Los Angeles Startup Treats Amateur Athletes Like Superstars

Sportifik, Startups, startup interview, California startup

A brand new startup in West Los Angeles is hoping to make amateur sport players feel like superstars, giving them the tools that they need to organize and manage their sports leagues, pick up games, and teams. With Sportifik the founders want amateur athletes to have fun, meet new people, and keep up with sports that often fall to the wayside.

Still a little over two weeks away from launch, the team behind Sportifik is “throwing the pigskin around,” meaning they’re putting the finishing touches on their platform and making sure it’s ready for the after work league and the local pick up game.

In the meantime we got to talk with Marco Franzoni, Sportifik’s co-founder and CEO about this new twist on sports.


What is your startup called?

Our startup is called Sportifik. A mix between sports and fantasterrific, only with a k.

What does your company do?

We are creating a global community of athletes and changing the way people participate in sports. We are providing amateur athletes and avid sports fans with the best means to easily organize and manage their sporting activities through a user friendly one-stop-shop mobile and web solution. Our platform will enable users to seamlessly organize sports games in a fun and rewarding way while enabling them to meet members of their local communities who share a passion for the same sport.

Our goal is to push new boundaries, make any game feel like a national championship, and make every amateur player feel like a superstar.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

We are three co-founders and friends.

Marco, our CEO, is an all-around athlete hailing from Italy with a consulting background. He’s the soul of this operation. It’s his inspiration and drive that brought us together in a common belief that sports should be uniting people.

Josh, our CTO, is an avid golfer with various experiences in web development and startups. He’s the heart of the operation as he is the one keeping us going (as well as the most important person in our lives today).

Chris, our head of biz dev, is passionate about all sports and comes from investment banking and social enterprise backgrounds. He’s the brain at Sportifik – not in that he’s intelligent but he makes sure everything is running correctly and logically.

Where are you based?

We’re currently based in West LA where we think the outdoors environment is the best to start an active sports venture.

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

Pretty amazing. For years the LA and Santa Monica startup scene have been growing. It’s a phenomenal environment of smart dedicated people who are always looking to help each other out. We’ve been really fortunate to kick things off on the shores of Silicon Beach.

What problem do you solve?

We solve the problem of having to spend copious amounts of times and several different platforms to organize sports games. We spent too much time every week trying to get people together at the same spot to play soccer or basketball for games that would inevitably get canceled anyway. We thought there’s a better solution out there.

Why now?

People are becoming more active and mobile and at the same time we’re busier than ever with a ton of different things to do. Finding the time for collective sports games has become harder but they’re no less important in our lives.

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

We launched a beta product in April and collected a bunch of early adopters. We’re re-launching on the 31st of August (join us for our launch party through our website!).

We’ve also created a promotional clip to feature the community and outreach aspects of what we do. This includes supporting our friends who have a wheelchair basketball team and are looking to raise money for their upcoming season. If you are interested in helping Alvin and his team, get in touch with him at alvin.malave@gmail.com.

Finally, we’ve established an informal sports hierarchy internally. Josh is our golf master, Chris rules the ping pong table and Marco does pretty much everything damn well.

What are your next milestones?

Launching (see above)! We’re looking to get as many users as possible starting in West LA and the UCLA community and expanding as soon as possible to the rest of LA. We’re going to be looking to partner with local sports leagues, stores and venues to offer a more comprehensive service to our users and drive local businesses.

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

Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/sportifik), Twitter (www.twitter.com/sportifik_), WordPress (www.blog.sportifik.com), and youtube (www.youtube.com/sportifik)


Los Angeles Startup AroundWire Is The First Social Exchange

Aroundwire, California startup, startup interview

Let’s face it. We all know how sketchy Craigslist can be. Whether you’re getting scammed on the front end by someone who wants to charge your PayPal $500 more than your product is selling for, or you’ve got a seller who wants to meet you in a dark alley. While some may score some great deals using Craigslist, others aren’t so lucky. Which is why this Seattle startup created these risky ads.

Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Amira Fickewirth had a bad feeling about a camera purchase she had set up using Craigslist and thought that there had to be a better and safer way. That’s why she and her team created AroundWire, a startup they are calling a “social exchange.”

Alex Brown described it like this: “…a social network, a marketplace, and a payment system all rolled into one. On AroundWire you can ‘partner’ with people you trust and gain access to their “partners” to create a reliable community of people to buy and sell goods and services with. You can also choose to do business with the greater public AroundWire community and feel secure knowing that we have verified accounts, reputation metrics that mimic the way people consider reputations in real life, and excellent customer service and protection for all parties should anything go awry.”

AroundWire wants to bring things like trust, accountability, and conversation back into the online sales equation. They also want to establish a community in which people can go to the other community members over and over again as a source for new sales, referrals, and repeat business.

Sometimes, on Craigslist, you find that one seller that may have the same hobbies and interests as you and you strike up a relationship. That’s happened a few times with me over electronics, camera equipment, and bird supplies. I’ve dealt with the same few people time and time again on Craigslist so they finally started calling or emailing me directly, knowing I would probably buy what they are selling. I have a list of people I can go to when I burn through technology.

For most though, these are rare occurrences. AroundWire wants to create these collisions over and over again between trusted people who develop relationships using their site.

We had a chance to talk with the AroundWire team.

What does your company do?

AroundWire is the world’s first social exchange – a social network, a marketplace and a payment system all rolled into one. On AroundWire you can “partner” with people you trust and gain access to their “partners” to create a reliable community of people to buy and sell goods and services with. You can also choose to do business with the greater public AroundWire community and feel secure knowing that we have verified accounts, reputation metrics that mimic the way people consider reputations in real life, and excellent customer service and protection for all parties should anything go awry. Whether you’re buying vinyl records, looking for a reliable car mechanic, want a great referral for a graphic designer or are trying to launch your business from home, AroundWire can help.

