Solving technical challenges in ad tech

By Dennis Clemente

How many ads were served in 2008? Zero! Fast forward to 2014 and the total ads served are now close a hundred billion a day. As a result, ad technology (now simply called ad tech) companies in lower Manhattan have become a hotbed of technology, delivery and marketplace, focused on solving technical challenges at massive scale.

Last April 10, LaunchLM and CloudRFP presented NSOne, AeroSpike and MediaMath to talk about the solutions they are pursuing to meet the scalability and performance demands of modern digital advertising.

Kris Beevers, founder and CEO of NSOne, said nothing is fullproof, but he believes his company has worked hard to offer the following: perfect visibility in real time; high frequency; granular; and low latency.

Brian Bulkowski, founder and CTO of AeroSpike and Roland Cozzolino, CTO at MediaMath talked about real data and real solutions.

“We avoid hot spots to maintain tight latency, provide immediate consistency with replication and ensure long-running tasks do not slow down,” he said.

Later, Sam Machiz, VP of Solutions Engineering at Internap; Troy Paradiso, senior Systems Engineering manager at A10 Networks; James Marcus, director of IT at PulsePoint joined Beever, Bukowski and Cozzolino in the Q&A forum to address the needs of the online, mobile and mixed-content advertising space.

At present, the group is looking forward to improving the following:
• Global traffic distribution challenges and solutions at high scale
• Scaling distributed bidding engines to 100k+ QPS and responding <100ms
• Consuming the internet’s impression feed: queuing and real-time data systems in digital marketing

Moderated by Zachary Smith, the meetup was held by Launch LM at Stack Exchange in Lower Manhattan. LaunchLM was designed to embrace collaboration, the diversity of industries, and the pursuit of progress.

Developed by the Alliance for Downtown New York in collaboration with a group of technology, venture capital, urban planning and real estate professionals who share a desire to help grow innovation and build community in the central business district, LaunchLM intends to connect and support the growing tech community in Lower Manhattan. Learn more about LaunchLM at LaunchLM.com

VCs at Gotham Media Ventures talk about hot trends, funding issues

Gotham Media Ventures panel

Gotham Media Ventures panel

By Dennis Clemente

A typical New York meetup night usually hosts many startup presentations (seven or more most of the time) and not much about investors alone. At Gotham Media Ventures last April 8, it was refreshing to see no startups, just venture capitalists taking the limelight to talk about funding, trends and the challenges facing startups.

“Funding is hard. It stays hard,” said Scott Kumit, the candid founder and CEO of Keep, Swizzle as well as former CEO of About.com.

Kumit is giving us perspective and a better read of how funding now can be complex, easy in the first seed round, harder in the institutional round. The former is clearly easier, because with less money, there’s less risk. What makes the next stages hard, of course, is how you can ask for more money to scale your startup.

Jerry Spiegel, moderator and partner of Frankfurt Kumit Klien & Selz, got the same responses from the other panelists, Jason Klein, Merrill Brown, and Daniel Schultz.

“Institutional funding takes longer (these days). There will be a crunch,” said Klein, founder and CEO of Ongrid Ventures and board member of HBS Alumni Angels.

It’s common for investors to talk this way to keep things in check as they also talk about trends.

Klein sees geo-disruptive businesses and location-based technologies as the next hot trends. Think drones, although that may just be the obvious complimentary technology right now.

Brown, a venture partner at DFJ Frontier who is also the director of School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University, thinks there are still lots of money in a news platform. He was a media person back in the eighties.

For him, there will be more ways to do voice and data, citing box.com, messaging systems and platforms, and ad-supported media or ad tech.

“Stock prices look encouraging in ad tech. That means that news and TV will be disrupted.” It looks like the internet of things can pave the way for the disruption of communication channels. Think drones again.

Kumit agrees with Brown about content and ad tech, encouraging people to just go out there to do business. “Last year ad tech was nothing. So if you invent something, there is something for you.” BuzzFeed was cited.

Schultz, managing director and co-founder of Gotham Ventures, thinks the challenges are easy to overcome: “Anything you can think can be improved upon can be improved,” talking about the limitless possibilities out there. “We can improve quality of life on a global basis.” That includes home safety in a connected house.

Amazon was mentioned and it too can be disrupted, according to the VCs who think e-commerce is a multi-trillion dollar market. It’s just a matter of who is up to the challenge.

