Going On A Cruise? Make Sure You Bring Along UCLA Startup Ship Mate

Ship Mate,Ship Mate App,UCLA startup,LA startup,startup,startups,startup interviewShip Mate, a startup incubated at UCLA’s startup incubator program, wants to be your cruise companion. Over half a million people have already downloaded the app that gives you all the information that you need to know before, during and after your cruise.

Jan and Mike Jirout, the two brothers behind Ship Mate have stocked their app to the hilt. It’s literally a one stop mobile destination for everything involving a cruise.

They’ve found that most users are downloading the app about a month before their cruise sets sail. In the pre cruise period Ship Mate is great for checking out rendezvous points and finding activities to participate in while on the cruise. You can also plan out your dining and see in advance ship maps and other resources that you didn’t even think of.

When it’s time to board your cruise ship Ship Mate has ship maps, ship information and even access to deck cams so you can see the action going on around you. There’s also photo galleries and social aspects like cruise chat that will allow you to chat with other users on and off your ship.

The Ship Mate app doesn’t stop after the cruise stops though. You can add more photos to the photo galleries, rate your cruise experience, rate locations and continue chatting about your cruise with others who have gone on cruises. People seem to love Ship Mate as they’ve already done over half a billion cross platform downloads and they’re seeing over 70,000 daily users.

We got a chance to talk with Mike Jirout about Ship Mate, check out the interview below:

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Interview With Mark Cuban Backed LA Startup: Mention Mobile

Mention Mobile, Mark Cuban, Los Angeles startup,California startup,startup,startups,startup interviewShark Tank season 4 kicked off two weeks ago with Indiana University, Kelley School Of Business graduate Derek Pacque’ turning down a $200,000 investment offer from Dallas Maverick’s owner and billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. Pacque’ turned down the investment because of the equity stake Cuban wanted in exchange.

That wasn’t the case with Mention Mobile founder Ryan Ozonian. Ozonian took a one in a million shot and sent Cuban an email with a two year old blog post. According to Ozonian in just 8 minutes Cuban replied. That single email exchange led to Cuban investing $250,000 back this time last year. Cuban followed that investment up with another undisclosed investment in April of this year.

Mention Mobile is a social gaming company that already has a handful of titles under the belt utilizing the popular Facebook platform. Some of their titles include: Trivia Friends, Doodley, and Zombie Bash: Christmas Attack. Their about to launch a new game, partnering with Chillingo as the publisher, called Word Derby. They expect to get that game out to users later this fall. It will be the first asynchronous word game for Chillingo.

We got a chance to talk with Ozonian about what he and MentionMobile are doing in the interview below:

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Los Angeles Startup: myRight Looking To Become the WebMD For Legal Issues INTERVIEW

myRight.me,Los Angeles startup,California startup,startup,startups,startup interview, legal startupWhen you’re not feeling well and have a definitive set of symptoms most people these days take to the internet. Even with health insurance, people seem to find it more convenient to consult with webMD or Dr. Google, before they waste their valuable time at the doctor’s office. WebMD is often credited as one of the big survivors of the first dot com bubble. The site, which has been around since the late 90’s, is a great place to get preliminary information.

While there are a variety of legal websites out there, there isn’t one that mimics what WebMD does. Sure there are a million places to find and complete legal forms, like Legal Zoom, but most of the websites out there for people to bounce legal questions off of, typically go right back to a lawyers office who will give you the information you need to know after a “free” consultation.

myRight is hoping to become the webMD of legal services. The Los Angeles based startup wants to be the preliminary go to place for people with legal questions. Some may even realize they don’t need to see a lawyer while others will jump on the phone with a lawyer right after their search of myRight.me.

Could  Nikhil Jhunjhnuwala, Keval Amin and Michael Niu, the founders of myRight be onto something? Frank Monestere, the founder of LegalZoom thinks so. Monestere sits on myRight’s advisory board.  To keep things legal myRight has two other lawyers on their advisory board too.

We got a chance to talk to Niu about myRight. Check out the interview below.

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Los Angeles Startup: Contur Launches To Turn Your Email Into Tasks!

When this pitch came across our editors box on Friday it was like Eureka. Los Angeles startup Contur has done something amazing with email. They’ve created a platform that beefs up the functionality of email, and the most important part of that, they’ve turned it into tasks.

