Difference Engine accelerator launches graduates to investors

Something crazy happened in the last 36 hours. Literally three tech startup events happened in London, each with multiple startups attempting to get real product out into the marketplace. However, while Launch48 and London Startup Weekend happened over the last weekend (and more of them in posts to follow), The Difference Engine, a seed accelerator program based in the North East of England, has spent the last few months, not days, nurturing some early stage startups.

Publicly funded, The Difference Engine selects about ten companies and provides funding of £20,000 per team, as well as support and mentorship. This year was its inaugural programme. This week, the programme debuted nine new start-ups which were presented to VCs and angel investors in London for the first time. These companies are between three months or more old and tend to have about two or three founder employees each. The application process for the second Difference Engine programme later this year now re-opens again.

Here’s a video from their day and a run-down about each one they sent us and our brief take:

The Difference Engine Episode 6 from The Difference Engine on Vimeo.

“CANDDi helps companies to convert more website visitors into customers, increasing marketing ROI and ultimately profit. This is done by tracking real individuals over multiple visits and across every one of a company’s online presences, from email to social media, to create a complete picture of their behaviour. By analysing this behaviour we can tell brands more about how their sales funnel is failing and even give them rich lists of named individuals with whom to follow-up. CANDDi turns anonymous aggregated analytics into a rich list of targeted individuals.”

Our take: CANDDI helps marketers and directors work out where the value is in ther channels to create positive ROI. While Google analytics knows about traffic, canddi tracks leads across mutiple channels, from landing age for an email or a facebook camaign or an email etc, partly via cookies and short URLs.

“Geogoer is an open transport platform, where anyone can find passengers, cars and public transport, or publish their own journeys. It supports different modes of transport, such as cars, coaches, trains or even flying carpets, and allows users to find the best travel options or offer transport themselves. Geogoer.com is currently in live alpha. They aim to develop and launch two products using the existing technology: Internal Travel Networks for employers and Ticket Selling System.”

Our take:
It has the public and private ability to share rides and could be a good car sharing scheme for companies. There are 5 levels of security, with references and recommendations to stop axe murderers picking you up. Can be linked with Facebook. The site is running in Lithuania and has a green focus. Launching internationally and could be great for Ash-cloud moments.

“CuteFund has been founded by Andrei Korobeinik a successful entrepreneur from Estonia. CuteFund is a crowd sourced mutual fund and platform for investors. As a mutual fund, CuteFund buys and sells stocks; the difference is that CuteFund doesn’t have a fund manager! Investors vote for stocks, votes are weighted and averaged so we buy the best stocks and sell the worst. Investors are rated according to their performance; those with higher ratings have more influence while voting on stocks. This is how we pick up the best fund managers.”

Our take: See here for their launch at GeeknRolla. It’s a great idea but we still don’t like the name.

Rock Control
“Rock Control is the ultimate rock and roll experience putting you in control of a rock band hell bent on global domination. Rock Control enables the global public to launch and manage a band from scratch, from deciding who they want to be in the final line-up, deciding the look and feel of the band and choosing which media opportunities they want to take. Ultimately, one song will be created and simultaneously released into every chart around the world with the intention of gaining that Global number one slot.”

Our take: This is much more of a media play, though well thought out. We’d prefer it if you could nring a ready-made band to the platform.

“The Tagorize system describes information so accurately that it can provide a level of search relevancy that is intrinsically more valuable and accurate than existing systems. Using the Tagorize indexing system substantially increases search accuracy and relevancy, leading to higher search conversion rates. Tagorize is the most natural and flexible way to store and retrieve data of large, unstructured datasets. They are currently creating proof of concept services for niche job sites across the UK, Mergers and Acquisitions and Museum inventory search systems.”

Our take: Previously caled Advertag, this is a new take on drawing valuable data from job advertising, trying to make sense of unstructured job ads rather than people searching on random job categories.

“Recite allow any website to become more accessible to people who are dyslexic, visually impaired or who have a young reading age. It does it by intercepting the webpage online, instantly adding accessibility technique such as voice, high contrast text, alternate (simpler word options) and outputting it for any user to read. By processing online, Recite increases the accessibility rating of the website instantly without the need or cost of changing the website itself.”

Our take: Recite uses a javascript redirect via a button or bookmarklet and is sold into universities and public sector bodies as a premium service. Educational insitutions get more public funding if they can prove they are addressing disability concerns. They could also release it as a freemium user service with a premium amount of course.

“ScreenReach is the next generation in presentation and interaction technology allowing real-time delivery of media content to a mobile phone (or any smart device) via any digital display (TV, outdoor advertising, pc, kiosk etc) and then allowing the user to interact with that content in completely new and unique ways. It allows service providers to engage and interact with their customers instantly and intelligently, to profile those customers, to evoke buying behaviour, raise brand awareness and to reward those customers for interacting with their content.”

Our take: This technology users a a smartphone’s accelerometer to move a web page around which is being shown on a nearby monitor. The effect is pretty good. The software runs on PC/Mac and the interaction layer is free. The charges are made on the basis of the number of interactions. An example would be being able to change what happens on a billboard that you can see through an office window which is half a mile away. Pretty cool stuff and the kind of thing that gets JC Decaux and outdoor ad agencies excited.

“wishli.st is a Facebook application that helps people give awesome gifts. Buying gifts is difficult and time consuming. wishli.st makes it easy. Users create a list of the people they buy presents for and invite them to create wishlists. Then they receive email reminders before birthdays and buy them things they want!”

Our take: An idea around for what seems like donkey’s years, it seems they finally hit on a model: make it an app in Facebook. Affiliate business model.

“Curated.by is the first dedicated curation platform for the real-time web. We give curators (the crowd and maybe you) the tools to create handpicked streams of updated, tagged and categorized content. Just like at Wikipedia, our users are sorting the best content into bundles of information to be shared and consumed by other people. Curated.by currently supports Twitter, with additional social networks and microblogging services coming soon.”

Our take: Previously called Kuwalu (yes, we’re glad they changed the name as well), Curated.by is still in stealth mode but it seems to be a kind of hybrid RSS reader but drawing on social networks for filtering. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Here’s a cartoon of the launch day by @lucyjspence