NY Expo: Where traditional meets online businesses

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–The NY Expo Business Conference held last October 27 at the Javits Center packs in hundreds of startups, not necessarily all online-based companies or early startups. Touted  as the largest New York business conference event, it has exhibitions, seminars and free business consultations for an audience that’s not entirely from the city either.

http://www.newyorkbusinessexpo.com/

Most of the online companies here are established ones like ConstantContact, InfusionSoft, LikableLocal, Linkedin, Number Analytics, Socialfix, Yelp and a few others.

It’s unusual that most of tech startups in New York don’t go to this event, though, even just to observe or network, because it does pack in hundreds of people and some of them from out of town who are looking to see what New York has to offer. Interesting to note is how is one booth, hidden from view, is the US Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center dispensing advice on how you can take your business to the world. That’s not too common a sight in this type of events.

Nearly 30 seminars were conducted with topics that were more designed for those learning more about the online space, with basic coverage on digital marketing plans and how to succeed with social advertising for business. Attendees gravitated to the sales seminars.

At Socialfix’s own seminar on how to optimize your site for search, lead generation and conversions, founder Terry Tateossian pointed out a couple of things one should know and that is how to speak the right language in this space, whether one is personalizing the message or using a multi-channel strategy or developing content.  

There are clearly several ways to convert prospects into clients and she suggested a host of things — producing forms, creating targeted landing pages, stressing the importance of calls to actions, taking care of contacts, doing drip campaigns and consistent nurturing. “Lather, rinse and repeat,” as she likes to call it.

If you wanted to get answers for your business, SCORE had a battery of experts giving one-on-one business counseling on marketing, internet and e-commerce, accounting and tax,  legal, retail & wholesale, non-profits, new business & startups and finance.

They keynote speakers were Jeffrey Hayzlett, author of the Rewards of Being Relentless as well as Bill Walsh, a recognized small business expert.

AngelCube presenters offer cold call, sit-stand workstation solutions

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK- Last October 14,  AngelCube held a NYC Demo Day at WeWork in SoHo. In classic WeWork fashion, it took less than a minute for us to be reminded that there was beer on tap (In addition to a cheese plate and an array of mini-burgers). WeWork’s creative space had a foosball table, a kitchenette disguised as a bar, and hanging light bulbs with exposed filament.   

AngelCube is a mentor-driven startup accelerator which has invested in over 30 companies in Australia. It provides $40k in seed money, office space, and hands-on coaching and a major network (which includes drawing crowds to events in New York) for 8% equity. All he thick Australian accents made the 6-train to Spring Street feel more like a transcontinental flight.

The event started promptly at 7 pm despite some apparent technical difficulties with the projector. AngelCube designed the presentation to introduce entrepreneurs with investors. It was like  watching ABC’s Sharktank sans the drama. Over half a dozen investors attended, asking questions like Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran.

Sweethawk presented first. It offers subscription service which enables a company to more effectively target people via cold calls. Its research shows that a voice interaction increases the likelihood of a sale by 18%. Seahawk did not ask for an investment.

Next up Cam McGrane presented Jack.io. Jack.io has keyed into two major trends in contemporary office space. First, the sit/stand workstation is becoming more popular as office spaces become less traditional. Second, people want everything to be “smart.” Its product, costing just under $200 in addition to a monthly subscription service, measures how much time you spend standing vs sitting. Jack.io also measures how much time you spend away from your desk.

During the Q & A, an investor asked the question we were all wondering: what kind of ROI can a company get from this? He made a promising sell for the sit/stand workstation (it increases health and efficiency), but its product relies heavily on the Hawthorne effect; that observation changes behavior. He claimed that people stand more and switch between sitting and standing seven more times when they are being observed. It is asking for a $500k investment.

Ryan King presented Coin Craft, a cash flow & workforce planning platform, is targeted at architecture firms. King is asking $750k for a 20% equity investment. Coincraft “automatically updates, allowing you to achieve the highest possible profit margins.” It was hard to understand the problem he was solving and why his product was better than anything else on the market.

Curve Up presented next and seeks to measure PR results. Co-founder Rojand Noroozi presented. He claims that it is the only company in this field that measures ROI. Etsy Australia is one of its first companies. It hopes  to have 100 clients by the end of the year.

Last we heard from was Kylie Long of Peer Academy. Peer Academy “teaches soft skills and in person communication.” It is  similar to General Assembly, but the focus is more on presentation, and handling investors and just other learners rather than hard skills. It is asking $1.2M to launch in New York and Sydney.

