’s Sheila Marcelo talks about her success in elderly and child care space

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–Last May 14, PandoMonthly hosted a one-on-one interview with Sheila Marcelo, CEO and co-founder of 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.

At one point, Marcelo remembers how she was made to live in a small hometown in Candelaria, Quezon to learn the Filipino language all over again when it was slipping from her. She went to Brent, an international high school in Manila.

She also recalls how she cleaned hardwood floors using coconut husks and pointing to the Projective Space’s old hardwood floors, “I can clean this floor now.”

“We did a lot of things with coconut,” she said as tells the audience about her parents being coconut entrepreneurs and how that has certainly influenced her to start She burrowed into it when her father suffered a heart attack as he was walking down a flight of stairs. is an online destination for care. It connects families with great caregivers and caring companies to help you be there for the ones you love. “We pair elderly care and child care in the same tech platform.”

“We spend millions of dollars investing in safety,” she said, stressing that her caregivers are vetted.

Marcelo said each individual is solely responsible for selecting an appropriate care provider or care seeker for themselves or their families and for complying with all applicable laws in connection with any employment relationship they establish.

It taught her to respect (working) remotely when she initially started her company with one of her tech co-founders based in Greece.

A smart and eloquent speaker, Marcelo pointed out “care” may have been considered soft when people should be hearing more about it as an economic imperative. The no. 1 source of caregivers of is the Philippines. “I was raised by a nanny.”

She has a lot of advice for women –and the audience – in general. Many of the audience took them like gems they had to tweet or write about.

“The more authentic you are the more you can take risks”

“Speak up. Over-project! Be bold. Experiment with your boldness.”

“Be intense with outcomes. Be chill with people”

“I assume everyone is smart”

“Ideas are about rallying a people to work together?

“Go out there. Experiment.”

“When I mentor people today, I ask them, ‘Did you impress or inspire’?”

“You can only free your mind when you get over your issues.”

“Any challenge is a growth opportunity.” is a subscription-based model with plans to launch an app soon.

In 2010, it started a TVC campaign, because “mothers watch cable TV.”

Up close with New York’s first CTO Minerva Tantoco

NEW YORK–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.

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.

Tantoco said she remembers being young in Silicon Valley and learning about pressure back in the eighties. “I wasn’t even old enough to rent a car. I had to have 25-year old colleague drive for me.” Her mother, a chemical engineer, is her role model.

Born and raised in Flushing, Queens, she went to Bronx High School of Science. Tantoco would create her own artificial software company when she was a junior in college. She sold it in 1985. For her family, it was not common to take the tech route, but because she pursued it, she prevailed in doing what she wanted to do with her life.

As New York’s CTO, which accepted last October 1, she said she probably made “the best decision of my life.” She likes how she is using her skills and abilities to provide technology strategy. “It’s an incredible opportunity. I never thought in a million years I would be CTO.”

Her advice to people: “You can’t be it if you can’t see it,” she said. She also worked for Palm and eventually worked as a CTO in various financial services.

Tantoco can be serious, but she also likes being irreverent. She said, “Have a single day be meaningful and do things by doing.” Upon realizing the sentimentality of her statement, she joked, “We should have a group hug later.”

In December, New York signed a franchise agreement allowing non-working phone booths to be converted into Wi-Fi free hotspots. It will also offer free phone calls. It’s a city-wide tech strategy. The city also aims to offer more internet access for 22 percent of New Yorkers who don’t have internet at home.

To succeed, she encourages everyone to “always disrupt yourself, or someone else will.”

Having inaugurated the tech talent pipeline, Tantoco sees technology as a path for the middle class to get jobs. “We need the talent. It’s very important for us to empower community schools.” She announced a summer youth employment program to expose kids to the startup world.

In using government data to help New York, she said, “New York has a great privilege. We have largest open data portal. We have an incredible civic hacking community.”

“We’re looking at the data to help predict where we should put public services first, how we can prevent homelessness and crime,” she added.

Addressing the audience, she said city hall “can use a lot of your feedback.”

