DaVanzo of Sparks mines cultural insights for UI design

NEW YORK– Sarah DaVanzo, Chief Cultural Officer at Sparks & Honey, an Omnicom agency, has many UI cards up her sleeve when it comes to cultural strategy. DaVanzo is known for researching, designing and piloting methodologies to mine cultural insights for brands and advertising agencies, thanks to a career in global marketing all across the world.


At the NYC Card UI meetup last February 1, she literally showed how UI cards has helped her take her audience to mega shifts and micro trends of cultures in easy, digestible chunks. Scrolling through her card designs to reveal insights about her work with Sparks, she revealed a unique approach to scoring and predicting trends.

She showed how cards are everywhere to inspire us to use it for presenting our ideas. From her mobile phone beamed to an audience, she went over one card trend over another — these days, the unusual popping of Tarot cards, in Pravda fashion, card fights, carded music, calling cards like Tinder, memory cards to remember passwords,cards as snackable educational content and cardistry athletic forms.

No one would argue about the need for “content to be parsed,” because we’re overloaded with content. DaVanzo said card-like designs allow for unpacking and modularization which makes it easy to share “structured serendipity” or discoveries out there. Now there’s snackable media/content, and layered and parallel storytelling.

In TV shows, she shows us how Orange is the New Black taps simplexity (simple and complexity) to make a drama series work. She elaborates how the 80s detective TV series, Columbo, cues us in or glues us to the story with his visual antics that may be considered showy or hammy acting by most if it wasn’t Peter Falk doing it.

DaVanzo uses Columbo to show us how you can apply the following to allow you how to go about imbibing Card UI in your system:

  • The prepared mind forms hypotheses
  • The prepared mind repeats the same process
  • The prepared mind has habits and
  • The prepared mind looks beyond the obvious

So how do agencies approach her “cultural foresight”? She laid her cards on the table.

“Clients tell us this is the challenge. We set up our system to listen to signals. Then we help them plan based on a specific trend,” she said.


Grist for the tech mill: 2015 events from over 1,100 NY tech meetups

data-driven meetup-nov2015

By Dennis Clemente

There are more than 1,100 tech meetups in New York. Here’s a summary of what happened in one year from March to December 2015.

Instead of having the always selling mentality, Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer of Hubspot, suggests having an always-be-helping mentality. Roberge’s sales talk last December 17 at Enterprise Sales Meetup in midtown Manhattan was especially meaningful as it’s not too often you hear someone from a programming background lead sales teams. The topic, Sales Acceleration Formula, was the same title of his book based on his experience taking a job in sales at Hubspot and coming from a programming background.

It was not your typical meetup in the city. For one, it was scheduled on a Friday night last December 18 (most meetups in the city are from Monday to Thursday). Second, it was held at a store, the new Microsoft Flagship Store on the shopping district of Fifth Avenue. But the crowd trickled in to watch the presentation of devices at the meetup curiously billed “Understanding Live Video Streaming with Periscope and Meerkat.”

German startups Keeen, Favendo and Night Adivsors took turns demonstrating their platforms at the German Accelerator NY last December 15 at Rise NY.

Would you rely on Big Data or The Force? It was a Star Wars evening for the Data-Driven meetup last December 14 at Bloomberg, especially for Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight who sounded giddy using the epic fantasy flick as reference for his presentation. He was joined by Arcadia Data, MapR and Datameer.

”How do you make sense of any mess?” That was the first question information architect Abby Covert threw at the audience last December 10 at the Designers & Geeks meetup at the Spotify offices.

“Life’s too short to build something nobody wants,” says Ash Maurya in his talk last December 8 at We Work in Wall Street. Maurya is the acclaimed author of “Running Lean,” a concise guide that helps you take action in using lean startup and customer development principles. He was at We Work to present his ideas for scaling business–clearly a prelude to his upcoming book, “Scaling Lean.” For Maurya, the root cause of a startup’s problem is when solution is perceived as the product. “Your solution is not the product. Your business model is the product.”

Last Dec 9, Uncubed took the holiday season as an opportunity for startups like Moat to discuss their 2015 accomplishments and future plans at its offices in the Lower East Side. By 2016, Moat, an independent SaaS Marketing analytics firm focused on transforming online brand advertising through trusted measurement and analytics, will reportedly be the first third party to measure viewability on YouTube.

Last December 1, Hardware Meetup featured talks from the founders of Grove, OneDrop and Boxee at the Microsoft offices. Gabe Blanchet, CEO of Grove, showed how food lovers can grow food at home while–get this–fish swims below it. Yes, even it will fit in a cramped New York apartment.

