Last week marked the end of Evernote Accelerator Program capped by the demo day on Thursday. The Accelerator is a month-long, fully paid residency program where six startup teams from around the world were given the opportunity to study an on-premise startup curriculum at Evernote's offices. The demo day acted as a capstone to the event, allowing the teams to show off the progress made on each of their products; each using the Evernote API. ProgrammableWeb caught up with Evernote's Director of Developer Relations Rafe Needleman for some insight into the product teams and their experiences in the Accelerator.
The Accelerator Teams
Postach.io - Winners of the 2013 Evernote Devcup Gold Award, Posatch.io is the brainchild of Canadians Shawn Adrian and Gavin Vickery. At its core, Postach.io is a publishing app that allows users to create their blogs from within Evernote. By using the "published" tag, any note will instantly appear, fully formatted on your blog. The app supports several themes, Google Analytics integration, commenting and social sharing. According to Needleman, Postach.io is one of the most Evernote-centric apps, and among the Accelerator teams it was the "most mature product [and] is already getting traction." Asked about their experience in the Accelerator, Needleman explained that because their product was already so far along, Adrian and Vickery were able to spend most of their time "refining their product and strategy."
Context Booster - Context Booster is billed as a knowledge assistance tool. Whenever you use the "contextboost" tag, it creates an organized set of new notes in your Evernote account with information from around the web related to the original note. The app supports a cool webclipper function that recognizes images and boosts them with additional related content. Context Booster also features Twitter integration, allowing you to favorite any tweet with a link and have it automatically populated with boosted content. Context Booster was the winner of the Devcup Silver Award as well as the Best for Productivity category winner. Needleman pointed out that, along with Postach.io, this was the product that most tightly integrated with the Evernote API.
Biscuit - Biscuit was described by Needleman as "a mature vocabulary learning app" that allows you to highlight words and get their definition without leaving the screen you are currently on. All words are then saved to a clipboard so they can be referenced in the future. Biscuit contains a built-in dictionary so you don't need to be connected to the Internet to be able to use the app. This dictionary is available across several languages as well. It integrates with Evernote by letting you sync your content for review in a printer-friendly format or with Evernote Peek on the iPad. Biscuit was the winner of the Devcup Bronze Award and the category winner for Best for Education & Research. Needleman pointed out the team already had an iOS and Android app when they started the Accelerator, and by the end they were able to add an Evernote Web Clipper extension for Chrome as well as the iPad integration.
Lightly - Lightly is a mobile web clipping app for iOS that is designed to make web pages easy to highlight and share. These pages are then synced to your Evernote account. While Lightly won the Paperless Achievement Award, Needleman noted that the Hong Kong-based team ended up pivoting and started building the developer tool AppMon, due to launch soon.
AgentPanda - The Colombia-based AgentPanda team made its way into the Accelerator by winning the Wayra Global Startup prize in the Devcup. The app was originally conceived as a collaborative travel organizing tool built for consumers. However, the team used its experience in the Accelerator to turn it into a tool focused on helping travel agents communicate with clients. This tool, currently being built, is due soon.
Xing - Xing rewards a little vacation pre-planning by providing users with rich context to the places they visit. Using Evernote to plan your travel itineraries, the idea was that Xing would sync those notes to your location by integrating iPhone’s GPS sensor. Xing won both the Honda Innovation Award and the Best Travel App category during the Devcup. According to Needleman, the team from Taiwan "built an app, not a company." They used the Accelerator to do a slight pivot and started working on Nextstop, an app that helps travelers find activities to do during the breaks in their travels.
The Accelerator Experience
The Evernote Accelerator gave these six teams a chance to work at the Evernote offices alongside the company's engineers and designers and to engage in a startup curriculum during an intense four-week sprint. The residency included workshops with Evernote engineers and designers as well as public events featuring successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. According to Needleman, the teams were given space in the Evernote office next to the platform team. "If they had design questions they could walk over and ask. They were made part of the family, part of the team," he said.
Evernote partnered with Honda Silicon Valley Lab, Wayra and Docomo to put on the program; these companies offering support as well as helping to select the Devcup winners and Accelerator teams. When asked what stood out about the six teams, Needleman said that more than anything, "we were attracted to the teams. We received nearly 200 entries [for the Devcup] and in the end it was very easy to make the decision."
Asked about the international make up of the team, Needleman confirmed that this was somewhat intentional. "The Valley is well served by incubators. Evernote is a global company and we want to work with entrepreneurs around the world." By bringing the teams in, Evernote hoped to build relationships with these teams and in turn have them spread the word around the globe. This was the first program of its kind for Evernote. When asked what could be improved, Needleman noted that it "was really accelerated. We had great partners, but it's brief and we crammed a lot of stuff into a short time. We would like to give teams more time to build."
Accelerator Teams Take Their Place in the App Center
The six teams will continue to work with Evernote and many will see their apps eventually make it into the App Center. As David Berlind previously noted, the App Center currently only showcases around 200 apps. Needleman said this is by design. The App Center is not meant to be a marketplace and for every app listed, there are many more that can be found elsewhere. Instead, Evernote kept the App Center highly curated so that it may act as a showcase for the platform.