Rovio’s Angry Birds Makes Another Move Towards Disney [sxsw]

Rovio’s Peter Vesterbacka and me at Rovio’s SXSW party (photo: NMI 2013)

Three years ago when we first met Rovio’s chief marketing eagle, Peter Vesterbacka, and he was talking about Angry Birds toys, balloons, books, restaurants, airplanes and tv shows, we thought he was nuts.

The following year when we saw him at the launch of AngryBirds Space at SXSW12 his vision was coming together. We had seen him speak throughout the course of the year as Angry Birds became more than a household name. At an event in Hong Kong Vesterbacka was talking about how they had to rip off the rip offs to keep up with the phenomena of Angry Birds merchandise.

Angry Birds, Angry Birds Toons, Rovio,startup,Finnish, Finland, SXSW,SXSWi,SXSW13At South By South West this year we got a chance to talk with Vesterbacka and Mack McKelvey a mobile marketing expert and consultant to Rovio. She told us that the company had recently taken over several McDonald’s restaurants in China and launching a separate game called Angry Birds McDonalds.

In the midst of all the startup and PR hype at SXSW, Rovio Entertainment hosted a swank pool party high atop Austin Texas. This time though they weren’t introducing the next wave of the game. They were talking about bigger and better. They were launching a new cartoon and media network that would stream through the Angry Birds apps. They also launched the Angry Birds network with several cable operators.

The apps alone give the Angry Birds network access to over 1.3 billion users (with a B).

The Angry Birds network will feature original content centered around the game characters. You can watch the Angry Birds network on the most recent versions of the game and on select cable operators.

You can find out more here.

Check out more of our SXSW coverage here.

EdTech Startup MatchBox Lets Colleges Manage Applications On An iPad, SXSWedu Pitch Video,Startup,Boston startup,EdTech startup,SXSW,SXSW13,SXSWeduStephen Marcus, the founder and CEO of Matchbox has created a product that colleges and universities are quickly adopting and loving. Matchbox is a complete solution that allows admissions staff to manage the applications process via an ipad app.

“For us, using Matchbox was a no brainer,” said Sundar Kumarasamy, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at the University of Dayton, in a prepared statement released by the company. “Matchbox provides us with an intuitive solution that empowers our readers to give each applicant the critical attention they deserve while saving us countless hours in the process.” EdTech times reported last July.

Matchbox and their new and innovative way to handle admissions, made it to the finals in the higher ed category at the LAUNCHedu startup showdown as part of SXSWedu earlier this week.

Although SpeakingPal was the ultimate winner in the HigherEd category, Mathbox still beat out 10 other high caliber startups targeting college students and educators.

Check out their pitch video from the finals on Wednesday afternoon. For more info on Matchbox and how it can help your admissions process, visit

Check out more of our SXSW 2013 coverage here

Baltimore Startup Common Curriculum Has Disrupted Curriculum Writing [SXSW]

Common Curriculum,EdTech startup,Baltimore startup,LAUNCHedu,SXSWedu,sxsw,sxsw13Teachers write between 200-800 lesson plans per year based on how many unique courses they teach. This was a major pain point for educators. Often times they would want to take one lesson and take part of it and incorporate it into another. This would be great if they could easily put their hands on that file.

In 2009 Baltimore math teacher Scott Messinger became fed up with the old way of planning curriculum. EdTech was poppin up everywhere at the student level, yet teachers were still writing lesson plans in Microsoft Word, or the old fashioned way, by hand.

Messinger taught himself to code over the next three years and started building what became Common Curriculum. According to whatweekly, in 2011 Robbie Earle joined Messinger as co-founder, after Education Hack Day.

They launched Common Curriculum back in August and this week they were a finalist at LAUNCHedu as part of SXSWedu.

We got a chance to catch up with Earle. Check out our video interview below.

