Frequent Traveler Creates Siesta Pillow Startup In Los Angeles INTERVIEW

California based serial entrepreneur and frequent traveller Mark Hill is looking to re-invent the travel pillow. As we all know, most travel pillows are shaped like a U and designed to go around the neck. They are ugly, awkward and have no reasonable place to store them. When you travel with a travel pillow you’re locked into it’s clutches. For many it’s more discomforting that sleeping on a plane or train with no pillow at all, or worse, the “free pillow”.

So on a return flight from Hawaii one day Hill decided he was going to do something about it and did it.  Hill knows his market is ripe with over 730 million passengers who boarded domestic flights.

Hill’s pillow is different. He’s found, and many agree, that the most comfortable position to sleep on in a plane is leaning forward. This also goes for buses and trains as well. You pretty much rest your head in your hands or on the seat in front of you. This process can get complicated and uncomfortable for many reasons.

First off the person in front of you controls where their seat is positioned. They could, in mid flight, train ride or bus ride, decide to recline the seat or put it back to it’s upright position, which would discomfort you a great deal. Next, on a plane and some trains there is a tray table in front of you which means your forehead or the top of your head is vibrating against a large plastic or metal object, again not worth the pain that’s going to come from riding that way.

Hill’s pillow is designed to make that position comfortable and insures great rest while traveling. Hill is a serial entrepreneur who’s tried his hand at technology startups and hard goods including water bottles with removable bottoms. This latest invention/startup, Hill is confident will be a big winner.

Check out our interview with Hill below:

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Scottish Startup: Tummy With Mummy A Great Product For Tummy Time INTERVIEW

The first thing I thought when I heard the name of this Scottish startup is, what in the world is a Tummy With Mummy and what is Tummy Time. Well Tummy Time is the activity where babies essentially lay face down on the floor and scoot around on their tummy’s or play with toys in this position.

It turns out that Tummy Time is an essential part of the development of a baby’s motor skills and the most critical time for this to occur is between zero to 6 months.

Well sometimes Tummy Time doesn’t work out. Parents are often scared that the baby will hurt themselves on a hard wood floor and sometimes it doesn’t really look comfortable to see a new-born facedown, you worry if they are ok.

Tummy With Mummy is a patented product made by Scotish startup called TWM Productions.  Tummy with Mummy is a baby seat that allows baby’s to play in the Tummy position with a parent or loved one or by themselves. It keeps the baby’s in the best position for Tummy Time and then it folds completely flat for storage and to fit in the trunk of a car.

TWM Productions is actually part of the Entrepreneurial Spark program which provides resources to growing startups in the UK. Tummy With Mummy’s co-founder Dave Abrahams says that Entrepreneurial Spark actually instills North American values in some of the UK startups.

Check out our interview Abrahams below. He tells us all about this new startup that was actually followed by his mum and is now a family business.

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Contest: There’s A New Kid In Town, The TechSlinger And You Can Win One This Summer

At Chicago TechWeek we got to meet the team from Michigan startup TechSlinger. This is a new wearable accessory designed to easily transport your tablet, your phone, your wallet and other small items. You can even hang your keys from it.

At first glance you may not think it’s for you, but it so is. Especially if you carry multiple gadgets with you and one of them is an iPad or Android tablet. You see, when you go out to a meeting or a networking event, or any event for that matter and you bring your tablet you’re putting a device that costs hundreds of dollars at unnecessary risk.

I’ve witnessed first hand people who’ve had their iPads turned conveniently into coasters. I’ve seen people leave them behind and drop them, shattering the screen, trying to hold a beer or other drink. Oh and of course the countless times I’ve seen beer, soda and other liquids poured onto the iPad.

Granted, you want to take your iPad or tablet with you because you undoubtedly have work to do, or you want to show off the latest app you’ve downloaded or pictures and videos of the kids. Well that’s great except most purses can’t fit iPads, no one wants to bring the bulk of a backpack or briefcase out with them, and holding them is risky.

