Overwatch Brings Video Gaming to Real Life Paintball

Okay, I’ll be honest here. I’m neither a big gamer nor avid paintball fan. I don’t love the graphic violence on video games, and paintball–well, those things hurt!

But, both pastimes are obviously very popular, and players of both are often not just participants but avid fans.

One of those avid fans is Josh Moody, who realized that real life paintball and airsoft could be greatly enhanced by the features of online combat games. So, he created Overwatch, a smartphone app that incorporates GPS, Bluetooth, and other technologies to provide a more digital experience to real life.

Josh gave me a quick education in gaming and what Overwatch can do to enhance real life games. Check out our chat below.

1) What does your company do?

Overwatch brings the futuristic technology of combat video games to real-life games of paintball, airsoft, and laser tag.  See the location of teammates and opponents through an overview of the entire playing field, communicate with teammates via voice chat, and activate perks and unlocks to gain an edge on the opposition during any game—all through your iOS or Android device.

2) Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

The company was founded by Joe Saumweber, Michael Paladino, and me.  Joe and Michael are the owners of RevUnit, an independent software development firm based in Bentonville, Arkansas.  Joe has an extensive background in digital and mobile strategy, large enterprise solutions, and consumer facing applications.  Michael has over ten years of experience in software development and developer management across web, mobile, and social platforms.  As for me, I am a self-taught programmer and web designer, with experience designing and building electronic hardware.  While I am only eighteen and have not had years and years of experience like my co-founders, I pride myself on being able to learn quickly and constantly improve.

3) What’s the story behind your idea?

Three years ago, just as most teenage guys are, I was an avid gamer.  Specifically, I played quite a bit of “first-person shooter” games—titles such as Call of Duty and Battlefield.  While I enjoyed gaming on my console, I also enjoyed playing airsoft and paintball with friends.

—Most people are familiar with paintball but not airsoft.  To explain, airsoft is a similar game, but with much smaller, plastic BB projectiles instead of paintballs.  Airsoft guns also provide a much more realistic, tactical feel and experience.—

Interested in both the digital and real-life versions of combat gaming, I realized a substantial gap between the two.  None of the features of combat video games were present in real-life combat gaming, and thus, the Overwatch concept was born.  Using the Overwatch app and hardware, gamers now have real-time GPS radar to track the location of teammates and opponents on the playing field, bluetooth voice chat to communicate with one another at all times, and even perks and unlocks that provide special abilities (such as Radar Jam).  All of this and more is displayed right on the user’s smartphone, mounted directly in front of them, during any airsoft, paintball, or laser tag match.  Overwatch is interactive gaming in its truest sense.

4) How as being part of the ARK Challenge helpful for your startup?

Without the ARK Challenge, Overwatch would not be where it is today.  Not only did the ARK provide the funds our company needed to start up, it also provided invaluable mentorship and advice from experienced entrepreneurs, and the knowledge necessary to continue onward even after the 14-week competition had concluded.  I am incredibly grateful for each person who worked to make the ARK Challenge the great program that it is, and hope to see many more companies emerge from it.

5) What milestones have you reached, and what are you working on next?

From our founding, we’ve built the Overwatch app from the ground up for both iOS and Android, as well as designed the perfect hardware to incorporate a player’s smartphone into gameplay while providing adequate protection for the device.  At the close of the ARK Challenge, Overwatch secured a partnership with the largest airsoft manufacturer in the world to ensure that our products have a strong presence in both online and retail stores worldwide.  The iOS app is complete and will be submitted to the app store in the coming weeks, while the Android version is soon to follow.  As for the hardware, the armband, essentially a running band for your forearm, will be available in the coming months.  The rail mount, similar to the heartbeat sensor in Call of Duty, will be available later this year.

6) Where can folks find out more?

To find out more, we encourage people to visit OverwatchApp.com and sign up for our email updates.  If anyone has any additional questions after checking out the Overwatch website, feel free to email me at: josh@overwatchapp.com

Online Retailers Can Now Access Better Data With MineWhat

ecommerce analytics

ecommerce analytics

It wasn’t that long ago that people couldn’t conceive of buying anything over the computer. Besides the limited technology, we mostly used cash instead of debit cards and were often gun shy about giving our credit card numbers to strangers.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and it’s tough to find someone who doesn’t shop online. (Even my mother made her first online purchase this past Christmas.) It’s estimated by some that online retail sales will reach $370 billion by 2017.

Obviously, with such a large and growing market, entrepreneurs are rushing to cash in. Online retail is increasingly viable and, even with logistics and inventory, is cheaper than opening a brick and mortar location.

In our data-driven world, the growth of a market also means the need for better and better analytics.

Fayetteville, AR-based MineWhat is poised to provide specialized eCommerce analytics for online retailers..

With a quick install, e-tailers can access a wide array of data that goes far beyond pageviews. MineWhat allows merchants to see what products shoppers look at, what brands sell well together, what products should be showcased, and a ton more data-junkie goodness.

