Skillshare And Levi’s: Take Amazing Classes And Help Kids

Skillshare, New York startup, Levis, MakeOurMark

The concept is no simpler than it is in the headline. Take classes from New York startup Skillshare’s select offerings of online classes, where you can learn creative skills from visionary experts and share your own experiences, and 100% of the proceeds will go to arts and music education for students in grades k-8.

Skillshare is a New York startup that serves as a marketplace linking people to hundreds of online classes across many disciplines. While there have been a handful of startups that have tried to compete in the space, Skillshare has remained the market leader.

Now, in a unique partnership with Levi’s, not only  is the site offering some premium classes with amazing instructors, it’s all for a good cause.

The classes are taught by renowned artists such as Cubby Graham, David Carson, Bang Bang, Benjamin Samuel, Brock Davis, and Linda Eliasen.  The program is called “The School Of Make Our Mark”

The classes are only $10, with all of that money going towards the musical education program. The classes being offered include:

Urban Explorer Photography: Shooting the forgotten and the familiar, taught by Cubby Graham
Beautiful Ink, Designing Meaningful Tattoos, taught by Bang Bang
Vintage Postcard Design: Back To The Future, taught by Linda Eliasen
Stop Motion Video: Create & Animate, taught by Brock Davis
Creating Typographic Art Inspired By Sound, taught by David Carson
Flash Fiction: How To Tell Pint Sized Stories, taught by Benjamin Samuel

The classes will help you learn new skills, and meet new people across the globe. You will be able to share your completed work with the group and some of the projects will be chosen to go into a time capsule that Levi’s and Skillshare will open in the future.

You can use promocode: OURMARK to take one of the classes for free!

Find out more and sign up now here at


New York’s General Assembly Closing Co-Working Space

General Assembly, New York startups, coworking, 1776General Assembly has become one of the benchmarks for coworking, startup, and incubation space. They just recently expanded to Washington, DC in a partnership with 1776 in which they will offer classes, information sessions, and other startup support resources.

What started as a place to “support the growing NYC startup community,” has expanded to becoming a “global educational institution that has helped empower nearly 70,000 to pursue the work they love,” General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz posted on their blog.

When they originally opened three years ago, they had no idea GA would become what it is today.

“Over the past two and a half years, our community has grown much larger than our amazing co-working members.  It now encompasses the tens of thousands of students who’ve come through our doors and the more than 3,000 alumni of our long-form courses, not to mention the hundreds of instructors and the 2,000 hiring partners who come to GA in search of top talent.  Similarly, support once meant desks and space, but has come to also mean instruction, opportunity and talent for our students and hiring partners,” Schwartz said.

The crew at General Assembly has decided that their higher calling will become the focus of their efforts going forward in 2014. They will convert the space they use for coworking in New York City to expand their events, career fairs, hackathons, fireside chats, panels and other educational resources for startups and entrepreneurs.

Over the past few years Schwartz and the team at General Assembly have seen the explosion of coworking spaces across New York City and other regions across the world.

In Washington DC, for instance, General Assembly’s focus is with education and community events while 1776 houses the coworking space. Models like this are why GA is confident that this is the right move for them at their flagship location.

General Assembly has set up a transition team of sorts to make sure that their coworking members are able to find similarly priced space with the same services that GA provided for coworkers. Of course those members will still participate in the other community building efforts that General Assembly is offering.


When You Need Peace & Quiet On Demand, Turn To Breather

New York startup, Breather, startup interviews, Tony Monteleone

You’re in the city and need to knock out some work, make a few calls, or simply grab a breather. What are your options? You could go back to your hotel room, find the local Starbucks to fight for the outlets, or spend hundreds of dollars at the local co-working space. I don’t know about you, but this is a problem that I experience way more than I would like to admit.

Breather is a new startup that intends to bring private space on demand, replacing the coffee shop workspace right from your phone. It is like Uber for workspaces. Launched in June this year at Le Web London by co-founder and CEO Julien Smith, his approach reminded me of something I would have read in a Rockefeller story, paced and deliberate.

“Breather is a network of beautiful spaces inside a city. You can use the space whenever you want and where ever you want and you can unlock them with your phone,” says Smith. “Fundamentally, Breather provides peace and quiet on demand”.

Smith said “It seems crazy, it seems kind of radical actually. The ability to walk through a city and at any time “order private space could work, if we could just find a way to make it work. That’s why we launched Breather.”

Breather prepares peaceful workspace that will give its users the same experience every time. Like your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant, you will know what to expect each time you return, regardless of where you are. By placing sensors in each room, Breather know what things are being used, what things are not, and how exactly to better optimize their spaces. Don’t be scared though, there’s only a camera on the lock outside the room.

Safety is also being carefully considered. Not just anyone can use a Breather space. You have to be invited by someone who is gong to vouch for you and because your credit card is put into the app prior to booking, it is unlikely that someone will abuse the space with illegal activities.

