Smokers Are Going To Love This California Startup, That’s Helping Veterans

HelpingHandz,California startup,startup interviewRob Howell is a Marine Corps veteran, who is trying to make life easier for smokers while at the same time helping veterans. He is the founder of a product startup that first tried crowdfunding with fundable.

HelpingHandz is the thing smokers have been looking for, for years, that protects the flame of a disposable lighter from the wind. There have been so many times that I personally have struggled with a lighter because of the crosswind. HelpingHandz is a ligher hood that fits around any standard sized disposable lighter, providing the shield the flame needs to stay lit. As an added bonus, HelpingHandz is also a keychain and a bottle opener.

As for the veterans, as a retired Marine Corps veteran, Howell will be donating a “significant portion of profits to programs that help veterans heal both psychologically and spiritually from traumatic combat experiences.” he said in an interview with

The HelpingHandz product is one of those things that’s so simple you wonder why it wasn’t done before. The fact that Howell is helping sufferers of PTSD is a tremendous added bonus. Check out our interview with Howell below.

What is your startup, what does it do?

HelpingHandz (HHz for short) produces and sells a versatile lighter accessory that protects the flame of a disposable lighter from being blown out by inclement weather: wind, rain, snow, etc. Our product also functions as a bottle opener and keychain, making it the ideal tool for outdoor activities like camping, boating, or a day at the beach.

HHz currently works only with standard Bic lighters. We hope to have future designs that are compatible with other lighter models.

HelpingHandz is driven by the objective of helping United States Armed Forces combat veterans. The CEO and founder, Rob Howell, is a veteran of the Marine Corps committed to donating a significant portion of profits to programs that help veterans heal both psychologically and spiritually from traumatic combat experiences.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Rob Howell is the founder and CEO of HelpingHandz. After serving in the Marine Corps for four years, I moved to Wyoming to attended Central Wyoming Community College in the Environmental Science and Leadership Program. This is a program that works hand and hand with the National Outdoor Leadership School.  While attending school, I worked for a local tree trimming company. My experience in Tree Care inspired me to start my first business, Continental Tree Care, a full service tree company that offered organic pest control and fertilization.  Tree care required long, hard hours and a grueling amount of physical labor but it helped build a resiliency and determination within that served me well for my future inventions.

After six years with my first company, I began focusing on different invention ideas but came across a lot of issues getting the necessary patents. Finally, in January of 2012 I invented HelpingHandz and fell in love with the concept and mission of the product. I haven’t looked back since.

sneakertacoWhere are you based?

HelpingHandz is an internet based company operating out of San Clemente, CA.


What is the startup culture like where you are based?

Southern California is a fertile environment for young entrepreneurs. While we haven’t actively started looking for investors yet, the response from our local community has been extremely positive and supportive.  I think if you have a good idea or a good product, this is the place to be.  It is a great place to start a business.

What problem does your startup solve?

Anyone who has ever struggled to light a cigarette/cigar on a windy day knows how futile and frustrating of a task it can be. It’s equally difficult to start a campfire or fire up the grill using a lighter outdoors in inclement weather.

HelpingHandz provides a cheap, easy solution to this problem. All you need is our product and a disposable lighter.

What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?

Overcoming a lack of experience in manufacturing and product sales has been the biggest challenge. While doing hours and hours of exhaustive research was helpful, the most beneficial learning tool for me was speaking with dozens of product and manufacturing professionals who had already established a disciplined, effective business process.  While it’s taken longer than anticipated to bring this product to the market, I’ve always been confident my concept is a good one and after months of hard work and patience, we’re on track to launch in May 2013 with our first production run shipment!


What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?

2012 brought us a number of fortunate milestones — we filed for two necessary patents (one which has already been approved).  We’ve filed trademarks for our name and logo. We’ve finalized the design and prototype phase for our product.  We’ve launched our marketing campaign by building our webpage, producing a video demonstrating how our product works, and promoting our company via social networks and blogs. Also – we’ve completed other business systems like packaging, warehousing and shipping protocols. Finally, we’ve received quotes from dozens of manufacturers, and we’ve begun negotiations with a few large distributers we think are good fit for us.

What are your next milestones?

Our next milestone is funding.  We’re looking for the right investor to help reach our funding goals. We need enough orders of HelpingHandz from our manufacturers so that we can fulfill our distribution chain and have enough left over to take on new customers without running out.