The TechSlinger looks like an under jacket holster and has one pouch designed to hold an iPad or tablet and then the other side has two compartments. One is a secure compartment for your phone the other is a secure compartment for your wallet, credit cards, money, license, etc. I actually hold a 16,000mah portable battery in my extra pocket insuring that not only are my devices with me but backup power is as well.

The TechSlinger fits under any jacket, blazer or suit coat and keeps your gadgets from interfering with important things, like walking.

At the recent TechCrunch meetup in Atlanta over 40 people asked about the TechSlinger. At the airport, TSA folks were asking about the TechSlinger, and of course on three different trips to three different Apple stores, people asked about the TechSlinger.

Well low and behold we’ve got Techslingers to give away.

Here’s how it works. Starting this week at ComiCon 2012 in San Diego, just tweet

“@nibletztweets & @techslinger I need a #techslinger” and if you’re lucky you’ll be randomly selected to win one. We’ll randomly draw winners in San Diego, Washington DC, Memphis, Cincinnati and other places along our sneaker-strapped nationwide startup road trip, and you’ll win. It’s that easy. Then your friends will ask, “where’d you get that”.


Find out more about the TechSlinger here

Here’s more coverage from Chicago’s TechWeek

Oh and we’re on this cool sneaker strapped, nationwide startup roadtrip

Chicago Techweek: Michigan Startup TechSlinger Harnesses Technology VIDEO INTERVIEW

One of  the first great startups we ran into at TechWeek 2012 in Chicago was actually not from Chicago at all but rather, just outside of Grand Rapids Michigan. TechSlinger General Manager Tresha Davis told us they were excited about launching and excited to support the thriving tech community in Chicago.

TechSlinger is actually a hardgoods/accessory startup. They manufacture the TechSlinger which is a way to hold your gadgets, underneath your coat that’s both comfortable and functional.

The TechSlinger consists of two under arm pouches that are kind of reminded me of gun holsters. One of the pouches holds your tablet. The other one can hold your phone, accessories, even your wallet, credit cards and other important items.

The TechSlinger is a great accessory for traveling business people. It’s also a great accessory for those who need access to their gadgets throughout the day where a backpack may appear a bit out of place or even unprofessional. You can wear a nice Brooks Brothers suit on top of the TechSlinger and No one would notice the difference.

In the video below we talk with TechSlinger CEO and creator Nathan in the video below. The idea came up when he realized he was traveling so much and needed to find something better than a traditional backpack or messenger bag that still permitted great functionality.

TechSlinger comes in a variety of colors and sizes as well. It supports all major e-readers including the Kindle and the Nook and even most Android tablets. They are anxious to get their hands on a new Microsoft Surface tablet to design a TechSlinger or it as well.  The best part is that TechSlinger is made in the USA.

They are also working on TechSlingers to support up to the 13″ Macbook pro. The 11″ Macbook Air fits snuggly in the iPad TechSlinger without any casing.  Even my “New” iPad with a Griffin Survivor case on it fits in the TechSlinger. I can’t wait until they are ready to ship review units I have to try one of these things out.

It’s very lightweight and would totally hide your electronics from plain site under a jacket or sport coat.

New York Startup: Padcaster Turns Your iPad Into A Production Studio

Padcaster,Lenscaster,NY startup,startup,iPad,iPad accessory,iPad DSLR,iPad video  While to most the iPad is a truly magical device, what makes the iPad even more magical is the amount of accessories available for it. The iPhone has equally as many (if not more currently) cool accessories as well.

You can turn your iPad into an arcade machine, amplifier, guitar teaching tool, midi throughput device, turntables and now an on the go video and photo production studio.

Josh Apter, founder and president of Union Square based Padcaster, created the Padcaster out of necessity.

The Padcaster is an invention born out of my own needs as a filmmaker. I was shooting interviews with an iPad 2 about a year ago and was frustrated that there was no way to mount it onto a tripod. That’s when I decided to build something myself,” said Josh Apter, founder and president, The Padcaster, LLC. “Now, just about a year later, we have the Padcaster. I’ve been testing the prototype and I have to say, I’m quite pleased with the results. Not only can I record high-quality footage right from the iPad, but I can also cut, add effects, and upload it to our Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo and blog feeds simultaneously – all from the same device, almost instantly.”

