Zulily Is An IPO for Everywhere Else


There’s been a flurry of activity since Twitter filed their S-1 last week. Will it be a repeat of Facebook’s IPO? Why aren’t there any women on the board? Does that matter? And, by the way, isn’t the company still losing money?

So much digital ink has been spilled over the Twitter filing, it’s hard to remember what we wrote about before it.

Thankfully, the cycle has turned, and we have something new to write about. Two days ago another startup filed to take the IPO plunge. It’s probably safe to say that Zulily is much less well-known than Twitter and hasn’t had quite the same impact worldwide as the social media company. If you aren’t a mom, you probably haven’t heard of Zulily.

The Seattle-based flash sales site is the picture of a successful company from everywhere else. In 2009, founders Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon saw a problem: it was difficult to buy unique, inexpensive clothes for children. If they bought clothes from Target, 20 other kids had the same shirt, but if they shelled out more money, the clothes were stained or torn in a matter of hours.

The two dads figured out a fun way to solve the problem and how much users were willing to pay for it. When all the other daily deals and flash sale sites were struggling, Zulily doubled down and continued to grow.

3 years later, they’re running a company with the coveted $1 billion valuation and filing IPO paperwork.

Twitter and Zulily have completely different business models, but thanks to filing IPOs in the same week, the comparisons are inevitable. Twitter undoubtedly has more users and more impact worldwide. However, Zulily has figured out how to get cash from their customers, which means they bring in more revenue than Twitter at the moment. Money in the bank is always, always a good thing.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Twitter is a bad company or a bad investment. Without a doubt, Twitter is changing the way information is spread, and there’s plenty to like about that. And with millions of users worldwide the potential (social media’s favorite word) for revenue is massive.

Zulily’s story is an inspiration to companies everywhere else. Not everyone can–or should want to–build the next paradigm-shifting social media company. Silicon Valley has proven particularly good at that, and the world is different because of it.

However in the next 20-30 years, entrepreneurs everywhere else will prove very good at building black ink companies that solve problems in other aspects of life. Education, healthcare, government, and logistics are all ripe for disruption, and who knows what industries will be invented in the coming decade. Big problems will be solved in hubs all over the world, as well as Silicon Valley.

A flash sales site may not solve a “big” problem, but Zulily’s IPO is more step in proving the power of everywhere else.


Cyanogen’s Startup Was Cyanogen, Closes $7 Million Series A Round


Cyanogenmod, Seattle Startup, Series A, Venture Capital, Steve Kondik

(img: Technobuffalo.com)

Back in May we ran a story on Steve “Cyanogen” Kondik, the Android developer behind the Cyanogen Mod operating system that runs, and improves, the Android operating system. The popular “rom” has millions of users who root their Android device to run the open sourced software.

After creating the initial Cyanogenmod, the project became a community effort with several developers working on future releases of the firmware that when installed, allows users to take advantage of many of the benefits Google has in the Android Operating system.

Android’s biggest manufacturer, Samsung, took notice of Kondik and his work with Cyanogenmod. Kondik moved from his Pittsburgh roots to Seattle to work on Samsung’s Android team.

Kondik posted a note on his Facebook page looking for developers in the Seattle area. We reached out to Kondik at the time, and told us he was working on a startup but couldn’t tell us what it was. Knowing that Cyanogen is the most popular “Rom” for Android, we were quite curious as to what could be so interesting that Kondik would quit that job at Samsung and get his feet wet in the startup world.

It was revealed last week that Kondik had teamed up with Kirt McMaster,a cofounder of Boost Mobile, to turn Cyanogenmod from a community based effort, happening in garages and basements across the globe, to an actual company where they could push out the latest features faster.

Kondik wrote on the company blog that McMaster had contacted him by email last year and they were able to secure venture capital meetings in December. Those meetings led to a $7 million dollar series A round led by Benchmark with RedPoint ventures also participating. A confidential source told us by phone that CyanogenMod had turned down other investors including Google Ventures.

Kondik is adamant that the community know that Cyanogenmod won’t fundamentally change, but rather get better. Now they won’t have to worry about raising money from the community for new servers or having to use day jobs to support their development.

With the $7 million dollars, CyanogenMod became CyanogenMod Inc. They also opened up offices in Seattle and Palo Alto. Kondik was also able to bring three long time members of the Cyanogen team to work for the company full time. Kondik first recruited Koushik “Koush” Dutta. They also brought Chris Soyars Head of Infrastructure and designer Dobie Wollert from Google.


We were tremendously excited to hear that a project that started out community based, and built up a huge following, was getting funded. But we were curious about how Cyanogenmod was going to make money. After all they just raised $7 million dollars from some of the biggest VC’s around; surely thode investors would want their money back. Also, Cyanogenmod itself is free and Kondik has already indicated it would stay that way.

We spoke with industry analyst Russell Holly over the weekend who assured us that the “ROM” or “OS” would remain free. Cyanogenmod is looking at hardware partnerships that they couldn’t get before because they weren’t a “real company,” and there should be news on their first hardware partnership in the coming week.