Check out our interview with MineWhat CEO Janakiram Ganesan below.

1) What does your company do?

Think of MineWhat as a platform that enables online retailers to ask questions of their data and get answers to them as well. We help online stores pick the right merchandise whether it’s for marketing campaigns, product strategy, landing pages and more.

2) Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

MineWhat was founded by Pavan Kumar and Janakiram Ganesan.

Pavan spent some time writing code at various huge product firms before starting out as an entrepreneur. MineWhat is is his second startup venture. He likes scalability related problems, data management on the web and is an avid tech enthusiast.

MineWhat is my second startup as well. I’ve worked on machine learning related problems over the years. Of late I’ve been more interested in marketing, building businesses and tech evangelism

3) What’s the story behind your idea?

The initial idea behind MineWhat came out of the Indian eCommerce boom during 2010 – 2011.

eCommerce seemed like a really interesting thing to jump into. Friends of ours had started out building eCommerce stores of their own and we thought we’d rather do something that will help online stores instead of building another one.

4) How as being part of the ARK Challenge helpful for your startup?

The ARK Challenge really helped us refine the product idea. The mentors were awesome, getting to leverage their network and using their product feedback was of great help.

5) What milestones have you reached, and what are you working on next?

We’ve begun our sales push now, we are averaging over two signups a week. Most of what we will be focusing on from here on will be how to acquire and retain more customers.

6) Where can folks find out more?

They can head over to our website or onto any of our social media pages

https://minewhat.com

https://twitter.com/minewhat

https://www.facebook.com/minewhat?ref=hl

Fotor Makes Photo Editing Fun–Not Overwhelming

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Photo editing platform Fotor is part of a crowded field of Photoshop competitors. The software, which has been around since 2012, is fun and easy-to-use. I edited that picture above of the awesome Nicole Glaros during her Everywhere Else keynote using the platform. It was super easy, even for  a novice like me.

Fotor has all the basic features of any editing software. They also just added a new feature called Social Media Cover Maker, which helps you easily create covers for all your major social media accounts.

Check out our Q&A with Fotor below and head over to try it out for yourself.

What is Fotor?

Fotor is a set of image processing tools that allows everyday users to edit photos in an easy and intuitive way.

Brand Story

Fotor was launched in May of 2012 and has from the very beginning brought powerful, easy to use photo editing tools into the hands of anyone and everyone with an internet connection. Utilizing cloud computing to provide a suite of image processing tools ranging from basic cropping to HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing, Fotor has made professional-level photo editing accessible to everyday users through a clean, intuitive interface and workflow. Fotor strives to provide the highest quality tools in the most accessible manner and continues to pursue this goal with each new product and version release.

Mission

Make photo-editing tools accessible to everyday users through a fun and easy to use interface.

Words we like:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Multiplatform
  • Easy
  • Fast
  • Intuitive
  • Fun

Words we don’t like:

  • Complicated
  • Difficult
  • Overwhelming
  • Serious

Who are our users?

There are hundreds of thousands of Fotor users spread across the globe. To continue to grow we have to understand our current users and think about how to reach new ones. With the rapid spread of cellphone cameras worldwide and the desire to share experiences with friends and family, the number of people we could reach has grown exponentially. Always think about how we could help our users have a better experience and most importantly, how our users want to edit their photos.

Our users are non-professionals, they love taking photos and are creative but are intimidated by technical language and complicated software. They want a clean, visually welcoming and accessible website. They want easy to use and easy to understand tools while at the same time being open to new possibilities. They want happy, fun imagery. They might come to our site to create a collage but might stay and find stickers or our portrait editing tools. Our users want to share their creations with friends and family. Our users want to be inspired and make unique creations that represent who they are and who they aspire to be. We empower our users to rediscover their inner artist in a fun and engaging way.

How to Price Your Prototype for Early Adopters

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Vasu Kulkarni, CEO of Krossover, explains one surprising strategy for pricing your prototype — charging early adopters for your product, so that they see the value in it long term. Other ideas include:

  • Offer discounts in return for endorsements
  • Give out your product for specific trial periods

For more tips, watch the entire video above.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

The Art of the FollowUp: How to Be More Persuasive

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Entrepreneur and retired shirt wearer Jason SurfrApp, who is about to release a new book this month, knows a thing or two about how to turn a “no” into a “yes.”

He recommends thinking about how to get someone’s attention in a way that you wouldn’t ordinarily and stresses the importance of a great follow-up. While you don’t want to push the envelope or make that person annoyed, you might be surprised at how much they are willing to negotiate.

Watch the full video to get more helpful tips.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Heroes2U Connects Celebrities, Charity, and You

heroes2u

1. What’s your startup called?

Heroes2u and our tagline is Memorable Conversations, Meaningful Causes, based in Columbus, Ohio.

