Today Bing Fund and Sonar announced that Bing Fund has reached across this great land of ours to invite Sonar into its portfolio of startups. And they made at least part of their announcement via Vine. We think it really may be the first ever press release via Vine.
Sonar and Microsoft actually have a storied past.
Over the years, we have crossed paths with Sonar across the land of tech probably more than any other startup. Whether it was TC Disrupt NYC, PSFK NYC, at our own epic pop-up gallery, SMW, and most recently Xconomy NYC, wherever we went, it seemed that the cool little periscope was right there with us. We would bring each other up to speed, and talk about “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to work together?” And go our separate ways until the next serendipitous encounter.
Well, now it's on. Congratulations to both teams. No word yet on whether that means the Sonar team will be moving to Seattle for a few months.
Speek.com, a platform for easy conference calls, started as a way to permanently rid the world of PINs and elevator music. As corporate employees, founders Danny Boice and John Bracken were fed up with how stale business communication was, and set out to re-think an industry that hasn't seen innovation in over 20 years.
This blog post was written by Developer Evangelist Ashish Jaiman.
And right out of the gate, the team is at work developing a Windows 8 app to take advantage of the rising number of downloads from the ecosystem.
"We're putting out our Windows 8 app even before Android," said co-founder and CEO Bracken. "We feel it's important to reach the Windows 8 demographic early and be at the forefront of the innovations the Windows 8 platform has to offer." "The ability to write a single code base that runs on any Windows 8 device from the phone to the tablet to the desktop is key, and that's exactly what we intend to do. Not only will we support the Windows 8 phone, but look for Speek on the Windows 8 tablet and computer as well,” said co-founder and CTO Boice.
This graph from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week shows how intense the rising rate of growth is for Windows Phone downloads.
Super simple and visual conference calls wins pitch competitionBoice and Bracken left their corporate jobs to build the beta version of Speek, and presented at Distilled Intelligence 2.0, the pitch competition created by Fortify.vc and sponsored by Microsoft. The company took first place at the competition, which allowed Speek to add new investors, attract talented employees, and shined a spotlight on the work the team was putting in to revolutionize the conference calling experience for their users.Speek solves traditional conference call annoyances with a visual interface that allows you to:- see who’s joined the call- see who’s talking- share files directly on the call- raise your hand on a call- and mute loud callersBut where the company's secret sauce really comes in, is that they've taken phone numbers and PINs completely out of the equation. Speek's biggest differentiator is that you don’t need to hand out a phone number that no one will remember, or a PIN that you put in wrong five times out of six.With Speek, every user has a memorable personal link, (i.e., http://speek.com/YourName) that you distribute for a call. To join a call, you just click the link, and put in your number. Two clicks, that’s it. And the conference calls you. You’re connected to a visual conference room on the web, where Speek gives you the tools to run a productive meeting.A Windows 8 app for conference calls on-the-go in 30 daysSince its beta launch last year, Speek has experienced rapid growth, reaching tens of thousands of callers in a few short months. The founders quickly saw the need to reach business users who were on-the-go, whether taking a meeting while stuck in traffic or on vacation. Building a mobile app was the next logical step, and a Windows 8 phone app became a priority. "We're putting out our Windows 8 app even before Android," said co-founder and CEO John Bracken. "We feel it's important to reach the Windows 8 demographic early and be at the forefront of the innovations the Windows 8 platform has to offer." The company set out to build the app - and with a short timeline. The goal was to get the Windows 8 phone app ready for launch at March's SXSW conference. After talking with the resources available from Microsoft's Biz Spark team, Speek was able to quickly connect with qualified and cost-effective developers who were eager to get started building Windows 8 apps. In a short thirty days, the Speek Windows 8 phone app was ready for launch and distribution, and just in time for SXSW. Looking forward, co-founder and CTO Danny Boice sees many advantages to working with the Windows 8 platform. "The ability to write a single code base that runs on any Windows 8 device from the phone to the tablet to the desktop is key, and that's exactly what we intend to do. Not only will we support the Windows 8 phone, but look for Speek on the Windows 8 tablet and computer as well." The Speek Windows 8 phone app is free and available here:
Last night, we had about 100 people come by the Microsoft BizSpark Lab to talk about Using Community and Design to Build a Business Model. That link takes you to a livestream archive that I will embed below.
