Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Launch your Startup at the LAUNCH Festival 2015

Are you involved in a startup and looking for investors? What better way to do so than presenting your company at the upcoming LAUNCH Festival 2015, which will be held in San Francisco March 2 through 4.

Launch is looking for 50 companies to appear on stage. The deadline to apply is 2/1/15 and you will ned to provide a screencast demo of you using your product as part of the application.

There are three categories. 1.0 is for companies that have had no publicity whatsoever. 2.0 is for companies that have already launched but have a significantly now product of feature. The Crowdfunding category is for companies that will have an active Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign running during the festival.

For more information, go HERE.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beware of Computer Malware from E-Cigarettes

According to an article in IBTimes, a man's computer got infected with malware from an e-cigarette manufactured in China. The infection came through the USB cable used to recharge the e-cigarette.

The malware was actually coded into the charger of the e-cigarette, which was purchased through eBay for only five dollars.

The victim was an executive at a large corporation.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Your iPhone Could Be Hacked by a Simple Free App

I happened to come across the following video recently, which talked about have your iPhone could be hacked by a simple free app, like a flashlight app. Once the malware gets in, it can access everything you have on your phone.

First of all, is this real or BS? Any experts out there that know whether this is true or not? I've heard strong opinions on both sides.

The guy being interviewed talked about a quick and dirty way of checking to see if the app you installed could be a trojan. He said that if it takes up more than a megabyte, there could be a problem, because why would you need that much memory to just show a blank screen.

I actually have a free flashlight app on my iPhone, which only takes up around 80k. However, I noticed that there is an update for it that is 8 megs. What could a flashlight app possibly provide that would take up that much memory. I can already have my phone display different colors and flashing colors. So I think I will hold up on getting that update.

If what this guy is saying is true, is there a malware protection app that would stop any bad apps from even being downloaded? If so, can anyone recommend one?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Launch Your Startup in Less Than 100 Days

If you have a startup or are planning on creating a startup, you need to attend the LAUNCH Startup Festival 2015, to be held March 2 through March 4, from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm, at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California.

For more information on the event, you can go here, including the Launch Ticker and Events.

Also, check out the current video in This Week in Startups.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I Would Pay $5 for This App Right Now If Someone Would Invent It

Lately, the tweets I've been receiving in my Twitter account has been flooded with political ads. And not just text tweets. Most of them have pictures attached, usually of some political poster. Sometimes I have to scroll several times just to see a regular tweet.

Then I entered the letter E, which is a stock ticker symbol for ENI, an Italian energy company, in an investment search engine. The result page was covered with ads for Proposition E. I don't know what Proposition E is and it's not even a ballot issue in the area where I live.

I'm sick of these ads. I would like an app for my Apple iPhone or iPad that would blank out or block all political ads from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and web search results pages. I would be willing to pay $5 for such an app.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Second Best Ideas for App Related Startups

Continuing on with my series on Ideas for Startups that I'm not going to pursue for one reason or another, I have come up with a couple others that are app related. The reason why I am not trying to develop these are many: I may not think there is much profit potential, I may not have enough expertise around the topic to make it successful, I may not have the time, or a myriad of other reasons. So here they are.

What Kind of Dog is That?

This is what I call the "What Kind of Dog is That?" app. Have you ever seen a dog and wondered what type of breed it is? Or maybe you own a mixed breed and you wander what breeds your dog has? Maybe you are going to an animal shelter and you want to get a golden retriever mix, and you want to make sure it has golden retriever in it.

What if you could just take a picture of the dog with your smart phone and an app, using facial recognition technology, could tell you what type of dog it is and what breeds went into the mix?

Free Birthday Cake

Many restaurants provide a free dessert if you are having dinner there for a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary. How about an app where you could plug in your birthday and the birthdays of your family members (and anniversary date), and it would alert you as the birth date approaches to a list of restaurants in your area that will give you a free dessert. In addition, if any of these restaurants had "birthday clubs", it would automaticly register you for them. You would benefit by getting a free dessert and the restaurants would benefit because by giving out the dessert, they would pull in you and one or several other people to celebrate.