A question that has popped up lately is crowdfunding and almost always, VCs like to say they embrace it. Like Schultz. What’s not to like about it when customers fund a startup idea initially, half of the work for VCs (customer acceptance of a product or idea) is done. VCs can take the next logical step of scaling the business.

Kumit is averse to angels, though. His advice: “Take professional money over angel money. And take 3 or 4 times more money (that) you need.” Why? “Everything is twice as hard. You’ll work 18-hour days. Take more than you need,” he stressed.

The panelists also talked about big data and what you can do with massive amounts of data, but thinks the bitcoin craze is something else entirely. Only Klein seemed to be open about his skepticism over bitcoin—at least the technology behind it.

Infomous gets top nod from VCs at Innovator Evening event

By Dennis Clemente

At innovator evening, host Alan Brody will tell you his meetup is not a meetup, “it’s a crafted conference.” Brody means business. So does his esteemed panel of guests last April 2 at Dorsey & Whitney LLP near Grand Central Terminal.

Brody kicked off his conference with a two-hour workshop that asks (and answers) the question, “Are you Fundable?” followed by the presentation of six startups in front of some discerning, no-nonsense judges.

Alan Brody of ievening

Alan Brody of ievening

In order of their presentations were ColdSteel Laser, Infomous, Vidaao, Soshio, BeautyStat, Nonnatech and JetRyte with Infomous getting the top vote and the opportunity to present to Private Equity Forums on May 1. Visit privatequityforums.com

CEO Jerry Korten presented ColdSteel Laser as a startup medical device company that has developed a novel technology, one that remotely controls an endoscopic surgical laser. The technology is being licensed from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. To date, ColdSteel Laser has raised $1.125 million and expects delivery of a functional platform in June this year.

How does it work? The technology allows a surgeon to visualize an operative field on a graphics tablet and, by tracing a stylus over the image, control a CO2 laser as it cuts tissue inside a patient, in real time.

The next presenter, Infomous, looks similar to a tag cloud, but founder and CEO Paolo Gaudiano shows us how trending topics pop up right from its “cloud.” It claim users can find quickly the information they care about, as it appears to get rid of the media noise all-too prevalent out there.

Vidaao’s Justin Park said his startup reduces the cost of creating videos by 25 to 30 percent. This is accomplished through an online marketplace—one that connects brands with more than 500 video creatives in 48 US and EU cities.

Soshio is into Chinese social media analytics using technology that analyzes content in native Chinese text, with a proprietary emotion analysis, for which it reportedly has an approved provisional patent application.

CEO Matt Grotenstein sees a big market, more than 600 million in China, in fact. With Facebook and Twitter blocked in China, he sees a more focused approach is required to address and understand the rapidly growing Chinese market.

BeautyStat led by Rob Robinson also sees potential in the beauty market amounting to $32.4 billion. The site is a search and discovery site that gives consumer alerts of beauty product deals, exclusive offers and ways to discover products.

“Consumers need unbiased info to help them make smarter purchases,” he said while also announcing the partnership it struck with Amazon last week.

Nonnatech presented remote behavioral monitoring using its connected aging devices.

The last presenter was Pillar Rock USA Corp, a nutraceutical company that specializes in the development and distribution of over-the-counter effervescent tablets that fit in water bottles. Its mission is to build high-quality effervescent nutraceutical niche products. Its flagship product is jetRyte, a patent-pending effervescent tablet that is a refreshing change from hard tablets and messy powders.

NY Tech takes a Breather, ShortCut, Stream Web and Fake Girlfriend with Zach Morris

NY Tech meetup audience

NY Tech meetup audience

By Dennis Clemente

If you want to find out about tech startups and be entertained at the same time, there’s nothing like the NY Tech Meetup. The nine to 10 presentations–with hacks-of-the-month specials to boot–are still too many to cover in a span of two hours, but the hosts can be forgiven because they keep things light and playful.

The breezy, relaxed atmosphere can be contagious. Presenters feel at ease onstage, even when the internet connection–not a problem before but has been for the past two meetups—can be scattershot.

It has unruffled some presenters, but Paul Canetti, as one of the presenters last April 1, kept his cool, adlibbing and poking harmless fun on the internet. It helped that his new venture, Stream Web, a smartphone browser for iPhones, was the night’s easy favorite.

Stream Web is a browser specifically made for smartphones. It gets how people use their iPhones, with the search function located at the bottom, instead of the middle of the phone. This makes it convenient for one-hand iPhone users. Yes, Stream Web is only on iOS, for now.