How do you make data scientists more productive? Jeremy Achin has an answer for you. The current path to becoming a data scientist is based on learning statistics, programming and algorithms, then applying practical knowledge and practicing real world experience which can unfortunately take up a lot of time. Achin spoke with other presenters Josh Bloom of Wise.io, Alexi Le-Quoc, founder of Datadog and Haile Owusu, chief data scientist of Mashable at Data-Driven’s monthly meetup last November 16 at Bloomberg.

Moral rights versus individual rights. That’s the struggle the entertainment industry faces these days when individual rights have blurred the lines between individual ownership and what is other people’s content, the title of the breakfast forum hosted by Gotham Media last November 18 at the Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz at 40th Street on Madison Avenue.

What is Birchbox? In the city, most tech meetups always asks people by a show of hands, 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. Last November 19, CTO Liz Crawford talked about her role and how the company operates at the NYC European Tech Meetup at Spotify’s roomy offices.

Last November 9, Coinvent held a whole-day tech startup fair with several startups and inspirational talks at the Metropolitan Avenue in Chelsea. Dog Parker was one of the most popular startups as it showed a “doghouse” that provides secure dog parking when you’re out and about in the city with your dog and you need to run an errand. Dog Parker partners with businesses to place Dog Parkers in front their stores.

Last November 3, Alley Boost held a half-day startup expo featuring more than 60 startups at La Venue on 12th Avenue, blocks away from the Javits Convention Center.

The future of event ticketing will have some kind of empowerment and engagement, according to Taku Harada, CEO and co-founder of Peatix who presented at last November 2 at the Japan NYC Startups at Pivotal Labs.

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.

Last October 14, OLC attended AngelCube 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.

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.

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

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 Roundtble Accelerator as main speakers.

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.

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

It’s seldom you hear honest talk about investors snoring soundly or checking their phones every so often when you’re pitching to them but the founders of these companies — Wayup, F Cubed, Manicube, getringly and ELOQUII — had those stories to share. What’s more unusual perhaps is how even those who they thought couldn’t care less were the ones interested in investing in them.

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.

Last September 30, Tech in Motion deviated from its usual show-and-tell meetup presentations for an exposition of startups with cocktails at Ainsworth Midtown East. The startups on exhibit were beGlammed, GoButler, FlyCleaners, Zeel and ZIRX, all riding on the popularity of uber and the way it’s propping up the sharing economy.

How do you become a digital nomad? If you care to listen to the speakers of Cafe Numerique (Beligan for digital), you’ll find out how the world is getting smaller the way people from all over the world are finding each other, doing business and sharing ideas.

Last September 17, the Brooklyn Borough Hall was the setting for the International Day, the last of the four-day international Transatlantic Entrepreneur (TEP) conference which brought together investors, entrepreneurs, media and policy makers from the US, Asia and Europe.

Scott Heiferman is perhaps the most unassuming CEO and co-founder you’ll ever meet in this city. For someone who runs one of the city’s earliest and most successful startups, meetup.com, which was formed 13 years ago, he still considers his company a startup. His company, he says, is older than most startups. It’s older than Google Maps, older than Facebook,– heck, older than Friendster and yet, he pauses to think if he’s still a startup.

Twitter’s Adam Sharp, Head of News, Government and Elections and Niketa Patel, News Partnerships Manager were the speakers at Conversations, a series of open discussion held by NY Daily News Innovation Lab, at Microsoft last September 9. It was also a way for Twitter to drum up support for its upcoming Project Lightning, a curated feed of tweets.

When every tech meetup seems to be covered at night, count NY Tech Breakfast counts on the early risers to come to its monthly event, now held at Microsoft for the second month. Last September 8, NY Tech Breakfast featured PolicyGenius, Proscape, TableSwipes and LawGo.

Last September 2, General Assembly held a talk featuring three companies offering online coding courses, One Month, Thinkful and Hopscotch at its offices in the Flatiron District.

The product challenges at the Product Council last August 31 were the digital clinic app offered by Maven Clinic and the new permissions level to be offered by JustWorks starting September 1. The meetup was held at the Pivotal Labs.

What is the future of media? The question may resonate the most among journalists and other media practitioners. After all, it’s their livelihood at stake. The answer in a word may be video, especially the way the panelists talked about how it is going very far and coming in. Even GoPro is reportedly adding some kind of news coverage.

On the second day of the Yahoo Developer Conference last August 26 at the Marriott, breakout sessions were held, with user acquisition as a topic attended by OLC. The key takeways: Developers have a three-month grace period to get sticky; get the app store experience right; app install ads work, but it’s important to talk to your users through a variety of marketing channels.

