Company Profile

Brighten Labs

An app maker focused on making people smile by sending users happy news articles or compliments from friends.

Industry
Media
Location
Santa Monica, California
Leadership
Austin Kevitch
Year Founded
2015
Company Size
1-10 employees
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Apr 14, 2019
Company Description

Austin Kevitch co-founded Brighten Labs, an app maker aimed at making people smile, after the death of dear friend. The company's first app, Brighten, which offers to dispatch compliments to their friends while they're still living was inspired by that loss. At its height, in 2015, Kevitch says the app, which is free to use, had about 2 million users. Then, in 2016, Brighten Labs got socked with a wrongful termination lawsuit from a former employee, who worked briefly at Brighten as an advisor. The matter was settled out of court, but the experience left the company battered. 

Kevitch and his co-founder, Alec Lorraine, are now in the throes of a comeback with their second app, Moodboost. Launching in February 2019, the app offers users a curated "happy news story" every morning in exchange for $1 a month. According to Kevitch, it already has 10,000 users. If this app “scales anywhere near [how] Brighten did, we should generate around $5 million in revenue in year one,” he says. -- Guadalupe Gonzalez

 

Caper

A maker of smart shopping carts, which use image recognition and artificial intelligence technologies.

Caper co-founder York Yang.
Industry
Computer Hardware
Year Founded
2015
Company Size
11-50 employees
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Apr 14, 2019
Company Description

Time is money and Caper aims to save you both. The company's smart shopping carts employ cameras and sensors to transform a regular shopping cart into a checkout-free retail experience. The smart cart scans, logs, and bags items as they’re added to the cart. Then it automatically tallies the bill and charges the customer upon leaving the store. Further, an interactive screen on the Caper cart pushes alerts regarding potential deals and coupons. Caper, a Y-Combinator alumnus, has raised $3.5 million in funding from angel investors including Max Mullen, co-founder of Instacart, and Jenny Fleiss, co-founder of Rent the Runway. Helmed by four founders under 30, the company is projected to generate $11 million in 2019 revenue, thanks to pending deals which are expected put the technology in more than 100 New York-based grocery stores by the end of the year. It further expects another 100 stores to adopt the product by the end of 2020. Customers who want to try the service now can check out Caper's test store, Foodcellar Market, in Queens, New York. --Tim Crino 

CapWay

Provider of financial services for underbanked customers.

Sheena Allen
Industry
Financial Services
Year Founded
2016
Company Size
1-10 employees
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Apr 14, 2019
Company Description

Where Sheena Allen grew up, in tiny Terry, Mississippi, there was but one small bank. "People cashed their checks at the grocery store" and used payday lenders and other often-predatory providers, she recalls. "We've lived the problem." She decided to solve it. She spent 2016 researching the financial industry, and then launched CapWay, which created a "social fintech" app to show your balance and transaction information, as well as to warn you if a Netflix fee will drain your account. Up next: a debit card and smartphone-enabled microloans. The revenue model--still a work in progress--involves payments from colleges using CapWay materials, and customer fees. Providing these services to the underbanked is complex, but Allen is undaunted. "We can be profitable, have a social impact—and have a great company," she says. --Maria Aspan

Cameo

Enables consumers to book personalized video messages, live video calls, and direct messages from athletes, entertainers, influencers, and other celebrities.

Devon Townsend.
Industry
Consumer Services
Location
Chicago, Illinois
Leadership
Steven Galanis
Year Founded
2017
Company Size
51-200 employees
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Apr 14, 2019
Company Description

In 2020, Cameo launched a philanthropic program called Cameo Cares, which partners with charity initiatives in creating exclusive events that donate the company’s celebrity shoutout fees to worthy causes. The platform’s star power raised more than $1 million for multiple charities in its first six months, while advancing Cameo’s mission of creating unforgettable one-on-one interactions between talent and fans. The first Cameo Cares event was a three-day live-streamed festival in April that raised $725,000 for charities working to address problems caused by Covid-19. A second two-day affair raised $225,000 for organizations involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Culinistas

A private in-home chef service for meal-prep and special occasions.

The Culinistas co-founder Tiana Tenet.
Industry
Food & Beverage
Year Founded
2017
Company Size
1-10 employees
Data as of Publication on Apr 14, 2019
Company Description

Tiana Tenent, 29, had spent five years as a financial advisor and consultant for J.P. Morgan when she realized she wanted to reconnect with her one true love: food. She was considering opening a restaurant when she met Jill Donenfeld, a now 34-year-old private chef, caterer, and cookbook author who was running a private chef placement agency. Together, they launched The Culinistas, an in-home chef service for meal-prep and private event meal production. With a focus on easing the burden of busy parents, the service--which starts at $250 plus the cost of groceries--brings a private chef into users' homes to prepare a week's worth of meals selected from a rotating menu. The service is also available for dinner parties and special occasions. The Culinistas' stable of 80 chefs work out of people's homes in New York City, Palm Beach, Aspen, and the Hamptons. The service is launching in Los Angeles in fall 2019. "There's such a personal component to it," says Tiana. "These chefs are coming into your home and changing your lives, your schedules, the way you move throughout the day." The company hit $920,000 in revenue in 2018 and expects to book $2.4 million this year. -- Brit Morse