The audience was thrilled to hear from nine startups.

Ny Tech meetup presenters and Adhere Tech's patented bottle

Ny Tech meetup presenters and Adhere Tech’s patented bottle

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Breather offers private rental spaces in New York and Montreal. A question pointed to a malicious reaction, because who knows what you and someone else can do there in a few hours?! Of course, if you have a dormant real estate space, here’s an opportunity to rent out your space.

Adhere Tech was serious in its presentation, as it asked how many times have you forgotten medication you’re supposed to take at the precise time you have to take it? AdhereTech’s patented smart pill bottles can do this now.

How about turning a term of endearment into a crowdsourced knowledge base? Honey.is appeared to have created a more personal Yammer, as it captures and shares conversations and tools you use everyday –text, links, videos, and files of all types but with closing deals, not just social interaction, in mind. Let’s see how that goes for them.

Shufflrr is another app that’s trying to disrupt Powerpoint. It calls itself business social in the sense that you can easily broadcast presentations using social tools.

Everyone already felt so appreciative of the new technologies they were hearing and seeing onstage, but Shortcut, a presenter at AOL just a few months ago, would excite the audience even more. Here’s a question. What if you could control all things happening in your home by voice automation?

That’s Shortcut. You left your lights on, you talk to your phone to turn it off. It’s impressive how it works to make most of your household appliances and electronics stuff at home almost magically turn on with a voice command. However, it’s not alone in this idea; this may become just a race to whoever hits critical mass first.

The last presenter of the night, Kandu, is a tool that lets kids make games and apps without knowing how to or need for code. It’s an “entertainment” tool if you compare it to Scratch. Will it encourage more kids to go to the next level? Learning how to code, that is.

The other presenters included Skillcrush, a place for learning programming languages and WeWork, which announced new co-working spaces for entrepreneurs in New York.

To break the monotony of startup presentations, the NY Tech Meetup has Hacks of the Month. Ricky Robinett’s Fake Girlfriend and Emergency Zach Morris hacks got the crowd laughing. With Fake Girlfriend, he said, you can create a Fake Girlfriend number and equally fake name and then choose to get a pre-recorded call or text message from your virtual girlfriend. For his second hack, he showed how to get your Zach Morris fix. You call 718-395-5255 to hear the voice of the Saved by the Bell star. A voice in the crowd, certainly someone who didn’t grow up in the 80s, asked who?!

This blogger looks forward to the day when NY Tech Meetup gives fewer presentations with more time allotted for startups to talk about their business in more detail, especially how an idea was born, how a product was conceived, how an app was created and how a team was formed. Writers would also be able give these startups fair media coverage–and give Robinett time to explain who Zach Morris is.

VC Teten’s criteria for investing in your startup idea

Handshake? A handstand is better.

Handshake? A handstand is better.

By Dennis Clemente

How do you know if your startup idea is worth pursuing? “If your idea can be stolen just by you speaking about it for 20 minutes, it’s not worth pursuing,” says David Teten of ff, a VC firm with $3.5 million investments. “Have an edge and be able to better execute your idea over someone else in the same space.”

Last March 25, the monthly Startup Grind hosted by Peter Crysdale featured Teten as its guest speaker. Teten said ff invests as early as the napkin stage and as late as the revenue stage. In a convivial mood, he cautions men about how “Seinfeld startups” never work. These are men who think of startups for finding beer and women. “In my time, we always found a way to meet women.” He’s in his late 40s.

Kidding aside, he said he is looking for people with an edge and proof that his or her idea is better than anyone else.

Below is a more comprehensive list of Teten’s/ff’s criteria for investing in a startup:
1. Team. What qualifies you to execute your idea successfully and better than five other companies in your space: Work history, network, and skills are key
2. Demo. Be ready with a demo or at least a mockup.
3. Market. What is the problem, why does it exist, and how big is the opportunity?
4. Solution. Your value proposition—how you solve the problem faster, cheaper, smarter.
5. Business model. How do you make money? Who pays, how much, from where?
6. Customer/user. Who are they and how many. How will you reach/acquire them
7. Competition. Know every competitor and why they aren’t addressing your market adequately. List major competitors; understand their processes, and what your competitive advantage is.
8. Financial overview. What are the expected revenues, expenses and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) three years out? How long will this round’s cash last you?
9. Funding. How much are you raising and how are you going to use the money—to grow a team, to support overhead, to expand. How much have you raised thus far and from whom?
10. Milestones. What is your vision for the future, measured in milestones for the next 3 years? This is crucial, because ff will evaluate your progress against these milestones in board meetings.