Is one percent better than zero or none at all? We’re not talking about the affluent in the United States, but if the one-percent effort or initiative that big companies dedicate to social impact is sufficient—or if it’s just a compromise, a public relations move. If you’re keeping up with the tech scene these days, you won’t hear Mock Series A Term Sheet Negotiations too often. It may be your first time to hear it, as we did, so we went to Orrick’s Total Access last August 24 at CBS to find out how it would unravel for us.

Tech meetup groups have taken most of the summer off, but Codecademy took the quiet time to hold an HTML and CSS workshop of its newly released web projects last August 20 at its office in midtown Manhattan with the people behind it in attendance–Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski.

If you’ve seen a drone, most likely you’re thinking how hard can it be to fly one, right? Well, it was not so easy for Easy Aerial’s CEO Ivan Stamatovski. Stamatovoski was one of four other presenters at the NY Video Meetup last July 23 at the AOL offices. “I have been flying a drone for two years but still suck at it,” he admitted.

Some apps certainly function as if they were invisible like Dennis Mortensen’s x.ai. It’s an artificial intelligence powered personal assistant that schedules meetings for you. Mortensen was again going the rounds with Amy, the name of his A.I. personal assistant who happened to be in the same room as Larry, which is Raad Ahmed’s text-responder of a lawyer, a mix of automation and human beings. Larry is the text version of Ahmed’s LawTrades. It’s personalized legal help tailored to your business over text. Both presenters and other startups Alfred and Stefanshead were at The Product Hunt meetup last July 22 at Animoto’s offices.

How do you cover the media when you’re the media? For its fifth meetup, The Tech Press Meetup invited Jason Abbruzzese of Mashable, Shannon Bond of the Financial Times and Tom Kludt of CNN to shed light on this topic at the Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism at 20 Cooper Square.

Having covered the tech meetup scene for the past few years, it’s interesting how a meetup about “Getting your startup set up and funded” produces a new group of aspiring entrepreneurs, new to the tech scene and what it takes to build one. There’s certainly something for everyone in the fastest-growing tech city and that’s what Megan Hannum, venture partner at Comcast, co-founder at Fundedby, was at Spark Labs last July 15 for–to help newcomers get their feet wet in the startup scene.

More than 35 investors, panel talks, lightning pitches, everyone one-on-ones with VCs, a venture fair—it was a summer blockbuster of a tech meetup what NY Tech Breakfast pulled off last July 10 at Microsoft, near Times Square. What’s amazing is how it was all pulled off in one half day, from 8 am to noontime.

What do you think people would Google: How to survive a breakup or divorce lawyer? You could do both or just the former if you think it’ll be better SEO for your business. “The key is to be creative with your link-baits (to set you apart and own that search), said Kevin Lee, founder and CEO of Didit.com last July 11.

JJ Fliegelman is generous with his ideas and insights into his business, Campus Job, an online marketplace for college students to find jobs that he co-founded with ex-Googler Liz Wessel. Launched only last September, Campus Job has already signed up 2,300 colleges, 3,000 employers, 100,000 students and—music to every startup founder’s ears—funding to the tune of $9 million.

When you have everyone discussing about their design process, it makes for an engaging presentation. Last June 24, Design Driven’s meetup was the best so far the way each speaker presented a specific topic—and more importantly, because the presenters were generous with their thoughts and candid with their answers, especially Bradford Shellhammer, founder of Fab.com and most recently, founder of Bezar.

Joseph Essas of Open Table, the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations, opened the talk at the Data Driven last June 16 at Bloomberg’s offices. It was Data Driven’s last monthly meetup as it takes a well-deserved two-month summer break.

“If it doesn’t fit excel, it’s big data.” That was Gilad Lotan, chief data scientist at Betaworks, giving a digestible meaning of how big data is about volume and variety as much as it is about velocity and variety, which conveniently rounds up to the four essential Vs you need in big data. Lotan was speaking at Tech in Motion’s first ever Big Data meetup at the spacious office of Mediaocean, a leading software platform provider for the advertising world. He was with two other Big Data panelists Bruce Weed, program director of Big Data and Watson at IBM and Claudia Perlich, chief data scientist at Dstillery.

Asking if you really need to know the number of your eggs on your fridge is perhaps the best way to determine how much automation you need for your home. It determines if you need Canary, Hggns, Keen Home or Smart Things, the presenters at the IoT Central meetup last June 17 at R/GA Accelerator’s offices near Port Authority. How do you get attention amid all the noise out there? If you ask Ben Parr, he will tell you that you need 7 captivation triggers, which he expounds on his recently launched book, “Captivology.”

