With HBO in the news, NY Video meetup holds one of its best demo nights

Jesse Glasse

Jesse Glasse

By Dennis Clemente

The NY Video meetup had one of its best demo nights last October 16 with Steve Rosenbaum keeping things interesting with his usual side commentary on the latest in the video world. If you missed the news this week, HBO plans to bring its programming to Internet users via a Netflix-style streaming service.

“HBO versus Netflix? Is this good for us?” he asked. He thinks if you have no cable and you subscribe to both plus Hulu, you may end up paying the same amount you paid on cable. That’s certainly something to chew on as he announced the presenters of the night at AOL—SundaySky with SmartVideo, OCHO, Joey and Mediabreaker.

Max Stossel, along with Jerilyn Stone, dared the audience to imagine what YouTube would look if it were made today. It’s a social network that makes videos better in 8 seconds thus the name Ocho. Now available in the App Store and coming soon to Android, it has an interesting story.

The founders got funding from Mark Cuban when they emailed him on Cyber Dust. If you know how the app works (hint: the name says it all), that was a small window of opportunity for Ocho. Good thing Cuban got to it before their message disappeared.

Next presenter was Rachel Eisenhauer who talked about SmartVideo and how to help brands tell compelling stories that matter to the consumer.

The videos are personalized to the individual viewer. “It’s created for you, not by you,” she stressed. “Everything we create is from scratch.”

“We work with insurance companies and health companies using inputs from data analysts and the creative team,” she added.

DC Vito presented Mediabreaker next, showing how its product remixes YouTube videos—as a commentary and critiquing tool. He stressed how important it was to read the terms of service in this matter, because of the risks it is taking. It would own all the videos submitted, because it was willing to take the hit if the videos were challenged under Fair Use, a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders.

Last presenter was Jess Glasse. He talked about Joey (to be renamed to avoid similar name owned by a cable TV company) his professional grade panoramic 360-degree camera that allows capture, broadcast and live two-way conferencing at up to 4K resolution. It was on Kickstarter until Thursday night, surpassing its funding goal. It could just be the next camera sensation.

Code for America summit recaps presented at BetaNYC

betanyc photo

By Dennis Clemente

BetaNYC recapped some of the best presentations from last month’s Code for America summit (CfA) last October 15 at Microsoft Civic in midtown Manhattan. The CfA summit is an annual gathering of smart government and civic technology practitioners.

Setting the civic tone of the night was Peter Shanley who asked the civic innovators in the audience to leverage people power in their respective projects. “Technology is not the answer. For issues of poverty, there’s not an app for that.”

Some presentations included Vasudha Reddy’s project on how to use social media to identify unreported complaints and outbreaks of food-borne illnesses in New York City.

Reddy said New York City has 24,000 restaurants and 15 food retailers with 2 out 3 New Yorkers eating out at least once a week. It receives 3,000 complains via the NYC complaint line.

While investigating an outbreak, noted illness complaints were posted on Yelp, but not on hotline 311. This resulted in a collaborative effort with Yelp in terms of extracting keywords, detecting temporal statements and multiple illness reports. Further studies would include Twitter.

David Moore talked about how to keep tabs on your local city council with Councilmatic, now in Chicago and Philadelphia and soon in New York. It quickly informs you about a city council’s actions.

Matt Hampel talked about Transitmix, a simple transit sketching tool for transit agencies and urban planners or armchair planners. It allows you to better design transit routes and pin down the cost of running a bus line in chosen routes. Rail line designs should be in the offing soon.

Randy Meech and Mike Cunningham talked how their company Mapzen provides the back-end work for Transitmix. “As you drag the routes, we’re running it on our servers. We have geocoding vector rendering.”

A Detroit Water Project was also presented as a successful case. It’s about matching people in Detroit to 8,000 + donors for direct water bill help. Over 300,000 Detroit residents face water shutoff due to past due water bills exacerbated by Detroit’s ongoing economic woes. It has raised $575,000 from 8,200 donors.

