GripeO Launches Web & Mobile App to Help You Complain Effectively


customer complaint

A couple of years ago, my husband and I were planning a trip to New York City so he could run the NYC marathon. Thanks to his coaching job requiring him to be at a meet the day before the race, we didn’t get to make our normal trek 2 days early. We were going to be right up to the wire.

incontent3Then, early in the week of the race, Hurricane Sandy hit. Lots of back and forths between the mayor and New York Roadrunners Association, but the race was finally cancelled late Friday night, the day before we were supposed to leave.

“But, there was a hurricane in New York, maybe you heard about it,” my husband protested to the airlines as we asked for a refund.

I took to Twitter, complaining and hastagging the appropriate companies. Eventually, they did the right thing and refunded the cost of our flights. I’d like to say my complaints on Twitter did something to help that, but let’s be real. I was just one person complaining on Twitter that night.

New complaint platform GripeO is looking to change that.

Launched out of beta last week, GripeO lets customers post their customer service complaints on the platform, then notifies the companies that a customer has an issue. Businesses can verify with GripeO and take care of the problem right there.

Why not just continue to complain on Twitter?

“The effectiveness of complaint management on Twitter is vastly over rated for both consumer and business,” GripeO CEO Mike Klanac told me.

So, the make it better, GripeO allows customer to post their complaints on the site, but then share them socially so their friends see them, too. Customers can create a “meme” of the complaint, and the platform suggests hashtags and structure to help the complaint go viral.

No company wants that, y’all. Companies that choose to verify on the platform can avoid that awkwardness and potential PR issue by mediating with the customer right on the site.

While the company is not yet generating revenue, they plan to make money by selling leads, premium tools, and intelligent advertising. In their beta, they tested with 200 users and 4 companies, and they’ve currently signed up a few more big companies since launch.

GripeO is live now, so if you have a complaint you can check it out on their website.

New York’s General Assembly Closing Co-Working Space

General Assembly, New York startups, coworking, 1776General Assembly has become one of the benchmarks for coworking, startup, and incubation space. They just recently expanded to Washington, DC in a partnership with 1776 in which they will offer classes, information sessions, and other startup support resources.

What started as a place to “support the growing NYC startup community,” has expanded to becoming a “global educational institution that has helped empower nearly 70,000 to pursue the work they love,” General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz posted on their blog.

When they originally opened three years ago, they had no idea GA would become what it is today.

“Over the past two and a half years, our community has grown much larger than our amazing co-working members.  It now encompasses the tens of thousands of students who’ve come through our doors and the more than 3,000 alumni of our long-form courses, not to mention the hundreds of instructors and the 2,000 hiring partners who come to GA in search of top talent.  Similarly, support once meant desks and space, but has come to also mean instruction, opportunity and talent for our students and hiring partners,” Schwartz said.

The crew at General Assembly has decided that their higher calling will become the focus of their efforts going forward in 2014. They will convert the space they use for coworking in New York City to expand their events, career fairs, hackathons, fireside chats, panels and other educational resources for startups and entrepreneurs.

Over the past few years Schwartz and the team at General Assembly have seen the explosion of coworking spaces across New York City and other regions across the world.

In Washington DC, for instance, General Assembly’s focus is with education and community events while 1776 houses the coworking space. Models like this are why GA is confident that this is the right move for them at their flagship location.

General Assembly has set up a transition team of sorts to make sure that their coworking members are able to find similarly priced space with the same services that GA provided for coworkers. Of course those members will still participate in the other community building efforts that General Assembly is offering.


Dogfish Accelerator For Film Makers Announced At Sundance

Dogfish Accelerator, Dogfish Pictures, New York startups, film maker accelerator, Indie Film acceleratorWith all this talk lately about “catfish”, it’s only appropriate that we report on Dogfish, a new accelerator launching in New York for film makers. For starters we love the idea of attaching the accelerator model to independent film.

We’ve seen the success of a cohort based accelerator in the medical device field with ZeroTo510. One of the biggest reasons that the program was so successful was that Seed Hatchery,brought the tech-startup based acceleration model to a bunch of scientists and doctors. To most folks, scientists and doctors speak an entirely different language. That makes it almost impossible for a great medical device idea to get traction and interest among traditional investors. VC’s and angels prefer to invest in things that they either understand or can learn to understand.

