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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.

10 things you need to know about investors

Investors

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–Learning about how to find investors is almost always different when you’re in 40s-up midtown (much older crowd) and 30s-below midtown (younger crowd). The former usually frowns on the word “meetup” to describe an after-office talk whereas a few zip codes down it’s less of an issue.

If you’re new to the tech community in New York, just use “talk” to describe what happened last March 19 at the Lee Hecht Harrison law offices when investors from different companies gave people tips on how to find an investor in the city. Here are some of the thoughts of Anna Garcia of 37 Angels, a community of women angel investors; Michael Beller of CoVenture; and Judith Feder of Harvest Capital.

1. Know if you really need investment. Know if you really need venture capital or angel investment or if you need to find out if you can get corporate grants or non-profit grants. Your idea could still be financial tech and still be non-profit.

2. Know when you need to pitch. Angel investors hold quarterly pitch forums. You will also find accelerators and incubators accepting startup funding applications quarterly and may run a pitch training program for 3 to 4 months.

3. How to find out if you’re a good fit for a venture capital investor or an angel investor. With VCs, study their websites and blogs and more importantly, their portfolio. Be aware that VCs invest in themes, while angel investors, because they come from different backgrounds, may have a diverse portfolio.

4. Still, VCs have some differences. There are VCs who are either hedgehogs or foxes. Investors who are hedgehogs are single-minded and tend to invest in teams with deep expertise and come from the same industry. Investors who are foxes are more dynamic, more adaptable and more open to anyone with a transformative product and creating new markets.

5. How to email investors. They prefer that you are coming to them with reference. If you met them before and they gave their contact info, you can contact them directly. For VCs, it’s important you have the same connections. For angels, know one and you raise the possibility of being introduced to another angel. Approach everything not as a mechanical process, but as a relationship-building exercise.

6. How to meet investors. Put yourself out there and be engaged in the startup eco system. Go to meetups, hackathons (even if you’re not a developer), tech talks, founders’ clubs, and mixers.

7. What is a no-no. No investor will read a business plan (but have one for yourself), because investors get it right away. Pitching to investors don’t exceed 7 minutes and can even be about 2 minutes. Also, make sure to describe your startup instead of using big words. When it comes to pitching, though, no is just an opportunity to explain your business better.

8. The bigger pie over small pie. A small slice of pie from a big pie is always better than a small slice from a small pie. Keep that in mind when you’re seeking investment.
When to grow your business and ask for money. Sometimes startups are far too early in the process to think of growth. You’re going to lose money, because you need to care about the growth. Growth is not a proxy for product-market fit.

9. How much money will you need? Think 18 months of runway. When you need to raise money, you need to know for sure how much you need, because sometimes you can underestimate your needs. How do you know if it’s a good deal? Think of how much money you need. Then double it. The best way to negotiate terms is have VCs competing

10. Other takeaways:

  • Be completely researched on what your competition is
  • Don’t be afraid to contact people you haven’t talked to in years.
  • Investors always want an equity deal than a convertible note
  • Husband-and-wife team not exactly ideal partnership to invest in
  • Smith of Qualtrics, Medlock of Swiftkey draw huge crowd at Data-Driven meetup

    data-driven meetup2

    By Dennis Clemente

    NEW YORK—CEO and founder Ryan Smith of Qualtrics spoke candidly about his beginnings in Ohio when he set up his company with his academician-father, ran it in his basement for five years and how he knocked on university doors in New York to offer his service to academicians at first last March 17 at the Data-Driven meetup at Bloomberg’s offices. After 12 years, the company is now valued at $2.1 billion.

    “We built a product together that was simple enough for me, and sophisticated enough for him (his father),” he said of his product that makes sophisticated research simple.

    In a sit-down talk with host Matt Turck, Smith talked about how many companies sometimes miss the forest for the trees. He remembers being asked so many business questions when almost always, it would have been better to ask “your employees and customers.”

    The Data-Driven meetup is a mix of both presentations and sit-down talk in a span of an hour and a half.
    CTO and co-founder Ben Medlock of Swiftkey chose to talk next about artificial intelligence in general as it relates to the future of mobile typing, the way it’s building the world’s smartest keyboard.

    Ben Medlock of Swiftkey talked about his smart prediction technology for easier mobile typing. “Swiftkey is a narrower AI company,” he said of his company designed in 2010, with close to 10 billion users today and 50 trillion characters written down.

    “How can we model how we think?” asked his audience.

    Swiftkey is building language models among other things based on fast and efficient smoothed n-gram models ; optimized trie search; morphemes and neutral nets/representation learning

    For input modeling, it uses Gaussian distributions to model interaction with the keyboard surface and linear gaussians. As for data collection, it has partnered with a UK-based company.

