On Monday morning Tom Stocky, Director of Product Management at Facebook, announced that the social networking giant had acquired Mobile Technologies, the Pittsburgh startup behind the app Jibbigo.
Jibbigo is an app with the kind of technology you’d think the NSA would be after. The app allows you to record someone talking in a foreign language and translates the voice snippet for you in both text and spoken word in the language selected. This is the kind of technology that everyone has wished they had at one time or another. You know, you’re riding the subway and you hear a loud argument in another language? Jibbigo is perfect for that.
Now obviously Facebook is going to use this technology for translating and speech recognition, but its specific uses have yet to be announced. What Stocky did say, by Facebook post of course, was “I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Mobile Technologies, a company with an amazing team that’s behind some of the world’s leading speech recognition and machine translation technology.”
Facebook already integrates Bing’s translation technology into news feeds and posts. Anthony Sarvas at ITProPortal speculates that they could use the technology for improving their mobile ad network and expanding a mobile ad campaigns reach.
The Pittsburgh-based team will relocate to Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. Terms of the deal were, of course, not disclosed.
“With this deal we will welcome some of the industry’s most talented people to our engineering teams in Menlo Park, California,” Stocky said in the Facebook post.
When companies put out white papers they are typically very proud of their work. A lot of research has gone into these papers, but in the end most of them are distributed freely via pdf. Some may view white papers as research tools, and a way to get a company’s name out there. Or perhaps white papers are used to thoroughly explore a new product. Either way, they are one of the most in-depth forms of content marketing, and these days content marketing is huge.
Outside of content marketing though, but still quite related, white papers can serve as an excellent lead referral source. The problem is most companies don’t know how to utilize the white papers for lead generation, thus leaving them undervalued.
“You would be surprised how few companies correctly leverage their whitepapers and research studies for new customer acquisition. These documents are valuable resources and while it’s OK to give them away as free PR, we feel a lot of consumer leads are being left on the table when a company simply links to the PDF for an instant download,” DocumentLeads founder Chris Cagle told us.
Cagle went onto explain, “If the value of the white paper is correctly explained and presented, many people will not even hesitate to give you their name and email in order to download it. This is where DocumentLeads comes in. While there are currently a few services out there that do this as part of a larger offering, DocumentLeads is the only company that focuses solely on allowing you to create a lead form for the sole purpose of capturing and nurturing leads off a digital document in a completely white-labeled environment. We’ve put all of our skill and attention on doing this one thing, and doing it very well. ”
Cagle is a Pittsburgh-based serial entrepreneur who had a string of misses before launching GetSimple CMS. Cagle used a lot of the knowledge he gained from building GetSimple CMS and put it into DocumentLeads.
Check out the rest of our interview with Cagle below.
What is your startup, what does it do?
DocumentLeads is a document management SaaS application. We give online businesses the ability to generate and capture leads directly from the downloads of their whitepapers and other digital documents. We have a built-in CRM management tool that allows customers to view and nurture the leads they capture. Additionally, if a customer of our service uses an outside CRM tool, we have integrations with some of the top online CRMs such as Nutshell, CapsuleCRM and Highrise as well as similar services like MailChimp.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds
DocumentLeads is a product and service created by Chris Cagle. Chris is a tech entrepreneur located in Pittsburgh, PA (USA) and has been creating products on the web for over 10 years. Chris got his start building a lot of online properties that no one used, then moved onto founding & developing one of the most successful lite-CMSs on the market currently – GetSimple CMS. While building GetSimple, Chris learned a lot about application security, great user experience and the downfalls of feature-bloat. All of these skills were used when creating DocumentLeads.
Where are you based?
We are based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is a budding tech town (because of all of our colleges) and is home to a rabid Black & Gold fan base for the Pirates, Penguins and Steelers.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?
The first and most important milestone we’ve achieved is our initial launch. Coming up for the idea for the business was easy (all ideas are born out of a need, right?), but executing on it was a multitude of difficulty more. There were some late nights, countless “how do we do this?” moments and plenty of code rewrites. In the end, we produced a service that we are extremely proud of and feel can make a difference for many businesses out there looking to take advantage of their digital documents.
What are your next milestones
Integrations. While we have a good stable of CRM integrations at this moment, we need more to make it as useful as possible. This means integrating with entrenched and enterprise-level products like Salesforce, ZoHo, Campaign Monitor and other big name CRM and email management products.
Who are your mentors and role models?