Teten could have read this aloud while doing a handstand as he did at the end of his talk. He is a practitioner of parkour, a holistic training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training.

Developing for Google Glass needs to be a pleasant surprise for users

Zach Freedman wit his Nerf gun.

Zach Freedman with his Nerf gun.

By Dennis Clemente

Is everything worth seeing—and developing?

For the main speakers at the Google Glass NYC meetup, “Intro to Developing for Google Glass” last March 20 at the Google offices, the answer was obvious; it was right in front of the audience and on their eyes. It’s the Google Glass they were wearing. It’s what we’ve been hearing about but where many of us have not yet tried or worn, let alone tinkered with (as if we own one).

Allen Firstenberg, the first speaker, asked, “How many of you have visited developers.google.com/glass/develop/gdk?” Firstenberg was described as the very first Google Glass developer outside of Google. Visit his site at http://prisoner.com

“(Google) Glass is different from anything we’ve done before,” he stressed, as he emphasized how it requires a different set of challenges.

To those wearing Google Glasses, he asked, “How long do you stare at it?” “Less than five seconds at a time or a fraction of a second?” That’s about it, which certainly makes our desktop or laptop computer time feel like an eternity.

“(Google Glass) is a micro interaction, a ‘glanceable’ interface,” he said, as he elaborates on how it is meant to be there when you want it and out of the way if you don’t. “If a phone call came on, I would want to be able to glance at it and to ignore it.” Like Google Now.

To elaborate, Firstenberg says designing for Google Glass is about reading people’s minds, anticipating what they want. You don’t want to get a message alert at 3 am about an early bird special. It’s another thing altogether when that same message is delivered to you at the precise moment you’re at the supermarket. “When you need to deliver something, it has to be a pleasant surprise.”

Another example of a pleasant surprise is getting traffic updates or subway delays before you even make that trip. “Keep it relevant. Anticipating what will they see next and deliver it.”
He stressed how important it is to remember that you’re building for people. “Glass is meant for people to live in their world. You are not inviting them to live in yours.”

In a post-Snowden world, is Google Glass going to be a big thorny issue when it scales up? That remains to be seen, although the medical world has found some great uses for it.
Zach Freedman, the next speaker who looked like Robocop with all the gizmos around him, encouraged people to build Bluetooth devices that connect to wearables. “You can design hardware, firmware and Glassware that work together to create unforgettable experiences.”

At the Wearable DevCon in San Francisco recently, Freedman connected a Nerf Longstrike with a videogame-style HUD on Glass—the same Nerf gun he demonstrated at the Google offices.

How to protect your startup’s intellectual property

By Dennis Clemente

You often hear about startup founders saying there’s no way to protect yourself, but what if there was some kind of intellectual property protection you have not explored fully, because you’re used to hearing there is no such thing as protection online. What If you just didn’t bother to ask until it was too late and someone already tweaked your idea and co-opted it?

Last March 20, the Entrepreneur & Small Business Forum hosted a meetup billed “Protect Your Startup’s Intellectual Property” with guest speakers Calvin Chu, managing director of R/GA Accelerator, John Hempill of Sheppard Mullin who talked about copyright and trademark design and Gary Walpert of Byrne Poh LLP who talked about design patents at the Lee Hecht Harrison offices at Met Life at Grand Central Terminal.

In most legal talk about protection, many on the receiving end always find themselves hearing general assumptions, for the reason that the law is specific to one case over another, but Chu pointed out that keeping these three things in mind—copyright, design patents, trademark design—can go a very long way. He calls it “one very good combo.”

For copyright, Chu said you are protected immediately when you’ve expressed design in tangible form (the way Apple has obsessively done so); the advantage here is immediate protection. How does it stack up? It doesn’t protect against independent reverse engineering. And when it comes to raising the infringement issue in this matter—you’ll need to prove that the offender had access and substantial similarity.

With regard to design patents, protection begins when it’s issued. The advantage you get is that it prohibits others to use your design regardless of how they arrived at their own design. Even better, it protects you against independent reverse engineering. How does the infringement work? If the design of the article is similar, you have a case.

As for trademark design, protection begins when it’s used in commerce—and it’s an immediate protection against use of your design as a trademark. You can even chase someone’s trademark if it’s likely to cause confusion (Toys R Us against Adults R US, for instance), to protect yourself.