When we have an idea for a longtail story or a feature story that requires more indepth reporting we typically add it to starred email and then set a reminder in the calendar to go back and work on it. The problem is the important starred email box fills up and the calendar does as well. This is hardly an effective process. Unfortunately with the volume of email we get, we sometimes get a reminder email from the startup we’re working with on the story.

If we could turn email into tasks, projects and add notes to them it would make our work flow go much better. Now thanks to Los Angeles startup Contur we can do that.  The Contur app lets users treat any of their emails as tasks, organize them by projects, and add notes and non-email related tasks. Contur makes email more manageable and easier to put into context, manipulate, prioritize and search, moving users closer to “Inbox Zero.”

Contur CEO Justyna Wojick validates the fact that our current method of starring messages and making calendar entries is outdated at best.

“Contur is aimed at the 90 million knowledge workers and professionals in the United States who are experiencing email overload,” said Contur co-founder and CEO Wójcik said in a statement. “Contur takes email beyond such outdated tools as tags and priority inboxes, which have long lost their power to help users not only tackle the ever-growing volume of their incoming email, but to act on that volume as well.”

Monday-Friday we typically receive 300-500 email messages a day, making us power users by Contur standards. Contur was designed for power users and hopes to help get people to “inbox zero” something i haven’t seen in years.

“The demand is high for a solution like Contur to manage email inboxes; 500 people have already signed up on the Contur waitlist. In the United States alone, over a billion dollars are lost each year due to workers having to do necessary, but unproductive, tasks related to email, such as organizing them, keeping track of follow-ups, and other tasks. Contur will help recover some of that lost time and revenue,” added Wójcik.

Contur launched out of Start Engine the LA based accelerator founded by Howard Marks one of the co-founders of Actvision.

We’re on the Contur waitlist and can’t wait to use it. Contur is compatible with pop email and also gmail, or Google apps mail so most business power users can use it.


Check out and sign up for Contur here

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Los Angeles Startup: Swagsy Turns The Swag Bag Into A Flash Sale Platform INTERVIEW

We’ve reported on a handful of good Los Angeles area startups that are leveraging the celebrity power in Los Angeles for their companies.

LA startup 12 Society is spearheaded by rapper Nas (Nasir Jones) and he’s called on many of his influential friends from the hip hop, music, sports and celebrity communities to launch a “birch box” subscription startup with gadgets, toys and cool tech stuff. The monthly subscription box is curated by the stars and quickly had everyone in Los Angeles talking.

We’ve also reported on MoonShark a mobile gaming startup that was built as a partnership between the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and Qualcomm. MoonShark leverages CAA’s roster of A-List celebrities to endorse, and build mobile gaming products with and around. Their latest project, Verticus is a collaboration between them and comic book icon Stan Lee.

Today we’re talking with Los Angeles startup Swagsy. This is a new online shopping and flash sales platform where the items that they are selling have been curated by a panel of “influential tastemakers”. Swagsy Co-Founder Grant Cohen, likens Swagsy to a flash sales site for things you would often times find in swag bags at A-list events. That’s also where the idea came from, as well as the name.

Swagsy’s curators recommend the type items from the top brands. From there Swagsy negotiates flash sale offers with the brands and manufacturers themselves, then their A-list tastemakers take to social media to help promote the brand, the item and the website.

No startup has tried to use celebrity power to back a flash sales model so far.

We got a chance to talk to Cohen in the interview below.

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Los Angeles Startup: Stan Lee Partners With Moon Shark For Mobile Games Startup

(photo uproxx.com)

Legendary comic book artist and creator Stan Lee has partnered with Moonshark for a new mobile gaming startup. We covered the launch of MoonShark in June, the joint venture startup between the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and Qualcomm. When MoonShark launched, they announced that they would draw from the long list of CAA clients to collaborate on mobile startups. This venture with Stan Lee is one of those collaborations.

The CAA roster includes hundreds of the most well known celebrities. At launch, MoonShark is working with movie star and recording artist Jennifer Lopez. MoonShark has released their first game, Dance Pad, in a partnership with Lopez. The game is a finger dancing game reminiscent of dance dance revolution, except instead of using your feet and other body parts, players use their fingers to tap to the music. The game packs over 100 levels featuring a soundtrack with over 30 top artists.