I, like many other self-started entrepreneurs, grew up reading blogs like RRW and Techcrunch. Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the blog and email newsletter of Patrick McKenzie. This guy is a genius (and extremely transparent!) on how to build, price and run your SaaS business. I have learned a lot from him, and would recommend anyone reading this to sign up for this “Grow your software business” email newsletter… it’s fantastic.
What’s next for your startup?
We need to grow. Period. We are still in our infancy (we officially launched only a few short months ago) and we need to grow in terms of customers and mature feature sets. We are constantly striving to harden and shape our business to be the best it can be, but we also recognize it can be a long process. Aside from the integrations we mentioned above, supporting our current customers and the ongoing marketing that needs to occur, our schedules are stacked full (just the way we like it!).
Where can people find out more, and what is your Twitter username?
You can learn more about DocumentLeads on our website Documentleads.com. Our Twitter handle is @documentleads and you will find us posting our product updates and news on there.
When we spoke with PayTango co-founder Brian Groudan at TechCrunch Disrupt he acknowledged how crowded the biometric mobile wallet space has gotten after their videos and pitch decks started popping up online. We talked about New Jersey startup PulseWallet, that we met at CES 2013 and Groudan pointed out another biometric mobile wallet startup that was also in the Startup Alley at Disrupt.
PayTango was one of the first in the space and for now they are focused on smaller networks where they can really get a feel for the technology and what it can do.
What is PayTango and a biometric wallet?
Well by now everyone has heard the term mobile wallet. We all know that you can use your NFC enabled phone and other forms of mobile commerce without having to bring credit cards along. What PayTango and other startups in their space hope to do, is to eliminate the wallet altogether and use your finger print as your wallet.
Using a biometric wallet is not just easier and more convenient but it’s a lot safer when it comes to fraud.
PayTango tested on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University and has also tested in some health clubs as well. While students who signed up for the beta can use their finger print to pay for meals, there’s also the capacity to store your entire academic history in the cloud, accessible by finger print.
While only saying that PayTango is looking at a lot of different uses, it’s easy to see that the team behind PayTango is looking at a much bigger picture than just syncing your American Express card with your index finger.
Groudan was actually excited about all the competitors in the space because it gives PayTango more market validation.
Check out our interview with Groudan below and for more info visit paytango.com
Pittsburgh entrepreneur and angel investor, Eric Silver, was in the Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 on Tuesday showing off his latest startup called WebKite. The idea behind WebKite is to aggregate data in a comparative analysis format enabling anyone who wants to create a site like kayak.com, do just that.
Silver and his team noticed the value in comparative data sites like Kayak but quickly realized there weren’t more of them because the back end coding and data aggregation is a long lengthy process. They’ve simplified that process by allowing anyone to create a comparative data site.
As Silver explains in the video below, the data can come from a variety of sources, API’s, spreadsheets and data scrapes just to name a few.
Once the data is put in it’s output is fully customizable, easily updatable and comparable. For the example at their Disrupt booth they showed off a site that compares juicers. With this particular “kite” when new juicers are added to shopping.com or Amazon.com they are automatically added to the juicer site.
It seems that Silver has found a hole and was willing to put his money where his mouth is. He is the principal with alt-capital which invests in early stage startups. He invested in ModCloth and has also founded a startup called Pikimal that has since pivoted to WebKite.
Pikimal is a decision making platform that makes fact based recommendations over a wide range of categories. The startup was growing fast, until the “Google Panda” changes back in February 2011 just about crippled it.
Silver, a Peace Corps alum, is a natural born problem solver who had the patience and foresight to solve his Pikimal problem. What he decided to do was pivot to offering the technology that Pikimal was built on, as a white label service, and eventually turning it into the WebKite product we saw at Disrupt.
It’s not sexy or a cool new social food restaurant finding comparison app in the cloud, but if Silver executes on this the way it looks, WebKite could be one of the biggest things to come out of TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013.
Check out our video interview with Silver below, you can check out WebKite here.
As the mobile wallet begins to catch on, the next wave of mobile wallet startups are starting to come alive as well. Back in January we interviewed New Jersey startup PulseWallet at CES 2013 in Eureka Park. There we learned that PulseWallet is working on biometrics to serve as someone’s mobile wallet.
Simply put, with this kind of technology you’ll be able to ditch your credit cards, debit cards, and loyalty cards. Instead, your finger will become your secure wallet. With a finger scan and a pin you’ll be able to pay for anything with any number of payment forms in a much safer, fraud resistant way.
