MuckerLab, a tech startup accelerator in Los Angeles

MuckerLab, a tech startup accelerator in Los Angeles

Plain white walls with minimal decorations. Bare exposed ceiling in an open space. Ample lighting. Long, complex calculus equations on one whiteboard; web performance metrics and long list of beta customers on another. Engineers toil over long lines of code on big monitor screens. There is an air of seriousness here. This is MuckerLab.

In less than a year since its creation, MuckerLab has already graduated a class of 8 stellar startups, all got follow-on funding from top tier VCs. We talked to Bill Woodward, Managing Partner at Anthem Venture Partners who invested in SurfAir, an alum startup from the first class. Woodward is very happy with his investment. While getting funded may be a vanity milestone for individual startups, it is a very good market acceptance indicator on an accelerator program as a whole. MuckerLab is about hand-picking quality startups and providing them with a mentorship driven accelerator program that is modeled after TechStars, it is, in fact part of the Global Accelerator Network founded by TechStars.

“We keep a very low profile here. We put our heads down and focus on finding initial product-market fit in order to build real and sustainable businesses.” – said Will Hsu, the co-Founder and Managing Partner of MuckerLab. Casually dressed, quick-witted and with a quiet demeanor, he could easily be mistaken for one of the startup geeks here. There are no private offices or cubicle dividers here. He comes into the office, works long hours and stays very hands-on with the startups.

“We believe in building a fraternity or sorority sense of community. You have to go through the pain together. So, no rolling application. We have classes.” – Hsu commented – “We don’t limit ourselves to any market segments. We will consider B2B companies, B2C companies, and so on – collectively the partners have operating experience in a wide range of industries.” Technology core competency is an important acceptance criteria here at MuckerLab. “They must have a tech cofounder. If they can’t convince a developer to join their vision, that might be an indicator of their lack of sale skill. Maybe they won’t be able to close the deals that they need with a big company or investor later on.”

This fall, MuckerLab is starting its second class of 11 new startups. Aaron Stannard, founder of MarkedUp, a startup in the new class excitedly shared with us: “The fall program has not officially started yet but MuckerLab has already been tremendously helpful to us.” Chad Billmyer, founder of Enthusify, another startup in the fall class, concurred with Stannard’s sentiment. “Muckerlab is the accelerator to join if you want to work alongside SoCal’s top product guys.” – said C.K. Lin, the Entrepreneur in Residence. At MuckerLab, each startup is provided with $21,000 in funding in exchange for 6% common equity, a co-working space and a 4-month accelerator program. We look forward to watch this new class of startups bloom.

MuckerLab 1st class

Automated Marketing Solution for SMB’s

Ecinity is an artificially intelligent, self learning, automated online marketing service for local businesses that efficiently attracts new customers without paying for advertising and without the merchant or Ecinity ever really lifting a finger. In short, Ecinity is a world class online marketing manager “in a box.” Ecinity is currently in closed, private beta with 800 customers which were acquired in just 4 weeks time. Ecinity’s founding product, engineering and sales team comes from Google, Yahoo, AT&T Interactive, ReachLocal and many others.


Marketplace for Social Media Art & Artifacts

Instacanvas makes it easy to turn social media artifacts you love into physical objects you can own. Our flagship offering is a marketplace for Instagram photography that enables the buying and selling of Instagram photos as ready-to-hang canvas prints. Instacanvas powers galleries for over 20,000 artists around the world and is currently generating over 1.2M monthly unique visitors…all without spending a dime on advertising.


Distribution Platform for Premium Comedy

Laffster is bridging the gap between advertisers looking to shift their $60 billion TV budgets to online video and the limited number of viable options due to low quality comedic content that proliferates the web. Laffster has licensed thousands of hours of premium comedic content from TV, movies and standup featuring comedians like Jon Stewart and Louis CK and is distributing it on both third-party platforms like YouTube as well as its own socially-driven web app. Furthermore, Laffster has teamed up with neuroscientists at Dartmouth studying humor and Emmy-award winning film/TV professors at USC to build their comedy recommendation technology. Co-founders include an ex-Google engineer/comedian and former advertising strategist at CollegeHumor and Warner Brothers.


Marketplace for Social Activities

Lifecrowd is a marketplace for social activities connecting people, interests and culture. Lifecrowd inspires its online community to experience life offline by providing a platform for both discovering and hosting local activities. By integrating individual social graphs, user reviews, and personalized recommendations, Lifecrowd super-charges your social calendar. Currently Lifecrowd is live in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. Lifecrowd’s team and investors have helped build leading companies including Groupon, Zynga, eBay,, Zocdoc, Blackboard and SayMedia.


Cloud Security & Encryption Solutions

Penango offers end-to-end encryption and security solutions for cloud applications such as webmail, groupware, productivity applications, storage, and messaging. By 2015, governments and enterprises are expected to spend over $6B a year on cloud encryption and security. Using standards-based (S/MIME) technology, Penango has the only cross-platform, cross-browser encryption solution in the market with 6 patents issued and pending. Penango’s first product makes secure e-mail in webmail platforms such as Gmail easy to use, simple to manage, and accessible everywhere. Penango has close to 5,000 monthly seats deployed with over 650,000 monthly seats in backlog for customers that include the US Department of Defense, national laboratories, NGOs, enterprises of all sizes in healthcare, finance, and IT, and individuals worldwide.


Big Data Retention Marketing Platform for E-Commerce

With customer acquisition costs continuing to skyrocket, e-commerce companies must focus on increasing revenue from existing customers. Retention Science leverages Big Data algorithms to help e-commerce companies retain and re-engage customers to generate sales and maximize customer lifetime value. Our SaaS profiling engine uses machine learning techniques to analyze and predict customer behaviors based on massive demographic, social, and behavioral data sets. We use these analytics to automatically create personalized retention strategies and help businesses re-engage the right customers at the right time. Pilot partners have more than 10M customers with sales totaling $1B. Founding team consists of E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year, Berkeley, Caltech, Yale grads, and UCLA Ph.D data scientist.


All-You-Can-Fly Executive Airline

Surf Air is an all-you-can-fly, membership-based airline that introduces the ease and comfort of private air travel to a new audience. For $1,000 a month members get unlimited access to flights on any of Surf Air’s regularly scheduled flights. With comfy leather seats and flights in and out of exclusive regional airports this is what flying should be. In the week since launching Surf Air has already sold out its charter memberships, guaranteeing monthly revenue of over $500k. Surf Air’s team includes a former intelligence officer, an Air Force One pilot who also served as Warren Buffet’s personal pilot, a quant financial forecaster from the Federal Reserve, and the 2nd engineer at MySpace.


One Card to Rule Them All

Wallaby Financial is developing a network-branded (Visa) payment card that dynamically routes transactions across a consumer’s existing credit cards to maximize rewards, cash back or savings. Consumers swipe smarter and save without having to think about which credit card is best to use and keep track of program details. Wallaby supports any consumer card (AMEX, Visa, MasterCard, Discover). Credit card issuers and retailers can create targeted campaigns to to enforce share of wallet shift, acquire new customers and deliver savings for check-ins, likes, follows, e-mail subscriptions, as well as spend-based loyalty programs.

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