Do these ideas sound good? Going to give any a try? Let me know how it goes. I hope you become wealthy doing so. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Microinterview with James Altucher About Startups

James Altucher is an American hedge fund manager, author and blogger. He has founded or cofounded several companies, including Reset Inc. and StockPickr. His writing has been frequently published by a number of media outlets, including The Financial Times, TheStreet.com, TechCrunch and The Huffington Post. He has also published several books on investing. He maintains a blog at JamesAltucher.com where he discusses his experiences as an entrepreneur and his theories for success and happiness.

Comments in italics are from StartupAlmanac.com.

Question: Can you give three new ideas for startups that you haven't talked about before?

Altucher: podcast2book

This is a great idea. So many bloggers are doing podcasts right now, it would be nice to have a service that can transcribe all your recent podcasts then put them into book form. 

Altucherlead gen to people who will renegotiate edu loans

There are a huge number of former students with outstanding student loans. There are businesses that will help those people renegotiate those loans. Those businesses just need leads so they can contact those people looking for help.

Altuchercredit lines to pawn shops. charge 15% and 2 pts

Pawn shops need money and sometimes the demand for borrowing gets strong, especially during a rough economy with lots of people out of work. If pawn shops need money, they can easily afford to pay 15%, considering the outrageous amounts they charge on their loans.

Question: Thanks, James.

Altucher has several books worth reading that would be useful for entrepreneurs and those involved in or considering startups, including I Was Blind But Now I See: Time to Be HappyHow to Be the Luckiest Person Alive!, and Faq Me.

A microinterview is a very short concise to-the-point interview with no more than two or three questions and answers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Even More Second Best Ideas for a Startup

If you missed my articles recently on my Second Best Ideas for a Startup, you should check them out here and here. These are startup ideas that I thought of that I'm not pursuing myself for various reasons. Hopefully, you will take one of these ideas and run with it.

Spray Paint Reflector

Graffiti is a major problem throughout the United States. If there was some substance that could prevent spray paint from sticking, it would really sell. Governments and commercial properties would be huge buyers of such a product. This would be something that would be sprayed on walls, and would be clear. If the wall was spray painted with this protection covering it, it would wash off with water or wipe off with a rag. Any science nerds out there that could come up with this?

Earthquake Detector

On the news on a local TV station, they reported that an earthquake detector could be made by anyone for around $100, and could warn people ahead of time about an upcoming quake. How about someone mass producing these and selling them for $19.95? Even better yet, how about an earthquake detector app? An Apple iPhone earthquake detection app would sell like hotcakes in California.

No Calorie Chocolate

Obviously, obesity is a major problem in America. Most people like and eat chocolate. So how about chocolate without or with very few calories. This is what would be needed to make this successful:

  • No weird chemical sweeteners
  • Needs to taste exactly like chocolate (I know carob is sometimes considered a substitute, but not an exact match in taste)
  • Needs to look exactly like what chocolate looks like
  • The cost (and price) needs to be reasonable

So how about it? Think any of these ideas that can make you millions?

Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Get on Shark Tank

Shark Tank is the reality TV show for entrepreneurs. It has been the most watched TV program for the 18 to 29 year old demographic for Friday nights, garnering over 6 million viewers for each episode. If you can get on the show, even if none of the sharks invest with you, the free advertising you get for your startup is priceless. The sharks include Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Kevin O'Leary.

So what do you do to get ready for and get on the show? There are actually just a few simple steps, but each step can take some work.

Are Your Ready?

1. First, determine if you are ready. If a venture capitalist came to visit you right now, would you be able to make your presentation immediately? Do you have your business plan and pitch deck ready? Have you memorized it?

Getting Ready

2. Next, watch a couple shows and write down every question the sharks ask. Then have a co-worker or friend ask you every one of those questions. Standup when you respond. You may think that this step is putting the cart before the horse but it's not. Often, these shows want you to act quickly with the producers wanting to meet you within a couple days. You need to be ready way ahead of time.

