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Happiness = a silent alarm clock
Happiness = a silent alarm clock

Headquarters: Menlo Park, Calif.
Founded: Oct. 2009
Raised: $85,000 from business plan competitions

In a sea of software startups, Lark stood out by having an actual product to pitch. The company takes aim at a universal problem: dueling alarm clocks. When your roommate or spouse wakes up earlier than you do, their alarm is going to jolt you awake too. Repeatedly, if they're a snooze-button abuser.

"Over 75% of Americans sleep with someone else in the room, and we're ruining each other's sleep day in and day out," says CEO and co-founder Julia Hu.

Developed by engineers from MIT and Stanford, Lark's alarm-clock replacement system relies on two elements, your iPhone and a custom wristband. You park your iPhone in Lark's dock, and when your alarm rings, the wristband silently vibrates to wake you up. Lark tested the device with more than 100 human guinea pigs -- "including an 18-year-old college freshman boy! No one is more sleep-deprived than that" -- and had a 100% wake-up success rate, Hu says.

Hu and her partners spent nine months vetting manufacturers before choosing one in China, who created the two prototypes Lark uses to show off its system. The company is now accepting pre-orders for its first batch of 500 Larks, due for release in early 2011. The iPhone-dock-and-wristband system will sell for $99 (early-bird buyers can score a $10 discount with the promo code "TC2010").

NEXT: Earn prizes for job hunting

Last updated September 30 2010: 2:31 PM ET
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