Turn Your Idea Into A Startup On Your iPhone With Elevatr

Elevatr, NY Startup,Startup Interview

Entrepreneurs are currently using a wide variety of mobile apps to help plan and launch their startups. Some entrepreneurs use productivity solutions like Xtrant and Basecamp; others are using GoogleDocs; and some go “low-tech” with just their iPhone’s notepad app. I’ve seen some startup founders who have pages and pages of research, drawings, flow charts, customer discovery, and other pieces of the entrepreneur’s puzzle laid out across multiple iPhone and Android apps.

With an entrepreneur’s brain going 100mph these current solutions can be chaotic at best… until now…

New York-based entrepreneurs David Spiro and Rafa Amormin know the pain of turning ideas into startups using fragmented apps all too well. Until now there was no app in any app store that was specifically designed for hashing out startup ideas.

The Elevatr App is currently available in the iTunes app store, and we’ve been playing with it a bit. The UI is basic and very easy to understand. The beauty of the app lies in the fact that it functions like a Q&A business plan designer, but the output is on your own mobile device.

Using Elevatr App you start with an idea and then go through market, product, business model, and execution. Rather than leaving wide open questions that someone with a new idea may find confusing, Spiro and Amormin have divided each category into sub categories asking the questions that you would typically find in a business model canvas. It’s obvious that Spiro and Amormin are entrepreneurs and not just developers.

We got a chance to talk with Spiro:

EE-LASTCHANCEWhat is Elevatr?

Elevatr is an iOS app that helps guide raw business ideas into concise business plans.

In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother).

The whole point of the app is to give you a structured business plan outline so that you just have to think about building the content for your plan, not the structure of the plan itself. Imagine a very beautiful business plan template broken down into a handful of categories including Problem, Target Market, and Product Features where you can tap on any category to include notes and dynamic media to easily create a business plan from your mobile device. Each business plan can be shared so you can get feedback, work on it with teammates, or pitch it to investors. Users can work on as many ideas as they’d like.

 Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

David Spiro, Founder and CEO, received the University of Michigan Business School’s Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship for his business modeling expertise. Started 2 companies as an undergrad and played baseball for UMICH.

Rafa Amorim, Founder and CTO, building backends globally since he was 15, having been an integral part of building Paymentez, a multinational e-wallet company that has 4 million users.

Where are you based?

We are based in SoHo, NYC.

What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?

Technology underlies all industries today but startups are not the leading industry culture in NYC. We see fashion, media, and entertainment as the leading industries here. It’s nice to not be the top of the food chain because everyone in the startup scene is hungry to make it the top of the food chain. Also, we take so much from those industries from business models to company cultural influence. I think you’ll see the startup scene in NYC explode over the next few years.



How did you come up with the idea for Elevatr?

Studied entrepreneurship at Michigan’s Business School and Engineering school. Was around so many entrepreneurs I picked up on a behavior pattern: Everyone was keeping several ideas in Apple Notes. I was being taught business modeling techniques and discovered that the students would enjoy an app that took the pain out of creating the actual structure to the business plan. Then, I realized that the startup revolution had gone mainstream – everyone was pitching me ideas from my sister to my friends moms. When I realized that, I figured it was worth building the app. It’s paid off we have 70,000 users in 2 months.

 Why now?

The startup revolution has gone mainstream. People are so enamored by what’s going on with the Snapchat’s and instagrams of the world saying “hey, if these simple ideas can become $1B companies then so can my simple idea.” I also think that subliminally the Recession of 2009 changed how we perceive security at traditional corporations: they aren’t so safe. Any day you could be out of a job for someone else’s selfishness so why not pursue your own idea instead? The bottom line is that internet entrepreneurship is the future of our global economy and we’re the place to turn those ideas into businesses.

And what’s your secret sauce?

Our understanding of how hard it is to execute on business ideas. It enabled us to build this great v1 and will keep us on the cutting edge for this growing market as we push new products moving forward.

What are some milestones you’ve achieved?

70,000 users in 2 months.

Featured on the App Store for WWDC in Productivity, New and Noteworthy, and Apps for Graduates.

Ranked by Mattermark as the 15th hottest startup according to their social traction metrics.

What’s your next milestone?

It would be a true testament to how entrepreneurial we’re all becoming if we hit 100,000 in 3 months.

Who are some of your mentors and business role models?

Elon Musk – the dude made Billions off of Paypal but didn’t sit back and relax. He put it all into solving even bigger problems. And now those are $Billion companies aka SpaceX and Tesla.