How do you get attention amid all the noise out there? If you ask Ben Parr, he will tell you that you need 7 captivation triggers, which he expounds on his recently launched book, “Captivology.” Asking if you really need to know the number of your eggs on your fridge is perhaps the best way to determine how much automation you need for your home. It determines if you need Canary, Hggns, Keen Home or Smart Things, the presenters at the IoT Central meetup last June 17 at R/GA Accelerator’s offices near Port Authority.

Last May 28, The Hatchery presented four startups–Moving Analytics, Crowds Line, Mobiquire, Centrallo and Revenue Mantra at the Microsoft Building. “The Hatchery: Are You Serious?” Meetup group has been holding startup presentations for eight years now, but sometimes this writer wonders if the question extends beyond the earnest question. After all, it’s not easy to launch a successful startup let alone present in front of VCs.

The Market New York Expo for small businesses last May 21 at the Javits Center featured several talks on branding, email marketing, digital sales and mobile marketing. What stood out for us were the talks on Search Engine Optimization by Ruben Quinones, NYU adjunct instructor and VP, Client Strategy at Path Interactive and Mobile Marketing by Warren Zenna, EVP & Managing Director at Mobext (Havas Media).

FlyLabs has wowed audiences at the NY Tech Meetup months back and at the NY Video Meetup last May 20, it again drew some ecstatic applause for its video-editing apps, Fly, Clips and its new one called Tempo, a quick way to alter video time speeds.

Last May 14, PandoMonthly hosted a one-on-one interview with Sheila Marcelo, CEO and co-founder of care.com who talked at length about her Filipino roots and how the influence of her “Tiger mom” and the discipline they inculcated in her formed a big part of her success now.

Minerva Tantoco, New York City’s first-ever chief technology officer (CTO), said she pretty much created every job she had at the StartupGrind meetup last May 7. Tantoco directs the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, overseeing the development and implementation of a coordinated citywide strategy on technology and innovation and encouraging collaboration across agencies and with the wider New York City technology ecosystem. “We are a little startup inside city hall,” she said.

It’s good to see Scott Heiferman show up at NY Tech Meetup last May 5. Once a regular fixture of it many years ago, even as co-host, the Meetup founder has understandably been busy building his community of meetups, 30,000 for tech alone around the country. It was, as he has explained over time, a “9/11 baby.” He was at this particular meetup to announce the NY Tech Meetup Apple Watch app. The presenters of the night were Ananas, AptDeco, Amadeus, CornellTech, Epicure, OneDrop and X.ai with Wikitongues as hack of the night.

Adesoji Ojugbele of Google Android may have nailed it when asked about how to measure people’s attention span these days by using Instagram as an example: How long does it take you to post a photo on Instagram? The photo app is a good example, because as more people get used to its quick functionalities, the more people will not have patience for everything else that takes longer. The word “longer” here has come to mean longer than, say, 10 seconds; that could be an eternity for some people. Instagram is quick enough that anything else will be slow.

Last April 29, Uncubed held its meetup, “Hacks that saved my life” at Refinery 29 with the World Trade Center building gleaming behind it as early evening set in. This is not your typical show-and-tell meetup. It might as well be classified the hacked-and-tell meetup as each presenter talked about how a new app or site made their life easier, more fun and even useful in an unusual way.

Hardwired’s 19th meetup last April 22 might just have assembled the most interesting mix of startups so far —a drone that collects data fast, a pet activity and health monitor, a virtual reality content creator and—are you ready?—a new way of growing meat. Not your typical tech meetup in the city, folks.

More than 400 startups pitched to 10,000 attendees at the fourth-year of the largest annual tech fair called Tech Day. The event held last April 23 showcased startups in various industries such as education and e-commerce, design and deliveries, food and fashion, music and things mobile as well as that services catering to them like co-working spaces, immigration and recruitment companies.

Last April 22, a new venue emerged from the meetups gaining popular steam in springtime New York, just as the Tribeca Film Festival was rolling its week-long fest of indie and alternative films. It had the same makeup as the tech meetup talks, except it was held at the De Niro-propelled film center and headlined Designing Innovation.

Last April 14, the Data Driven Meetup featured How Liu, founder and CEO of Airtable; Scott Crunch, co-founder and CEO of Mark43; Bob Muglia, CEO of Snowflake and Emil Eifrem, founder and CEO of Neo Technologies at the Bloomberg offices.

