Start-up Competition



At the 2013 Semantic Technology & Business Conference, and WebMediaBrands will award one company the prize as "Top Semantic Technology Start-Up." At 12:30 pm Monday, June 3rd, companies will have the opportunity to compete on stage as they deliver their pitches before a panel of expert judges! The companies competing will have met the following conditions:

  • Have a demonstrable product (at least in "beta" stage) in the SemTech and or SemWeb space
  • Have received no more than a Series B round of financing

Competition Finalists

  • Michael Alvers, Transinsight GmbH: “ A Semantic Search engine for the Life Sciences”
  • Robert Butler, Pancake Technology, LLC: “The Pancake Semantic Cloud: Build Powerful Applications Faster Than Ever Before”
  • Nicholas Cassimatis, SkyPhrase, Inc.: “Unlocking your Data with Powerful, Easy-to-Implement Natural Language Understanding”
  • Hans Constandt, ONTOFORCE: “ONTOFORCE: Links for Lives”
  • Eric Forst, Synapsify: “Synapsify -- Breakthrough Content Discovery and Text Analytics Technology”
  • Alessandro Oltramari, B-Sm@rk Ltd: “MySmark: Making Sense of User Experience”
  • Vangos Pterneas, LightBuzz: “Touring Machine: Sightseeing Getting Personal”
  • Jerry Scott, KnowMED Incorporated: “Transforming the Pace of Progress in Healthcare using Semantic Web Technology”    
  • Steny Solitude and Frédéric Colomina, Perfect Memory: “Case Study: How Semantic Raises Linked Open Media for Broadcaster”
  • Mark van Berkel, Hunch Manifest Inc.: “RHome - Reasonable Home Improvement”


We have assembled a panel of expert judges for the pitch contest, ensuring careful evaluation and a lively afternoon.

Photo of Phil Aucutt Phil Aucutt, CEO, Edyt and TeamPatent, the patent platform that enables intellectual property professionals, enterprises, and governments to unlock innovation by reducing the complexity of creating and prosecuting patents through the use of semantic technologies and innovative collaboration services. Phil was an advisor and board member to Edyt prior to assuming the CEO role, and leading the pivot to focusing on the enterprise and government organizations. Bringing a background in private equity and venture capital Phil advises other startups in the Bay area such as quantiFind and First Retail. 
Photo of Carla Cook Carla Cook, Director of Business Development, The Daily Dot A veteran of the tech industry, Carla Cook has counseled startups around the globe on creating, launching, and sustaining smart businesses. As Director of Business Development for The Daily Dot, the Internet's hometown newspaper, she oversees content and ad network relationships, syndication, distribution, and partnerships.
Renee DiResta, Associate at O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV), evaluates investment opportunities, researches emerging technology trends, and supports portfolio companies. Prior to OATV, she spent seven years as an emerging market equity derivatives trader at Jane Street Capital, a quantitative proprietary trading firm in New York. On the side, she plays with data sets, crafts, and is a swing dancer. Renee holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Political Science from the Honors College of SUNY Stony Brook. She blogs about her work and side projects at, and can be found on Twitter at @noupside.
Kim Garretson is ventures lead and co-founder, Ovative/Group, a Minneapolis digital business consulting firm. He leads an innovation discovery practice for clients in mass retail, CPG, agencies andmedia companies. Previously, he headed emerging media monetization for Best Buy and was liaison to the venture capital industry. In monetization, Garretsonbuilt a system to capture incremental sponsorship revenue among Best Buy's digital properties. Garretson also was co-founder, NOVO Media Group, now part of Publicis, and launched the digital practice at a Minneapolis agency that is now part of Interpublic Group.  Garretson also created the first hybrid digital/print magazine in 1982, the first magazine for the online service Prodigy in 1989, an all-video broadband channel for Time Warner in 1998, and the first CD-ROM/Web magazine in 1994.
Mark Johnson is CEO of Zite, the application that makes you smarter and helps you find interesting content about your personal passions. Mark was an advisor to Zite for almost two years prior to taking the CEO role and was instrumental in the pivot from Worio to Zite. He brings a strong product and technology background with experience at several successful search startups: Powerset (natural language search, acquired by Microsoft), Kosmix (categorized search, acquired by Walmart), and SideStep (travel search, acquired by Kayak). Most recently, he led product at Bing in San Francisco. Mark’s passion and mission at Zite is to change the way people discover and browse content.
Chris Shipley, CEO, Guidewire Group (former Executive Director, DEMO Conference) drives the company’s strategic vision and business operations. A leading technology analyst for more than 25 years, Chris is passionate about entrepreneurship as the driver of economic growth and job creation. She has built a career on identifying emerging market opportunities and the innovative startups poised to capitalize on them, and as executive producer of the DEMO conference from 1996 to 2009, helped companies including WebEx, VMWare,, TiVo, Xfire, Ribbit, and Ironport make their market debut. In June 2010, SD Forum presented Chris with its prestigious Visionary Award for her work with young companies. She sits on the board of CSR-management software company Versaic, and is an advisor to a number of early stage companies.
MODERATOR: Eric Franzon, Vice President of Community, Prior to that he was VP of Wilshire Conferences/Semantic Universe, where he led educational and community efforts for professionals working with enterprise data and Semantic Technologies. Since 2004, he has worked to raise awareness and explain the usage of semantic technologies in business and consumer settings. A lifelong learner and teacher, Eric is frequently called on as a consultant, coach, and trainer around complex technical topics. He is an Advisory Committee representative with the World Wide Web Consortium.


