XRC Cohort 3 Demo Day Recap

On April 7th, we presented our impressive Cohort 3 companies to the public. We couldn’t be but proud of this cohort and each company’s achievements. For 14 weeks, the startups have been attending workshops, classes, 1-on-1 consultations, meetings with mentors, and getting introductions to retailers and brands. We have challenged their assumptions, identified new business opportunities, and worked to maximize their potential partnerships.

More than 200 attendees had the opportunity to see the impressive progress our Cohort 3 companies have made in this short of time, and meet the founders in person to learn more about how they disrupt the retail and consumer goods sectors.

The day started bright and early with breakfast and mingling before the kick-off of Cohort 3 presentations in the John L. Tishman Auditorium at University Center of The New School.

The program started with the opening remarks of the Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design, Joel Towers.

(Photo credits: Lorenzo Ciniglio/Jennifer Weisbord)

Our Managing Director, Pano Anthos, followed up with thoughts on the need for existing retailers to create an immersive, seamless, brand-defining experience for consumers across all channels.

(Photo credits: Lorenzo Ciniglio/Jennifer Weisbord)

Then, Leslie Cohen, our Executive Director, took over the stage to introduce our Cohort 3 companies:

  • Benja pioneered the merchandise ad network and it’s outperforming existing network offerings by 5x. They provide the lowest cost sales conversion to advertisers available today: a $12 CPM averages $240 in product sales. Brands like Nike, Under Armour, Zappos and Sperry are already benefiting from Benja’s advertising technology.

  • Cartogram is an indoor location mapping and services platform that provides an end-to-end in-venue experience to drive new revenue, enhance visitor experience, and lower overhead for businesses. Think Waze for indoor destinations which can provide value for both venue visitors and employees. Cartogram has several customers, including the Sacramento Kings and PRO Sports Club, and multiple active enterprise pilots.

  •  ChatQuery is a virtual data analyst for e-commerce businesses. The AI-powered chatbot interprets normal language requests sent via messaging into data queries so that decision makers get answers more quickly and easily to make better business decisions. ChatQuery has over 600 customers leveraging their platform.

  • CheckOut is bringing old-fashioned shopping into the digital age. They are bridging the gap between the dynamic digital merchandising that consumers experience online and the stagnant displays in brick-and-mortar retail stores. With in-store display screens, retailers can use CheckOut’s machine learning to change their display based on the time of day, the weather conditions, the top-selling items of the moment online, or the customer’s in-store behavior.

  • Mirror That Look, powered by AI, is conquering visual search for fashion. Think Shazam for fashion discovery. Consumers can “mirror the look” of a celebrity outfit they see online or a look they love on the street. The technology detects all of the style elements of an outfit in a photo or a video and returns matching products from brands and retailers across the globe.

  • Snappy is putting an end to boring, awkward gift cards and generic gifts by letting the recipient choose their own gift within the sender’s budget range. While consumers love the gifting service, Snappy discovered an opportunity to revamp corporate gifting programs. They are reinventing the way companies recognize and reward team members through a fun and exciting digital experience with personalized gifts, in just one click. Snappy has several major companies as clients and great viral growth.


  • Ziel is a fully-integrated on-demand manufacturing and e-commerce engine that enables lifestyle brands and retailers to sell quick rotating collections of high-performance apparel without a significant operational investment. Ziel has several active clients.

As a venture sponsored by world-class retailers and brands, as well as founding sponsor organizations Kurt Salmon and Parsons School of Design at The New School, we have created a first of a kind design-centric innovation ecosystem for the retail and consumer goods industries. Our mission has always been to foster companies and products that innovate the face of retail and consumer goods fulfillment, in a rapidly changing marketplace, and all seven companies are ready to excel in a rapidly changing marketplace.

(Photo credits: Lorenzo Ciniglio/Jennifer Weisbord)

The program was organized by XRC Labs in collaboration with Parsons School of Design at The New School. With this note, we would like to thank Joel Towers, Kay Unger, Al Sambar, Susie Case, Anu Malhotra and the XRC all-star team of mentors, sponsors, instructors, visiting entrepreneurs, deck designers and VC consultants for all of their tireless work.

We’ll be posting more pictures and video of the event here, and on our Vimeo channel, shortly!


Know a Great Startup?
XRC Cohort 4 applications are now open until May 8th, 2017.
Apply today. Cohort 4 runs from June 26th-October 7th 2017.

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