Since 2009, BetaNYC has been the civic technology and open government vanguard. It has worked with elected officials to engage NYC’s technology community as well as help pass transformative open government legislation, and have supported NYC’s civic oriented startups. BetaNYC’s network of civic-minded volunteers contributes their skills toward digital platforms for local government and community service.

Mobile apps need to reduce burden in health systems

cohere photo

By Dennis Clemente

“Reduce the burden.”

That was Frederick Muench’s call to technologists last October 14 at the NY Mobile meetup at Microsoft. “Reduce steps 3 to 1 if possible.”

It’s not common someone from the Health Interventions at North Shore Health System’s psychiatry department talk about how important user-experience design is for health systems.

It’s clearly a good point in the medical field where life-and-death situations hang over the air.

He cited how text messaging, being inherently social, also reduces the burden for people. It is indeed fast.

Still, the technology that carries text and other innovations has not yet solved the lifespan of batteries.

Muench’s introductory talk on the challenges facing health systems was followed by demos from those in the health space — Cohere Health, Addicaid, SIPPA and Care + Wear.

Clay Williams, co-founder of Cohere Health, talked about how his startup is helping people with chronic diseases understand their condition, take action to improve their health, and engage more fully with those who support them in their treatment and care.

Celiac disease is one of the most-talked about issue these days compared to other diseases. Williams think it’s because “(people) feel ignored.”

An app called Celiacare will be launched in a few weeks which will also include a meal management system.
The next presenter, Addicaid, is clearly a marketplace app that helps addicts find each other on meetups.

Addicaid cites that in the U.S. there are over 23.4 million active addicts, particularly alcoholics and worldwide, 200 million. However, less than 10 percent reportedly receive treatment and to make matters worse, less than 5 percent stay in recovery.

Addicaid hopes that its app can be the go-to for addicts looking for a support network easily on its app. While it is currently building a prototype, it has reportedly signed up over 10,000 users in New York.

The two other presenters were SIPPA and Care+Wear.

SIPPA is a “patient-centric” software that aggregates health information into one secure system, controlled and managed by the patient.

It is trying to solve fragmented health records everywhere by facilitating the consolidation of health records.
Care+Wear is working with hospitals to create products that improve the quality of life of patients who are undergoing long-term medical treatments. It showed its newly launched Band which is being mass-produced in China.

The meetup was hosted by Amanda Moskowitz.

New Inbox texting app brings privacy back

During the TechWeek conference in New York, held from September 29 to October 5, the makers of the Inbox Sync Engine introduced a new mobile messaging app called Inbox Messenger.

Inbox Messenger features the ability to “un-send texts” and covers your screen texts to give you privacy. The latter is done just by shaking your smartphone.

Click to read more
http://www.rappler.com/technology/news/71423-inbox-messenger-app-privacy

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Powerfelt claims it can power portable devices like the iPhone

uls-ener

By Dennis Clemente

International ThermoDyne’s Powerfelt bagged the most votes at the Ultra Light Startup presentation of eight energy startups that presented last October 9 at Microsoft, as it claimed to answer the ever-increasing need for clean power, especially in portable devices.

“Powerfelt is a thin material that harvests heat and motion and converts energy into useable electricity,” Paul Solitario said. “You can use it to charge your iPhone.”

The other startup presenters were Shailendra Suman of SmartCharge, Burt Hamner of Titan Ocean Energy; Jason Force of E-Mow; Ariel Fan of Grid Symphony; Raj Lakhiani of Athena Power; Graham Smith of Open Energy Group and John Jabara of Savenia Home Ratings.

The panelists who gave their critique and feedback were John Freer, manager of External Technology Initiatives at GE Global Research; Dave Kirkpatrick, managing director of SJF Ventures; William Lese, managing director of Braemar Energy Ventures and Willem Rensink – GameChanger of Shell.
ThermoDyne’s prospective customers for Powerfelt cut across various industries– mobile electronics, construction, transportation, textiles, government.

Asked if it could narrow down its intended market, Solitario said they could focus on remote sensors as it offers portable “electricity” anytime anywhere without batteries or the grid. “We have no moving parts.”