The same holds true about creatives. Film makers are often die hard creatives and extremely passionate about their work. Most investors would love to invest in a movie, or independent film but there is a disconnect between Hollywood and Wall Street. That’s why New York based Dogfish Pictures has launched the new accelerator.

Creative, often left brained, geniuses will get the chance to cowork with other like minded individuals and at the same time they’ll have access to mentors, investors and industry contact that they wouldn’t already have access to.

The program is founded by James Belfer and Michelle Soffen of Dogfish Pictures. Belfer is hoping to turn film makers into successful entrepreneurs.

“At the end of the day, James and I are doing this because we love independent film and want to be a part of the solution to the many problems our industry faces,” added Soffen. “While there are no quick fixes we do know that the only way to address these hurdles is as a community.”

Belfer actually worked at the Techstars program last year, which is one of the reasons they decided to do this program at Dogfish and take the best parts of the tech startup cohort based accelerator.

Applying best practices from the tech industry, Dogfish Accelerator offers a combination of funding, business training, coaching and access to a large network of resources and vendor perks.

Each Dogfish Accelerator Program participant gets US $18,000 as a team in seed funding along with free office space, production resources from Dogfish’s partners, and most importantly, access to industry mentors and investor groups who provide coaching for business strategy and team management.

The accelerator program will be funded by the Dogfish Pictures Film Fund II. To be launched later this year, this new fund will provide equity financing to independent filmmakers who have demonstrated their ability to make creative films while using sound business practices. In addition, a portion of the Fund will be made available to provide follow-on equity financing to Dogfish Accelerator teams that successfully complete the program.

Mentorship is a vital aspect of the Dogfish Accelerator program, which promotes openness and community building.

The company connects production teams with experts from all parts of the film industry, including finance, production, distribution, marketing and sales. In addition, Dogfish Accelerator is bringing in innovative thinkers from outside of the film industry, such as technology and branding experts, to stimulate new approaches.

The Dogfish accelerator program will take place in the summer of 2013 in New York City. Applications are being accepted now.

They already have a list of who’s who in New York and the independent film scene that’s committed to participating in the program.

Belfer got to present the program at the Innovator’s Brunch as part of the Sundance Film Festival today.

You can find out more about Dogfish here.

You can find out more about the Global Accelerator Network and hundreds of startups and entrepreneurs at The Startup Conference. 



Obama Staffer Selected To Run Lerer Ventures SoHo Tech Labs

Ashley Arenson, Lerer Ventures, Soho labs, New York startups

Ashley Arenson working the phones at the Obama headquarters (photo:

Tech bloggers, political bloggers and journalists alike have been praising the 2012 Obama campaign team. Countless articles have reiterated the fact that the Obama tech team was more prepared, thorough and ready to win than their counterparts at the Romney campaign.  To win this election technologists and politicos alike needed precise coordination and to remain on the same page at all times.  Ashley Arenson was one of those Obama staffers that did just that.

According to Allthings D, Arenson served as a conduit between the technologists and the veteran politicos. “Day in and day out, the job was to identify challenges, and identify people who could help me solve them” Arenson told AllThings D. Obviously she played in important role in the grand scheme of things.

In most positions when you’ve achieved your work place objectives you’re promoted, praised or given a raise. For Obama 2012 staffers, a win (or a loss for that matter), meant they needed to find another job. Arenson was able to do that with Lerer Ventures.

Lerer Ventures is the seed stage venture capital firm based in New York City and founded by Ken Lerer who’s credits include being a co-founder of The Huffington Post. Lerer’s son Ben is a partner in the firm and is the cofounder of his own successful startup, Thrillist.

Lerer Ventures has tapped Arenson to serve as the General Manager at their in-house incubator, Soho Tech Labs. Arenson is going from her position at the campaign as “Director of Integration and Innovation” to a position that’s actually somewhat similar at Soho Labs.

In her role at Soho Labs Arenson told AllThings D that her task is to help would-be entrepreneurs get their projects ready to ship and ready to raise a seed round. She’ll also connect entrepreneurs to Lerer Ventures network of resources which include some of the biggest names in the New York tech and startup scene.

