TapShield Launches New Products to Keep Everyone Safe–From College Kids to Executives



Today Orlando-based TapShield announced the release of an enterprise-grade platform that improves safety across college campuses and for global companies. The system essentially turns your smartphone into a “personal mobile safety device,” keeping you connected with safety officials and loved ones.

Let’s take college campuses.

incontent3We’re all familiar with the blue poles placed around campus, supposedly to call campus security if you feel threatened. But, in a real emergency, who has time to run to the blue pole, dial the 10 digit number, and explain the situation–all while fending off an attacker?

No one.

Instead TapShield connects campus security with every device that downloads the app. When a someone calls in, security can immediately dispatch thanks to GPS technology and other relevant caller information. According to the company, this improves response times by as much as 47%.

TapShield has been tested at the University of Florida for the last 6 months.

“The TapShield solution is easy to use and allows our dispatchers to quickly view GPS location and key caller information so emergency reporting is fast and efficient,” said Chief Linda Stump of the University of Florida Police Department. “I believe this helps our department provide pervasive security in a way which resonates with our students.”

It’s not just for emergencies, though. Features like Entourage alerts contacts when you’ve left  one place. If you haven’t arrived to your destination in a reasonable time, contacts are alerted again so they can check on you.

My favorite feature might be Yank, which–when activated–sends a silent alarm to authorities if the headphones are pulled from your phone.

TapShield doesn’t want to only focus on personal emergencies, though. They’re thinking big.

For example, during the Boston marathon bombings last year, many people weren’t able to let their loved ones or companies know they were okay because cell service was packed.

“If CNN has breaking news about a global terror threat, TapShield lets businesses know which one of their executives or traveling employees might be in that area,” said Jordan Johnson, TapShield CEO. “TapShield facilitates a real-time, two-way communication with employees anywhere in the world using devices they already own.”

The challenge for TapShield might be the dreaded feature creep. In my interview with Johnson, the list of features was so long it was hard to keep them straight or figure out what exactly TapShield was looking to do. There was always one more thing to talk about.

Maybe this will work in TapShield’s favor. With so many use cases, the system could gain widespread adoption as people use it in different ways. Or, all the options could be overwhelming, and people could choose not to use it at all. The trick, of course, is selling it to campuses and corporations.

With more campuses on board, and corporations seeking them out, TapShield might have that one covered.

Florida Reverse Accelerator Program Draws Hundreds Of Applications

StartupQuest, Florida startup, florida entrepreneurA new Broward County program has drawn hundreds of applications in southern Florida. Startup Quest is a new program being offered under a statewide grant through WorkForce One, reports the Sun Sentinel.

The program reads like a reverse accelerator of sorts. Not a “decelerator,” of course, but Startup Quest is targeting a different segment than a typical accelerator that vets young startups.

First off, Startup Quest is looking for college graduates or veterans who are out of work at any age.

Like most programs Startup Quest is fueled by a mentor network of established entrepreneurs and business people throughout the region. However, unlike other programs Startup Quest has also vetted patented ideas from Florida International University, Nova Southern University, University of Florida, and NASA.

The mentors are going to pick from the pool of chosen participants and assign them ideas to work on and hash out plans to bring these already-patented technology ideas to market.  The program has already received 400 applications and 130 will be chosen to work on these projects.

The participants will formally gather once a week to hear from a variety of speakers. The rest of the time will be spent focusing on the projects and their commercialization plans.

The program will end with a “Shark Tank” style demo day where the participants will pitch their ideas to venture capitalists and other entrepreneurial leaders in the region.

They hope to start notifying participants next week.

You’ve gotta check out this event for startups everywhere else.

Florida Entrepreneur Turns Love Of Theme Parks Into New Media Startup ThrillGeek

Thrillgeek, Florida startup,startup interview

For a lot of kids who grow up in Florida or move to Florida at a young age, the novelty of theme parks wears out. I have a bunch of friends from Florida in their 20’s and 30’s who can’t stand the thought of Disney parks. The traffic, the congestion of people, and prices that are driven up because of a year-round flocking of tourists make residents run away when it’s vacation time.

That’s not the case for Clint Gamache. Gamache loved thrill rides, roller coasters, and theme parks when his family moved to Florida 20 years ago, and today he still does. In fact he loves theme parks so much he started a new media company called ThrillGeek.

Gamache, who is a data collector for a major rental company by day and an Android fan and developer by night, decided to forego the typical technology blog and launch ThrillGeek.

