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




Silicon Valley Startup: Sooligan Moves To Arkansas To Help Strangers INTERVIEW

Startups flock in droves from their home city to Silicon Valley. It’s like the pilgrimage that actors and actresses make to Hollywood and models make to New York (some startups too). It’s not often that you hear of a startup moving from Silicon Valley to “everywhere else” to grow.

Back in June we brought you the story of the vitamin and supplement subscription box startup, Bulu Box. The husband and wife team behind Bulu Box moved from Silicon Valley to Lincoln Nebraska to grow their startup. Paul and Stephanie Jarrett were able to get an investment from the Nebraska Angels. They decided to pack things up and move to Nebraska, not only because of the investment but because costs would be more manageable there.

Today we’ve found Sooligan. Sooligan is a social discovery startup for the things around you. The idea behind the startup is that whether you’re traveling to a new city or your’re moving their, you can use Sooligan to crowdsource expert advice from the best experts, the locals.

Sooligan has rolled a few concepts into one big idea. They submitted the idea to the Ark Challenge accelerator in Fayetteville Arkansas and we’re accepted.

The two female founders from Sooligan, Nikka Umil and Natasha Malaihollo have relocated their headquarters to Fayetteville and plan on staying there after the accelerator program is over. Umil told nibletz.com why they decided to relocate to Arkansas and then stay there:

“I think everyone already knows about Berkeley! It is minutes away from Silicon Valley, and is a hub for the country’s best and brightest. This makes moving to Fayetteville, Arkansas (where we are currently based) quite shocking and a bit unexpected. We had NO clue whatsoever that this place had a booming startup scene/culture. We were very surprised by what we found once we started researching the area. Not ony is it home to the biggest Forbes 500 and 1000 companies, but it is also home to great up-and-coming startups like TTAGG, MobileFWD, Acumen Brands and more. Initiatives like the Ark Challenge and The Iceberg are also testaments to the growing startup culture in the area.”

Umil found a laundry list of accolades for their new home:


· Forbes named Fayetteville, Arkansas, a Best Place for Businesses and Careers.

· Fast Company recently named Fayetteville, AR as one of the “9 cities you wouldn’t think are hubs for tech startups” http://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/224504

· Travel + Leisure named Bentonville, Arkansas, one of the hottest travel destinations for 2012.

· The region, relatively insulated from the macroeconomy, offers a high quality of life and low cost of living.

· Northwest Arkansas is home to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies, as well as thousands of their big-brand suppliers.

· In 2011, Arkansas was cited by CNBC as having the lowest overall cost of doing business in the nation.

· The Kauffman Foundation ranks Arkansas as the 15th most entrepreneurial state in 2011 in the current issue of its annual report, the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. The calculated index for Arkansas is at 0.34%, which means there are 340 entrepreneurs per 100,000 adults per month in the Natural State.

· The nation is seeing progress, innovation clusters and cultural revival in the Midwest and American South.

· Northwest Arkansas is the sixth fastest growing region in the country, surrounded by the beautiful Ozark Mountains.

· The Northwest Arkansas MSA has grown 35% since 2000 and now numbers more than 463,000 residents—the fastest growing population in Middle America.

· Northwest Arkansas is a hub at the center of a regional market including Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City, St. Louis, Little Rock, and Memphis metropolitan areas.

· Northwest Arkansas has a welcoming entrepreneurial culture with quick-start networking opportunities.

· Northwest Arkansas sees a high degree of philanthropic engagement from its citizenry, as well as creative and business communities.

· Northwest Arkansas has the most billionaires per capita than anywhere in the United States.

· As part of a regional strategic economic development plan, Northwest Arkansas has an intentional focus onnurturing mobile and Internet startups.

Below is the rest of our interview with Umil.

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Interview With Kansas City Startup: Truckily Accelerating At Ark Challenge

Food Trucks are all the rage these days. Most metropolitan areas now have a plethora of delicious food available in converted bread trucks. If you’ve ever been to Austin Texas, especially during South By South West we’re sure you’ve seen some great food trucks. When we were in Chicago for Chicago Tech Week lunch was catered by a dozen delicious food trucks outside the Merchandise Mart.

Aside from big events though, finding your regular food truck can be a tough task, especially when you have a limited amount of time for lunch. Or perhaps you’re in the mood for food truck food but you’re not sure about the cuisine. Well mobile food truck apps are becoming just about as hot as the food trucks themselves. In fact, Pennsylvania startup TruckyLove has incorporated both a food trick finder and a social network surrounding food trucks.

With Kansas City startup Truckily, it’s a little more cut and dry, but the guys behind Truckily have taken into consideration the diner and the driver.

As is with most of the other apps being built in the space, Truckily provides a function that allows diners to locate their favorite food trucks by name, or cuisine. They can also do a generalized browse type function where they can see what food trucks are around them.

On the driver side Truckily provides a function that allows food truck owners to find the best spot to set up shop.

Truckily is based in Kansas City but they’re currently accelerating at the Ark Challenge accelerator in Arkansas.

We got a chance to talk with Derek Kean one of the two co-founders of Truckily. Check out that interview below.

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South Carolina Startup: 52 Apps Will Produce 52 Apps This Year


Here’s a story that’s just screaming “everywhere else”. Two students who actually hail from Arkansas, Brandon Lee and Chris Thibault are two ambitious young entrepreneurs who have built a startup app studio with a twist. Their startup is working out of an incubator at USC where Thibault was a student.

