterest through Pinvolve. The latter allows users to add collages of style inspirations to one’s Facebook page, or even create a fashion look for a friend using a Pinterest board.
Stas Goferman, Bazaart’s chief executive officer and cofounder, said the Israeli-based firm is hoping to complete a $500,000 seed round. It already has committed $100,000 in funding and was a participant in Dreamit’s program in Israel. The funding will be used for expanding the U.S. team and for developing iPhone and Android versions of the app.
TopShelf, founded by Katie Nadler, allows the busy professional woman to create a virtual closet and receive personalized shopping recommendations based on past purchases.
Still in beta testing, the site works with one’s e-mail to collect photos of recent purchases for the virtual closet. A personal shopper then uses data-extraction technology to pull fashion options for personalized “look books” each week, featuring looks curated by a stylist that works with at least one item in the virtual closet. Users can purchase a look or featured item in the look book via a direct link to the appropriate retail site.
Nadler is hoping to raise $500,000 in seed funding.
Urban Cargo does for men in the grooming and skin-care market what Birchbox did for women in the online beauty sector. Membership costs $14.95 a month, and the men get a monthly curated box of sample products. Featured items are from brands such as Kyoku, a popular British men’s skin-care line that is hard to find in the States.
According to Jennifer Chung Lucy, a cofounder, “If you give men an environment where they can comfortably shop, they will come back and shop,” noting that men spend two to three times more than women and are looking for new brands and products that are solutions to issues such as which shaving creams give a guy a closer shave.
The parent company, Cargo Networks, is seeking $500,000 in funding for use in customer acquisition and for the planned launch of a second site focused on African-American women using the same Urban Cargo model.