Investor’s advice to Solitario: Focus (on a specific market); find where the material can be unique; find an application where it’s available; understand how product competes in the landscape; study lifespan with a device.

Suman of SmartCharge was also one of crowd favorites. His successful Kickstarter campaign launched the world’s first LED light bulb that you can turn on or off from the same wall switch even during a power outage. It provides four hours of continued use. Battery is reportedly 300 cycles. When using the light bulb normally, it will reportedly last for three years.

The panel was impressed to hear that SmartCharge is selling already at $34.95. It started shipping 5,000 units in 32 countries last month with 100,000 units of soft orders. His gross margin is 20 percent of cost.

Suman hopes to target homes owners, small businesses, the direct online sales sector as well as wholesale to big box retailers such as Amazon.com, Duke Energy, Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Investors’ advice to Suman: Work on IP; introduce more product(s); look for other distribution channels to accelerate the business; find out where it goes on store shelves; and figure out positioning of the product.

Titan Ocean Energy’s Hanner presented the mobile platform for office offshore wind power and drinking water production already installed in Sweden. A panelist said, “You’re on the right track in Europe.”

Globally patented, the mobile jack-up platform reportedly supports 6MW + offshore wind turbines and met towers ad desalination systems.

Investors’ advice to Hanner: Make sure you’re protected; Target corporations; repurpose existing rig; keep it light; laser-focus on costs

E-Mow came next with Jason Force talking about its self-powered drone bioenergy harvester which creates renewable grass fuel pellets at low cost. It seeks revenue from pelleted agricultural products.

“It will be a significant cost reduction again existing methods,” Force said who’s looking forward to it as a build-and-operate model.

Prototype challenges for him would be the maintenance of this self-powered technology

Investors’ advice to Force: Work with a big player like John Deere so you can market faster; powering it by biogas is not the best way to go about it; look at all the pieces you want to integrate; and determine MVP, being a relatively complex engineering system.

Ariel Fan presented Grid Symphony, an intelligent brain for the electric grid to prevent utilities and priority clients from power meltdowns like Hurricane Sandy. It emerged from Columbia University’s machine learning lab.
“It’s not an emergency product. We want to create an optmization product,” she said.

Utilities are targeted customers but right now, it is looking at system integrators. The distribution strategy aimed at selling directly to enterprise smart/medium customers.

Investors’ advice to Fan: Survey how many people will use it; think how this business scales; test in some places like Hawaii to get customer exposure before scaling; work with system integrators, because they see everything; make sure you have a partner; explore idea in business model canvas.

Athena Power has developed a self-powered wireless fault sensor for underground distribution networks. It is hard to find faults, but Lakhiani is confident about its startup based on its four-year engine and his experience.
Still, he thinks it’s better if Athena works with utilities. “Underground (networks) are tricky.”

Investors’ advice to Lakhiani: Know the sensor market to make sure you get plenty of pilots; score early with Exelon as a demonstrable result; (recognize) it’s a timely product to bring to electric utility to the world; (think of it as a) unique entry point to get data

The last two presenters were Smith of Open Energy Group and Jabara of Savenia Home Ratings.
The former is an online marketplace for renewable energy investments.

“We offer accredited investors direct access to higher return, lower risk, fixed income products by directly funding the construction and operation of commercial renewable energy power projects in the States,” he said. This includes solar projects.

Investors’ advice to Smith: Make loans that banks don’t give; look for a partner when it’s time to add deep pockets, focus on residential (market)

Savenia Home Ratings helps home sellers unlock the value of home efficiency upgrades to differentiate, sell faster and capture more value.

“Energy auditors focus on the negative. We focus on the positive,” Jabara said. “We’re CARFAX for home efficiency.”
Asked if it has a method, he said the company validates the rating through documentation. “Customers do most of the work; we check (the work).”

Investors’ advice to Jabara: The platform can be bigger, think of other groups doing the rating; and get accurate data from third-party source.

This time, Graham Lawlor of Ultra Light Startup hosted the meetup with Tim Hoffman of Cleantech Open.