PulseWallet isn’t alone. Biometrics is a hot space as is mobile wallet. Four Carnegie Mellon University students have also recently launched a biometrics based mobile wallet called PayTango.
According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, using PayTango a customer would swipe there finger and in less than 15 seconds they would be linked to their payment sources.
“We wanted to eliminate the need to carry anything around to identify yourselves. Like you have these plastic credit cards and if you lose them or get the numbers stolen off them, essentially someone could wipe your bank account,” said co-founder Kelly Lau-Kee.
Lau Kee says that credit cards are antiquated and haven’t really evolved in the last 40 years since their introduction. Yes security has gotten better and reconciliation is much more reliable with phone lines and the internet,but storing the information on the magnetic strip is still the same technology today as it was back in the 70’s.
PayTango was brewed in Pennsylvania. All four founders; Brian Groudan, Umang Patel, Christian Reyes and Lau-Kee, are all either seniors or recent graduates of Carnegie Mellon. They conceived the idea in the fall of 2012 for a TechLab startup course at CMU and then continued working on it during the University of Pennsylvania’s PennApps Hackathon.
The technology is currently up and running at three eateries on the Carnegie Mellon campus. For the live beta at CMU, over 700 students have registered their fingerprint which was linked to their student ID which has their meal plan attached. To eat at those eateries, students in the beta just swipe their finger at checkout.
Now they’ve relocated to Mountain View California after being accepted into the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program. They’ve already expanded PayTango into gyms, restaurants and convenience stores in Silicon Valley.
What they’re doing is bringing a very simple idea into reality,” said Garry Tan, a partner at Y Combinator. “Payments should be easier, and we’re now capable of doing it without fancy cards or readers or anything besides what we carry around with us all the time right now — our fingerprints.”
Comments Off on Popchilla The Robot For Autistic Children Shows Off At Eureka Park, CES 20130LikeLike 2,099
Raising children can be both hard and a blessing. Raising a child with autism is a lot more challenging. Autistic children often times have problems communicating even their simplest needs sometimes.
Parents of autistic children are constantly looking for “more tools to put in their tool chest” Michael Knight the founder of Popchilla, told nibletz.com in an interview.
Popchilla is a fun loving robotic stuffed animal that also has an app to go along with it. As an example Knight showed us a portion of the app where the Popchilla would tell the child to get his or her toothbrush and tooth paste from a virtual house on a tablet, and then brush Popchilla’s teeth.
Knight knew early on that Popchilla would be a success. His company used to make animatronic robots. He wold get questions from parents of autistic children all the time, asking when he was going to make a robot for them. He learned that sometimes children with autism actually interact better with robots rather than humans.
Popchilla was one of the most innovative things we saw at Eureka Park. Not only is Popchilla a cool robot, but when you couple that with the app you have a recipe for success, and definitely another tool for the tool chest.
Comments Off on Pittsburgh Startup Songwhale Born From Beowulf! INTERVIEW0LikeLike 1,940
A Pittsburgh startup with a funny name is engaging customers from brands across multiple touch points. SongWhale specializes in taking customer engagement to a new level using the web, text, pay and direct solutions.
The unique company offers multiple products to drive engagement and even a pay product of their own called PayWhale which offers the ability to text a payment. Paying via text is very popular in emerging countries but no one in the US has really embraced the technology. It’s actually one of the easiest ways to pay.
While interactive engagement may not seem sexy some of the things SongWhale is doing are. Not only that but the story about how Songwhale came about is one of the most interesting ones we’ve heard.
Songwhale’s four core business areas, Web, Text, Pay and Direct can be summarized like this:
Web: Songwhale can get a companies brand or message through the web on any screen; smartphone, tablet, or computer all optimized for each size.
Text: Songwhale offers engaging SMS campaigns including games, and interactives.
Pay: Songwhale’s Paywhale product offers a text payment solution that is possibly the easiest form of mobile commerce and one wildly adopted in emerging countries.
Direct: Songwhale offers direct branding and engagement campaigns that encompass web, text and pay solutions.
We got a chance to interview Songwhale. Check out the interview below:
Comments Off on Pittsburgh Startup Introduces PopChilla A Robot For Autistic Kids0LikeLike 1,278
A new Pittsburgh startup called Interbots has announced plans to unveil a new robot called Popchilla, at the Consumer Electronics Show ( CES) in January. While CES is usually riddled with robots that tackle all kinds of tasks, Popchilla is different.