How did the idea for the site come about?

The idea for the site came when our CEO/founder Amira Fickewirth went to go buy a camera off of someone on Craigslist and felt unsafe. She knew little to nothing about the person she was meeting up with and there was no real accountability if the gear was faulty or the person decided to try something unexpected. It dawned on her that there had to be a better way to buy and sell goods and services online – a place where people interacted on a real name basis and were held accountable for being honest in their transactions.

What problem do you solve?

Somewhere along the line, a gap has developed between the way people do business in the real world and the way they do business online – AroundWire’s mission is to change that, to bring the traditional values of business – trust, accountability, personal connections and earned merit – back to business online.

Why now?

E-commerce sites and social networks are facing a crisis of confidence, with fake profiles, phony reviews and ads sowing an environment of distrust. While other social commerce sites struggle with security and fraud, AroundWire aims to tackle those issues right from the get go. With no fake profiles, no annoying banner ads, and an ultra secure built-in payment system, AroundWire will set a new standard for online consumption that demands a real-world level of trust.

Upcoming milestone:

We will be launching in Beta in October!

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

Sign up for a Beta invitation at our landing page: www.AroundWire.com

No really you need to see these hilarious videos that may hit close to home for some Craigslist users.


Tampa Startup Wants Fuse To Be Your One Social App

Fuse Laicos, Tampa startup, California startup,startups, startup interviewRyan Negri, the founder of Negri Electronics and now a startup called Laicos, and Kyle Mathews, the co-founder of Laicos believe that everyone is “one social person” so they should only have one social app. They are hoping that app is Laicos’ first app, Fuse.

Fuse is a social aggregator of sorts that combines all of your popular social networks into one feed. Where platforms like Hootsuite allow a user to peruse multiple social feeds at one time through individual streams, Fuse, has one big stream for all social interactions. Right now Fuse will bring together Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn so that you can cross post, cross read and share all at the same time without having to open and close multiple apps.

Both entrepreneurs know that there are services, like Hootsuite described above, that do what they want to a degree, but Fuse is the only platform that views everything in one big feed.

Mathews is based in Tampa Florida while Negri is based in California. Neither co-founder is a stranger to working remotely. Negri talks about launching his successful electronics business in Wisconsin and then working remotely from California even after relocating that company to Nevada.

Negri’s electronics business specializes in mobile devices, and even imports some of the more high end “unlocked” devices from overseas his customers there are typically early adopters on all aspects of technology. That’s where Negri became so intrigued with solving this social problem, telling us he’s surprised no one has done it this way before. Fuse makes a lot of sense.

Check out our interview with Negri below and for more information check out Fuse’s website here.

seriousWhat is your startup called?


What does your company do?

Laicos was created to focus on social application development, mostly in the mobile app arena.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

The founders of Laicos are Ryan Negri (@ryannegri) and Kyle Matthews (@kylematthews)

Ryan is the founder of NegriElectronics.com. With over 40,000 unique and satisfied customers during more than seven years of operation, Negri Electronics has become a leader in the high end unlocked wireless industry. Before starting Negri Electronics, Ryan, our CEO, was just an avid fan of new technology, excited about the seemingly certain and infinite growth of mobile capabilities and intent on being the first to get his hands on the latest devices. Today, Ryan is still that same fan, and he offers a platform for others, like him, to get the very best wireless devices before anyone else in the world. In June of 2006, Negri Electronics began operations from an apartment in Northern Wisconsin as a distributor of high end unlocked wireless devices through a variety of third-party retail channels. It wasn’t long before the small business was overwhelmed by demand and faced with the opportunity to expand. Ryan leased his first office space, hired his first employee, and launched the first version of NegriElectronics.com. The business met the inevitable challenges each new business faces and overcame them because of Ryan’s dedication to his vision. He knew that an opportunity existed for a company that could offer exclusive devices with outstanding customer service if the price was right. The market was responding and Negri Electronics had expanded its team to five before Ryan made the decision to move from his Wisconsin roots to an area of the country that was closer to his customers and new suppliers and full of entrepreneurial energy. Ryan moved from Wisconsin to Southern California and ran the business remotely with the help of a loyal Wisconsin-based operations manager that had been with the business from the start. The business continued to grow by adding team members in finance and marketing roles, but as time passed, the advantages of operating a business in Nevada became apparent.Negri Electronics relocated its Wisconsin operation to a newly rented warehouse in Las Vegas, Nevada to take advantage of the lower costs of doing business and to make a positive impact in the Las Vegas community. Through local hiring efforts, the Nevada team added energetic and talented warehouse and customer service professionals and, within one year, the company outgrew its space once again. Today, Negri Electronics is a privately owned corporation headquartered in a nearly 6,000 square feet facility in Las Vegas, Nevada with an office in Southern California that houses administrative, finance, and marketing functions. The business offers nearly 5,000 products through a redesigned website and ships to over 190 different countries around the world. Ryan is still in touch with many of his first customers who count on him for his expertise, and they remain loyal customers and valued friends of Negri Electronics. The entire team is extremely proud of the progress to date and remain enthusiastic and optimistic about the possibilities ahead.

