Later this month and continuing through much of the year, the world will be able to follow a Miami-based startup’s journey. And reality-style, viewers will have a chance to help vote the startup to the top.
Kairos, which brings facial recognition technology to workplaces in a variety of ways, is one of 24 startups chosen by Wall Street Journal editors to participate in the first 'WSJ Startup of the Year,' an episodic video documentary for WSJ Live, the Journal's online video platform. The series premieres June 24.
According to the Journal, the series matches the 24 startups with global business leaders and tracks their progress from startup to success over the course of five months. Throughout the series, WSJ editors, working closely with the business leaders and strongly considering viewer votes, will narrow down the field to one “Startup of the Year.”
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, Steve Case, chairman of Startup America and co-founder and former CEO of AOL, and Tory Burch, CEO of Tory Burch LLC, are among the global business leaders participating in WSJ Startup of the Year.
According to Brian Brackeen, co-founder and CEO of Kairos, each week, the show will include videos submitted by the startups that show the real ups and downs of startup life. There will also be periodic live events where the startups will meet with the business leaders, and those interactions could also be included in the episodes.
Brackeen explained that the process started about four months ago, originating with encouragement from and connections with NewME, a Google-backed San Francisco accelerator his team participated in last year. After an extensive interview process that included several submissions, the 24 startups were notified a couple of weeks ago and the startups were just announced yesterday.
“We’re geeky excited here," Brackeen said Thursday morning, during some filming. "We are making the most of the opportunity.”
So how does a startup rev up for this? With a lot of community involvement, of course. Brackeen is working with five interns from the Posse Foundation, some of them with media backgrounds, and they are all helping with this project. He has also hired the Max Borges Agency for coaching and promotion expertise. Much of the taping has been going on at The LAB Miami, where Kairos is now based.
Brackeen said he is currently raising a seed round and plans on raising a Series A in the fall, so he believes the exposure will help with that -- Kairos and the other startups will be featured across
all of the WSJ platforms including print, television and online.
The 24 startups, from a wide range of industries, were chosen from more than 500 applications. Each startup is U.S.-based, has a prototype or proof of concept in place, and less than $10 million in annual revenue. Brackeen describes the stage of Kairos as firmly in the seed stage, currently bringing in about $500K in annual revenue and projecting about $3 million for next year. “Our stage is 'on the way',” he said.