2. What’s your big idea?

Video chats for charity – we host group video chats with high profile people to raise money and awareness for a cause they care about! We want to create a platform for the next generation of givers, that’s why we use the technology we use and sell $5 dollar tickets. The way it works is simple – first we identify a Hero who is someone that is passionate about a cause, has a story to share, and has an online community. We set up a campaign with the Hero – they pick the date and time to do a half hour video chat from anywhere with an internet connection/webcam and also where the money goes (they pick the charity). We then sell $5 dollar tickets on our website with $4 out of every $5 going to the cause being uplifted throughout the campaign. At the end of the campaign 30-40 days we pick 8 people randomly out of all the tickets and they get to be face to face with the person of their dreams, while everyone else who purchased a ticket gets to watch live and submit questions to our moderator and follow along on Twitter! We record all these chats and send out clips to the winners and the charity so everyone has their 5 minutes of fame with their Hero!

3. What’s the story behind your idea?

The story started when we were working on our last startup which used video to train people with fitness goals, so that’s where video over the internet came from. One day we were sitting and going through ideas and we thought what if you could video chat with celebrity x and people were telling us they’d pay to do that. So we thought ok why would the celebrity care to get in front of their computer for a half hour and chat with fans, and we realized how meaningful it could be if they were raising money and awareness for a cause they care about. A lot of them have their own foundations and causes they support so it made sense and we went out and raised an investment of 175k last June (2013) from Tony Wells and his family Foundation to make our dream a reality!

4. Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

I am one of the founders – John Weiler – 25 and one of my best friends is the other founder – Jeremy Meizlish 25. Jeremy graduated from Capital and studied English, and I attended Ohio State and studied Economics. We both knew we wanted to be entrepreneurs from a young age and started our first LLC in school, then got involved in a health and fitness video training over the internet start up and then left that to start this about 2 yrs ago.

5. Where are you located, and what’s the startup scene like there?

Columbus, Ohio and it’s a growing community – we have had tremendous support from Ohio State and their Technology and Commercialization Center and have attended the local Startup Weekend, and actually spoke at the last one here a few weeks ago.

6. What milestones have you reached?

We raised our initial investment in June of last year and since then we built and tested our platform, we did a private alpha in Quarter 4 of last year and held chats for free with several TEDx speakers. Earlier this year we launched our public beta in February and started raising money for charities and working with names like Jack Hanna, Country Music star Phil Vassar and several NFL players! We’ve now raised over 10k for charity in small money donations and are just starting! Our last chat had viewers in 23 states and the 8 winners were in 7 different states (none from Ohio) and the cause being a local Ohio based charity A Kid Again, getting national exposure was a big achievement for us!

7. What are your next milestones?

Our next milestones are to start working with even bigger names and causes, we have seen traction and want to start growing our pipeline of Heroes we work with! We have a lot of ideas in the pipeline in terms of product evolution and different phases to build out for the non profit partners we work with as well as our fans, but for now we want to keep things simple and scale what we have!

8. Where can people find out more?

People can check out any of our website heroes2u.com or our social media accounts to stay up to date – twitter @meetheroes or our YouTube/meetheroes or our Facebook/heroes2u or Instagram/heroes2u and read our blog at blog.heroes2u.com

 

Stitch Fix Founder Katrina Lake Has Some Advice for You

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Katrina Lake’s friends used to kiddingly call her CEO/janitor. Today, her willingness to get her hands dirty is paying off.

katrina lake

Katrina Lake is passionate about helping women achieve everyday confidence. She founded Stitch Fix to help women everywhere discover and explore their style through a truly client-focused shopping experience. Prior to founding Stitch Fix, Katrina developed extensive experience at the intersection of fashion, retail, and technology. Katrina holds a B.S. in Economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Follow her @kmlake.

Who is your hero? 

My maternal grandmother, who moved here on her own from Japan without knowing a word of English, has always been an inspiration to me. She was unwilling to accept the status quo and pursued a vision of a better life for herself fearlessly.

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

Before I founded Stitch Fix, I was working as a consultant in the retail and restaurant industries and I traveled a lot with colleagues. The best piece of advice I could give is when hiring people, consider whether or not you could enjoy spending 12 hours traveling with them. While I don’t travel with every person who works at Stitch Fix, it’s a great barometer to make sure that everyone we hire is someone we enjoy spending time with.

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

We didn’t take a step back from the business and define our shared values and vision for the company as soon as we should have. Having a shared sense of self for the company helps provide more alignment around hiring practices, more consistency in how we serve our clients, and creates a feeling of shared purpose among employees.

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

Every morning as I’m getting ready for my day I watch “Good Morning America” (guilty pleasure!). I also read WWD to get up to date on the latest retail news. I also try to squeeze in a run a few mornings a week, especially in the summer when it’s light outside.

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

Make sure to test your hypothesis/product/idea in a low-budget way before you invest more of your or another investor’s time and money. It’s tempting to pour all your money into an idea you can believe in, but it’s so important to test a concept to understand the potential traction with target customers.