My Dad – he’s a surgeon. His work ethic is unreal. If i started to explain it you wouldn’t believe me. I like to think it’s rubbed off on me over the years.

Where can people find out more?



This online accelerator can help you turn that idea into a product.


NY Startup Founder’s Baby Was Sitting In Wet Data: Internet Of Things Comes To Diapers

Smart Diapers, Pixie Scientific, Sensors, NY Startup, Internet of things

Back in October when All Thing’s Digital’s Kara Swisher was speaking at Chicago IdeaWeek, she said that sensors would be the big thing this year. She was absolutely right. There are sensors monitoring everything from your car, to your workout, to your dog’s workout, and now a baby’s diaper.

Last year Yaroslav Faybishenko, the founder of New York startup Pixie Scientific was in the car with his wife and their baby daughter. His wife had asked him if their daughter had a wet diaper. According to this New York Times article, that’s when Faybishenko realized his daughter was sitting in data.

Now you may be thinking, like I was, that sensors to tell if your baby had a wet or soiled diaper may be on the brink of pure laziness. Typically a parent can smell or otherwise observe that their baby’s diaper is full. No sense in getting an app for that, but Pixie Scientific’s “Smart Diapers” are much more than that.

With the Smart Diaper, a urine analysis square is put inside the diaper and when it becomes wet it’s scanned with a smartphone app. The app returns helpful data about the levels of glucose, ketones, proteins, and other things found in urine.

According to babycenter.com, urinary tract infections in babies can be very hard to detect. Sometimes a fever is the only symptom. When a baby has a fever without any other kind of symptoms it can be troubling to the parent. They’re also difficult to detect because it’s hard to get a bacteria free sample from a young baby. Smart Diaper’s technology would provide a great data source for pediatricians.

How much data?

Well there are 360 million diapers changed per day.


Smart Diapers aren’t just about UTI’s though. The sensor can tell if the baby is properly hydrated or if other harmful things are in the urine. There is a sensor with a qr code built in that is on the outside of the diaper. The parent just scans the qr code with their iPhone and all the data sent to the cloud comes back down to their phone with a complete analysis of the child’s latest urine.

Smart Diapers has taken to Indiegogo to raise $225,000, they have 59 days left as of the writing of this article. They’ve received a ton of national press including appearances on ABC News, BBC, CBS, and more.

You can support them at Indiegogo here.


This Louisville startup puts sensors in a tooth brush.


Cheek’d Is Reinventing Online Dating [video]

Cheekd, New York startup, startup, startup interview, Chicago TechWeek

Do you remember when online dating was a bad thing? You know, you met someone online, but you wouldn’t dare tell your parents or your closest friends. Instead, the story was you just happened to meet the  most wonderful woman (or man) in the world, who lives 500 miles away, by accident? Now online dating is the norm, especially for busy people.

Sites like match.com have been around since the mid 90’s, e-harmony since 2000. There are of course hundreds of apps to help you find the next perfect match, online.

Well, a startup we reported on last October, is turning online dating on its head by adding an offline component, the calling card.  Cheek’d gets its name, not from dancing cheek-to-cheek or anything romantic like that, but from its founder: Lori Cheek. Cheek told us in an interview that the idea came about when she was out to dinner with a dear male friend. As they were leaving the restaurant the male friend of hers wrote his name and number on the back of a card and slipped it to an attractive woman. Sparks went off in Cheek’s head, and Cheek’d was born.

Cheek’d lets you order Cheek’d cards that have a link to your Cheek’d profile. Typically in online dating you spend a while courting someone online and then meeting in person. Now you can take that first impression and back it with a robust online platform.

Is it working? Cheek’d told us at Chicago TechWeek that they have thousands of users from across the globe who’ve started using the service.  “Cheek’d bridges the gap between online dating and real-world romance by providing members with physical cards that they can use to entice people from the real world to flirt with them in the virtual world. It’s the 2.0 version of “Call Me.” Cheek told Nibletz.

Cheek’d is a really interesting twist in online dating. Check out our interview video below and to sign up visit cheekd.com


See more startup coverage from Chicago Techweek here.



Aereo Founder & CEO Chet Kanojia On Why People Love It [VIDEO]

Aereo,Chet Kanojia, Chicago Techweek, Startup

Chet Kanojia, the founder and CEO of controversial TV startup Aereo, appeared at Chicago Techweek on Thursday in a fireside chat called “TV Broadcasting: Who Is Controlling The Remote.” BTIG Managing Director Rich Greenfield led the discussion on topics pertaining to disrupting the world of TV.