Kyle Matthews is the co-founder of ModMy, LLC. Their main website, ModMyi.com, is the largest iPhone customizing community on the internet, with over 850,000 members and over 1 million daily page views. Kyle has been involved in the modifying scene for over a decade, starting with Motorola phones just before the release of the Razr, and continuing this passion for do-it-yourself modifying of devices and software into the iPhone scene. When ModMyi launched in 2007 along with the release of the first iPhone, it was home to many of the first iOS developers in the world – long before Apple released an official SDK or App Store (remember the first year of iPhone had native apps only!). Cody Overcash, the other co-founder of ModMyi.com, created the first iPhone “theme” ever, starting the hugely popular iPhone theming community. Thousands of talented digital artists helped to grow ModMyi.com by creating beautiful third-party UIs and themes for Apple’s flagship device, which they continue to do. The ModMy sites began as purely a hobby, with both the founders having separate jobs. As the community grew, we experienced rapid growth and learned quite a bit about running large online communities, from best practices on management, to server tweaking and creating custom software to enhance the tools we were already using. ModMy quickly became a full time job for both Kyle and Cody, and has now expanded to include daughter companies like ModMedical, which creates iPad apps for medical device companies, and Brooks Motorsport Composites, which takes the customization mindset to the physical world in building custom carbon fiber aero solutions for race cars. Kyle is also very active in the non-profit world, as the co-founder and executive director of Because of Ezra. Because of Ezra was formed in 2011, after the 2010 loss of Kyle and his wife Robyn’s son, Ezra, to neuroblastoma, the most common cancer in infants. Ezra lived exactly 800 days. Neuroblastoma in stage 4 (the most commonly diagnosed staging) has only a 40% cure rate, and relapsed neuroblastoma has no current cure. Because of Ezra seeks to fill some of the large gaps in funding for neuroblastoma research. Since 2011 they’ve give over $130,000 to fund relevant, patient-affecting research into a cure. With a focus on creating exciting online projects with beautiful designs, Kyle has a large skill set relating to most web and mobile development and design projects.

Where are you based?

Tampa, FL, and Costa Mesa, CA.

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

The Tampa startup scene is brand new, and rapidly growing. A burgeoning digital crew are beginning to pop up, and a host of medical companies also exist.

The Southern California Startup scene is rapidly expanding. With many new startups opening offices in Santa Monica, it’s slowing becoming “Silicon Beach”. We are excited to be a part. We have not yet tapped into the Vegas Startup Scene, but are excited to do so once we get a little more traction and Tony (Hsieh) starts replying to my requests to coordinate. Negri Electronics is based out of Las Vegas – a Tech Ecommerce site 7 years in the making – with similiar values as Zappos.

What problem do you solve?

With Fuse, our flagship product, we solve the problem of social presence fragmentation. Our tagline is “You’re one social person. Get one social app.” As you interact with the social networking world, we find people are increasingly maintaining multiple presences, requiring multiple apps to manage. Fuse brings together all your social networking in one beautiful, unified experience. Interact with your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn contacts all at the same time. We have future plans to incorporate more networks as we grow.

Why now?

Managing your social presence is taking more and more time as multiple networks vie for your attention. A few solutions exist to interact with multiple networks, but they still fragment the experiences within the app. Fuse solves that issue.

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

We’ve launched our first product, Fuse, in the App Store!

What are your next milestones?

Laicos’ next milestones are acquiring users. We’re also a month or so away from launching a major redesign, which better matches the flat design seen in iOS 7. An Android version of the app is also in the future musings.

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

You can find out more about Fuse here, and by downloading the app on your iPhone from the iTunes store here.


California Startup Launches Platform For Substance Abuse & Eating Disorder Providers

Bookyourcare,startups,LA startup, California startup,startup interview

Substance abuse and eating disorders are two very important issues that aren’t discussed much here at Nibletz. But with the explosion of startups across the country, Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Michael Sigal wanted to attack those issues.

Bookyourcare.com is an online marketplace to find care provider from the comfort and privacy of your own home. They concentrate their service providers in areas of substance abuse, eating disorders, and other more sensitive health, medical, and mental health areas.  Bookyourcare.com didn’t just use a directory API because Sigal thinks transparency and safety are two very important areas when it comes to health-related issues like these. That’s why they are curating all of their service providers in person to help build better profiles and ratings and make the end user experience easy for those looking for these types of services. Often times when seeking out treatment for substance abuse issues and eating disorders, emotions are running on high. That’s why it was important to make Bookyourcare.com as easy to use as possible and at the same time, as robust and knowledge filled as possible.

We got a chance to interview Sigal, check out the interview below:


What is your startup called?

My company is called BookYourCare.com. I wanted a name that precisely represented the service we’re providing to the consumer.

What does your company do?

BookYourCare is the first digital marketplace in the United States for healthcare. Our specific focus is on the huge and largely unregulated substance abuse and eating disorder treatment industry.

To accomplish this we’re bringing together the free market, transparency and consumerism to healthcare services.

We physically visit treatment facilities and execute a rigorous evaluation and analysis of what is provided and then share that unbiased information with our audience. Information is power and our goal is to supply the facts so people can make better informed choices in regards to a potentially life-saving decision and avoid questionable or unscrupulous facilities.

We’ve also included an online bidding and auction program to help keep costs down which works much the same way as someone bidding on a stay at the Four Seasons or an eBay auction.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

I, Michael Sigal, founded BookYourCare.com following my serving as the Senior Vice President of TMP Worldwide which was then the parent company of Monster.com. I have three partners with professional backgrounds in substance abuse, health and security industries.

Where are you based?

BookYourCare.com is based on Torrance, California.

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

Los Angeles has always been known as a town where big dreams come true. There is an active community here for entrepreneurs to seek advice and workshop ideas. But given the nature of online startups I think it’s more about where you choose to live than it is about proximity to new audiences. That said, Los Angeles County has the highest percentage of treatment facilities in the nation so our work does have a “local” component.