Last April 8, AlleyNYC’s SquadUp featured three female-owned startups Bird and Stone , Plum Alley, Quarterlette and Dreamers//Doers with some VC guests giving tip on how to get funded. Made in New York, Bird and Stone sells its own jewelry line with 15 percent of sales funding micro loans and agri-business training in Kenya, where 75 percent of its people live in rural areas. So far, it has funded 8 women with $200 microloans and provided them with financial training, industry training and mentorship.

Dash, City Maps and even a 105-year-old startup named IBM stood out from the demonstrations hosted by NY Tech Meetup last April 7 at the NYU Skirball Theater. But Dash was clearly the night’s favorite the way it connects cars to smartphones and unlocks enhanced performance, cost savings and social driving.

Sometimes the title of a meetup ends up being more. You simply need a host who knows how to push the right buttons and no demos. Last April 1, the Disruptive Technologists group planned a forum called “Balancing a Cool Idea with Profitability” with host/moderator Bruce Bachenheimer, a Pace University professor. It turned out to be about a lot more, including a call for immigration reform to fill up the critical need for developers and other talented people in the United States.

How would you like your bike to guide your way with navigation lights? Hammerhead wants to lead the way with this idea. How would you like virtual reality as a productivity tool? IrisVR aspires to make that a seamless experience. These were just two of the presenters at Hardwired NYC’s meetup last March 24 at Quirky at 28th West and 11th Avenue. The others were Brilliant Bike, American Prison Data Systems and Wink.

Last March 23, the On-Demand Economy meetup featured Button, Managed by Q and Minibar at the Animoto offices in midtown Manhattan. Much of the tech world is trying to figure out deep linking, that is, making the mobile app ecosystem work more like the web.

Silicon Alley is extending all the way to Queens as the Digital NYC Five-Borough tour made its stop at the LA Guardia Community College last March 26. An initative of Mayor Bill de Blasio, digital.nyc is the city’s online hubs for all things tech and startups. Eric Gertler of NYCEDC (New York City Economic Development Council) said it is making sure all of its programs extend to everyone in New York as part of an initiative to reduce income inequality.

Take a creative bootcamp; get over full stack anxiety in programming


By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–With all the coding bootcamps out there, should there be a creative bootcamp as well? As for programming, isn’t it causing you “full stack” anxiety, with one language and framework after another coming out like there’s no end to it? 

Last January 13, Design Driven took a different direction with its monthly meetup by having the speakers dig deeper into their design mindsets and processes. It helped to see Aaron Weyenberg, a UX and product designer at TED as one of the presenters as well. Others were Soraya Darabi of Zady and Foodspotting; Joey Califa, product design lead at Digital Ocean and Gary Chou, founder of Orbital who clearly gave a most illuminating presentation about creativity.

Chou’s Orbital, a home for developing and learning new ideas, talked about how constraints spur creativity, citing one project for students to raise $1,000 on a product they were working on, leveraging Kickstarter and using a metric to gauge their success.

Orbital offers an intensive 12-week course focused on helping you launch your project with the emphasis on putting your idea out of your head and into the world. Instructors and advisors provide feedback as you undergo exercises to increase your fluency in information and social networks. He could actually call it a “creativity bootcamp” and just attribute us for it.

Darabi who we last saw at a meetup presentation at Pivotal Labs talked about how a good design is about choices that get the appropriate reaction.

If you ask Weinberg how TED stands out in a saturated marketplace, he thinks slow news is important, even more than trends, explaining how “how we craft experience that keeps people interested.” It shows in the work TED does when most media prefer the race to coverage.

Califa addressed what could perhaps be in most people’s minds these days in terms of what they need to learn, calling it  “full stack anxiety.” Both a designer and coder, he asks what can you really do if you’re asked to do everything else?  

With so many tools and software and skills required now than ever before, he said it exacts a toll on our brains, leaving us no room to focus and become specialists. It was a humorous, Sisyphean pliant, clearly justified. His solution: Produce a list, narrow down choices and stick by the shorter list of skill sets you need.

However, almost sounding like Woody Allen, he prepares his audience to what an employer might demand these days: “I want someone with a specific skill who can do everything else.”


‘No two people have same understanding of info architecture’-Covert

NEW YORK–“How do you make sense of any mess?” That was the first question information architect Abby Covert threw at the audience last December 10 at the Designers & Geeks meetup at the Spotify offices.  


That is the challenge in a world faced with increasing amount of complexities. “No two people have the same understanding of information architecture. That’s how challenging mess is,” she said. The obvious hurdle is also about how Information is not something you can put up or down.