ThrillGeek combines Gamache’s loves of photography, videos, and story telling with his love of theme parks into a simple, easy-to-understand and navigate website for anyone to find out about the latest rides, park news, and specials. Theme park operators are starting to catch on as well, and they’ve been giving Gamache access to new ride launches and early news.

Just in time for 4th of July vacation planning, we got a chance to catch up with Gamache. Check out our interview below:


What is your startup called?

Our startup is called thrillgeek.com.

What does your company do?

We are a website dedicated to covering and sharing the world of theme park news.  We are a simple, straightforward theme park news website.  We report videos, photos and even some sounds from the theme park world, all in a simple to read blog format.


Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

The founder of Thrillgeek is Clint Gamache.  Clint has been into theme parks ever since his parents have moved me down here to the sunny state of Florida almost 20 years ago.  Ever since his first visit to the theme parks here in Orlando, I have found myself fascinated with everything they have to offer.  From the rides, shows and everything in-between, they are a fascinating place to visit and explore.  I enjoy photography, videography and of course, spending time at our local theme parks here in Orlando, Florida.

Where are you based?

Thrillgeek is based in the sunny state of Florida!  Home to some of the best theme parks in the world!

What problem do you solve?

I created Thrillgeek with the mindset that many other theme park blogs are extremely busy and are overwhelming.  You go to some of the other theme park blogs and you are overwhelmed with vacation planning information, reservations and other information that some of the more hardcore theme park nuts like me don’t really want to see.  We just want the breaking theme park news!

Why does it matter?

Millions of people visit theme parks every year.  There are a select few people though that enjoy reading theme park news.  That is where Thrillgeek comes in.  Many theme park websites out there offering many things, such as vacation planning, and other stuff that the theme park nuts do not want.  We matter because we want to be a simple theme park news, photo and video website in a simple to read blog format.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We started off fairly small as all blogs do, but we are growing every month and have increased our viewers every month.  We started almost 4 months ago and started with about 3,000 hits the first month.  June is coming to a close and we are already passed 6,000 viewers with a little bit of time to go in the month.  We recently have covered major grand openings of some of the biggest area theme parks, including the grand opening of Transformers: The Ride 3D at Universal Orlando and the new Antarctica attraction at SeaWorld Orlando.

What are your next milestones?

Thrillgeek has begun building media relationships with the local area theme parks.  Our next event will be at Legoland Florida to cover the grand opening of their new ride.  We are currently funding a indiegogo crowdfunding program to help raise money for new camera equiptment.  Over the past few months we have doubled in viewership, and I hope this growth continues.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

Thrillgeek has all of the social media platforms.  Our Facebook page can found here, our Twitter here and our Flickr page can be found here.


Our Twitter handle is @thrillgeek

Now check out Aspiredu the Florida startup that won $25,000 at everywhereelse.co 






image: 15pictures.com

Florida Startup World Housing Solution, Quick, Strong And Green!

World Housing Solution, Orlando Startup, Florida startup,startup interview, startup video, SouthlandI gotta tell you, one of the most interesting startups I’ve seen at a startup conference is World Housing Solution. This Orlando based startup has created a way of making extremely strong, quick to build shelters out of Structural Insulated Composite Panels.  The company’s founder, Ron Ben-Zeev tells us that SICPs, are like a super strong sandwich made out of fiberglass bread and a foam center.  Ben-Zeev and his team have found a way to quickly and effectively use this material for shelter.

The SICPs make World Housing Solution shelters great for emergency needs like the aftermath of a natural disaster. They are also great for deploying in emerging countries. For instance, the scale model of the structure they showed off at Southland is actually being deployed to the horn of Africa as a hospital for women. That project calls for five of WHS’s structures to function as a maternity ward, delivery room, clinic, kitchen and rest rooms. In this case the structures deployed will be permanent but it will take days rater than weeks, months or years to get the hospital off the ground.

In addition to being extremely quick to set up the WHS shelters are hurricane resistant (up to 155mph), earthquake resistant (up to 7.8 richter), they don’t mold, mildew or rot, they’re fire resistant and bullet proof. Ultimately this makes the WHS shelters ideal for fast implementation in civilian, government and military installations.

Although he has no formal “construction” experience, Ben-Zeev is actually a Wharton educated executive with a background involving strategic consulting for Fortune 100 and 500 companies. He also served as Strategic Counsel to the North American CEO and President of Siemens Information Systems.