This was a very fitting topic considering that TechWeek kicked off with a screening of the movie Downloaded, a documentary that takes a look at the rise, fall, and influence of Napster, written, produced and directed by Alex Winter of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure fame.

Like music, the TV industry has had a lot of competition in recent years. NetFlix, Hulu, Sling, and several other companies have disrupted the world of watching television with rabbit ears or a simple coaxial cable into the side of your home. Highspeed internet, DVRs, TiVo, and satellite TV have contributed to that disruption as well.

So far most of the startups and new companies in the television space have centered around streaming cataloged content, with Hulu typically having the freshest of catalog content offerings. Some of the networks that have an ownership interest in Hulu can have their newest show episodes on the site the very next day.

Now Kanojia’s company Aereo is disrupting TV by offering broadcast television via the web in a streaming format which users can record and playback. Kanojia explained that it’s based on the fact that every American is entitled to antenna TV service, but “no one specifies what kind of antenna or how long the cord is.” It’s also based on the fact that recording television for private use dates back 30+ years, since the Betamax days.

Aereo has found itself facing some stiff lawsuits, which Kanojia was quick to point out, the startup is winning.

In the video below Kanokia explains the two keys to their success with their customers: simplicity and unbundling. Earlier in the day Kanokia used TechWeek as the venue to announce that Aereo’s next city will be Chicago, and the service will begin in September.

For more on Aereo click here. and watch the video below.

More startup coverage from Chicago TechWeek is here.


Why Is The Big Apple Becoming the Big Tech Apple?

New York startup, New York Angels, Pervasive Group, Guest Post, Big Tech AppleThe rise of the New York tech scene is the most significant development in the American startup world since the tech bubble burst in 2001.

Ten years ago Silicon Valley was America’s only real startup technology hub, with minor outposts in Boston, Seattle, Houston, and New York. Now the American startup scene has a large, vibrant home on the East Coast.

New York is now leading the way in early-stage growth and fast becoming the home base for consumer-facing technology startups from across the globe.

Sure, the Big Apple still pales in size to Silicon Valley. But the gap is rapidly closing. New York was once only the fourth largest US market for startups. Now it is second and home to over 3,000 startups, as billboards across the city proudly proclaim.

What is causing this rapid growth and is it sustainable?

The cause of New York’s startup growth is the confluence of interested money, effective politics, and symbiotic blending of common interests. The Big Apple finally managed to harness the vast assets and capital available because of its status as the world’s financial capital and put that to good use creating companies. By most metrics, there is no wealthier area in the world than the greater tri-state of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Now companies are finally able to harness all that capital – both from institutional funds and angel investors – to thrive and create a sustainable startup market.

The city was also able, through effective politics driven by a tech-friendly City Hall run by visionary billionaire Michael Bloomberg, to steer politics towards effective startup creation. Many of the city’s most effective startup-engines, including incubators like NYC Alley, are products of both private endeavor and public policy. Several of the most ambitious public-private partnerships of the last decade, including the new Cornell-Technion Entrepreneurial University partnership, will spur startup growth in the city for decades.

At the root of the tri-state’s startup growth is its focus on smaller, expansion-oriented, consumer-facing companies that can leverage the tri-state’s vast population of individual private investors and take advantage of its strong mix of media and advertising. My own company, Pervasive Group Inc., leveraged relationships with the New York Angels, the Tech Launch accelerator, and investors across the tri-state to raise its angel round and fund the MMGuardian™ Parental Control solution for Android smartphones.

MMGuardian is a parental control application designed to give parents a comprehensive solution to smartphone dangers facing kids, particularly cyber-bullying, texting while driving, and harassment via calls, texts, and apps. We were aptly suited to take advantage of the Big Apple’s exciting media environment and large networks of concerned, active investors looking to support companies they believe in.

Best of all, New York’s startup growth is very sustainable because the networks created, policies put in place, and relationships built over the last decade will not go away. Specifically, the tri-state’s strongest angel groups–including New York Angels, Jumpstart, and Delaware Crossing–will continue to expand and to build relationships with companies worldwide, including transplants from regions as diverse as Silicon Valley and Israel. And the Big Apple’s venture scene, which remains small but is growing rapidly, will continue to expand and supplement its influential angel networks.

New York was once known as the financial capital of the world, the place where money moved. It still is, but now the Big Apple can add something more – as a city that does not just move money and companies but one that creates them.

Paul Grossinger is a New York City entrepreneur and angel investor.  He is the Co-founder of Pervasive Group Inc. and invests with the New York Angels.