“Moonshark was formed to connect uniquely talented artists with the best independent mobile developers to bring amazing ideas to life as mobile games,” said Matt Kozlov, CEO of Moonshark. “Our mission is to keep the Moonshark pipeline full of creative, addictive titles and give talent the means to share their creativity with fans on cutting edge mobile platforms.”

Lee’s Pow! Entertainment is teaming up with MoonShark to create a new mobile action/adventure game called Verticus. Mobile continues to attract more and more celebrities and entertainers. According to VentureBeat, mobile could be the largest position in the entertainment market.

“Working closely with Moonshark to build characters and storylines for a mobile game has been a new and uniquely satisfying experience for me,” said Stan Lee, the founder, chairman and chief creative officer at Pow Entertainment. “Making Verticus is a new way for me to connect with my fans and reach a whole new group of people through their mobile devices.”

“For us, there is no one more legendary than Stan Lee,” said Matt Kozlov, the chief executive officer of Moonshark, in an interview with GamesBeat. “This is a man beloved by multiple generations, and he has created … I don’t know whether Walt Disney counts … probably the most successful characters of all time. It’s kind of insane.”

Verticus is just the beginning for Lee’s collaboration with MoonShark. They may do a sequel to Verticus or adapt other Stan Lee characters for future games.

Check out the trailer video below:


More on Moonshark here

Source: Venturebeat

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Powersharing Bringing the Positivity from Pasadena [Interview]

Powersharing network

Pasadena startup Powersharing is a network of people who are working together to lift each other up.  When asked what their secret sauce is they did not respond with “if we told you our secret sauce then it wouldn’t be secret; now would it?” Instead they responded with,

Our secret sauce is not that secret at all. We love our members. Love is the most powerful force in the universe and when it is unleashed, nothing can stop it. In our community, our members give each other a boost in motivation, inspiration, and hope for a brighter future. We give them incentives, resources, and new, creative ways to share the power in their lives. Our partner organizations, businesses, and governmental bodies benefit from our growth and success.

They hope to bring people together to help solve everyday issues, raise money, support individuals and organizations, and to spread positivity around.

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Los Angeles Startup: OffBeatr Is The Kickstarter For Porn INTERVIEW

Crowdfunding is a hot startup space. So hot in fact that Ben Tao and Eric Lai, two entrepreneurs in the adult business, have started Offbeatr.com which is a crowdfunding source for adult projects.

If you’re looking to create a new adult website, adult mobile app, adult movie, or other creative adult project, funding is usually a big obstacle. Lai and Tao are hoping that fans of these kinds of adult projects will kick in to help entrepreneurs develop them. Sure there will be projects that some may find unappealing or even sleazy but even artists and sculptors who dabble in erotic art, the kind you would find at museums in NY and Miami, can get their projects funded on Offbeatr as well.

OffBeatr is using the all or nothing Kickstarter model which means that entrepreneurs and artists that use Offbeatr would need to successfully raise all of the funds in their goal in order to receive funding. 

While it’s still too early to give funding or “ownership” away in the crowdfunding space, some may find it intriguing to help get the latest erotic art or full blown porn movie off the ground.

OffBeatr has projects vetted by the community before they go on to raise funds. Offbeatr requires a non-refundable deposit to start raising funds for your project on their platform. The “voting” process before a project goes live for funding, can help the project creator determine whether or not the project will be worth persuing on the platform. There’s no fee for the voting process. Once the project receives the required votes OffBeatr has final say on the projects, and only after that do you have to pay the listing fee/deposit.

Tao tells us in the interview below, that neither he nor his partner Lai set out to become adult industry entrepreneurs at first. Tao has a degree in Industrial Engineering but he’s never done any industrial engineering. He’s been a teacher, a circuit breaker salesman and a web designer. Lai has a real computer science degree (not the Scott Thompson kind), and has done work on top secret projects including some for Boeing.

This is their third venture in the adult industry and their are hoping that the community of adult entertainment and erotic art fans can come together to breathe new life into the industry. Check out the interview below:

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Los Angeles Startup: Smarter Stand Sees 10x Goal On Kickstarter


Dotan Saguy, a Los Angeles entrepreneur figured out that if you add two little clips to either side of an iPad’s Smart Cover or Smart Case you can add several different viewing angles and positions to your iPad which make it more convenient and equally as sturdy.

