"What is your secret sauce?" is a question that often stumps startups as they try to clearly and briefly explain what separates them from their competitors. Fortunately for many of the 18 companies pitching in the final round at the fifth annual SXSW Accelerator, the answers were succinct and compelling.
Congratulations to this year's six Grand Prize winners:
Innovative Web Technologies
Entertainment and Gaming Technologies
Overall, companies want to make connecting to our family and friends, elected officials, and even other travelers as easy as possible for the technologically advanced as well as the novice.
Targeting a mostly 20-something consumer, the founders of Wanderu (for Innovative Web) are working on the simplest way to book trips on buses and trains, wanting to connect low-budget travelers with affordable transportation.
If you want to know where to go once you arrive at your destination, Plotter (Social) has designed a social mapping app that lets you easily create, share, crowdsource and discover maps on your phone.
For advocacy groups wanting to affect change in an instant, Phone2Action (News) has a mobile platform that connects constituents with their elected officials through SMS messages.
And those texting in a hurry will be better served by technology from Syntellia (Mobile) that allows users to type on the familiar keyboard layout on their smartphones without needing to look at the screen.
The future of 3D-printing is now, and it's being employed in a unique way. MakieLab (Entertainment and Gaming) will customize toys and dolls, blending digital and physical play.
Finally, using a computer-based recognition memory test, Neurotrack (Health) is able to diagnosis Alzheimer's disease years before clinical symptoms appear. The technology enables pharmaceutical companies and researchers to recruit qualified candidates for clinical trials and more effectively measure drug efficacy.
Hats off to the Grand Prize winners for a job well done. And, congratulations to all participants, finalists, judges, emcees, organizers, and audience members for two exciting days at SXSW Accelerator.
For more Accelerator action, be sure to attend SXSW Music Accelerator featuring Music Technologies starting at 12:30 pm tomorrow at the Austin Convention Center Room 10 B. Top finalists will be announced at 3:15 pm with winners revealed at 6:00 pm. For more information, go to our website at http://sxsw.com/music/startupvillage/accelerator.