They will also work on other features outside the realm of their operating system that could become premium features. For the immediate future we can expect quicker, more thorough releases.

“Our mass market plan is for the second half of 2014, which will include services and third-party integration,” McMaster explained to Fortune.com. “We’ll begin to make money on services we can build and integrate in ways that Google or Apple (AAPL) don’t necessarily do for their own business reasons. We’re not beholden to any OEM or mobile operator.”

When we originally read that statement, we were curious as to the implications stemming from “Apple” being in McMaster’s statement. Holly told us that while we won’t see a “CyanogenMod” for Apple anytime soon, services that may link the two operating systems could be forthcoming. As a hypothetical example Holly brought up the fact that while great in their own systems, FaceTime and Google Hangout were incapable of talking with each other. A more streamlined messaging service may be something the new CyanogeMod takes on.

While that still paves no direct route to monetization, Cyanogemod seems to be in a much better predicament than several social startups that have ballooned to astronomical valuations and huge funding rounds without a solid plan for growth. Undoubtedly the investors will see their money back, in the meantime though, they have now funded a collective of some of the best mobile OS developers in the world.

Findo out more about Cyanogenmod here.


3 Important Lessons From Our First Major Pivot

Zealyst, Seattle startup, guest post, startup tips, YEC

A few months ago, one of my mentors told me, “Change is easy, but pivots are painful.”

I understood all too well what he meant, since my company, Zealyst, was in the middle of our first true pivot. We’d just signed a major enterprise client, one year after launching as a consumer-focused business, and we were scrambling to figure out the new business model.

Change is constant in a startup: every day there are new ideas, new opportunities, and new hurdles, which is part of the thrill. Pivots, however, are deep, long-term changes that fundamentally alter your course and shift your company’s identity.

The pain of that pivot has decreased and we’ve come out the other side wiser and stronger, but my mentor’s words have stayed with me. I reflected on the stages of our pivot and distilled the challenges we encountered along the way into three main lessons.

  1. Listen to opportunity.
    I joked with a colleague recently that our pivot began when opportunity knocked, but it had to knock again…and again…before we really listened. Shortly after launching Zealyst to a small pilot group of consumers, a business approached us about providing the service to their clients. We agreed to work with them out of curiosity, but considered it an experiment rather than a direction change. We had a few contracts come our way through referrals, which we continued to handle in a similar manner. It wasn’t until a Fortune 100 company asked us to host an employee engagement event that we finally realized we needed to change our focus and pursue enterprise opportunities instead of expanding to new consumer markets.
  2. Maintain a connection to your core.
    My co-founder and I initially resisted the enterprise direction because we thought it strayed too far from our original vision. We started Zealyst to help people build meaningful new connections and ultimately create stronger social networks. We were concerned that taking our model into the corporate world would dilute the impact and lessen the satisfaction we derived from our work. However, after a series of client engagements, we found that the work we did to heighten employee engagement, improve retention and foster innovation was just as gratifying as the work we did for consumers. People spend a major portion of their lives at work, so helping people feel more connected to their workplace has proven to be a very rewarding challenge. Additionally, we discovered that working on specific client objectives, such as connecting people across regional boundaries or across management levels, actually improved our design process.
  3. Communicate clearly with stakeholders.
    One of the things that kept me up at night during our pivot was how we were going to tell our loyal group of early adopters about the change. Initially, we were not sure if we would have to scrap the consumer arm of Zealyst entirely, which felt like a betrayal of the people who supported us from the beginning. I consulted all of our key advisors about the best way to move forward, and we eventually came up with a strategy to maintain a small consumer division for research and marketing. After we integrated the consumer activities into the new business model, we worked closely as a team to craft a clear message about the change to all our key stakeholders: investors, advisors and our existing customers. I was nervous about how the announcement would be received, and pleasantly surprised to be met with resounding support across the board. It was a humbling reminder of the importance of transparency — and further reinforcement that we’d made the right decision.

The pain in our pivot came from having to re-calibrate our vision and change the expectations we had in the early days for what the company would become. It was challenging to let go of the plan and wrap our minds around a new course, but opening up and altering directions has allowed us to become a more resilient company than we could have imagined at the beginning of this adventure.

Martina Welke is the CEO and Co-founder of Zealyst, a curated networking service based in Seattle, Washington. Zealyst utilizes smart technology and creative design to build unique events. Zealyst software uses registration data to match attendees according to their interests, and customized social games make it easy to make new professional and personal connections at events.

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.

Wait, is your startup registered for this?

Founder Spotlight: Matt Ehrlichman CEO & Co-Founder, Porch

Porch, Seattle Startup, Guest Post, Startup Interview, YEC Founder SpotlightMatt Ehrlichman is the CEO of Porch, where you can get inspired by the best home projects your neighbors have completed, see what any home project will cost, and find the best service professional your neighbors and friends recommend. Previous to Porch, Matt was a founder and CEO of Thriva (acquired by ACTV) and Chief Strategy Officer of Active Network (2011 IPO). Matt lives in Seattle, WA. Follow him @mattehrlichman.