    CEO Paul Dix, for his part, presented how Influx DB works

    InfluxDB is a time series, metrics, and analytics database. It’s written in Go and has no external dependencies. Once you install it, you don’t need to install Redis, ZooKeeper, HBase, or whatever.

    InfluxDB is targeted at use cases for DevOps, metrics, sensor data, and real-time analytics.

    “It arose from our need for a database like this on more than a few previous products we’ve built,” Dix said.
    Dix announced plans to launch the testing build of version. 0.9.0 in a few months. Some new features will include support for tags and API changes. InfluxDB currently supports the following:

    • SQL like query language
    • HTTP(S) API
    • Storage of billions of data points
    • Database managed retention policies for data
    • Built in management interface
    • Aggregation on the fly

    “It’s (InfluxDB) is a discovery engine for what you are collecting,” Dix said.

    CEO Ion Stoic sat down to discuss the history of Databricks which was founded by the creators of Apache Spark.

    Smart tech in Kinsa thermometer, Augmate eyewear, Drop baking, Birdi monitor

    Kinsa
    Kinsa

    By Dennis Clemente

    The most common medical device, the thermometer, just got smarter, thanks to Kinsa. The FDA-approved smart thermometer can track temperatures and symptoms all right, but it does that by connecting its nifty wand to a smartphone’s earphone jack where–having downloaded the app– one can determine temperatures and symptoms. Over time, it hopes to gather better data and work with the public health sector in determining where illnesses are spreading.

    Available now in some US retails stores such as CVS, the FDA-approved smart thermometer is the brainchild of Inder Singh, the former executive vice president of the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Singh was at the Hardwired NYC meetup last November 11 at Digital along with three other presenters.

    Clearly, Kinsa has thought of everything in its water-resistant wand and app. When it’s plugged in on a smartphone, a visual display of bubbles pop out for kids to enjoy the process of getting their temperatures checked.

    Singh provided some tips and takeaways for those looking into retail:
    • Go international early to get pre-payment + marketing support
    • Go to Apple first and tell everyone Apple has stocked it
    • Test in the “fake stores” some retailers have
    • Rule of thumb: Wholesale price should be at least 4x your COGs, ideally six times,
    especially if you have significant customer support costs
    • Start packaging early. This is hard to get right. Retailer want to see your product upfront
    • Get merchandising equation instead of going big fast
    • Selling in is easy for very novel products.

    The other presenter of the night was Pete Wassell of Augmate which has found effective applications for smart eyewear in enterprise, especially in agriculture, automotive, aviation, construction, manufacturing, medical and pharmaceutical. Think bar code scanning, medical operations, professional care for animals. And yes, its platform works with wearables like Google Glass.

    Ben Harris, founder and CEO of Adaptics and Mark Belinsky, founder and CEO of Birdi also presented their startups. Adaptics is the maker of the Drop, an iPad-connected kitchen scale for baking while Birdi is a smart air monitor. It monitors the air quality of your home, tracking dust, soot and other health dangers plus warns you about emergencies.

    Drop Kitchen – Connected Scale and Recipe App from Get Drop on Vimeo.

    With Drop, you can be a baker right away with its app and Bluetooth scale. How does it work? If you need to bake anything, put a bowl on top of a Bluetooth scale with its heat-resistant silicon top and use it to gauge and see your progress in the iPad app, as it gives you visual cues if you’re using the right recipe or amount of ingredients.
    Tim Chang, partner at Mayfield Fund, spoke about the early stage VC firm’s investments and experience in the tech hardware space.

    On tech hardware, he pointed out how startups in this space have more to think about when creating their product. “They have to think of the software and the hardware and how they need to connect with each other.”
    Matt Turck of First Mark Capital hosted the meetup.

    UK’s Simon Laker discusses US move to EMV, Apple Pay with NFC

    nycmobilepayments pic

    By Dennis Clemente

    From the United Kingdom, Simon Laker of Consult Hyperion, a payments consultancy firm, has since called New York his home since May, especially as he gears up for what is happening next year. The United States is adopting a more secure credit card, EMV (Europay Master Card Visa).

    This was the talk last October 23 at NY Moble Payments at the ER Accelerator office in midtown Manhattan; Cardflight CEO Derek Webster served as host.

    It’s a timely issue as 80 countries are also in various stages of EMV chip migration with issuers including chips in bank cards and merchants moving to EMV-compliant terminals to increase security and reduce fraud resulting from counterfeit, lost and stolen cards.

    The U.S. is one of the last countries to adopt the technology, because of the required payment system change for banks and the astronomical migration costs. Once it rolls in the States, startups may be quicker to react compared to big companies.

    “In U.K, we have to 5 to 10 banks with 10 to 15 issuers. In the U.S., you have(hundreds) of banks with gazillion issuers,” Laker explained.