The Padcaster is house in an aluminum frame that allows itself to be mounted to after market lenses, microphones, and other accessories needed for great photographs and great videos. It also has a tripod mount on the bottom which means you can mount the secure Padcaster to any tripod, monopod or other device with a tripod mount.

Apter created an accessory called the Lenscaster that is sold separately from the Padcaster and allows the ability to hook the Padcaster up to cinema style lenses and other lenses that connect via a 35mm lens adapter (not included)

Both the Padcaster and the Lenscaster help move the iPad from consumer device to a more professional on the go photo and video studio.


Find out more about Padcaster here

Here’s a product tour of the Padcaster

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Knoxville Startup: Virtuous Products Wins Business Plan Competition

Imagine if you could take recycled bottles and turn them into flooring, countertops and even outdoor casual furniture. Well you don’t have to imagine it anymore because Mark Wassenaar and his startup Virtuous Products Inc, have created it. Well at least the business plan for it.

The material called Sedonite uses recycled glass with the strength and look of resin or cement based products at a fraction of the cost, and much greener.

“We were impressed by all the entrepreneurs who took part in this competition,” Todd Napier, executive vice president of The Development Corporation of Knox County and co-presenter of the program with the Knoxville Chamber and Tech20/20 said. “Virtuous Products shows an enormous amount of promise and the judges indicated they expect big things from the start-up in the years to come.”

The Knoxville Chamber Business Plan Competition actually started back in April. That’s when Wassenaar submitted his original business plan. He was able to survive four rounds of judging which included written summaries and in person proof of concept presentations.

Tabletops made out of recycled glass and "sedonite" are why Virtuous Products won the Knoxville Chamber Competition (photo:

As the winner of the competition Virtuous Products wins:

  •         $10,000 grant for start-up costs
  •      $15,000 potential investment: Tech 20/20 Venture Start-up Fund
  •      One-year’s rent at the Fairview Technology Center
  •      Accounting services provided by Rodefer Moss & Company
  •      Business coaching provided by CEO Advisors
  •      IT Hosting/Services by The IT Company & Digital Crossing Networks
  •      Legal Services by Kathleen Zitzman
  •      Chamber membership by the Knoxville Chamber
  •      Business coaching by Tech 20/20

Wassenaar has plans to use the prize money to purchase a glass crusher, which will allow him to take recycled beer bottles and smash them into a sand-like consistency. From there, his company takes the material and can put it into a molding with a proprietary bonding agent that creates a faux stone surface that is as strong and less expensive than most competitors on the market today.

 “I’ve been in manufacturing my whole life. I try to get out but it just keeps coming back because there is so much creativity involved. I literally lie awake at night thinking of new ideas,” Mark Wassenaar, the founder and CEO of Virtuous Products said. “This competition, even if I didn’t win, it would have been an unbelievable opportunity because the competition really helped me along the way.”

Find out more about Sedonite and Vertous Products here
Find out more about the Knoxville Chamber here
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Chicago Startup: Chippewa Five Supplying Beer Pong Tables To Facebook And More

Zynga and Facebook have more in common than just social online gaming. A Chicago Startup called Chippewa Five has helped both Zynga and Facebook get back into physical gaming, at least in their offices.

Chippewa Five or C5 for short, makes professional grade, furniture style beer pong tables. Wait, beer pong? Yes beer pong. Their tables are high quality wood finished tables with a secret skeet shot capability and dining grade table legs. Just look at the picture.

As we learn in our interview with co-founder Daniel Manriquez both Facebook and Zynga have a C5 beer pong table in their offices. It’s not the least bit crazy we’ve actually seen a good dozen or so incubators, and startup offices that have the beer pong tables you can get at Spencers in offices. That’s the “boot strap” version.

Manriquez along with co-founder Joseph Mollo learned that they could take a favorite college past time for themselves and many from their generation and make an actual business out of it. After selling a few tables via easy, and a flash sale on (the Facebook table) they’ve decided to make a real go out of high end beer pong.