Who are your mentors and role models?

I’ve had had too many to name them all but I would definitely start with my parents — they taught me how to work hard and the importance of always keeping commitments. These values were further instilled in me by the Marine Corps.

There are countless friends and teachers that I’ve learned so much from.  I try to take a piece of the good from everyone I meet, regardless of their status. I have learned a great deal from my life experiences.  I look up to people who focus their efforts on helping others and who make positive impacts in their communities. I could also say that I am fortunate to have met people who have shown me the negative side of society because I gain a better understanding of what I don’t want to be.

What’s next for your startup?

Next is laying out the distribution map.  We’re in discussions with major convenience store distributers right now that can help us reach our goal of being in fifty-thousand stores by the end of the year.  We would also like to start a video contest in the near future, where people make their own videos showing how they helped someone in need of an HHz.  The winner will be voted on by the HelpingHandz community and the grand prize will be something really amazing like a trip to Hawaii.

Where can people find out more?

We are currently running a crowd funding campaign on the website Fundable.  Here’s the link  You can get more information about our product, watch a two-minute demonstration video, and pre-purchase a first run HHz (there’s also an option to purchase a limited edition gold-plated HHz).  We also have a website, and we are on Facebook at HelpingHandz.  My Twitter name, which I just signed up for, is Rob Howells @HelpingHandz1


Now Read: DC Startup Troop ID Validating Veterans Past & Present In The Civilian World


Celebrities Love The Startup The World Has Been Waiting For: Hater App


There are haters everywhere, or at least that’s how the song goes. Lord knows I have a bunch.  That’s why Jake Banks created Los Angeles startup Hater. It’s the world’s first social network surrounded by things people hate.

The social network is alive and growing at a very quick rate. People are finding lots of commonalities over the things they hate. It can be anything from hating the New York Yankees to hating pickles on a Big Mac. It can even be hating your ex-girlfriend. But, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Batey says “It’s not about bullying”.

Hater App works on your mobile device. Download it from the app store and you can immediately start identifying the things you hate and identifying with the people who hate similar things.  If a person becomes the subject of too much hate, or things get inappropriate (to a degree) they will get filtered out.

To date there’s been nothing available like Hater, and it’s caught the eye of celebrities like Teyana Taylor, Wiz Khalifa and Fat Joe who will feature the app in his next show. “Fat Joe’s people found out about Hater and reached out to us” Batey explained to at TechCrunch Disrupt NY.

Hate isn’t always used as a bad thing though. Batey explains that there are celebrities that are getting together over issues like global warming and getting users to say why they hate global warming. “Users may say things like I hate global warming because I can’t breathe” Batey said. It’s a great awareness tool and it’s blowing up.

Hater launched at SXSW and since then Batey and Banks have been hard at work promoting their startup globally. They recently did New York Tech Day, TNW in Amsterdam and now TechCrunch Disrupt 2013.

“You don’t always have to like something, and the option to hate or dislike has been missing out there. Everyone has something they hate; now you can and it’s better than therapy.”  Banks said in a statement.

Mashable recently featured Hater in “8 standout apps from March” which is a particularly big honor considering how many apps were released at SXSW which fell during that month. They’ve also been featured on Wall Street Journal live.  People are quickly beginning to see that Hater app is a lot deeper than you may think.

Check out our interview with Batey below.

More from TechCrunch Disrupt here at nibletz.


Fueled By Cardboard: Kidpreneurs Kid President & Caine’s Arcade Spark Happiness & Entrepreneurship

Kid President, Caine's Arcade, Kidpreneur,entrepreneruTruth be told I’ve been waiting for the exact right moment where I could sneak in a story about an awe inspiring 9 year old from Memphis Tennessee. If you’re not familiar with Kid President, Robbie Novak, you have to be living under the proverbial rock.

Novak’s this awesome little 9 year old boy who has a brittle bone disease. He’s had over 70 breaks in his short nine years. He’s also adopted (like me) and loves to dance. Aside from the casts he’s often stuck in, you would never know that he had the disease. You wouldn’t know anything sad about him, he makes people laugh and have fun.