No Confidentiality

3. Understand the lack of confidentiality with your proposal, and the terms of service. If you are concerned about someone stealing your idea, then maybe you should reconsider being on Shark Tank. The (Shark Tank, ABC, Disney) Terms of Service can be found at:  Terms of Service

How to Apply

3. Apply. There are actually two ways to apply; the first is to send in your proposal by email. Send your name, age, contact information, a recent photo, and a description of your business that will not remain confidential. You can email your proposal to: SharkTankCasting [ at ] yahoo {dot} com
More information about applying can be found here.

Open Calls

4. The other way to apply is through an Open Call. An Open Call is when an event is held in a certain city and you just show up to give your proposal without an appointment. To see a list of Shark Tank Open Calls, you can go to the following link:  Open Calls


5. If they contact you, respond immediately. If they want to meet you, drop everything and cancel everything to meet with the producers when they want to see you. 


6. If they decide they want you on the show, then practice, practice, practice and make sure you have all responses that you can answer with ease. (See step 2.)

At this point it's now in your hands. Best of luck!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Launch Festival for Startups March 2 - 4, 2015 in San Francisco

Have you started a startup? Do you want to invest in a startup? Do you want to learn more about starting your own startup? Then you should sign up now for the Launch Festival in San Francisco, which will be held from March 2 through March 4, 2015.

The keynote speaker will be Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn. Previous speakers have included Marissa Mayer, Peter Thiel, Sheryl Sandberg, and Mark Zuckerberg.

There are a few competitions:

 LAUNCH 1.0 - This competition is for completely new companies who haven't had press or public demos, and whose services are currently in closed alpha or beta. Early Bird Deadline to apply is 12/12/14.

LAUNCH 2.0 - This competition is for existing companies that are launching new products or significantly new features of an existing product. Early Bird Deadline to apply is 12/12/14.

LAUNCH Hackathon - This competition is for the best LAUNCH Hackathon project.

For tickets to the Launch Festival, go to the following link:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Exclusive Interview with Jarrod Smith of Rolling Paper Depot

Readers who are interested in learning how a startup became very successful will find this interview fascinating. In a continuation of our series on startups, the following interview was graciously provided by Jarrod Smith of Rolling Paper Depot, a fast growing online company that was started with less than $2,500.

Why don't we start by briefly describing what the company does? 

Rolling Paper Depot is an online retailer of rolling papers and smoking accessories for the roll-your-own enthusiast.  We provide a wide selection of products that aren't always available at gas stations or smoke shops.  Our goal is to provide our customers with great prices and excellent customer service. 

How did you happen to come up with the idea for the business?
Believe it or not, the business idea literally landed on my desk out of the blue.  I own several e-commerce companies and somehow a catalog for rolling papers landed on my desk.  I thought to myself, "who would buy rolling papers online? Can't you just go to 7-11?"  My naivety of the situation was comical.  I did a good bit of research on the market and was surprised to find that the business is viable.  It is not the biggest company I have, but it is the most fun to work on.  

Did you get any venture capital to begin with or are you self funded?
We are completely self-funded.  In fact, I started this company with less than $2500.  Today that would not be possible.  The market is extremely competitive and I suspect "Big Tobacco" will eventually enter the niche because of the ongoing legalization of medical marijuana.  

This is outside of the scope of the question, but I predict that "Big Tobacco" will migrate from tobacco to medical marijuana. I'm not saying tobacco is going to cease to exist, but in the future it won't be as prevalent as it is today.  I think "Big Tobacco" is actually working to delay federal legalization of marijuana.  Once they find out how to package it and sell it in conjunction with "Big Government", the entire landscape of MMJ will change into something like the beer industry where the Coors and Millers of the world sell the majority of the product and the "boutique" MMJ shops will turn into micro-breweries of sorts.  The best product will be in the small shops, but they won't be able to produce as much or be as competitive on price as the big boys. 

How long have you been in business and is the company a corporation, an LLC, a partnership, or what?
The company is a LLC. We have been in business for about 4 1/2 years.  

The recreational and medical marijuana industry seemed to take off in January after the legalization in Colorado. Did that provide a substantial increase to your sales?
It's difficult to attribute legalization of marijuana to an increase in our sales because our sales have been growing steadily since we started.  However, I think the "buzz" around legalization has sparked an interest in some products we carry. 