Their development company, called 52apps, is set out to produce 52 high quality apps over the next year. They hope to produce each app in just five days, presumably cheating the startup culture and taking weekends off, which is ok considering they are also students.

While the 52apps concept isn’t entirely new, the way they’ve set out to find app ideas has an interesting twist. The startup held almost a “pitch” event Friday evening. At the event they took app suggestions from all walks of life at an event with a stage, pitches and brainstorming.

Lee and Tthibault heard a ton of great app ideas at their “Idea Day” that was held immediately following a launch and kick off event for their University of South Carolina, Columbia, based company,

These two aren’t guys who just decided to become app developers in College. Both Lee and Thibault are BFFs from high school, who developed their first app while they were till in high school, with the ambitious idea to make math homework easier and more automated. They were able to achieve that as part of a goal to stop taking backpacks to school.

52apps is just one of 32 resident startup companies at a fairly new incubator at UNC.
“These are two- to three-month projects,” said Steve Leicht, who serves as 52apps’ chief executive and part of the management team put together by the incubator and Columbia venture capitalist Don Tomlin, said Tomthe statee.com. “These folks pull it off in a week.”

The duo has already put out their first iOS app under the 52apps umbrella. The app, called Tap Notes, sells for $2.99 in the iTunes app store and helps students, and business professionals take notes, and record conversations for the notes that can be accessed at specific points rather than having to listen to an entire conversation and then pulling what you need.

Lee and Thibault report that they’ve received over 30 great ideas so far and will start developing straight away.


Check out 52apps at 52apps.com

Source: thestate.com

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Arkansas Startup: Rebounces Puts The Green Back In The Tennis Ball

In our endless quest to look past the trending (read valley based) startups on the Angel List (angel.co), we came across one that is sports related, fun, green (environment) and green (money). The startup is called reBounces and they are based in Harrison Arkansas.

Arkansas has a bubbling startup scene and we’ve covered a handful of startups from Arkansas here at nibletz.

So what is reBounces?

Well Rebounces was founded by Bill Dirst and Cannon Fletcher. The company uses a gas based mixture technology invented by Dirst to put the bounce back into flattened tennis balls.

Typically when a tennis ball has been used over and over again they start to deflate. Even if you are only a casual tennis player you’ve probably noticed this deflating.  Normally when a tennis ball deflates the natural reaction is to go buy another can of balls.  While that’s all well and good, the tennis balls are not biodegradable and even in their flattened state they go into the landfill.

With the reBounces technology tennis balls are dumped into the Green Tennis Machine. After the machine is sealed and the balls sit for three days they enviro-magically have their bounce back. The balls have the same bounce as balls that just came out of a fresh can and they are back to regulation.

More after the break
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Arkansas Startup: Univeristy of Arkansas Announces E-Braa

A team of engineers out of the University of Arkansas have developed a new wireless health monitoring system being dubbed “e-bra”. The “e-bra” has textile sensors built in that monitor cardiac signs, blood pressure, body temperature, respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, and even some neural activity. The sensor laden bra communicates all of this information back to a smart phone.

The system that’s designed to be outfitted in a sports bra for women or possibly a vest for men does not require any kind of cuff and could function as a replacement for at home blood pressure monitors.

“Our e-bra enables continuous, real-time monitoring to identify any pathophysiological changes,” said Vijay Varadan, Distinguished Professor of electrical engineering. “It is a platform on which various sensors for cardiac-health monitoring are integrated into the fabric. The garment collects and transmits vital health signals to any desired location in the world.”

The sensors themselves are smaller than a dime and include gold nano wires. They also have flexible conducting textile nano sensors. The textile sensors are than woven into the bra and don’t require sticky adhesives or gels.

More after the break
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Little Rock’s Verve Solutions, Offering Complete Energy Assesments, Wins Gone In 60 Pitch Contest

Over 200 entrepreneurs, startup founders and technorati turned out for a Gone in 60 seconds pitch contest Monday night in Little Rock. The contest was part of a tour that was created by Innovate Arkansas. Innovate Arkansas is a partnership that works with new technology based entrepreneurs to turn inventions and startups into viable businesses.

The Gone in 60 pitch contest, or G60 as it’s affectionately known in Arkansas, is a 60 second elevator pitch contest. The Little Rock event was held at Vino’s and saw about 20 pitches compete for prizes. The top prize was $1,000.00 and won by Verve Solutions.

Verve Solutions is an energy assessment, and efficiency solution provider based in Little Rock. The company was founded by Lolisa Crowe and Brian Broussard both twenty something entrepreneurs who both happen to be RESNET certified energy auditors. Also, both have a long history of energy conscious environmental leadership. Crowe was a volunteer with Americorps through the Clinton Foundation. Boussard has worked on earth day projects as well as on the campaign of environmentally conscious and landscape architect turned State Representative Mark Robertson.

The winning pitch was focused on how the current residential building was inefficient in terms of both environment and energy consumption. Home owners will have the ability to pursue energy efficiency improvement in a more affordable way thanks to Verve solutions.

So far the G60 has been to Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Rogers. The next stops are in El Dorado, Texarkana, Jonesboro and Conway.

For more information on G60 visit Innovate Arkansas

For more info on the winner of the Little Rock competition visit Verve Solutions

source: Arkansasbusiness.com