Sunday, June 29, 2014

How Your Startup Can Get Money from the US Government

The United States Small Business Association (SBA) has a program called Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) to help startups with research. According to the SBIR website, "Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation's R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs."

Three Phases

There are three phases with this program:
  1. Phase I. The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R/R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further Federal support in Phase II. SBIR Phase I awards normally do not exceed $150,000 total costs for 6 months.
  2. Phase II. The objective of Phase II is to continue the R/R&D efforts initiated in Phase I. Funding is based on the results achieved in Phase I and the scientific and technical merit and commercial potential of the project proposed in Phase II. Only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award. SBIR Phase II awards normally do not exceed $1,000,000 total costs for 2 years.
  3. Phase III. The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is for the small business to pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I/II R/R&D activities. The SBIR program does not fund Phase III. Some Federal agencies, Phase III may involve follow-on non-SBIR funded R&D or production contracts for products, processes or services intended for use by the U.S. Government.
 Determine if You are Eligible

Of course, you must be a business based in the United State. Here are the primary rules of eligibility:
  1. Organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States;
  2. More than 50 percent owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States, or by another for-profit business concern that is more than 50% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States; and
  3. No more than 500 employees, including affiliates
  4. For awards from agencies using the authority under 15 U.S.C. 638(dd)(1), an awardee may be owned and controlled by more than one VC, hedge fund, or private equity firm so long as no one such firm owns a majority of the stock.
  5. Phase I awardees with multiple prior awards must meet the benchmark requirements for progress toward commercialization. 

Some of the companies that were recipients recently include:
Actuated Medical, Inc. – Bellefonte, PA
Adventium Enterprises, LLC dba Adventium Labs – Minneapolis, MN
ChemImage Sensor Systems (CISS) – Pittsburgh, PA
Corvid Technologies – Mooresville, NC
Eldertide LLC – Dresden, ME
Exquadrum, Inc. – Adelanto, CA
Geocent, LLC – New Orleans, LA
HemoShear, LLC – Charlottesville, VA
Inrad Optics – Northvale, NJ
IRIS Media, Inc., dba IRIS Educational Media – Eugene, OR
Mainstream Engineering – Rockledge, FL
NanoMech, Inc. – Springdale, AR
Novan, Inc. – Durham, NC
Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. (dba as Pacific Biosciences) – Menlo Park, CA
Pacific Engineering, Inc. – Roca, NE
Parion Sciences – Durham, NC
QorTek, Inc. – Williamsport, PA
Realtime Technologies, Inc. – Royal Oak, MI
Robotic Research, LLC – Gaithersburg, MD
Sentient Corporation – Buffalo, NY
STAR Cryoelectronics, LLC – Santa Fe, NM
Structural Composites, Inc.  – W Melbourne, FL
Tactus Technologies – Akron, NY

For more information, you can go to the SBIR website

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

$100 Million Startup Aereo Loses Court Case: May Go Out of Business

Aereo, a New York City based company that received about $100 million in venture capital, is in the business of providing television network broadcasts through the Internet. Subscribers can view the normally over-the-air TV shows live or later.

However, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled today that against Aereo in a 6 to 3 decision that the company violated copyright laws. The suit was brought by the broadcast networks.

The company has stated that if the ruling was against them, it could drive the company out of business.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cool Tech Stuff from Startups on Indiegogo

Startups raising money on Indiegogo.com are providing a very diverse and interesting group of products. One of the nice features about this crowdfunding service is that if you donate enough, you can be the first person on your block to get one of these cool tech items.

TrackR has created the TrackR bravo in conjunction with the UC Santa Barbara Technology Management Department. This is the thinnest item tracking device ever. Their goal was to raise $20,000, yet they have raised an incredible $319,839, which is 1599% of their goal. Talk about a hot item. And what's amazing is that they still have 30 more days to go in their fundraising.

I am seriously considering getting an Anywhere Fridge. It is a portable, collapsible, solar powered refridgerator-freezer and warmer, all in one. Talk about an incredible money raising success! They had a goal of only raising $1,000 and have so far raised $57,549, with still 24 days to go.

What will they think of next. The CreoPop, the world's first 3-D pen. And what's really interesting is that the ink can come out in different colors in one pen stroke, and ink that glows in the dark, and ink that changes color ased on the temperature.  Still 26 days to go.

 It never ceases to amaze me the incredible and amazing stuff that startups are coming out with.

Monday, June 23, 2014

San Francisco City Attorney Goes After Parking Space App

In San Francisco, there is a very popular mobile app called Monkey Parking. It allows the user to auction off their parking spot, a scarce commodity in this city. 

The San Francisco city attorney has given the Italian based company until July 11 to cease and desist. The city said that it is a violation, and wants to charge a $300 fine for people that use the app, according to an article by Associated Press.

