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

By Dennis Clemente

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Navigation lights on your bike, virtual reality as productivity tool

NEW YORK–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.


Hammerhead’s Piet Morgan said the idea of a bike-mounted LED navigation came to him when he biked 63 days from New York to San Francisco and thinking how airplanes also require navigation lights. It has since been an 18-month work in progress in China. “We have an iOS app and will soon have an Android version. “We are working full speed on the Android development by the time we ship in the next few weeks,” he said.

The bike-mounted gizmo works with flashing diodes to give turn-by-turn navigation, crowdsourced paths (via Straya and MapMyRide) and even direction to the nearest Citibike exchange. Is this safer cycling? Hammerhead thinks so.

If you have the Hammerhead gadget then, you must want to try having your own bike from Brilliant Bike, a startup focused on cycling manufacturing and sustainable development. A startup built by bike enthusiasts Adam Kalamchi and Kane Hsieh, the bikes are meant to bring down pricing of bikes without scrimping on design. It is doing this by cutting out middlemen and big retail spaces to let you purchase bikes in advance—to your customization needs; it’s biking a la carte.

While also thinking of bringing prices down, Hsieh and Kalamchi stressed though how important it is to over-invest in early runs. “Cost engineering is a tempting but slipper slope,” Hiseh said.

For Shane Scranton of IrisVR, work can be everywhere –and he sees it in his VR tool for pros like architects, engineers and designers. Scranton said many tools are still confined to the computer screen. “Our software enables you to make immersive, VR walkthroughs on your computer,” he said, as he aspires to make it invisible, seamless, non-technical.

Scranton sees a lot of industries that can make use of it; industries like real estate, gaming, film and advertising worlds. What he’s most excited about is how to apply the multiplayer function in gaming and how to use it for productivity purposes. If it succeeds, he sees it as a way for companies to save on travel cost.

Its app currently supports SketchUP files but will add other tools later.

The other presenter, American Prison Data Systems (APDS), hopes to be an education, rehabilitation, and job training and placement for prisoners using technology.

The idea is for more inmates to get their GED and increase their book learning while behind bars, making them productive citizens when they get out of prison. But what makes it different from any social-civic undertaking is ho w prisoners will be able to join the digital revolution. APDS sees prisoners using tablets so they can study for their GED, do homework, and basically learn anything they can use to get their second chance out of prison.

As its parent company, Wink was also present to talk about Relay, a touchscreen that acts as a command and control center for all your connected devices. It allows you to monitor and manage everything in your home.

For Wink, it’s crucial then that it has Honeywell, Philips, Chamberlain, Schlage, GE and others developing Wink-compatible products while making it available to buy at Home Depot and Amazon.

Protecting customers, company and brand through cryptography

By Dennis Clemente

How do you protect your customers, company and brand? At the IoT Central meetup on security at General Assembly last March 12, Atmel’s Dan Ujvari put it this way: it’s all about the CIA. Well, not the intelligence agency but this: “confidentiality of messages, integrity of transmissions and authentication of messages.”

Atmel is developing what could be the Security of Things: innovative technologies that fuel machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and the “industrial Internet.” It’s not new to the tech world but it is trying to address the new demand for Internet of Things.

Founded in 1984, Atmel designs and manufactures microcontrollers, capacitive touch solutions, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. Atmel provides the electronics industry with system solutions focused on industrial, consumer, security, communications, computing and automotive markets.

Ujvari said three things that crypto-authentication and crypto-communication should be able to address: confidentiality, integrity and authentication.

Ujvari said it should “ensure one can read the message except the intended receiver” (confidentiality), assure the received message was not altered in any way (integrity) and “it should prove something what it is declared to be (authentication).”

Why do we need crypto-authentication? You will want to prove components and disposables are genuine; ensure clearance level and control delivered services.

With a “shared security key,” Atmel sees how it can do the following:
• Assure code is genuine before booting
• Downloads are from genuine source and unmodified
• Secure your messages today and tomorrow with its “perfect-forward” security
• Protection from cloners

In terms of ecosystem control, Atmel claims it can prove components and disposables are genuine, while also ensuring client clearance- and access- level and control delivered services.

