Mark Cuban Shows Variety In Portfolio With Latest Startup Investments

Mark Cuban, Fiscal Note, Ranku, Funding, startup

Some may think that Mark Cuban’s investment strategy is all over the place, but teh truth of the matter is it goes hand in hand with his varied background. Cuban’s career crosses a variety of industries, all of which were self taught.

Cuban began his career as a self taught computer salesman who didn’t  even own a computer. From here his next big accolade is selling broadcast.com to Yahoo, starting HDTv (now axs). Now he’s also a NBA franchise owner, shark on ABC’s Shark Tank, dancer on Dancing With The Stars, startup investor, philanthropist, and more. With all of that in mind Cuban is still just one of the guys, just ask anyone that knows him or frequents places he likes to hang out.

Cuban’s investment portfolio encompasses lots of industries. He’s invested in things that touch his TV business like Tivli and One Condition. He’s also invested in app selling company Apptopia, multilingual analytics firm Linquasys. and local rewards startup Badgy. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of Cuban’s portfolio; you can find more of his investments here.

Cuban’s two most recent statup investments are equally diverse.

After meeting Kim Taylor at the Kaplan accelerator program for edtech startups, Cuban led a $500,000 round for Ranku. Taylor also happened to be one of the featured entrepreneurs on Bravo’s reality show about startups called Startups: Silicon Valley.

Ranku ranks colleges by the success its graduates have with finding jobs rather than how they rank on the US News & World Report list. Obviously this is a much more relevant way to rank schools for students headed into college.

On Wednesday evening TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha reported that Cuban has also backed legislation tracking and prediction startup FiscalNote.  The $1.2 million dollar round will help the startup continue working on new technologies to support their original model.

FiscalNote provides a service to businesses that keeps them up to date with legislation across all 50 states that may affect their business. Co-Founder and CEO Tim Hwang told Ha that many businesses are affected by these changes in legislation and for a business to keep up with them they would need a large staff hitting refresh on all 50 states websites continuously. Beyond that they would need to decode that legislation and see how it really affected their business. FiscalNote’s algorithm does all of that for them.

For more on Mark Cuban and his  startup investments check this out.


ShareThis, The Social Sharing Startup With Cincy Ties, Closes $30 Million Dollar Round

ShareThis, Silcon Valley, Cincinnati Startup, Cintrifuse, FundingShareThis, one of the most successful startups to come out of Cincinnati, has just announced the closing of a $30 million dollar round of venture funding.

The company, now based in Paolo Alto, has created a platform that makes it incredibly easy to share any kind of content across over 120 different social channels. ShareThis claims that they touch the lives of 95 percent of U.S. internet users across 2 million publisher sites. Whenever you’re cruising a website like AllthingsD, Cosmopolitan or any of the Food Network sites and you see the little green sharing icon that’s ShareThis.

The company was founded by native Cincinnatian Tim Schigel who before he founded ShareThis was the director of Blue Chip Venture Company, a Cincinnati based firm which participated in the startups latest round. Schigel is also the founder of the public/private partnership Cintrifuse that’s supporting downtown Cincinnati’s startup movement.

Back in April when ShareThis acquired Socialize they opened up a funding round and raised $23 million dollars. They left the round open and took another $7 million dollars before closing the round.

In addition to Blue Chip Venture Company, Blair Garrou of the Mercury Fund , Heidi Rozen of Draper Fisher Juverston and T-Venture also participated in this round. All of the investors had previously invested in the company.

Come see Cincinnati’s amazing startup community for yourself during this national startup conference!


Startups In The Fastlane: Velocity Startup GreekPull

FastlaneVelocityCrowdfunding is everywhere, there’s crowdfunding for your startup, crowdfunding for your movie, crowdfunding for the things you want and even crowdfunding for college money. Now, thanks to a San Diego startup that’s accelerating at Velocity in Indiana, there is crowdfunding for your fraternity or sorority.