When we were in the testing phases at Stitch Fix, we were purchasing inventory at retail and weren’t making any money off our clients, but we were able to validate the concept and demonstrate that women could really shop a certain way. It was helpful to show the feedback and traction from our testing as we began approaching investors for our round of seed funding. It was equally important to prove to myself that what we were doing was a worthy investment.

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

Take a vacation and unplug! Some of my best thoughts have come while I’ve been able to relax, and take some time and space away from the business.

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

It’s hard to imagine that there will be one milestone in my life that really feels like I’ve achieved the pinnacle of success. While building Stitch Fix, I’ve experienced lots of wonderful mini-milestones that I enjoyed celebrating. When Stitch Fix was first starting out, my friends used to call me CEO/janitor. Now that I’ve been able to build an amazing team, there are fewer moments where I experience the extreme part of that high/low dynamic. But perhaps success is having many fewer moments of being janitor than CEO.

There’s nothing more rewarding than building a business where you directly see the value you create for your clients and get to see your business and your team grow.

Canadian Startup Raise Your Flag Connects Students With Post High School Jobs

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Raise Your Flag 1

1) What’s your startup called?

Raise Your Flag

2) What’s your big idea?

Approximately 45% students in Canada and the US go to work as their primary post-secondary destination. These kids leave school feeling like they failed the system. What if we celebrated the school-to-work pathway the same way we celebrated opening a college acceptance letter?

Raise Your Flag helps work-bound students find a job that’s connected to a career path they’re excited about and helps them find companies that could hire them.

Raise Your Flag allows work-bound students to declare their post-secondary pathway and celebrate the possibilities.

3) What’s the story behind your idea?

For the past 8 years, I’ve been traveling speaking to high school students (over 750,000 to date) and wrote a book to help them make decisions about their post-secondary lives (http://www.amazon.com/Make-Your-Own-Lunch-Epically/dp/1402297033)

3 years ago I was speaking at a conference for work-bound students. After my presentation a student named Michael came to introduce himself. Chin-quivering, he thanked me for being there and then told me that none of his friends or family knew he was at the conference. When I asked “why?”, he responded, “do you have any idea how embarrassing it is when all of your friends are opening college acceptance letters and you’re the loser in the corner not knowing what you’re doing with your life?”

Raise Your Flag is built for Michael and the MILLIONS of students just like him.

Michael deserves to be excited about his pathway.

4) Who are the founders?

Ryan Porter + Scott Walkinshaw

5) Where are you located?

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

6) What’s the startup scene like there?

Strong. We have some great companies up here doing great work and building companies that are changing the way things are done. Toronto was ranked world’s 8th Most Active Startup Scene: http://www.betakit.com/three-canadian-cities-ranked-top-20-most-active-startup-scenes-infographic/)

7) What milestones have you reached?

Accepted and completing JOLT accelerator program, v2.0 launch, confirmed our first major national employer partner (announcement coming soon), earning revenue.

8) What are your next milestones?

Announcement of more major partners, US expansion, hiring employees 1, 2 and 3 and raising a round of funding.

9) Where can people find out more?

www.raiseyourflag.com

Manalto Wants to Solve Social for Enterprises

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manalto

What’s your startup called?

Manalto Social Media ERP

What’s your big idea?

Manalto is changing the way social media is managed inside enterprise.

We’re enabling organizations to manage social media content with greater efficiency and alignment to their operations, with seamless integration with marketing and communications processes and activity.

Manalto is an end-to-end social media management platform, powered by an innovative backend technology which has been engineered for enterprise.  Our cloud-based social media management solution allows SMB’s and multi-site or multi-brand organizations greater control to create and efficiently manage fully customized Facebook pages, regulate user permissions, and monitor and engage with local communities on Facebook and Twitter from a centralized dashboard.

Manalto enables

o    Improved brand management across organizations of different sizes and structures, from a single business to a multi-site, or multi-product enterprise

o    Greater agility for an organization to manage operational and reputational risks, through built in system controls expected of an enterprise system

o    Increased delivery of operational efficiencies

What’s the story behind your idea?

Manalto formed from the need to address a significant challenge and barrier-to-entry facing multi-site, multi-brand organizations wanting to adopt social media into their existing traditional-digital suite of sales and marketing activity, but not able to find the right solution that delivered the same level of rigor, brand control and granular-level user management controls. Manalto is positioning itself as a mid-tier to top tier social media management software provider, architecting enterprise-grade solutions for single and multi-site organizations – such as a franchise group, wanting to sustainably and efficiently integrate social media management into their core operations and marketing activity.

Manalto also offers a robust SMB solution. SMBs are a critical market for Manalto given SMBs make up a large percentage of the business sector. The Manalto SMB solution which enables a business to manage a single social account using Manalto, offers the same management features as the Enterprise solution.