Check out more of our SXSW 2013 Coverage here at

We Kicked Off The SXSW ATX Startup Crawl At Ordoro (Video) [SXSW]

Ordoro,ATX Startup Crawl,SXSW startup crawl,sxsw,sxsw13Ordoro is an e-commerce business owners dream. Their suite of tools to help e-commerce professionals who actually ship products help save time and increase the bottom line.

Nibletz co-founder and CEO Nick Tippmann, owned an e-commerce business as a junior and senior in high school that made over six figures in his senior year, not too shabby for selling electronics out of his parent garage. When we first arrived at Ordoro and found out what they were all about Tippmann admitted he really could have used that in the early part of the 2000s.

The Austin based startup raised $1.2 million dollars in a Series A round last summer. A huge feat for a startup that was passed up for Capital Factory. reports that it’s no loss though because Capital Factory founders Joshua Baer and Bill Boebel participated in the round.

We started our trek on the ATX SXSW Startup Crawl at Ordoro and it was a pleasure meeting co-founders Jag Narayan and Naruby Schlenker.  Schlenker took a few minutes with us to tell us all about Ordoro and how to say it like an Italian.

Check out the video below and for more visit

We’ve got a ton of SXSW 2013 coverage here.

Clever Wins The K-12 Category At LAUNCHedu, SXSWedu With This Pitch

Clever,EdTech,startup,startup pitch,sxswedu,sxsw13,sxswClever, a platform that connects educational software providers with legacy Student Information Systems, has already caught the eye of major venture capitalists. Back in October, after completing the summer round at Y-Combinator, they raised $3 million dollars from some of the tech world’s elite venture capitalists including SVAngels, Google Ventures, Bessemer and Mitch Kapor of Kapor Capital.

While getting into Y-Combinator, graduating and raising a big round of funding are all great, Wednesday night at SXSWedu they were crowned K-12 champions of the LAUNCHedu startup showdown. This award is better than your average pitch competition because it’s an award from their peers and their user base, educators.

What began as a simple idea for a simple, yet aggravating problem, eventually prompted founders Dan Carroll, Tyler Bosmeny and Rafael Garcia to quit their jobs and pursue this opportunity full time.  Another startup called LearnSprout is attacking the same problem, and a Startup Weekend EDU startup, Student Dash, attempted it but had to abandon the project because founder Kevin Tame didn’t have time to continue. Tame was featured in the recent Startup Weekend EDU movie.

Clever has already received major traction and is building scale at a quick rate. Carroll said in his Wednesday pitch that the startup had already been deployed in 3,000 schools and has over 1 million student users.  They also have over 40 paying app customers who pay them to access their platform.

Check out Carroll’s winning pitch video below:

More SXSW 2013 coverage here at  

EdTech Startup SpeakingPal Pitches At LAUNCHedu Part Of SXSWedu [sxsw]

speakingpal,startups,edtech,sxswedu,sxsw13,sxswNowadays people don’t have time for long tail language speaking courses like Rosetta Stone. Not only that but most courses, like Rosetta Stone, teach their students in just about the same manner you would learn a foreign language in high school.

SpeakingPal, an Israeli startup, is actually more successful because the platform teaches English in a more natural format.

SpeakingPal is a web based platform and also a mobile app platform that let’s the user engage with video content and actually have a “conversation” with the virtual instructor.

The guys at SpeakingPal actually ended up winning the highered category at LAUNCHedu as part of SXSWedu.

Check out their pitch below:

Check out more of our SXSW13

coverage here

Chicago EdTech Startup ThinkCerca Pitches At SXSWedu

ThinkCerca,Chicago startup,EdTech,startup,startups,starup video

ThinkCera founder Eileen Murphy Buckley pitches at SXSWedu (photo: NMI 2013)

50 years ago, a student challenging a teacher would be cause for a good paddle beating or wrapping on the students fingers with a ruler. Today, not so much.

Argumentation is now at the core of the new  Common Core State Standards, and distinguished Chicago educator, Eileen Murphy Buckley, understands that with a passion. As the former Director of Curriculum and Instruction for over 100 Chicago Public Schools,  Buckley oversaw the implementation of this kind of curriculum system wide.