The magnetic Smart Cover and Smart Case for the iPad currently offer two positions for resting your iPad. One of the positions makes the iPad sit up too straight andouille the other one lays it down too flat. As you an see from the graphic above, Saguy’s Smarter Stand clips allow for several more positions. Most of the positions could be achieved with an additional $40 stand.

Saguy was hoping to raise $10,000 with a Kickstarter campaign. With that money Saguy planned on doing a limited production run for those who were interested in the product. Saguy hit the $10,000 mark on the first day of his campaign and now has 7,120 people interested in the product.

“I can’t thank my Kickstarter supporters enough for their kind words, encouragement, and pledges to make this dream a reality,” says Saguy. “The outpouring of support simply justifies that sometimes the simplest ideas are the most useful, and having forums like Kickstarter is an incredible way to get the word out.”

The Smarter Stand clips can be mixed and matched with 10 different, iPad matching colors available. The clips live on the smart cover or smart case so you always have a stand one stand by.

The Smarter Stand clips will retail for $20 per pair or you can preorder them with a discount by pledging on KickStarter.

Check out the Smarter Stand Kickstarter Page Here

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Kansas City Startup: Divshot Wins $25k in crowdfunder’s Crowdstart Contest In LA

Los Angeles based crowdfunding startup crowdfunder just completed their first Crowdstart contest. The seven week contest drew over 700 submissions, 74 contestants and 10 finalists. Kansas City startup Divshot emerged as the winner, taking home the $25,000 prize.

While we all know that the JOBS act was passed earlier this year and crowdfunding for equity won’t be implemented until the end of the year or early next year, Crowdfunder didn’t want to wait to start helping startups raise invaluable funds. For the prize money they teamed with Right Side Capital Management.

Divshot is a company that provides web designers with drag and drop tools for rapidly prototyping websites and designs. The concept was born just 90 days ago at a Startup Weekend event in Kansas City, home to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, who is the major backing behind the Startup Weekend brand of events.

“Opportunities for local fundraising are limited, not just here in Kansas City but everywhere around the country,” said Jake Johnson, Divshot co-founder. “Crowdfunder will enable us to tap into capital, education and resources through their online platform. What’s good for us is good for our local economy. We’re excited to be part of making a positive economic impact here in our own backyard.”

Now that the Los Angeles contest has come to a close, crowdfunder has just kicked off their Crowdstart Las Vegas contest. This time though, half a million dollars is up for grabs. The contest kicks off tonight at Startup Weekend in Vegas.

“We’re thrilled to be able to support entrepreneurs and innovation here and throughout the country,” said crowdfunder CEO Chance Barnett. “Divshot is just the beginning of the kind of nurturing, education and support that crowdfunder intends to provide. That’s why we’re hosting another startup contest, Crowdstart Las Vegas, which kicks off today at Vegas Startup Weekend where $500,000 is up for grabs by the Vegas Tech Fund.”


Check out Crowdfunder here

Check out Divshot here

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Los Angeles Startup: 80sBrickphone Bringing Back Iconic 80’s Motorola Dynatac


A Los Angeles startup founded by designer Brad Helmink, is bringing back one of the 1980’s most iconic pieces of mobile technology.

The Motorola DynaTac was first introduced in 1983 for a price tag around $4000 in 2012 terms it would be closer to $9000. The phone was one of the first mobile phones that didn’t require a bag to be attached to it. The DynaTac had about 30 minutes of talk time and 8 hours of standby.

The phone was spun into popularity by the savvy Wall Street tycoon Gordon Gecko, played by Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street. Our readers, just a little younger may recall the phone having a prominent place at Bayside High School where saved by the bell’s main character Zack Morris (played by Mark Paul Gosselaar) carried one to school.

If you’re too young to remember either, well just trust us, it’s freaking cool.

The new 2012 model is not an actual phone but rather a bluetooth speaker system that Helmink insists, sounds far more superior than the original during a call.

The Bluetooth version will give you the average bluetooth battery life, about 5 hours of talk time and tons of hours of standby. It also works with any Bluetooth enabled smartphone.