David Tisch talks about his Spring e-commerce app, startups’ key to success

david tisch

By Dennis Clemente

Last October 8, Orrick hosted a fireside chat with David Tisch, former managing director of TechStars NY, co-founder of BoxGroup and startup investor at the WeWork offices in Soho West.

The chat centered on his new Instagram-like mobile e-commerce startup Spring where he sits as chair, and his former role as managing director of TechStars.

Spring was funded under Series A by Thrive Capital, Groupe Arnault and Box Group. Other investors included Founder Collective, Google Ventures, SV Angel, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

“We believe buying things should be simple,” a listing for Spring on AngelList says. “We are on a mission to build a platform that connects the people who make products directly with consumers who love them.”

Available only on iOS, Spring aims to make the best experience for buying things on your phone or tablet.
Tisch co-founded Spring with his brother Alan Tisch, Ara Katz, and former Googler Octavian Costache with talents from Bergdorf Goodman, Cannon Tekstar Hodge and former fashion director of ShopBop, Kate Ciepluch. The other team members came from Fab, Beachmint, Google, Foursquare, Ralph Lauren, and DVF.

“We launched our company with 32 staff. That’s insane. But each startup is different,” he admitted.

Tisch was quite candid in the chat which was unfortunately marred throughout by a dysfunctional microphone, obscuring some key points. Still, we managed to hear some gems for startups:

RESEARCH
On day one of your startup, do research. The best companies take a lot of time with their idea and research before they start building

MARKET
Have a real understanding of the market

COMPETITION
If you have a similar startup with another and you don’t have the culture (in place), you lost already

SECRET SAUCE
Ask yourself why you are the best person for an idea
The most important for a startup to have—leadership; (it’s crucial) if you can convince people to join you
Those who are ready will be able to accelerate
A startup is rebellious by nature yet so many founders spend a lot of time conforming

OUTSOURCING
You can’t outsource if it requires local discovery and it’s one of the differentiators

DEALING WITH INVESTORS
Food is a great leveler when talking to investors
Build real relationships that will last years; find 5 people not 150 people, and not because they are on a list
They are (investors) not going to take you if you are not ready

FUNDING
We (investors) look at those who have built stuff before. We have to see something, especially (one that matches) your background
You can get money from banks with no equity
When do you need to ask money? If you need to accelerate faster. Money is fuel
How much money do you need? Based it on your milestones
We (investors) don’t even need to see the idea; we don’t even need to see the product—(we look at) the team and the market, because they are easier to identify
Your Idea must match startups with investors

GROWTH SECTORS
Healthcare and automotive sectors will grow

CONTENT
Create your own story. Engagement is key

SUCCESS OF SPRING
As an entrepreneur, he is confident it will succeed but there’s always “my awkward Jewish nervous self.”

Editonthefly is crowd-pleaser at NY Tech Meetup

nytm photo-oct6

By Dennis Clemente

How can you tell if your startup is going to be the crowd-pleaser at the NY Tech Meetup? Every month, almost like clockwork, the last presenter gets the most applause. Of course, it doesn’t mean your startup is the best or the most promising among all the usual nine startup demonstrations.

Last October 6, Fly Labs presented last but came first on top of people’s minds at the after party, as people talked about its iPhone app Editonthefly, which lived up to its name as a fast way to edit videos, literally on the fly. It’s only available on the iPhone (not available on Android yet), because the team focused on “perfecting” its cool features.

The demo showed how it keeps cuts interesting. Each cut stimulates the viewer with a change of perspective or a change of scenery. You just tap to cut. For dissolves, you make the videos dreamy, nostalgic or magical just by swiping. By tapping two videos at once, you get a split screen that allows you to compare them. You can add music and voiceover, too.

The other presenters were Emozia, which is developing technology that enables machines and software to understand and respond to human emotion. It can reportedly tell which “zipcode is really feeling (something).”

Still want another dating app? There’s Glimpse. It matches you with another person via your Instagram photos. Yes, photos, not likes or dislikes but just photos.