Check out our interview with Ben-Zeev in the video below. For more information visit worldhousingsolution.com

Here’s more of our coverage from Southland in Nashville Tennessee.



After Everywhereelse.co Win, AspirEDU Keeps Proving They’re Not A One Hit Wonder

AspirEDU,Florida Startup,everywhereelse.co,Startup Weekend, Southland

Last year when Kim Munzo went to the Startup Weekend EDU event in Florida, she didn’t know what to expect. The career long educator had a problem and the solution, and with fingers crossed she hoped for the best. She had no idea what a ride it would be.

Munzo has worked in online education for the past 15 years. For those keeping score, that’s just about when online education became accepted as a legitimate source of education. In her position she found that there were a lot of people who dropped out. They get too busy, they get bored, and sometimes they just didn’t feel like continuing.

Munzo was at Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference, we weren’t able to see much of her business. Fortunately, at Southland we found out the big picture behind this Florida startup.

Munzo developed an analytical system that can predict which online students are at risk of dropping out. An online student can elect to take one class, or a whole degree program online. Some students choose to get multiple degrees. At that rate, the tuition adds up and the revenue for online institutions is in play. A drop out, depending on the cost of their tuition and programs offered, can cost an institution up to tens of thousands of dollars.

AspirEDU lets online institutions know which students are at risk. Then the institution can follow up in a variety of ways. AspirEDU co-founder Kevin Kopas also told us that they are developing features that will automatically send online students at risk emails or text messages to get them re-engaged with their online education. The end result is less attrition for online institutions and students who finish their degrees and certifications.

Following a win at that Startup Weekend EDU event, AspirEDU started taking their show on the road, exhibiting at conferences, pitching in pitch contests, and submitting business plans for business plan competitions. All of those avenues proved to be great for the company.

AspirEDU won $25,000 in cash in the Best of Village pitch contest at Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference I. After that they won the Florida Atlantic University business plan competition which included $55,000 in cash and services prizes. All of which came in handy for the bootstrapped startup. They also came in 7th place in a global business plan competition.

Although the entire team is still employed elsewhere full time, they are working 40-70 hours more per week on AspirEDU.

“I’m taking off from my day job to be here at Southland,” Kopas told us. Kopas works for a major domain name provider during the day, and dedicates all of his free time to AspirEDU, time he used to use to enjoy the waters of Florida.

AspirEDU is a certified partner with Canvas by Instructure and the team will be traveling to Utah next week to present in a conference with 9 other certified partners.

While the education space is filling up rapidly, there’s no other startup that is using analytics to help keep students enrolled. While it’s a great idea and great technology, the team is leery of taking an investment right now. They already have clients and some major deals with big institutions across the globe in the works. Munzo and Kopas are hoping that they can start creating substantial revenue and not have to give up any equity, at least in the short term.

An investor told us that anyone can make a $4 million dollar business; we want to hold off on an investment in case we need it to get to the $100 million dollar mark. That’s a good possibility with the online education industry counting for billions of dollars on a global scale.

Munzo and Kopas credit Startup Weekend and the people they’ve met while traveling all over the country to promote AspirEDU with where they’ve gotten thus far.

You can find out more about AspirEDU here at aspiredu.com and by watching the interview video below.

Check out more of our Southland coverage here!


Overnight Carriers Probably Owe You Money, This Florida Startup Will Get It For You

71lbs, Fedex,Ups,overnight shipping, Florida startup,startup interview

Every year more than $2 billion is wasted in unclaimed shipping refunds. While many people know that there are “guaranteed delivery times” for all of the major overnight carriers, very few actually know what those times mean and how they affect your bottom line.

Sure “guaranteed by 3pm” means guaranteed delivery by 3:00pm. Typically though, when a package arrives at 3:05pm we brush it off, thankful that the package arrived at all. What many folks don’t know is that UPS and FedEx both offer 100% refunds if a package is delivered even 60 seconds late. The package delivery time is scanned by the delivery driver, and chances are, if you ship a lot, you’ve even looked at packages that have been late and not thought a thing about it.

Well Jose Li, who at one point led FedEx’s retail and e-commerce practices, has started a company of his own that helps shippers get the money rightfully owed to them by the major overnight carriers.

71lbs is a software platform that analyzes customer’s shipping data and audits shipments against their guaranteed delivery times. 71lbs then retrieves the refund for the customer and takes a small commission when the refund is retrieved.

The service is free and according to the company it takes just 45 seconds to sign up. The rest is automatic. The best part is it’s totally legal and totally ethical.