Any thoughts on what  will happen with the upcoming ballot elections on recreational and medical marijuana?
 The legalization of marijuana isn't an issue that is red or blue.  Nearly three fourths of the people in the US are sick of the battle over marijuana.  Our government is spending tons of money fighting a losing battle.  People are being charged with felonies and going to jail.  Our jails are full and our citizens are struggling to find jobs.  It just doesn't make sense to fight it anymore and the majority of people are fed up.  My thoughts are that the states will continue to legalize marijuana and eventually the federal government will have to give in to the will of the people.  At least, that's how it's supposed to work anyway. 

How many employees do you have and do you use virtual assistants?
We have 7 employees and we do not use virtual assistants.  Everything we do is in-house.

How were you have to get the the top of Google search, and do you consider high ranking a key in being successful?
I have been doing SEO for nearly 10 years.  I own an internet marketing company also and that helps me stay at the top.  I think being on the first page of Google for keywords in any industry is extremely important to succeed. Most people know a little about SEO, but they fail to see the benefits of social media marketing.  In fact, when I launched my latest e-commerce company in the roller skating niche I didn't focus on keyword rankings at all.  Instead, I focused on a large social media following.  Interestingly enough, that is actually leading to higher keyword rankings because my social followers are linking to my website for me.  The more links I get the better my rankings are.  This technique isn't "cutting edge", but it is definitely the progressive way to market an internet start-up in 2014.  

Tell us a little about your background.
 I am an entrepreneur at heart.  I built my first business in the 6th grade selling blow-pops at school. I hid it from my parents because I didn't think they would approve. I'm not sure why.  As it turns out, the school didn't particularly appreciate the competition.  My candy was cheaper than the school's candy.  Eventually I got caught and I had to stop selling blow-pops. The principal called me to his office and then called my father to discuss my "business".  They had a good laugh about the entire thing while I sat scared to death of what might happen to me.  My parents were impressed with my work and gave me the obligatory scolding for taking the lunch money of my schoolmates.  Since then I've had a keen eye for business opportunities and I've kept solid ethical standards. 

I got my first computer in 1994 and I had a dial-up internet connection.  I was not particularly interested in "chatting with someone in Germany", but thankfully my mother forced it on me.  She definitely saw the benefits of being proficient on the computer.  The first part of my experience on the internet was mostly IRC and learning the Linux OS.  As I learned more I did some tech work with Windows machines, but eventually I got a job as a Linux System Administrator.   Though it was unrelated to my duties, that job led me to learn SEO and internet marketing.  I also got my first experience with e-commerce at that job.  Once I learned both the marketing and e-commerce processes, I set off on my own to build my own e-commerce companies.  Rolling Paper Depot is one of those companies.

I believe my technical background has proven to be extremely beneficial for my businesses. My competitors have to hire out internet marketing and SEO.  They also have to pay programmers and designers to keep up their sites.  These services are expensive and time-consuming.  We are lucky enough to have all of these services in-house.  I have also been able to develop proprietary software and shopping-cart modules that keep me ahead of the competition.  

What are your plans for the future of the company?
My plan is to continue to grow the company and increase my market share world-wide.  We have considered licensing our name to shops around the globe to build our market share. I am fairly private about the details of my plans because I believe that I am an innovator and that secrecy allows me to stay ahead of the competition. I like to be first with website features so I'll hold those cards close to my chest for now.  I believe my plans for 2015 will grow the company by 30% or more. 

What do you consider your biggest challenges as a startup?
 Wow!  Good question.  There are so many challenges these days.  Starting a business and being successful has grown increasingly difficult over the years.  I feel the answer to this question probably changes by the month, but as of today my personal biggest challenge is patience.  I see what this company can be and I see the growth.  I just want it to grow faster.  I want to push my people harder.  I want to see the legalization movement progress quicker.  Unfortunately for me, these things take time and some things shouldn't be forced.  Patience is my challenge. 