Who is your hero? 

My personal hero is Pete Carroll. My business hero is Warren Buffett.

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

No one will ever remember how much money you made or what your title was. They will only remember you for how you changed and impacted the world in a durable way. Because of this, I am on a mission to build a truly great company that improves the world one household at a time with Porch.

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

The first company I ever started was a sports summer camp in Western Washington at age 14; later, I needed to transition the camp into new leadership. With the change in leadership, the camp failed to continue. Had I known better, I would have worked harder at diligently finding the best way to balance not only the camp sustainability but a successful exit as well.

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

I methodically organize my week to make sure I provide appropriate attention to our key efforts: management, consumer growth, product, marketing, and sales. During the first hour of each day, I speak with the respective discipline leader (walk and talks). We go over priorities and execution, and I roll up my sleeves to dig into subject matter challenges.

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

Entrepreneurs by nature make mistakes and take opportunistic risks. We track key financials and metrics that provide us with health and appeal for investors. The only one that matters at the end of the day is your last day. Keep strong watch on your cash runway end date, and ensure that you know what the date is with no revenue as well as with conservative estimates.

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

Turn the tables and ask your employees to give you a 360 review!

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

Success to me is building a truly great company that solves a really big problem. I will know that I am successful if I build a company that delights customers, creates beautiful experiences, helps millions of small businesses, and forms a culture and team passionate about embarking on a joint mission.

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.


Jeff Bezos To Purchase The Washington Post

Jeff Bezos, Washington Post, Amazon, Graham

Jeff Bezos is no stranger to entrepreneurs and startups. As the founder of Amazon, he has become one of the wealthiest men in the world off of what seemed to be a crazy idea. Amazon has grown to the number one online destination for e-commerce and web sales. Millions of products are sold across Amazon and its partners.

Amazon has also been an instrumental player in developing startups both in their hometown of Seattle, across the country, and around the world. Many web based businesses rely on Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) cloud system for their infrastructure and web presence. They’ve found a way for people to pay with “credits” vs a flat monthly rate, which for some entrepreneurs makes it easy to grow and scale their startups and businesses.

Through Amazon’s launch in 1995 to today. Bezos has remained committed to entrepreneurship and startups and even now still mentors young startup founders. He’s also helped advocate for startups to the government and speaks at startup events, making him one of the most successful and one of the most respected entrepreneurs.

Late Monday evening The Washington Post reported that they have agreed to sell the historic newspaper to Bezos directly (not to Amazon). Bezos will take the company private and according to the Post’s Publisher Katharine Weymouth, he will be able to “experiment with the paper without the pressure of showing an immediate return on any investment.”

The paper has been in Weymouth’s family since 1933 when Eugene Meyer, a member of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors purchased the paper. In 1946 Meyer was succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law Philip Graham whose wife Katharine Graham served as chairman and CEO until 1993. Her son, Donald Graham, succeeded her at the Post. Weymouth is Katharine Graham’s granddaughter and Donald Graham’s niece.

Over the past few years the post has tried to become more progressive with their online and social offerings. Laura O’Shaugnessy (Graham’s daughter and wife to Living Social founder Tim O’Shaugnessy) is the general manager of SocialCode a Washington Post startup that helps companies expand their brand on Facebook.

Bezos plans to remain true to the readers of the Post and plans to be in it for the long haul. “I don’t want to imply that I have a worked-out plan,” Bezos told The Post in an interview. “This will be uncharted terrain, and it will require experimentation.” He continued, “There would be change with or without new ownership. But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners.”

Bezos plans to keep Weymouth in her position as publisher. Also, what may come as a relief to the newsroom, Bezos says there will be no layoffs of the company’s 2000 employees as a result of the transaction.

The paper has been in the Graham family for eight decades, and although no clear long term plan was announced on Monday, Bezos may be planning on keeping the paper in his family for generations as well.

Bezos was not a surprise bidder. The Post reports that Bezos and Donald Graham have been friends for years, often turning to each other for advice. Graham was influential in the way newspapers are displayed on Amazon’s Kindle devices.

You can read more about this historic transaction here.










Photo: Jeff Bezos

Xoogler Spotlight: Seattle Startup Yabbly Wants To Help Prevent Buyer’s Remorse

Yabbler, Seattle Startup, startup interview, Xoogler

We’ve all been there. We bought something from Amazon or in our local department store or Best Buy, just to find out later that we didn’t really like the item, or worse, it didn’t do what we needed it to do. If you’re like me, you even checked out three or four product reviews before buying. That makes the whole situation more annoying.

The problem with those product reviews is that they  either aren’t addressing what we really need out of the item or they were planted by a PR firm or the manufacturer themselves.

Seattle startup Yabbly is looking to change that with their new community of people who are actually out there purchasing items. The site goes deeper than most but in a way that makes it more engaging.

The company was founded by a powerhouse team of founders who know good product. CEO and Co-Founder Tom Leung is a former product manger at Google. Ian Shafer, the engineering lead, actually comes from Amazon. So while Yabbly is going to be filled with user product reviews, the product itself is also going to be easy-to-use and easy-to-understand.