What problem do you solve?

To date, people seeking substance abuse or eating disorder treatment had two avenues to explore in their research. They could search online where they were met by the marketing claims of the facilities themselves, sometimes untrue, or they could rely on word of mouth. Considering that in 2014 the industry is expecting to see $34 Billion in revenue I found it shocking that unbiased information was not made available, particularly to people who are typically in a highly emotional state and prone to the “hard sell” when they talk to the “closers” at many of these facilities.

The other component of BookYourCare is to help keep costs down for the consumer while also helping facilities increase occupancy. We’ve done this by implementing an online bidding and auction service. This allows consumers to set their own price and facilities to either accept or decline that price. Beyond the cost, patients also benefit as it’s been shown that more active group programs help with recovery. And because the traffic flow in treatment centers often comes in waves, should a facility find itself with a bed or two open it’s in their best interest to accept a reasonable bid.

Why now?

Substance abuse and eating disorders are skyrocketing yet as a country we seem to take an “Out of sight, Out of mind” approach to recovery. The treatment industry has seen revenue jumps of 55% since just 2005 and with the Affordable Care Act folding in substance abuse and mental health treatments we know the demand will increase. Our role is to meld the free market, transparency and consumerism and apply that to healthcare services. Our goal is to help people find wellness.

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

We knew going in that what we are tackling was a time-consuming process. Physically visiting facilities and analyzing them in the way we do, which includes everything from programs offered and staff experience to facility security, past business records, licenses and more, this meant we couldn’t just flip a switch. We beta-launched to California consumers about 3 months ago with analysis provided on roughly 50 facilities. During this period we are testing functionality of the website as well as marketing and making adjustments before going to full launch. Our team is constantly analyzing new facilities with the goal of expanding our reach nationwide.

What are your next milestones?

The response of the treatment community has been overwhelmingly positive as has the response from consumers who recognize that we’re acting as an advocate for them. Our next step is the successful completion of our California beta at which time we’ll begin our national rollout.  We’re confident this is a milestone we’ll reach.

Where can people find out more?

Website:  http://www.bookyourcare.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BookYourCare  

Twitter: @BookYourCare 


500 Startups Alum, Spinnakr talks about the importance of building a foundation at home.


San Diego Startup Forward Metrics Is Strategic Planning Made Easy

ForwardMetrics,San Diego startup, California startup,startups,startup interviewSan Diego startup ForwardMetrics is off to the races running. They specialize in simple, easy to understand strategic planning, but once you dive into ForwardMetrics it’s much more than just planning. The ForwardMetrics community is made up of entrepreneurs, c-level executives, executive and business coaches and people just starting out in the business world.

Last october at CTIA’s MobileCon event, ForwardMetrics founder Ozzie DiVinere told bnetTV.com that ForwardMetrics will become the goto place for anyone in business who wants to be successful.

Their enterprise class strategic planning software is based in the cloud and has two main products FM Navigator which any sized company can use to help brainstorm new strategies, hit goals and hold stakeholders accountable.

The other piece is Client Navigator which is a set of tools for executive and business coaches that offers new ways to work with clients.

Then they have the ForwardMetrics community which is designed to connect forward thinkers at any stage in their business lives, to ultimately become more successful.

We got a chance to talk with Andrew Hard the Marketing Director at ForwardMetrics. Check out the interview below:

What is your startup, what does it do?

Our startup is called ForwardMetrics, we have built enterprise-class strategic planning software that is based in the cloud. Companies can use our software (called FM Navigator) to brainstorm new strategies, hit their goals and hold stakeholders in key departments accountable.

We also have a Client Navigator product, a different version with a set of additional tools designed specifically for consultants and executive coaches that offers new ways to work with clients – along with powerful tools for acquisition, retention and revenue.

Our very unique go-to-market strategy is not to sell directly to companies, but to license our software to consultants and executive coaches, who are the individuals that actually conduct strategic planning sessions at the vast majority of companies.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

The founders are our CEO Ozzie DiVinere and CSO Scott Warner, here are their brief backgrounds:

Ozzie DiVinere is CEO/Co-Founder of ForwardMetrics.com. He Co-Founded the company in 2011 with a vision to bring enterprise cloud-based technology to the strategic planning, performance management and project management space. DiVinere’s passion is to transform organizations by connecting them with executive coaches and strategic planners to adopt cloud technologies to help each one achieve success and grow their businesses. A win-win paradigm.

In his previous role as Senior Vice President of the Private Client Group at Altegris, which was acquired by the Fortune 250 Company Genworth, DiVinere was responsible for delivering strategic sales and support to Altegris’ wealthiest customers globally. In addition, DiVinere created a very successful toy company, Skate Monster, which had Walmart as its primary customer.

DiVinere received his B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing from San Diego State University.

Scott Warner serves as Chief Strategic Officer/Co-Founder. After Co-Founding the company in 2011, Warner provides the vision for the company and is the Chief Architect of the FM Navigator and Client Navigator platforms.Prior to founding ForwardMetrics he was the Founder, CEO and Chairman of AccuSoft Corporation, the leading imaging technology company, which was acquired in 2008. He is also the founder of several other companies in areas including fitness and real estate as well as an angel investor and adviser to numerous organizations in the area of strategic planning and growth.


Where are you based?

We are based in Encinitas, Calif. Encinitas is just north of downtown San Diego.


What is the startup culture like where you are based?