From left to right: Michael Staton, Learn Capital; Jenna Meister, Airbnb; Zachary Zorbas, Babelverse
Sahana Ullaggadi, Klout; Sumaya Kazi, Sumazi; Douglas Crets, Microsoft BizSpark (Photo Credit: Christina Tsakona)
Design, Listening, Community and Startup Knowledge
Rather than go through the entire event, I am going to embed a video and then pull out some highlights. Here are some tweets that capture some of the thoughts from our panel.
Every person on this panel last night represents one facet of the startup ecosystem. Let's say you are having coffee and you think of an idea for a startup.
If you start with Sumaya Kazi -- her startup, Sumazi, helps people find the people they don't know they know. This is especially good for when you are interested in working on an idea, but you don't have the resources or the immediate network to find the people you need to find to get started.
Once you find a group of people to work with, you can then use Klout to find out which of these people have the kind of resources and impact in social media and in their industry to get your marketing or your word of mouth off the ground.
Then it's time to code, or its time to do some business model generation, so you need to talk to your consumers or the engineers that will help you get your work done. If they speak another language, then you use Babelverse to communicate with them in real time.
And then, when its time to bring the entire distributed staff together to build, code, and generate business, you can rent a home from Airbnb and house them there for a month.
When you have proven that your MVP has legs, and it is building traction, then you have Michael Staton and the VC fund he is a partner in, Learn Capital, to turn to.
This kind of realization made me think that we are not living in a world where working for a corporation has to be someone's first choice. As one of our audience members put it:
30-40% of workforce is #gighopping. # of contractors on the up. People are becoming more talented and less loyal #bizspark
30-40% of workforce is #gighopping. # of contractors on the up. People are becoming more talented and less loyal #bizspark
— Lloyed Lobo (@lloyedlobo) February 26, 2013
the entire process of building a startup is one of careful listening, and a constant engagement with the consumer. The thing you are building is in some ways them, because any startup is really building a reaction to a massive group of people's problems.
Michael Staton said that you need something called "market empathy." You may have explosive growth, but you should ensure that the explosive growth is happening because you have adressed a concern that comes directdly from the market. He went so far to say that it's not even a "tactic." It's a commitment to a form of discipline.
"Market empathy is not a tactic, it needs to be a commitment." - @mpstaton #bizspark #bzlabs
— Jesus Gonzalez (@jgbeanr) February 26, 2013
"Market empathy is not a tactic, it needs to be a commitment." - @mpstaton #bizspark #bzlabs
This is something I riffed off, when I said that many people in what I would call traditional marketing try to sell the product first. It's all about the product. In a startup mentality, you often don't really know what you are making, because so much is dependent on the people who use it. In that case, you can't put 100% of your marketing efforts into selling the product by its features. You have to create something like an emotional space that enables people to want to help, and to want to use what they are not sure they want. It's something entirely new.
To me this is the fundamental design trait that is inherent to a startup. It is not something big and bold that overwhelms you and makes you want it. The startup gene is the gene that expresses the trait of cooperative creation. In the space where a startup is trying to figure out what to be in order to achieve the product market fit, the startup team's adaptive skill sets and reasoning powers will make the difference between an Airbnb and a Second Life.
The best use of this trait is in using community and design as the startup grows.
When it comes down to incorporating the design and the community function into your business model, two things are important:
1. Your design is going to make people understand what you do, but it will also invite them to participate in what you are doing
2. The community function should be run by someone -- often called a community manager -- who has an excellent skill set that can incorporate design sense, listening, business sense, and an ability to articulate to a massive following what the company is doing and how it is going to do that WITH the community.
As Sahana at Klout says, there is no standard model, or "in the box resume" that person brings to the interview. Look for the person who understands and can execute in the social space. Everything, anyway, is improvisation.
In the past decade, we have witnessed a steady transition of content and media from our physical world to the online digital one with the most marked transformation happening in books and music. But in the publishing world, there has been a radically absent player in this metamorphosis -- recipe and cookbook publishing.
This post was written by Sari Louis, Founder and CEO of YumvY.
Last year, a hundred million unique users in the US alone took to the Web in search of the perfect recipes to cook. Although some sites and applications today offer added functionality (such as the ability to change the number of servings or substitute ingredients), advancements have largely been limited to improving the discovery process—what to cook—as opposed to the cooking process.