But Yabbly wasn’t created just because it sounded like a good startup. Megh Vakharia who works in the marketing department at Yabbly tells us that the founders created Yabbly because people often have many specific reasons they are looking for a product, and generalized reviews weren’t cutting it.

“For example, someone looking for vacuums specifically to clean up pet hair won’t find many reviews and vacuums that are recommended especially for their pet hair-cleaning abilities. With Yabbly, you can ask a question about how you need a vacuum for pet hair cleanup, and other Yabblers will give you recommendations based on their own experiences,” Vakharia told us in an interview.

You can read the rest of our interview with Yabbly below.


What is your startup called?

Our startup is called Yabbly.

What does your company do?

Yabbly is a platform for thoughtful conversation about product decisions. Members of our community can ask questions about product decisions they’re facing, including information about their specific situation, such as price range, use case, and whatever else is important to them. Our goal is to help people who are facing a product decision find their “product soulmate,” someone who has made a similar product decision in the past. Yabbly is here to help you kill buyer’s remorse by helping you find products you’ll love!

What’s unique about Yabbly is that we guarantee every great question will receive an answer within one day – no other Q&A site matches this.

What problem do you solve?

People relying on Amazon Reviews to help them find the best products face a problem – those reviews could be written by anyone, and the majority of reviews don’t help you figure out if the product will fit your needs. For example, someone looking for vacuums specifically to clean up pet hair won’t find many reviews and vacuums that are recommended especially for their pet hair-cleaning abilities. With Yabbly, you can ask a question about how you need a vacuum for pet hair cleanup, and other Yabblers will give you recommendations based on their own experiences. (this was in fact one of our best threads, with 18 responses)

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

The Yabbly team was founded by Tom Leung, CEO, Ian Shafer, engineering lead, and Steven Neuman, UX designer. The team is especially equipped to solve the problem because they helped create it – Tom is a former Google product manager, Ian is a former Amazon engineer, and Steven worked on shopping apps for Target and REI.Where are you based?

Yabbly is based in Pioneer Square, a neighborhood in Seattle, WA.What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Seattle’s startup scene is awesome, and it’s a growing hub of entrepreneurial activity – especially with people trying to start the next Microsoft or Amazon. VC activity is also ramping up in the area and groups like TechStars Seattle offer entrepreneurs many opportunities to execute their ideas.

Why now?

Americans spend a trillion dollars on products every year, and this will only grow in the future as ecommerce shopping booms. But product reviews haven’t caught up with this – Amazon reviews suck, and Facebook isn’t focused enough to facilitate great conversation about which products to buy. Beyond that, more people are going mobile when making shopping decisions – Yabbly is positioned perfectly to capture this growing market and provide a platform for great discussion about which products to buy.

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

-Almost 2,000 questions asked and over 10,000 responses

-On average, each question recieves around 5 responses
-Top 3 in SxSW Startup Accelerator in Social category

– $1.5 million in seed funding

-Rated #2 for “product reviews” on iTunes app store, #15 for “reviews”

What are your next milestones?

-Focus on growing our community with engaged users

-Update iPhone app to be iOS7 compatible

-Improve desktop web app experience

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

Join the community to get help finding the best products for you!


Check out these other Xoogler founded startups.


Sprint Becomes Latest Corporate Sponsor For Up Global

Sprint, Up Global, Startup Weekend, Startup America

Sprint, the third largest wireless carrier in the United States, has signed on as the newest sponsor of Up Global, the organization formed when Startup America and Startup Weekend joined forces last month.

When Startup America was originally formed, it was decided by chairman Steve Case and the other entities involved that they were going to see what kind of disruption and innovation they could shake up across the country in three years. As the organization began to approach that third year, they wanted to continue to impact the Startup America regions and push further.

That’s why on May 22nd it was announced that the two organizations would merge. Startup Weekend is the organization that promotes and ignites innovation, startups, and entrepreneurship through 54 hour hackathon-style events. To date Startup Weekend has done over 600 events in over 300 cities and over 100 countries.

Startup Weekend has now branched out a bit. They are the organization behind the weekly Startup Digest, a curated list of startup events in cities across the country typically curated by the local startup community leaders. Over the last two years they’ve also started doing vertical oriented Startup Weekend events like Startup Weekend EDU and a maker’s edition of Startup Weekend. With all of the various touchpoints for Startup Weekend, they were a natural partner for Startup America and had already collaborated with Startup America for Startup Weekend Next.


Startup Weekend, Startup America, and now Up Global have been attracting some of America’s largest corporations as sponsors for their entrepreneurial efforts. Current Up Global partners include Coca Cola, Google, Microsoft, Dell, The Case Foundation, and The Kauffman Foundation.

On Monday it was announced that Sprint, the Overland Park, KS-based wireless carrier, was signing on as Up Global’s latest sponsor. Sprint is no stranger to innovation.  They were the first wireless carrier to host a developer conference, they’ve supported local startup initiatives in the Midwest, and keep open channels for developers and startups looking to utilize their network and devices for their software and companies.