Back in the olden days, before computers, internet, and crowdfunding, fraternities and sororities that were working on a project would have fundraisers, cash boxes, collection jars, and a treasurer to collect all the money. Then you had to trust that the treasurer didn’t spend the fraternity’s money on his own stash of brew and other college accoutrements.

Greekpull, San Diego startup, Indiana startup, Velocity Indiana, AcceleratorGreekPull is working on a crowdfunding platform for fraternities and sororities that eliminates all these problems, makes it super easy for members to raise money for projects, and then securely collects the money so it can’t be squandered on the frivolous. Now when a sorority or a fraternity wants to hold a big clean-up project, restore a building, or buy toys for local needy kids the money is there. They can even use the funds for special events like spring formals and dances.

We got a chance to talk with AJ Agrawal about GreekPull and their team’s experience at Velocity. They’ll be graduating at the end of the month and think making the move from San Diego to Jeffersonville, Indiana was one of the best choices they’ve ever made. Check out the interview below.

What is the name of your startup?


What accelerator are you in?

Velocity Accelerator

When is demo day/investor day/graduation?

August 29th, 2013

Where is your startup originally from?

San Diego, CA

Tell us about your current team?

Eghosa Aihie- The Hustler: In charge of sales and marketing

AJ Agrawal- The Visionary: In charge of product development and investor relations

What does your startup do?

We’re a crowdfunding platform for Fraternities and Sororities

What are your goals for the accelerator program?

To complete our next seed round of $350,000

What’s one thing you’ve learned in the accelerator?

Never edit your product without talking to customers first, you’ll save a lot of time and money.

What’s the hardest piece of advice you’ve had to stomach so far?

Always being ready to pivot. It feels like your starting completely over when you pivot and sometimes it’s hard to stomach that it’s all part of the learning process.

What is your goal for the day after demo day?

To further conversation with potential investors and customers.

Why did you choose this accelerator?

Over half the National Fraternities and Sororities are located in Indianapolis, so we are in an ideal location to get customer feedback.

If you relocated for the accelerator are you staying in your new city?

Yes, however, we will most likely move a little closer to Indianapolis.

What’s one thing you learned about an accelerator that you didn’t know when you applied?

We’ve been amazed how nice the people in Jeffersonville have been to us. Coming from San Diego, we were unsure what to expect heading into Southern Indiana. Overall, the connections we have made has been priceless, and we look forward to staying in touch with all the people we have met.

Where can people find out more?




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)


SellingThe Parents, Richard Branson & Acquisition: Bad Ass Startup Chick Stacey Ferreira Tells Her Story

Stacey Ferreira, MySocialCloud, Bad Ass Startup Chick, GigTank

Stacey Ferreira is a bad ass startup chick, and quite frankly has one of the most bad ass stories we’ve ever heard. That story starts when she was a student at an all girls Catholic high school in Phoenix, Arizona. When you hear about entrepreneurs starting out as developers in high school, a lot of times those stories are about boys.

Well Ferreira was lonely and missing all of her public school friends who were about 40 miles away. Looking for something to do to pass the time she turned to her brother Scott. He had just begun teaching himself how to program, so the two of them decided they would learn how to become game developers.

Through the rest of her time in high school, Ferreira spent her free time creating and developing different projects with her brother. Then the time came to graduate high school and their parents insisted that they had just one more summer left before they had to go get real internships like everyone else. The Ferreira siblings decided to go all in and move to Los Angeles to build out one of the projects that they had worked on in high school. That project became MySocialCloud.

During that summer Richard Branson held a fundraiser contest of sorts that said if you could donate $2,000 to his charity you could have cocktails with Branson in Miami. Stacey wasn’t even old enough to drink, but quickly realized the value in spending time with Branson. Oh, the other problem was they didn’t have the money. To make matters worse, when they called and talked with someone in Branson’s office they discovered the two of them would need $4,000 not $2000.