And this is precisely where YumvY comes in. The transition to a digital online medium affords us the opportunity to provide new functionality that would have otherwise been difficult or outright impossible to achieve in the offline world. Whereas the transition in the industry has been limited to a mere translation from printed to digital “dumb” recipes, YumvY’s vision is to transform and greatly enhance the user experience in the kitchen by rethinking the digital recipe from the ground up.
So how can YumvY’s digital recipe format, SmartRecipe™, enhance your experience? One benefit is that it makes cooking at home a less stressful or intimidating proposition if you are a beginner. Just like the GPS system in your car, YumvY will walk you through the process of cooking a recipe, step by step start-to-finish without getting lost. It will tell you when to turn the oven on, chop the vegetables, or drain the pasta; when you complete a step, it will figure out what you should do next; and, if a timer is needed, it will automatically create one for you.
What other benefits does it provide? It makes cooking sophisticated, restaurant-quality meals at home fast, fun, and easy! Say you’re having friends over for dinner, celebrating a special occasion or simply the end of the work week. YumvY will combine the steps from all the recipes you want to cook, figure out how best to order them, split them among any number of cooks, and then walk each of you through the process, step by step. It will even estimate how long the meal will take to cook, or at what time it will be ready.
We have long dreamed of the kitchen of the future, from the Jetsons’ to Microsoft’s Home of the Future. And while personal robots are not (yet!) here to help us cook, the kitchen of the future is one step closer with YumvY. The examples above are but a few of the world of possibilities unlocked by rethinking the digital recipe and the role of technology in the kitchen. For example, integrating the SmartRecipe™ with your dietary restrictions or preferences, smart kitchen appliances, or even your local grocer is within reach. We have only just begun exploring these possibilities, and we at YumvY are very excited about the future that lies ahead. Most importantly, we are excited about helping you unleash your inner chef.
The games app market is extremely competitive, so finding new ways to keep players captivated is the big challenge facing developers right now. Finnish-based start-up Tuliotus has achieved just that, by introducing an exciting new approach to game-play with Haunted, which is also the first AppCampus-funded Windows Phone 7 (and now Windows Phone 8) app to be launched on the Windows Store.
The story starts in 2012 when Kimo Boissonnier and his long-time friend Sami Anttila decided it was about time they pooled their talents. They’ve both worked in and around the games, mobile and tech industries for years (Kimo has worked for Nokia, while Sami has been a distributed computing programmer) but entering a Microsoft competition called Dream Build Play was the catalyst. Along with Kimo and Sami, the other two team members were Matti Kotala (music) and Jyri Honkanen (graphics), also now working for the Tuliotus organisation.
Says Kimo: “We didn’t win, but it gave us the idea for Haunted. We could see that there was room for more exciting and challenging game-play. We did some brainstorming and thought, what if rather than having all the usual swords and other weapons, you could use your own logic to interact with whatever objects you can find, to protect yourself and complete the puzzle? Light keeps you safe from some monsters, others are drawn to the blazing fires of your torch. A rich game play could emerges from these simple elements.”
It is this kind of innovative thinking that led to Tuliotus’ successful AppCampus application. AppCampus is an €18 million open-innovation programme funded by Microsoft, Nokia and Aalto University that aims to help entrepreneurs and start-ups around the world bring breakthrough apps to market. It is highly selective, focusing on the very best ideas only, so acceptance into the programme is a real achievement in itself.
Kimo continues his story: “At the time I first heard about AppCampus, I was teaching students about developing apps. Karl Ots, the Microsoft Student Partner Lead for Finland told me that AppCampus was open to applications, so we tried and were successful.”
During the application process, the team decided to officially form their own company and the result is Tuliotus, fast becoming one of Finland’s newest and hottest start-ups. “Roughly translated, Tuliotus means ‘fire spirit’ - one of the characters in Haunted is a light-eater, which gave us the idea.”
Working with AppCampus enabled Tuliotus to accelerate commercialization of Haunted, through investment, coaching, marketing and training. In December 2012, it was the first AppCampus funded Windows Phone app to hit the Windows Store. Within weeks, it was number 28 on the Russian appstore and 49 on the US appstore, meaning that Tuliotus had scored rapid early success with two of its biggest potential target markets."
Haunted is available for Windows Phone 7 and 8 with two versions: a free trial, and a full version priced at 1,00€, with a free version supported by advertising planned for the future. User feedback has been excellent, with the app getting 4 or 5 star ratings. Kimo cites the fact that Haunted appeals to all levels of gamer experience and age groups as a big factor: “I let a six year old kid borrow my Windows phone and it was hard to get it back, he was enjoying playing Haunted on it so much! Equally, there is enough in there to keep more experienced gamers interested.”