They have already received requests from cities around the globe asking to place workspaces in their cities. These types of requests prove that the concept is in demand and Breather is serious about controlling the speed of growth and locations. Growing in the right order is essential to their success.

The Breather team is the strongest piece of the startup. Smith told me that his mobile team is one of the best in the world. The team handled Angry Bird level traffic before coming to take this challenge on. The excitement in his voice when talking about this team was almost contagious.

Soon, Breather will be looking for community managers to ensure that specific cities are being managed properly. Smith told me that this is the weakest part of the startup at the moment, and they knew from the beginning how important this role was going to be.

“It seems kind of crazy, that an app on a phone could unlock hundreds of spaces in a city whenever you want it to for a reasonable fee. When it happens, you will never be able to look at a city in another way again. You will go to a city that does not have private space on demand and you will be like “this city is backwards” just the same way that ordering a taxi the regular way now seems backwards,” Smith said.

Breather will launch in New York City in October and will grow to other larger cities like San Francisco. After that, they could appear anywhere across the world.

Tony Monteleone (@StartupTonyis a serial entrepreneur and does Business Development for PERQ, a measured marketing software and services company that specializes in increasing online and in store traffic for businesses. He also serves as the Indianapolis Chapter Director for Startup Grind.



Fred Wilson: The C In 5C Means Clueless Not Cheap

Fred Wilson, Apple, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5c

The godfather of New York venture capitalists Fred Wilson took to his blog Wednesdaywith his reactions to the New York City Mayoral race and, the all important news to the world, Apple’s release of two iPhones.  When the story started crossing my alert box, I hadn’t had time to read the blog post and thought perhaps Wilson had gotten it wrong. I was thinking he didn’t see the need for the iPhone 5C.

Wilson took a look at what really happened on the stage at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California on Tuesday morning. The first indicator that things were awry with this iPhone announcement is that they were holding the press event in the town hall room at Apple vs the Moscone or the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts. The significance in the venue is how many people it holds. Holding the event on campus meant a tighter, more curated press corps.

So what did happen on Tuesday?

Apple’s Phil Schiller, Jony Ive, and CEO Tim Cook announced not one but two new iPhone models. The iPhone 5s is the annual upgrade to the original iPhone (now in it’s 6th iteration). The iPhone 5c is supposed to be a cheaper version of the iPhone, designed to start competing with Android.

Most tech pundits have said time and time again over the last three days that one would be silly to “upgrade” your current iPhone to the iPhone 5c. The colors are cool but you can get a case for the new iPhone 5s in any color imaginable. Heck a 3d printer can print you one.

The 5C isn’t supposed to be an upgrade. It’s supposed to be an entry level iPhone, which is Wilson’s exact point over on his blog. When Apple held their press event, they showed the subsidized two year contract prices. The iPhone 5c would start at $99 while the 5s would start at $199. Yes you get a whole lot more for $100 dollars, but that’s not the point.

The point Wilson brings to our attention is that the iPhone 5C is supposed to be the low cost point of entry in the iPhone ecosystem. Abroad most wireless users buy a phone outright and just pay for SIM cards from the carrier they want. They own the phone and don’t have to get into a ridiculously long contract to obtain it. In the US those contracts are two years and in Canada they are three years.

So if you look at what’s really happening as Wilson reports: “the 5C is a big disappointment. It will sell for $100 less than the 5S in the unsubsized market, which means $549 for 16gb and $649 for 32gb. The C in 5C does not mean “cheap” as I had hoped. It means clueless, as in clueless about how the vast majority of new smartphone users are paying for their phones.”

So it looks like Wilson is right. The 5C may not be that entry point Apple’s been looking for to disrupt the low cost Android phones that are gobbling up market share.


Mark Cuban Shows Variety In Portfolio With Latest Startup Investments

Mark Cuban, Fiscal Note, Ranku, Funding, startup

Some may think that Mark Cuban’s investment strategy is all over the place, but teh truth of the matter is it goes hand in hand with his varied background. Cuban’s career crosses a variety of industries, all of which were self taught.

Cuban began his career as a self taught computer salesman who didn’t  even own a computer. From here his next big accolade is selling to Yahoo, starting HDTv (now axs). Now he’s also a NBA franchise owner, shark on ABC’s Shark Tank, dancer on Dancing With The Stars, startup investor, philanthropist, and more. With all of that in mind Cuban is still just one of the guys, just ask anyone that knows him or frequents places he likes to hang out.

Cuban’s investment portfolio encompasses lots of industries. He’s invested in things that touch his TV business like Tivli and One Condition. He’s also invested in app selling company Apptopia, multilingual analytics firm Linquasys. and local rewards startup Badgy. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of Cuban’s portfolio; you can find more of his investments here.

Cuban’s two most recent statup investments are equally diverse.

After meeting Kim Taylor at the Kaplan accelerator program for edtech startups, Cuban led a $500,000 round for Ranku. Taylor also happened to be one of the featured entrepreneurs on Bravo’s reality show about startups called Startups: Silicon Valley.

Ranku ranks colleges by the success its graduates have with finding jobs rather than how they rank on the US News & World Report list. Obviously this is a much more relevant way to rank schools for students headed into college.

On Wednesday evening TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha reported that Cuban has also backed legislation tracking and prediction startup FiscalNote.  The $1.2 million dollar round will help the startup continue working on new technologies to support their original model.

FiscalNote provides a service to businesses that keeps them up to date with legislation across all 50 states that may affect their business. Co-Founder and CEO Tim Hwang told Ha that many businesses are affected by these changes in legislation and for a business to keep up with them they would need a large staff hitting refresh on all 50 states websites continuously. Beyond that they would need to decode that legislation and see how it really affected their business. FiscalNote’s algorithm does all of that for them.

For more on Mark Cuban and his  startup investments check this out.


Harlem’s New Harlem Garage Puts Business In High Gear

Harlem Garage, Coworking, Harlem startups New York startups

“New York’s startup community is made up of several startup communities that come together.”

That’s what Startup Threads founder and New York startup activist Frank Denbow told us in an interview last May. Whether you’re in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Dumbo District, or even Harlem, every area seems to have a vibrant startup community.

Last year we reported on Harlem incubator IncubateNYC. That effort founded by Marcus Mayo and Brian Shields was in response to a call to action for Harlem small businesses and startups by Mayor Bloomberg.

Now Harlem is getting a new hub for startups called the Harlem Garage.

New York co-working company MicroOffice is opening their newest location at 318 West 118th Street right in the heart of West Harlem. The company already has several small office and desk space options scattered across New York City. They aim to help small businesses and startups transition from the home to a more traditional office.  Like most co-working companies, MicroOffice bundles all the needs of today’s workers into one easy-to-understand agreement. Things like power, faxing, conference rooms, and internet are all in the agreement.

The company also installs community managers at their locations, but they function as much more than just landlords. They try to ensure complimentary diversity within the coworking space. They also help facilitate programming that’s necessary for today’s growing companies. Legal, accounting, PR, and other workshops are a mainstay across the MicroOffice facilities.

The Harlem Garage is 5000 square feet of coworking space and will house a diverse community of 150 members according to Black Enterprise. They also plan to offer discounts to women and minority-owned businesses as well as hold annual contests for desk space.

“Harlem Garage is about the advancement of Harlem small businesses through the exchange of expertise,” Ryan Young, Harlem Garage’s Community Manager told Black Enterprise.

They plan to open in the coming weeks. You can find out more about Harlem Garage at


New York Startup Bringing The Much Needed NetFlix For Books

Oyster, Spotify for books, Netflix for books, New York startup So far 2013 has been a big year for readers and technology. We’ve seen startups like Memphis’ ScrewPulp offering a new kind of self publishing platform. We saw Amazon’s Jeff Bezos add the digital download to traditional books, and now it seems everybody is talking about Oyster.

E-Book reading is a huge growing market. According to a recent report from the Washington Post, e-book sales in the US  topped $3 billion dollars this year. That, according to TechCrunch, accounted for a 44% increase in e-book sales. The UK saw a whopping 134% increase from 2011 to 2012.

As more and more people switch to table devices or add a table device to their smart devices, e-books are becoming more and more popular. Amazon, iTunes, and others have made finding and reading books so easy that you don’t even have to set foot in a library or bookstore.

Eric Stromberg, Andrew Brown, and Willem Van Lancker are preparing to disrupt the e-book market again by offering a Netflix style “book renting” platform. Their startup, Oyster, lets the user download/rent unlimited e-books for $9.99 a month.

Oyster already has over 100,000 titles in their library and has scored partnerships with some big publishers in the world including Harper Collins, Houghton Mifflin, Worman, Rosetta Books and more.

In addition to its first to market rental platform for books, Oyster has also deployed a social layer on top of their reading platform so that users can share and stay updated with their friends on what they are reading.

With most e-book downloads ranging from $9.99 to $14.99 for one book, any one who reads should  check out Oyster and get on their waiting list.


Krossover, Because Everyone Loves A Great High School Sports Comeback

Krossover, New York startup, startup story, coaching

So, I may have shed a little tear when watching Undefeated earlier this year. It’s one of those tug-at-your-heart-strings comeback stories. Team does horribly, needs more direction, gets it in adversity, and wins. In the case of Undefeated, the team almost went all the way.  While Undefeated was more about culture and upbringing, and we may have a little bias being based in Memphis and all, it’s still a great high school comeback story.

High school comeback stories are good for morale, good for building strong minds, and in a lot of cases great for the community.

New York-based startup Krossover is giving high school coaches everywhere a better chance at making that comeback. They provide access to tools that used to only be available to college and professional coaches.

Coaches subscribed to the Krossover service upload their raw game video footage to the Krossover servers.  Then a network of over 1300 crowdsourced employees in the US, India, and Europe watch the films and document everything. What’s delivered back to the coach in 24 hours looks like a college or professional sports analytics.

According to Business Insider, Krossover indexes the video and data, and a coach can instantly call up shots by a particular player, bad running plays, missed free throws, and just about every piece of the game.

“We are sitting on mounds of data, about 20 terabytes of video, data, and analytics,” James Piette, Krossover founder told Business Insider. “Our service is cataloging exactly what’s happening in every single play like who took a shot where, who rebounded the shot, who inbounded the ball, everything.”

Krossover has thousands of coaches as customers and provides their services for football, basketball, and lacrosse. One of their customers Sean McInnis, the basketball coach at King Philip Regional High Scool in Massachusetts. Before he took over the team and signed up for Krossover, the team had gone winless in three seasons, with over 60 losses. The year he tried Krossover they improved their record to 14-8.

Check out Krossover here.


Derek Flanzraich, 7 Lessons From My First Year as an Entrepreneur

Derek Flankzraich, Greatist, guest post, everywhere else Cincinnati, YECDerek Flanzraich is a keynote speaker at Everywhere Else Cincinnati, September 29-October 1st (tickets available here). Derek originally published this piece in July of 2012 in conjunction with the Young Entrepreneur Council.

A year ago, I started Greatist with no real clue what I was doing. We’re now the fastest-growing health and fitness site on the Web, so a lot has gone right. But a lot has als0 gone wrong. A year ago, I’d never really hired someone. Never really fired someone. Never incorporated a company in Delaware. Never spent days accounting in Excel, signed an office lease, paid the IRS, saved a crashing website, negotiated with a potential acquirer, or been responsible for six people’s paychecks. But those things could always have been figured out.

The biggest challenges, instead, have been personal, and on that level, it’s never been harder. I’ve never been so busy, so behind, so unsatisfied with how much I can accomplish with the mere 24 hours in each day. At the same time, I’ve never been happier. I’ve never been more optimistic, more excited for what can be achieved, more able to genuinely say I love every second of what I’m doing. Now I can.

Here are 7 lessons I’ve learned this past year of being an entrepreneur:

  1. Starting something for the first time is really, really hard. Imagine the hardest thing you’ve ever worked on. Now imagine that thing is the most important thing you’ve ever done. Then imagine you have no idea what you’re doing. Most startups are different, and most founder motivations and ambitions unique – but no matter what it is, if you think it’s going to be easy, you’re wrong. This experience has been way harder than anything I’ve ever been challenged with. I love that challenge. A startup is a to-do list with infinite scroll. It’s true that it’s never been easier to start a startup, but that doesn’t mean that starting a startup is remotely easy.
  2. Sometimes you just have to make mistakes for yourself. There’s an unbelievable amount of brilliant, experienced entrepreneurs/investors/male models regularly sharing advice on the web (Vin Vacanti, Fred Wilson, Mark Cuban, Chris Dixon, Ben Horowitz, Albert Wenger, Rob Go, Bijan Sabet, Brad Feld, Jason Goldberg, just to name a few of my favorites). Those + Quora can answer nearly any question. But you’re going to mess up anyway. I recognized that it was likely I’d make a lot of mistakes, but I’ve realized I had to make an awful lot of them for myself. Example: knowing that you should fire someone who isn’t working out because they’re hurting the team’s culture quickly is much easier than actually fully realizing that’s what’s happening and then acting on it. I knew, but I didn’t really know until I felt the taste of mistake in my mouth. And it tastes salty.
  3. Asking others for help and meaning it is important. I’m the worst at asking for help, but I’m getting better. Entrepreneurs are, by nature, usually confident, positive and optimistic, but if success in startups is the outcome of a million random factors, inspiring help from others is among the most important. Asking for help is humbling, but the minute you genuinely eat your pride, tell it like it is, and share what you need is the minute things can change. If what you’ve built is truly meaningful and impressive, let your guard down. Share your hardest challenges, biggest worries and scariest fears, and people will help if they can.
  4. Surround yourself with friends who will remind you you’re awesome when you need it, and call you out when it’s time. In my experience, entrepreneurship is sort of like a see-saw: sometimes it seems like everything is falling apart and, at others, that huge thing you’ve been working to achieve may actually be possible. Friends can be an escape, sure (and you need escapes, big time), but they can also be the external support you need most. It’s hard to keep up with friends regularly when you’re starting a company, but each time I do, I’ve been working increasingly hard to allow them to push me in the way I personally need pushing (and, by the way, try to do the same right back!).
  5. Sharing what you’ve learned with others can pay back in a million different ways. With Greatist, I’ve found putting the time into teaching others has paid me back many times over. I started a class with Skillshare mostly because two awesome buddies, Peter Boyce and Scott Britton, asked me to. I taught How to Grow from 0 to 250,000 Organic Uniques in Under 6 Months with no expectations… and have since taught a few more. Each time I’ve been shocked by how much I’ve learned, from the people who take the class and those who follow up afterwards. I’ve made great friends, started major brand partnerships, been introduced to some remarkable people, and brainstormed amazing ideas with others because of them.
  6. Schedule in specific time to think and be creative. Emails, meetings, sleep, repeat… and suddenly a week has gone by without time to think. This might sound a little silly, but put time blocks into your calendar to just think. I’ve literally just started scheduling “thinking time” on my calendar at regular intervals, and beg everyone on my team to do the same. Also, a lot of my most creative ideas come from doing, seeing, experiencing something else entirely. Some of my best ideas have come from seeing a random movie, attending a jazz concert, or taking the time to explore somewhere new.
  7. The only way to build something different is to do things differently. A good friend, Runkeeper’s Jason Jacobs, said in an interview once: “We have no exit strategy, we have longtime horizons. We are digging our heels in and we are going to slog through this over a long period of time.” I’ve noticed it’s increasingly easy for people in the startup community to become swept up in, “That’s just what everyone else is doing.” It obviously makes some sense to do what others have done to fit how everyone else defines success, but I’m learning that success, to me, is different. I’m getting better and better at realizing that to achieve something different, we need to do different things.