This New York startup wants to DoItInPerson


These 100 Mentors Did 1500 Hours At Techstars NY; Now Follow Them On Twitter

Techstars, Techstars New York, Mentors, Follow on Twitter, startup acceleratorTechstars released some data on their current NY session on their blog Friday.  The Techstars New York class graduates this Friday, June 28th, and they’ve been burning the midnight oil.

Nicole Glaros, the co-manager of this Techstars New York session reported they’ve had 39,000 working hours (60 hours x30 weeks x50 people), 5 pivots, 1500 mentor hours, 1 wedding, 72lbs of La Colombe Coffee, 14 missing iPhone charges and one of those 5 pivots, pivoted back.

One of the keys to success for Techstars–or any good accelerator program for that matter–is their mentor network. Techstars has one of the best mentor networks in the world. Here are 100 mentors that have taken part in this current session in New York. Now you can pick up on their nuggest of wisdom by following them on Twitter.


Vine Is Not Dead, Gary Vaynerchuck Launches Talent Agency For Viners

Gary Vaynerchuck, video, vine, Instagram

New York entrepreneur, wine connoisseur, angel investor and now talent agent. Gary Vaynerchuck must believe that Instagram’s Thursday introduction of 15 second video clips won’t hurt Twitter’s popular Vine product.

Vine allows users to create 6 second videos that are looped for eternity and then share them across Twitter and Facebook.

It was long reported that Instagram was working on a video product to rival Vine. The Facebook-owned company unveiled that feature for Android and iOS users on Thursday. It became an instant success (no pun intended), especially with Instagram users who hadn’t started using Vine.

As for the Vine users, the verdict is still out. Several Vine and Instagram users posted “goodbye Vine” videos on their Instragram channels. Others quickly learned that the looping feature wasn’t available on Instagram and that sometimes 15 seconds is too much.

Vine gained almost instant popularity among popular bloggers, like the crew at Phillip DeFranco’s SourceFed and several sports stars and celebrities. 6 seconds gives viewers just enough of a glimpse into people’s lives that it’s fun. It’s quick enough that it doesn’t sidetrack viewers for very long.

Some people are getting very creative with Vine, often using the six second loop to make a continuous movie of sorts.

Vaynerchuck is no stranger to how successful video can be. He started a very successful YouTube show about wine in 2006. Now he thinks Vine is where it’s at.

“I’d seen this rodeo before,” Vaynerchuk tells Fast Company. “I started a YouTube show in 2006, so I lived that phenomenon. I lived what happened on Twitter for the first year and a half, before quote, unquote, real celebrities were on it. It’s just so obvious to me that this is going to happen.”

Vaynerchuck’s Vine talent agency is appropriately called Grape Story, and Virgin Mobile is his first client.

Though the talent will have a level of creative freedom while crafting contracted videos, they’ll incorporate specific Virgin Mobile messages. Vaynerchuck wouldn’t disclose how much stars will be paid per video, but according to Fast Company he did say that a star who made about 20 videos each year could make a living. That’s only two minutes of video. In a year.

Vaynerchuck isn’t the least bit worried about Instagram’s new video feature.

Ron Fairs, Virgin Mobile’s head of brand marketing, and Vaynerchuck’s first client for this venture added “I often question when a platform has its tried and true, which is photography, still photo, moves into another medium,” he says. “What is really the motivation behind it? . . . There could be a host of reasons other than this is what the consumer wants. Vine is something that was born into the model of [six]-seconds of video. And I think when you see other people trying to replicate that model, it’s not going to have the same organic lift and success as the person who came up with it first did.”


Move over Gary Vee, this New York startup says they’re the Wolverine of wine startups.

Gary Vaynerchuck image, vimeo

22-Year-Old New York Entrepreneur Launches EdTech Startup In London, Raises $1.7M

Mobento, UK startup, Venture Capital, Seed Round22-year-old Summer Murphy created a video library startup with access to thousands of curated educational videos on a variety of topics. Unlike many entrepreneurs, though, this native New Yorker decided that he wanted to see if his luck would fare better across the pond in the TechCity incubator in London.

Growth Business UK reports that it has. Murphy’s startup Mobento has raised $1.7 million, which has been reported as the biggest investment for any education-focused tech startup in the UK. It’s also been reported that it was one of the biggest seed rounds of any UK tech startup.

Murphy told The Next Web that the company would use the money to grow the business and bring “educational technology up to speed with the advances made elsewhere in business, social networks, and mobile”.

When talking about the platform itself, Murphy told Growth Business UK : “It slots right into the behaviour and customs of contemporary students and is a democratising and liberating force within education because it enables the world’s best educators to reach out to students all over the world.”