“Have you used the product personally?” a woman asked, which prompted a crowd-pleaser of a response, “I use it all the time.”

KuaiBoard turns your keyboard into your clipboard as you type text quicker.

Mondevices introduced Monbaby for monitoring babies. It’s a wearable baby monitor in a smart button that tracks your child’s breathing, movement and sleep patterns on an iPhone/Android app.

This could actually work for everyone, not just babies.

Two other presenters were Partake, which claims to be the easiest way for couples to share expenses as well as PowerToFly, a social platform that connects women in tech to great jobs at high-growth companies.

The latter’s mission is to give women more jobs. The site has a staff of 22 remote locations in 7 countries for faster work cycle.

Shyp, for its part, claims it is the easiest way to send anything, anywhere. It can reportedly lower your shipping cost, because it has a machine that allows packaging items to the precise size of the item. It delivers around Manhattan up to 96th St and in Brooklyn. What? No Queens again.

That same night, IBM selected the Scaffold to compete against other startups.

The site aims to help you discover your leadership style. You take a short quiz and a virtual coach generates customized insights and suggestion how you can become a great leader. Its virtual coach will also send personalized advice, weekly tips and helpful resources to guide you.

A background in organizational psychology helped the team answer questions about the site’s legitimacy.

The hack of the month came from Yin Aphinyanaphongs who showed the results of alcohol intake using Twitter for a specific period of time. It’s not scientific but it clearly showed some interesting insights that can help in terms of monitoring policy changes and the behavioral effect of alcohol.

Yin’s study considered the text categorization, labeled tweets and learning algorithm. His next step is to prove his study over time periods, especially on weekends. Yin wrote about 400 lines of code using R and Python.

Vognition, SAM Labs and Make!Sense lower barrier to IoTs

IOT photo

By Dennis Clemente

It seems simple enough. How do we connect to this 7.1-trillion Internet of Things (IoTs) market by 2020? Having our voice work for it is a good start, for sure, especially when the world will have 50 billion devices by then.

That’s what What Are Minds For, Inc. (WRM4) and its natural voice control platform Vognition hopes people will do. Last October 2, WRM4 presented along with SAM Labs and Make!Sense at the Internet of Things meetup at Pivotal Labs’ offices in midtown Manhattan.

Michael Liguori talked about how Vognition is cutting its teeth into IoTs, consumer electronics and other remote connected devices and services. “We integrate our solution into our customer’s apps by adding the microphone button into it such as home automation, security, transportation and data manipulation,” he said. In layman’s terms, these could be greenhouses, cars, food orders, entertainment, even videogames.

Liguori showed how it can control your thermostat by having Siri accept his request to lower and increase room temperature.

The platform reportedly allows industry voice engines (such as Nuance) to operate a wide range of connected devices. Developers through a series of API’s can control devices without building complex applications, as they currently do now, for each device.

“We have built and refined it for over 4 years,” he said.

Alon Sicherman of Sam Labs presented next. The London based startup, which recently joined the Microsoft Ventures UK Accelerator program, has created a pioneering Development Kit that lowers the barriers of entry into the Internet of Everything market.

Sicherman showed how anyone, even students, can connect everyday objects to the Internet using SAM.

“We are opening IoTs to everyone,” he said. “You don’t have to be a genius. There’s no coding necessary. Your idea becomes a product in minutes.”

SAM carries a modular library of sensors or sensor actor modules, including a button, slider, pressure, tilt and proximity.

How does Sam work? There’s an all-in-one package to connect to IoTs using Bluetooth. One can just drag and drop modules.

“There are no compiling and predefined relations. Custom code is in java script,” he said. It is also Preloaded with social media and IoT APIs.

Last presenter was Stephen Lewis of Make!Sense, It’s an easy-to-use platform for making learning fun and interactive. It’s a universal interface system that allows you to quickly and easily connect different types of sensors to your computer or smartphone.

You can use Make!Sense to observe movement, moisture, light, temperature, even your own heartbeat! If you’re curious about it, you can probably Make!Sense of it.

