By Mary Kilpatrick cleveland.com
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From a startup that helps brides connect with vendors to an app that uses data analytics to find hidden energy savings, the next generation of Cleveland companies are ready to make their pitch.
Cleveland labor attorney Julie Sumner created an app for construction workers to upload photos and documents from a job site, to protect a firm from lawsuits.
Akron marketer Marlon Stevenson created a social app to give people a fun, easy social way to ask and sound off on questions anonymously. The company makes money by turning those responses into anonymous, generic market research for companies looking for insight into how groups of people feel about a specific question.
The ideas are among seven to be showcased Thursday at the 2019 Flashstarts Accelerator Cleveland Demo Day. The graduates of the 11-week program run by the Cleveland venture capital firm FlashStarts will pitch their companies to investors.
Flashstarts is a Cleveland-based micro-venture capitol firm and accelerator that aims to help build the next generation of Cleveland companies.
These companies’ focuses vary widely: one helps brides connect to vendors. Another uses analytics and machine learning to find energy savings.
But Flashstarts gave all the startups advice and direction to grow their companies.
The accelerator gave them access to helpful college-aged interns, with different ideas. The program also gave them the opportunity to bounce ideas around with other entrepreneurs.
“They give a lot of advice and guidance and mentorship that it’s hard to find when you’re an entrepreneur,” Sumner said. “I’m a lawyer. I didn’t really have any plans to start a company of this nature. So a lot of this stuff is very foreign to me, just how to get a company up and running. It’s been great to have the folks at Flashstarts to rely on.”
Take a look at some of the ideas. Capture Solutions Sumner, 45, had seen construction companies lose a lot of money in disputes over workplace issues, because they didn’t have the paperwork proving they did everything right. Most lawsuits are filed two to 12 years after an incident occurs, and hunting down paperwork can be a challenge.
Sumner’s solution, the smartphone app, Capture, allows workers to easily and quickly upload documentation -- photos, videos and text, and audio, making it easily accessible and available to the company higher-ups back at the office.
“In the legal world if it isn’t documented then it didn’t happen,” she said.
The Captures app, which launched in March of 2019 and is based in Lakewood, allows companies to categorize documentation by job site, and allows multiple people to upload data.
Impulse Stevenson, a 27-year-old University of Akron graduate, was struggling to get responses to surveys, both as a marketing student and on the job. He wasn’t reaching enough people, especially young people.
“I said, man, ‘Why does no one do this?’ Well, the same reason I don’t take surveys because they kind of suck. So I said, ‘How can we make this more fun?’” he said.
His free app, which launched in April of 2018, allows anyone to ask a question, and anyone to swipe yes, no or I don’t know, and see the results.
Impulse makes money by converting those anonymous responses into generic market research about clusters of people for companies. It also plans to allow companies to pay to ask a question to users. The company, which is headquartered in San Francisco but mostly staffed in Akron, is working on rolling out a way for users to answer questions with text, photos or videos. The responses would appear in a string connected to the question, like an Instagram story.
“I think in San Francisco what you see a lot of times is people are interested in a flashy idea and they’re interested in getting on board once there’s something there,” said Stevenson, who primarily live in Akron. “But people in Ohio really are builders.
People in Michigan really are builders. The Midwest is just a place for people who create and I think it always has been." Flashstarts helped Stevenson identify how much he should be charging for what, coaching he called “instrumental.” He also received guidance on how to zero in on the right branding.
Edifice Analytics Headquartered in Cleveland, founded in 2019
Edifice Analytics uses data analytics and machine learning to find hidden energy savings, without ever walking into the building.
Flutter Social Headquartered in Cleveland, founded in 2017
Flutter Social connects party hosts, like brides-to-be, with vendors they need for their big day. It uses machine learning and shared connections to match event planners to photographers, caterers and vendors.
Fontus Blue Headquartered in Akron, founded in 2017
Fontus Blue helps water treatment plant managers make important decisions to enhance operations, manage compliance risk and cut costs. It can convert monitoring data into an alert framework to help manage harmful algal blooms.
Ghostwave Headquartered in Columbus, founded in 2017
Ghostwave is a radar system that’s immune to interference. It’s working on a way to measure the health of honeybees hives using radar.
ReCap Headquartered in Cleveland, founded in 2019
ReCap uses wearable sensors to provide motion data on an athlete’s form, to improve their athletic performance. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.