Innovative game-play aside, was working with Windows Phone a contributing factor? Over to Kimo: “I was working at Nokia so it was a logical platform to use, but more than that I could see its potential. For instance, I was teaching high school kids how to develop their own games and with Windows Phone, they can create workable apps in just 48 hours. For developers, Windows Phone is game changer.”
Haunted is just the beginning for Tuliotus and it has grand plans for 2013. Says Kimo: “Our aim is to launch an average of one app per month during this year, giving us a total of 12 and we are working full steam ahead to achieve that. We are keeping an open mind to what the future might bring, but we’ve got some exciting plans we cannot discuss just yet and are talking to potential partners and supporters who will help us grow our business, so watch this space!”
Why bring one app to market when you can launch 10, 20, even 30? That is the ethos of a dynamic team of young Finnish developers who go by the wonderful name of the Magnificent Eight. As the name might suggest, this is an award-winning team of eight who have known each other since high school and have turned their shared fascination for computer technology into a stream of apps, many of which are available on the Windows 8 store.
They must be doing something right, because they are also one of the successful applicants selected to be supported by the highly prestigious AppCampus, as well as winner of the recent Finnish leg of the worldwide Wowzapp event. Karl Ots, spokesperson for this band of ambitious, talented students-turned-entrepreneurs, gives us some background.
A screenshot of Connect 4, a Magnificent 8 app.
“We’ve known each other for many years and have a lot in common, including our love of programming and playing computer games, but it wasn’t until Windows 8 that we got the idea of working together to launch our own series of apps. We could see that it was going to be a great platform for launching apps quickly and efficiently, plus we believe there is a huge opportunity: most other app markets are flooded, but as Windows 8 is quite new, there’s a real chance to make a big impact. So we wanted to be among the first developers to launch our apps on the Windows Store.”
“I had a chance to work with Windows 8 right from the start, because I am also a Microsoft Student Partner here in Finland (I’m studying at Tampere University). So, I had early exposure to the technology and have even trained other students on using Windows 8. I already knew the Microsoft team here in Finland well and they have been very helpful, always ready to help us if we have questions and even making sure that we had an early tablet to play around with when we started developing our Windows 8apps.”
“The development process with Windows 8 was very smooth and has meant that we were able to follow up on lots of our ideas for apps, rather than focusing on just one. So far, we have posted around 30 small games and apps to the Windows 8 Store, such as Magnificent Sudoku (which we had ready in time for the official launch of Windows 8 in November 2012), Magnificent Kakuro, Video Poker, Magnificent Live Tile Clock, Poker Sudoku and Magnificent Words. Most of them include some serious artificial intelligence or other challenging algorithms, to put a new ‘twist’ on apps to make them more interesting.”
“While we can’t reveal exact figures, we are in positive revenue. Our business model is simple: we have a time limited trial and then there is a small fee to carry on using the app, between one and two euros. We have had over 5,500 page views and around 5 per cent of those become paying customers. The biggest country for downloads is the US, with around 80 per cent of all download traffic from English-speaking countries.”
Like so many start-ups, the Magnificent 8 are ‘bootstrapped’ and self-funded, but have recently received a great boost: They won the Wowzapp competition (a worldwide Windows 8 hackathon organised by Microsoft in which 650 developer teams worked through the night building apps). The Magnificent Eight were named the outright winner with their board game – shortly to be in the Windows Store – securing a 20,000 Euro prize offered by co-host AppCampus.
The Magnificent Eight are also now being directly supported by AppCampus, an €18 million open-innovation programme funded by Microsoft, Nokia and Aalto University that aims to help entrepreneurs and start-ups around the world bring breakthrough apps to market.
So what’s next for this band of bright youngsters? Last words from Karl: “We’ll continue to collaborate with Microsoft and AppCampus and are talking to other potential partners too. It’s early days for us, but we are confident that we will continue to grow and be successful. It’s a great time to be an app developer.”
Through our partnership with TechCocktail, we have three pieces of advice for entrepreneurs building their own companies.
Alex Chang of One Technologies and his simple advice for entrepreneurs.
Since 2000, Alex has amassed considerable entrepreneurial experience to share with others who are hoping to start their own companies. He says one of the biggest challenges he faced was finding a viable business model, as he and Roger went through several before landing on the one that finally worked for them. His advice? Just be willing to iterate quickly until you find the right model so you can put all your focus on it.