Scott and Stacey now had the daunting task of selling their dad on getting a loan. Dad wanted a business plan, Stacey told the standing room-only crowd at a startup event Tuesday in Chattanooga. So she and Scott developed a business plan. Almost reluctantly their dad said yes, but they had to return the money in 3 months.

That ended up not being too tough because that meeting in Miami ended up with a million dollar investment.

Stacey, who is also involved with the Young Entrepreneur’s Council, told her story during FireSide Talks, which featured Thiel Fellows and other entrepreneurs 20 and under. Stacey talked about her entrepreneurial journey from that private school in Arizona, to living in almost the slums of Los Angeles, meeting Branson, getting $1 million dollar investment, and eventually getting acquired. Oh, and that was in less than two years.

Watch Stacey tell her own story:



Do You Want to Build a Startup — Or a Small Business?

Neil Thanedar, LabDoor, Guest Post, startup tips, YECA couple months ago, I officially left my rapidly growing, profitable small business to launch a tech startup with a huge vision and zero salaries. Why did I do this? For me, it came down to the huge differences between a small business and a startup.

First off, the biggest difference between these two company types is in their top objectives. Small businesses are driven by profitability and stable long-term value, while startups are focused on top-end revenue and growth potential. Steve Blank’s three-minute definition provides great insight.

Earlier this year, I also got the opportunity to meet Mark Cuban, Kevin Plank, and Scott Case, who asked me a classic question with a special motive: “What do you want out of your life in five years?” I knew how Cuban and Plank had made eight-figure companies in their twenties, so I said, “Thirty million dollars,” thinking it would impress them. Instead, Plank said, “That’s a terrible goal!”

That remains the best piece of business advice I have ever gotten. Instead of focusing on great products and huge customer bases, I was too focused on dollar amounts — a small-business mentality instead of a startup mentality. I spent the rest of the weekend working with Case on new business models and products, and left these meetings with a grand new business idea.

My startup journey led me to launch LabDoor. LabDoor provides report cards for  your medicine cabinet. Products are graded based on safety, efficacy, and price. Behind the scenes, technical experts analyze top FDA, clinical and independent lab data that informs the product safety apps. Building this startup has been the perfect opportunity to continue my obsession with science, while greatly expanding the amount of people that will benefit from this research.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with starting your entrepreneurial career with a small business. Building a solid financial base will help create a longer personal financial runway for future startup ventures. Also, establishing a successful small business can build credibility and networks through the business community that will be hugely valuable when launching a startup that requires outside angel and VC investments. But while you do that, be careful not to get too comfortable with a steady paycheck.

How do you decide which one is for you? First, ask yourself, what is my tolerance for risk? And what is my tolerance for failure? Because no matter where you are in your life, it is a great exercise to stop everything and visualize your absolute top-end potential. It’s the kind of brainstorming you did as a kid, when you imagined being the President or, even better, an astronaut.

Then, start by deciding the biggest problem in the world that you want to solve.  Develop your ideal solution to this problem, and then invite your trusted friends and family to poke holes in it. Iterate until you’ve got an awesome idea. If you can build a great team around your awesome solution, now you can stretch one foot into the world of startups.

Finally, determine your top objective. Is your long-term goal to build a nest egg or make a dent in the universe?

What do you really want out of your life in five years?

Neil Thanedar is the founder and CEO of LabDoor, a mobile health startup providing consumer-focused product safety ratings. At 24, Neil is the visionary and scientific mind behind a company seeking to replace the FDA and Big Pharma as our top sources of safety information about pharmaceuticals, supplements, and cosmetics.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Check out our interview with Neil Thanedar here.


Stopped.At Launches In Super-Super-Beta

stopped.at, startup,, startup launchAs the Entrepreneur-In-Residence of the new Upstart Accelerator in Memphis, Mara Lewis has spent the last week telling women to just do it. Women have to fight perfectionism, and if they try to make a product perfect before it launches, it’ll never launch.

“You iterate. You put it out there. It can’t be pretty. If you wait until it’s perfect, you’ve waited too long.”

