TripExpert opens API to developers

NEW YORK–Last March 9, TripExpert, Pass the Plate LLC, Criteek and TenViz presented at the NY Tech Breakfast at Microsoft in Times Square.

TripExpert, the platform for expert (media) reviews on travel, announced its API at and an upcoming beta of its app weeks from now. TripExpert gets eyeballs through media syndication, according to Emily Hughes and Andrew Nicol.

Referring to the difference between media-based reviews and user reviews? “There are huge disparities in the reviews,” he said, citing the prevalence of fake reviews in high-end hotels.

TripExpert extracts a piece of information (from media), so it doesn’t need permission, although in some cases, they negotiate with individual publications.

TripExpert puts more weight on opinion or reviews of some pubs.

Next presenter, Pass the Plate makes giving to charities easier with its phone app as it pointed out the $360 billion opportunity in donation industry, citing a Blackbaud index.

It also sees a fragmented market and think his app can address the needs of 1.6 million registered non-profit companies in the United States. A donor can give to non-profit companies from one location. A 501 c3 company,  it charges 50 US cents per transaction fee and get 2.65 percent. For every donation, it mails the check to the recipient. It needs to vet non-profit companies and one way to do that, as suggested by an audience, is to have mission statements visible on the app.

Criteek presented its Saas platform , which automates the process of sourcing, hosting, curating and streaming video product reviews. Beyond eyeballs, it hopes to get clients, brands and retailers on board its B2B platform. Right now, it focuses on sports reviews.

“We are going (for) retailers (as) they are already in touch with their customers,” Kyle Wilkinson said.

Predictive analytics for finance and investment management is TenViz’s business It offers a range of data-driven solutions using both traditional statistical and most recent machine learning tools to solve complex problems for customers.

It will focus in the following areas: asset management, retail banking, commercial banking, retail and consumer goods, energy and utilities. It is $90 a month after its free trial.

Addressing comparisons with Bloomberg, Konstantin Fominykh said TenViz is more analytical.  Getting critical information days ahead of an investment would really be good, one pointed out.  

Birchbox’s two data scientists build recommendation algorithms for its grooming samples

NEW YORK — In most tech meetups,  people are asked how many people have heard of Birchbox? Most of the nearly hundred people raised their hand. If you’re still wondering, what it is about, it’s this: Birchbox delivers monthly boxes of beauty or grooming samples, picked to match your profile.

Headquartered in New York City, with operations in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Canada and Belgium, the company has grown at a fast clip with a strong following among its first clientele–the female set and secondary target, the male set.

Last November 19, CTO Liz Crawford talked about her role and how the company operates at the NYC European Tech Meetup which held the event at Spotify’s roomy industrial-themed office. Inside, it’s hard to believe you’re in New York.

Birchbox reportedly does not have a “global content system” as of yet, but the United States is home for its marketing initiatives and infrastructure. Engineering, however, is hard to internationalize, she said.

“There’s a lot of hidden complexity in running a business like Birchbox,” she said. “We often ask ourselves how much do we need to spend for operational infrastructure and software.”

Birchbox has two data scientists who build recommendation algorithms. They rely on signals. For example, they try to find out if customers favorited or liked a product online. “Our data scientists work on optimizing (samples in our boxes).

“Figuring out what to send to customers is actually hard. The more customers we get, the harder it becomes,” she added.

What is a good box can be different for anyone? “All we want is for the experience to be personal to you,” she said.

Crawford said there are similarities with the boxes in the different countries, but the US box has admittedly “more features.”

Eventually, after subscribing, customers buy the brands from the samples in the box.

As the holiday approaches, Crawford who admits to working late lately said things will be picking up again soon and it will be a busy time for Birchbox.

Birchbox reportedly doesn’t charge any shipping or handling fees—just the $10/month, $110/year for the Beauty Box and $20/month for Birchbox Man. If your shipping address is in a state it operates, sales tax will be applied to your order.


Search and SharePoint 2013; Social, next?

By Dennis Clemente

If you’re going to talk about the product you’re championing, you might as well do it in your own backyard, right? Last January 9, the SharePoint MeetUp group covered the topic, “Search-Driven Design Patterns for SharePoint 2013” at the Microsoft office at 1290 Avenue of the Americas.

For the uninitiated, Microsoft’s SharePoint 2013 is about how organizations work together and optimize how people work. Essentially, it’s a collaborative platform. The goal: to run your business more efficiently.

The group tackled search queries from a design pattern perspective. Comparing the 2010 with the 2013 launched a healthy exchange of ideas about SharePoint2013 helps in idea sharing, organizing teams and projects, and discovering people and information. In many of these classes, though, you just hope there was a brand it could have talked about as an example; Home Depot was mentioned albeit briefly.

Nicholas Bisciotti, one of the attendees, liked the topics that were raised, but he thinks it would be good to “resolve” them in the next session
• Role-based search solutions based on job function, where person is, who they are (possibly with rank profile)
• SharePoint 2013 Search with non-SharePoint UI
• SharePoint 2013 Search for mobile
• Leveraging geographical data in Search

It’s also good to know SharePoint has gone social—and it would be great to watch that tackled by a group already immersed in the SharePoint platform in the next meetup of this solemn, more studious group.