Tag Archives: startup

Plug Into Easier Data Storage

by Categorized: Entrepreneur, Startup, Uncategorized Tagged: , , , , , Date:

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Managing the thousands of documents, songs, videos and other media across laptops, smartphones and other smart devices is a cumbersome process without an easy solution.

Even with countless data management services like Dropbox and iCloud, users can still have trouble maintaining universal access across all of their devices.

Plug is a Kickstarter project that seeks to make data management a simple and stress-free process for users.

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The device is small box that connects a USB device to the Internet and syncs data on the device to a storage space on the Internet. After the data transfer is complete, Plug makes your data, including music, pictures and videos, universally available across all compatible devices.

While the concept is similar to cloud storage such as Dropbox, there are differences that make Plug a new experience for users. For example, the device has a physical presence in your home and to upload data, you simply plug in a flash drive, external hard drive or other device. The data syncs with the online storage and remains located on the physical device for easy access. With cloud services, the entire exchange takes place between your computer and the internet.

According to the Kickstarter page, users can increase storage size for any compatible device by terabytes, regardless of the original size. With this extra space comes the ability to access countless songs, movies and other media without the burden of capped storage space on devices.

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In addition to just increasing storage size, Plug allows users to easily and quickly share content and it is even compatible with services such as CrashPlan which backs up data.

The creators, Cloud Guys Corporation, also place a huge focus on security. Using secure technology, the creators emphasize that only you have access to your data.

According to the Plug’s Kickstarter Campaign “The security of your Plug device is our first priority. Like a private datacenter, your Plug is far more difficult to hack than your computer. Our team works continuously with security experts to make sure it remains so. Like high security servers, your Plug will be frequently updated with security patches to keep it unaccessible from badly intentioned governments and individuals.”

Plug isn’t quite a storage service that cloud storage users are used to. According to the Kickstarter page, users own the device and their storage space, whereas other services merely rent the space. In fact, the creators emphasize that Plug is not a service, but a product that you buy once (although there are options to expand the service if you choose so).

The Kickstarter campaign explains the product’s goal, “Plug brings the kind of unity that can make or devices really work together. It opens an era where we can think of all our devices as a single group; where playing with two devices from two different manufacturers can really make us live a single and continuous experience.”

The team has been working on Plug for about two years and expects that the service will be ready to ship at the end of the year.

Plug’s Kickstarter page is open for contributions now and ends on September 8th.

Photos Courtesy of Plug

 

Google Finds Waze To Keep Maps Business Strong

by Categorized: Apple, Apps, Google, mobile phones, Social Media, Startup Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Date:

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Google has reportedly agreed to purchase Israeli mobile mapping startup, Waze, for $1.1 billion.

The deal, which could be announced as early as this week, marks the end of a bidding war between Silicon Valley heavyweights, Google and Facebook.

Waze is a social mapping app that provides directions for travelers using traffic updates crowd-sourced from users. The app has grown in popularity in the wake of the Apple Maps fiasco that provoked Apple CEO Tim Cook to recommend alternative services, including Waze, Google Maps, and MapQuest.

The app, which reportedly has more than 40 million users, is a lucrative venture for Google, who will have the opportunity to boost their maps services with the addition of users who contribute data to help fellow travelers avoid traffic delays.

Additionally, the acquisition eliminates a competitor for Google.

Is the acquisition a good decision for Google?

3 Questions With Katherine Yarbrough, Founder Of Chic and Beautiful

by Categorized: 3 Questions With, Connecticut, Startup, Startup Weekend Tagged: , , Date:

Back in March at Startup Weekend Stamford, Katherine Yarbrough won second place for her pitch — Chic and Beautiful.  (Read my April profile here).

The site, an online wellness community and clothing exchange, has come a long way in a short time.  If you’ve lost some weight and have clothes that no longer fit or need to add to your wardrobe, Chic and Beautiful is now live for buying and selling.

Here’s more on where Chic and Beautiful’s been and where it’s going:

What have you changed or improved upon since Startup Weekend? 
Since we last talked, I hired a part-time web designer (who is in Texas!) that created my current website!  It is up and running, complete with inventory to be purchased, space for more inventory, and blog topics like “Rack the brain of an RD” (you can ask questions to a Registered Dietitian – coming soon), “Tasty Thursdays”  (I share recipe ideas and weekly meal planning menus and tips), and some health-related 
blog topics.  I am trying to get into a rhythm — I’ve never really blogged before — but am looking to post blogs regularly Mondays and Thursdays of each week.  I also really want to know what people are curious about — what health and wellness questions they have — so I can write blog posts that people want to read.  
Other than a part time developer it’s still just me on the team.  During my “daytime job” I work with a team of Registered Dietitians and PhDs with a background in nutritional science so that’s how I can pick their brain for accurate health and wellness information.  
What are you still looking to add, expand upon, or improve?