Having that “combo” helps you protect yourself. Everything else is relative. There’s no one-size fits-all scenario.

NY Tech Meetup audience has app favorites different from the rest

NY Tech Meetup

By Dennis Clemente

With 9 startups presenting at the NY Tech Meetup almost every month, it’s likely one will stand out. But it’s getting harder to tell who is going to make it these days. Last March 4, for instance, some of the more than 600 people at the NY Tech Meetup at Skirball Theater had different favorites with their favorites challenged by the people seated beside them.

Is replacing the QR Code with simple color codes the answer? Peatix from Japan is not saying that but it may be another way of looking at it, the way it is offering color in ticket confirmations. Just raise your phone with the color confirmation in, say, a bar entrance and if it matches the doorman’s color in his tablet or other mobile device, you’re in.

People later said the color could be faked, even with an earlier Peatix assurance or challenge, “You could try?!”

What about turning the tables on dating sites and using it in your search for the perfect team? Collaborizm matches the entrepreneur and creative minded based on aspects of team building psychology, personality type, and collaborative interests. Not all friends are created like-minded; you need a team up to build and ideate together.

Since we’re in New York, how about solving the perennial problem of finding apartments?

If you’ve seen the movie When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal talks about how people check the Obituaries to find which apartment will hit the market. It’s a morbid thought played for laughs back then. You never know if people watching it this time will think how it makes perfect sense. We don’t know for sure if RentHackr is doing that, but it connects with the best apartments before they hit the market. Call it stalking an apartment.

With 9 startups and almost no technical hiccup for many months now, the NY Tech Meetup may have been due for one when the Wi-Fi failed on two other presenters—ScoreSync and Ziggeo but the presenters and the audience laughed it off; it relaxed the crowd.

ScoreSync is a collaborative digital sheet music that aims to revolutionize music education, rehearsal, and creation. It was one Brit guy’s favorite and why not? Wouldn’t it be cool if people from different parts of the world composed great music together?

And if it will help musicians create, ScoreSnyc could use Ziggeo‘s API. It’s video recording and playback (just 2 lines of code). You can add videos to user profiles, feature video comments and message, or come up with new uses of video.

Ziggeo could also work then with Shodogg. The latter offers a patented technology that connects digital content to any number of web-enabled screens in the world.

Other ways of connecting was presented by Sense Health, an organization tool that helps health professionals connect with their clients and Verbalizeit, a translation platform with thousands of translators on call anytime.

Media VCs have their say on 5 startups

Win Global Innovator

By Dennis Clemente

Last February 27, WIN (Worldwide Investor Network) hosted Global Innovator featuring five presenters—Hyperactivate, TripTease, Mommy Coach, $Social and 365Scores—to panelists that included media VCs at 1221 Avenue of the Americas.

What is interesting is how the panelists included two media VCs–Cyna Alderman, managing director of Daily News Innovation Lab and Scott Levine, managing director of Time Warner Ventures. The two other VCs were John Elton, partner of Greycroft Partners and Ross Goldstein, managing director of /gothamvc.com/”>Gotham Ventures. Goldstein was voted best judge of the night.

Hyperactivate offers a turnkey solution that amplifies your brand messages across multiple channels, while $Social figures out the how to monetize “celebrities” social media engagement.

Lastly, 365Scores chooses your favorite team and leagues for you to create a Sports Channel.
MommyCoach connects you to live experts for parenting advice. TripTease, on the other hand, relies on you to be the expert in sharing your travel stories online.

Hyperactivate’s March Fischman likes to point how his startup solves the accountability problem all marketers face when attempting to quantify ROI on any company’s social media investment with its “active management platform” or dashboard.

“Clients don’t know what success is,” said Fischman who thinks he can determine social media success for its business. To scale his business and add new features, he is seeking $3 million.

Triptease’s Charlie Osmond, a presenter at The Hatchery last February 20, says his startup is like a “digital postcard.” You upload or link a photo from a gallery and give your review. He also calls it “photo review” or “user-generated travel magazine.”

Osmond, who was at the Hatchery a week ago, won over the crowd again for his presentation skills, with one panel remarking how it helps to have a British accent, like what another VC said at The Hatchery meetup.

“Hotels love it (Triptease),” he said. “We are connecting inspiration and bookings.”
Osmond said he has signed up 10 hotels, integrating Triptease with the hotel management system in the process.