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

Predict the future. How can one do this?  I'll share a trick that I have found particularly useful.  You can never go wrong if you build a business based on pending legislation.  When laws change there are often new opportunities.  For example, when the credit reporting laws changed (Fair Credit Reporting Act) there were many start-ups that built a business that helps people clean up their credit based on the new laws. This opportunity did not exist before the change in the laws! These start-ups were wildly successful and the ones that were set-up and ready to service customers immediately after the laws went into effect are the ones that still stand today.  But, to compete in this market today is an act of futility.  One would need massive funding and a huge budget for marketing.  Barring some kind of revolutionary approach to the market, you will have a hard time competing in this niche. 

Build a business that will service the future needs of people.  It is difficult to start and grow a business in a market that is well-established.  This is especially true if the Wal-Marts of the world are already selling your product or service.  A start-up cannot compete with these huge companies.  However, if you spend your time and energy on a business that is going to be big in the future, your success can be virtually unlimited.  You will have less competition and you can actually set the standard for products and customer service in your niche.  If you time it right, you might end up with a FaceBook or Yelp.  What's the bottom line?  Lead.  Never follow.

No investment recommendation nor any investment promotion is expressed or implied by either the publisher, the interviewer, the interviewee, or any of the interviewee's companies..

Saturday, September 6, 2014

More Second Best Ideas for a Startup

Did you see my article last week on my Second Best Ideas for a Startup? These are ideas that I've come up with for startups that I don't want to pursue myself for one reason or another. I figure that my readers my be interested in these ideas for development and become rich doing so.

Celebrity Finder

Anyway, here are a couple more ideas that I've come up with. This first one is for an app that would let people know where celebrities are. If a user happens to spot a famous movie star in a restaurant, they would type in the name of the celeb and it would alert others with the app who are interested in that person to know where that celebrity is. The app would even include a map with directions on how to get there and how long it would take.

The reason why I don't want to develop this idea is that it seems like a semi-invasion of privacy for the celebrity. But I guess another way to look at it is that if a lot fans turn up and recognize them, it means they still have their fame.

Smart Toilet

Another idea is a smart toilet. What would be so smart about it you may ask? First, when you urinate an defecate in it, the toilet would run an analysis of your feces and urine, to determine you cholesterol, triglycerides, a complete blood count, Vitamin D level, blood in the stool, sugar level, and so forth.

It would provide a digital report on the top of the toilet tank, that could be sent to your wireless printer if you needed a hard copy. If you are trying to reduce your cholesterol, you could track it on a daily basis with your toilet.

In addition, the toilet would also have the smarts to know if it contained just urine, or it it contained feces, and would adjust the amount of flushing to eliminate what is in there. No more multiple flushes on those low flow toilets.

Don't take this idea sitting down. Don't let it pass you by. Flush out the facts to determine what will make this successful.  You could really wipe away the competition. I'm getting pooped out by writing about this.

Future Ideas

I will continue to write about other second best startup ideas. Hopefully one of these will strike your fancy and you can make it a success. If you do, feel free to throw some shares my way.

Wishing you all the best in your startup pursuits.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Second Best Ideas for a Startup

Every day I try to come up with different ideas for a new startup business. The best ones I am keeping for myself for obvious reasons. However, I have many other startup ideas that I am rejecting for many reasons, and would like to share with everyone.

Some ideas have already been done and I just didn't realize it. Other ideas would take up too much of my time. And for some, I just don't have the expertise.

One idea that I came up with while making breakfast is a toaster with a timer on it. There is nothing I hate worse than standing there waiting for my toast to pop up. (Actually, there are other things I hate worse, but not usually at breakfast time.) It would really help if I could see a digital timer on the toaster, just like what a microwave has, instead of just staring at the lever on the taser. Unfortunately, Cuisinart already came up with a Toaster with Countdown Timer which I happened to find on Amazon. As a matter of fact, it retails for $130.00, but has been marked down to $39.99.

Another idea I had was a silent leaf blower. The gardeners in my neighborhood drive my dog crazy with the noise from those machines. I checked Amazon again, and although I didn't find a silent leaf blower, I did find a Husqvarna Back Pack Blower which is described as having minimal noise.

A politically incorrect idea I had would be a book about how to get out of jury duty. I've seen books on how to get out of speeding tickets but there are far more people that get jury summons than speeding tickets. Of course, the book has been written, 10 Ways to Get Out of Jury Duty. It's even written by an attorney.