The culture is San Diego is very strong for startups, BioTech especially. The downtown San Diego area is extremely friendly for startups. Very friendly and very strong startup culture. There are a number of incubators and angel investors in the downtown area, a lot of venture capital floating around and a very strong entrepreneurial spirit.

The startup capitals in the area are in Carlsbad (biotech), Sorento Valley and downtown there are several business parks (nearby the Qualcomm campus, etc.) There are definitely pockets throughout the area – San Diego has a very unique startup culture, but there a very friendly atmosphere, resources and money to be invested.

Most San Diego-area startups are Biotech, consulting or chipmakers – ForwardMetrics is very unique for the area.

What problem does your startup solve?

Eighty percent of companies DO NOT HAVE a strategic plan – a ship without a rudder. The other 20 percent do not implement their plans properly.

Most often, a consultant will come in to an organization and conduct a lengthy and highly expensive sessions – at the end of which he hands the company their strategic plan for the next one to five years in the form of a static Excel spreadsheet. That static, print document is not dynamic and becomes old just weeks after the consultant walks out of the building – most often it ends up in a desk drawer and is looked at never or rarely, and then only by the executive team.

ForwardMetrics’ new cloud-based software lets consultants and coaches offer companies a dynamic, living strategic plan that can be tracked and implemented at an organization after they leave. The software tracks goals from the plan in different departments, making it so the company leadership can track progress and make sure that the company is performing as needed.

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

We have overcome a number of obstacles. We’ve overcome the typical obstacles around raising money from investors, skepticism and reluctance to take risks. Round A of fundraising will end this coming week – after really starting the process a full year ago.

We’ve also faced the challenges that many area startups have dealt with – difficulties with finding the right outside development team, marketing/design agency and video vendors. There are many resources of this kind in the area – but many of these companies overcharge, underperform and care very little about their clients.

Shifting from a dev team in India, to our current team in the Ukraine – along with having many different remote employees — has caused all sorts of interesting communications problems.

We’ve also face the problems that a lot of startups deal with of being understaffed – people are wearing multiple hats and there is more to get done than we have resources and people to do them. Through all of that, we have managed to launch a solid, enterprise-class software app with an eager base of prospective clients and a solid social and PR presence.

What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?

On May 15, we will launch game-changing new technology – which helps organizations change the paradigm and operate on a results-based approach. It is a revolutionary shift in how companies are run, changing the focus from managing activity to a focus only on results.

We also have a thriving community site that has grown to over 500 executive coaches, consultants and business leaders sharing content and making connections. The membership growth on this site has increased very rapidly in just the last few months – and the growth is only spiking even more.

We’ve also forged an impressive number of strategic partnerships with hundreds of consultants, executive coaches and strategic planners – generated a lot of interest from surprisingly large companies – and have also gotten some good press exposure.

What are your next milestones?

Our next milestones are to launch the product and grow to at least $2-4 million in revenue by the end of the year. We also intend to grow our community site well into the thousands by the end of the year, and of course growing our client base to several top consulting firms and prominent companies.

We also want to receive that crucial customer feedback and greatly enhance our products so that they can be integrated into literally thousands of businesses around the globe.

Who are your mentors and role models?

Mark Cuban, Marc Benioff, Larry Ellison, Jeffrey Immelt, Steve Jobs, Steven Covey

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

Advantages: Top talent is extremely attracted to the San Diego area, both because of the city’s reputation and the natural beauty of the destination. Top talent in sales and marketing can also be found at extremely discounted prices in this area as opposed to L.A., New York, etc. There is also a large base of VC and angel investors, along with retired businessmen, in the San Diego area – so the region also helped with fund-raising as well. San Diego also offers an interested array of strategic business partners and marketing boutique-type resources.

Disadvantages: Finding good development resources is definitely a challenge – this might apply to a lot of places, it’s probably something you her somewhat frequently, but it’s very hard to know what you’re going to get and also get good work back for your dollar. Through everything, we have ended up with a very talented dev team that we’re able to work with very closely. Another great advantage of being in the Silicon Valley area is access to input from a wide array of technology companies – however, at ForwardMetrics we have had access to great input from professional strategic planning professionals and received extremely positive feedback even very recently.

What’s next for your startup?

The way we reach the market is very unique: Instead of going after companies, we work with consultants, executive coaches and strategic planners – who introduce the technology to their clients and continue to work with them to create and execute plans that achieve goals.

From there, we launch FM University to train and certify our partner coaches and consultants on the use of FM Navigator and our other cloud-based tools, and conduct extensive trainings and virtual events – along with a massive PR blitz! We will also be hiring on more staff including a much larger, more robust sales team and more in-house marketing resources, heck, maybe even an HR person!

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

To find out more, please visit www.forwardmetrics.com or visit our social: Our Twitter is @ForwardMetrics, our Facebook is facebook.com/ForwardMetrics and our LinkedIn page is http://www.linkedin.com/company/2537683.

Now check out Recruiting for Success: Tapping into Your Local University


Smokers Are Going To Love This California Startup, That’s Helping Veterans

HelpingHandz,California startup,startup interviewRob Howell is a Marine Corps veteran, who is trying to make life easier for smokers while at the same time helping veterans. He is the founder of a product startup that first tried crowdfunding with fundable.

HelpingHandz is the thing smokers have been looking for, for years, that protects the flame of a disposable lighter from the wind. There have been so many times that I personally have struggled with a lighter because of the crosswind. HelpingHandz is a ligher hood that fits around any standard sized disposable lighter, providing the shield the flame needs to stay lit. As an added bonus, HelpingHandz is also a keychain and a bottle opener.