“The move to team with Sprint is a result of a shared vision for the necessity of entrepreneurship and stronger communities built around innovation. Like us, Sprint understands that the future of our economy rests largely on the shoulders of entrepreneurs and new businesses. We’re excited to create more meaningful impact with the support of such a forward-thinking company,” Marc Nager, UP Global CEO, said in a statement.

“Sprint recognizes that corporate involvement is important to the success of any entrepreneurial or startup ecosystem,” said Kevin McGinnis, Vice President of Product Platforms at Sprint. “Our UP Global relationship enables Sprint to bring new resources to Kansas City and also extend support on a national scale. In addition, it allows Sprint visibility to high-growth technology startups across the country that we may not be able to identify through our more traditional VC and business development efforts.”

You can find out more and join Up Global here at up.co



Startup Weekend Hosting “Makers” Event Next Week In Seattle

Startup Weekend, the non profit in Seattle that recently joined forces with Startup America, is hosting a new kind of 54 hour hackathon startup weekend event in their hometown next weekend. This time, instead of assembling entrepreneurs, designers, and developers to create businesses, they’ll be working on making things.

Startup Weekends are typically about creating software and other tech startups. This time around at the MakerHaus, the hackers will have the resources to “bring innovation to a whole new level.” The teams at the Seattle event will be able to design and prototype actual physical products using micro-controllers, laser cutting, 3D printing, metal working, and wood working.

People with ideas for products will get to pitch those ideas on Friday evening. From there the group will vote on the products that they want to build and several will be built out over the following 52 hours.

Normally there are three kinds of tickets sold to a startup weekend event; developer, designer, and non-technical. These teams have produced countless startups that are still going today. Some have even gone on to get funding like Zaarly, or win bigger startup contests like Aspiredu.

For this Maker’s edition, Startup Weekend is throwing in one more ticket, a “unicorn” ticket. These are people who agree to be taught how to run the machinery at MakerHaus.

There will be some great coaches on hand for the weekend:

  • Alex Diener, Creative Director Pensar Development
  • Marc Barros, co-founder and former CEO of Contour
  • Ayemerik Renard, Vice President Accelerator, PCH International
  • H.B. Siegel, CTO IMDb.com
  • Jim Young, President and Creative Director, Nice Inc
  • Adam Benzion, Portfolio Manager, 10AK Technologies
  • Beth Kolko, co-founder and CEO Shift Labs
  • Terence Tam, Principal Engineer, OpenBeam USA

To register or for more info click here.

Check out this great event for startups everywhere else.


Cyanogen Gets Caught With The Startup Bug, Looking For Developers In Seattle

Cyanogen, Steve Kondik, Startup, Seattle Startup

(photo: Talkandroid.com)

Cyanogen, Steve Kondik, is a name we wrote quite often at thedroidguy.com but a quick perusing through the archives of nibletz and since focusing on startups “everywhere else” (3/2012) we haven’t gotten a chance to talk about the Android developer who’s Cyanogenmod open source firmware changed the landscape of Android for millions of users.

After creating the initial Cyanogenmod the project became a community effort with several developers working on future releases of the firmware that when installed, allows users to take advantage of many of the benefits Google has in the Android Operating system.

Android’s biggest manufacturer, Samsung, took notice of Kondik and his work with Cyanogenmod. Kondik moved from his Pittsburgh roots to Seattle to work on Samsung’s Android team.

Now it turns out that he’s left Samsung and while it was unclear at first why the change, things are starting to come to the surface. Apparently Kondik has been hit by the startup bug.

Granted Cyanogenmod was like a startup itself, except for the revenue part, however it came to market before “startup” was such an uber cool thing. With years of development experience it’s really no surprise that Kondik is involved in a startup himself.

We reached out to Kondik earlier today who said the startup he is working with is still in stealth mode. He wouldn’t comment as to whether or not he was a cofounder but did tell us he hopes to release more information on the startup later this summer.

Kondik did however confirm that the startup he is working with (or is it on) is based in Seattle and it’s a mobile focused startup.  To that end he’s looking for developers, and shocker, they don’t need to be just Android developers.

Kondik told us today that remote working is a possibility but ideally a developer interested on working with this startup should be in the Seattle area (or perhaps willing to relocate).

Here’s what we can tell you about Kondik, since meeting him in person in 2010

– He’s an incredible guy to know, he’s extremely smart and willing to share his knowledge in a collaborative way, much the way Cyanogenmod evolved to today.

– Cyanogenmod turned into an astronomical success. While it’s open source and free, there are millions of Android users using the firmware.

– You can count on the fact that Kondik wouldn’t waste his time with something not worthy.

Cyanogen is looking for developers, interested in working on his next big thing? Venture over to his Facebook page.

This Athens Georgia startup started with a honey bee dance.