    The traditional magnetic stripe card costs about $0.25. The chip card can cost $1.25 to $2.50, according to ROAM, a provider of mobile point-of-sale readers and software.

    The US move to EMV can mean big changes on a global scale. “US payments represent 25 percent of the total payment (in the world) with 50 percent of fraud (incidents) also happening in the States,” he said, referring to how it’s been the target of hackers recently.

    What can EMV do? Prevalent in Europe, it can reportedly prevent the card thefts that happened recently in some chain stores. “Once the US (migrates to it), then the use of magnetic stripe (credit cards will go away),” he said.

    Magnetic stripe cards are easy to replicate.

    Laker also talked about the anticipated growth in the use of NFC (near-field communications) –enabled mobile devices for mobile contactless payments, especially with Apple Pay making use of it.

    Asked 3 years from now what role will Apple and NFC play, his nonchalant response drew chuckles. “Apple Pay will still exist. Apple knows how to do things well.”

    Laker is excited about his company’s HCE Bootcamp on November 19 this year in New York. Visit http://www.chyp.com/what-we-do/hce-bootcamp

    The agenda will include:

    • Status update on proximity payments from front-line experts;
    • Technical architectures for NFC transactions;
    • Using NFC for payment transactions in physical stores, online, in-app and for transit
    • Understand HCE and the ways that it can be exploited;
    • A detailed, practical walkthrough of a working prototype application for iPhone and for Android

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

    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.”

    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

    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.”

    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.

    Hatchery is back with no-nonsense feedback to startups

    hatchery-yao

    By Dennis Clemente

    You better be prepared when you present at “The Hachery: Are you serious?” meetup, because even if there are so many similar meetups in the city, it doesn’t fail in one regard: giving serious, constructive feedback.

    The secret to its no-nonsense approach probably lies in two things. It has fewer startup demonstrations—four this time, as one presenter didn’t show up. Second, startups have five minutes to pitch to the panel of investors, usually four or them. In the startup demo world, the five-minute presentation format is, of course, an eternity and for the panel listening, just more information for them to give serious feedback that startups truly need to hear.

    It also helped that The Hatchery’s first meetup last September 25–after taking the summer off–had the candid Kamran Elahian talking about his decades-long investing experience. The other panelists were Jeff Neu of B2B Ventures and Gregg Young of NY Angels, respectively.

    The investors were unanimous in saying how all the presenters need to review their financial projections. Elahian spoke at length about how in the interest of time, presenters should not do three-year financial projections, believing this to be unreliable based on his experience.

    “Value is in the eye of the beholder…not in the spreadsheets,” Elahian, talking about an unspoken reality in this business. “Make (investors) like you.” He added: “Establish value then negotiate.”

    With over 29 years of experience in the tech industry, Elahian has co-founded 10 hugely successful companies. As the chair and co-founder of Global Catalyst Partners, he has invested in multi-stage companies in the United States, China, Japan and Israel.

    The first presenter, Aspirevest, connects individual investors to financial advisors and asset managers in the alternative investments space pay per connection auction and data social feeds.

    CEO Daniel Roth sees a $1 billion opportunity, especially with “the financial world (being) 10 years behind the internet.” He is looking to raise $750,000 with a milestone in 18 months.

    With 3 US patents, bio-medical startup Synchropet is also seeking $750,000 in its variation on PET scanning for animals. Working prototypes are called rat cap and pet insert MRI It is competing in a $235 million by doing something smaller and cheaper.

    Each unit could cost $295,000. Beta products are expected to be done in December, delivery by the end of the summer of 2015 and sales by the end of 2015. It’s a high ticket product, especially being in the hardware category. “Make sure you are in the cash flow,” one of the investors said.

    “I have about 15 customers for the rat cap from Europe,” said founder and CEO Marc Alessi.

    The rise of personalized medicine is something that Bridget Osetinsky, co founder and CEO of Hyperfine, is hoping to capture with its Cornerstone tool. It aims to redefine the landscape of data search tools by introducing intelligence algorithms that will help in knowledge extraction in hospitals initially.

    For $20,000 a year, doctors can also reportedly use it among patients using on-premise solutions and later, in the cloud. It is seeking $3 million and would have to figure out issues of liability and confidentiality.

    CEO and founder Chris McBride presented Alta Editions, a digital platform for premium cooking content as a way to solve hard-to-find free recipes online.

    “Cookbooks represent a $3 billion global market,” he said as he noted how Cooks Illustrated may have the American market but not the global market.

    What is it going to do different? Re-launching early 2015, it will reportedly have a more personalized (approach) based on skill level, dietary needs, food purchases and user tastes. Founded in 2011, it faces an uphill battle. Content space is really difficult.

    GoPRit and University Beyond were initially scheduled to present.