You’ll be the talk of the office, trading floor, party, pool,mall or wherever you go when people see you actually making and receiving calls on the new 80sBrickphone. In this day and age where the “coolest new” Android phone is released every two weeks and hundreds of millions own an iPhone 4s, the 80sBrickphone will be a status symbol of epic proportions.

To get the project off the ground Helmink took to Indiegogo. He’s looking to make $55,000 to cover the costs of an initial production run. He’s collected a little over $4000 just enough to buy an original back in the 80s.

If you want one (and we know you do) there’s a link below.


Want an 80sBrickphone? here’s it’s Indiegogo Page

You can find more info on their website

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California Startup: PrefCity Is A Facebook For Sharing Preferences INTERVIEW

Prefcity considers themselves a “Facebook for sharing preferences”, no not preferences in an app, on a smarphone or on a computer, but consumer preferences regarding retail and restaurants. Yes Prefcity is yet another new loyalty and rewards platform. Prefcity has addressed some of the downfalls to other similar platforms though and that’s what makes this startup different.

Prefcity is targeting businesses loyal customer base. They offer a product called PrefPerks to consumers and they offer a highly customizable, pay as you go format for merchants.

“As we experiment with Prefperks our intention is to create a win-win situation for consumers who want to find good deals at places they love and businesses looking to maintain healthy margins, generally diminished by some of the more mainstream daily deal sites,” said Vic Sosikian co-founder of Prefcity.

On the merchant side they are paid directly by the consumer without a mass redeem cycle like Groupon or LivingSocial. This gives the merchant the flexibility to try out different types of deals and as many deals as they want.  In the simplest of terms, a PrefPerk is given to a loyal customer of an establishment. It’s more of a “reservation” card for that specific deal.

Take the Groupon model for instance. When a Groupon deal is sent out, the entire group needs to buy into it by paying Groupon directly. Groupon takes their cut and then distributes the money to the merchant. With PrefCity the PrefPerk is sent out and then if the customer wants to use it they just pay the merchant as they normally would with a regular coupon or discount.

The Southern California based startup is testing in Los Angeles and plans to bring New York, San Francisco and Chicago online later this year.  We got a chance to interview Prefcity co-founder Vic Sosikian. Check out the interview below.

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Interview With California Startup: At The Pool, Casual People Discovery Platform

People discovery is a hot startup space this year. As you’ve heard time and time again it was the startup space dejour at South By Southwest back in March.  Startups like Ban.jo, Glancee, and Highlight ruled the roost on the streets of Austin during the interactive festival.

Now four months later, Glancee has been purchased by Facebook and the others are getting just passive traffic (I know some may disagree). One of the problems with people discovery applications are the in your face constant notifications that occur when you’re logged into one of the services. You get inundated with notifications about people you don’t know and sometimes don’t even want to know. There has to be an easier way.

Enter “At The Pool”

The Los Angeles startup offers you a once a day match based on interests and things you may want to do off line. Are you looking for new rock climbing buddies? Maybe you’re looking for new friends to start some pick up hockey? Maybe you’re looking to talk startups or even build a startup? Well At The Pool says there’s a pool for that.

Just what does that mean? Well we talk with At The Pool’s co-founder Alex Capecelatro to find out about their pool party. Check out the interview below:

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Startup Weekend Heads Back To Los Angeles, Register Now

The 54 hour Startup Weekend program is headed back to Los Angeles next weekend, starting on July 20th which is the same weekend as Memphis’ Startup Weekend.

Los Angeles just completed a Startup Weekend back in February that was a great success.

The February event saw 13 teams pitching on Sunday evening before the judges. The judges that time around included:  Howard Marks (Start Engine), Paige Craig (BetterWorks), David Waxman (PeoplePC, Firefly Networks, SpotRunner) and Tyler Crowley (Sqweal, OAF, Launch, TWiST, Mahalo).

The judges for this round haven’t been announced yet but we are sure they will be just as good.

Organizing the Los Angeles event are Tyler Koblasa, Cameron Rasouli and Avesta Rasouli.

Registration started July 2nd and the organizers warn that last spring’s event sold out in 10 minutes. As of right now the eventbrite page shows tickets still available.

Startup Weekend LA kicks off Friday July 20th at 6:00pm and is being held at Coloft (920 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401).

To register click here