Just for fun Novak and his adult brother in law Bradley Montague stared making videos. They cam up with a character, Kid President, and built a set out of cardboard, and used furniture you could find at any good yard sale to create an Oval Office. Novak sits behind a desk (and sometimes on it), and offers his words of wisdom, great interviews, hilarity and sometimes just dancing.

When Novak has a guest in his videos he talks to them through a can and a string and typically gets them to dance as well. Josh Groban, MC Hammer and most recently President Barack Obama have appeared alongside Novak.

But way before the celebrities started catching wind of the 9 year old President, Rainn Wilson from NBC’s “The Office” and the creator of the YouTube channel Soul Pancake found Novak and recruited the boy wonder to release his videos on the Soul Pancake channel.

While no one knows the terms of any revenue split or profit sharing, Novak had one requirement before joining the Soul Pancake channel, and that was of course to eat pancakes. Which he did.

Kid President’s videos have been seen tens of millions of times and he’s been featured on just about every decent sized media outlet known to man. In fact the Obama administration had Kid President be their April Fool’s Day prank this year. With that every major tv network picked up Novak from behind the podium in the White House briefing room.

Montague and Novak never set out for fame or money, they just wanted people to be happy, to get along better and to dance (so far the only celebrity that Novak hasn’t asked to dance has been Obama).

Being in the content business we are sure there is some money being made, and it’s most likely all being saved up for Novak and his sister’s college funds. They offer some Kid President merchandise and since Kid President’s White House appearance for April Fool’s Day and as a grand marshall of sorts for this year’s easter egg roll, his popularity has again increased ten fold.

And it all started with a cardboard set that he and his brother in law made for fun.

Coincidentally today is the year anniversary of Caine’s arcade video going viral on the web.

Caine Monroy was also nine years old (last year) when some cardboard made him famous. For him he wasn’t looking for fame either, he was just having fun putting his entrepreneurial mind to work in his father’s used auto part store.

Over the previous summer Monroy had created an “arcade” out of used cardboard boxes from his dad’s shop. At one point a filmmaker named Nirvan Mullick walked into the shop looking for a door handle for his 96 Toyota Corolla. Curious about the boxes shaped like games, Mullick asked Monroy what he was doing and he said he made an arcade.

Some of the boxes turned into games required more imagination than skill, but some games actually had mechanical function.

It’s amazing what a lot of heart, a big imagination and a smart smiling 9 year old can do.

Monroy told the filmmaker he could pay $1 for two turns or $2 for an all day fun pass and 500 turns. Intrigued by what the 9 year old had built Mullick paid for the all day fun pass.

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

A short while later Nirvan had returned to the auto parts store because he wanted to make a short film about the innovative cardboard arcade. He found out that day that Nirvan was Monroy’s first and only paying customer. To Monroy’s surprise Nirvan recruited a flash mob of paying customers which made Caine’s day.

The short film went viral and with that a campaign to create a college fund for Caine was born. That college fund raised $228,000 and then it was matched dollar for dollar to support the Imagination Foundation.

Find out more about Kid President here

Find out more about Caine’s Arcade here

California Startup Communly Is Building Communities Of Like Minded People [video]

Communly,startups,startup interview, valley startupAlaxic Smith and Neil Parikh met each other a little over two years ago when they embarked on their first startup remotely. At the time Alaxic (Alex) was only 15 and Neil was 18. They had started a social network of sorts and built up that community to over 15,000. They knew they were onto something.

The problem was that Neil was based in San Francisco and Alaxic was based in Texas. Alaxic had this little thing called school that made it impossible for him to uproot himself and move to the valley to continue building that startup.

Well two years later, and Alaxic made a brave move. He left high school to focus on he and Neil’s latest startup Communly.

So what is Communly? Alaxic tells us: “Communly is all about communities. Communities are essentially groups of people who have a shared interests. Communities act as a blank canvas for people to create relevant content for the community. On the flip side of things, community managers can feature content that they find to represent the community as well. We believe that we’re providing users with tools that allow them to define the social web they want to see and we also provide a more relevant experience for users.”

Neil told us in an interview it’s about putting like minds together. They seem to be picking up a lot of traction around musicians and artists that are still building loyal followings. They also have communities about hiking, outdoors, art, and even startups.

They aren’t in an accelerator class, nor are they incubating anywhere accept Neil’s apartment at the moment but they are attacking communly with the vigor found in most thriving startups.