Another sound piece of advice Chang offers is to refrain from being a selfish entrepreneur. It’s not about doing what is best for your personally, it’s about doing what is best for your company.
However, Chang’s most important advice for success might surprise you in its simplicity. Watch the video below to see how it helped him take his company from the $1,800 he initially invested in One Technologies to the $200 million in revenue it currently generates each year.
Matt Brimer from General Assembly talks about the connection between education and community. This is one that is dear to our hearts at BizSpark, because we believe there is nothing more symbiotic than community and education. There is no chicken before the egg, or egg before the chicken. This stuff happens all at once. Without education, you can't have a community. Without a community, you cannot sustain education as a force for change or creation.
The minimum viable product in a sustainable company
We are running a full hour live interview on LiveStream with Daniel Cowen, founder of local conversation startup Echoer, about his choice to use Elance to help build his company. Join us February 14, 2013 at 4pm Pacific for the first in what will be a series of Founder conversations from the BizSpark Lab.
Hope you can join us later in the day.
Members of the audience can tweet questions to us via #bizspark or get in touch directly via Twitter @bizspark.
Here's all the action from today's Facebook Community discussions at Microsoft BizSpark, brought to you by Tint.
Could be wrong, but I believe investors and startup people are in what you call a deployment period. We are searching out new ways to finance.
This blog post was written by Douglas Crets, Community Manager and Social Strategist of the Microsoft BizSpark program.
We are mistakenly using the junk heap of the past to convince ourselves of the next version of the future we want to see in investment. Big problem. If our assumptions come from a past that led to this mistake, we are utilizing a perception that leads to nowhere.
When you read blog posts that say there is a crunch going on, or we need fewer entrepreneurs, these are the three things I believe we are witnessing:
1. Perception confusion: believing there is of lack of money for investment (evidence to the contrary) when really technology created by the previous wave of disruption has created a kind of entrepreneur who needs to be funded in a different way for different ideas.
There is a lag between money that has already gone into experiments to fund these ideas and the result, which will then lead to a new bubble in due course.
2. Failure to realize this money is being deployed by people other than traditional players in the Silicon Valley / investment game.
3. A preference for wanting to see more of the old behavior to prove that we are ready for a new cycle of investment. These people will be caught off foot.
Summary: I don’t think tech bloggers are wrong for noting a crunch or a lack of investment opportunities. I just think that a fundamental change has happened, but that it doesn’t mean no more opportunities remain. I just think the opportunities look different, and they don’t act like our previous dollar assumptions behave.
I’ve always believed that we are lag animals. We look out into the world with knowledge gained from past behavior. but the future only looks like the past when you use the past to see it.
We asked Jessica Alter, co-founder and Chief Connector of Founder Dating, to tell us what has happened to Founder Dating since she started it a couple of years ago. And we thought we would run this at the same time as we announced that we are working with Founder Dating in 18 cities across North America so that you can find quality, real co-founders for your startup.
This post was written by Jessica Alter for Microsoft BizSpark.
One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur is getting started (even Jack Dorsey says so). A large part of getting started the right way is experimenting and doing it with the right people. But finding someone(s) who has complimentary skill sets but similar vision for culture and product, who is interested in similar concepts and is ready at the same time you are is no small feat. How many people do you know now that you could spend 80 hrs a week with? Yet, pretty much everyone agrees that team is one of the most important components to success. Enter FounderDating, a premier online network for entrepreneurs to connect and find co-founders and your partner.
Here's a graphic to explain how it works.
FounderDating has become known for having super impressive quality (they reference and screen everyone) and balance (50% engineers). But even more importantly, FounderDating is about the people. You don’t need an idea to apply - just be ready to start a serious side-project (think 10-15 hrs/wk).
FounderDating is live in 18 cities across North America. Apply Now
If you don’t see your city on this list, rally to unlock it!
Don’t wait to get started.
FounderDating (FD) is an invite-only, online network for entrepreneurs to connect and find cofounders. What makes them different?
* High Quality - members are carefully screened for quality and readiness (no recruiters, etc.) Applications and members’ identities are confidential, but a few of the folks who are part of the network are former founders or early employees from: Stackmob, Gilt, Zynga, Loggly and Facebook just to name a few.