I do a lot of tweeting. It would be nice if there was some software that could extract all my tweets, then sort them by hashtags, and make them exportable to Word or Excel. I haven't found any such software in my initial search.

One other idea I had was a child/pet/property finder app using RFID size transmitters to provide locations on your smartphone. The RFID could be sewn inside a child's clothing, attached to a dog's collar, or put inside a car or computer. Is it technically feasible? I don't know. Has it already been done? I've seen something similar.

Anyway, that's it for this week. I will try to come up with another set of second best startup ideas next week.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Launch Scale Conference for Startups October 23 & 24 in San Francisco

The Launch Scale Conference is designed for entrepreneurs that want to scale their startups. It will be held in San Francisco, California on October 23 and 24. The presentations will be from startups that have scaled and companies that provide tools that help startups scale.

Presenters that have been lined up so far include:

1. Steve Huffman, Co-Founder - reddit & Hipmunk
2. Marco Zappacosta, CEO - Thumbtack will explain how thumbtack got 70,000 paying customers without a salesforce, and raised $50M.
3. Andrew Johns, Head of Growth & Revenue - Wealthfront will talk about how they attracted $1B in assets under management with a tiny marketing budget.
4. Patrick Cheeseman, Head of Customer Experience - HotelTonight will discuss how to use support to drive product innovation.
5. Ryan Mannion, CTO - POLITICO will discuss how to grow from 0 to 100 Million monthly pageviews.
6. Christopher DePatria, VP of Revenue - SignPost will explain how he grew their sales team from 5 to 100 in 2 years, and signed up 93k SMB customers.
7. Aaron Magness, VP of Marketing - Betabrand will tell us how they use crowd-funded emails to never have unwanted inventory again.
8. Craig Zingerline, Sr. Director of Product - Red Tricycle will tell us how they grew to 750,000 emails without spending a dollar.
9. Arjun Naskar, Growth Manager - Homejoy will discuss how to expand into 31 markets in 2 years.

For more information, go HERE.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Startup Voodoo Conference September 25

Startup Voodoo Conference, which will be held in St. Louis, Missouri on September 25, is looking for nominations of Midwestern startups for its Most Promising Midwest Startup contest.

Winners will be chosen from each major city in the Midwest. The top prize is $10,000 in funding and services.

More details can be found HERE.

Caviar, Restaurant Delivery Startup, Taken Over by Square

Caviar is a San Francisco Bay Area startup that delivers food from restaurants to homes and businesses. It was taken over by the mobile payments processor, Square.

Square is the company that was founded by Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter.

Although not disclosed by the company, the New York Times reported that Square is paying $90 million in stock to Caviar.

First Bilingual Startup Group

The first bilingual Startup Weekend group began in Santa Maria, California. Startup Weekend is a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington to help entrepreneurs with their businesses.

Although there are numerous Startup Weekends being held, this is the only one where both Spanish and English are spoken.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Lean Startup Conference

If you are looking for a way to improve your chances as an entrepreneur, you should make it a point to attend The Lean Startup Conference, which will be held in San Francisco on December 8 through 12, 2014. The  conference will be held at The Fairmont Hotel, in the Nob Hill district of San Francisco at 950 Mason Street.

Sponsors include Pivotal Labs, O'Reilly Media, EventBrite, and WeWork. There are already 15 speakers identified, and the workshops include:

  • Startup Metrics: The Data That Will Make or Break Your Business
  • Lean Startup 101
  • Introducing Lean Startup in Your Corporation
  • Lean Impact
  • Innovation Accounting

For more information and to register, go here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Upcoming Startup Events

The following are some of the upcoming startup events for the month of July. Tickets are available through EventBrite.