What is your startup?

71lbs is a software technology company that is making it easy and automated for small businesses to claim shipping refunds. So when your FedEx or UPS package is delivered 60 seconds late, both companies have policies that entitle you to a 100% refund. Lots of people don’t know about this or don’t have the time to go through the tedious claim process. More than $2 billion dollars is wasted in unclaimed shipping refunds every year.

This inspired former FedEx executive, Jose Li, to create 71lbs, a software that automatically analyzes customer’s shipping data, audits shipments against guaranteed time commitments, and retrieves refunds for the customers. It’s totally free to use, takes 45 seconds to sign up, and is growing like crazy. 71lbs only collects a percentage fee when a refund is successfully claimed.

The company believes all businesses should have access to the same tools and resources that the “Fortune 500” utilize today. 71lbs also believes technology and software should enable small businesses to become as efficient, if not more, than their Fortune 500 counterparts.  71lbs believes in democratizing shipping. 

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Jose Li, former FedEx executive, has 15 years in the shipping, logistics, and e-commerce industry. He experienced first-hand the lack of tools and resources while managing Jamba Juice’s supply chain of 450 stores, and also wore the carrier’s shoes, running a business unit for FedEx.

The management team has decades of experience in the shipping, software, and technology industries, with companies such as FedEx, DHL, and Tangoe Software to name a few.

Where are you based?

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

What is the startup culture like where you are based?

South Florida is gaining a lot of activity in start-up and tech, through a number of anchors like The Lab Miami, The Knight Foundation, universities, incubators and workspaces.

What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?

Two particular challenges – raising funds and recruiting. We don’t call victory yet. It’s an on-going process. We call this ABR – Always Be Raising, and Always Be Recruiting. Being in South Florida the investor community is not as dense as other start-up tech places like Silicon Valley, New York City, Chicago, or Austin. So it just means we have to work harder at it. We leveraged a number of resources – old work colleagues, University alumni, networking, introductions, travel, conference calls, AngelList, LinkedIn, etc to share our story and mission with a number of potential investors. We were fortunate to get accepted into what is now Techstars Chicago and met a group of our investors there.

We faced and continue to face similar challenges with finding great people. We have taken the approach of sharing our story with community members, local media, Universities and continue to interview and recruit tech and business people to join 71lbs.

A.B.R. Always be recruiting. Always be raising.

What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?

We were able to average over 50 customer sign ups per week and we hope to build on that momemtum.

What are your next milestones

We would like to continue developing our technology and go live with our next software release which includes invoice auditing.

 Who are your mentors and role models?

I’ve been fortunate to have a number of mentors throughout my years. One piece of advice I was told early on my career was to recruit a personal “board of advisors”, which I personally invested a lot of my time and effort into making happen. Most recently, my former boss at FedEx was instrumental in helping me develop a number of skills, like leading without authority, influence and persuasion, and presentation.

What’s next for your startup?

We would like to continue to grow and offer additional cost saving products and services for our customers. We are working on adding a number of partners to our ecosystem, which will allow us to increase reach and distribution.

Where can people find out more, and what is your Twitter username?





This Chattanooga startup aims to simplify your social life


Florida Startup Ziipa Helps You Navigate The Ocean of Apps

Ziipa, Florida startup,startup interview

Sure there are a lot of app discovery startups out there, but ziipa, a startup based in West Palm Beach Florida, is helping people discover the diamonds in the rough. In the application discovery space there are two users, the app developers and the actual app users. Most app discovery platforms do one of those users well, but not both.

Ziipa is using their proprietary algorithms to help users really dig deep and find the apps that they need and want. It’s also helping app developers reach out and fund users they couldn’t’ get from a quick spike in the iTunes app store or Google Play store.



“This results in discovery of sites and applications that would most likely not have been discovered. The outcome is a benefit to the user as well as the developer,” ziipa founder Lee Starusta told Nibletz.

Starusta founded ziipa after getting frustrated that his other apps were hard to discover. Not only are there a lot of apps in the marketplace, but there are hundreds of new apps and startups coming out daily. Add to that the fact that a lot of the other app discovery platforms are “gameable” and the deck gets stacked against you quickly.

“Ziipa ranks applications using a passive approach that eliminates bias and cheating,” Starusta said.

