Our Favorite Companies from 500 Startups Demo Day

We profiled the summer batch of 500 Startups companies, then we watched 30 pitches and live-blogged it all. We were impressed with the whole class [ see the complete list here ], but if we each had to pick just one...share your favorite in the comments below or tweet @LAUNCH.

[ Note: quote above from class of '11 founder Travis Biziorek of Kibin ]

Tout [ @toutapp ]

My first (less than inspiring) job as an executive assistant required sending 40-50 cookie-cutter email responses to irrelevant inquiries every day. Frankly, nobody enjoys the drudgery of copying/pasting, which is why I was excited to try Tout this spring [ see profile ].

After creating a "welcome to the group" template, then personalizing it and sending it to a number of people, I could see in my Tout dashboard how many times that template was opened and how many people clicked through. What a revelation. As a journalist, Tout can tell me whether or not someone even saw my interview or comment request (viewed and no response probably means "no comment").

But I didn't like having to fire up a separate browser tab, and emails that started in Tout quickly fell back into my inbox, where they're no longer trackable. A couple of the people I interviewed for the LAUNCH profile of Tout mentioned the latter as well.

Founder Tawheed Kader -- so much fun to interview because of his passion, smarts and thoughtfulness -- knew early on Tout needed to be integrated with your email client to be truly killer. I was thrilled to learn from his Demo Day presentation that Tout is coming to Gmail. I don't know how I lived in my inbox before Rapportive, and now I'll be able to choose a Tout template from my compose window. Email is finally getting better. TK ftw!

-- Kirin Kalia

Console.fm [ @consolefm ]

Console.fm is the clear winner because it gets rid of all the frustration that comes with music services [ see profile ]. It provides users an easy way to listen to hot new music without having to train the program (Pandora) or constantly interact with it (Turntable.fm). All music lovers have to do is visit console.fm and from there they can play music from more than 20 music genres.

I've dabbled in the world of Turntable.fm and have used other similar services like Pandora, iTunes and Spotify, but Console.fm is the only one, for now, that keeps me coming back. It lets me listen to dubstep, drum and bass, mashups, hip hop and more, all in one place.

Although the platform is fairly basic and does not allow users to create playlists, it is just as easy to add songs to your favorites for easy access in the future. The music streams directly from SoundCloud, which has a vast library of user-uploaded tracks, and the cherry on top: no ad interruption, unlike Pandora and Spotify (for now).

-- Megan Dickey

WillCall [ @willcall ]

Of all the startups at Demo Day, WillCall seems like the one company I would really use on a consistent basis beyond the basic exploration phase [ see profile ]. Curated events highlighting the most exciting things going on in town could solve the one ever constant question in my life: What are we doing tonight?

While the ticket sales market is already crowded with the likes of Live Nation Entertainment, ScoreBig and Stubhub, WillCall's greatest improvement on these others is the suggestion feature.

CEO Donnie Dinch was right on when he said that 40% of seats go unfilled at live events simply because people don't know the events are taking place. WillCall can help solve that problem.

The concept seems scalable and the user interface seems simple enough, but they need to expand to Los Angeles. Now. 

-- Matt Wilhalme

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 Datastax - Big Data. Big Smarts. Big Fun.
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 RecoEngine - Tech Buying. Made Simple.
 Rapportive - Let's make email a better place