While the DIY SMB solution and DIY Enterprise solutions are available directly through the Manalto website our primary approach to the SMB market is through the ISP and Hosting company channel. Where an SMB is going to be able to purchase and use the Manalto software using their hosting account.

Who are the founders?

Anthony Owen

Where are you located?

Currently in Melbourne, Australia; and Santa Monica, CA

 What’s the startup scene like there?

The start up scene in Australia is alive and active.  There are a lot of innovative companies, talent and technologies in Australia that have both a local and global focus.

Australian-founded technology companies that make their foray into the USA are generally highly-regarded.  However, unfortunately not everyone takes the leap into the USA market and choose to remain with a local focus.

I think one of the challenges facing start ups in Australia is the lack of Seed capital and Series A investors available locally.  Typically, early stage companies in Australia are expected to be generating substantial revenue to attract investment interest and hence tend to source lead investors, in particular, outside Australia.

What milestones have you reached?

Manalto has achieved significant traction and successes in its short life to date.

Since it build and launch in Australia 12 months ago, the team has released two substantial upgrades to our software and is at now at version 3 and soon V3.1.  The solution has come leaps and bounds and we work closely with organizations to shape our solution to solve problems.

We relocated the business to the USA in December and have been rapidly building momentum, ramping up our sales and marketing activity, expanding our team and creating a footprint for Manalto in the USA.

What are your next milestones?

Manalto plans to continue to drive our growth in the USA and cast the net wide – extending the solution to as many organizations and developing our distribution channels.   We will close a Series A Round, and look to expand inside European and Asian markets, while accelerating our growth in the USA.

We have a comprehensive and innovative technical development pipeline that will see the Manalto solution integrated with more social media platforms, CMS tools, advertising management tools and e-commerce solutions.

Where can people find out more?

People can follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/ManaltoInc) and/or FB (www.facebook.com/ManaltoInc), and  go to our website (www.manalto.com).

 

Greek Startup Mageca Builds the First App Store for Interactive Apps

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mageca

 

What’s your startup called and what’s your big idea?

Mageca is the first app-store for interactive applications using 3D Sensors that recognize gesture, voice & vision. Our main goal is to create a web space where applications for a variety of uses can be found from the end-user. The latter can vary from a parent playing with its kids at their living room or a healthcare institute that needs a touchless solution for the sterilized environment of an operating room.

Mageca’s mission is to bring HCI technologies into people’s everyday life. We aim to become the reference point for Human Computer Interaction. We strongly feel that touchless technologies, gesture control & motion recognition enabled devices will become the next big thing regarding the way people interact with machines.

What’s the story behind your idea?

The marketplace aims to incentivize developers through offering them a space to promote their work while creating a community between sensors manufacturers, users and creators for the first time.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

We are a team of 3 enthusiastic entrepreneurs that came together 2 years ago. Antonis, is the founder of the company along with his 3 brothers that for the last 14 years have been working together for the last 14 years, building their company from scratch. It all started when they started the process of developing an application (using kinect) for their store- a virtual fitting room.Through this process we realized not only the great capabilities of the new technologies but the pain of users and developers that dont have a specific marketplace.

Galateia joined the team after she came back from London, having graduated from UCL with an Msc at TE Entrepreneurship, given her genuine interest in gesture- recognition technologies and experience working with startups at UK. Mariana, with an experience of 7 years in the retail industry and working as a costumer for the past 5 she is giving her valuable inputs regarding sales.

Our 2 great advisors: Savvas Georgiou, CTO at Daily Secret and Suneil Mishra, working with Primesense the past years are continuously helping with their contacts and deep knowledge of the industry we are operating in.

Where are you located, and what is the ecosystem like there?

Mageca is located in Greece, Athens. The start-ups scene has really exploded here over the last couple of years, and it’s been a real pleasure to watch. In 2013, Greek startups raised more than 55 million dollars in capital.

The country’s economy has been spiraling downwards for the last four years. That, has forced businesses and innovators to aim globally and think big.

Why now?

For Mageca, we believe that this is the ideal time & place to pursue our vision and embrace the opportunity arising around touchless technologies and be first movers in the industry.

What milestones have you reached?

Since we have been running the company since May 2013 we are proud to say that we have already reached significant milestones.

We have already established a network of 750 developers nationwide along with a base of registered users. Another major achievement is the support we have these 2 years from major companies operating in the industry. Microsoft, Intel, Tobii & Softkinetic are the companies providing us with developer’s kits for their new products, to review and use before their official launch.

Furthermore, we have managed to participate in worldwide events presenting our work, such is “TEDxAcademy”, “TEDxAUEB”, “Startup Turkey”, “Startup Berlin”, “Rising Ideas” and we were also sponsoring HackaNUI”. The past 3 months we were one of the winning startup companies participating in the biggest accelerator in Greece: “Cosmote Startup”.

What are your next milestones?