Check out this Q & A ziipa below:




In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)

Just go to ziipa and search for applications in a field of interest. As a user surfs ziipa for applications, ziipa identifies a users interest and anticipates any change in interest and recommends sites and applications to the user. This results in discovery of sites and applications that would most likely not have been discovered. The outcome is a benefit to the user as well as the developer.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Lee Starusta – Founder & CEO. Creator, dreamer and out to disrupt! Industrial engineer by education, entrepreneur by genetic predisposition. self employed for 25 Years with loads of experience. 100% ziipa

Hugo Aponte – co-founder & CTO. Technology guru! Crazy amounts of experience running technology startups, patent holder and loves mathematics and artificial intelligence. (Who doesn’t!!)

Where are you based?

ziipa is based in West Palm Beach, Florida, United States.

How did you come up with the idea for ziipa?

The genesis for ziipa came from personal experience in trying to launch, run, and grow several internet start-ups. It is very difficult to get noticed and acquire customers as the underdog. ziipa offers a platform that gets you noticed quickly and connects applications with users based on interest.

Why now?

The explosion in mobile and web applications requires that there be more than a few players in the space. In addition ziipa offers a different approach to solving the problem of how to be found. ziipa helps by shortening discovery time, increasing the long tail and fairly ranking applications without money and bias.

What sets you apart from any of the other hundred+ app discovery platforms out there?

The main differences are as follows:

1- ziipa ranks applications using a passive approach that eliminates bias and cheating.

2- ziipa can recommend users not only based on interest but it can anticipate a user’s change in interest. This dynamic approach to recommending helps content stay fresh and relevant to the users.

What are some milestones you’ve achieved?

Considering that our marketing budget is zero, we are very proud of the fact that we have experienced steady growth and that tens of thousands of visitors find awesome apps on ziipa every month. Acceptance is a key metric, and I feel that our approach is certainly paying off for users as well as app developers.

What’s your next milestone?

ziipa will be rolling out a marketplace for applications where developers will be able to sell their applications.

Who are some of your mentors and business role models?

I could mention many and some would be obvious. I have been an entrepreneur for over 20+ Years and my mentors and models have to be the everyday person with a dream who actually stops talking and does it. Without these entrepreneurs life would be very boring!

Where can people find out more and what is your Twitter username?

ziipa.com  @ziipa facebook.com/ziipa


Love Florida? Check out this developers conference on Atlantic Beach.


Florida Startup IntelligentM: The Sensor Packed Handwashing Police

Florida startup, HealthTech,Mhealth, IntelligentM, Sensor, startupHospital Acquired Infections, or HAIs, are a very serious problem and very serious business. Over 100,000 people in the U.S. die every year from infections they acquire once they are admitted to the hospital. The biggest culprit in the passing of infections in the hospital is improper hand washing.

While it’s such a critical part of patient care, doctors, nurses, techs, volunteers, and other hospital caregivers either skip hand washing all together or quickly run their hands through water without washing them thoroughly.

IntelligentM is trying to fix that problem using sensors. The Sarasota startup has been through the BluePrint Health accelerator in New York, the GE Startup Health program, and the SXSW accelerator program.

The sensors, actually in this case RfiD tags, are embedded in a bracelet that hospital care givers wear. Sensors are also installed at hand washing stations and most points where a caregiver needs to administer care.

The water safe bracelet, similar in size and material to a “Live Strong” bracelet, communicates with the sensors on the hand washing stations. The bracelet can tell how long it’s been at the hand washing station. They emit a buzz or vibration that tells the caregiver to wash their hands and gives a shorter signal when hands have been washed.

The bracelet also has a microUSB connection that can output historical hand washing information for hospital administrators.

With the introduction of “ObamaCare” HAIs became an even bigger focus area. Hospitals will now have their infection scores posted publicly, and infection rates will play into reimbursement rates for hospitals.

The IntelligentM has been testing at a Sarasota hospital since last year.

Find out more at intelligentM.com

Image: GizMag

Gainesville Startup Fracture Secures $500,000 Investment For Their Photo To Glass Platform

Fracture, Florida startup, Gainesville startup, funding

Fracture, a Gainesville Florida startup, specializes in preserving digital photos on beautiful glass works of art.

The end result is a stunning piece of art you can hang on your wall or put on your desk. It comes out a lot nicer than the canvas prints you can order from places like Walmart. The do-it-yourself ordering system is simple enough for anyone who has a basic grasp of taking and printing digital pictures to handle.

A user simply creates an account on fractureme.com, chooses the picture they want printed, decides on the size of the printout, pays and–voila–their picture is turned into a stunning piece of glass. Prices range from $15 to $125. Printing takes between 24-48 hours and orders are shipped shortly after.