IoT Meetup
July 17, 6pm
Sunnyvale, CA

Live and Interactive Startup Valuation
July 17, 3pm
San Jose, CA

Social Media Marketing Workshop
July 17, 5:30pm
Santa Clara, CA

Today's Funding Ideas for Startups
July 23, 11:30am
San Jose, CA

Silicon Valley TGIF Business and Social Networking
July 25, 8pm
Santa Clara, CA

Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products
July 30, 6pm
Sunnyvale, CA

Free Pitching, Networking and Refreshments
July 30, 6pm
Sunnyvale, CA

Monday, July 14, 2014

LinkedIn Bought Startup Newsle

LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD) made a major purchase today. It bought the San Francisco startup Newsle, a news alert company.

Newsle provides instant emails to users on news items relating to their social network connections, using machine learning algorithms.

LinkedIn closed up 3.12 today, reaching a high of the day of 162.74.

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:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Startup Check is Being Bought by Intuit

Check is a startup that was founded in 2008, which developed a bill paying and bill management app. The company, which is based in Palo Alto, processes $500 million in payments each year, from 10 million users.

Intuit, the company that makes TurboTax and Quicken, has agreed to buy Check for about $360 million. Intuit is expanding into web and app based services by acquiring such companies as Lettuce and Mint.

Intuit, which trades on NASDAQ, was founded in 1983.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Startup Trivia Test

Do you think you know everything about startups? See how well you do on the following questions. Some are easy, some are not so easy.

1. The JOBS Act allows general solicitation of investments for startups.
 a. True
 b. False

2. According to the 1960 McGregor Study, rewards and punishments in the workplace are not necessary to motivate workers.
 a. True
 b. False

3. Google and Amazon allow you to bring your dog to work.
 a. True
 b. False

4. Which round of investing comes first?
 a. Seed
 b. Series A
 c. Series B
 d. IPO

5. CrowdCube and Seedrs are examples of
 a. crowdfunding platforms
 b. IPOs
 c. law firms
 d. accounting firms

6.  Who created Crowdfunding As a Service?
 a. FundRazr
 b. Crowdfunding Inc.
 c. Kickstarter
 d. Indigogo

The answers to all the questions are the first answer in each list.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Top Startup Related Quotes

“Always look for the fool in the deal. If you don’t find one, it’s you.” - Mark Cuban

“Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.” - Jack Dorsey, Twitter

“But you are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn't making you stronger, they're making you weaker.” - Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Work Week 

“Get five or six of your smartest friends in a room and ask them to rate your idea.” - Mark Pincus, Zynga

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” - Biz Stone, Twitter

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful... that's what matters to me." - Steve Jobs, Apple

“If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.” - Jeff Bezos, Amazon

 “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” - Drew Houston, Dropbox

 “We are currently not planning on conquering the world.” - Sergey Brin, Google

“Best startups generally come from somebody needing to scratch an itch.” - Michael Arrington, TechCrunch

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” - Guy Kawasaki, Apple

Friday, May 16, 2014

Invention by Emory University Student Got Shark Tank Deal

Kaeya Majmundar, a senior at Emory University, received a $50,000 investment from Lori Greiner on the Shark Tank TV show. The invention is called a BZbox, which is a packing box that you don't need to assemble, but can collapse.

Lori, the Queen of QVC, will get a 40% ownership of the company.

Kaeya came up with the idea when she had to pack up her stuff for her college break during the summer.

Upcoming Startup Conference in Maine

Whether you have never been to Maine or if you live in or close to Maine, you you should check out the Maine Startup & Create Week, from June 12 to June 20. This eight day long conference, held in Portland, Maine, will have over 30 events.

Topics that will be covered include:
  • Technology and Education
  • Innovation in Payment Technologies
  • Building Startup and Innovation Communities
  • Women in Entrepreneurship
  • Innovative Technology and Clean Energy
  • The Maker Movement and Prototyping Labs
  • Innovation, Technology and Sports
  • Emerging Funding Models for Startups and Entrepreneurs
  • Innovation and Sustainable Food Systems
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Scaling Speciality Food Businesses
  • Pet Tech & Biotech
  • International Entrepreneurship
  • The Corporate Internet of Things
For more information, go to http://www.mainestartupandcreateweek.com/

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Startup Conference Held in Silicon Valley Yesterday

Yesterday, on May 14, the Startup Conference and Fair was held in Redwood City, California, at the Fox Theater. There were almost 2,000 entrepreneurs at the conference.