The goals we are aiming to achieve within the next 6 months is to secure a funding round that will enable us maintain the quality of application uploaded on site and further enhance the marketplace with new tools and services responding to the needs of our network of developers and sensors’ manufacturers. We are aiming to have 35 brand new applications uploaded on site within this period and extended customer base, including business clients such is hospitals and schools.

Our new redesigned website and appstore is about to be launched within May, with new apps and our blog with all the news and hot picks to keep an eye on around gesture recognition.

Where can people find out more?

We are always happy to get to know you!

You can reach us via

• Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mageca/566846519998879

• Twitter: @MagecaLabs

• E-mail: info@mageca.com

and of course through the website: http://www.mageca.com/

Flashnotes Helps Students Study–And Make Money

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flashnotes

If you’re the smart kid in class, it’s time to stop doing everyone’s studying for free.

Flashnotes.com is a peer-to-peer marketplace for college notes and study guides. Students post their guides on the platform, and each sells for around $10.

Started by Mike Matousek during his senior year at Kent State, the company has grown quickly in the last few years.

In February they closed a $3.6 million Series A led by Stage 1 Ventures.

And, yes, you really can make money selling  your notes online. According to the leaderboard on the Flashnotes homepage, Tony2050 from Florida State has pulled in almost &12,000 so far. That’s better than your average part time job!

Check out our Q&A with Mike below:

1) What’s your startup called?

Flashnotes.com is a Boston-based startup that is becoming an influential leader in the higher ed tech space.

2) What’s your big idea and how does it work?

Flashnotes.com is the student-to-student study materials marketplace. The online platform allows college students to buy and sell course specific study materials — study guides,notes, flashcards, video tutorials, and live video help. My company is on a mission to provide college students with the two things they need most – more money & better grades. Our Pays2Study™ approach empowers smart college students to make money from their own study material, while helping other students study smarter to get better grades.

At Flashnotes.com,  we want to create an environment that allows college students to have access to the information they need to be successful in their courses. Currently, 42% of college students drop out and it’s often because they are falling behind. Flashnotes.com is on a mission to provide these students with the materials they need to get over that hump by serving content in a variety of forms.

3) What’s the story behind your idea?

I founded Flashnotes.com in 2010, when I was a senior at Kent State University. My idea for the company came when I was taking a statistics class that many of my classmates struggled with. The course came naturally to me, and it wasn’t long before students were hunting me down for my study guides and notes. Soon after, Flashnotes.com was born, and is now used by college students at universities and colleges across the country.

4) Who are the founders?

As mentioned previously, I founded Flashnotes.com while I was a senior at Kent State University.

5) Where are you located?

Flashnotes.com is located in Boston’s Faneuil Hall marketplace.

6) What’s the startup scene like there?

Boston’s innovation economy is thriving, and it really is a hub for technology startups and young entrepreneurs. In recent years, an entire Innovation District has emerged along the South Boston Waterfront, and with so many local colleges and universities, there’s no shortage of talent for the city’s burgeoning community of web and technology startups.

7) What milestones have you reached?

In the last year, Flashnotes.com has seen rapid adoption at colleges and universities across the country with a 175% growth in users. In the last two months we also raised $3.6 million in Series A venture funding and acquired Moolaguides, an online study materials marketplace with a strong user base in Florida.

8) What are your next milestones?

This year, Flashnotes.com is focused on expansion to additional colleges and universities across the U.S. We’re also looking to empower students with registered disabilities with our online marketplace and are actively looking to work with universities’ disability offices to offset program costs, increase note-taker retention throughout the semester, and enable these students to have access to critical course material. 

9) Where can people find out more?

To find out more information about Flashnotes.com, readers can visit our website at www.flashnotes.com, like us on Facebook,  or follow us on Twitter, @Flashnotes.

Chef’s Roll Makes Chefs’ Online Presence As Fancy As Their Cuisine

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There are a lot of startups catering to the social media needs of a niche population. Skills that many take for granted in the tech world often don’t easily fit into the lives of other professionals. But, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a sufficient online presence.

San Diego-based Chef’s Roll is looking to help chefs create a stellar web presence, helping them network and possibly gain the attention of shows like Top Chef.

Check out our Q&A with Chef’s Roll below:

What is your startup called?

Chef’s Roll

What’s the story behind your idea?

The founders of San Diego-based Chef’s Roll have always been passionate about the culinary industry, but it was only recently that they made a rather surprising discovery: the quality of a chef’s online presence almost never matches the quality of their cuisine.

That’s where Chef’s Roll comes in: to help these time-oppressed culinary artists look as brilliant as their food tastes. The culinary world is “hungry” for this tool.

With this kind of need, the sky’s the limit for this company!