NY Tech Meetup launches Apple Watch app, 7 other startups present

NEW YORK–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.

he presenters of the night were Ananas, AptDeco, Amadeus, CornellTech, Epicure, OneDrop and with Wikitongues as hack of the night.

Ananas founder Arielle Shekel made the right decision of showing an actual demonstration of a child on video, at Skirball Theater’s giant screen at that, teaching her own language to answer Shekel’s vision of having two children connect with each other from opposite sides of the world.

Shekel said her app was inspired by her international background. She was born in New York but moved to Tel Aviv, Israel.

For safety concerns, Shekel said her app’s first version will only offer recorded versions for now. She also said how she prefers to keep one child interacting with another child in their respective languages, instead of having them talk in many other languages. “In the future, we will have other languages but in our research, most (parents) know the other language they want their kids to learn,” she said.

The platform is designed for children with friendly flashcards and icons and reinforced by playful memory games.

Made in New York in 2013, AptDeco is a buy-and-sell marketplace for used furniture. The startup provides a platform for buying or selling used furniture. It’s an end-to-end process that includes arranging pick-up, delivery, payments and customer service. Listing items is free.

AptDeco reportedly verifies and buyers and sellers, then works with local delivery teams to pick up and deliver the furniture. For every sale, it deducts 14 to 19 percent from you depending on price item.

Amadeus is a data and payments platform for the music industry marketing to independent labels now.

Cornell Tech updated the audience about how its students are building a startup from the ground up, developing a pitch, deck and prototype that can be shared with others, tested with users and leveraged as a launching pad for future endeavors.

How would you like to stay healthy starting with the food you buy? Epicure analyzes your online receipts and recommends healthier options from its licensed nutritionists. Just take a photo of your receipt and send it to Epicure.

It is looking for health insurers and online grocers, even Instacart to be a partner. It is currently working on a color-coded system—red, yellow and green—for easier monitoring of your diet.

Hack of the month featured Daniel Udell and Freddie Andrade’s Wikitongues project, a global effort to record and provide access to every language in the world using a network of volunteers. People simply submit transcriptions. It now carries 200 videos.

Dennis Mortensen has been busy doing one meetup after another. This time, he was at the NY Tech meetup with Amy, the artificial intelligence-driven personal assistant of which schedules meetings for you.

Being diabetic inspired Jeff Dachis of One Drop to create a free diabetes management app, a place to log everything and anonymously share information with a community of like-minded people, delivering actionable, data driven insights on the platform.

Hacks on how to organize office lunch orders, write novels on Github

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–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.

Just ask Travis Kaufman, a senior platforms engineer at Refinery 29, who improved lunch ordering among his colleagues at Refinery 29.

It should be easy to order lunch, right? Well, there’s always room for improvement if you ask Kaufman. If you are ordering for five people, you should be okay using email. But when it goes up to a hundred or 200, the number of employees at Refinery 29, how would you deal with it?

Kaufman used some open-source software – NoeJS, ExpressJS, AngularJS, Redis and Twitter Boostrap to create an app he called R29 Lunch Box. The app allows people who ordered lunch for delivery to subscribe to lunch alerts.

Next hack came from Gregory Mazurek of Gilt who showed us how he uses Github to write novels—yes, you heart it right. It does make sense if you’re looking at collaborating with people on your novel. Talk about everybody on the same page.

I used majority of it using Github. Largely intended for engineering purposes, I use it for managing versions of (my novel),” he said.

How would you like weather forecasts? Do you like it served via email or text message with some type of meme around it, even suggesting what you need to wear. Funded by Beta Works, Poncho is free and customizable.

We also learned some new hacks from Zach Feldman of New York Code Design Academy. He dared us to have an impact on a product without being a non-product person.

Feldman showed us how he tweaked Amazon Echo to put his voice reminders/meetings on his Google Calendar? He showed how his voice turned to text on Google Calendar.

For him, Amazon Echo is a voice learning platform that you can modify to the functionality you want.

“It understands me,” Feldman said nonchalantly.

His hack on Amazon Echo is interesting the way he says “stop” to prompt the end of each instruction, much like how telegrams were voiced to a messenger.

