Tech Startups Finish Comcast Accelerator Program

Ten tech startups are set to graduate from Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs Accelerator Program.

Founders from each of the companies made presentations in Philadelphia to investors, mentors, Comcast NBCU staffers and the city’s tech and startup community. A worldwide audience watched online.

The startups are in the media, entertainment and connectivity businesses. One creates personalized content for rideshare vehicles. Another turns video games into in-person social event. One more uses artificial intelligence to target ad campaigns in mid flight

Comcast is a small investor in all of the companies through its partnership with Techstars and will continue to evaluate future partnership or investment opportunities.

Many of the startups landed pilot projects during their 13 weeks in the accelerator, and others are in the works. Three of the companies are maintaining a presence in Philadelphia after the program, where Comcast NBCUniversal is headquartered.

During the program, they worked with mentors from NBCU, led by Sam Schwartz, Comcast Cable’s chief business development officer; Pank Patel, senior VP of strategy & business development for Universal Pictures and Maggie Suniewick NBC president of digital enterprises to refine and test their business models.

Others involved in the program included NBC broadcast and cable networks, Universal Studios, Universal Theme Parks, Dreamworks, Comcast Business, Strategic Development, Comcast Ventures, LIFT Labs, and the teams that build XFINITY products and services.

“We were inspired by the spirit and creativity of these companies as they were building their businesses,” said Schwartz. “For our executives, it was an exciting opportunity to mentor and learn alongside them. There are many collaboration stories, and we hope this is just the beginning of what’s to come. Some of the founders will continue to build successful companies alongside us, in our hometown of Philadelphia, and in other cities around the globe.”

Here is a list of the companies and what Comcast says they are up to:

  • alive5, based in Austin, Texas, 5 offers the easiest way for small-to-medium-sized businesses to engage customers and accept payments on any digital messaging channel. The company supports over 800 customers, including 200 of the top pro and college sports teams, major hotel brands and Comcast Spectacor. alive5 is now partnering with Spectra Venue Management, which manages hundreds of venues throughout North America, to pilot alive5's messaging and concierge services.
  • eyecandylab, US and Munich, enables video content creators to engage their viewers and monetize their media through interactive augmented reality experiences. After an initial launch in Germany with a major media company that resulted in 365K downloads and a #1 rank in the App store, eyecandylab debuted in the US successfully with Nickelodeon.
  • Orai, Philadelphia: is an artificial intelligence speech coach that helps people become more effective and confident communicators. With 100,000 users and counting, Orai is now the #1 public speaking app in the App store. The company has solidified a channel partnership with Mandel Communications, and has enterprise customers including Comcast and Medallia.
  • Pium, New York City and Seoul, allows you to experience a variety of mood-boosting scents throughout your day with one connected device and a subscription-based scent platform. The company has plans to partner with Universal Parks and Resorts and Loews Hotels to offer a sneak peek of the product to hotel guests.
  • Polycade, Los Angeles, turns video games into in-person social events with an engaging, connected arcade console and a curated, digital gaming platform. After successfully raising $120K above a $20K ask on Kickstarter, the company reached over $750,000 in sales, without any marketing. Their active pilot customers include WeWork, Grubhub, and Comcast Business.
  • Portl Media, Toronto, is the personalized entertainment platform for rideshare vehicles today and autonomous vehicles tomorrow. After an initial test in Toronto that drove 89% user engagement, the company has signed content and advertising deals with partners including Vice and Nestle and will soon be piloting in cities in the US, including Philadelphia. Portl also negotiated a deal with a major telco provider to activate hundreds of thousands of tablets on the telco’s network nationwide through 2023.
  • Tally Interactive, Toronto, Canada, empowers content creators to make and host their own live, interactive shows. On average, people spend 95 minutes watching gaming livestreams on Twitch for every 3.5 minutes watching non-gaming livestreams. Tally bridges this gap; 9 out of 10 viewers interact with shows on Tally and, on average, viewers engage twice every minute with no monetary incentive.
  • Thinker Tinker, Los Angeles, transforms kids’ screen time to quality, active play time with a character-based learning platform that blends traditional tactile play and digital interaction. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Thinker-Tinker is taking on an exciting and unique opportunity to partner with Universal on a licensing arrangement that combines its play platform with a variety of DreamWorks iconic characters, including those from classic films like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda as well as favorite characters from some of DreamWorks' latest theatrical and future animated series, including Trolls, Spirit Riding Free and DreamWorks Dragons.
  • Trapica, New York, leverages artificial intelligence to optimize targeting decisions in advertising campaigns as they run, allowing marketers to reach the right audiences at the exact time they are ready to convert. Using their product, their customers have saved up to 70% off their conversion cost and increased their ROI by 300%. In the last 6 months, Trapica has grown in revenue by 25% month-over-month, and has recently added some of the biggest advertisers as clients, ranging from Universal Studios to Dirty Lemon.
  • WiARframe, Singapore, empowers anyone to prototype and share augmented reality experiences in minutes. While it is widely held that AR has the potential to be even bigger than the web, currently only people with deep technical knowledge can design for it. WiARframe changes that. Now notable media companies, including SYFY, and leading agencies including Huge, EON Reality and Nexus Studios are gearing up to use WiARframe for their next AR projects.

Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs will begin accepting applications for its second accelerator class, run in partnership with Techstars, scheduled to begin next July in Philadelphia. 

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.