To date Soho Labs has launched Rebel Mouse, CasaHop and Emogo with plenty more in the pipeline. The Startup Conference is the largest startup conference in the U.S. with over 2000 tickets sold and 100 startups in the startup village, more info can be found here.

New York Startups GroupMe and Groupie In Legal Battle, This Gets Confusing

Last year a little known group messaging startup called Groupie filed a lawsuit when it’s similarly named competitor started blowing up. If you remember back to last summer, Group messaging startup, with a lot more flair, GroupMe was acquired by Skype.

If you haven’t heard of Groupie that’s no surprise. The iPhone only group messaging platform had 60,000 users for about a million messages per day. GroupMe on the other hand has 4.6 million users who send over half a billion messages per month. GroupMe also just released no features surrounding events. What’s better than to pair a group messaging app with events you do in groups.

Fresh on the heels of GroupMe’s acquisition last August, Groupie quickly went to work suing GroupMe around trademark allegations. According to BetaBeat Groupie filed for their trademark back in 2009. That seems straight forward but in reality it looks like Groupie got a little jealous of it’s competitors success.

Betabeat reports that last years Groupie vs GroupMe lawsuit received a little bit of coverage from the likes of GigaOM, SAI and themselves. GigaOM’s piece got picked up by the Wall Street Journal, and then the lawsuit went quiet.

We’re not clear on why it’s been 11 months for this suit to resurface but GroupMe went back into court on July 11th and filed suit against Groupie. GroupMe is looking for declarations from the court that there is “no likelihood of confusion” between GroupMe’s mark and the Groupie mark. GroupMe is also looking for the court to declare that they have not violated any mark of Groupie’s.

Betabeat wasn’t able to get a statement from GroupMe and of course Groupie was more than willing to talk. Here’s what they said to Betabeat:

“This newly filed action is just the latest volley in an ongoing trademark dispute rooted in the confusing similarities between Groupie’s pre-existing, validly registered trademark “Groupie” and the nearly identical Groupme name. Groupie initially filed an Opposition Proceeding against Groupme before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in July of 2011 (Groupie LLC v. Groupme Inc., TTAB Opposition No. 91200478). Groupie’s Opposition Proceeding seeks to protect its trademark by preventing Groupme from registering the confusingly similar “Groupme” mark. Not only do ”Groupie” and “Groupme” look and sound the same, the two companies’ products are virtually identical and are distributed through the same channels of commerce, thus causing ongoing consumer confusion. Additionally, the evidence will show that Groupme’s claim for cancellation of Groupie’s valid trademark is a late pursued theory premised on the illogical conclusion that the trademarked brand ”Groupie” is a generic term. Groupie is confident that claim will be summarily rejected. In short, Groupie has been vigorously fighting to protect its trademark in the Opposition Proceeding and will do the same in the newly filed action.”

When you consider all the facts it’s hard to say who is right and who’s wrong. Groupie did start out three years before GroupMe however GroupMe is much more successful. Groupie may have wanted to protect their idea, and name but now it does just look like they’re going after deep pockets. It’s really up for a judge to decide.  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.



More on GroupMe here

Source: Beatbeat

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NY Startup: Emotish Lets You Share Pictures With Emotion INTERVIEW

Emotish is a new mobile app startup in New York City. They’ve taken a twist of the standard photo sharing app and added an element to it that makes this app special. The element is emotion.

With Emotish you take photos of yourself or you and your friends and you can tag it with what you’re feeling at the time and then share it via Facebook and Twitter.  Users will soon be able to keep tabs on the photos and tags and see what feelings are trending, how everyone was feeling in a given area, favorite photos and contextual tags.

Emotions bring a whole new life into photo sharing. Instagram is great with it’s filters and likes but with Emotish not only will you see photos and a smile but you’ll have a better context of what the smiles about, or even what the long face or frown is about.

What makes Emotish even cooler is this isn’t just about great coders or a cool mobile app development startup. Emotish Co-Founder Ryan Wegner is actually a PhD candidate in the clinical psychology program at Columbia University. So like Smurks in Chicago, there is actual real psychology behind this app and what emotion brings to the table in people’s every day lives, in context and in photos.

We got a chance to talk to Wenger in between saving the world and developing great apps, check out the interview below:

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