Last presenter was Moat which showed its measurement analytics for ad industry and ad agencies. Using Coke ads as examples, the site showed how it can measure people’s interaction with all of the brand’s recent ads—how people see it and when they click on an advertisement.

Google speaker on smartwatches: Increased dependency on device, long battery life, low cost are key

NEW YORK–How do you measure people’s attention span these days. Look no further. Instagram is 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.

The first meetup of Smartwatch was held last April 27 at Turn to Tech, a new coding school in the Flatiron District. Ojugbele was was joined later John Ryu of Scout Ventures who pitched in for Bradley Harrison from the same VC firm. Other speakers, Paul Farkas and Ali Hussain, were not able to make it.

The challenge for smartwatches is, as everybody knows, is battery life. Ojugbele said the viability of smartwatches hinges a lot on “battery innovation.” If smartwatches can last for a week, it should be more marketable.

Ojugbele talked about how some Google functions can work for smartwatches like Google’s smartphone notifications. For example, you can easily get notification about your schedule from Google the search engine. Some wish lists could be how you can still get email notifications if you left your phone at home.

He said there’s no device that will make you give up a phone yet. We all spend a hundred times looking at our phones. A smartwatch may help us lessen the times we remove our phones from our pockets, but then again, it’s also likely you will look more at your smartwatch.

In two years, Ojugbele sees about 50 apps in the market. By then, it will change the way we use our phones. But there will be a constant pairing of the two devices.

In creating apps for smartwatches, it’s all the same for any device. Ojugbele says it’s important to figure out a problem and how to solve it. He believes there will be very creative ideas for the smartwatches. Some are thinking location-based solutions, beacons if you will. Others are focused on gestures like how a watch can light up when you raise your hand.

But smartwatches have to hit a homerun to hit critical mass.

Going back to Instagram, Ojugbele said our attention span will dictate our ideas about wearables. There will be a lot of wearable variations like the ring by Ringly. You don’t have to have all of them, of course, but it’s a given other devices will follow and manufacture wearables as they see fit.

Question is, what if they tanked? Ojugbele said it will be because of a lack of ecosystem and the prohibitive cost to these devices.

On the flipside, how would they succeed? “It will have an excellent battery life that will last me five days as well as increased dependency on this device,” he said.

Hardwired assembles most interesting mix of startups so far

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK—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.

Skycatch and Modern Meadow clearly got people’s attention at the meetup held at WeWork. For what it’s used for these days, Skycatch’s founder and CEO Christian Sanz said its drones are being used for making maps and surveying for construction companies and mining operations. They build both the hardware and software.

Sanz said Skycatch is close to getting a series B funding. It leases the drones and offers trained pilots to companies as well.

In its early R&D phase, Modern Meadow is looking to build a future of sustainable eco-friendly and cruelty-free animal products. It got the most people crowding CEO and founder Andras Forgacs afterwards. They were intrigued how the startup may just solve low meat production—even possibly hunger—in other countries. It’s too early to say so, of course.

Modern Meadow claims that it does not produce genetically modified meat nor does it print 3D meat. It also reportedly sources naturally and produces a nurturing environment for them to grow and create high-quality animal products.

Next presenter Christina Heller, co-founder and CEO of VR Playhouse, is looking forward to making virtual reality mainstream by creating content for it. It is looking forward to working with brands in terms of creative and production work, as she stressed its $150-million industry potential.

Heller said plans are afoot to bring a “Being John Malkovich”-like experience in June, referring to the movie that puts you inside the actor’s head.

The last presenter, Steven Eidelman, co-founder and COO of Whistle, talked about his whistle activity monitor, a health tracker for your dog. It attaches to any collar and measures your dog’s activities, giving you a new perspective on day-to-day behavior and long-term trends.

In designing the monitor to work easily, he said, “Just because people want your product doesn’t mean everyone will use it.”

Tech Day draws thousands of attendees to 400 startups

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–More than 400 startups pitched to 10,000 attendees at the fourth-year of the largest annual tech fair called Tech Day. The event 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.

