Dreamit New York’s Demo Day Unveils New Ideas in Messaging and Media

Tuesday was a big day for tech demos.

While President Barack Obama prepared to play host for the first ever demo day at the White House—which included representatives from the New York Tech Meetup and Techstars—the folks at Dreamit Ventures held their own demo day in New York for their latest class.

Eleven startups graduated from the accelerator and presented ideas that included adding music to messaging, an online market for sneakers and streetwear, and a media brand for urban millennials—before hopping a plane tonight to bring the show to San Francisco and do it all over again.

A rundown of the entire class is down below, but a startup called Senna put the spotlight on changing tastes in media content, particularly among millennials, and how its team is trying to appeal to some of those tastes.

Many companies want to capture the elusive interest of millennials, and media outlets such as Complex and Vice have put out provocative, raw content in the hopes of winning this audience over. Senna is jumping into this market with an app and Web platform for bringing together media aimed at the hip-hop and urban scene.

Co-founder and CEO Adrian Grant (pictured above) said the demographics of the country are changing rapidly and believes content should reflect that. “Almost half of all millennials are minority, making this the most racially diverse generation of all time,” he said.

Furthermore, the large hip-hop industry, which includes music, videos, and apparel, has mainstream appeal. Yet incumbent brands that cater to this scene have not been nimble in pursuing this audience, Grant said. “They’re applying old school models, thinking about content they think will go viral, and cramming it down users’ throats,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense. This is the selfie generation. This is an audience that creates content.”

Senna plans a full launch for the fall, he said.

Over its history, Dreamit has helped some notable startups get on the radar, including Meerkat, SeatGeek, Adaptly, and LevelUp. So far the more than 200 alumni of the accelerator have raised more than $275 million.

Now the 2015 class from New York will try to make a lasting mark:

Kofi Kankam Admit.me A platform that lets prospective students connect with others who have applied to the same colleges, as well as current students, alumni, and administrators. Also offers tools to help them get accepted into the schools they want. Working with 130 colleges at the moment. Presented by Kofi Kankam, CEO.

CleArthur Shmulevskyan Cube Smart kiosks installed in building lobbies to accept deliveries such as packages, dry cleaning, and groceries. Used in more than 40 buildings currently. Presented by Arthur Shmulevsky, president.

Rob PinnaCofamilies An app that divorced parents can use to coordinate logistics regarding their kids, as well as money that needs to be exchanged, while cutting down on “communication conflicts” that could arise between them. Presented by CEO Rob Pinna.

Alicia ThomasDibs Platform for the group fitness industry that uses an algorithm to price studio space based on demand. That way spin classes that are in demand get premium pricing, while classes with lower demand may offer lower rates. Presented by CEO Alicia Thomas.

Nachiketa RaoRyze On-demand room service for Airbnb hosts and boutique hotels that do not offer such amenities themselves. Presented by co-founder Nachiketa Rao.

Adrian GrantSenna A multiplatform media brand aimed at, and run by, urban millennials, bringing together videos, memes, and other content that is crowdsourced, and distributing to mobile devices and the Web. Presented by Adrian Grant, CEO.

Robert EdellServy A lower-cost “secret shopper” platform for restaurant owners and management that they can use to evaluate service and performance. Used by dining establishments including Hale & Hearty. Robert Edell, CEO and co-founder, presented.

Emeka C AnenThrone Social marketplace catering to streetwear and sneaker culture. Has some 250,000 members so far. CEO Emeka Anen presented.

Guy BalzamTriggerhood Developed a behavior algorithm that lets app developers schedule push notifications that will be received when people are more likely to be amenable to them. Presented by co-founder Guy Balzam.

Tom PengTappi Photosharing and messaging app that can be used for group conversations, while keeping the photo front and center for all recipients. Tom Peng, CEO, presented.

Dan BerenholtzYapTap Music messaging app that uses snippets from a library of more than 30 million songs to add some color to communication. CEO Dan Berenholtz presented.

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