Crypto-authentication is clearly needed when a study by HP points to 70 percent of IoT devices being vulnerable to attacks. It was also found in another report that here are security flaws in embeddable systems, even in simple USB firmware.

Put it simply, Ujvari said your device is going to be in the hand of somebody else. “They can easily replace parts (to assess it),” he said.

With its shared secret key (a combo of private and public keys), he said digital signatures and certificates will create a circle of trust.

Barton LLC also provided a legal perspective on IoT Security.

This light bulb stays on even when the power is out

light bulb

By Dennis Clemente

Imagine if you had a light bulb that stays on even when the power goes out? Such a light bulb now exists, and stays lit, at least for 4 hours.

“This has never been done before,” said Shailendra Suman whose LED light bulb, SmartCharge, wowed audiences and the media at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last year.

The SmartCharge works just like any other light bulb, except that when the power goes out, the light bulb will keep working for up to 4 hours and will remember the last position of the light switch controlling it.

If you were not at home when the lights went out, you should still have 4 hours of light if nobody turned on the light switch.

The light bulb is also estimated to last 25 years.

Click to read more

appLOUD and youWare connect online and physical worlds

How much of the online world do you want to merge with your physical world? Two startups at the NY Tech Meetup last December 2 aim to remove this friction.

appLOUD, a live stream of fan-generated live music videos, allows you to give a tip to starving musicians out there, according to founder Cecilia Pagkalinawan. You simply watch 30 seconds of live music videos from street performances to concert halls and it will make sure the tips reach these artists. For artists already in the stream, the “tips” can be categorized in various ways–for rent, school tuition, even charity donation.

The other startup demonstration, Thinkyou, could be a business card killer. Its YouWare is instant social networking if you have one of its wearables. For instance, you can connect on Linkedin with someone you just met by the flick of a QR-coded wristband.). And we all thought QR codes were dead.

How does it work? When someone scans youWare with the youPass app, you become instantly linked based on the social network accounts you want to use for connecting with someone.

How is it doing? It’s fairly new. Founder Mike Juliano is currently running a Kickstarter campaign where he is currently raising $50,000 for it.

Not exactly a newbie since it was founded in 2009, but wireWAX left the crowd in awe as it demonstrated its taggable video tool. It allows you to add tracking tags to people and objects on video. To showcase its technology, a demonstration showed how it could track every person coming into the theater. Yes, we saw this in Minority Report the movie and even another company that presented in this same theater months ago.

Personal investing has gone social as well with Openfolio. It’s up to you, though, if you want to share your investments with Warren Buffett, though. The app allows you to stay private and choose the portfolios you want to see.

Another presenter, Celery, is not for vegetarians only. It’s a buy-and-sell bitcoin site. Reportedly secure, it allows you to buy bitcoins using your bank account. They can put your purchased bitcoins in storage.

Other startups showed how their startups or products can make our lives easier or productive: Kinvolved can check your kids’ school attendance; Bespoke marries discovery and utility visually, and showed.me offers enterprise peer-to-peer learning among employees.

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


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.

Tiggly, Dweet.io among standouts at NY Tech Meetup demo night


By Dennis Clemente

How do you pack in 12 startup demos in two hours? Last November 3, the NY Tech Meetup did it again with Tiggly and Dweet.io among the standouts of the night at Skirball Theater at NYU.

Every parent sees their kids using digital devices more, which also means less physical playtime for them. Recently funded for $4 million, Tiggly has found a way to merge both physical play with the digital world in its tablet app. It has developed game apps and physical objects used in tandem with tablets to help educate kids using conductor silicon. The startup has clearly found a sweet spot between a toy and an app.

CEO Peter Semmelhack presented dweet.io, a Twitter for things. You dweet, say, a public swimming pool temperature or air quality in a city. It’s Twitter for machines, sensors, devices, robots and gadgets, enabling data to become easily accessible through a web-based RESTful API.