On Monday, the startup, created by two University of Florida students in 2009, announced a $500,000 angel investment from Tamiani Angel Fund. They also raised $430,000 from TAFI in May of 2012. The Miami Herald reports that they also received a $530,000 convertible debt investment, of up to $1 million dollars from the Florida Opportunity Fund.

“We are grateful for the support the Tamiami Angel Fund has given to our burgeoning company,” Abhi Lokesh, co-founder and CEO of Fracture, told the Herald. “It’s clear they share our vision and appreciate the growth potential of the printed photo display market – a multi-billion dollar market that InfoTrends predicts will grow 40% by 2017.”

Fracture reports that revenue was up 211% in Q1 2013 from the previous year.

Check out Fracture here.

Startup Tips: 11 Tips For Increasing Customer Loyalty


Mark Cuban Leads $1 Million Dollar Round For Florida Startup LinguaSys

LinguaSys,Mark Cuban,Florida startup,startup

Mark Cuban (photo: JD Lasica flickr)

Florida startup LinguaSys is the latest startup to graduate out of the Technology Business Incubator at the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University (TBI). The company provides translation and multilingual text analytics to businesses and government.

They’re also the latest startup to catch the investment eye of billionaire Shark Tank investor and the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban. Cuban has reportedly led a seed round of funding of $1 million dollars that will allow the company to expand into their own offices in Boca Raton.

The TBI is an exceptional facility, and we are proud to have launched our business there,” LinguaSys CEO Brian Garr said in a news release. “It provided us with a stimulating work environment and a variety of resources which helped us to be successful.”

The company was founded in 2010 by three founders that have over 30 years of combined experience in the human language technology space. LinguaSys had their first product out to market within three months of forming.

Now LinguaSys has expanded to Germany and Australia as well as their Florida home base.  They’ve grown to 14 employees and they’re also a partner with Salesforce providing their text analytics capabilities inside the Salesforce Marketing cloud.

For more on LinguaSys visit here. 

Here’s how not to get an investment from Mark Cuban.

Etsy + Ebay + Facebook For Nerds = Florida Startup Nerdular [video]

Nerdular,Florida Startup,Factory made, nerds, Jacksonville Startup, OneSparkLast week at OneSpark, the World’s Crowdfunding Festival, a big blue tardis served as a beacon saying something nerdy was going on at the Dalton Agency building in downtown Jacksonville. Perhaps nerdy was the wrong word. The correct word would be Nerdular.

Nerdular was one of seven startups in attendance at OneSpark from the St. Augustine based “Factory” accelerator.

The Florida startup put their best foot forward at OneSpark and hosted an opening party on Wednesday night, and of course the tardis, ready for anyone who wanted to take a picture like Doctor Who.

So what is Nerdular? Well when we first heard about it, it was described as a marketplace for nerd stuff. You know, video game t-shirts, Doctor Who gear, nerdy memorabilia and crafts. We immediately thought,ThinkGeek. ThinkGeek is the powerhouse e-commerce site that sells a lot of that same stuff.

So what’s different about Nerdular?

According to one of their biggest mentors and supporters Jeremy Vaughn, co-founder of the Factory accelerator, Nerdular will be part ebay, part etsy and part community. Think of it essentially as a “merch” room at Comicon or Dragoncon. A big gigantic, organized, flea market of all things nerdy. There will be professional full time vendors selling anything from t-shirts to swords, to steam punk gear, and those hobbyist store owners with handmade wares.

The other thing that is going to drive Nerdular is the social community that will form around the site after it debuts later this year. Nerds from across the globe will be able to talk about all things nerdy in rooms, across status messages and even on pictures of items. So yes, add an element of Pinterest as well.

As for ThinkGeek, it’s strictly a traditional e-commerce site. ThinkGeek contracts with all their vendors, the same way Amazon or Best Buy does. They then house everything in their own warehouses and distribute it as things are sold.

The bad ass software developers at feature[23] are feverishly working on an online platform that bridges all of these ideas together. The Florida software development firm that Vaughn owns is also the backbone for The Factory accelerator. All of the Factory’s companies can draw from the experienced team at feature[23]. The developers know that the nerd audience can be very critical, especially when something is designed specifically for them.

Check out our interview video below you can find out more at nerdular.com

Wait, there’s more from OneSpark, here.