Derek Flanzraich is the founder and CEO of Greatist, a health and fitness media startup on a mission to make better choices easier for everyone. Also a fan of theme parks and theme bars.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.


Go IdeaCat Is Giving The Idea Marketplace Another Go

GoIdeaCat, New York startp, startup interview

Some out there believe an idea is only as good as its execution. We’ve profiled a number of startups that have tried to put some kind of spin on the idea marketplace, where you can go and sell an idea to someone else. We’ve even talked about how startup leaders like David Cohen of Techstars believes that the idea marketplace will never work, and for good reason.

Now, two bright entrepreneurs from a little town outside of New York City have decided to try that idea marketplace again. Jordyn Rikard and Kyle Jergensen have a startup called Go IdeaCat.

So why does this startup have a better chance to succeed?

First off it’s in the pricing. “Investors then place a starting bid of $5 and bids can rise up to $100! Once the bidding is over, the full idea is released to the investor and the idea creator gets their cash,” Rickard explains.

Previous iterations of this same idea have had the ideas on the marketplace for tens of thousands of dollars. In order to get that kind of money you need to be a proven, multimillionaire founder.

Rickard and Jergensen are targeting people who think they may have stumbled onto the next big idea but don’t have the time or know how to execute.

Will it work? Time will tell. In the meantime check out our interview with Rickard below.

What is your startup called?

Go IdeaCat

What does your company do?

Go IdeaCat is an idea sharing network that connects investors with individuals who have great ideas but not the time, resources, knowledge or money to make them a reality. A great idea should never go to waste. Users start by signing up and listing ideas for free. Ideas are kept a secret except for the category the idea falls under and then three specifics chosen by the user as a teaser to the main show. Investors then place a starting bid of $5 and bids can rise up to $100! Once the bidding is over, the full idea is released to the investor and the idea creator gets their cash.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

Kyle Jergensen and Jordyn Rickard are the founders of Go IdeaCat. Jordyn Rickard is a freelance writer and marketing guru that currently works full time for Kea Advertising, a full service marketing agency. She’s got the creative brains and the determination to take Go IdeaCat to the next level.

Kyle Jergensen is another creative mind with a degree in Economics and a background in business. He keeps the business on the ground and takes care of everything behind the scenes. Not to mention he has ideas flowing a mile a minute!

Where are you based?

We’re based out of Suffern, New York. A small suburb located just 30 minutes from NYC.

What problem do you solve?

We solve the problem of the dreaded dead end. It’s a bummer when someone has a great idea but can’t make it happen. What happens to the idea? It just sits there or gets forgotten about. By connecting motivated business minds direct with creative brains, we solve the problem of stifled creativity.

Why now?

Good ideas don’t wait. The world as a whole is evolving in every way and creative minds are everywhere. There are millions of great ideas that deserve to become a reality. The next great idea could benefit society as a whole. We just need to make it happen!

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We’ve just launched a teaser site to get the word out about Go IdeaCat while we work feverishly behind the scenes to get the real site up and running.

What are your next milestones?

Our next milestone will be the official launch of the site! Expected within the month.

Where can people find out more?

To find out more about GoIdeaCat head to 


New York Startup Is Paving A ClearPath For Legal Immigrants

Clearpath, New York startup, Immigration startup

Immigration is a hot topic for startups. But typically when we are talking about immigration and startups we’re talking about the laws that need to be changed to allow startup founders and technologists an easier path to create their companies here in the United States. We don’t typically come across startups that are looking to make the immigration process easier for people trying to legally come to the United States.