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

The founders are:

Thomas Keslinke: A 13-year hospitality industry veteran, Thomas is co-founder of Chef’s Roll, an online platform for chefs across the globe  to showcase their talents, career achievements and unique style through professional profiles. It’s a visually-stunning Linkedin for chefs. He was formerly CEO and executive chef at the gourmet catering and private dining company Eat Prive. Earlier in his career, Keslinke was a conference and event manager for Deloitte and also a consultant for award-winning restaurants, including top dining establishments in the Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands and was restaurant manager of the famed Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. Keslinke earned his degree in Hospitality and Tourism from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Frans van der Lee: Frans van der Lee has 15 years of experience in web development, databases and UX design, including stints at start-ups, large technology companies and the US Army. He is the technical co-founder of Chef’s Roll. He has lived and traveled all over the world and being a home chef and BBQ champion, he is as passionate about the subject matter as the mechanics.

Where are you based?

We are based in San Diego.

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

San Diego is a very different startup scene than most cities. There’s a unique camaraderie among startups, with incubators emerging as people want to see San Diego get a more active investor community. In fact, Forbes Magazine just ranked San Diego one of the best places for startups.

There are resources and money to be invested — and a friendly atmosphere for new business. The vast

majority of startup companies in the San Diego area are chipmakers and Biotech, which makes Chef’s Roll a unique find. People get excited about Chef’s Roll because everyone loves food and wine.

What problem do you solve?

Working chefs often don’t have the time or budget to create a customized web portfolio, and existing job sites don’t have the tools to bring a chef’s unique skillsets and experience to life. To solve this widespread challenge, Chef’s Roll was born.

“Presentation is everything” is true for all chefs, and Chef’s Roll’s mission is to advance the culinary profession by helping to promote the chefs that are making it happen. From executive chefs to culinary students, Chef’s Roll welcomes you to the table.

Why now?

The social media revolution has created a very real opportunity for Chef’s Roll to become THE worldwide network for professional chefs. With social media channels starting to also move into niche trade areas for professionals, it’s time for chefs to have a resource like this one.

Meanwhile, with the rapidly changing evolution of the job market in the culinary industry, “I’m too busy” is no longer a good enough excuse for a chef not to have a clean, cutting-edge professional profile. With the easy tools available now, chefs can finally get a profile page up both quickly and with knowledge that “presentation is everything.”

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

We were very proud to have the smash hit reality show Top Chef contact one of the chefs listed on our site for one of their upcoming programs. We have already added hundreds of new profiles and received overwhelmingly positive response about the site’s clean look and design. From Michelin-starred toques and celebrity chefs to emerging chefs and culinary students, the culinary community is very excited about this new platform.

What are your next milestones?

The next step is literally to break out on a global scale, and become THE worldwide network for professional chefs. We want our job board to be the industry leader because that’s where the top talent will be. It’s important for us to bridge the gap between true talent and open positions. As a tech company, we also want to foster a passionate and influential social media following, inclusive of top toques, internationally.

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

Any interested readers should look us up right away at: ChefsRoll.com.

Chimpmint Takes on Buffer, Feedly, and All Those Other Guys

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Those of us in the tech world know all about social media marketing and finding and sharing content online. We know that it’s good for our brands and reputations, and a lot of us think carefully about how we want to handle social media.

incontent3Your average small business? Maybe, but maybe not. And without some level of social media savvy, they can get lost in the crowd.

That’s where Chimpmint comes in. They’re looking to curate and share content for small businesses who don’t necessarily have the time or motivation to learn social media marketing. There are plenty of tools that do what they do, but Chimpmint is honing in on the customers who will be overwhelmed by the more popular tools.

They face a few challenges, though. Most significantly, marketing to small businesses–and convincing them they need this–could prove difficult. The companies they’re talking about can often be averse to the Internet in general, much less social media.

Also, you know, Buffer, Feedly…

Check out Chimpmint’s Q&A below. Then hop over and let them know what you think.

What is the name of your startup?

Chimpmint Content Curating & Sharing

What’s your big idea?

If traditional marketing is land and social media is the ocean, then many startups, small businesses, and personal brands are lost at sea.
Every brand, at one point or another, has the same two core problems when it comes to social media marketing:

  1.     I don’t know what to post on social media to build my follower base and to engage with them.
  2.    I don’t have the time to post.

So how does Chimpmint help? To solve the first problem, we search, find, and present related content to that brand. Doesn’t matter what you sell, if you have a brand, then we have quality articles, images, and videos  that relates to what your brand. To solve the second problem, Chimpmint helps you share efficiently. Already in our first release, we’ve gotten great feedback on the simplicity of our scheduling feature. And like an infomercial, it gets better! Our next upgrade is coming soon and it’ll will be a game changer. We plan to make social media management as relevant to a business owner as checking an email.

What’s the story behind your idea?

Once upon a time, about 11 months ago, my partner Maurice Prosper and I were working in the web development. One of our early clients, Stacy, owned a small furniture store. To our surprise, just a month after finishing Stacy’s new website, she left us a message stating her dissatisfaction.

What was wrong? The website worked like a well oiled machine.