Upon committing to attend the event, the ten finalist companies will receive a "Survival Kit" that includes:

  • Free attendance at the "Start-up Competition" plus Exhibit Hall access. While conference attendance is not included, finalists can purchase a full event pass for the discounted rate of $495 USD.
  • An Air Travel Gift Card, Starbucks Gift Card or Apple Gift Card in the amount of $200.00 (USD)
  • A copy of “Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun
  • Coverage at as a finalist

The winning company will receive:

  • An award, publicly given on stage at the June 4, 9:00am keynote.
  • A featured article at, to include interviews with key company officers and/or investors.
  • A speaking slot at a future Semantic Technology & Business Conference
  • A 46" Monitor/Television (to be shipped after the conference conclusion)
  • Advisory Services by Ovative/Group *
    * Ovative/Group, a 20-person boutique digital management consulting firm, agrees to provide one hour of advisory services per month for 12 months. This can be in the form of phone conversations, email and possibly in-person meetings. Ovative/Group management is from the digital strategy, innovation and operations area of Best Buy and Target, and currently focus on customer-centric digital business consulting for large retailers, brands, media companies and agencies. O/G agrees to provide advisory services to the winning company that can include introductions among its network of companies and contacts, and feedback on the company's go-to-market and digital marketing plans.

Venue: SemTechBiz at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square

Key Dates:

  • Application Deadline - April 1 PASSED
  • Notification Date for Finalist Companies - April 15 PASSED
  • Five Minute Pitch Presentation Slides Due - May 15
  • Start-Up Competition at SemTechBiz - June 3, 12:30pm
  • Winning Company receives award at Final Keynote - June 4, 9:00am

Sponsors: logo 

Edyt is a National Science Foundation (NSF) startup providing browser-based, collaborative authoring/reviewing software for enterprises. It’s similar to Google Docs, adding a layer of semantic analysis including automatic validation, auto-completion, and cross-linking for particular subject domains. It also provides compound document support, comes integrated with popular case management systems, and can be extensively customized. Our current focus is helping patent offices improve their examination process through the creation of TeamPatent, a customized version of Edyt. The Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, which drives Edyt’s semantic analysis, can easily support other subject areas. As our development bandwidth increases, we will be engaging in other customer requested projects spanning construction management, medical regulatory filings, and insurance compliance.
Ovative/Group is a 20-person Minneapolis-based digital business management advisory services firm. Its practices are consumer data and insights, digital commerce, monetizing audiences with new revenue streams and innovation discovery for retailers, brands, media companies and agencies. Co-founder Kim Garretson was liaison to the venture capital industry for Best Buy, and co-founder Dale Nitschke was president of



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