Auctio promoted itself as a new source of high-quality leads. It uses its SaaS platform to introduce incentive programs that drives employees to submit leads based on their existing
sales and account management activities.

Ricardo Ibarra, founder and CEO, said employees just need to submit a lead via the website site or mobile app. The platform alerts the sales manager who reviews and assigns it. The deal closes and the referring employee receives a reward.

Have you had enough of all the hundreds of wireframing tools out there? Well, Cacoo, handcrafted by nulab, is different in the sense that any wireframing and prototyping can be mirrored in real time over somebody else’s computer.

Postag can help you look at how specific clothes are worn by people from all the world–and how it helps you decide whether particular styles or patterns suit you.

Ever thought how you can play the lottery or scratch cards on your phone. Jackpocket is working with official state lotteries to make this happen.

Appnexus was at the fair to find talents. It’s a technology company that provides trading solutions and powers marketplaces for Internet advertising.

Coalition Space is like other co-working spaces, except that it also offers more flexible arrangements, even virtual offices. For those who like a new desk anytime, it offers Freestyle. And if you need coaching, another startup called CoachMarket says there’s a difference between having all the skills, a disadvantage in some ways, and focusing or mastering just one skill to get a job out there.

Where everyone is specializing like Sailo (it just rents boats), Rentah is offering a marketplace where individuals and businesses can rent out their goods and services and spaces within their city. You could say it’s emulating Craigslist and Airbnb in one site/service, but can it be all things for everyone? That remains to be seen.’s Amy is focused on perfecting scheduling technology

NEW YORK–In a multitasking world, founder Dennis Mortensen likes Amy to do one thing but to do it better than anyone else. That means better than humans, because she is an “it” or artificial intelligence, to be exact. Amy or is a personal assistant who schedules for you.

Mortensen was at the NUI meetup last April 20 to discuss where Amy is headed. Nope, she can’t help you google a trip for you yet, but she at least knows how to schedule for you, which Google Voice and Siri can’t do yet. This is perhaps the reason why some attendees are clearly big fans of Amy, because it can book an appointment for you by simply arranging meetings for you via email where other A.I.s can only do search.

We wonder if Amy can eventually recover lost notes, as this story had to rely on memory after the notes disappeared, but Mortensen plays it conservatively when questions persist about what Amy can also do. His recent secured funding, a

$9.2 million in a Series A financing led by FirstMark Capital, may just vanish too if tries to do too much. His budget can only do so much.

Right now, all Mortensen is saying as he further develops Amy is to get more data. That’s where the seed money is going, so he can see a fully emulated human scheduling negotiator in Amy.

A question was asked if Amy will have a dashboard or some visual interface—and Mortensen doesn’t mince words and says no. Right now, the process is simple. You cc Amy on first contact with an email respondent, then she does the rest of the follow-ups for you—you just sit back and let Amy do the worrying. By the way, the system does not require no sign-in, no password, no download, you just cc to when you’re planning a meeting with anyone.

Amy sends a meeting invite to you and your guest for the agreed upon time. The date, time and location will align to your personal preferences, your current free/busy time and the constraints set by your guest. You obviously don’t see any of this, you just receive the invite – and will be looking forward to a chat with your vendor, without having to deal with the two days of stress scheduling it.

Amy recently got good press from CBS News which said: “Amy feels like the future. Even more than Siri and Google Now, she seems seamlessly human and as effective as a real person doing the same task.”

Designing museums and pay phone booths

NEW YORK–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.

Mike Dyer who wears many hats for Daily Beast as co-managing director, chief product and strategy officer of Daily Beast, moderated the panel consisting of Mike Abbink, creative director of the Modern Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Colin O’Donnell, founding partner of Control Group.

Abbink addressed the museum’s main concern now—how to attract more 18 to 39 year olds, a hard demographic to capture which was interesting given that the new Whitney Museum is opening next month in a location with heavy foot traffic, a tourist belt called the Highline.

In line with the day’s agenda, O’Donnell spoke about how the Control Group is well on its way to convert New York City’s pay phone booths around the city into free Wi-Fi spots. It won the right to do that under the initiative of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s first CTO Minerva Tantoco.