The cute blue robot with bunny like ears is designed to help kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The folks at Interbots have designed Popchilla to be friendly, bright and inviting, all of which will provide a great stimulant to autistic children who sometimes prefer to interact with non humans over humans.
“Some autistic children are more willing to interact with robotic devices than humans. We want to use Popchilla to help those children with their social skills and interacting with real people,” says Interbots Chief Technical Officer Michael Knight.
In addition to bunny ears, Interbots also gave Popchilla a tail like a lion. Popchilla is able to make facial expressions when he’s happy. However, unlike other robots, Popchilla isn’t controlled by sensors, rather a therapist, parent or other care provider can manipulate or program Popchilla with a remote control or computer.
The ability to totally program Popchilla is one of the key elements to the therapeutic part of the robot. Interbots CEO Seema Patel told fastcoexist.com:
“Children with autism don’t react well to things that are unpredictable, and therapists prefer to use tools and technology that they have full control over,”
Interbots is also introducing an iPad game called Popchilla’s world which helps autistic children get over the fear of developing routines. They expect to debut the game and show off the robot at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January in Las Vegas.
Comments Off on Pittsburgh Startup: DuoLingo Raises $15 Million In Latest Round0LikeLike 801
Pittsburgh startup DuoLingo has just completed their latest round of funding to the best of $15 million dollars, rounding out a great week of funding for startups outside the valley.
DuoLingo isworking on a large scale crowd sourcing platform for language and translation. It was founded by Carnegie Mellon University Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Louis Von Ahn.
If Von Ahn’s name sounds familiar its because he is the same man behind Captcha the extra layer of privacy control used when logging into many websites. Captcha was eventually purchased by Google. Google uses the technology to help prevent computerized logins, but perhaps more importantly to verify addresses for Google Maps.
It’s that large scale verification that has been reworked and made into a platform to grow the largest translation database in the world.
Comments Off on Pittsburgh Startup: Grail Takes Alcohol Discovery Table Side, Interview0LikeLike 1,659
Last week we brought you an interview with New York Alcohol Discovery startup Drynk.me. They provide an app that makes it easy to discovery new alcoholic beverages, snap pictures, jot down ingredients, and share with friends. This week we have an interview with Pittsburgh startup RhoMania who have just released a new app called “Grail” to restauranteurs to help restaurant patrons with their alcoholic beverage selection.
Grail is available in an iPad and web app version which allows restauranteurs to have servers bring an interactive alcohol menu which highlights the selection on site at that restaurant and pairs beverages with the food on the menu. Grail serves as an interactive wine and cocktail list which can be much more robust than traditional two sheet lists.
Where Drynk.me is a consumer facing app, Grail is designed to be utilized by restaurants. The hope is that the app will help increase liquor and beverage sales.
We got a chance to talk with the team behind RhoMania and the Grail app. Check out the interview below
Pittsburgh startup DuoLingo has just announced a $3.3 million dollar round of funding led by Fred Wilson’s Union Square Ventures along with actor turned tech investor Ashton Kutcher.. This article in the Post Gazette said Kutcher made this investment personally and no reference is made to his VC firm A-Grade investments.
Kutcher is known to journey outside the borders of Silicon Valley with his tech investments. He heavily vets his investments for game changing technologies. Kutcher recently invested in Des Moines mobile payment startup Dwolla. Although Kutcher hails from the same area, it was more about the technology, and the entrepreneur rather than just being from the same area.
With DuoLingo it’s obviously about the technology and the work that scientist/co-founders Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker have put into the startup so far.
DuoLingo is a translation software. Although there are a few very technical articles about DuoLingo’s technology, to put it into layman’s terms DuoLingo provides a platform for real life translation. While Google translate can be great for a straight up word for word translation, DuoLingo and their algorithms translate pages on the internet, in a more “real world” conversational way.
When you’re doing the real-world stuff, such as reading a news report in German or French, you really feel like you’re accomplishing something,” von Ahn said in a press release. “It reinforces why you’re working to understand this new language.”
While DuoLingo is great for translation they also enter an element of education as well. As the Post Gazette explains:
Users can scroll over words if they need clues for their translations, and the program automatically detects blatant errors. The site also is designed to track words or concepts that give users trouble and to focus on those for future lessons.
The next phase of DuoLingo includes adding a document translator to it’s already existing web based platform for commercial uses. To get to this point DuoLingo used a pretty extensive beta testing process where von Ahn reports that the beta testers translated tens of millions of sentences.
