5 startups that stood out at Excelerate’s demo day


Chicago’s Excelerate Labs held its annual demo day on Wednesday, trotting out the 10 fledgling companies that underwent its intensive accelerator program this summer. At the end of that program come $50,000 grants investments from Chicago’s New World Ventures as well as the chance to pitch their companies to 200 angel and early-stage venture capital investors from both the Midwest and other regions of the country.

While Excelerate focuses on Chicago-based startups ,this particular class had a much broader background with entrepreneurs temporarily relocating to the Windy City from as far away from India and France. The graduates also spanned every corner of the technology map, from new e-commerce platforms and photo aggregation services to a company trying to teach computers to see as humans. While all 10 companies made an impression, here are the ones that grabbed my attention in particular:


It may seem like another Face.com competitor,

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Electric car startup Coda Automotive says it has recalled 78 of its electric sedans because the car’s side curtain airbags may be mis-installed and may not go off in the event of an accident. It’s actually a pretty common occurrence for electric car startups to issue these types of recalls in the early days of production — Fisker has had a variety of these recalls, and Tesla (s TSLA) had them back in the day for its first electric sports car the Roadster.

Cars have a lot of moving parts, and car companies have to rely on their suppliers to make sure the parts supplied are not faulty. Fisker has recalled batteries from A123 Systems (s AONE), and a faulty cooling fan from a partner. When a company is working with third parties to assemble the cars, then that adds another element of risk.

After a lot of delays, Coda…

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Mike Monteiro is well known on the Internet for his sardonic and weird sense of humor. He is also known for being a designer (his firm Mule Design helped us out on NewTeeVee and GigaOM Pro) and as the author of the book “Design Is A Job.” He is a made-for-Internet personality. Just follow him on Twitter and you will know it. And you will also know that he is from Philly – and loves the Phillies (the baseball team.) What you wouldn’t know that Monteiro used to be a paperboy for Philadelphia Daily News and used that to make pocket change.

“Philadelphia Daily News was our evening paper and it would essentially have all the news of the day when you were at work,” he reminisces over coffee at our neighborhood pizzeria, Ironside. “When I looked around, on the Internet, there wasn’t something like that for the Internet.” So he…

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In one of the biggest court decisions in recent memory for a technology giant, Samsung on Friday lost a billion-dollar patent-infringement case launched by Apple over the design and functionality of the mobile-handset maker’s smartphones. We’ve written about the implications of this ruling for both companies, and where the case stands to go from here, but when you step back from the specifics of this decision itself, it becomes increasingly obvious that we are all losers in this kind of case — because software and design patents are inherently bad, not just for the technology industry but arguably for society as a whole. Apple’s win may satisfy its fans, and Samsung may be able to recover from the ruling, but that doesn’t make it right.

As my colleague Jeff Roberts has reported, this case was launched by Apple against Samsung last year, based on what Apple said was…

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It might be polite to include a “via” or “h/t” in your tweets that contain information gleaned from other users, but don’t think Twitter will provide that same courtesy to tweets that are delivered by its third-party developers.

Twitter has now removed sourcing on individual tweets accessed on the web that used to indicate which clients or apps were used to publish the tweet, such as Twitter for iPhone, the web, or Tweetbot for iOS. A Twitter spokesperson said the change, which had already been implemented on mobile, is to “simplify” the information being presented, but it comes as Twitter cracks down on external use of its API by third-party developers.

“This is new on web and was already the case on mobile,” said Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for Twitter. “This is part of our ongoing work to simplify tweets and emphasize the content being shared.”

This summer, a firestorm between…

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Seattle startup RootMetrics is bringing its hybrid-crowdsourcing approach to mobile network testing over the Atlantic. The company plans to issue its first batch of reports on how UK carriers compare on mobile data speed and reliability in the next four to six weeks.

RootMetrics uses a two-prong methodology to test networks. It does its own drive tests of city streets and indoor tests of buildings to come up with baseline scores, but then augments those results with millions of individual data points collected from its Android(s goog) and iPhone(s aapl) crowdsourcing apps. It’s already used this system to build detailed cell-by-cell analyses of major US metro markets. Now big UK cities like London, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow are apparently in for the same treatment.

In its blog, Root has been encouraging US travelers to use the company’s crowdsourcing apps when on vacation – though due to the…

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