Information architecture, she said, is how we arrange parts to be understandable as a whole. She suggests looking closely at language:

  • How many words are you using in your organization.
  • How many duplicative nouns does your team deal with?
  • How many duplicative verbs are related to those nouns?

For the first bullet point, think about how you want to use, say, edit or modify–and figure out if they are the same thing. Controlled vocabularies (Covert’s term) or what publications call style guides can help a company speak with a voice that is theirs to learn.


Going by nouns or verbs, she cites how “one label per noun or verb is not always the best way to go. Simplifying is not the goal. The goal is to know what you mean when you say what you say.”

Covert said she actually gets hugs when she helps companies control their vocabularies. The trick is to write down the words you don’t use and not to use words used by competitors.

To start a controlled vocabulary, she suggests going through this exercises:.

  • Identify & define nouns first
  • Identify nested nouns
  • Eliminate duplicative nouns
  • Attach verbs to nouns
  • Beware of adjectives

But nothing is going to happen if organizations wait for someone to do this. Covert suggest you “be the one to slay the semantic dragon in your organization.”.


It’s also crucial to know “there is no right way” if you talk to anyone that deals with information architecture.


For someone who likes to organize stuff, Covert said she argued with her partner once about how to organize their vinyl records. She initially argued why it should be by last name but later found out how most music-streaming sites actually use the first names of artists.

“Taxonomy is rhetoric,” she said. “That means what matters is reaching your goals.”

What tools can you use to organize your thoughts? “Card sorting is a good step. This means using Post-Its, for instance. Pictures also give people something in common to point to. Visualize something that is hard to explain. “I use Omnigraffle for word association,” she said.

Other thoughts she tackles, which comes in her book, “How to Make Sense of Any Mess”: “Be careful of reductionism. Acknowledge complexity. With agreement comes momentum.”

For Peatix, future of ticketing will have some form of empowerment

NEW YORK–The future of event ticketing will have some kind of empowerment and engagement, according to Taku Harada, CEO and co-founder of Peatix who presented at last November 2 at the Japan NYC Startups at Pivotal Labs.


Peatix is a mobile event and ticketing system that closed a $5 million Series B round led by Digital Garage last March. It has raised a total of $9 million. About 70 percent of its attendees find out about coming events through its mobile events solution which has no service fees.

Peatix is designed to let event organizers manage their events from a mobile device and it has done so in 80,000 events. Its innovative, mobile-centric solution for event management ranges from concerts to conferences.

Harada was born in the United States, but grew up in Japan. Having lived in both countries, Harada knows how important it is to target the global marketplace. Which is why he has offices in Japan where he started back in 2011, Singapore and New York with about 30 employees.

Harada admits that the ticketing world is “ridiculously competitive” with high maintenance and low margins, which is also why he thinks having authentic and distribution (methods) are important factors to succeed in the space.

Peatix is always rethinking event ticketing as it also makes event recommendations. It offers new events and communities, offers from sponsors, smoother entry to communicating with attendees and organizers.

Harada founded Peatix together with his former colleagues at Amazon, and has served as its CEO since its inception. Taku also held the position of representative director and CEO of YOOX Japan until August 2009.

Prior to YOOX, Harada held various positions at Amazon Japan, including head of its mobile and online marketing divisions. He also launched the iTunes Music Store in Japan while at Apple in 2005 and led its marketing team.

Harada began his career at Sony Music Entertainment’s international business affairs division in Japan. He holds a B.A. from Yale University.

Online insurance, waiter app, design app at NY Tech Breakfast

NEW YORK–When every tech meetup seems to be covered at night, count NY Tech Breakfast counts on the early risers to come to its monthly event, now held at Microsoft for the second month. Last September 8, NY Tech Breakfast featured PolicyGenius, Proscape, TableSwipes and LawGo.


How about getting most of your insurance needs online? PolicyGenius’ CTO, Ian Yamey, talked about how the startup guides people to apply for insurance every step of the way, with a coverage calculator to help anyone make informed decisions.

He gave a walk-through of the application online, showing us how it’s easy to just fill in information to get different types of insurance online. “It’s an insurance checkup that takes 10 minutes to do,” he said, adding how it’s important for them to educate consumers about insurance as well.

If you’re shopping for the right company, Yamey guarantees unbiased quote comparisons as it hopes to cater directly to consumers, skipping agents altogether. Other insurance it offers includes pet and renters.

What makes them different? Insurance companies capture your information and sell to multiple insurance brokers/agents, while PolicyGenius claims it’ll work with you personally.