Check out our quick video interview with Neil as he tells us all about Communly. For more info visit

Apparently money doesn’t grow on trees in Silicon Valley

Myth Busters: Money Does Not Grow On Trees In Silicon Valley [video]

Neil Parikh,Communly,Silicon Valley,startup,startup tips,launchyourcity

Communly co-founder Neil Parikh talks with Memphis based entrepreneur Ryan Ramkhelawan at the LaunchLounge on location in Silicon Valley (photo: NMI 2013)

We just wrapped up the LaunchYourCity, mission to Silicon Valley. On that trip we spent lots of time connecting to investors, accelerators, incubators, entrepreneurs and startup founders from San Francisco to Mountain View and everywhere in between.

As the voice of startups everywhere else, we kept our minds open throughout the trip and soaked up every nook and cranny of information that we could.

In working with hundreds of startups across the country, and around the world (everywhere else), we have found that a lot of people think money grows on trees in the valley.

In talking with a variety of Silicon Valley based startups in various stages we found that, that’s not the case. In some cases it’s actually harder to raise money in the valley because there’s much more competition.

Silicon Valley is like the Hollywood of statups. Founders move to Silicon Valley in droves in hopes of getting their big idea discovered.  It certainly isn’t that easy.

You have to figure for every idea out there, there are three more people working on that same thing. Sure the biggest VC’s are based in Silicon Valley but they’re getting pitched every minute of everyday. One VC we spoke with said he, like Mark Cuban, routinely gets pitched in the bathroom.

Sure all startups are looking for their big funding break and all VC’s are looking for the next Facebook or Instagram, but the chances that the two will connect are very difficult.

More than one startup founder told us that they had raised money at home, and thought that was the signal that they were ready to raise in Silicon Valley and now they’ve moved onto another startup.

There are several factors that could account for this happening. One is that when you grow your startup in your hometown and can pick up any bit of local traction, your local investors know you. They’ve seen you grow and seen your failures and victories. When you venture out to Silicon Valley you quickly become just another startup.

There’s also a much better chance that an angel or VC in Silicon Valley has heard your particular idea hundreds of times, where your local investors have only heard it once, from you.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t move to Silicon Valley? Not necessarily there are advantages too that we’ll be posting about later. This is definitely some nourishing food for thought though.

We got a chance to talk to 21 year old serial entrepreneur Neil Parikh of Communly about the myth that money grows on trees in Silicon Valley. Check out the video below and check out communly here.

 Find a lot more great startup tips here at

California Startup Uptoke Raising A Series A To Bring Weed To The Board Room [video]

UpToke, California startup,startups,Jason Levin,Cannabis

Jason Levin, founder of UpToke. (photo:

California entrepreneur Jason Levin is a formally trained engineer on a mission. He’s not a hippie, a dope man, or a pot head, but he does see the opportunity in Cannabis.

His company, called Uptoke, has produced an upscale vaporizer used to inhale marijuana. The cigar like vaporizer, brings a more “professional” appeal to smoking marijuana. Even in prototype form it’s a well designed, high class looking device.

The technology, Levin says, doesn’t actually ignite the plant, but rather heats it up, incredibly fast.

The Uptoke vaporizer can get to 375 degrees, in a sealed packages so users don’t burn themselves, in under 6 seconds. The battery life lasts all day and Levin says you just charge it up like a cell phone at the end of the day.

Levin doesn’t look like a guy who would fit in a “stereotype”. He sees the opportunity in the Cannabis industry. He’s also very careful not to step on the toes of those who aren’t supportive of the industry.

He will not market his device in markets where there are no laws governing cannabis use. He has a legal team in place and has an industrial designer coming on board to help design the final product.

Levin is currently raising a Series A round for Uptoke and was just recently in Seattle pitching a group of investors at the Washington Athletic Club.

Check out this video of Levin below.

Check out these startup stories from 

Quick Concise Pitch From Realty Mogul, Eye Catching, And Prize Winning At SXSW [sxsw]

RealtyMogul,Los Angeles startup,startup,startup pitch,startup america,sxsw,sxswiRealty Mogul, a crowdfunded real estate platform and graduate of the TechStars Microsoft Azure accelerator wowed multiple audiences at last weeks SXSW Interactive festival.