Seattle Startup LocalBlox Is Kayak For Your Neighborhood

Localblox,Seattle startup,startup,startup interviewA wife and husband founded startup in Seattle Washington is quickly becoming the goto place for everything, and anything having to do with your neighborhood. It’s a social networking platform that connects neighbors through anything and everything that relates to them.

LocalBlox already has over 77,000 neighborhoods listed in their platform which covers everything from getting to know your neighbors, to neighborhood events and even lost pets.

The company was founded by Sabia Arefin, a Duke MBA with a rich background in technology management and business analysis for Fortune 500 companies. Her cofounder is her husband, Ashfaq Arefin, a Microsoft Engineer who’s been the lead technologist for several companies ranging from startups to large corporations.

LocalBlox is a one stop shop for information about any given neighborhood. It’s like a mashup of Block Avenue, Patch, the Yellow Pages and the local community bulletin board. The feature rich platform has several uses including:

  • Discover your neighbors, Learn about a neighborhood, its residents and social vitality. Invite friends to the neighborhood. Know your neighbors from their social media profiles.
  • Explore what the neighbors say and like about the neighborhood. Connect & share with your neighbors (Neighborhood Wall, Neighborhood Ambassador).
  • Find out what’s going on around your neighborhood (events & announcements, news feed, neighborhood watch).
  • Neighborhood News Feed based on Resident activities, Neighborhood watch & alert.
  • Pet Alert : Is your Cat missing? Ask your Neighbors! Find out the neighbors and their children that your kid is playing with
  • Nearby amenities and services: Find out your neighbors’ recommendation. Rate goods and services around the hood.
  • Engage in social vitality around your neighborhood
  • Find a job close to home: babysitter, dog-walker, stylist, landscaper
  • Check nearby public transit stops

We got a chance to interview Sabira, check out the full interview below.

What is your startup, what does it do?

LocalBlox is a highly-scaled hyperlocal neighborhood platform that combines high-volume, high-value content aggregation, curation, real-time augmentation and updates, along with syndication, mapping and crowdsourcing with business and personal profile claiming services. To create a vibrant, interconnected social, local, mobile marketplace of content and tool sets, profile claiming, automatic mobile and web campaign content creation tools help local businesses and neighbors connect more efficiently. Proprietary scoring allows automatic Web and mobile campaign creation for local business owners and event organizers. We aspire to be “the Kayak” for neighborhoods & neighborhood businesses & more!


Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

The company was founded by me and my husband, Ashfaq Rahman.

I did my MBA from Duke University and I have years of experience in technology management and business analysis in Fortune 500 companies

Ashfaq is a serial entrepreneur technologist. He founded revolutionary technology platforms for companies ranging from startups to multi-billion dollar companies. An engineer from Microsoft in Redmond, he held the founding and key technologist roles in a number of successful companies, masterminding key inventions. He attended graduate school in computer science at the University of Pennsylvania.


Where are you based?

 LocalBlox is based in Bellevue, WA.


What is the startup culture like where you are based?

The startup culture here is a strong and easily accessible, with regular events and meet-ups. There are a lot of really smart, educated and successful people here who help support startups and encourage entrepreneurs.


What problem does your startup solve?

We bring a diverse array of information, resources, tool & technology together in one place, and make it meaningful and locally relevant. People don’t have to go to 10 different sites when it comes to finding information about their neighborhood. It’s all in one place and validated for higher relevancy and accuracy. We place information into a neighborhood context. The LocalBlox infrastructure consists of data acquisition, parsing and extraction engines aggregating content to 112,000 neighborhoods in the U.S.

We have a large aggregation of local businesses and local events with extremely rich data-points, generating boundaries of the top neighborhoods in the U.S., with unique features like hyperlocal news and neighborhood crime watch built on top of our aggregation engine. We created some disruptive self-serve offerings for local businesses to gain a targeted reach and build their profiles in a more efficient way. We’re leveraging these assets to build a sustainable business model.

We have the scale and use big data and technology strategically, leveraging them to build partnerships focusing on our key strengths. We are not just a social network or another local site. There is unique depth in each of the modules offered at LocalBlox, which makes it possible for us to build a lot of interesting business models revolving around interesting technologies, algorithms and big data.


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

We realized that staying focused was critical and not to get distracted or diverted into multiple directions by different opportunities, as it would be deadly for our little startup. After the failure of sites such as Judy’s Book and EveryBlock, it was difficult to overcome the idea that another local neighborhood site was “absurd and not fundable.”


What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?

LocalBlox is live in 112,000 neighborhoods with 23 million comprehensive business profiles, millions of aggregated local content, news and events, crime mapped into neighborhoods, with social integration and a Mobile SDK. We have over 200,000 claimed business profiles, over 200,000 Twitter followers and more than 60,000 Facebook fans. We have trademarks and patents for some of our core proprietary discovery, validation and mapping engines.


What are your next milestones?

We are redesigning our site for a better user experience and focusing on a couple of key strategic partnerships for revenue monetization.


Who are your mentors and role models?

Our advisors Merrill Brown, founding team member of MSNBC, and Dane Madsen, founder of Yellowpages.com, are very inspiring. They’ve been very kind and contributed much to our company. They serve on our advisory board and we’re very fortunate to learn from them. I am personally thankful to Dane Madsen and Rick Blair[SR1]  for their constant encouragement.


What are some of the advantages/disadvantages growing your startup outside of Silicon Valley?

I really didn’t feel any advantage or disadvantage of being outside Silicon Valley, though I imagine it would be much harder for anyone in the Valley, where every other person has a startup. We have funded the startup ourselves, bootstrapped all the way and have a solid, viable revenue model. I feel we are very fortunate to be in Seattle. People here understand and appreciate the hard work and technical merit that goes behind a solid scalable product and value team & technology.


What’s next for your startup?

We are focusing our efforts in a few key areas, redesigning our site for a better and more user friendly experience, and exploring opportunities with a couple of key strategic partners to take our company to the next level.


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

www.localblox.com and on Twitter at localblox

Startup Weekend and Startup America have joined forces, read more about that here.


Startups Summarized In 8 Bits Of Awesomeness Video Game Style: The Adventure Of The Startup Kid

Killer Infogrpahics, GeekWire,Startup Kid,Startup Video,VoozaEarlier today we told you about GeekWire’s 2013 awards in Seattle last week. The award for the geekiest office space went to Killer Infographics, which also partnered with GeekWire for a creative, totally awesome view of startups. Although known for their “Killer Infographics” the teams at Killer and GeekWire created an 8 bit video game style movie called “The Adventure of the Startup Kid”.

The video was created to play at the beginning of the GeekWire awards which were held last Thursday at EMP Seattle and very well received.

startupkid2The Adventure Of Startup Kid starts off in the office where Startup Kid has an idea that is a mashup where “Twitter meets Kickstarter mixted with FourSquare and Vine”. Of course Startup Kid’s co-worker thinks it’s a great idea and Startup Kid quits his job.

Then of course he goes to dad for seed funding, eventually finds a team, and goes for venture funding.  Each step along the way looks just like an old 8 bit video game with challenges that are like beating level lords at the end of every game. For instance when the team goes for venture funding they have to reach money bags being dropped from the sky by a cloud, reminiscent of getting coins in any Super Mario or Sonic game.

One of the biggest challenges in the game/movie is when it’s time to face the competition. The screen turns red, the space needle turns into a space ship and then they face the competition in a Street Fighter esque battle.

Just after that there’s the final battle where an animated Jeff Bezos pulls up in a semi truck that says Amazon and begins throwing boxes at the Startup Kid. Bezos flies off on a rocket but not before tossing a bag of money to Startup Kid. Startup Kid sort of wins because he gets acquired but then ends up back in a cubicle, presumably acquihired, that is of course until he has his next startup idea.

Check out the video below. More here at GeekWire

This Seattle startup says they “make napalm smell better in the morning”



GeekWire Reveals The Winners Of The 2013 Geekwire Awards

GeekWire,GeekWire Awards,Seattle startups

(photo: geekwire.com)

Last Thursday night Seattle based GeekWire presented the 2013 Geekwire awards recognizing the “pillars of the region’s startup community”. Winners of the prestigious GeekWire awards walked away with a customized joystick trophy, one of the most sought after awards next to a Crunchie.

Here are the winners:

Startup Deal Of The Year: Zulily, a daily deals site for moms and kids raised $85 million dollars earlier this year from Anreesen Horowitz at a $1 billion dollar valuation.

App Of The Year: Haiku Deck this app makes it incredibly easier (some say easier than Keynote) to build pitch decks and presentations on an iPad.

Perk of the year: SEOmoz, this category recognizes a perk given to employees by a “startup employer”. Of course companies like Google and Facebook are known for the quality of life and perks for their employees. This award recognizes a Seattle company with a great perk.  SEOmoz gives employees $3,000 that can only be used for vacation. Denver startup Full Contact does the same kind of thing for employees, but with $7500 and those employees need to agree to totally “disconnect”.

Do-Gooder of the year: Edward Jiang, StudentRND. Jiang’s organization forsters the even younger startup community in Seattle. According to GeekWire, StudentRND hosts hackathons for high school and college students looking to engage the youngest of entrepreneurs.

sneakersStartup CEO of the year: Sam Blackman, Elemental Technologies.  Elemental Techonologies is powering big name companies digital offerings like HBO Go and Comcast’s Xfinity. They raised $13 million in venture capital earlier this year, although they didn’t need it. Blackman’s background includes stints at PixelWorks, Silicon Graphics, and Intel.

Game of the  year: Halo 4. GeekWire says that “Microsoft proved that Halo has a life beyond Bungie last fall”, that and raking in $220 million in sales on the first day alone was good enough to get the trophy in this category.

Boostrapper of the year: Adorii. Although they aren’t “married” to the idea of bootstrapping forever, Adorii CEO Mathew Matsudaira said “It allowed us to be agile and move quickly to deliver an (minimum viable product) to the marketplace,”. In it’s simplest form Adorii is a deals site for those planning a wedding, at times offering up to 80% off products and services for those headed down the aisle.

Innovation of the year: Puzzazz TouchWrite. Puzzazz is the first company to tackle handwriting recognition for iOS devices. Right now their handwriting recognition software is proprietary to the company and used in their “digital puzzle bookstore” platform.  According to GeekWire “TouchWrite lets users draw a character across the top of the screen, then recognizes the letter and places a digital version in the active cell of the puzzle. It can work with a variety of handwriting styles and doesn’t require users to learn any special style of writing. The feature turns on automatically when the on-screen keyboard is turned off.”

Geekiest Office Space: Killer Infographics. In addition to creating Killer Infographics this Seattle company has a killer office space. Head over to GeekWire to see a video tour.

What, A startup accelerator just for women founders? 


Jeff Bezos Just Crapped On Netflix, Roku,and Boxee: Developers, Startups Get Ready

Amazon,Roku,Boxee,Apple Tv,Jeff Bezos,DevelopersBloomberg has reported that Amazon’s stock price has gone up and then slightly flattened this afternoon and Netflix has definitely felt stemming from an announcement Amazon made today.

Amazon, the company that essentially created the e-commerce category, or at least heavily refined it, announced today that they are going to start offering their own set top box. In the same way that Google and other tablet manufacturers grew quickly concerned about the ramifications stemming from the Kindle Fire tablets, the set top box manufacturers now have something to worry about.

The Seattle based company will now offer a box that competes with the likes of Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, NetGear and even some options offered by console gaming system. Currently, several of these competitive boxes offer Amazon’s video subscription service that comes free for Amazon Prime members.

Just as Google has added a wide range of other services beyond it’s huge search platform, Amazon has continued to grow into a complete e-commerce ecosystem. Of course they want customers to continue to engage with their bread and butter, e-commerce business, but now they are able to engage customers in more intimate ways.

sneakeruptAmazon built their Kindle Fire tablet line based on the Android operating system and then created their own completely walled garden ecosystem that offers their tablet users access to apps,games, e-books, movies and music all through the Amazon e-commerce platform. Many analysts say this was a great move on their part.

This move also opens up a whole new platform for developers to get behind and support. Apple TV is an extremely hard platform for developers to get into and many feel that Android, and it’s hundreds of available devices and fragmented OS is tough to penetrate market share.

Developers and perhaps startups will now be able to work on the Amazon set top box ecosystem to offer apps, games and other downloadables to compliment the content platform that will be in place at launch.

Amazon has built up a tremendously loyal following over the last two decades. They have also been instrumental in moving some customers from books, to e-readers and now to tablets. With this huge set of customers, an Amazon set top box will be a much more comfortable platform, rather than going with the boxes that are currently on the market.

NetFlix, a huge content delivery company, will now have to compete with Amazon because it’s not likely the Amazon box will carry the NetFlix app. Also, first run movies and TV seasons tend to take longer to get into the NetFlix system than say Amazon’s video delivery service or even iTunes.  This will give Amazon a huge competitive advantage.

Amazon also plans to create their own content, a model that’s proven very successful for NetFlix with their in house produced series like House of Cards and Hemlock Grove.

Have you seen our startup coverage from “everywhere else”

Footmarks Is Using A Software & Hardware Based Platform For Location Based Engagement

Footmarks, Seattle startup,startup,startup interview, video interview, CES 2013Seattle startup Footmarks is looking to change the way location based engagement is done for businesses both big and small. They consider themselves a social engagement platform that is based on two patent pending technologies.

The first technology is a piece of hardware called the “Smart Connect Device” this device is a low powered Bluetooth device that works within 400 feet of a smartphone and the battery lasts for two years.

Using this device in your car will enable the end user to receive  a stream of localized, real time deals as they approach a business on the road. By combining the device’s technology along with the users social profile, they can receive offers from businesses that are relevant to them. For instance if you were say a golfer and you were passing by Mike’s Super Golf Warehouse, the store could alert you of a deal as you approach.

Another use for the device is through digital billboards. Footmarks hopes to have their technology work in tandem with digital billboards so that the billboard can show an add relevant to a mass of users within 1500 feet. If the demographic profiles of those users approaching the billboard suggested that they were between 35-54 the billboard could show an advertisement for an Elton John concert. Or if the bulk of users passing were 21-35 year old mom’s, you may see an ad on the billboard for Chuckie Cheese.

So of course we had to ask why this technology would trump existing geo-fencing technologies that are currently available on smartphones. According to Footmarks, their technology is scalable up and down whereas geo-fencing technology out there today is to a rather large area.

The company insists that they could set the radius for Footmarks to say 200 feet. That way a department store could have multiple Footmarks set up by department. When the user passes the shoe department they could get one offer, and then turn around and get an entirely different offer in the juniors department.

According to a report on NPR just yesterday, more and more retailers are looking to embrace in-store mobile technologies a growing fad in today’s evolving retail landscape.

Check out the video below to hear about the other things Footmarks has in store for their late Spring 2013 launch.

The biggest startup conference in the US is this weekend, find out more here.