Now she’s turned these important fundamentals into ThinkCerca a platform that helps build students critical thinking ability.

With argumentation we’re not talking abut back talking the teacher, Buckley and progressive educators worldwide are teaching students how to create valid arguments about everything built on five principles; claim, evidence, reasoning, counter argument and audience.

“ThinkCERCA is harnessing the unique combination of deep subject area knowledge, hard-earned, pedagogical design skill, and research-based expertise to build a marketplace that will give school districts economic access to the world’s largest selection of high quality literacy lessons. Unlike a the limited selection available in a static textbook, our dynamic marketplace will offer a distribution channel for expert teachers to refresh and deepen the lesson library in ways that both students and teachers find valuable.” Buckley wrote in a guest post to Chicago based Technori.

ThinkCera made it to the final round in the LAUNCHedu startup showdown as part of SXSWedu in the K-12 category.

Check out their pitch below:

 SXSW team coverage from can be found here.

instaGrok Is A New Way To Learn, And It Works! SXSWedu Video Interview

instagrok,EdTech startup,startups,startup interview,sxswedu,sxsw13,sxswWhen I first sat down with Andrew Bender, President and CEO of instaGrok I was mesmerized at what I saw. I originally though that a “research engine” would be boring, or at best a fancy way to say search engine, and Google has determined we don’t need anymore of those.

Once Bender took me through a demo I wished that instaGrok was around when I was in school. I told Bender that I am a very visual person. I “white board” just about everything, drawing webs, flowcharts and arrows all over the place.  Well instaGrok takes whatever your researching and visually shows the user how things are connected.

Bender showed me two examples. The first was gravity. As you can see from the grok above gravity is connected to Einstein, equation, orbit, object, universe, scientists, force, astronaut, and Newton. When you’re on the instaGrok site if you click on any of the circles another web appears showing how the connections are connected to other things.

On the right side bar instaGrok connects the user to key facts, websites, videos, images, quizzes and a glossary. Now the user is connected to mountains worth of research in a very easy to understand and navigate UI. If a user was actually working on a research paper about gravity they could pin anything from the right hand columns directly into the grok.

The other topic we looked at was “Brown v Brown” and a user built grok. This grok features a bunch of links that the creator has added, or pinned, to it with the information they need.

You don’t need to register for instaGrok, but if you do you can save the groks you create for as long as you would like.

We got a chance to interview Bender at the LAUNCHedu showcase as part of SXSWedu. Check out the video interview below:

 Check out instaGrok here

Here’s more of our SXSW13 coverage at

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

We’ve got more SXSWedu coverage here.

Startup Weekend Education Movie Debuts At SXSWedu

sxswedu,startup weekend edu,startup weekend,startup weekend movie,sxsw,sxsw13

(l to r: Chapman Snowden (Kinobi/Startup Weekend EDU), Adam Stelle (COO Startup Weekend), Vinny Verma (1887 Films) photo: NIM 2013)

Startup Weekend Education is a 54 hour long event that utilizes the same startup hacking weekend format that traditional Startup Weekend events use. They’ve been held all over the country, including Silicon Valley, New York, DC, and Florida. There have also been several successful Startup Weekend Education events overseas.

The movie, produced by Vinnny Verma of 1887 films, chronicles Startup Weekend Education events in Silicon Valley and New York City.

In New York, the focal point is Kevin Tame, who taught 8th grade math at Booker T Washington middle school in Baltimore Maryland. The idea for his startup Student Dashboard, is that kids don’t like to spend time logging into all the various apps and platforms they need for school.

Tame felt that if he could simplify the process he would give back a much needed commodity, time, and not only to the students but the teachers as well.

On the west coast the film turns to Rob Schwartz a 16 year educator and principal. His problem was that students and teachers need better ways to produce and consume content. His startup, MySciHigh went on to win the Silicon Valley event and is now in 35 schools across the country.