We got the chance to see Realty Mogul pitch on the Startup America Live stage before the Hatch Competition. It was the intense coaching they received both in the accelerator and from their Hatch coach, that got their pitch down to almost perfect.

It also resulted in them winning the Hatch Pitch competition, and judges calling the startup “Histrionic”.

The Hatch competition was in it’s second year and narrowed down the field from over 100 applicants. It’s an intense pitch contest with startups selected getting one on one coaching from industry leaders and previous Hatch winners.

“A big piece of what pitches needs to happen is to make the audience relate. What made us successful last year was we told a story about the problem. A lot of the companies don’t engage the audience that well. When you tell a story in four minutes, it’s really hard to be concise with the message. You have to treat it like you have 30 seconds instead of four minutes. That forces you to get the message down.” Distil Inc CEO (and judge for this years Hatch competition) Rami Essaid said to SiliconHills.

When you watch the quick pitch video below you’ll understand how all this work has paid off and how it led to the Realty Mogul team winning the Hatch competition. You can find out more about Realty Mogul, here or here on their Angel List profile.

Flinja The Place To Find Free Lance Ninjas SXSWedu Video Interview

Flinja,California startup,EdTech startup,startups,startup interview,sxswedu,sxsw13,sxswThere are so many reasons we like Flinja. First off, their name is short for Freelance Ninja, and any startup with the word Ninja in it rocks. Secondly they are connecting college students with ways to make money by sharing their service as free-lancers with college alumni.

The startup, founded by Rebecca Bahr and Victor Young, is a market place for current college students to find free-lance employment opportunities from alumni. Bahr says they’ve pivoted several times. When they first set out on the free lance ninja concept the platform was closed to each students actual school. Well Bahr, who went to college in Montreal, found it hard to find people to connect with when she needed a service provider in California.

Now, any college student can be a service provider to any college graduate from any school in their network.

Students are utilizing Flinja to offer videography services, photography services, wedding planning services, tutoring in a variety of subjects and anything else that they could do for others for a little money on the side (legal of course).

The hope is that the alumni or college graduates that hire the students as freelancers may be a gateway to more stable employment.

The Flinja marketplace is self contained. When a college graduate is looking for a service provider they can search through Flinja, see a provider (students) feedback and ratings, set up the service, agree to pay and actually finish the transaction. Flinja takes a small percentage from the person hiring, not from the college student.

UCLA was the first school to adopt the Flinja platform. Students are being hired as videographers, editors and tutors.

Flinja is a finalist in the LAUNCHedu competition at SXSWedu in the higher education category. They will appear in the showdown later this week.

Check out our video interview with Bahr below and for more info visit

We’ve got more SXSWedu coverage here.

EdTech Startup 19 Pencils Is Saving Lots Of Time For K-6 Teachers

19pencils,startup,startups,startup interview, edtechMost teachers don’t have nearly enough time to spend finding resources and lesson planning. Cuts in education typically mean that average teachers have a larger class load, and some are often faced with pulling down multiple jobs in school and even after school. This can be especially difficult for K-6 teachers who often want to give their students all they possibly can.

This is where Jason Fabbri and his Sacremento based educational startup 19Pencils comes in. 19Pencils provides an online community for like minded elementary school teachers. Using their platform teachers can search and discover great educational content and upload and share things that have worked for them in the classroom.

Fabbri has been a software engineer for the last 17 years. He’s had a long career with Adobe contributing to projects like Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Services and more. It was volunteering at his children’s schools that prompted him to create 19Pencils. He saw firsthand the frustration that teachers had in curating good web content for first grade students, and then sharing it.

We got a chance to talk to Fabbri in depth about 19Pencils and the growing startup community in Sacremento, just 90 minutes outside of Silicon Valley. Check out the interview below.

Read More…

Monster Offers Is Daily Deals On Steroids With Nearly 60,000 Deals

Monster Offers, Daily Deals, startup,startupsOrange County California daily deals startup Monster Offers is a daily deals startup on steroids. Where most daily deals startups, outside of sites like Living Social and Groupon, focus on one particular area, Monster Offers is aggregating daily deals across several platforms. This gives the user a one stop destination to search for deals on just about anything.