New York has a thriving startup community, so relocating to London to launch Mobento was a testament to Tech City. “Mobento’s decision to base themselves here is further proof that Tech City is the ideal location to scale and grow a successful digital business. Quick access to Europe and our heritage of creativity and innovation make London attractive for digital media and tech companies. Whilst the blend of creativity and innovation that exists in East London with easy access to the financial centre of the City is also a major advantage,” Benjamin Southworth, deputy CEO of Tech City, said.

Check out Mobento at mobento.com

Check out this infographic, a programmer’s guide to getting hired by a startup


Brooklyn Startup Makerbot Acquired in $604 Million Dollar Deal

Makerbot, Stratasys, New York startup, acquisitionMakerbot, the Brooklyn startup that came on the scene in 2009 and made 3D printing a household name, has been acquired in a $604 million dollar deal.

Makerbot developed the first desktop 3D printer, dubbed the “Makerbot” and quickly sold out of the initial 20 printers they had ordered. Fast forward to just two weeks ago, the company opened up a 50,000 square foot factory in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. In addition to the 3D printers, Makerbot has a consumer facing web platform called Thingiverse that allows people to upload their 3d printer plans and have them printed by the company.

Almost immediately after the opening of the new factory rumors started swirling that Makerbot had put themselves on the market. This afternoon those plans materialized with the announcement that industrial 3d printing giant, Stratasys, acquired the company in a deal worth up to $604 million dollars.

Many tech sites, including CNet, reported earlier in the day that the all stock deal was worth $430 million howeverThe Verge reports that the initial 2/3 of the deal would happen when the deal closes with the remaining 1/3 of the deal contingent on Makerbot’s performance.

Stratasys has been a mainstay in the industrial 3d printing space. While their printers print molds and parts for several industries, they came into light earlier this year when Defense Distributed used one of their high end printers to print a 3D gun that actually worked.

3D printing continues to explode. While the original Makerbot desktop printer sold for over $2,000, back in April there was a desktop 3d printer featured in the SkyMall magazine for under $1000. We saw that advertisement on the way to TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 where we got a chance to see 3DLT pitch their platform which is like 99 designs for 3D templates.

Makerbot is also working on a 3d scanner so that users can scan objects and then print them using a Makerbot printer.

This acquisition will give Stratasys a firm footing in the consumer 3D printing space. Early adopters are seeing an approaching time when people will be able to print shoes, sunglasses, cups, bowls and just about any household item from their home. 3D printing could end up being the alternative to same day delivery from giant retailers like Walmart, at least for goods that can be 3d printed.

Just last month NY had another huge exit with Tumblr.


NY Emotional Commerce Startup Fab Raises $150 Million At A $1 Billion Valuation

Fab, NY startup, fundraising

We’ve seen some crazy venture funding, and even crazier valuations, lately. We’ve even some some crazy acquisitions like the $1 billion dollar Tumblr deal.

Unlike some of these other deals though, Fab, a startup that CEO Jason Goldberg calls “emotional commerce,” has customers, revenue, and a big plan for all of the money they just raised. How much was that? Well according to multiple sources the New York based startup raised $150 million dollars at a $1 billion dollar valuation. What’s more is that TechCrunch is reporting Fab has another $100 million dollars on the way.

Investors in Fab’s recent deal included Andreessen Horowitz and Atomico.  New investor, Chinese firm, TenCent is also reported in the deal. This latest round brings their total venture funding up to $310 million.

Why on earth does an e-commerce site need so much money? Well the folks at GigaOm got a hold of this excerpt from a blog post Goldberg plans to post next week.

“Fab is focused on the long term. We are focused on creating “Wow!” shopping experiences that will result in customers making 20+ purchases from Fab within a couple of years. We are focused on being the global brand that represents emotional commerce for decades to come. Fab is not about a single transaction. Fab is about creating Wow! experiences in everything we do, from the unique merchandise we offer, to the user experience on our website and mobile apps, to fast delivery and a delightful out-of-box experience, to the follow-on customer service. We truly believe that it takes investing in Wow! in order to build the next $10B+ E-commerce company, and that’s what we’re doing.”

You can check out Fab here




Meet The Man Behind NY Dress Startup BlueGala

Bluegala, NY startup,startup interview, Guest Post, YECJosh Weiss is the Founder and President of Bluegala, an online retailer of prom dresses, evening, party, and cocktail dresses. Previously, he worked for Lehman Brothers as a High Yield Credit Research Analyst. Josh graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Commerce with a concentration in Finance. Follow him @bluegala.