Abbink is responsible for managing and leading the internal design team at MoMA as well as creative leadership of the brand experience and visual identity of the Museum across all platforms and departments.

This includes exhibitions, advertising, programs, and events, as well as retail, publications, digital, and the MoMA PS1. Before joining MoMA Mike spent the past 18 years developing brands and designing identities, typefaces, packaging and websites.

Mike’s design career started at MetaDesign in San Francisco where he helped developed the strategy and visual concepts for Niketown Honolulu and in-store design systems for Nike stores in Melbourne and Toronto. After three years there, he went on to co-found the agency, Method, where he served as creative director and helped shape the company’s design vision. Mike oversaw the development of corporate identity, interactive design and web design for clients such as Adobe, Autodesk, MSN, Gucci and MoMA.

Mike gained extensive experience working as a design director at Apple Computer where he designed packaging (the first PowerBook G4, Power Mac G5, iSight Camera, and OSX Panther) and directed a major update to the company’s corporate identity when Apple changed their typeface from the classic Garamond to the more austere Myriad — a decision that affected every piece of the company’s collateral which was redesigned by Mike and his team.

O’Donnell, on the other hand, is responsible for corporate strategy, business development and thought leadership that drives the company’s growth. He has led the company toward groundbreaking initiatives such as On-the-Go, the award-winning information kiosks for the New York City MTA; and LinkNYC, the most advanced public Wi-Fi and advertising network in the world.

Recognized as one of AdAge Magazine’s Creativity50 for being a top creative influencer, O’Donnell works with forward-thinking clients to develop business-focused strategies and products that take advantage of the web’s evolution from browser, to mobile, to the physical world. He has been featured in major media outlets such as Fast Company, Wired, and the New York Times for his transformative work with urban environments, retail, and mass transit.

Startups aim to eliminate duplicates and make databases mobile- and graph-friendly

NEW YORK–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.

Airtable is making complex sets of databases easy and simple to access on mobile devices. A freemium model, Liu said Airtable is for high-end business users looking beyond spreadsheets which are designed to do numerical tasks and financial analysis.

The next speaker, Crouch told the crowd composed mostly of seasoned developers that his only background was college before introducing Mark43. At 23, he already has a startup that helps identify duplicate people in law enforcement records. He thinks Mark43 can help first responders fight violent crimes.

The problem he is solving stems from the dated law enforcement software. “We’re building a cloud-based records management and analysis platform. There is no universal master record of people,” he said of his startup founded in 2012.

How big is this problem? Crouch showed figures that point to 40 percent of 5M million people in the Washington, DC area being duplicates, based on record of records of the DC Metropolitan Police department.

Crouch acknowledged concerns about police harassment and the need for a high level of accountability in using his technology. “The whole point is to use data to make more informed decisions that can enable them to do their job better.”

How did you get people to trust him being 23 and with no law enforcement background? With the police department in DC having no other means to develop its technology, Crouch was able to make it happen for being at the right place at the right time with the right police chief. “We were lucky to have a police chief in DC, run by a woman, make a forward-moving choice.”

Snowflakes’ Muglia asked the crowd, “Can the cloud solve my data warehousing challenges?”

The answer, of course, is if you use Snowflake. Most of Muglia’s presentation leaned on the benefits of using the cloud, by trying to answer all the concerns about it, whether it’s public or private, especially how few companies have the latter, because of its prohibitive cost.

What cloud model should you use? Infrastructure, Platform or Software? Muglia is unperturbed about its competition: Redshfit, the data warehouse of Amazon, if it thinks cloud deployment can save businesses money — and it can be right there to offer its service, and more.

Neo Technologies’ Eifrem presented next, telling his audience how graphs are eating the world and how a graph database is important in building relationships between data. Pulling out data from Forrester Research, he said over 25 percent of enterprise will use graph databases.

Without mentioning the social network it works with, Eifrem said a graph database is effective in Facebook’s social graph. Another client, Walmart, uses its neo4j graph database to understand connections between companies.

Reporting New York's startups and personalities