As for the veterans, as a retired Marine Corps veteran, Howell will be donating a “significant portion of profits to programs that help veterans heal both psychologically and spiritually from traumatic combat experiences.” he said in an interview with nibletz.com.

The HelpingHandz product is one of those things that’s so simple you wonder why it wasn’t done before. The fact that Howell is helping sufferers of PTSD is a tremendous added bonus. Check out our interview with Howell below.

What is your startup, what does it do?

HelpingHandz (HHz for short) produces and sells a versatile lighter accessory that protects the flame of a disposable lighter from being blown out by inclement weather: wind, rain, snow, etc. Our product also functions as a bottle opener and keychain, making it the ideal tool for outdoor activities like camping, boating, or a day at the beach.

HHz currently works only with standard Bic lighters. We hope to have future designs that are compatible with other lighter models.

HelpingHandz is driven by the objective of helping United States Armed Forces combat veterans. The CEO and founder, Rob Howell, is a veteran of the Marine Corps committed to donating a significant portion of profits to programs that help veterans heal both psychologically and spiritually from traumatic combat experiences.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Rob Howell is the founder and CEO of HelpingHandz. After serving in the Marine Corps for four years, I moved to Wyoming to attended Central Wyoming Community College in the Environmental Science and Leadership Program. This is a program that works hand and hand with the National Outdoor Leadership School.  While attending school, I worked for a local tree trimming company. My experience in Tree Care inspired me to start my first business, Continental Tree Care, a full service tree company that offered organic pest control and fertilization.  Tree care required long, hard hours and a grueling amount of physical labor but it helped build a resiliency and determination within that served me well for my future inventions.

After six years with my first company, I began focusing on different invention ideas but came across a lot of issues getting the necessary patents. Finally, in January of 2012 I invented HelpingHandz and fell in love with the concept and mission of the product. I haven’t looked back since.

sneakertacoWhere are you based?

HelpingHandz is an internet based company operating out of San Clemente, CA.


What is the startup culture like where you are based?

Southern California is a fertile environment for young entrepreneurs. While we haven’t actively started looking for investors yet, the response from our local community has been extremely positive and supportive.  I think if you have a good idea or a good product, this is the place to be.  It is a great place to start a business.

What problem does your startup solve?

Anyone who has ever struggled to light a cigarette/cigar on a windy day knows how futile and frustrating of a task it can be. It’s equally difficult to start a campfire or fire up the grill using a lighter outdoors in inclement weather.

HelpingHandz provides a cheap, easy solution to this problem. All you need is our product and a disposable lighter.

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

Overcoming a lack of experience in manufacturing and product sales has been the biggest challenge. While doing hours and hours of exhaustive research was helpful, the most beneficial learning tool for me was speaking with dozens of product and manufacturing professionals who had already established a disciplined, effective business process.  While it’s taken longer than anticipated to bring this product to the market, I’ve always been confident my concept is a good one and after months of hard work and patience, we’re on track to launch in May 2013 with our first production run shipment!


What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?

2012 brought us a number of fortunate milestones — we filed for two necessary patents (one which has already been approved).  We’ve filed trademarks for our name and logo. We’ve finalized the design and prototype phase for our product.  We’ve launched our marketing campaign by building our webpage, producing a video demonstrating how our product works, and promoting our company via social networks and blogs. Also – we’ve completed other business systems like packaging, warehousing and shipping protocols. Finally, we’ve received quotes from dozens of manufacturers, and we’ve begun negotiations with a few large distributers we think are good fit for us.

What are your next milestones?

Our next milestone is funding.  We’re looking for the right investor to help reach our funding goals. We need enough orders of HelpingHandz from our manufacturers so that we can fulfill our distribution chain and have enough left over to take on new customers without running out.

Who are your mentors and role models?

I’ve had had too many to name them all but I would definitely start with my parents — they taught me how to work hard and the importance of always keeping commitments. These values were further instilled in me by the Marine Corps.

There are countless friends and teachers that I’ve learned so much from.  I try to take a piece of the good from everyone I meet, regardless of their status. I have learned a great deal from my life experiences.  I look up to people who focus their efforts on helping others and who make positive impacts in their communities. I could also say that I am fortunate to have met people who have shown me the negative side of society because I gain a better understanding of what I don’t want to be.

What’s next for your startup?

Next is laying out the distribution map.  We’re in discussions with major convenience store distributers right now that can help us reach our goal of being in fifty-thousand stores by the end of the year.  We would also like to start a video contest in the near future, where people make their own videos showing how they helped someone in need of an HHz.  The winner will be voted on by the HelpingHandz community and the grand prize will be something really amazing like a trip to Hawaii.

Where can people find out more?

We are currently running a crowd funding campaign on the website Fundable.  Here’s the link https://www.fundable.com/helpinghandz.  You can get more information about our product, watch a two-minute demonstration video, and pre-purchase a first run HHz (there’s also an option to purchase a limited edition gold-plated HHz).  We also have a website, www.myhelpinghandz.com and we are on Facebook at HelpingHandz.  My Twitter name, which I just signed up for, is Rob Howells @HelpingHandz1


Now Read: DC Startup Troop ID Validating Veterans Past & Present In The Civilian World


California Startup Uptoke Raising A Series A To Bring Weed To The Board Room [video]

UpToke, California startup,startups,Jason Levin,Cannabis

Jason Levin, founder of UpToke. (photo: fortune.com)

California entrepreneur Jason Levin is a formally trained engineer on a mission. He’s not a hippie, a dope man, or a pot head, but he does see the opportunity in Cannabis.

His company, called Uptoke, has produced an upscale vaporizer used to inhale marijuana. The cigar like vaporizer, brings a more “professional” appeal to smoking marijuana. Even in prototype form it’s a well designed, high class looking device.