Lewis’s co-founders back in California were shocked when she took her own advice and made the announcement about their own product: Launch it. Put it live.

And that will forever be the story of stopped.at’s launch into the world. But, of course, it really isn’t the beginning. The beginning happened two years ago when Lewis and her team pivoted their old “Foursquare for the Web” site and began formulating stopped.at.

In the last two years, they have perfected an algorithm similar to Pandora. A user signs up for stopped.at, drags the bookmarklet to their browser, and goes about their business. As they use the web, they “check in” on each site via the bookmarklet. Over time, stopped.at’s algorithm will begin to read the traits of the websites a user visits. Then, it suggests new sites, apps, or services the user might be interested in.

Stopped.at has all the features we love about social sites. You can connect it with your Facebook or Twitter account and you can follow friends. There’s also a rewards system. For each task you do, you earn rewards, which you can then redeem for prizes.

They also have “folders,” similar to boards on Pinterest. Using the folders it’s easy to create collections of the websites, apps, and services you use every day. Then your friends can browse your folders and discover their next must-have app or website. This feature is the one stopped.at’s team is most interested in testing during beta. They want to know if and how people will use them and if they are a good value for the site.

Right now stopped.at is only available on the web. “One regret is,” Lewis admitted with a sigh, “at the time, I wish we had done mobile-first. But, we know it, and we recognize it, and it’s top of our priority list.” Since more than half of American adults use their smartphones to browse the Internet, stopped.at will probably see a lot of growth when they launch on mobile.

The team hopes to launch out of its “super-super-beta” at the end of August, and the goal is to have 50,000 monthly users by October.

Lewis has been at the entrepreneurial game for a long time. This is her third company, and this version of stopped.at has been in production for 2 years. Kyle ran into Lewis during SXSW this year, where she pitched in the Dolphin Tank.

Those of us in the tech world could find stopped.at to be the perfect engine to discovering the best apps and websites out there. Join the public beta and let the team know what you think.


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.


Google for Entrepreneurs Backs Manos Accelerator For Latino Founders


It’s no secret that Silicon Valley is full of preppy, white guys. Organizations across the country are trying to improve the startup odds for women, blacks, and–now–Latinos.

On July 1, Manos Accelerator and Google for Entrepreneurs announced a partnership to increase the number of Latinos in the startup ecosystem.

The first program will start in August and run for three months. After the application phase, which ends in July, the accelerator will invite 6-8 teams to join them in San Jose for intensive mentoring and co-working. They are looking for high-tech companies with at least 1 Latino founder.

“For decades, Silicon Valley has been known as the model for entrepreneurship. But there has been an ongoing gap for Latinos to be active participants of this startup ecosystem,” said Dr. Jerry Porras, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, in a press release. “Manos Accelerator has designed a robust program where they identify and mentor aspiring Latino entrepreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to real-world problems.”

Manos, which gets its name from the Spanish word for “hands,” is interested in not only finding the next great tech company, but also in increasing Latino entrepreneurship in the Valley and everywhere else. The slogan is “Dream Big, Believe More, Act Now.” That’s something ever entrepreneur can get behind.

They are accepting applications from across the country, but of course selected teams have to move to San Jose for the duration of the program.

“It made perfect sense to establish Manos Accelerator in the Capital of Silicon Valley. We want to create a vibrant community of Latino entrepreneurs that attracts the brightest and most talented. We want all aspiring Latino entrepreneurs in the US and Latin American countries to know that they now have a place to go for turning their innovative ideas into reality.” said Edward Avila, Co-founder and CEO of Manos Accelerator, in the same press release.

Google for Entrepreneurs, which is also sponsoring the NewMe PopUp Accelerator, is growing a name for itself in the under-represented parts of the tech community. Mary Grove, Director of Global Entrepreneurship Outreach at Google said: “We are excited to be partnering with such a great organization to provide resources to increase the number of Latino entrepreneurs in the global tech community. Our mission with Google for Entrepreneurs is to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship around the world and we believe in supporting the current and future entrepreneurial leaders in our communities.”