Monster Offers gathers deal offerings from such discount providers as Groupon, Living Social, DealFind, Goldstar, and nearly 100 others. Assisted by a new partnership with Sqoot, Monster Offers can now save you tons of time and money, putting at your fingertips thousands of daily deals from 100 or so deal providers, with many offering discounts of up to 99%, all searchable in one easy location – from your web browser, your Smartphone or other handheld Smart device.   The service, now available from both websites, identifies where you are geographically and begins populating the freshest and best deals near you. And based on your location, you can then filter your search based on keywords or by category, and then sit back and check out the recommended deals (including the National Deal of the Day)!

Indeed, there are hundreds, if not thousands of daily deals providers that provide unique offerings to today’s consumers, recently reported to be $2 Billion in industry sales annually. Monster Offers has had success, and remains well positioned in this growing marketplace, with its unique, one-of-a-kind approach through the Monster Offers Smartphone apps, and now adds a web-based search platform. Displaying thousands of deals each day, Monster Offers aggregates them in one convenient place, eliminating users having to wade through countless irrelevant offers just to find one that they’re interested in. The company remains dedicated to its corporate mission of delivering a robust and user friendly interface that allows buyers to organize their deal information based on geographical setting, business type, category, and keywords.

Monster Offers looks broadly across the other daily deals sites to return something that can be as national or hyper local as the user needs. This comes in handy especially for travelers who may have a local daily deals routine.

Other features include:

  • Hyperlocal list of daily “Monster Dealies” in up to 14 categories and 60 subcategories in your local market, all easily accessible with the press of a button.
  • View deals from hundreds of daily deal providers, including Groupon, Living Social, EDeals, iCoupon, Goldstar, DealFind, Zozi,, Signpost, Double Take Deals, and many more.
  • Get the best deal in the country with the “National Deal of the Day” — straight from the Monster Offers “Monster” himself.
  • Utilizing IP addresses, map deals from the pool of over 30,000 potential offers, available right to your physical location in real time through your web browser, or the Smartphone App available for download.
  • In the Monster Offers App, adjust your preferential settings to a specific radius that reflects your daily travels.
  • Share deals with friends and family through social networking sites (including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more).


Funding Round Up Everywhere Else: batterii, Bluefields, Nomi, Club W 2/18/13

Funding news, startups, Nomi, Bluefields, Baterri, Club W, funding roundupbatterii, Cincinnati OH $2.5 Million

batteri is a “co-creation” social network software platform.  They recently raised $2.5 million dollars led by Cincinnati local private/public seed stage investor CincyTech. CincyTech contributed $500,000 to the round which included Los Angeles based investor Ken Salkin, batterii CEO Kevin Cummins and other unlisted individuals. The company reports that they have nearly a dozen clients. TechCrunch noticed that quotes from Nike, Crush Republic and ConAgra Foods were on their site. source TC

Bluefields, London England $1 Million

Bluefields is a social platform and management tool for recreational sports teams. The startup is originally from London and is an alumnus of both Seedcamp and 500 Startups. In addition to this latest one million dollar round, Bluefields just launched out of private beta.

During the private beta, TNW reports that there were over 60,000 sports teams players using the service.

Tony Hsieh’s VegasTechFund, Ballpark Ventures, Venrex, 500 startups and White Star Capital all participated in the round. Elliot Loh, Edward Wray, Christian Hernandez, Alicia Navarro, Chang Ng, Andy McLoughlin, Tim Fong, Richard Fearn, Andreas Koukorinis, Christian Lawless and Nathan Elstub all contributed as individuals.  source TNW

Nomi, New York, $3 Million

Nomi is a retail “Experience Economy” startup helping to drive engagement for loyal retail customers, rather than having to race to the bottom in price wars. The company was founded by Marc Ferrentino who was formerly the Chief Technical Architect at SalesForce.  Nomi takes relationship lessons borrowed from CRM and implements them in a real time environment that’s crucial to closing sales at retail cash registers.

Philadelphia’s First Round Capital led the $3 million dollar round with participation from Greycroft Partners, SV Angel, Forerunner Ventures, Ralph Mack, Dave Tisch, Andy Dunn (CEO, Bonobos), and Sam Decker (CEO, Mass Relevance and former CMO, Bazaarvoice).

Club W, Los Angeles $3.1M

Los Angeles based Club W claims that they are the “coolest wine club” . They are also the first company to offer a personalized and curated subscription model for wine. Their$3.1 million dollar round follows a $500,000 angel round closed this time last year. L.A’s Crosscut Ventures led the round.