The technology, Levin says, doesn’t actually ignite the plant, but rather heats it up, incredibly fast.

The Uptoke vaporizer can get to 375 degrees, in a sealed packages so users don’t burn themselves, in under 6 seconds. The battery life lasts all day and Levin says you just charge it up like a cell phone at the end of the day.

Levin doesn’t look like a guy who would fit in a “stereotype”. He sees the opportunity in the Cannabis industry. He’s also very careful not to step on the toes of those who aren’t supportive of the industry.

He will not market his device in markets where there are no laws governing cannabis use. He has a legal team in place and has an industrial designer coming on board to help design the final product.

Levin is currently raising a Series A round for Uptoke and was just recently in Seattle pitching a group of investors at the Washington Athletic Club.

Check out this video of Levin below.

Check out these startup stories from nibletz.com 

Flinja The Place To Find Free Lance Ninjas SXSWedu Video Interview

Flinja,California startup,EdTech startup,startups,startup interview,sxswedu,sxsw13,sxswThere are so many reasons we like Flinja. First off, their name is short for Freelance Ninja, and any startup with the word Ninja in it rocks. Secondly they are connecting college students with ways to make money by sharing their service as free-lancers with college alumni.

The startup, founded by Rebecca Bahr and Victor Young, is a market place for current college students to find free-lance employment opportunities from alumni. Bahr says they’ve pivoted several times. When they first set out on the free lance ninja concept the platform was closed to each students actual school. Well Bahr, who went to college in Montreal, found it hard to find people to connect with when she needed a service provider in California.

Now, any college student can be a service provider to any college graduate from any school in their network.

Students are utilizing Flinja to offer videography services, photography services, wedding planning services, tutoring in a variety of subjects and anything else that they could do for others for a little money on the side (legal of course).

The hope is that the alumni or college graduates that hire the students as freelancers may be a gateway to more stable employment.

The Flinja marketplace is self contained. When a college graduate is looking for a service provider they can search through Flinja, see a provider (students) feedback and ratings, set up the service, agree to pay and actually finish the transaction. Flinja takes a small percentage from the person hiring, not from the college student.

UCLA was the first school to adopt the Flinja platform. Students are being hired as videographers, editors and tutors.

Flinja is a finalist in the LAUNCHedu competition at SXSWedu in the higher education category. They will appear in the showdown later this week.

Check out our video interview with Bahr below and for more info visit flinja.com

We’ve got more SXSWedu coverage here.

3D Printed Audio Startup Goes Lord Of The Flies Style At CES 2013

Simply Amplified, California startup,startup,startups, CES 2013, Eureka ParkA California startup called Simply Amplified has created a product that amplifies sound from your smartphone or music player without any moving parts, wires, batteries or electricity. In fact it takes the same principles for amplifying sound that you may find in a conch shell. The company has even designed some of their unique speakers to look just like shells.

As you can see from the video below all you do to amplify the sound from your device is simply set it into the shell like frame and listen as the sound comes out the larger opening.

All of the Simply Amplified speakers are designed to look fashionable on any table or shelf where they’ll pull double duty as wireless, non electric amplifiers and as conversation pieces.

Simply Amplified calls their amplifiers Symphony Shells and we really haven’t seen a product quite like it. But what does it sound like? It was just as clear as some of the BlueTooth connected speakers we saw on the main show floor at the LVCC.

Check out our video interview below.

Do you have your ticket for the largest startup conference in the U.S.?

We Found A Morphing Tactile Keyboard Startup At Eureka Park CES 2013

Tactus, California startup, tactile keyboard, startup,startups,startup interviewA startup in California is working on getting their technology implemented into smartphones at the OEM level. They report that we should see their Tactus product on smartphones soon. So what does it do?

Tactus is a morphing tactile keyboard that literally just pops out of the phone. We’re not talking about some cheesy slide out qwerty keyboard or any kind of hardware accessory. As you’ll see in the almost unbelievable video, the keyboard just morphs right onto the screen.

In the interview the Tactus representative says that their CEO was inspired by Steve Jobs because he refused to switch to a Blackberry or other smartphone with keyboard built in.

Tactus’ technology is called “Microfluid technology” which makes the keyboard rise out of the screen and then when you’re done with it, it disappears as quickly as it appears. Our co-founder and CEO Nick Tippmann got a chance to play with it during this interview and said it was nothing short of amazing.

The startup showed it off to the TechCrunch crowd at their booth in the parking lot of the convention center where Matt Burns reports that it was the most popular demo during the entire show, stealing the thunder away from the likes of the Pebble Watch, Oculus Rift and Razer Edge.

TechCrunch called it “the future” and we’d have to agree. Check out the video below:

Want to see something else amazing, check out the largest startup conference in the country, everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference.

Tony Hsieh Considering ZBoards For Downtown Project? Check Out Their Pitch! CES 2013

Zboard, California startup,startup, Tony Hsieh,Downtown Project, las vegas, CES 2013The problem is simple, you want to get from point A to point B and the distance is just a little too far to walk, and a little too close to drive. Sure you can take a bike but then you need to worry about keeping your bike safe, and the fact that you could work up a little sweat and soil your clothes for the rest of the work day.

California startup Zboard has the answer. Zboard is an electric skateboard that works fundamentally the same way a regular skateboard does. Well at least it kind of sort of looks like a regular skateboard.

The Zboard seems to be powered by the same kind of technology that Segway’s use by moving your body forwards and backwards or leaning.