Any takers? Microsoft Ventures Accelerator dangles no-equity 500K funding

NEW YORK–What is the real reason why Microsoft Ventures Accelerator can choose to fund your startup for $500,000 without equity? Not only that, you get work in its Seattle office and have what graduates say are great meals as you work on your startup there.

https://www.microsoftventures.com/events/entry/MachineLearningAcceleratorOpenHouse-NY%7C171

Microsoft’s goal is to help startups foster exciting new ideas by providing mentorship, $500,000 of Azure Credit, access to the Microsoft distribution channel, without taking equity. About 80 percent of the startups that have graduated from its accelerators have received an average funding of $1.9M (USD) within a year from graduation. About 16 startups have reportedly also had exits with some of the top companies in the industry.

At the meetup last October 21 at the NYU Stern Building, host Tim Enger was circumspect and about the intentions of Microsoft—and it just made sense. “What do we get out of it?  You use Azure. Then it becomes a business for us,” he said.

Microsoft is hoping that the startups they fund will use Azure, its open, flexible, enterprise-grade cloud computing platform, but in no way, he stressed, is Microsoft forcing people to use any of its software. It’s an investment the company thinks is worth the money they fund companies.

At what stage should your startup be to apply for funding? It turns out you must gained some traction already. However, Enger preferred the guests talked to him personally after the meetup to discuss their startup. There were also several decision makers from the Microsoft Ventures team at the meetup as well as the Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Product Group.

It was a night where information was not presented, even basic information like deadlines, if you didn’t ask the Microsoft team. Deadline for applications is November 20. Most of the questions asked revolved around the requirement for startups seeking funding. You must be in the machine learning and big data space. Enger said on Jury Selection Day, there could be 20 to 30 external investors, 5 senior level execs, and 14 companies involved.

Microsoft is working with startups these days because its CEO Satya Nadella believes “all growth comes because of startups.”

Enger even emphasized how on average more than one $1B-worth companies are born every month, with 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies planning on a big data initiatives in the next year. “More than 200 billionaires were created last year,” he said.

Two of its graduates presented, Outleads and Openhour.  Outleads tracks when a web visitor calls or submits a form on your site. What’s interesting about is what it claims it can make your ad work by getting your data on salesforce and/from call center activities, among others.

Both startups recounted their experience and why they chose Microsoft. “It’s the clients they bring to your door, the relationships.”

Pager is Tinder for doctors

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–“It’s Tinder for doctors,” says Toby Hervey about his on-demand house-call doctors app. He was one of the presenters that included Ulula, Kiddo App and Domain Skate last October 20 at the NY Tech Breakfast at Microsoft.

http://www.meetup.com/NYC-TechBreakfast/events/218601135/

In most demonstrations in tech meetups, you’ll see the presenter themselves trying on the product while the audience watch how his app or site works.

What was different in Hervey’s presentation was how he had another miked-up person interact with the app as if he’s the user and he’s experiencing the app on the spot. That’s what Pager did in its presentation–and it helped the app make its point clearly. It’s an app that can get you a house-call doctor.

Currently only offered in New York’s boroughs and some areas in San Francisco, Pager is currently an out-of-pocket service but there is reportedly a reimbursement option. It is highly recommended that you clarify later with Pager if there are changes in its policy.  Also, note if prescription orders are delivered within an hour as advertised.

“The cost structure is transparent. It’s $200 now but it’s not that expensive. It will cost you $135 when you go to a doctor now. Costs pile up (when you see a doctor),” he said.

Doctors, most of them general practitioners, are recruited and asked to be listed in the app.

Kiddo App presented next. It’s a family calendar app designed to make it simple to manage everyday family life.  

“We don’t plan to monetize data,” said Tzvia Bader in response to question about privacy for their children. She came up with the app to address a market size of $140 million for parents. It’s available on Android and iOS.

Presenting last, Howard Greenstein showed DomainSkate, an intellectual property and brand security protection for business.

He addressed the current security threats online and how rampant identity theft is, pointing out one instance where a site mimicked Bloomberg and stole $275 million worth of information. With DomainSkate, he said you can “manage and mitigate your problem with malware.”   

Although in the list, Ulula was not able to present.

The event was sponsored by DLA Piper (NYC),  DonQuiSoft, Fairfax County EDA, FiverrGrassi & Co., KISSPatent, Nexus Staff, Rainbow Broadband and SimilarWeb.

