Wednesday, Philadelphia was the host city for a phenomenal groundbreaking event. After three intense months of working on building their businesses, five minority-led companies participating in the inaugural Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program were joined by nine other startups, where they presented to a room filled with potential investors and executives and members of the press.

DreamIt Ventures Fall 2011 Demo Day, was held at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia and attracted a crowd of nearly 250 people from across the country. Demo Day is the capstone event for the class of startups making up DreamIt's Philadelphia program this fall.

Unique to the fall program were the start-ups from MEAP, which is sponsored by Comcast. As part of this special track, five companies were selected by DreamIt in conjunction with David Horowitz, Derek Squire, Gil Beyda, and others from the Comcast Ventures team to experience the opportunity of a lifetime for their respective companies. As has been widely reported recently, startup accelerators have emerged as highly sought after opportunities that have acceptance rates lower than most Ivy League universities. Any entrepreneur that is selected for one of these programs immediately becomes the leader of a company that will receive unprecedented access to mentoring, coaching, investors, and a community of supportive fellow entrepreneurs. For the DreamIt program, each founder receives $5,000 and each company receives $5,000 for a maximum total stipend of $25,000.

I had the pleasure of leading this program for DreamIt and must say that the experience was absolutely tremendous. For the past three months while serving as a key promoter to the outside world of the program's benefits, I have also worked very closely with an impressive collection of promising entrepreneurs. Their passion, drive, and competitiveness will serve them well as they move towards achieving the next milestones for their respective companies.

With that, I present to you the inaugural MEAP companies:

  • ElectNext is like an eHarmony for voters as it matches voters with the political candidates who best reflect their values. The site has you rank the issues and answer quizzes in order to match your beliefs to specific candidates in the current election. ElectNext launched in November.

  • Kwelia is a new service for landlords or those managing apartment complexes which compiles a database of rental real estate market data, and uses a proprietary model to crunch the numbers. The result is real-time and user-friendly analysis on critical market assumptions. Renters can also use the service to determine the current market value of an apartment.
  • MetaLayer wants to fight information overload and make sense out of big data by improving how people analyze images and text. Its products take streams of text or images and add structured, relational, temporal, and geospatial metadata. Users can visually summarize information and prioritize relevant content with the service's Dashboard.
  • Qwite is a customer feedback service that works over mobile. It helps businesses deliver content to nearby smartphones, including customer surveys, incentives and other content that enhances the business' brand. Businesses can use Qwite to increase customer retention rates, reward loyal customers and manage other customer-facing aspects of their business.
  • ThaTrunk is a mobile app that uses your location to distribute multimedia files with the push of a button. The app creates a "dynamic proximity network" which grows and shrinks with the number of other ThaTrunk mobile app users near you. Creative publishers, like authors, speakers, musicians and more, can use ThaTrunk at expos, conferences and concerts to reach their audience. Files are distributed from the cloud to nearby users who can then view them and share them on Facebook and Twitter.