Also, it claims it’s easier to comparison and understand insurance the way it has focused on delivering a great experience.

Proscape helps ad agencies use the marketing app cloud to build and deliver apps–without coding. It makes sense for ad agencies that have to meet insane deadlines from clients everyday.

It’s supposed to reduce your app production times to hours, not months; eliminate the complexity and pain associated with custom app development; build powerful apps that integrate with CRM systems that generate insightful reporting; and give you the creative freedom you need to design in your tool of choice.

Proscape has a different pricing model, even for stores and sales and device, but there is a pricing model for the rest of us at $25 a month.

Since this is clearly targeted for ad agencies, its audience should at least know how to use Adobe Photoshop

Next presenter Prem Babu of TableSwipes said nobody has bridged the gap between owner and waiter with customers. What he means is the wait customers have to endure to be served their food–the wait to get seated, the wait to place orders, the wait for food and finally, the wait again to pay.

His app may just help waiters manage their time more efficiently in between tables and the kitchen. His solution, TableSwipes, will allow Waiters to use their iPhones to take orders at the table. Its app is customer designed and equipped with powerful features to help streamline order-taking. Its payment gateway is Stripe.

Orders can be instantly related to the kitchen on top of giving customers the necessary friendly alerts to help waiters better improve their dining experience.

Another presenter was LawGo. You choose a legal service, purchase the service you need in 5 minutes and get started with your lawyer. What many will like about the service is how you can choose a fixed-price legal service.

Digital clinic app Maven Clinic on the spot; JustWorks launches new permissions level

NEW YORK– The product challenges at the Product Council last August 31 were the digital clinic app offered by Maven Clinic and the new permissions level to be offered by JustWorks starting September 1. The meetup was held at the Pivotal Labs.


Maven Clinic’s Suzy Grange presented her app as a way to connect women with vetted healthcare experts via video complete with a forum for female patients and medical practitioners to talk to each other. It’s her answer to Googling your symptoms well and the endless wait in clinics.

The app works this way: You choose a practitioner, book an appointment and follow up. Pricing is $15 per session.

Why women? Women, said Grange, make 80 percent of healthcare decisions in their families. Women interact with the healthcare system at so many different points in life. And 80 percent of healthcare practitioners are women.

Launched last April 2015, the app is available nationwide with prescriptions offered in 5 states. It runs on iOs only right now.

What are the barriers to usage? Grange pointed out education, trust and immediacy. Just getting message across platforms can be a challenge along with immediacy, which may be reactive and requires developing a relationship with a practitioner.

Also present to give their inputs were Camilla Velasquez, Head of Product at Justworks, Jung Sin, a Product Design and UX Consultant and Jen Ator, Fitness Director at Women’s Health Magazine. –

If things don’t work out on video, Velasquez pointed out how it might be good if the company could help her schedule and meet her doctor in person. Safety was also raised. But overall, the response, even from the audience, was positive, saying it could make people more pro-active about their health.

To make the app sticky, another panelist suggested big-name practitioners to anchor the site. Others said determining her market is also crucial. She may also need to look into how coaching sites work, so people will keep coming back to the site. This is because if they only go when they’re ill, that’s a one-time incident. Offering something free for a period of time was also suggested.

As far as understanding her audience, it’s also important not to assume a lot of people know about what ails them or what they need to be tested for. College-age students may not know a lot of things about their health, for instance. It would have been better if the meetup had a doctor already signed up to the system as guest to give us an idea what she thinks about it and how she will be compensated.

Another panelist stressed again out how the app is “breaking a culture,” which means changing women’s behavior, young or old, into becoming more pro-active about their health.

The next speaker of the night was Velasquez of JustWorks, also one of the panelists, who talked about the launch of the site’s new permission system. Justworks is a platform that automates HR, payments, benefits and government paperwork for SMBs. There are 28M small businesses in the US.

Camilla Velasquez, head of Product at Justworks, pointed out the four product principles to explain Justworks’ new permission system: simple, fast, guiding and scales.

She said Justworks is solving the problem but sticking to their principles. Simple and fast: Small number of easy to understand permissions; too early for groups; Guiding: instruct users which permissions are for which roles; require admin status before adding permission; Scales: one overview screen, two entry points; flexible framework.

For direct reporting, she cited the changes in the following manner. Simple, fast: Turn on/off. Limit groups until later, with option to take action via email; Guiding defaults: Clear communications. Roll up and transparency for senior levels; Scales: Lay foundation for groups as new features are rolled out.