Many of the people that are crossing the border illegally are doing it because they want to get over here as quickly as possible, or they have something holding them back and preventing them from legally crossing the border. There are some people, though, who are coming over to the United States illegally because the legal process is quite cumbersome. There are a lot of forms that need to be filled out, kept organized, and turned in. Like with most bureaucratic processes, if one form is not completed correctly or signed properly, the whole process comes to a screeching halt.

Michael Petrucelli, who once led the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Alan Samuels, a UK immigrant, and entrepreneur have founded ClearPath. Think of it as TurboTax for immigration.

Their platform keeps all of the important paperwork for the immigration process straight and organized.

“Clearpath allows immigrants to securely and confidentially fill out a variety of immigration forms online (including a new version of the site in Spanish and new forms in Spanish, like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals application or the popular N-400 naturalization form) while the site checks data in real time for potential errors and compliance and then prepares the forms for submission to the USCIS. It’s the only online service of its kind that offers a patented, affordable online option for immigrants, costing a fraction of the fees typically charged by legitimate immigration lawyers or shady notarios,” Samuels told us in an interview.

Clearpath will make it easier for those looking to start their new lives legally in the United States. As the company grows it will also deter some of those trying to cross our borders illegally and get them to come into the U.S. the right way.

Check out the rest of our interview with Samuels below.

What is your startup called?


What does your company do?

Clearpath has developed a greatly simplified digital filing process for immigrants applying for visas and naturalization in the USA. Think of it as a TurboTax® for immigration.

Clearpath allows immigrants to securely and confidentially fill out a variety of immigration forms online (including a new version of the site in Spanish and new forms in Spanish, like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals application or the popular N-400 naturalization form) while the site checks data in real time for potential errors and compliance and then prepares the forms for submission to the USCIS. It’s the only online service of its kind that offers a patented, affordable online option for immigrants, costing a fraction of the fees typically charged by legitimate immigration lawyers or shady notarios.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

Founder and Chairman, Michael Petrucelli, led the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and wrote many of its policies and procedures. CEO Alan Samuels, a UK immigrant, previously founded an education finance marketplace, lead the sale of Dotmenu to GrubHub, and managed a $100 million corporate product line for S&P.

Where are you based?

Clearpath’s corporate headquarters is in NY, with offices in Washington D.C. and Miami, Fl.

What problem do you solve?

Immigration law is comparable in complexity to the US tax code. It is no simple task to navigate the USCIS website, identify the appropriate form, or complete it correctly. Lawyers charge between $4,000 and $10,000 to aid this process. (Notarios charge around $3,000 but often provide fraudulent services.) Clearpath Immigration brings the knowledge of US immigration administrators to these consumers with a safe, secure, smarter solution for a fraction of those prices.

Why now?

With all the discussion around comprehensive immigration reform, what is clear is that there will be more people eligible for more statuses and, ultimately, more forms being filed. There may be up to 11 million people who will have a path to citizenship if the Senate version of the bill is passed. This will only add to the 100 million immigration forms that are filed yearly with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS). Hence the opportunity for tech-enabled solutions to streamline the byzantine immigration filing process.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

Our product is live at and currently covers just under 30 different immigration forms including: citizenship, deferred action for childhood arrivals, bringing over a foreign relative, adjustment of status.

What are your next milestones?

We are in discussions with a number of potential partners to jointly market our services. Look for a pilot with one of the largest Latino organizations later this year.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

See why hundreds are flocking to this national startup conference in Cincinnati Sep 29-October 1.


SoftBank’s Joe Medved And Mercury Fund’s Blair Garrou To Speak At Everywhere Else Cincinnati

Today’s been a big day for Everywhere Else Cincinnati. Earlier this morning we announced that Greatist founder Derek Flanzraich had joined the already amazing line up for the conference taking place in Cincinnati September 29-October 1st.

The Everywhere Else conference series is aimed at startups “everywhere else,” cities across America where startups are fueling the new economy. Startups in areas that aren’t traditional tech hubs, like Silicon Valley, often have a common set of challenges including access to capital, access to talent, and not knowing which resources are available to tap into.

At Everywhere Else Cincinnati, startups, angel investors, and VC’s from everywhere else will be able to learn and collaborate with like minded people in similar situations. We’ve compiled an amazing list of national speakers who will offer a range of discussions from starting up everywhere else, to raising money everywhere else, to accelerating everywhere else, and even what VC’s and angel investors are looking for when they turn to startups everywhere else.

After our huge conference in Memphis last February, a theme kept recurring: the need to “Start Where U Are.” This conference will help startups realize that in most cases starting where they are is the best scenario for them and the community.

We already have VC’s from some of the nation’s most respected firms attending or speaking at the conference. Two more of those VC’s, Soft Bank Capital’s Joe Medved and Mercury Fund’s Manging Partner Blair Garrou, will share their insight into what VC’s are looking for and how startups, who often have the odds stacked against them in the first place, can make sure they look good and ready in front of investor.