Are you a Latino founder with a great idea? You can apply to Manos Accelerator by July 31.

Founder Spotlight: Miguel Ramirez, CEO Soccerly.com

Soccerly, Miguel Ramirez, San Diego startup,startup,Guest Post, YECMiguel Ramirez is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded mediotiempo.com, the largest sports site in Mexico and one of the most relevant Internet success stories in Latin America. The company was acquired in 2010 by Time Warner. Today, Miguel is co-founder and CEO of soccerly.com, which was launched in January 2013 with the ambitious plan of becoming “the online destination for soccer fans in the U.S.” Miguel is also a partner at kiwilimon.com, a leading food/community site. Follow him @mrlombana.

Who is your hero?

My grandpa.

What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?

It is important to be humble. Always remember the day you started and where you come from; no matter how successful you become, it is important to have both feet on the ground and keep on working hard at all times. Successes and failures are just life episodes and should not change the way you act.

Also, being a good listener is a must — be close to your team and think of them as family, not employees.

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?

One of the biggest mistakes I remember making is when my partners and I decided to sell our stake in a company because at that point, we did not have the necessary time to devote to it; even though we did consider several options, I guess we were not wise enough to make the best decision. At the end, it not only cost us money but also a good opportunity for the future that we regret today.

We should have asked for advice from other people (mentors, family, etc.) — that might have had helped us to act in a different way, but unfortunately we didn’t. But every learning experience is valuable, and without mistakes there are no successes.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?

I check my agenda and my “to dos” to set the best road map for the day. I like to be well-organized and do as many things as possible every day, as the following day is always loaded with new stuff and more unexpected things. It is essential to have an organized way to work in order to achieve tasks and objectives.

Define your priorities and never leave for tomorrow what you could do today.

What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?

Resources are always scarce, and it is always easier spending than saving. Focus only on those things that will bring you to the next level and cut unnecessary expenditures — even if they’re minimal, they could hurt you in the long run. The best of you is always there, within you, so use your brain first and then your wallet.

Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?

Work only with the right partners. Take whatever time you need to be 100 percent convinced of the partners you are bringing to a venture; work only with people that add value, balance and commitment.

What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?

Success is not only about money. It’s about achieving personal goals, fulfilling society’s needs, generating employment for lots of people, making users happy and seeing others using your product; when most of these “achievements” are done, you will be happy and can toast your success.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Beware the ill planned innovative rollout.


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


Social Entrepreneur Sticks It To Ambercrombie’s Douche Bag CEO Mike Jeffries

Greg Karber,Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Jeffries, Social entrepreneurshipThe stories about Mike Jeffries,the king of retail douche baggery, have been all over the interwebs over the last two weeks. That’s when he went on the record saying that he doesn’t sell his clothing to plus sized women and that Abercrombie is elitest and only wants a certain kind of customer.

Jeffries actually said, in regard to this policy, ” In every school there are the cool and popular kids and then there are the not so cool kids. We go after the cool kids. A lot of people don’t belong and they can’t belong”.

This has prompted a wide range of reactions across the country. Boycotts, meme’s, and the latest endeavor, one social entrepreneur’s way to get back and give back.

AF2Los Angeles based Greg Karber, who bills himself as a writer, philosopher, performer, video maker, cultural critic and entrepreneur set out on a journey in hopes that others will join him.

He went into a Los Angeles GoodWill store and bought up their entire inventory of Abercrombie and Fitch clothing, in a variety of sizes and styles. He then set out to L.A.’s skid row, an area with one of the largest homeless populations in America and started giving away the clothes.

In the video below Karber says he can’t do it alone. He wants anyone that can to go through their closets, their friends closets and their neighbors closets and donate all their A&F clothing to their local homeless shelter. And when you do this, tag it #fitchthehomeless.