Launch 2012: Demo Pit Deep Dive, Our Picks for Day One

More than a hundred young startups are in the Demo Pit at this year’s Launch 2012 festival in San Francisco. They’re vying not just for cash prizes — but for a chance to meet that dream investor who will launch them into the bigtime. Julie Blaustein is there with editors Joy Ma and Gina Smith.

Launch 2012 — a two-day gathering matching early-stage startups with venture capitalists and private equity investors — has young companies showing off their products, services and apps on some 200 demo tables.

They’re in the Demo Pit, vying for a spot on stage and an intro to the money they need to succeed. The event ends tonight with the announcement of winners and a party.

While admission is free, it still costs money in travel and various other expenses. Yet new companies are here at Launch 2012 from all over the world — the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Canada, Argentina, India, Russia and Ghana — to name just a few. It’s a long trip but a small investment for a fledgling startup aiming at the big time — there are potential cash awards and, even better, an opportunity to meet the investor that will catapult a startup into major success.

Here are videos I took of four startups our Launch 2012 team is betting on from the Launch Day One Demo Pit.

First up, Butlr. Dana Asciutto told me about the site, where the point of its social game is to have fun while living a fantasy life of being rich and famous — you get virtual currency and, if you’re savvy enough, you can own a virtual  kingdom. Butlr takes part in a San Francisco-based, two-month accelerator program that focuses primarily on underrepresented minorities. Mentors rapidly educate them on the rough-and-tumble world of startups, where speed and flexibility are everything. Dana hopes to take the stage at Launch today and present Butlr to the room of investors and journalists. Check this out:



Leslie Silverglide and Anne Scott of Wello met at Stanford Business School and found they shared a passion for fitness. So they started their service to provide people with access to professional trainers via TV or computer, using two-way, live communication technology.

Andrew Richman and Jamie Alexander cofounded Sound Selecta, an interactive music technology for the creative industries. It’s targeting ad networks who are looking to build more engaging content into their ad campaigns.

And finally, there’s Ubooly. Isaac Squires and Carly Gluge are pitching an interactive, educational children’s device that disguises an iPhone in a furry, cuddly smart toy. It talks and tells jokes as a way of teaching kids counting and language skills. Ubooly is a Kickstarter-sponsored project with the objective of raising $25,000 by April. This show could get them to that goal.

Launch 2012 continues until tonight, when a grand jury of judges will announce the winners. I’ll be there, along with our Editors Joy Ma and Gina Smith, to report to you the best of the best. Click the link above to see who the judges are. Pretty snazzy.