Built from day one for commercial and enterprise deployments, a dweet payload can reach up to 2,000 characters. It’s public by default but you can make dweets private by purchasing a lock which are then applied to thing names. Each locks costs $0.99.

It only holds a thing’s last 500 dweets for up to 24 hours, then it’s history. But you can build a connector to your data store of choice such as Dropbox, AWS and Tempo-DB.

Next presenter, Admitted.ly positioned itself like how online dating works. It is a free platform that helps high school students find their dream colleges and universities, connect with mentors, and get accepted.

A “graduate” of ER Accelerator, Admitted.ly works as an outreach for high school students and guidance counselors but in a fun, engaging way. It even has walkability directions among other useful guides when choosing a school.

Another presenter, BugLabs, is a software company that focuses on providing easy enterprise application development tools for the Internet of Things.

Keezy’s presentation was perhaps the first unspoken one in NY Tech Meetup’s decade-long history. The demo showed how the music software works using two if its music apps, Keezy and Keezy Drummer for iOS, easily that even kids can play around with them. You can record different sounds on Keezy but the Drummer is just one kit.

Not all presentations are crowd-pleasing but some marketing people listened intently on how Offerpop works to create marketing engagement platforms for today’s social and mobile consumers—and how it helps the best brands, retailers and agencies in the world connect, engage and convert consumers.

Launched last September 29, Parcel offers off-hours delivery service in New York (not including Queens) for only $5 (not heavier than 30 pounds, no higher or longer than 2 feet). You can select a one-hour delivery window.
Other presenters include Simple Machine, crafter of gaming experiences and stories like The Outcast as well as SquareSpace which now integrates Getty Images in its CMS platform for people to buy photos to use directly on their sites.

Waywire Networks talked about how its curating all the videos to make it easy for everyone to find the videos based on their interests. Each channel is authored and “highly niched.” It hosts content and is currently looking for curators
The Hacks of the Month were Calcash, an 8-bit online arithmetic battle game that makes learning and solving problems fun, accessible, and competitive; NewsFeel, which graphs the New York Times articles on any topic based on sentiment and lastly, Nodeflow, a just-in-time synchronous Javascript compiler that makes Node.js development easier.

Can you give up your Wi-Fi subscription for Karma?


By Dennis Clemente

“Give up your Wi-Fi subscription for Karma.”

Yes, Steven van Wel, co-founder and CEO, said that but no, he’s not asking you to join a counterculture revolution. He was talking about Karma, a Wi-Fi pocket device that allows you to have internet access everywhere you go.

Van Wel was one of the presenters at the Hardwired meetup last October 21 at Digitas, with other smart hardware startups Body Labs and Tomorrow Lab.

The startup recently signed agreements with Sprint and Clearwire for access to their 3G and 4G networks, and has raised a $2.2 million seed round from investors including Werner Vogels, Rothenberg Ventures, 500 Startups and TechStars.

The startup’s goal is to end the “drip-drip torture” of bad Wi-Fi connections. “It’s all about you and your data, not the device and a contract,” he promised.

Using 4G LTE cellular data connection to create a personal Wi-Fi signal, you connect to Karma like you would to your home or office Wi-Fi.

Available now in the States, it is priced at $149 with no monthly fees or subscriptions.
You pay only for the data you use, with no data expiration. It’s $14 for 1GB.

The biggest challenge in launching has been keeping the experience frictionless and free of surprises for customers.

Next presenter was BodyLabs’ Bill O’Farell, CEO and founder, who talked about how the company uses the world’s most sophisticated understanding of human size, shape and motion to create a digital body platform upon which goods and services can be designed, manufactured, bought and sold.

O’Farell foresees consumers incorporating their own human body models into their online digital identity and using those models as a key component for selecting and receiving goods and services. “We see the human body as the key element around and upon which goods and services are designed and produced.”

“We provide all the body shape information businesses and consumers need to match customers’ needs with products and services,” O’Farell said. “We do this via 3D human body models and the attendant data those models represent.”.