Who is your hero? 

Steve Jobs.

What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?

Match and exceed. Always keep a close watch on your competitors and make sure to match and exceed them in everything they do.

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?

When we first launched Bluegala, we placed a large order for lower-priced dresses before doing any research to see if we could actually compete in the market selling them. In hindsight, we should have placed a smaller order and tested the waters with a small PPC campaign. The lesson learned is to walk before you run and test everything.

sneakertacoWhat do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?

Check orders from overnight and go through the previous day in Google Analytics. I do this to keep a handle on what’s selling and if there are any issues. Google Analytics helps me to constantly get a sense of where our traffic/sales are coming from and if there are any red flags causing consumers to bounce off the site.

What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started? 

Bootstrap your business for as long as you can and try to scale it from there. If you eventually need money, you want the business to be as profitable as possible to get the best valuation, and you want to hold onto the most equity you can.

Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?

Dive into your analytics. If you don’t know what to look for, there are tons of books and blogs that can point you in the right direction.

What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?

I define success as being one of the dominant players (if not the most dominant) within a certain industry or niche. Success is accomplishing what others were unable to accomplish and thriving where others have failed.

I will know my business has succeeded when Bluegala is the go-to resource for social occasion gowns. We have had a lot of growth since our founding in 2009, but there is still a long way to go before we establish dominance in the sector. Each year that passes allows us to learn more and more about what it will take to establish dominance and I am confident we will get there eventually.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.


NY Startup StoryKid, Born At The TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, Prepares For Launch


Two literature PhD candidates from Columbia University decided to attend the TechCrunch Disrupt NY hackathon this year with their startup idea that bridges their love of literature, kids, and technology. Tianjiao Yu and Lu Xiong, have created StoryKid, an app for the iPad that allows children to create stories of their own using images and features created by StoryKid.

If you’re a parent (like me) with a kid who uses an iPad, then you’re well aware that there are thousands children’s books in the iTunes app store. Some of the books are interactive, others are simply read along stories. Yu and Xiong’s app allows kids to make the story up from start to finish.

After the child has created a story, they can save it to the iPad and also share it across multiple channels.

When the app releases next month, it’s going to be fun for all young children, but naturally as a child gets older and starts developing their comprehension skills, the stories will start flowing better. StoryKid will help kids foster those comprehension skills. This feature could be very helpful to early education teachers, a market that Yo and Xiong hope to penetrate.


What is StoryKid?

StoryKid is an app on iPad that encourages kids to create their own stories by using images provided by us.

It is known to all that kids love stories, but listening to stories created by adults is one thing, creating something according to their own minds is quite another adventure. Kids are surprisingly good at this. They have totally fresh ways to think, and they don’t abide by many rules. So unlike other interactive apps in the store that let kids play with existing stories, StoryKid provides an exciting stage for the youngest to   create new relationships: organizing characters, locations and all elements seen in stories according to their wish. It allows kids to fully play with their imagination.

Because of it’s both fun and educational, we think this app can be both used in families and in schools. Teachers can use this app to let kids rewrite stories they are just told about. We believe this app can also be used for the sake of special education.

In the meantime, StoryKid will make the time parents spent with their little ones really fun and will make that fun last. When papa & mama sticks in getting a new story for the bed time, StoryKid is a good source. The stories finished by kids can also be saved and exported, so that the intimate moments in the childhood could always be preserved and revisited.

In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)

First, the youngest selects a situation that interests him/her mostly to start with. For example, a situation could be “Jesse finds he can suddenly understand his dog’s barking….” Along with each situation, several images would be provided as the elements to help kids structure the development of the story line. Then they will enter the creation page. There are a number of possibilities of how to arrange the images and how to note down what they want to express. The finished stories can be exported and shared by parents.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Tianjiao Yu and Lu Xiong are co-founders of StoryKid. We are school mates from Columbia University; we were both literature Ph.D students. Lu had great experience in humanity book publishing before joining the Ph.D program. Born to inherit and soak in literature, Lu gives the soul to this app. She is the content producer. Tianjiao is a kind of hard to find: thinks profoundly, executes efficiently and handles multitasks at ease. She manages the product, runs business and designs UX. We are very supplementary in a good way.

Where are you based?

We are based in New York. Btw, to show off, we have three roof windows in our apt/office.

How did you come up with the idea for StoryKid?

