Demo Day 2020: Startups Present Innovations, Partnership Deals Following LIFT Labs Accelerator

After the 13-week virtual accelerator program, eight of the 11 companies have secured pilots or partnerships with Comcast NBCUniversal’s partners and brands.

When the world faces tough problems, entrepreneurs step up. The global pandemic changed how we work and connect — and we found a remarkable group of startup founders building tools and services to help people collaborate and interact in new ways.

After receiving hundreds of applications from more than 40 countries, we chose 11 startups shaping the future of work, personalizing customer experiences, and changing entertainment paradigms for our third annual Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. This year, they completed the 13-week program virtually alongside executives and experts from Comcast NBCUniversal and the Techstars network.

Over the course of the accelerator program, the startups cultivated relationships with mentors from across Comcast NBCUniversal’s businesses. Those mentors helped the founders sharpen business models, gain valuable connections and insights, and refine pitches to potential investors and clients. They participated in custom workshops, 1:1 business coaching, and meetings with advisors.  

The program culminated on December 3 with Demo Day, as the startups presented their companies in a virtual event broadcast to hundreds of investors, mentors, and entrepreneurs. Eight of the 11 founders announced that they’d secured or completed pilots, proofs of concepts, or deals with Comcast NBCUniversal’s partners and brands.  

“Partnering with startups has always helped Comcast stay on the cutting edge of technology and innovation,” said Sam Schwartz, Chief Business Development Officer, Comcast. “I’m incredibly proud of these entrepreneurs, and our team, for their perseverance and commitment to innovation, especially during these unprecedented times. The global pandemic has led to shifts in how we work and connect, and many of these founders are building the tools and services that will make work – and life – more efficient, interactive, and collaborative.”

The startups were supported by the Startup Engagement LIFT Labs team, led by Danielle Cohn, Vice President, and Luke Butler, Senior Director, who worked side-by-side with Techstars veteran, KJ Singh, Managing Director of the 2020 accelerator. Mentors included experts and leaders from across Comcast NBCUniversal’s businesses, including the Xfinity technology, product and experience teams; the NBC and Telemundo broadcast stations; NBCUniversal cable networks; Universal Studios; Universal Theme Parks; DreamWorks Animation; Comcast Business; Comcast Ventures; Strategic Development; as well as mentors from Techstars’ expansive network.

More than half of the companies are led by diverse or female founders.  They hailed from cities around the world, including New York, Toronto, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Dallas, and Birmingham, UK

Since the first class in 2018, 32 companies have completed the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars, and 75% have secured pilots or deals with a division or business unit of Comcast NBCUniversal.  

Meet the 2020 class of the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. You can also view their official company pitches here.

 

AfroLandTV, Dallas, TX

AfroLandTV is an OTT streaming media platform for Pan African TV shows and movies. During the program, they grew their audience by an average of 170% week over week and they are in advanced discussions with XUMO (a streaming service acquired by Comcast in 2020) to bring African content to their 24M+ users.

Founders: Michael Maponga (CEO) & Brittin Maponga

 

Beam Health Group, New York, NY

Beam Health empowers healthcare professionals and health systems with premium telehealth services to provide quality, convenient care to patients. As a result of the program, Beam Health is exploring a partnership with Comcast’s Employee Benefits team to enable virtual behavioral health clinics with Beam’s telemedicine platform to expand access to mental health services for employees at Comcast NBCUniversal. They are also exploring a partnership with Comcast Business to bundle their telehealth product with Comcast’s internet service as an offering to new and existing medical practice customers.

Founders: Sas Ponnapalli (CEO) & Ranga Jayawardena

 

Cast, San Francisco, CA

Cast’s automated audio-visual reports with an embedded call to action help customers understand complex concepts and drive high-value actions. Comcast has piloted Cast’s technology to explain benefits such as compensation and disability insurance to employees, with plans to expand to the Employee Stock Purchase Program, Family & Medical Leave, Commissions, and several other areas. In addition, Cast added four new customers and started several pilots, including Medallia, Gainsight, Egnyte, and Yelp.

Founders: Dickey Singh (CEO) & Daljeet Virdi

 

Covatic, Birmingham, UK

Covatic’s mobile SDK empowers media companies to deliver exceptional in-app experiences by identifying when, where, and how their audience can engage with content without needing to expose personal data. The team launched a proof of concept with FreeWheel – testing a solution that uses Covatic’s technology to provide audience data to enhance the ad decisioning process. This is done in a way that ensures a user’s identity data stays on their personal devices, therefore, safe and secure.

Founder: Nick Pinks (CEO)

 

Glow Up Games, Brooklyn, NY 

Glow Up Games develops and publishes character-driven mobile games for underrepresented gamers. It gathers key data on this overlooked demographic to encourage more diverse characters and storylines in the gaming industry. The team is building Insecure: The Come Up Game, a free-to-play mobile game based on HBO’s popular series “Insecure.”

Founders: Mitu Khandaker (CEO) & Latoya Peterson

 

Introvoke, San Francisco, CA

Introvoke provides white-label technology that powers virtual connections, hybrid live events, and elevated networking in a branded experience. Beginning with Demo Day, Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs will use Introvoke to power its virtual events, while the Comcast Town Hall team is helping to extend the technology to all internal teams looking to hold interactive, virtual events. In addition, Comcast is piloting the Introvoke networking hub as an everyday platform for community and networking for employees. During the past two months, the team has started over 50 projects with companies like TIME and Brand Minds.

Founders: Oana Manolache (CEO) & Andrei Ermilov

 

Kidas, Philadelphia, PA

Kidas protects children online by automatically detecting and alerting of cyberbullying and online predators in video games using AI. During the program, the team manufactured early versions of the device that’s trialing with parents of Xbox gamers to inform product improvements. 

Founder: Ron Kerbs (CEO)

 

Percepta, Philadelphia, PA

Percepta leverages unbiased, AI-driven computer vision technology to analyze existing security camera feeds and alert employees of shoplifting incidents in real-time. The team is testing the product in retail stores in New York City and Philadelphia, and Percepta received an investment of more than $1M from a strategic investor.

Founders: Philippe Sawaya (CEO), Neil Gramopadhye, & Jonathan Mak

 

Seshie, Philadelphia, PA

Seshie is a marketplace of expert guides offering live and virtual team-building experiences for organizations to increase employee morale and build company culture. During the program, teams from across Comcast NBCUniversal, as well as from companies such as Penn Mutual and Hawthorne, have booked virtual experiences through the Seshie platform, which now features 100+ virtual experiences.

Founders: Kofi Frimpong (CEO) & William Lee

 

Showcase, New York City, NY

Showcase makes dense business videos skimmable with chapters, transcripts and shareable highlights, enabling enterprises to own their customer relationships by offering a suite of video tools in existing environments. Showcase is working with Comcast Business to explore potential applications of their technology in the enterprise sales process, operational support for technicians in the field, and customer vertical-specific videos.

Founders: Amay Sheth (CEO), Jacob Ley & Jimmy Zhang

 

WorkChew, Washington D.C.

WorkChew is a marketplace connecting a community of mobile and remote workers to workspaces in restaurants and hotels across the U.S. and beyond. The team is rolling out a pilot for Comcast employees in early 2021 and has grown revenue by 3025% since the beginning of the program. In addition, they launched in new markets, Philadelphia and Atlanta, and launched their hotel partner network offering open space, meeting rooms, and hotel rooms.

Founders: Maisha Burt (CEO) & Allyson McDougal

 


Applications for the 2021 LIFT Labs Accelerator open in February 2021. Sign up here to get news and alerts about this and all other LIFT Labs programs.