The movie was screened as part of the SXSWedu event at the legendary Alamao Draft House and Theater.

Startup Weekend’s COO Adam Stelle, Verma and Chapman Snowden of Kinobi and Starutp Weekend Edu all participated in a panel discussion after the viewing.

One thing that caught my eye was during the film Tame had said that he had gone to the NY event only to work on his project and didn’t want to work on any other project. This actually goes against the grain of traditional Startup Weekend events. We’ve been to over 60 Startup Weekend’s and at those events entrepreneurs are encouraged to stay and participate whether their idea is picked for building or not.

Stelle explained that at Startup Weekend Edu the hackers are actually teachers, and many come in specifically to get help “scratching their own itch.” Verma said that he had actually spent time contemplating this issue and went with it because if fit with Tame’s character.

Regardless, the movie was a great look at what happens when you get people together working on common problems.

“We’re too concerned about talking about the problem than real world action,” Tame said in the film in regards to teaching. He went on to say that at the Startup Weekend edu event people were talking about problems and solutions.

Tame’s team didn’t have a designer or a developer. Tame and a partner ended up hacking together the entire idea, and a pitch deck with one minute to spare.

Tame has transitioned from a Teach For America corps teacher to the organizations Director of Design and Technology, moving to this position in part because of his involvement with Startup Weekend edu.

The movie, which is finally edited down and ready to go, will be online and shown at several startup events across the country.

To find out more about how to host a Startup Weekend event in your city visit

Find more of our Startup Weekend coverage here.

Cristin Frodella Talks Google Science Fair At SXSWedu

google,sxswedu,sxsw13,sxsw,google science fairAs part of the programming in the Google Classroom at SXSWedu Google’s Cristin Frodella spent some time talking about the globally known Google Science Fair.

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google said it best last year when addressing a crowd about the Google Science Fair “We’re all scientists here.” Many of Google’s employees are engineers and scientists and spent many a day developing science fair projects to show off at school with a poster board and a cool experiment.

Through Google’s global reach, widely respected brand and technology Google has taken the science fair online and across the world. The contest, now headed into it’s third year, reaches high school aged students across the globe and brings the top 15 to Google’s campus to show off their world changing science experiments to a group of distinguished scientists and judges.

Of course the students also enjoy the thrill of being not only in Google’s campus but visiting surrounding science related places as well. Last year for instance, the students spent some time at the Tesla world headquarters.

Check out the video below where Frodella gives some background on The Google Science Fair.

We’ve got more from SXSWedu here.

Google Offers 3 Days of “Google In Education” At SXSW13

google,sxswedu,google education,sxsw13Educators, innovators and educational entrepreneurs have descended upon Austin Texas for sxswedu. This four day shoulder festival to SXSWi has doubled in growth every year since it’s debut in 2011.

This year Google has opened up Google School at the Austin Convention Center. At Google School teachers, educators and innovators can learn about Google in the classroom.

Google offers plenty of products for education. Here at the Google Classroom attendees can see how effective Google’s ChromeBooks can be for students in grades K-12 and Higher Ed.

Google is also offer round the clock programming (or classes) through Wednesday with topics that include Google Earth, 40 ways to use Google Apps in the Classroom, a Google Science Fair, Digital Literacy, Chromebooks in the classroom and much more.  You can find an entire list of the programming here at

I just enjoyed a class taught by Jordan Pedrazzo on using Google Apps in the classroom. The focus was on using GMail and also Google Groups as a way to communicate with students and parents. Google’s educational services are perfect for all types of students even those in alternative education.

Check our more of our SXSWedu coverage here.

See The Evolution Of SXSW In An Infographic

We’re gearing up to start covering SXSW on-site. Our coverage actually begins tomorrow at SXSWedu. The educational shoulder festival is gaining momentum and is now a full four days of programming. We’re covering SXSWedu and SXSWi this year. We’ve covered their other big shoulder event SXSWeco in 2011 and 2012.