It was born when we were at Techcrunch Disrupt Hackathon NY 2013. One spirit we both greatly value is being creative. As literature students, it’s natural for us to favor the space provided by fictions/stories that allows people to be as creative as possible. So we thought it would be exciting to build a tool for people to easily and freely tell stories. Immediately we decided to focus on kids, who haven’t had boxes to jump out of yet and who will naturally unfold all kinds of possibilities in stories. iPad is just right for this idea.

Why now?

In short, the timing, the New York City, and the people we meet are just very right for us. We left the graduate program to explore other possibilities to make use of our knowledge. We soon realizes using current technologies, for example, the iPad, can introduce humanities subjects to more people and let people have fun with them, because to interact with the content is actually inviting users to become a part of the content, which automatically increases the intimacy. The tablet market grows like a rocket, and the early childhood education is also booming. That always receiving encouragement and suggestions from parents and teachers is another big incentive for us to start this marching. In addition, New York doesn’t frighten you when you are on the threshold of touching something new.

And what’s your secret sauce?

As with cooking, sometimes the amazingness is the result of lacking of something. In our case, we do not have a technology co-founder. Hence, almost all our product and UX ideas derives directly from daily life experiences, very intuitive, human, and breathing, which cannot be more appropriate for kids. We’d like to say that our product itself is like a kid. We hope StoryKid and other kids will be good friends.

What are some milestones you’ve achieved?

Our first milestone should be the demo presented at Techcrunch Hackathon. The demo day was the birthday of this app. We immediately received lots of great suggestions, pushing the baby app to grow really fast. We also got lucky that Ms. Ingrid Lunden from Techcrunch gave us an interview immediately after the presentation, so we got a bit viral in that week.

The second milestone we achieved was under the help of Mr. Trip O’Dell from Audio Book of Amazon. He gave us fabulous suggestions on how to improve our feature and UX when we met at Big Apple Redux 2013 in Bloomberg. That short conversation was a magic.

Most recently, we were contacted by several schools and online platforms who are interested in forming partnership with us in the long run.

What’s your next milestone?

We will have our BETA version in early July. We will invite kids to test the app and the teachers to review the app.

Where can people find out more and what is your Twitter username?

We so far suggested people to go to Techcrunch website where the interview was posted: http://tcrn.ch/Yfbcej. But we will soon finish the construction of the app intro site: storykid.me Our twitter account: @imstorykid


Check out over 50 startup stories from everywhere else at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013






Image: TechCrunch

New York Startup Wants You To DoItInPerson

DoItInPerson, NY Startup, Event Startup,startups,startup interview

There’s a new kid in town in the event space, and it’s New York startup DoItInPerson.

Founder Aron Schoenfeld realizes that the event space is very crowded but it’s also very fragmented.  There are event discovery startups, event community startups, event social networking startups, and event ticketing startups. DoItInPerson is taking all of these fragmented pieces and putting them together in one platform. Their all in one platform promises one place to go for managing, promoting, and discovering events and communities.

Schonfeld has covered everything about an event with DoItInPerson. Using their platform you can create and manage your community, find and book speakers and sponsors, create and sell tickets, create partnerships, invite attendees, and monitor how it all fits together. Schonfeld found, through putting his own events together, that he was using different tools for each thing.

There are already a handful of great event organizers who have turned to DoItInPerson and discovered that the platform delivers everything they say it will.

(Disclosure: We’re using this product to help organize our Everywhere Else Conference and it’s been extremely helpful.)

EEBOTHDiscountWhat is your startup, what does it do?

DoItInPerson.com is an online event platform that allows people to create, manage and promote events and communities. It brings all of the fragmented pieces of the event space together; from creating and managing your community, sending newsletters, booking speakers, selling tickets, adding sponsors to managing partnerships. Our goal is to simplify the event process and create data around events and communities that will help organizers sell more event tickets.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds

The company was founded by Aron Schoenfeld. Aron is an accountant by trade and has worked on multiple startups. His first startup, which he still currently runs, is DreamArtists Studios, a boutique music production company that has composed theme music for shows such as ABC’s Good Morning America and 20/20 and ESPN’s Year of the Quarterback.

Where are you based?

We are based in NY


What is the startup culture like where you are based?

Very intense. Everyone wants to work on a startup and there is a lot of hustle going on. Unfortunately, I think that in NY we see more ideas and less actual startups than in other cities.


What problem does your startup solve?

Our company aims to solve and eliminate the fragmentation in the event space to make it easier for organizers to create, manage, and promote their events in a way that adds meaning and relevance to their events. Currently organizers are forced to use multiple sites and platforms, which leads to a lack of cohesive data across the event space. Through consolidation, we will be able to provide organizers with the data they need to create better events and collect more event registrations.