“We look at wine and see a $34 billion annual market ripe for disruption,” says Adam Goldenberg, Venture Partner at Crosscut said in a statement.  “Club W has great traction and a solid model. We realize we’re taking a contrarian position on eCommerce given the prevailing attitudes among venture capitalists but we’ll continue to bet on the early movers leading great teams in markets with huge potential.” source:


SocialNightlife, Customer Management, Engagement & Loyalty For Night Clubs

SocialNightlife,Los Angeles startup, CA startup,startup launchA Los Angeles startup a year in the making has finally launched a product that night club owners and other nightlife venues will get a lot out of. SocialNightlife is a complete platform designed to help nightclubs and other establishments keep track of their VIP’s and loyal customers.

Nightlife professionals will now have the ability to digitally check-in guest-list and VIP customers and track activity by team member, venue, event and client. Venues will also be able to setup custom promotions and reward their loyal guests as a result of the social media features built as a front-end to the professional business tool.

They already have a handful of popular night clubs on board like the famous Marquee nightclub in Las Vegas. Using the SocialNightlife platform VIPs, loyal customers and social media rockstars will be able to get into clubs quicker and their information will be utilized more efficiently providing a service to both the patron and the establishment.

“We’re breaking down physical barriers,” said Artin Nazarian, SocialNightlife’s co-founder and CEO. “Front door staff can finally put a face to the names on their list and send targeted event promotions to fans of a specific DJ or celebrity.”

Patrons have access to key features as well, that were originally released in a public beta at CES 2012 (last year)

·      Location based check ins to gain insight on frequent patrons

·      Ability to offer loyalty rewards like complimentary tickets, drinks and other VIP services

·      Instant reviews of the line queue, music quality, and venue energy level

·      Public photo gallery with advanced photo editing and hash-tagging functionality

·      Branded social media business pages

·      Performance reports for promoters and hosts such as reservations, guest check-in and sales

·      Event promotion and direct marketing tools

·      Gamification through virtual “bottle” badges  

·      Customer analytics and automated guest lists

The company has already partnered with strategic advisors and stakeholders in clubs in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami.

For more info visit SocialNightlife on the web here

You’ll find an amazing night life experience at the biggest startup conference in the U.S. The Startup Conference, limited tickets still available.

Styku Has Created An Online Virtual Fitting Room Using Microsoft Kinect VIDEO INTERVIEW

Styku, Los Angeles startup, startup interview, CES 2013, Eureka ParkLos Angeles startup Styku has done something rather innovative utilizing the Microsoft Kinect platform. Using four Kinect sensors, Styku has created a way to do a full body scan and create an online fitting room.

According to the company you can actually use just one Kinect at home but to get the most accurate measurements you can go to a retail partner that has their technology installed and have a body scan done. From there the magic happens.

On the back end Styku takes the body scan and matches it to a stores inventory to show you exactly what sizes they recommend for you. In shopping for clothes, size can actually be a mystery. Women and men can go into one clothing store and have one size selected and a different store which has clothing cut a little smaller or a little bigger and have a totally different size recommendation.

Styku combines the inventory and specifications from a stores entire inventory, with the exact measurements garnered from the body scan, to offer the exact fitting size.

Check out the video interview below and for more info you can visit the smart fitting room.

The grand slam of startup events continues next month in Memphis Tennessee for The Startup Conference

3D Printed Audio Startup Goes Lord Of The Flies Style At CES 2013

Simply Amplified, California startup,startup,startups, CES 2013, Eureka ParkA California startup called Simply Amplified has created a product that amplifies sound from your smartphone or music player without any moving parts, wires, batteries or electricity. In fact it takes the same principles for amplifying sound that you may find in a conch shell. The company has even designed some of their unique speakers to look just like shells.

As you can see from the video below all you do to amplify the sound from your device is simply set it into the shell like frame and listen as the sound comes out the larger opening.

All of the Simply Amplified speakers are designed to look fashionable on any table or shelf where they’ll pull double duty as wireless, non electric amplifiers and as conversation pieces.

Simply Amplified calls their amplifiers Symphony Shells and we really haven’t seen a product quite like it. But what does it sound like? It was just as clear as some of the BlueTooth connected speakers we saw on the main show floor at the LVCC.

Check out our video interview below.

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