Models can be posed, animated and manipulated with complete fidelity to how real humans move and deform.

BodyLabs has license agreements with Brown University and the Max Planck Institute (Germany) for software and systems based on a statistical model of how human body shape and pose changes across populations.

Theodore Ullrich, founder of Tomorrow Lab, talked about how his startup uses science and design to invent revolutionary hardware products. “When designing a product, we basically tear out everything that’s been done to it so far.”

The startup has built a wireless-connected pill dispenser called Adhere Tech and a smart bike rental system called Social Bicycles, both mentioned in this blog a few months ago.

Also in attendance at the meetup was Matt Witheiler, partner at Flybridge Capital, an early stage VC firm. Matt Turck, the Data-Driven meetup host, moderated the Hardwired meetup.

Another scheduled presenter, Yanda Erlich, founder and CEO of Wearable Intelligence (Google Glass for Enterprise) canceled at the last minute.

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

IOT photo

By Dennis Clemente

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do wearables have in common with the branding world?


By Dennis Clemente

At the Digital Dumbo meetup at the Interbrand office last September 4, the two sets of panels, totaling 8 experts from various fields, addressed the internet of things (IoTs), including wearables, in terms of what they have in common with the branding world.

“IoTs are a branding problem,” one speaker from Interbrand said. The problem stems from the fact that most wearables made these days are based on an assumption that they can find users to define it for them.

The panelists shared the following insights:

• Technology will need to know how to talk to each other before it makes sense for people to use (read: wear) them (and brand them).
• More people will use it if they know what it can do for them and how it applies to their needs
• Everybody is asking the wrong questions. Wearables are not utilitarian
• People will use it if they know what they want
• Esthetic and utility aspects of it need to be worked out
• What is appropriate? Why are you wearing Google Glass? Are you recording me? Are you documenting me?
• (Wearables) have a kind of weirdness (that should) taper off and become more useful
• Fitbit has a culture around it because of fitness people. They’re buying into the culture of fitness
• We (consumers) don’t know what we want, but we want to be happy

It was admittedly a challenging discussion. However, Robert Genovese, VP Integrated Marketing of Kenneth Cole, may have stumbled on something very important: analog or the power of the less intrusive experience: auditory.

Who would believe analog’s relevance in this day and age? Genovese’s two kids did who, he said, listened to a baseball game on radio with him and asked so many questions about it. Watching how kids tinker with the future of things may just offer some surprises. Has anyone thought of that?

Genovese probed further, “If I i can have a human experience (using it). If we can have a better relationship (because of it)…” He mentioned “Her” the movie and why its technology there worked well–it was like us, just better. People have honed in on the visual aspect of the IoTs when the auditory experience may be just as promising.

Wearables, he said, will work if it doesn’t end up in someone’s drawer.

Alex Lirtsman, co-founder & chief strategist of Ready Set Rocket, moderated the first panel consisting of Liesje Hodgson, senior consultant, Innovation of Interbrand as well as Nick Panama, co-founder of Cantora, a venture studio focused on building technologies and entertainment experiences that reshape the relationship between audiences and performers.

The two other panelists were Colin Vernon, director of Cloud & Platform at Little Bits. Most recently, as LittleBits’ cloud platform lead, he spearheaded LittleBits’ newly announced cloudBit, which allows anyone to turn any object into an internet-connected smart device – no soldering, wiring or programming required. The other speaker was Jun Shimada, CEO & founder of ThinkEco, an energy efficiency startup based in NYC that offers its patented, internet-of-things platform to utilities.

The second group of panelists was moderated by Forest Young, creative director of Interbrand. His panel consisted of Genovese. Genovese is responsible for leading the integrated marketing and communications practice at Kenneth Cole Productions. The other panelists were Gareth Price, technical director of Ready Set Rocket and Richard Talens, co-founder of Fitocracy & Adviser at Pavlok.

The host, Digital DUMBO, produces live events, conferences, content, and custom experiences that connect companies and brands with our community of digital tastemakers, talent, and executives.