Time can decrease goodness (of your product)

NEW YORK–Technology is rapidly changing our world. There’s IoT, new software development and big data platforms for both commercial and consumer applications and as it so happens, it become an exercise in complexity management.

https://www.nytech.org/events/UX-Design-and-Software-Development

Last October 19, The NY Technology Council hosted a discussion of the cognitive science behind complexity in all the products designed today hand in hand with technology at LMHQ in lower Manhattan.
Bonnie E. John, Ph.D. , a leading expert in techniques to improve the design and implementation of computer systems with respect to their usefulness and usability, introduced Dan Ward, noted authority on product development complexity as the main presenter.

Ward is the author of numerous publications on the topic of complexity, including his most recent book “The Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide To Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse.”

Ward talked about his book, a field guide that equips readers with practical tools to produce elegant, effective designs. It takes a deep but lighthearted look at the way complexity enhances or diminishes the things we make and use, from PowerPoint presentations and pizzas to spacecraft and software, and shows readers why simplicity is the key to innovation and good design—whether you’re creating new products, services, or consumer experiences.

Ward said he was inspired to write the book when someone told him, “I don’t care how good it is. If isn’t easy to use, I don’t want it.” He challenged how we think about what seems good but actually confusing. In a computer, he asks, what is the difference between sleep and hibernate. “Perhaps what we need is a nap button,” he teased.
Ward makes use of the Y and X axis for his Simplicity Cycle–the Y axis for complexity—interconnected parts; X axis for goodness—it might mean clarity but also, depending on context.

He stressed, though, how today’s breakthrough can be tomorrow’s commodity. “Time can decrease goodness.”

Ward challenged previous assumptions with the following insights:

Simplicity is not the point. Balance complexity and goodness towards simplicity
Limiting our ability to learn with the KISS concept. Make it MISS, make it simple and you know the word that follows that.
Good design is just bad design redesigned

John, who works at Bloomberg, left us with some food for thought, especially what designers can do:

  • Understand the task
  • Make useful simplifying assumptions
  • All users are part of the designed system
  • Training is just as much a design problem as
  • UI or software
  • Learning is not just a one-time occurrence
  • Optimize representations/mappings
  • Resist giving too much choice to the user

20 Korean startups land in NY

NEW YORK–The second Korean Summit NYC last October 16 at the New Yorker Wyndham featured several Korean startups with Charlie Kim, founder and CEO of Next Jump, and Murat Aktihanoglu, managing director of Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, as main speakers.

https://koreanstartupsummitnyc.splashthat.com/

It’s not everyday you see different cultures and countries working together but ERA’s Aktihanoglu, a Turkish immigrant to the US since 1998, spoke about his trip to Korea and how it proved to be a valuable experience for everyone–startups in Korea and those from New York, and how it all resulted in a Korean startup summit. It’s something almost unheard of in Silicon Alley.

Kim, a Korean American, extolled an Asian virtue of building a company that “can make your father and mother proud.” His speech was tempered and more realistic, as he took the audience on a journey of his success in business, stressing how entitlement will get you nowhere.

Among the startup presenters in the whole-day affair were PinStory, the go-to resource for foodies in Korea; Anyractive with GoTouch and how it turns any display screen such as TV, monitor and projector into a touchscreen; Who’s Good which provides dynamic data on environmental, social and governance risks.

Huinno builds innovative, clinically-tested wearable capable of measuring vital signs, including blood pressure; Ediket which provides a unique proofreading service by integrating full proofreading experiences with its web technology.

Moloco saves Silicon Valley’s mobile apps by resolving the key restriction of the current page view-driven mobile ads, while ZIKTO gently vibrates on your wrist when it detects bad walking posture. There more presenters and and more than 20 other startups at the exhibit hall.

How are these startups doing and how did they get their start. Slidejoy has reportedly been downloaded 500,000 times with clients ranging from startups to FORTUNE 200 companies. Pinstory reportedly came to fruition when Yelp ignored the request of its founder to come to Asia. It’s customized search result via machine learning with 1,000 business accounts.

GoTouch looked mighty impressive and was a huge favorite as it also works to bundle itself with Samsung and SK Telecom.

Who’s Good was received warmly for its more social bent in investing while also providing visualization and analysis that draw inspiration from financial investing.

Huinno’s focus on healthcare wearables allow you measure your vitals, including your blood pressure as its addresses the world’s global hypertension rate at 40 percent. It is reportedly 99 percent accurate, as determined in a clinical test.

Among the Korean VC panelists were Richard Jun, managing partner at Bam Ventures; David Lee, investor and former director, Google Asia Pacific; Hyuk Jeen Suh, head of Samsung Ventures East Coast and John Ryu, partner at Scout Ventures.

The event was hosted by KOTRA with Joseph Juhn, KSE, World-Okta NY and GORI.