More after the break
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Chicago Startup: PortaPocket Has A Safe Place For Your Stuff INTERVIEW

portapocket, joeybra, cellphone holder, nibletzWe recently brought you the story of the innovative JoeyBra. The JoeyBra is obviously for women and it incorporates pockets in the sides of the bras to hold anything from your credit cards and cash to your cell phone. The JoeyBra was recently featured in a Seattle area tech event and has now been featured all over the internet.

It’s actually that story that led us to meeting Kendra Kroll. Kroll is also a woman entrepreneur and her innovative product called PortaPockets add a pocket for you to carry your stuff even if you don’t have pockets. They’re perfect for running, beach days, or just as an extra place to keep your cell phone, cash, and other personal items.

The biggest difference between the PortaPocket and the JoeyBra is the fact that men can use it too. Kroll launched her company, Undercover Solutions in 2007 and has recently added a new bling line. She’s still pretty much self funded. A few years later, and with this recent boom in smartphones, it’s time for PortaPocket to shine, because it is a great idea.

We got a chance to interview Kroll, so let’s see what she says about Under Cover solutions and her invention, the PortaPocket.

What is portapocket?

PortaPocket is a patented strap-onto-the-body carrying case system that makes life easier and brings peace of mind…it’s THE solution for pocket-challenged outfits everywhere.

Wrap the lightweight neoprene PortaPocket band around your thigh, calf, ankle, arm or waist and wear under or over the clothing. It’s detachable, interchangeable and easy to use. So comfy you almost forget it’s there. Pockets attach onto the band and swap out to carry the things you need on any given day. Perfect for small valuables and essentials like ID, cash, cards, keys, cell phones, lipstick, tampons, cameras, passports, insulin pumps, inhalers, epipens, more. Use ’em solo or even WITH that stylish bag or purse to keep more important items closer. Never risk theft, loss and inconvenience that comes with keeping things apart from your person. Now you can lose the worry… not your stuff! Ideal for working out, going out, travel and every day.

More after the break
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Philly Startup: Interview With The Student Founder Of Neo-Cover

Every once in a while we come across some great tangible goods startups, either ideas that are just full of awesomeness and win or ideas that are being grown in the US. Neo-Cover is one of those ideas. Add that to the fact that it’s founded by a college student and designer in Philadelphia and it makes it an even better story.

So what’s a neo-cover? Well the idea is so damn basic you’ll be asking yourself why didn’t I think of that? Well the reason you didn’t think of that or I didn’t think of that is because 22 year old Jake Frey did. Neo-Cover is a magnetic light switch wall plate. Don’t go and try and steal it this 22 year old has his ducks in a row and has the patent. Once he bulks up his sales Kevin O’Leary and the sharks on Shark Tank would gobble this idea up.

A magnetic light switch plate, what would I use that for? Well for starters you could hang your keys, a mini flashlight, a dog leash, a money clip anything that you often forget can go right up on the light switch. Presumably you turn your lights on every now and then, and now it’s easy to find. The magnet is so powerful it can hold a decent sized hammer, or a screw driver. I told you this idea is both basic and genius.

So let’s meet the 22 year old behind neo-cover…

Interview after the break
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Chattanooga Entreprenuers’ Pure Soda Works A Huge Hit In Chattanooga Expanding To Retail Location

In our quest to be the startup voice from “everywhere else” we sometimes come upon hard goods startups that have a great story. Pure Soda Works is one of those startups. We learned about Pure Soda Works when our startup road trip brought us to the thriving community in Chattanooga TN. While Pure Soda Works isn’t “on the gig” they’re certainly quenching the thirst of those that are.

Pure Soda Works is the brain child of husband and wife team Matt Rogers and Tiffany Rogers who’ve already had success with their all natural bath and body company called Everday Eclectic. While we would hardly call Chattanooga a “hippie town” their residents are passionate about the environment, natural products, eating healthy and the environment. In a story or two about our trip to Chattanooga we’ve talked about how we saw electric car charging stations about the town. It’s really a great place.

More after the break
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