Both VC’s are distinguished in their fields, have an active role in their startup communities and advisory roles with their startups. Both investors have also been on the Business Journal‘s 40 under 40 in addition to other great accomplishments.

Joel Medved, Blair Garrou, Soft Bank Capital, Mercury Fund, EE Cincinnati, Everywhere Else CincinnatiJoe Medved joined SoftBank Capital in 2005. He’s been investing in digital media companies for over nine years, from seed through growth stage.  He focuses on supporting primarily Seed and Series A stage companies with special interests including consumer and enterprise mobile, gaming, and social marketing.

Prior to joining SoftBank Capital, Joe was an Associate with Constellation Ventures, a media and communications venture capital fund under Bear Stearns Asset Management. Prior to Constellation Ventures, he was an Associate and Analyst for the Technology, Media and Telecommunications Group with JPMorgan Investment Banking.

In 2011, Joe was selected by the Boston Business Journal for its 40 Under 40 class. He is Co-Founder of the Digital Media VC/Corp Dev Connection, a group that brings together active investors and corporate development professionals from large corporations focused on digital media.  Joe is also Chairman Emeritus of the New England Venture Network (NEVN), one of the largest venture capital organizations on the East Coast.

blairgarrouBlair Garrou is a co-founder and Managing Director of the Mercury Fund (formerly DFJ Mercury). The Houston-based VC firm makes investments in technology and energy where they even support their own accelerator called Surge.  Garrou’s reach to accelerators doesn’t end there, though. He is a big believer in the accelerator model and is a mentor at The Brandery and often speaks to other accelerator cohorts across the country.

Prior to co-founding the Mercury Fund, Blair was the CEO of Intermat, Inc., a leader in product information management software (acq. by IHS). Before Intermat, Blair was a Principal of Genesis Park LP, a Houston-based venture capital and private equity firm, where he focused on the firm’s software investments, including Intermat, FuelQuest (acq. by Saracen Energy), and SAT Corporation (acq. by Invensys). Prior to Genesis Park, Blair helped launch and was the Director of Operations for the Houston Technology Center (HTC), the largest technology incubator in the state of Texas, and he led the formation of the Houston Angel Network, one of the largest and most active angel investment organizations in the U.S. Previously, Blair was an investment banker with BMO Nesbitt Burns, and an auditor with Deloitte & Touche. Blair is a licensed CPA in the state of Texas. He received a B.S. in Management with special attainments in Commerce from Washington & Lee University.

Medved and Garrou join this already amazing list of speakers

  • Naithan Jones, Founder AgLocal
  • Derek Flanzraich, Founder Greatist
  • Andrew Warner, Founder Mixergy
  • Andy Sparks, Co-Founder Mattermark
  • Wil Schroter, Founder Fundable
  • Jake Stutzman, Founder
  • Jonathon Perrelli, Managing Director, Fortify Ventures
  • Justin Gutwein, Filmmaker and Entrepreneur
  • Mark Hasebroock, Founder Dundee Venture Capital
  • Jason Healy, Founder Blu
  • John Bracken, Founder Evite and Speek
  • Dave Knox, CMO Rockfish, co-founder Brandery
  • Patrick Woods, Managing Director a>m ventures
  • Sarah Ware, Founder Markerly
  • John T. Meyer, Founder
  • Raghu Betina, Managing Patner The Starter League
  • Ryan O’Connell, VP Influence & Company
  • Blake Miller, Managing Director Think Big Accelerator
  • Michael Bergman, Founder Repp.


Startups hurry only 4 Startup Village Booths left at the early bird discount rate!



Greatist Founder Derek Flanzraich Added To Everywhere Else Cincinnati Line Up

Derek Flanzraich, Greatist, New York Startup, Everywhere Else Cincinnati, EE CIncinnnati Speaker

No, we did’t misspell “greatest” in that headline.

Greatist is an web startup about health and wellness. It’s an expert community driven resource that helps you reach fitness, health, and happiness goals. Whether you’re looking for great healthy recipes, workout tips, or even how to get over a hangover, Greatist offers a variety of wellness and health related content.

While the content on is overflowing, the team at Greatist encourages their users to take it slow, one week at a time. The startup’s mission is to inspire and inform the world to make at least one healthier decision per week.  Whether you want to lose weight, eat better, get stronger, get motivated, relieve stress, or just start working out, Greatist offers the content you need, in an easy-to-read format for all of their users.

Derek Flanzraich has been an entrepreneur since his first “lemonade stand” startup dog walking business. All the while friends, family members, and new acquaintances would ask him what drove him, and one of those main ingredients was health and wellness. That’s why he created Greatist.

Flanzraich has been featured by Forbes as an up and comer.  That’s also why Andrew Warner, the founder of Mixergy, (and another Everywhere Else Cincinnati speaker) interviewed Flanzraich on his popular site Mixergy, home of the ambitious startup.

Flanzraich told Warner in the interview that he thought of product first, in his case the content on Greatist, before he thought about revenue and traffic, a healthy recipe that seems to be working out.