By crowd sourcing the translations the software is able to pick up the most commonly used translations and achieve better accuracy.
Von Ahn is a 33 year old junior professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned the honor of A. Nico Habermann associate professor of computer science. That’s an honor given to a distinguished junior professor every three years.
If you think that you’ve heard von Ahn’s name before it’s because you probably have. In 2007 von Ahn created the puzzle identifying system Captcha, the system used to verify that a human is filling out most forms. He sold that company to Google for an undisclosed sum.
von Ahn’s other credits include inventing “human computation” which is a form of crowd-sourcing humans to help computers solve problems that are beyond the technology.
von Ahn said that his goal with DuoLingo is to form a universally readable internet.
Comments Off on Pittsburgh Startup: NoWait Is Kicks Restaurant Wait Times Ass0LikeLike 1,351
I like casual dining and I like chain restaurants. As you guys know we travel all the time, especially during our sneaker strapped nationwide startup road trip. Casual dining and chain restaurants save us time, and aggregation because I know what’s on the menu and what to expect.
One of the problems though is wait times. They vary from state to state and city to city. The way wait times are handled also varies from state to state, city to city and restaurant to restaurant. You may wait until your name is called over a PA system. You may have to wait until the host or hostess screams your name out loud. Or you may have to wait until the beeper/vibrator goes off in your pocket.
Here’s a scenario for you. You arrive at a nice casual dining restaurant or a chain, that’s in a nice big outdoor mall type shopping center. The Apple store is just across the parking lot, and too far for the restaurant pager to work. You want to go to the Apple store but you arrive at the restaurant at 7:25 and the Apple store closes at 9, oh well you’ll have to wait until another day.
Now imagine if the restaurant could automagically text you when your table is ready. Now you can go just about anywhere within reason, and wait for your table. Imagine if you could text the restaurant back and tell them you really need 20 more minutes.
All of this has become a reality thanks to Pittsburgh startup NoWait.
NoWait uses a system fueled by iPads and other iOS devices that keeps the host/hostess, managers, servers and customers in-sync thanks to the cloud. The host/hostess app has a very familiar feel to it, reminiscent of the paper, or white board systems that many restaurants have employed until now. But thanks to the power of Apple, the cloud and no wait, there’s a lot of back end functionality that maximizes convenience and time for the customer. Of course time is our most precious commodity.
This is the idea behind NoWait, founded by Robb Meyer, Luke Panza, Richard Colvin and James Belt.
Really it was all a matter of time before someone somewhere developed a system like this and, it happened to be these four guys, and according to their testimonial video it’s working out great. Their video includes feedback from managers of chains like the Spaghetti Warehouse and local favorites like Burgatory Bar in Pittsburgh.
Now of course we know that no startup is going to put bad testimonials into their video but the testimonials seemed authentic and there’s a lot of footage provided that shows active, busy restaurants utilizing the technology.
NoWait’s quick pitch is that they are the “Open Table” of casual dining. This seems like a good analogy but it may not necessarily do NoWait justice. Where OpenTable requires the adoption of the user themselves, NoWait brings to their technology to anyone who gets in line at the restaurant.
Now if you’re one of those people that doesn’t do texting, doesn’t have a text messaging plan or god forbid you don’t have a phone (chances are you aren’t reading this website), you can still have your name called and wait around the host stand. There won’t be a huge crowd waiting, everyone else will be out enjoying their evening until they get their text message.
One of our favorite sites, DailyDealMedia doesn’t quite understand how NoWait reduces wait time, so let’s explain it real quick.
Now using NoWait instead of pen and paper, you eliminate the messy writing that can mean you call Dan 100 times over the loudspeaker instead of Don. Dan and Don look a lot alike but tables are lost in this confusion. Now your hostess is explaining to Don why he lost his table, he’s upset, and the host staff is dealing with a situation, not calling tables.
Open tables (no pun intended) are stacking up in the back and now that there are 6 open tables in the restaurant it will actually take longer doing it the old fashion way because you can’t just walk a single file line through a restaurant and drop people off.
That’s just one example of how this decreases wait time.
Another way that it saves wait time is the ability to text back. Say I just got in a heated discussion at the Apple store and I tell the Spaghetti Warehouse I need 20 more minutes. They can now call the next person and bump me down.
Yes, NoWait is a great name for this innovative startup. I just hope they build scale quickly because waiting sucks.