‘Think jobs, pains and gains, not build, measure and learn’–Osterwalder


By Dennis Clenente

In the startup world, who doesn’t know Alex Osterwalder, the lead author of the global best-seller, Business Model Generation, the handbook for visionaries, game changers and challengers? Osterwalder invented the “Business Model Canvas,” the strategic management tool for designing, testing, building and managing business models.

Last October 22, Startup Grind in New York City hosted a brief live Skype interview with Osterwalder from Switzerland and his co-author Yves Pigneur about their latest book, Value Proposition Design. Host Bob Dorf, co-author of The Startup Owner’s Manual, gave a short introduction of Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas before introducing him and Pigneur, saying how it was initially developed for big companies but was discovered and used more by startups through the years.

Taking a cue from that, Osterwalder, speaking from Switzerland, began his talk talking about how the once-mighthy Kodak fell by the wayside. “It failed to create a value proposition for the digital camera.” Now even big companies use the canvas.

In the new book, Osterwalder expands on his canvas concept to include Value Proposition Design (VPD), a guide for creating products and services that customers want

Determining customer needs certainly takes precedence here. For him, it’s about relentlessly taking a customer perspective, listening to customers than selling to them.

It’s not surprising to hear this from him, since he has utmost respect for Steve Blank’s work on customer development. For him, building first is a waste when the way to go about conjuring up your idea is to think about what he calls “jobs, pains and gains,” NOT build, measure and learn.”

“There’s a danger with build measure and learn. You do this you start in the worst possible way to test your ideas,” he said.

To avoid this, he suggests using the Value Map to determine the jobs, pains and gains. They come in a square and circle.

So we have come from the rectangle in the Business Model Canvas to the square (value proposition) and circle (customer development). In this manner, he says in the book, you (see and) achieve fit when your value map meets your customer profile.

“(But) you will want to test the circle first before the square,” he advised.

There is more to explore in this colorful book, including how it states these statements plainly yet clearly, “The Business Model Canvas helps you create value for your business. The Value Proposition Canvas helps you create value for your customer.”

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Osterwalder says he didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with the book. VPD goes “hand in hand with the Business Model Canvas.”

The important thing is to turn your ideas into value proposition prototypes with the many available practical tools offered in the book.

Why add more tools?

Who wouldn’t believe Osterwalder when he says, “I believe (why) a surgeon (needs) many tools than just a Swiss knife.” No pun intended even if he’s Swiss.

Still, wondering if the new book is for you, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Are you overwhelmed by the task of true creation?
Frustrated by unproductive meetings and misaligned teams?
Involved in bold shiny projects that blew up?
Disappointed by the failure of a good idea?

If so, Osterwalder believes Value Proposition Design will help you in the following ways:

Understand the patterns of value creation
Leverage the experience and skills of your team
Avoid wasting time with ideas that don’t work
Design, test, and deliver what customers want

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.

Storytelling in app world needs both Agile and Waterfall

brooklyndesignBy Dennis Clemente

Does the Agile methodology work in storytelling? If you ask Brian Kelly of Small Planet Digital, a full service mobile agency with 57 apps in the Apple Store, he thinks storytelling needs both Agile and Waterfall.

Using TV series as a case study, Kelly argued how Agile alone is not enough. “A pilot is the MVP, the episode the sprint and the season the version. Nobody writes the season(s) upfront.”

Stressing this point, he said, “When Agile works, it works but we’re often hired to tell stories and create new narratives. And agile is not really good for telling these great emotional stories.”

Kelly was one of three presenters at the Brooklyn Mobile Designers meetup along with
Refinery 29’s UX director Eben Levy and senior UX designer Juan Sanchez as well as Luke Miller, formerly of Yahoo and whose energetic speaking voice, will do him well in his incarnation as a mentor at General Assemb.ly.

Both Levy and Sanchez talked about the lessons they’ve learned in mobile design. Some of the key learnings they shared:

• Never assume they’re going to use (a feature)
• Consistency of experience is important
• White space is part of our background
• The problems you face may not be the interactive but how you need to diversify interface points
• Work closely with data analysts, to (design) in an honest way
• The biggest thing for us is the monetization of mobile
• Challenge is how to balance advertising needs vs. user needs
• It uses an internal tool to test

Using a newsfeed as case study, Miller advised people to take these three points to heart: usability, pagination and universal app for mobile and tablets. He stresses how it’s wrong to use a product person (internal) as test user.

Miller talked about the tools he has used. At Yahoo Finance, Miller used Hype. For interaction, he now uses a new tool called Pixate. “(The latter is) almost object-oriented programming, not timeline based, and with no coding.”

He urges designers to use data collection. “It’s good for hypothesis.”