Flanzraich can talk about his experience building a school newspaper in middle school, a political forum in high school, or a web TV show and network at Harvard. He can also talk about how he joined Clicker, a startup that sold to CBS for hundreds of millions, right before exit. He even picked the startup route over joining Google. Then he can talk about building Greatist into the greatest. Why people come, why they stay, and what he has learned in his career in new media.

Check out Flanzraich’s site, Greatist, here

Flanzraich joins the growing list of confirmed national speakers for Everywhere Else Cincinnati:

  • Naithan Jones, Founder agLocal
  • Andrew Warner, Founder Mixergy
  • Andy Sparks, Co-Founder Mattermark (backed by NEA and a16z)
  • Wil Schroter, Mr. Ohio, founder of Fundable
  • Jake Stutzman, founder
  • Jonathon Perrelli, Managing Director, Fortify Ventures
  • Justin Gutwein, Filmmaker and Entrepreneur
  • Mark Hasebroock, Founder Dundee Venture Capital
  • Jason Healy, Founder, Blu
  • John Bracken, Founder e-vite and Speek
  • Dave Knox, CMO Rockfish, co-founder, Brandery
  • Patrick Woods, Managing Director a>m ventures
  • Sarah Ware, Founder Markerly
  • John T. Meyer, Founder
  • Raghu Betina, Managing Patner, The Starter League
  • Ryan O’Connell, VP Influence & Company
  • Blake Miller, Managing Director, Think Big Accelerator
  • Michael Bergman, Founder Repp.

Get your ticket or Startup Village Booth for Everywhere Else Cincinnati below.


Hip Hop & Startups: The Phat Startup

The Phat Startup, New York startup, Startups, Hip Hop

“This is not a parody,” The Phat Startup says on their website, and it’s not. A lot of entrepreneurs draw lessons from pop culture and contemporary issues and relate them to the passion and drive for startups.

For me, it’s usually a mashup of hip hop and basketball. My basketball references come from my favorite team the Memphis Grizzlies, known for years as the Grit-n-Grind team, which publicly showed it off to the world through the 2013 conference finals. My hip hop references come as the form of subtle musical hints in our videos based on what city we happen to be in on the sneaker strapped startup road trip.

phatstartuplogoWe’re definitely not the only ones that relate hip hop to startups. One of the more famous people in the startup world, Ben Horowitz of Andreesen Horowitz, uses a hip hop lyric at the opening of all of his blog posts, like this post about the firm’s investment in both Instagram and PicPlz where he used Mase’s “Lookin at me” to open up the post.

Some may draw another connection between hip hop and startups because most rappers have had to turn into entrepreneurs in their own right in order to succeed in today’s shifted music economy. There are also parallels from some of the content that hip hop artists often rap about, especially when it comes to hustle.

Well on Wednesday Forbes reported on a New York startup founded by James Lopez and Anthony Frasier called “The Phat Startup”. Lopez is a technologist from the Bronx who  worked at publishing giant Random House. Frasier hails from Newark, New Jersey. He is the founder of mobile startup Playd and the “award winning” gaming site “The Koalition.” He was also profiled in the popular hit documentary Black in America: The New Promise Land- Silicon Valley. CNN Money also profiled Frasier as being one of 8 minorities diversifying the tech scene.

Through their blog, outreach, resources, and popular events, The Phat Startup is looking to continue to grow the tech community and teach essential skills for entrepreneurs and startup founders through hip hop.

“A big part of entrepreneurship is the ability to learn from mistakes,” Frasier, told Forbes. “When you hear rappers rap about their upbringing, you can learn a lot because they always sprinkle lessons of things they don’t do anymore, things that they do now, things you can relate to.”

The Forbes article highlights several rap lyrics like one very infamous line from  Jay-Z when he declared “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man,” an homage to how one of the hip hop kings grew himself, his brand, and his artists to an empire bringing his self worth to nearly half a million dollars.

A song released by Drake, earlier this year, has become a theme song of sorts for several startups going through spring and summer accelerator sessions. The song “We started from the bottom” has a punchy hook that say,s “we started from the bottom now we’re here”.

Hip Hop is so intertwined with the startup culture that it even spawned a huge startup that, of course, Horowitz and the Andreessen Horowitz team were quick to back. That startup, RapGenius, crowdsources the meanings to the lyrics of rap songs. Now the startup is working on other ways to incorporate the technology, like with the news for example. Back in March when Andrew Mason was fired, resigned, from Groupon, RapGenius was used to crowdsource the meaning of his now infamous letter to the Groupon team.

The Phat Startup’s next event is Tuesday, August, 20th from 6-8 pm at 1412 Broadway 22nd Floor. At the event, Nihal Mehta the CEO and Co-Founder of LocalResponse will talk about The Future Of Marketing For Startups. You can join that event by clicking here.

Find out more about The Phat Startup here.

Now check out this awesome startup event.