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PushStart’s first ever Accelerator Program includes apps for social gatherings, surfers, and more

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Robert Kawalsky is making every opportunity count.

After hitting American shores in March with a showing at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, he’s back in Sydney participating in the first year of the PushStart Accelerator Program.

Kawalsky is the one behind Make Tonight Count, one of eight startups making up PushStart’s inaugural class. Most of the participants will be looking to move their mobile and web apps into greater circulation and out of Beta, while growing seed funding and learning the ropes of attracting capital.

Kawalsky and company’s “Tonight” app for the iPhone is already on good ground. When it debuted last December, it made it to the top of Apple Australia and New Zealand’s “Staff Favourites” list. Free for download, the app lets users maximise their evening plans with their mates for just the coming night.

“We want to help people squeeze the most out of every night by connecting them with their friends and their city,” said Kawalsky. Anticipating the comparisons to Facebook, he added that the idea behind Tonight is to improve social activity offline rather than online.

Solutions to “Large Market Problems”

The 13-week Accelerator Program run by PushStart, the tech startup community group, and will conclude in June. Participants get some very measurable benefits, like $20,000 in cash and, over $100,000 in services and products from a roster that includes Microsoft, Deloittes, Ninefold and DLA Piper.

Then, there are the intangibles, including access to a mentoring network of 40 entrepreneurs and investors, among them Matt Barrie of Freelancer.com, Rebekah Campbell of Posse, Mitchell Harper of BigCommerce, and Rod Johnson of SpringSource. Teams also get to practice their investor pitches at the program’s end.

“Although the applicants represent a wide variety of industries, they all share one thing in common: great teams of founders working on solutions that have the potential to solve large market problems in innovative ways,” said Kim Heras, co-founder of PushStart.

The rest of the startup class includes such colourful characters as Bleeply. Bleeply calls itself a solutions manager for combatting and preventing social media gaffes, that companies are often fall prone to.

Or, as the founders put it on their home page: “You know how live TV broadcasts have a time delay? Bleeply does that for your team’s social media updates.”

Also participating is Rezon8, which also had a successful showing at SXSW. They’re a digital advertising innovator that uses augmented reality to make public ads more consumer-interactive.

And then, some concepts are just too keenly Australian to pass up, as evidenced by Quiverizer. Their product? An app that lets surfers swap boards.

Whether hanging ten or just hanging out with friends, Heras thinks consumers will soon be getting a lot out of the Accelerator class.

“They all have so much talent and, I can’t wait to see how they evolve over the next few months,” he said. “As great innovators and entrepreneurs, they have so much to offer Australia in the future.”

PushStart Accelerator 2012 Participants

The eight successful applicants, as announced by PushStart:

Bleeply — Social Media for enterprise…without the bloopers.

GimmeQuotes — Service Quotes done right. Better leads for business — better service for customers.

Make Tonight Count — An iPhone app which allows users to share and discover plans for tonight…only.

MateWire — Real-time activities around you. MateWire is an activity-based mobile social network for like-minded people.

Quiverizer — The world’s first surfboard swapping site.

Rezon8 — Digital advertising solutions using cutting-edge technology.

Tinybeans — The online baby journal for busy parents.

Werdsmith — An iPhone app to help writers organise, share and collaborate on their projects on the go. Think Github for writers.

Image by dierk schaefer

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