* Balanced - 50% engineering & 50% non-engineering
* Reach-- FD’s online network allows you to connect with people in your city and beyond to share ideas and begin building something you’re passionate about.
* No Idea Necessary - FD is about the people, so you don’t need to have an idea, just be ready to work on a serious side project
So, last night we had this perfect storm of pitch events, tech meetups, and a wild party in the Microsoft Technology Center. One of our partners, 500 Startups, held their Mexico Demo Day at our BizSpark Lab. It was full on startup day yesterday.
Today, Mountain View Mania continues with a live feed of the 500 Startups Demo Day, featuring a few of our Microsoft BizSpark members, including Goran Duškić.
Goran is an interesting cat. He's from Croatia. He founded a company called WhoAPI, which is a kind of Twilio for domains. He writes really good blog posts about what it means to be a founder. He's working on a book about how to start a startup and build it to a full business. He's done this before. He's a feature of the Zagreb startup scene. I met him once last year when I was touring Eastern Europe looking for hot startups. He's a good guy.
The last time I talked to him was last week, in front of the Red Door Cafe in Mountain View. The guy has been through a lot. He got some funding from Dave McClure at 500 Startups and then invited his whole team from Croatia to follow him to Mountain View. He considered using my apartment as his headquarters, but then we both decided that having six people in my apartment for three months was going to be tough on the neighbors, and my carpet.
But what happened after they moved here was very interesting. Not soon after he arrived, Goran got really sick with mono. He has no idea how. Maybe he caught it on the plane. He has just moved his five developers and co-founders here. He's sick in bed. He's doing calculations on his back recovering. He's got plenty of clients waiting to use the service, but they need to build. He basically runs his startup from his sick bed, even getting everything ready for raising a round of financing. That's guts.
A BizSpark member does good. He recovers, they are building, and Goran is ready to take his team home after Demo Day today and turn on the service for his backlog of clients.
So, that's one reason you should watch the 500 Startups Demo Day live stream. Another reason? It's almost all BizSpark startups. In fact, when we last did the math when they announced this class, we worked out that 33% of this class were members of BizSpark. So, if you are following the BizSpark program, you might enjoy watching this live stream while you are at work today.
The other reason is that the live stream will remind you that the spiritual nerve center of entrepreneurship is in Silicon Valley, but it travels globally. If you are also a local startup anywhere in the world striving to be a global business, you should look into our Microsoft Bizspark program, which provides free software licenses, Azure cloud hosting support, visibility and access to hacker and developer events worldwide. Get on it.
And keep being your own relentless.
Great opening launch by Cesar Salazar, who merged Mexican.vc with Dave McClure's 500 Startups, as he kicked off 500 Startups Mexican Demo Day.
12 startup founders gave their demos at our BizSpark Lab today, and here are a few shots that depict the goings on.
I was sitting in the front row around people like McClure, Brad Feld (couldn't tell, was looking from an angle) and some other Silicon Valley investors, when Salazar said what I thought was the most important thing of the whole demo day. He said that Silicon Valley was transforming from the venture capital hub for entrepreneurship to more of the spiritual hub, as the global expansion of entrepreneurship was on its way. You could see a lot of heads nodding yes. I snapped this shot of him. Sorry for the light glare, but we are very bootstrappy when we do these things. I like to catch it all on the fly.
For a write up of the day, you can turn to this TechCrunch article. I love being at these things. Here are some of the startups that presented, as written by Ryan Lawler of TechCrunch:
Boletia – This startup helps events organizers sell tickets and find an audience for their concerts, conferences, and other events. In addition to sales online, Boletia also allows organizers to sell through local convenience stores, which is a popular way of purchasing tickets. The startup takes a 6.5 percent fee per ticket. Seven weeks after launch, it’s had more than $100,000 sales in tickets with just one salesperson.
Capptalog – Capptalog provides a way for small and medium-sized businesses to quickly create catalogs to showcase and sell their wares through mobile devices. It provides a SaaS platform on the web for creating and managing product descriptions, upload multimedia, such as photos and videos, and create sales pages for those products. It says there are 5 million SMBs in the Mexican market, and is looking to attempt to capture 72 percent of those.
E-Training – This company seeks to help train the 20 million professionals in Mexico that are underemployed or unemployed. In the Latin America market, the company sees 152 million web users, of which 14 percent are participating in online education. That will grows annually at a rate of 15 percent to 32 million people in 2015.
