5 globetrotting Chinaccelerator grads to watch in 2018
China's oldest accelerator program, Chinaccelerator, has been around since 2010, and over the years they've managed to build an impressive portfolio of startups. The Shanghai-based program focuses on companies that cross-borders, and as such the companies they've helped offer insights about what constitutes a promising startup from around the world.
We were lucky enough to visit Chinaccelerator (which is impressive in its own right) and meet with some of their member companies, both past and present. Here are a few that grabbed our attention:
Mindfulness is a tricky thing to quantify and people generally don't associate spreadsheets with meditation. But, behind the scenes at least, that's the approach that Toronto-based Mobio Interactive is taking. The company's mediation app, Wildflower Mindfulness, uses feedback from your phone's sensors to get an idea about how relaxed you are before and after you meditate. Has your breathing slowed? Are your face muscles tense? It all goes into an algorithm that the company uses to see if their content is actually making users more mindful or not. We tested the software, albeit without meditating first, and it told us that we needed to chill out.
Clever Robots has been patiently waiting for the world to start buying smartphones that support augmented reality. The company makes cutting edge software that lets artificial objects interact with things in the physical world. Basically, they make it so that a (virtual) monster can attack you while you're playing a game in line at Starbucks or wherever you happen to be. The monster will still be in your phone, but it'll be interacting with objects in the real world. Alas, it looks like their wait is ending and the newest version of Samsung and Apple phones are starting to pack the hardware needed to unleash the monsters.
Morfus VR is kind of like a construction contractor for virtual reality. The company is able to bring the creations of architects and designers to life without a single trip to Home Depot. The British Columbia-based company runs a platform that converts 2D floor plans and 3D files into immersive virtual reality walkthrough experiences. In effect, you can walk through your new home or office while it's still in the concept phase, saving tons of headaches later, when you realize that your architect's designs and your imagination were not communicating clearly. The company says that their VR experiences result in a 40 to 50 percent cut in the sales cycle.
Piktochart lets design-challenged users create professional-quality infographics, presentations, reports and banners using an incredibly easy-to-use online platform. The Penang, Malaysia-based company has been around for awhile and is a popular tool for people who need to utilize visual content but don't want to shell out tons of money to hire a designer. Piktochart operates on a freemium model, so if you want to give your infographic-skills a whirl, it won't cost you a dime.
RIKAI Labs combines the power of bots with the massively popular Chinese messaging platform WeChat to teach billions of people English. The company uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology, along with some good old-fashioned human support, to give English learners a series of quick, natural lessons over WeChat. In a lot of ways it's like having an English-speaking pen pal, except that you're actually chatting with a machine.
The company has recently been expanding from language services, using the same technology to give companies an online and robust presence on WeChat. If users want to message the company to find out simple things like hours of operation or if an item is in stock, they can do so over chat — with a bot. Rikai Labs is based in Shanghai with offices in San Francisco.
Photos by TechAbroad and companies featured.