New York Tech Meetup launches deep dive event series featuring Addicaid and Pager

NEW YORK–Last October 14, the New York Tech Meetup brought back two of its most popular demos – Addicaid and Pager — to mark the launch of its new “Demo Deep Dive” event series in lower Manhattan.

http://www.meetup.com/ny-tech/events/225728792/

Sam Frons, founder and CEO of Addicaid, presented first followed by Toby Hervey, general manager of Pager, both platforms with an app that allows people to reach out for help. Addicaid is an addiction recovery platform, while Pager is on-demand service for people seeking house calls from doctors.

Frons started her talk by talking about the 2 million documented cases of substance abuse in the United States. With Addicaid, she is addressing how most people can recover from what could be the most effective methods–individual coaching, action-oriented goals, personal incentives and self-help groups.

With Addicaid, she is looking forward to ensuring long-term patient engagement, providing effective and affordable care. Through technology, she collects metrics –active and passive data – and other variables that come into play like sentiment analysis and behavior, among other things Her app has been downloaded 20,000 times. Addicaid now has curated news.

In a few months, it will launch nearby meeting notifications, daily goal reminders, SOS alerts and even coaches, with option to choose one-on-one coaching, as well as tailored treatment plans. “We are lowering the barrier to entry and reducing stigma,” she said.

Hervey presented Pager, a mobile app and service providing high-quality healthcare on demand through doctor house calls. It’s a mobile, location-based service in the sense that you can be customers at your office or in your home with no time to see a doctor during the day.

Hervey said the growing friction in assessing care and overuse of emergency rooms prompted the company to start Pager, which is striving for a seamless patient experience. It looks forward to reducing costs for payers in the long run, partly also because of its partnership with a drug company. Yes, it looks forward to having prescriptions delivered to patients.

“No other setting or service brings Pager’s level of convenience to the care experience,” he claimed. It also has a rating system. In November, it aims to launch its chat feature.

Most of the doctors are family physicians and serve the New York area.

It’s interesting how house calls, which accounted for 40 percent of the medical practice back in the 1930s, is back because of technology.

Counter phishing attacks with Area 1, classify images with Metamind

NEW YORK–Last October 12, Area 1 Security, Birchbox, Livefyre and Metamind, presented at the packed Data-Driven meetup at Bloomberg.

http://www.meetup.com/NYC-Data-Business-Meetup/events/225285863/

Last October 12, Area 1 Security, Birchbox, Livefyre and Metamind, presented at the packed Data-Driven meetup at Bloomberg.

http://www.meetup.com/NYC-Data-Business-Meetup/events/225285863/

Area 1 Security’s Oren Falkowitz and Livefyre’s Ramana Rao presented themselves as companies from Silicon Valley.

Area 1 the cyber-security app that counters phishing attacks, focuses on stopping phishing attacks before they happen, the most common form of attacks now in our computer devices.

Area 1, raised $15 million this week, following Falkowitz’s presentation at the meetup. Falkowitz used to work for the National Security Agency.

“It takes 90 seconds from the time a phish to a user click,” Falkowitz cautioned. “Companies learn of attacks one year later. A new approach is required.”

Rao presented how Livefyre’s real-time content and engagement platform works. For those not familiar with the company, you often see them as the engine in the comments section of most websites.

Livefyre and Salesforce were in the news recently for its agreement to integrate their respective platforms that are seen by many as an effective way for companies to create a more cohesive marketing strategy.

MetaMind’s Richard Socher talked about the power of deep learning for enterprise, the future of understanding unstructured data. This includes speech recognition and a general image classifier which he demonstrated. You can create own image classifier with a free API. It’s an effective way for people to classify photos together in a category using an easy drag-and-drop technology.

Birchbox’s Liz Crawford presented her discovery commerce platform for beauty products last. Birchbox lets you get monthly deliveries of beauty or grooming samples, picked to match your profile. You can also customize your shipment by picking a sample or adding subscriber-only product deals.

Birchbox has come a long way. This week, it launched its own makeup line, Love of Color.

Essential tips for startups using video to promote their business

NEW YORK–Last October 7, Devin Rogerino of Inc.com presented a talk on video creation or how to cost effectively enter the video creation community at the Wix lounge in Chelsea. Essentially, you need four things—ideation, inspiration, brainstorming, planning—before you even make your video, and let’s not forget how you have to know whether you need YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/no-budget-no-problem-how-to-cost-effectively-enter-the-video-creation-community-tickets-18707123510
Rogerino will tell you the difference. “Do you want to be cool?” Vimeo is his obvious answer? “If you want to own the long tail, it’s YouTube, the second largest search engine. If you want to a huge jump, it’s Facebook. Native uploads have high reach and high likelihood of creating short term virtuous cycle.”