This is my 12th year attending SXSW. It started for me as going for the music festival when I worked in radio. I’ve spent the last four years covering SXSW as a tech journalist, the last two as nibletz the voice of startups everywhere else.

SXSW began in 1987 as an alternative music festival. In it’s inaugural year there were 700 registered attendees. Last year the music festival portion of SXSW saw over 12,000 registered attendees and since 2010 SXSW interactive has drawn more attendees than the music festival. SXSW music is the largest festival of it’s kind with more than 2500 “official” performers and over 100 venues participating.

The team at activ8social, a creative marketing agency that specializes in social media put together an awesome infographic that shows how SXSW has evolved since 1987. They humbly suggest that the infographic is awesome and after checking it out, especially for along time attendee, I must concur.

The highlights of the infographic and activ8social’s research are:

  • Since 2010, SXSW Interactive has boasted more attendees than SXSW Music.
  • Most of the attendees of SXSWi are between the ages of 21-40.
  • More than 50% of the attendees work in creative or management.
  • People at SXSWi have deep pockets! A quarter of the attendees have a combined household income of $100,000-200,000.

Some of the biggest names in startups have launched at SXSW. Most notable are probably Twitter and Foursquare in the past few years. However, the 2006 SXSWi keynote panel included Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia and Craig Newmark the founder of Craigslist. The infographic also highlights Sarah Lacy’s biggest interview faux pax when in 2007 the audience turned on her while interviewing Mark Zuckerberg. In fact, her now good friend, contributor and confidant Paul Carr actually spoke very critically of her during that particular interview.


We’ve got more SXSW13 coverage for you here.

SXSW Virgins: Norfolk Startup VinylMint

Vinylmint,Virginia startup,norfolk startup,sxsw13This week starts our 12th South By Southwest, the last four have been spent as a tech journalist and before that I attended the music portion during my radio career. SXSW can be intimidating for a first timer, especially a first time startup, that’s why we’re featuring some great SXSW Virgins, seek them out, find out more about them and help them out if you can.

VinylMint is a cool startup in Norfolk part of the Hatch Norfolk accelerator program. As a startup in the music business, SXSW is two fold for them.

What is your startup?
Vinylmint has crowd-sourced the sound design and recording process and
organized a new marketplace for transactions between sound creators.

Where are you based?
Vinylmint is based in Norfolk, Virginia

What do you do?
Vinylmint is built for creative directors and musicians. Vinylmint delivers a contest
sourced pre-production utility for sounds for on-the-go users through both web-
and mobile-based apps. Vinylmint functions as the collaborative front-end for the
users to integrate apps that increase the speed of productivity, better organizes data
and social connections, and decreases the cost of production adding convenience to
the process overall.

Vinylmint meets the following needs of the creative directors:

Simplifies project management and centralizes communication with
freelance musicians to a reliable, standardized process
Creates a fixed cost in creative budgets by organizing an open-bid contest
system in a global community of talented, competitive musicians
Quick and endless access to a marketplace equipped with a variety of sounds,
effects, voiceovers, and translations from around the world
Digitizes the process of signing and submitting legal documents, which
streamlines transactions.

Vinylmint allows musicians to:

Socially connect with music talent around the world.
Rich, near-time collaboration
Simplicity and user friendliness
Mobility and portability
Introduces the music production process to the amateur musician
A low cost solution for cash strapped educational institutions

Is this your first time to SXSW?
This will be Vinylmint’s first time at SXSW.

What are your plans at SXSW?
Our plan is to connect with key tastemakers in the music and film business to
expose them to Vinylmint in unique ways. We will blend the use of Vinylmint in the
performances of some of the DJs in unique ways, so that they may test the product
and become product evangelist of the brand. SXSW’s Music and Film week presents
a premier opportunity to grow Vinylmint’s brand.

How can people connect:


Twitter: @vinylmint


Check out more of our SXSW 13 coverage here