Science writer Steven Johnson talks about ‘How We Got to Now’

steven johnson

By Dennis Clemente

Steven Johnson, author of “How We Got To Now: Six Innovations That Made The Modern World,” likes to tell little-known success stories, sometimes or precisely because they are overshadowed by other bigger inventions or innovation and because people thought little of their connection with each other.

At the Huge UX meetup last September 30, for instance, the bestselling science writer cited the printing press as an example of how it was also connected to other inventions. When the printing press produced books, it also revealed human farsightedness that gave rise to lens-making for eyeglasses and later the telescope and microscope.

“People didn’t know they were farsighted until they read from a print that was too small to read. The discovery of the printing press created a demand for spectacles,” he said.

Johnson’s talk was about his book and his new PBS series this October about the history of technology and how gaining such historical perspective can certainly help us derive insights from it, especially in today’s startup world.

Johnson told one story after another from his latest book. Another interesting story was from an interesting man called Clarence Birdseye who got the idea for flash-freezing from ice-fishing. He discovered eating fish frozen after a days to be edible. Where most of us would just sleep after eating, he bothered to ask why the fish tasted good. He would follow little trails (in his mind), experimenting with other food, even vegetable, before coming up with an industrial product that made refrigeration possible.

“(Birdseye) was just curious (even if he had) no clearly defined path,” he said, as most of his examples confirmed. The other key points in Johnson’s talk included the following, paraphrasing here:

• We are in a complicated dance with innovation. We’re led by what technology is allowing us to do. It has flexibility
• When you are trying to get genuinely new ideas and pushing the envelope, you can have these crucial blind spots, because you are working at the edges of possibilities.
• Conscious of patent protection will only make you build walls within yourself
• Focus is not a big deal to him. You want to be a little distracted
• Invention overlaps with innovation but it’s almost the same thing
• When you are pushing the envelope, you get extraordinary insights.
• Don’t assume that technology has its own deterministic logic
• Ideas become imaginable at a certain point in time

Johnson is also the author of “Where Good Ideas Come From” and “Everything Bad is Good for You.” He is one of the foremost experts on the intersection between science, technology and personal experience. He recently gave a presentation at TED Talks.

Numberfire predicts sports winners through its analytics

By Dennis Clemente

Who wants to be a millionaire? Nik Bonaddio did when he won $100,000 on the TV game show and launched Numberfire. That’s the way to get funded without going the VC route.

It’s a great story that Numberfire COO Adam Kaplan liked telling his audience last September 29 at the New York Sports Tech Meetup sponsored by GameChanger in downtown Manhattan. He also took the opportunity to announce the release of its app.

Numberfire has since been working with the likes of ESPN and FIFA, providing unstructured data and leveraging mathematical modeling to mine it for insight that predicts players and team performance.

It’s a long way from ex-jocks giving their own forecasts.

“It’s not based on emotion. It’s quantitative and based on rigorous mathematical modeling. Calculated and delivered on demand,” Kaplan said.

How does it all work? He said Numberfire ingests live data and regression modeling.

An analogy that Bonaddio likes to use from his past interviews is the common cold. You know when you’re going to get a cold. In sports, it can be the same way.

The data Numberfire uses to make projections is reportedly of public record.

Today, Numberfire offers analytics for the NFL, NBA and other sports organizations like the FIFA World Cup where it also leveraged its analytic capabilities in real time.

Numberfire’s monetization model is based on subscription content services and native display ads in various devices.

“We turn analytics into multiplatform products that deliver engagement, revenue and positive user experiences,” he said.

The meetup was also co-organized by Stainless Code. It uses advanced semantic technology to allow easy integration of their metadata logging tools in real-time video workflows. Current clients include Major League Baseball and Turner Sports.

Sponsors of the meetup were GameChanger and SportsData. GameChanger provides scorekeeping, stats, live GameStream and recap stories for thousands of amateur teams. SportsData, subsidiary of Sportradar, provides real-time scores, stats, play-by-by, and other sports info for 40+ sports, 800+ leagues, and 200,000+ events.

Reporting New York's startups and personalities