So we asked Stacy. She told us she feels the site isn’t worth the cost since the traffic to the site stayed the same.  So we started our search on Google for a product that can drive traffic to Stacy’s website with social media. Right away, we knew it had to be simple, because Stacy didn’t want to learn social media marketing, and preferably a ‘Smart Software’ that educated users while getting the job done. Unfortunately, we never found this magical software. That’s when we had our “aha moment”.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Maurice Prosper and Michael Tibebu. We met in Mr. Thomas’s history class in high school. Good ‘ole times.

Where are you based?

Chimpmint is based out of Austin, Texas but we service any and all businesses since we provide our services via the internet.

How are you different from the competition? Buffer comes to mind…

We simplified our software while being able to improve efficiency. Our competitors see the demand but see only one layer of the problem. As stated in Question[1], just a scheduling feature isn’t going to cut it for Stacy the store owner. Neither is a bare content aggregate. Chimpmint is the only web application that solves both those problems, while keeping simplicity of the product for our user’s learning curve and user experience.

What milestones have you reached so far?

We just celebrated our 3 month anniversary. That being said, since then we’ve gotten users on Chimpmint giving us great feedback and advice. We’ve legitimatized our online brand @Chimpmint with well over 400 followers. All of which we’ve attained by using our own product. Our blog (blog.chimpmint.com) returning readers. We also showcased at South by South West in Austin, Texas in front of thousands of tech lovers and investors.

What are your next milestones?

Chimpmint next milestone is to reach our goal of signing up our first 1000 businesses. We still have spots open. Sign up at www.chimpmint.com we wont disappoint.

Where can people find out more?

People can find out more about Chimpmint by emailing hello@chimpmint.com.

They can also reach us via our feedback button located on the bottom right corner on www.chimpmint.com

Our first 1000 businesses get a year long free subscription to Chimpmint. Don’t miss out guys, it’s a good time to register at www.chimpmint.com.

Lumiary Gives Indie Retailers a Shot at Competing With the Big Guys

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Indie retail (think Etsy and Shopify) is becoming a big deal these days. With these revolutionary platforms, every day entrepreneurs and makers can sell products direct to consumers. By cutting out big retailers, these individuals and small companies have higher profit margins and better chance at success.

But, they still lack one thing.

Marketing.

incontent3Lumiary, founded by several tech veterans including Etsy’s former head of analytics, solves that problem for them. Their system creates a marketing dashboard that can compete with big companies.

Check out our Q&A with Lumiary below:

1) What’s your startup called?

Lumiary

2) What’s your big idea?

Independent retail has lost half its market share over the past 30 years. At Lumiary, we believe independent makers and brands are now producing some of the best products out there. And because of the internet, they can reach just as many shoppers as large retailers. When it comes to marketing themselves, however, they are wildly outgunned when it comes to budget, data, and expertise. So even with a superior product, independent retailers are being left behind.

Our mission is to help makers and independent brands compete with big brands by leveraging their more personal relationships with their customers, fans, and followers. Lumiary is an integrated marketing platform for indie ecommerce brands that works just like the big data dashboards that all the big guys have, but is tailored for their unique strengths. Currently, the only analytics, marketing, CRM options for these small businesses are point solutions, forcing busy entrepreneurs to pull data from multiple platforms on their own and then attempt to make sense of it.

3) What’s the story behind your idea?

Each of the Lumiary founders approaches indie brand marketing from a different perspective.  Carrington comes from Etsy, Charles consulted for American made indie brands, and Matt built multichannel merchandising technology for small retailers. We came together when we collectively realized the widening gap in product quality, originality and authenticity between the big brands and independent ones. We felt more shoppers should be buying products from independent retailers, and our mission is help them take back market share.

4) Who are the founders?

Carrington Williams, formerly head of analytics and business development at Etsy, and Product Manager at AOL

Matthew Knight, formerly from Reconstrukt, EMC and Computer Associates

Charles Valentine, formerly a vice president at Discovery Communications and advisor to Northern Grade and Pierrepont Hicks

5) Where are you located?

Richmond, Va.

6) What’s the startup scene like there?

The startup scene in Richmond is quickly growing and changing. New incubators have popped up in the past 2-3 years, we are a part of one called 80amps, backed by the nationally recognized Martin Agency. And there is a huge creative/maker culture coming out of VCU Design and Brand schools.

7) What milestones have you reached?

We have just now come out of our beta, and now have our first paying customers. We’ve also gone through the painstaking work of establishing critical integrations with the leading ecommerce platforms, social networks and analytics tools, including Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Google Analytics.

8) What are your next milestones?

Up next we’re going integrate with Etsy stores, so we can offer our easy to use marketing platform to the millions of amazing stores on Etsy. We’re also launching soon our customer micro-segmenting tool to allow brands be more personal in customer communications and thus increase sales from email campaigns.

9) Where can people find out more?

www.lumiary.com