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

Getting people to see the value proposition and why we are different then our competitors. Many people are familiar with other ticketing sites or other community management sites. We spent a lot of time refining our message to show people we are not just a ticketing or community platform.


What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?

We recently had our 100th event run on the site and have had over 1000 registrations.


What are your next milestones

Our goal now is to hit 500 events, get more activity in the community aspect of the site and focus on having people use the speaker portion of our site more, which I believe adds tremendous value to the events and seems to be a lot of people’s favorite feature.


Who are your mentors and role models?

My mentors include Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, who taught me a lot about what I know about entrepreneurship and has helped me any time I have had questions or issues.


My role model is my father who as a salesman, worked extremely hard all the time to make sure we had whatever we needed, but more importantly, always put family first. Whether driving to the Catskills in traffic every Thursday night in the summer to spend the weekends with us, or never missing a school event, he put family first, no matter how busy work was.


What’s next for your startup?

We just launched a redesign for the site and are focusing on making the site a more responsive design. We also plan to launch 5-6 new key features to give the site broader appeal and are hoping to get 4-5 large conferences using the site over the next few months.

Where can people find out more?


Speaking of events did you see these 50 startup stories from TechCrunch Disrupt NY


OMGPOP Employees Party Like It’s 2012 After Getting Laid Off

OMGPOP,Zynga, New York Startup, Dan Porter

We’ve chronicled the rise and fall of OMGPOP, the creators of Draw Something. Before their huge hit with Draw Something, they had produced dozens of mobile games that didn’t hit it big. Draw Something hit the app store though, lives changed, and quickly.

Draw Something shot up to the top of the app charts. They amassed over 240 million users who were playing all the time. In just about a month’s time, they went from “another game studio” in New York City, to being acquired by–at the time–social gaming powerhouse Zynga back in March of 2012. Zynga didn’t disclose the financial details of the transaction but word on the street was that the deal was between $180 and $200 million. Around the same time this year, Zynga reported taking a $95 million dollar write down on the OMGPOP deal.

Porter, who had worked on events at Pimlico in Baltimore and had strong ties to Charm City, named all of OMGPOP’s conference rooms after characters from the HBO hit series, The Wire. That, coupled with Porter’s WYSIWYG attitude quickly earned him the respect of many tech journalists.

After OMGPOP was acquired by Zynga, Porter became the head of New York operations for the company. According to the announcement back in March of 2012, OMGPOP was to be Zynga’s top mobile unit. However, as Business Insider reported on Tuesday, things didn’t quite turn out that way.

According to Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell, Monday afternoon around 2pm the dreaded “all hands meeting” was called at the NY office of Zynga. These meetings had become common practice in New York, and as the employees filed into the room, they grabbed beers, “Sensory-numbing beverages were now essential for these gatherings.” Shontell wrote.


The resident HR employee at Zynga’s New York office told the employees the news. The New York office was being shut down. Employees quickly filled out paperwork to get there severance packages and then it was party time.

Business Insider reports that hoodies, t-shirts and anything with a Zynga logo were quickly destroyed, however morale stayed positive. Desks were cleaned out, trophies from Zynga meetings were left behind.

“There were no hard facts or figures. No real explanation. Just typical corporate BS,” one former employee who was in attendance tells Business Insider. “Everyone was just like, ‘Yep.’ Not surprised at all. It was like the weight had been lifted off our shoulders, that a decision had finally been made.”

“Most layoffs are sad. You imagine big corporate settings where security is there to lead people out of the office so they don’t make a scene. This was the opposite,” says the former employee. “Music was being played loudly, and people were ripping up Zynga hoodies and T-shirts. Anything that was Zynga was completely left there. The sentiment felt positive.”

The OMGPOP team was never really integrated into Zynga. Right around the same time of the purchase, Zynga had gone public and their stock started falling immediately. Shortly after that it was reported that Zynga would no longer have the stranglehold on social games on the Facebook platform, meaning that the company would need to rely on other money making avenues.

You would think that with Zynga’s focus coming off of the “ville” franchises, a mobile team like OMGPOP would be put to work full steam ahead. Employees told Shontell that really wasn’t the case at all. Earlier this year OMGPOP released a refresh of Draw Something as Draw Something 2. Right before Dan Porter’s exit from the company in April, Ashton Kutcher had actually tweeted how much he liked the new version of Draw Something. Kutcher had gotten an advance copy of the game.

Porter has already moved onto another startup and continues with his insidestartups.org. Just a few months before Porter’s exit, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus was named the 4th worst CEO.

Check out all of our OMGPOP coverage here.