Femininas.com – This startup is going after the fashion and beauty market in Spanish-speaking companies. There are already 100,000s of customers coming to website every month, and it’s profitable. But it’s looking to expand in a market where there’s no Pinterest or Glam Media to compete against.
Harris – “Obesity is a ***.” That’s the problem that Harris seeks to solve, by connecting users and nutritionists and allowing both to track a user’s diet. The company offers a SaaS-based platform with a subscription model for its dashboard. It has a large list of foods and nutritional info that users can check out to choose what to eat, and nutritionists can use to keep track of their diets.
Nuperty – Nuperty helps connect buyers, sellers, and mortgage lenders in real estate. The company provides a platform for searching real estate listings, and also provides buyer profiles to financial institutions for those who wish to qualify for loans. The company has generated $100,000 in leads so far and is growing quickly in Mexico, and is looking to expand to other Latin American countries.
Many of you have probably heard of the great things that Frank Gruber and Jen Consalvo do with TechCocktail, the rapidly growing entrepreneur evenings that are spreading across the nation. We certainly noticed them. That's why we recently partnered up with them to be at a few of their events.
Tech Cocktail is a media company and events organization for startups, entrepreneurs, and technology enthusiasts. Since 2006, its goal has been to amplify local tech communities and give entrepreneurs a place to get informed, get connected, and get inspired. Tech Cocktail dedicates itself to covering news, how-to’s, up-and-coming startups and industry trends online, as well as hosting events in over 20 cities in the US and abroad. Read Tech Cocktail at http://tech.co. Follow @techcocktail on Twitter.
Here's a look at their schedule. We're really excited to be pairing up with them.
Frank and team will be doing a party at SXSW this year (link takes you to Eventbrite page), and it will likely be an explosive expansion on what went on last year -- a celebration of startup life.
We suggest you stop by. It looks a little something like this video below.
Who will be there? People like Tony Hsieh, founder of the Dowtown Project, for one, who showed up at the SXSW event TechCocktail did there last year. See below:
We look forward to seeing this partnership flourish. In the meantime, here is a list of links from one of TechCocktail's weekly emails. We suggest you sign up for that.
Excelerate Labs Is Now TechStars Chicago Startup Accelerator
Mobi Weave was founded to create great User Experiences for Enterprise apps and with our 4.5 star rated BI app on the App Store, we were well on our way to fulfilling that mission. But talking to our customers, we did find some issues that are holding us back. These issues affect most business apps on mobile devices.
After analyzing this data in Q1 2012, we had to pivot to a new business model.
Requirements for New Business Model
We analyzed different market segments to go after before settling on the Mobile Device Management market segment, since most of our current customer base was having this issue.
For our cloud platform, Windows Azure with Visual Studio tools was naturally the front-runner. But we were not just looking for a solution to host Windows VMs, lots of hosting and cloud vendors do that.
Our needs were much deeper. We needed a Federated Authentication service, a SQL DB service, a scalable but open cloud service that can scale ASP.NET services and a BI reporting service. While these services are individually available elsewhere, Azure brings them under one roof, which drastically reduced our development and QA time. Here is how our high level architecture looks like.
App Catalog was developed using Microsoft Visual Studio and the Microsoft BizSpark Plus program was invaluable to us during the development and deployment stages.
We chose Windows Azure as it is the only cloud solution that enables us to on-board a customer in 15 minutes. With Federated Identity, ASP.NET Cloud Services, Virtual Machines, Cloud DBs and marketplace for third party services, it allows us to innovate on our business rather than spending time fighting platform technology issues.
App Catalog, our MDM cloud app, is now in beta and you can use it to empower your users to manage their mobile devices in 15 minutes.
Our advice to other startups is - Cloud is easy with the right tools and irrespective of what problem you solve; it will help you to be in control of your destiny.
You can find dozens of sites out there that talk about the financial and operational logistics of building a startup. Does anyone really know the answer? Yes, there are technical things that a business needs to run. But most great businesses grew out of moments of clarity and trial and error. Most great startups created their own models. And the components of those startups that led to that kind of development had a lot to do with design and community -- the way things look so that you know how to work them, and the way people behave around a cultural idea.
We decided to put a meetup together around this idea. And it's happening in Mountain View on February 25 at 6pm. Read on to see the awesome roster of speakers, from Airbnb, Sumazi, Babelverse and Klout. And Microsoft.
Added new speaker!