If you lean forward while riding the Zboard it speeds up and goes forward. You can move your feet, applying pressure to the left and right sides to make the Zboard turn. It also comes with a brake that will stop you when you lean back.

It’s a new wave of hipster transportation. So cool in fact that Zappos CEO and Downtown Project founder Tony Hsieh hinted in a fireside chat at CES that he may be considering getting Zboards for the downtown Las Vegas community. For Hsieh, the Zboard answers the question “How do you connect where you don’t need a car, possible electric boards that are electric”.

Check out Zboard’s pitch from the Launch.It event at CES 2013.

Is your startup in the Startup Village at everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference, find out more here about the biggest startup conference in the U.S.

CES 2013: Inventor Jamie Siminoff Creates Christie Street, Crowdfunding For Inventors, VIDEO

ChristieStreet,California startup,startup,startup interview, CES 2013When inventor Jamie Siminoff turned to Kickstarter for his latest invention he started realizing how flawed the Kickstarter model really was for inventors creating great products. Often times he noticed that inventors weren’t thinking the entire process through.

In an interview at CES 2013 with nibletz.com Siminoff told us that inventors sometimes go to Kickstarter with a great idea and a funding goal that barely covers cost. Their ideas get quickly validated by folks who oversubscribe on their project, but at the end of the day they go in the hole by netting down less than it costs to even make a product.

Other inventors may take a prototype product to Kickstarter that they had made at one factory but don’t take into consideration the factories that they may actually use when trying t scale a product up.

That’s why he created ChristieStreet, a crowdfunding site that is about inventors and their products. ChristieStreet uses a familiar crowdsourcing model once projects go live, however the team at ChristieStreet vets out the product answering questions like those above. Siminoff has real discussions with inventors before letting their projects go live, and even offers advice to young entrepreneurs with a great idea, on how to make the idea even greater and less costly.

To that end there are currently just three projects on ChristieStreet and each one has it’s own “cool” and “wow” factor.  Right now there’s a wireless doorbell with camera that allows the user to view who’s at the door on their smartphone. They also have a bluetooth product that’s a headset with cool shapes like a skull and crossbones. The final project right now is a Powerbag type backpack on steroids complete with the capability of charging three devices at once, one of them being a laptop.

Siminoff says anyone with an actual invention can apply to ChristieStreet. In fact, in the video interview below he says how easy it is to get the product submitted and looked at. Siminoff and his team have seen their share of winners but also their share of products that most likely won’t make it out of the lab.

Check out our video interview from CES 2013 below.

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Revestor Is Simplifying Real Estate For Investors On The Web And Mobile

If you’re in the market to buy or sell your home in a traditional way there are plenty of resources for you. When it comes to mobile we immediately think of Zillow. On the web there’s hundreds of websites that will easily access MLS listings for you and make it easier for you to do  your own work on buying or selling your home before bringing a real estate agent into the mix.

For those looking to buy or sell real estate as investors though, the tools are quite limited.

San Diego startup Revestor is all about real estate from the investors perspective. The tools out there today allow investors to sift through hundreds of thousands of listings but they don’t take into consideration the important information for investors when it comes to looking for the best deals.

“Revestor is a multidimensional patent-pending real estate search engine that finds homes-for-sale by the highest potential cash flow based on the average rents in the area. Revestor can be accessed for free on the web or on the iPhone as a free App. Our goal in 2013 is to be the #1 ‘must have’ tool for real estate investors and real estate agents who work with real estate investors. Revestor solves one of the hardest problems in real estate investing: finding deals in the first place. Instead of spending hours sifting and sorting through multiple websites and archaic spreadsheets, Revestor does all the heavy lifting by presenting potential listings/opportunities to our users so they can go out and do their due-diligence. We simply give investors and agents a better place to start from. Users can expect User Profiles, Foreclosure Auctions, Advanced Searching, Alerts, and Advertising to be released in 2013.” Founder & CEO Bill Lyons told us in an interview.

We talked in depth with Lyons about Revestor, check out the interview below.

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Startup Weekend Company Breadcrumbs, Lets You Know Where You’ve Been

Breadcrumbs, San Diego startup,California startup,Startup Weekend, startup interviewA San Diego startup, called Breadcrumbs is helping people keep track of where they’ve been using their smartphone. It’s like automated checking in but could be more useful later on. Maybe you want to keep a journal of the places that you’ve been. Perhaps the next time you’re in a city or town you want to easily be able to recall a place you ventured into on your last trip. We travel so much around here that it’s easy to mistake some downtown areas with others.

Breadcrumbs is innovating at the EvoNexus incubator in San Diego, alongside other great startups like Nulu Languages, TomNod, Antengo, Barc, and Fashinoning Change. The company also received a $50,000 seed investment from Qualcomm Labs.

Breacrumbs is another success story out of Startup Weekend. Founder Joel Drotleff had pitched the original idea at San Diego Startup Weekend, citing the fact that he could never remember how long he spent at the dog park. The other co-founders joined him for the weekend project and now today they have a product in the Google Play store for Android and the iTunes App store.

Breadcrumb’s Sean Dominguez told nibletz in an interview:

“It’s a pretty cool story. We all met at Startup Weekend San Diego back in June when Joel, our CEO, pitched an idea for creating a self-tracking application since he never knew how long he was spending at the dog park. We all thought it was a cool idea, joined the team for the weekend, and ended up taking the Qualcomm sponsored prize that weekend – as well as another prize at Qualcomm’s event Uplinq two weeks later.”

Obviously they caught the most important eyes at Qualcomm who has continued to support the venture. We got a chance to have a more in-depth discussion with Dominguez check out the rest of the interview after the break.

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