Highlights From Cardinal Ventures Fall 2018 Demo DayBy Brian Chan
Each year, the on-campus Stanford accelerator Cardinal Ventures hosts several startup teams for ten weeks in the fall and spring. The program culminates with a demo day where teams pitch their companies. Stanford StartU scouts Beixi Li and Brian Chan cover the event below.
From School to Startup
If you’re a student at Stanford University with an idea you think could be the next unicorn, Cardinal Ventures has a program to help you get there. Each year, the non-profit campus startup accelerator provides two ten-week programs in the Spring and Fall quarters aimed at helping students develop their entrepreneurial ideas. The culmination of the program ends in a Demo Day where students give business pitches to a room of potential investors and partners.
Selection for the program includes a three part application process where students pitch their product and team, and if selected, teams are paired with mentors that provide guidance, network, and strategic direction on building a business. To date, Cardinal Ventures startups have raised over $80 million in funding and partner with firms including General Catalyst, Lightspeed, and Google Play.
At this fall’s 2018 Demo Day, the cohort showcased a range of ideas in Fintech, Retail, and Health / Biotech. Below are some highlights:
LogicSeal : Automated online broker for non-qualified mortgage space that uses software and AI to streamline the matching process between borrowers with lenders.
Nillify : Centralized platform that manages credit cards and provides personal loan interest rates to credit card products.
HighFive: On-demand nail salon pop-ups that cater to group events.
Health and Biotech
Samsonize: Medical product that minimizes hair loss among cancer treatments.
Note: We couldn’t find a website for Samsonize at this time
Trelux: Easy-to-use and affordable diagnostic technology that detects strains of infectious agents.
Note: We couldn’t find a website for Trelux at this time
Contact: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: We couldn’t find a website for Story at this time
FriendChip: a map-based social networking app that make casual and spontaneous meetups with your friends easy, frequent, and straightforward.
Aviation Solutions: providing exceptionally high quality training to the military for significantly less cost through augmented reality and experimental aircraft.
Team: Matthew Croce
Note: We couldn’t find a website for Aviation Solutions at this time
Analysis and Highlights
There were a few highlights we were particularly intrigued by. The two fintech companies LogicSeal and Nillify find an advantage in their respective missions with their core product being built on software that enables an innovative degree of organization and classification for their services. This is a natural advantage for their domain–LogicSeal’s analytics saves borrowers and lenders processing time, while Nillify’s technology analyzes the risk levels of prospective customers.
Each utilizes tech to perform a precise determination of how (and whether) customers will fit into the respective ecosystems they envision. By the numbers, it will be interesting to see if their technology and models will deliver greater success than traditional models.
New Platforms and Paradigms
Another highlight we enjoyed was Finesse, which pitches a highly curious model that rewires the traditional interplay between brands, consumers, and the shopping experience itself. One trope Finesse utilizes is “shopping someone’s closet rather than a brand,” which reflects their conception of a virtual mall where human models–and their closets–are the centerpieces rather than brand names, users receive discounts based on social capital, and more. This loosens certain underpinnings regarding consumer behavior and marketing not unlike how the classic Instagram/Youtube influencer movement modified advertising, and could signal the birth of a new type of retail.
Furthermore, Finesse’s operation as a platform allows it access and organization of relevant operations, which will always give it an advantage in the space over individual actors or brands–akin to the growing dominance of Amazon’s private label brands on their own platform. Finesse’s success will depend on strategies and brands it uses to thrust itself into common use. It will be highly interesting to see how paradigms like Finesse will affect the future of retail.
High Five aims to disrupt the retail nail category and “empower women on both sides of the manicure table.” Taking advantage of the fragmented market and lack of a leading brand, Annie Stancliffe created High Five to bring the nail salon direct to consumers and to engender loyalty in the nail care market.
While powered by low input costs and the elimination of retail rent, High Five’s future depends on its ability to grow awareness of this new service area, to build out a team, and to scale operations. In the first year of launch it’s already secured a few notable clients in the Bay Area including LinkedIn and the Stanford GSB. We look forward to monitoring the future of this new model for and how it will bring on-demand philosophy to the nail care industry.
This story was co-authored by Stanford scout Beixi Li.