ReThreaded The Social Startup That Won The Most Votes At OneSpark [video]

ReThreaded,Social entrepreneurship,social startup,Florida startup,OneSpark,Kristin Keen

(photo: NMI 2013)

Last Wednesday OneSpark, the World’s Crowdfunding Festival kicked off in Jacksonville Florida. It was five days of creators, entrepreneurship, artists and startups. The creators, and entrepreneurs came from all different categories and all different walks of life.

During the opening ceremonies, led by voice of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brian Sexton, we were given a glimpse of what was to come. Sexton invited random creators to raise their hands and come up and pitch their creation, business or startup to the crowd. Each of the five creators had 90 seconds to deliver an on the spot pitch. One of those pitches was Kristin Keen the founder of Rethreaded.

Rethreaded is a social startup that puts women who’ve suffered some of the worst abuse known to humans, sex trafficking, human trafficking and prostitution, and gives them a new sense of life, and worth through business, artistry and employment. Keen spoke to the crowd with a genuine passion. She had spent five years of her life in India where she helped empower women who had suffered the same kind of abuse through teaching them to sew.

Keen told Florida’s First Coast News that when she got back home to Jacksonville she couldn’t sit still she wanted to do something to continue her mission, and that she did.

She started Rethreaded, which crafts children’s clothes out of used t-shirts. So not only is she putting women who need a lift up a place to work and be creative, but she’s also upcycling t-shirts.

Little did she know when she pitched her company on Wednesday afternoon that she would be the runaway vote leader at the end of the week. She also didn’t know what was in store for her just a few moments later.

rethreadedenvelopesAfter all five creators had pitched, OneSpark volunteers handed out sealed white envelopes. Sexton informed the crowd that in those envelopes (which we weren’t allowed to look in) were $1 and $5 bills, $1000 dollars worth. The crowd was instructed to find the creators who just pitched outside of the creator lounge tent and hand over the envelope. Like me, many of the crowd didn’t even look in the envelopes.

I had made a core group of new friends at OneSpark and silently we all took our envelopes and walked over to find Kristin. We weren’t alone. She won that contest by a landslide.

rethreadedhutThe OneSpark staff did daily updates at 5:30pm each evening to inform the crowd of who the biggest movers in voting were and sure enough on Saturday evening Rethreaded was the biggest mover.

Their OneSpark booth was a hut constructed out of used t-shirts, which made a great make-shift shelter when the rain came pouring down Saturday afternoon.

Keen was one of the greatest creators we met. She was extremely kind and humble and we’re pretty sure she wasn’t even expecting the win. I caught a glimpse of Keen in her hut on Saturday afternoon, tearing up telling a group of passerbys that she never expected the outpouring of support she received at OneSpark.

Naturally I was gunning for a tech startup to win the overall vote during the five days of crowd voting, but I couldn’t be more pleased that the top vote went to Kristin Keen and Re-Threaded, a social entrepreneur with a heart of gold. With the most votes, Rethreaded took home $6,768.42 of the $250,000 crowdfunding prize. Event registrants voted for one creator using the OneSpark app and the money was distributed evenly among the top vote getters.

You can see how genuine Keen is in her 90 second pitch below:

Find out more about Rethreaded here.

Here’s over 30 more startup stories from OneSpark.


We Find Out What A Bumper Buzzer Is [startup][video][onespark]

Bumper Buzzer,Florida startup,startup,startups,OneSparkMark Foss spent most of his career in outside sales with technology companies. As an outside sales person he was constantly parking his car in new places. Finally he got fed up of bumping into curbs, and those annoying concrete things in parking lots that you can’t see over the hood.

So he did what any natural entrepreneur would do, he invented something.

That something is the Bumper Buzzer. A device that hooks to the front of the car and sends a signal by radio frequency to a receiver inside the car that alerts the driver to the fact that they are about to hit something.

Now a lot of newer cars have some kind of option for the car that may assist in situations like this, however that option is usually hundreds of dollars and doesn’t necessarily work all the time.

Foss hopes that the introductory price for the Bumper Buzzer will be in the neighborhood of $24.95 and the best part is that it’s completely user installable. A couple of screws and some automotive 3M adhesive that comes in the package, and you’re ready to go. Because the signal is operating via RF there is no need to run wires through the front of the car.

Foss is a lot further along with his startup than some that we saw at OneSpark. He has a prototype built and is already working on getting the Bumper Buzzer in front of Telebrands, the Pennsylvania based company that former Shark Tank shark Kevin Harrington runs, better known as “As Seen On TV”.  Foss is convinced that with his easy set up and price point it’s a shoe-in for an infomercial.