Vimeo can be tricky a choice for small business, because it only allows eight seconds of video. On the other hand, YouTube gives you longer exposure – and if you do the proper tagging, you’ll see your other videos on the right rail. YouTube is a good choice if you want to build and sustain your brand.

Facebook works in short bursts. Your video can get the eyeballs and likes you need in one posting but you cannot expect it to get more exposure after a few days.

Rogerino suggests you do both Facebook and YouTube, choosing carefully what to post in either social networks. Knowing where you want your video to appear is crucial even before you start shooting.

Planning head means thinking all the way to the conceptualization or ideation of an idea, which will help you create your project. Incorporate the production aspect in your creation–the lighting, shooting, editing, even distribution.

“Ask yourself, ‘What thumbnail and headline combination will work?’” he said. “Then write and revise your script. Find out where and when you are going to shoot it, who can help you and what equipment you‘ll need.”

Having a script ready is perhaps the most important as you won’t want to miss something as you’re shooting on location. As for ways to get you working, Rogerino suggests you ask yourself, “What’s in the video that excites you?”

As for lighting, try to learn 3-point lighting—back light, fill light, key light. Also consider your choice of daylight or tungsten lighting. “Always test lighting positions.”

You may think when you have all the lighting in place, you have everything working. “Remember some cameras have no audio. Get a DSLR camera with audio inputs,” he said. “Avoid audio gaps.”

And when it comes to shooting yourself, try to avoid setting camera on focus – because you do move around. “Use automatic aperture, white balance and shutter speed settings.” Also remove all vocal tics; throat clearing, sniffling, grunting, and teeth sucking. Keep in mind all stories have at least 3 acts—beginning, middle and end.

For resources online, consider the following: For editing, YouTube is free while IMovie is $4.99. For music, check out http://makerbook.net/audio. It’s important to read the fine print and give proper credit to avoid any copyright infringements.

Once you’ve uploaded your video, prioritize searchable keywords in your headline; write a long description that includes links to social accounts; tag video extensively with relevant topics. and leverage annotations when possible. On YouTube, consistent tagging on the right rail will show your other videos.

After all is said and done, you must engage people online by sharing and interacting via your platform and finding relevant partners. One final tip from Rogerino: “Never delete a video on YouTube. Just unlist it, so Google can still (index) it.”

Female founders tip: Never judge an investor by his loud snore

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK– Female founders at the Orrick meetup last October 5  found out one thing: You can never judge investors by their snore volume or constant phone use.  Why? They invested in their startups.

The female founders of Wayup, F Cubed, Manicube, getringly and ELOQUII had those stories to share at the Orrick meetup.

“They probably just had a long day, or were just too busy,” two of the women said. An Duggal, Liz Wessel, Katina Mountanos and Mariah Chase were the panelists who shared their experience as a startup and how they have pitched, wooed and won over investors last October 5 at  Orrick’s offices.

Among the tips they shared with the audience in this law office at the CBS Building were:

  • Nothing will happen unless you talk about it
    Prototype and make it better
    Hire senior as much as possible, not by seniority but those who doesn’t mind rolling down their sleeves to do the dirty work
    Give them two decks — one brief one via email and a comprehensive one, for VCs to use and share with their partners
    Prepare to paint a really audacious goal even if you want to be authentic
    Expect to have coffee meetings with them

WayUp (formerly Campus Job) is a startup that connects college students with local job opportunities. Launched last September 2014, it’s founded by Liz Wessel and JJ Fligelman. In April, the company raised a $7.8 million Series A round. It has reportedly signed up over 5,000 companies and thousands of student users.

The name change was crucial to the success of its business, because Campus Job sounded like it was offering jobs inside a campus only. The site is free for students.

The Female Founders Fund or F Cubed headed by Anu Duggal is a venture capital fund for women to address the paltry number of funds that startups with a female founder or CEO has received. A research study pointed out that only 2.7 percent of US companies receive venture capital funding from 2011 to 2013.

Katina Mountanous of Manicube talked about Manicube, her house call and even — get this — in-office manicure service (if your employer is okay with it) available in cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. She co-founded it with Liz Whitman.

Ringly is working on building the future of wearable technology and connected devices like jewelries.

ELOQII, headed by Chase, is a plus-size fashion brand with a difference. It offers sophisticated outfits for women who can’t find their size.