It may not be so unusual for Osmond to get such high marks from the previous panels he has pitched to as the global travel market is worth $750 billion, with the luxury and hip travel industry amounting to 475 billion. He is raising $1.5 million in mid-year.

Is offering classes and advice for moms a viable online business?

Christophe Garnier, CEO of Mommy Coach, likes to think there is room for him with 90 million moms in the world. It helps if you put a number around its worth: $7 billion.

The Frenchman claims to have 1,000 experts but to keep things under control, he narrowed down his expert mom experts to 250. “It’s like Airbnb (for moms),” he said. “We don’t have doctors but our experts have parenting licenses.”

Having raised $600,000, he is looking to raise $150,000 more to reach his target f $750,000 in convertible note. “I will use some of the funds for market development.”

$Social’s CEO and co-founder Gil Eyal drew chuckles when he said celebrities need our help. He offers a way for high-profile social media users to monetize their online presence. Guy Tamir is CTO and co-founder.

To monetize their idea, they are looking share revenue with celebrities initially before it sets the stage for major brand partnerships in the second phase of its business. Both of the founders are looking to raise $1 million.

For the sports enthusiasts, 365Scores offers your own Sports Channel. It reportedly gathers sports information from hundreds of sources. The site then analyzes and organizes the data according to user preference and delivers the data to users with real-time push notifications.

The presence of two media personalities in the panel shows how most media outlets these days are looking for collaborative opportunities with startups

As befits the meetup, Goldstein pointed out how its firm has 10 countries represented in its portfolio. Gotham Ventures focus on adtech and e-commerce, among others.

Levin is looking to invest in startups that afford financial return and strategic partnership with cutting-edge media platforms. “Series B is a sweet spot,” he said.

Jeff Pulver talks about Zula, Vonage and his life less than 80 pounds

Jeff Pulver with Brian Park

Jeff Pulver with Brian Park

By Dennis Clemente

“I don’t want to hear about What’s App,” said Jeff Pulver, the Vonage co-founder considered a pioneer in VoIP telephony. Pulver was at the Startup Grind at AOL last February 19 to present his latest venture, Zula. What’s App was acquired by Facebook for $19 bilion this week.

People heeded his plea. Besides, the comparisons have to stop sometime soon. Its site has this to say: Whatsapp focuses on social interaction, while Zula provides a central stream of conversation that gives users access to shared files, shared events, polling and one-touch group calling.

The talk was beyond Zula, it was about Pulver who didn’t mind talking freely and openly about his early years, Vonage and his successful weight loss of some 80 or so pounds. He is now 51.

On how he discovered VoIP (voice-over internet protocol): “I was very lonely growing up,” said Pulver who grew up in Kings Point, New York. “I didn’t have any friends.” The word “lonely” escaped his mouth more than five times, but he didn’t mind talking about the past he remembers fondly.

Not having any strong connection with the people around him, Pulver communicated with people using ham radio when he was very young. He earned his license by the time he turned 12. “I listened, connected, shared and engaged with them. “I never met them, but I knew their personality.”

He recounts how he made his family miserable with his obsession over ham radio, even on vacations. “When we were in Barbados, I was on the radio eight(sic) straight days.” In his teen years, he turned to disc jockeying to be able to get close to the girls.

Pulver was always trying to earn extra money. He created a consulting company at 16, even set up 3 companies along the way. Because he was earning so much money, “college didn’t matter.” But he became a “trained accountant.”

In figuring out VoIP, he knew back then he could make use of two modems–one for dial-up internet; one for telephony. In 1995, he launched Free World Dial-up, the first international voice calling. That lay the groundwork four Min-X which became Vonage in 2001.

“Getting fired saved my life,” he said. Today, Pulver describes himself as a futurist, serial entrepreneur and long-time evangelist for VoIP technologies. He founded the VON Coaltion in 1996 which helped keep VoIP unregulated in America for 9 years and paved the way for Skype and Google Voice.

On how Zula will gain more acceptance, he recounts how in presentations, he see how people can get online faster than him setting up the projector. “Independence from my laptop is everything.”

On how to solve the high cost of phone plans nowadays, he said, “We need more competition.”
On how he lost weight more than 80 pounds, he said it was important for him to avoid wheat and sugar, which he said has given him more energy and made him more productive. Before when people told him to exercise, he would say, “Exercise judgment.”

Now he exercises regularly. He said it’s important for him to point this out to everyone, because he thinks it affects how we can all work more effectively.

Brian Park hosted the talk.

Reporting New York's startups and personalities