Come to Mountain View and Microsoft's just opened BizSpark Lab to discuss business model generation for startups that depend on community and design to win customers and generate revenue.
We will be talking to a world class panel of Silicon Valley startup community managers and designers at this one of a kind kickoff to a monthly meetup series.
We will use hashtag #bzlabs to track the event on Twitter. And watch this space for our video stream, which will also track the event live.
Paulette Bleam, Director of Community, Sumazi
Sahana Ullagaddi, Community Manager, Klout
Jenna Meister, Community Development, Airbnb
Zachary Zorbas, Chief Designer and First Employee, Babelverse
Michael Staton, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Learn Capital
Douglas Crets, Social Media Strategist and Community Manager, Microsoft BizSpark --a free software and support program for hackers, developers, founders and innovators created by Microsoft
The evening will be structured like this:
6:00pm -- Networking and refreshment
6:45pm -- Intro and panel discussion led by Douglas Crets
7:30pm -- Open Q&A period with audience of startup founders, designers, developers
8:00pm -- Networking and refreshment till we say its time to go home :)
For further details or to stay in the know, follow us on Twitter @BizSpark and join our Facebook Community at Http://www.facebook.com/bizspark
You can register here.
Want Free Software and Cheap Cloud Hosting for Your Startup? Read On!
Microsoft BizSpark is a community support and software program designed to give early stage startups (less than five years old) access to Windows Azure cloud services and free developer licenses to create valuable business value for their startups. We put you in touch with local evangelists around the world and provide hands-on support and opportunities to network with investors, innovators, hackers, developers and other extraordinary people at our exclusive events. Apply today.
Most students graduate facing the challenge of getting a job, but Chai Botta, the CEO of GameIn this isn’t a problem. He and his co-founders are already running their own successful start-up, with a fast-growing game in the Windows 8 store, even though some of them are still in full-time education, including Chai.
The story starts in April 2012, when Chai – a mathematics student at Rome University - applied to take part in an entrepreneurship course run by InnovactionLab (a BizSpark Network Partner). Based in Rome, this particular event included creating 30 teams of four, each of which were each tasked with coming up with a great idea for a start-up. The end point was a competition where they would all compete in front of venture capitalists for first place. A lot has happened since then, so we’ll hand over to Chai to tell his story.
“Being part of the InnovactionLab project was great. Before that, I had no idea what it was like to be an entrepreneur, but it taught me a lot and made me realised that I had it within me to start my own business.
I was also lucky in that I was part of a strong team in the InnovactionLab project. We all have a role to play: Valerio and Justine take care of all financial and managerial aspects, meanwhile Edouard and I wrote the core of the game. And we’re all passionate about video games which is really important, because that shines through into our product innovation.
The result was that we came up with a brand new of thinking about games. Although we didn’t win the top prize, it was the catalyst for our approach to creating a new concept of games. By this, I different devices or games but using the same avatar, to share their prizes, money, benefits, goods from a game with any of our other games. No other gaming company is doing this in the same way that we do.
Plus, being part of the Innovaction event gave us a chance to network with some useful contacts, including venture capitalists and Mario Fontana from Microsoft. Mario really liked what we were doing and wanted to see how Microsoft could help us develop our company. Straight away, we joined BizSpark, which has been great for giving us access to free technology, but also networking and support.
The result is our company GameIn, which uses our new approach to games. We aim to make the games as interactive and exciting as possible, using technology such as geo-location, augmented reality and the cloud. Our first game is SquarePix, which we have develop since we have been part of BizSpark and is now available on the Windows 8 store. SquarePix is a geo-located game based on conquering real places on a map and is a cloud-based solution with a Windows Azure back-end.
Our first business model is the classic freemium one (where the basic game is free but users pay for additional features, such as clothes for their avatars). Our second business model is based on geo-located ads, but in an unconventional way. We plan to sell special pixels on SquarePix to big companies who can then show their ads on the pixels. Users can challenge the companies’ own players and if they defeat them, could win a discount coupon.
We’re now being supported by Enlabs, an incubator here in Rome, who will help us to start presenting to potential investors. We already have hundreds players all over the world and we expect this to continue growing fast as the popularity of the Windows 8 Store spreads. All our games are in English and we are targeting the global market from day one.
What more can I say? In only six months my life changed drastically, from being a normal university guy to a co- founder of a gaming start-up with already a game-app inside the Windows 8 store. From InnovActionLab and Microsoft I learned that if you have the right attitude, anything is possible!”