The city attorney is also going after a couple of other similar high tech startups according to the story, Sweetch and ParkModo. He also wants the apps removed from the Apple store.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An Intelligent Drone that Follows You Around

If you haven't checked out Kickstarter recently, you may want to take a look at a startup that is making a drone called a HEXO+. According to the company, "HEXO+ is an intelligent drone that follows and films you autonomously. Aerial filming for everyone."

The HEXO+ has a camera that can take aerial videos of you no matter where you are. You could be surfing or skiing. It is controlled by an app on your iPhone or other smartphone.

The company is currently raising money through Kickstarter and at this time this was written, they have raised $585,925 with 1,087 backers and 26 days to go.

These are really cool. I may get one for myself.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spotlight on a Startup: Interview with Laurie Hinckley founder of BuySelliQ

In a continuation of our series on startups, we decided to interview Laurie Hinckley founder of BuySelliQ, which was started with no venture capital funding.

1. Let's start by covering the company's business. Why don't you start by describing what the company does? 

            BuySelliQ is an online service designed for the sole purpose of assisting investors, whether novice, amateur, or professional, in the most critical area of investing, timing. Our service provides the capacity to maintain a list of 25 symbols that can be a mix of stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, and indices. At the end of the trading week, after all data for the week has been processed, BuySelliQ sends an email to inform the user that his or her list has been updated. The update provides the closing price of the vehicle for the week, but more importantly, the user is alerted to any change in the status of the symbols in the list. The proprietary algorithm used by BuySelliQ informs the user when the investment has changed trend direction from a buy to a sell, green to red, or a sell to a buy, red to green. The user should then make the trade, either over the weekend or on Monday.    

2. How did you happen to come up with the idea?

            I have been in the financial arena for over 30 years, studying, trading, writing about and speaking about the markets as they changed over the years.  When writing my weekly columns, the focus was always in educating readers in how to take advantage of opportunities in the markets while avoiding the pitfalls. 
            During this time period, technology changed the world of communication, and the way the world engages in social activities, shopping, doing business, etc. The age of the smart phone made it all possible and changed life forever. That said, I wanted to use mobile to introduce a simple, effective, app to make it possible for anyone and everyone to profit from the stock market as they go about their busy life. 
            The algorithm that is the heart of BuySelliQ has been tested, tweaked, and used in real time for many years. The goal is to introduce a tool to people that enables them to make additional funds, with confidence, and give them options to live a better life.      
3. Who are your potential customers?

            Anyone and everyone who wants to enjoy financial security, has not taken the time required to learn how to navigate the world of investing with confidence, or has a 401(k), IRA, 403(b) or a similar retirement plan that is not performing or fully invested.

4. Do you have any direct competitors? 

            Yes and no. To the extent that there are numerous companies, apps, blogs, advisors, brokers and the like, all competing for your business, you could say they are all competitors. On the other hand, our service is unique in a number of ways and the value available to users, is unmatched in the industry. 

5. How about describing your company structure.  How long in business? Location?

            BuySelliQ was just launched in the final week of February 2014. We are located in Las Vegas but the team is in various locations on the west coast from CA, to WA, and as far east as

6. Are you self-funded or do you have investors? 

            Self-funded at present.

7. Tell us a little about your background.

            I started in the financial business at age 21. My entry was through the insurance business. Next was the addition of mutual funds as investments; then it was a five plus year move into the brokerage business where I wrote a weekly financial column for the local paper, along with radio and TV. In 1992, I opened my own investment advisory firm, where I was able to use the technology being employed at BuySelliQ.

8. What do you consider your biggest challenges as a startup?

            Consumer education. The constant bombardment of so called experts recommending stocks and user action in the marketplace has created a vacuum whereby users think a rational and profitable way to invest is constant activity in their portfolio. In fact, a more measured, practical approach is what BuySelliQ strives to deliver to the end user. Our app is designed to help users take advantage of long positive gains and avoid long periods of losses. Because of this approach there is the perception that no change is a bad thing and we need to educate users and change bad habits.

9. Anything new on the horizon for your company (e.g. new type of service) that you are willing to share?

            Many enhancements are in the works for Version 1; our focus remains there at present.

10. What one piece of advice would you give someone who is just at the beginning stages of developing a startup?

            Talk to others who have gone down the same road; read all you can about the do's and don'ts; information is your best friend.  Be realistic. Set up your budget and then build in a 20% cushion.  Nothing is ever as easy as we would like.

Thank you for your time and enlightening us. Readers can see more information about the company at buyselliq.com.

No investment recommendation nor any investment promotion is expressed or implied by either the publisher, the interviewer, BuySelliQ, or the interviewee.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Startup Lab for Women

If you are a woman, of any age, who is interested in developing a startup in the San Francisco Bay Area, you might want to check out the Women's Startup Lab in Menlo Park, California.The lab was designed to assist women get the skills that they need to start and manage their own startups.

Several successful startups have already come out of this accelerator, including the virtual assistant app company Cognea and the golf course tracking and scoring app company Swing by Swing.

For more information on the Women's Startup Lab, go to: