Tag Archives: startup

Get Cozi With Your Family

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

The old-fashioned family lifestyle: kids do the chores, mom writes her shopping list, and everyone puts those important events on the calendar hanging on the kitchen wall. Coordinating a family is a process. A particular Seattle startup is very aware of that process and what better way to make it easier than providing a web service for it – a service for your family.

Cozi is a startup that’s main goal is to “simplify family life.” The feature’s it provides help to organize your family in the traditional fashion, but in a modern way, using the power of the Internet.

On Cozi’s website, you can create a family calendar and utilize widgets to access them from your desktop. You can send the week’s agenda out via email. You can create shopping lists to access from your mobile browser when you get to the grocery store, or create a to do list for your teenager and send them their chores via text. You can setup reminders for important events, or just sync your family calendar to your outlook calendar at work so you’ll remember that recital you need to get to after your meeting with the boss. Cozi offers a simplified solution for family coordination.

Along with the full website, there is also mobile site and iPhone app available to take with you so you can always have access to your family’s agenda. The Cozi founding team included veterans from Microsoft, Amazon, and Expedia, and that expertise and team member experience is really shown throughout the site, providing a great user and design experience. An experience that makes me feel…..Cozi.

If you’re a developer, you should check out Deploy 2010 on Monday, November 08, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (PT). Deploy 2010 is an all-inclusive conference for technology builders to give you new tools to create the applications of tomorrow. The conference will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.

What is the Best Viral Video Ever?

This old video by The Richter Scales has got to be one of the best viral videos I have ever come across. I laughed so hard that I nearly fell out of my chair. I admit to chair dancing – I dare you NOT to while listening. I also have to admit that I found myself nodding in agreement at several different statements made in the song. The lyrics are so full of epic win that I cannot possibly begin to do them justice by describing them. You simply have to listen to it and read the lyrics.

I have to thank community member Kevin Connolly for sending this video my way. If you’re not already following him, you should be. Kevin has a lot of excellent things to say in addition to unearthing oldies but goodies.

Do Google Employees Need Servants?

In the fierce competition for good programmers and employees, large companies are beginning to realize they need to offer more than just a cushy salary and stock option package. It’s not unheard of for Facebook to offer a half-million-dollar bonus to an employee who signs on that almighty bottom line. With carrots like that dangled in someone’s face, how can other companies compete? If you’re Google, then you’re likely going to offer to pay for the mundane tasks that your employees don’t want to do themselves.

Google is offering the services of TaskRabbit to employees who live in one of the five cities the company covers – including the Valley. If a developer doesn’t want to do his laundry or walk his dog, he can turn to TaskRabbit runners to do those things for him. TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque explains: “The perks are obvious – employees get the extra help they need and some work life balance, while companies get happy and loyal employees that are more focused on their work (without the stresses of the “little” stuff).”

Do you agree with companies using perks such as this to hire and retain top talent?

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to see what’s new today.

How Much Are You Worth?

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

If you ask most people the question, “Do you get paid enough?” You’ll most certainly always be answered with a NO. Salary is a top concern and there’s always that certain number that will make you a happy worker. Fortunately, there’s a Seattle Startup to let you know what you should be making after all.

PayScale has a service that determines how well you are being paid compared to others who have a similar job. The service is free in a limited fashion, but your scale is determined based on many factors including work environment, education, your professional experience, company size, etc. This is all information you must provide. Some of it is optional, but the more you provide, the more accurate PayScale will be in determining how well you’re being compensated. In the end, you receive a report and graph that shows where you are in relation to other people who’ve reported. The report is anonymous, so don’t worry about your co-worker giving you dirty looks because he found out you’re making much much more than him.

You can also upgrade to their premium service for $19.95. By doing so, you’ll gain insight to a lot more information that you could leverage to get that raise you know you deserve! With the largest online employee salary database according to PayScale, I’m pretty sure you can confident your scale of pay will be compared accurately.

If you’re a developer, you should check out Deploy 2010 on Monday, November 08, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (PT). Deploy 2010 is an all-inclusive conference for technology builders to give you new tools to create the applications of tomorrow. The conference will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.

Smilebox Makes Scrapbooking Easy

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

Are you in to scrapbooking? Do you like to make decorative web cards to celebrate the birth of a baby? Does the thought of making a high school prom collage online to share with your Facebook and Twitter friends excite you? Well, don’t worry about taking out the heavy-duty scissors and craft glue. The online service, Smilebox, was created solely for the purpose of creating fancy photo crafts.

The Redmond-based startup has developed an online platform around the popular homemakers craft of scrapbooking. The website offers hundreds of designs to use to create scrapbooks, collages, greetings cards, or photo albums. The tool itself is not web-based, it’s a native application you must download and install onto your Mac or Windows machine. But the unique service itself is worth trying if this craft is your passion.

Smilebox is still a very small startup, but they are growing a fast pace and recently moved to a new, bigger office this year to accommodate the growth. They are gaining lots of traction even though their product is niche, but the fact that they don’t have too many competitors in their market will help them to expand products and make business quick.

Smilebox will be featured at Deploy 2010 on Monday, November 08, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (PT). Deploy 2010 is an all-inclusive conference for technology builders to give you new tools to create the applications of tomorrow. The conference will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.

Discover Your City in a New Way with MyCityWay

Even if you grew up in a major city such as New York or Chicago, you still may not know how to find your way around. Where do you find the best steak? How do you know which hot spots are truly hot this week? The new MyCityWay apps can show you exactly what you need to know – and where you need to go.

There are more than fifty categories to search through in every city app, including things such as: WiFi locations, Transit options, Upcoming events, City Landmarks, Free Things to Do, Kid Interests, Tour Bookings, Tickets, Restaurants, Shopping, Traffic Cameras, Nightlife Discovery, Local News, Parking, Job Listings and even Apartment Listings! This app is your one-stop choice whether you currently live in one of the cities they serve, plan to visit one of them or if you’re thinking about relocating to any of them.

Currently, there are individual apps for the cities of New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. More cities are coming in the near future, as well. With ability to integrate with any social graph – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or custom mash-ups – this will be the new usable glue that city residents and tourists have been craving to pull everything together.

The app is currently available for the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and Blackberry’s. The team is working to bring the application to Windows Phone 7 users in the near future.

Find Your Way Around the Mall with FastMall

If you’re not a power-shopper, then I’m betting you’ve gotten lost in your local mall a time or twelve. All of those twists, turns, stairways and hallways can be daunting to any of us who don’t make mall-walking a daily habit. The mall is a scary place, but FastMall wants to make life much easier for us all. It is the world’s first TRUE turn-by-turn navigation app – even showing you where to find stairways, elevators and bathrooms!

Samuel Feuer, CEO of Fastmall creator MindSmack, is one of those guys you just want to hang out with. He’s full of jokes and laughter, but he’s also very dedicated to the work he’s doing. His enthusiasm is contagious – the service is beyond awesome. It was easy for my assistant Kat to be convinced to download this app herself during her meeting with Samuel last week in New York. Kat is picky and doesn’t download many apps. However, she assures me that this is one she will be using on a regular basis.

The beautiful thing about FastMall is that it’s not only for malls: the service can be used to create navigational apps for pretty much any place you can think of… hospitals, theme parks and even convention centers. Anyone can request a customized app simply by talking with Samuel and his team. The idea originally came from Sam’s wife, Amie, who was completely fed up with static mall directories and the overall lack of restroom guidance when she was pregnant. Sam and his partner Marcelo took a chance and created a startup that I feel is going to become extremely important in the very near future.

Some of the features of the app include:

  • Shake your iPhone for the nearest restroom.
  • Tell FastMall where you parked and it will remember for you. Feel free to use this voice recorder as a shopping list too!
  • Turn-by-turn guidance inside the mall, from store to store, without using GPS!
  • Sync your status on Facebook as well as Twitter.
  • Add reviews of restrooms, restaurants and stores.
  • Make a wish list of things you must have.
  • Find a deal and save money.
  • Add data to FastMall to make it a better experience for everyone.

Think of what this could mean, folks. Let’s say you’re about to attend SXSW – and you know you’re going to be lost as usual. How great would it be if the powers-that-be behind the conference contacted FastMall to create an app you can use to guide you through the experience? The same could happen with any major hospitals… large corporation complexes… and so much more. The possibilities are literally almost endless here. I’m excited to see what the future brings for Sam and his team.

No Angel Secrets in the Valley After All

The biggest buzz on the Internet yesterday was Michael Arringtons’ post regarding a secret meeting involving ten of the most important VCs found in the Valley. Rumors flew fast. Speculation surrounded every word written. The people involved in the meeting were condemned before we even knew who they were. Yet, a few of us were skeptic. As I thought over the situation and wrote about it last night, I chose to stay on the high side of the road. After all, I wasn’t invited to the dinner either. I have no idea what the hell went on, any more than Mike himself. However, Dave McClure WAS there. And he’s decided to fill you all in on a few of their secrets.

You may not want to read Dave’s article if cursing offends you. He lays all of his cards right on the table for everyone to see. Much like Arrington himself, McClure pulls no punches. He tells it exactly like it is… whether you like it or not. As Dave points out, there are no conspiracy theories amongst the Valley VCs. There’s nothing screwy going on behind the closed doors. There is nothing for us to worry our pretty little investigative heads over at all.

at the dinner, there was a fair amount of kvetching about convertible notes, capped or not, hi/lo valuation, optimal structure of term sheets, where the industry was headed, who was innovating and who wasn’t, and 10 million other things of which 3 were kind of interesting and 9,999,997 weren’t unless you like arguing about 409a stock option pricing.

however, in addition to pricing & valuation, some of the more interesting things discussed were how can we increase access to startup capital (new geographies, new investors, Second Market, etc)… how can we increase M&A for startups & increase awareness of startups for non-tech acquirers… how can we increase startup innovation (more smart entrepreneurs, cool new platforms, better techniques for mentoring / entrepreneurship).

I don’t know about you, but I happen to think that these guys sitting down and talking through things such as these is a damn fine idea. They aren’t competing with each other. They aren’t trying to screw over anyone. They are simply putting their heads together to figure out a way to make things better in the startup and VC world.

That, my friends, is a beautiful thing to see. Collaboration – it’s what the world needs more of!

Startups in Social Media

I always love spending time on the islands. I was there last weekend to present at the Next Level Hawaii conference. Kelly Mitchell and her team did a fantastic job of putting this event together.

The team at Believe and Succeed grabbed Andrew Hyde to give his thoughts on Next Level Hawaii, social media, and starting a business. Andrew is the founder of Startup Weekend, Endoze Design and VC Wear.

Andrew hopped on a plane to Hawaii with only six hours’ notice in order to speak to everyone about his views on social media. He started a conversation about startups and the social space, and how they interact.

Andrew says that your goal is to be the best, but that you need to listen to find out how others are doing things. Find your niche and own it. He feels that everyone in any type of business should know where the conversattions are happening online, and insinuate themselves into the mix.

I have to thank Bruce and his team at Hawaii Aloha for helping me once again make the trip down to paradise.

Veoh Files Bankruptcy

Veoh was once considered to be in direct competition with YouTube. Veoh founder Dmitry Shapiro has said that the company would be liquidating and filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The company announced back in April that it would lay off 25 staffers, despite the $70 million in capital that the company raised from investors such as Intel, Time Warner, and Goldman Sachs. The company has been plagued by lawsuits during the past few years. Even though they have come out of those victorious, the cost of fighting has amassed to an astronomical amount.

Sadly, the news of closure doesn’t come as a surprise to many people. Traffic has been on a steady decline, dropping from more than 5 million unique visitors in December, 2008 to around 3 million uniques as of December, 2009. The company let go of what was left of their staff on Wednesday. Mister Shapiro stated on his own blog that “Unfortunately, great vision, a passionate team, tens of millions of users, millions in revenues and victory in court were not enough. The distraction of the legal battles, and the challenges of the broader macro-economic climate have led to our Chapter 7 bankruptcy”.

Veoh is just another in a long line of promising startups which has now failed in today’s economy. Even when there are investors on board, a company can still lose everything it has, just in the fight to stay alive. Online content consumers are finicky. We want what we want, and won’t accept something different. I’m not saying this is the case with Veoh. The number of visitors the site boasts is quite large. However, when compared with what YouTube brings in, those millions are apparently a drop in the bucket.