And we concur.

Check out the video below and for more information you can visit bumperbuzzer.com

We have a ton more OneSpark startup coverage here at nibletz.com The Voice Of Startups Everywhere Else.


Whata.tv From Startup Weekend To Getting Our Vote At OneSpark [video]

whata.tv,OneSpark,Florida startup,startup,starups,startup pitchThere were over 500 creators at OneSpark, The World’s Crowdfunding Festival, in Jacksonville from Wednesday through Sunday. They reported that over 115,000 people had been through downtown Jacksonville for the event. With 500 creators and over 100 tech/science creators, inventors and startups, there were a lot of people clamoring for my vote.

I saw a lot of creators I really liked. I’ll be doing my top 5 OneSpark startups and creators in the next day or two. However, a little after midnight Sunday morning I cast my vote for Jose Fermin and his startup Whata.tv.  I thought I’d share a little insight into what exactly whata.tv is and why I voted this way.

Whata.tv started with Fermin who is originally from Venezuela. He migrated to the United States with his family nine years ago. While in Venezuela, Fermin, who has two degrees in engineering, had a high profile position in satellite and communications, working with some of the biggest defense contractors in the world.

He wanted to move to the United States because he saw a land of opportunity so he did. However when he got to the US he realized quickly that he would have to start all over from scratch. Because of immigration laws and security clearances, Fermin, who worked with the likes of Lockhead Martin and Boeing in Venezuela, all of the sudden didn’t have the proper security clearance to work with the same exact people once he moved to the US.

He had one good prospect. He had a job offer in New York that paid very well, where he would serve as the International Director of satellite communications for a huge worldwide company. The problem was they needed him to go to Peru two days after he signed the contract, and he was still under his two week international travel waiting period from the immigration department. After the two weeks were up they didn’t have a spot for him.

Unscathed Fermin did anything and everything he could to provide for his family and not give up on his American dream. He painted houses, did roofing, general contract work and even worked at a dry cleaners. All the while he tinkered with side projects.

As the startup scene in Jacksvonille started to take shape he would go to meetups and Startup Weekend’s. Things weren’t what they were in Venezuela but he had his freedom and was living the American dream. Except for one thing that always bothered him.

Except for the World Cup, Fermin was unable to watch his Venezuelan soccer on American TV. He couldn’t even find the games online, just the scores.

Last winter, with Startup Weekend approaching, he decided to do something about it and created whata.tv. He was chosen to build at Startup Weekend and was able to do some of the preliminary leg work. He is relying on his connections and strengths in satellite and communications to help get this thing off the ground.

What is it?

whata.tv is a paid subscription model tv viewing service. It works on tablets, smartphones and the web. The difference this time? The customer pays just $2.99 for a monthly subscription to a channel.

When Fermin originally pitched whata.tv it was just about Venezuela but the other entrepreneurs quickly made him realize he was onto something. As the service nears launch Fermin is in negotiations with tv channels across the world to carry their signals on whata.tv.

While we think they should be paying him for the added eyeballs, Fermin is giving them a percentage of every monthly subscription. In addition he plans on marketing his own advertising; including pre-roll on the channels as well as customized demographic advertising. He explained it to me like this: “Say you have a popular comedian coming to Orlando from Mexico. whata.tv will know how many people in Orlando subscribe to Mexican tv channels on the service and we could market the comedians ad specifically to them.”

The service is also great for military serving abroad to watch the U.S. channels that they are missing. The same goes for business people who travel all of the time. He is hoping to provide full streams of the channel including things like local news, something you can’t get a la carte from sites like hulu.

So why my vote?

Well I really couldn’t in good conscious vote for DJ Mercy, I was after all covering the startup angle (just kidding).

In voting for whata.tv it was as much about Fermin as it was about whata.tv and the disruption coming to the tv industry. While we shot this footage on Saturday afternoon, I had actually gone by their space on Thursday morning. That’s where I met Fermin’s high school aged daughter who gave just as good an interview, as her dad did a pitch.

Fermin called me on Saturday morning to make sure I wouldn’t miss the pitch, rain or shine he would be pitching. Fermin is also a startup community leader in Jacksonville. With the luck he had, first starting out in the US, it’s refreshing to meet someone like this.

And of course, in the wake of recent events, with everyone waving the “immigration reform” flag this week, Fermin and his family are a great reminder that great people come to the US from other countries all of the time.

We’ll be tracking whata.tv.

Here’s that pitch:

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