With such financial constraints (bootstrapping it now!) my growth plans are slower than I would like, but I am still hopeful.  I am designing an expansion to my website that will turn my website into a social platform for women to sell their own clothes and create their own wellness community.  I imagine the space being the “go to” place where women can gather to share their health and wellness goals, achievements, suggestions, tips, and ideas.  As they move through their weight change (or maintenance) and life changes they will also be able to sell their own clothes and earn more in return than at a consignment shop.  Chic and Beautiful, inherent in its name, is about women feeling beautiful inside and out throughout all the crazy moments in life.I am always in need of inventory. I am looking for women who have designer and brand name clothing they want to sell.  Right now, my sizes are limited (mostly smalls and mediums) so I want to add a greater variety of sizes, design styles, and brand names — and that can only come from sellers!

As demand increases, I also want to bring on more staff, with a focus on paid student internships in fashion, marketing, or web design.  I have had some outstanding mentors throughout my educational career (on campus jobs and internships) that were instrumental in developing me into the person I am, so I aspire to create a similar experience for other students.

What do you anticipate the next year or so will be like for you and Chic and Beautiful?
Within the next year, Chic and Beautiful will have the social component I envision, which will lead to growth.  During the year, I will also begin considering plans for expansion — a specific component for maternity and perhaps a brother site for men.

3 Questions With: Nick Pontacoloni, CEO Of Windsor-Based Startup OwnerAide

by Categorized: 3 Questions With, Entrepreneur, Startup Tagged: , , Date:

Nick Pontacoloni, CEO of OwnerAide

OwnerAide, a web-based startup out of Windsor is looking to change the way property owners find help.  Owners post jobs that they need to get done, whether it be simply shoveling a driveway or something more time-consuming like painting a house.  Those with the skills to get the job done then bid for the right to complete the task by providing licenses and accreditations, photographs, hourly rates, reviews, and more.

CEO Nick Pontacoloni answered a few questions about what OwnerAide provides.

Tell me a little bit about the history of OwnerAide.  What was the inspiration?  How did you get started?

I got the idea for OwnerAide about a year ago.  I own several rental properties in Boston, and I needed to get them in shape for a September 1st move-in date.  But it was a busy month at work, and I didn’t have the time to be on the phone getting quotes from electricians, replying to Craigslist ads looking for lawn care, and meeting with painters.  I wanted a way for service providers to find me, not the other way around.

I expressed the idea to my best friends, each of whom has over a decade’s experience in construction and home maintenance.  Turns out they felt the same frustration I did, but from the other end — they’d prefer to be working rather than having to spend time and money making cold calls or buying classifieds and lists of leads.  They also explained that small jobs — the type I needed completed in Boston — were a good source of income but difficult to find.  So, we designed OwnerAide on the belief that it should be easier for property owners to find the help they need, and that it should be easier for service providers to find work they’re qualified for.  We each invested our own money and contracted the development of the site to a firm in Boston.  The site went live in public beta just over a month ago.

What do you think businesses like yours could mean for those really struggling in today’s economy?

We believe it will empower the skilled individual to earn extra income.  Current avenues for finding home maintenance work — Craigslist, classified ads, and lead-selling services — are either inefficient, expensive, or both.  You need to put in a lot of time and money upfront if you hope to really benefit.  With OwnerAide, an individual can build and operate a personal business online for free.  They can find work, grow a reputation, and handle their payments all in one place.  The ability to earn extra money without taking on significant risk of loss is enormously beneficial for someone struggling to make ends meet. OwnerAide can help him or her earn that extra few hundred dollars a month needed to get by without any cost.  Right now we’re targeting home maintenance, but the platform could be used for nearly anything. It’s free to join and open to every one.

The site will also help homeowners save money.  When an owner posts a job, aides bid a cost to complete it.  An experienced plumber may make a bid, but if it’s a simple job and a reputable local handyman bids for less, that homeowner can accept the low bid and save money while getting the work done.

You’re in the startup phase — how is that going?  What are your long- and short-term goals?

The startup phase has been incredibly rewarding.  We’re seeing excellent traction early on — we’ve already signed up about 250 users, seen the completion of several dozen jobs, and paid out over $4,000 to local men and women who use OwnerAide to earn extra income.  All the while we’ve been meeting with and getting valuable feedback from venture capitalists and technology entrepreneurs to help ensure the business grows in the right direction.

Our short term goal is to secure the funding needed to expand the site’s reach throughout and beyond Connecticut and to find the right technical help to continue to grow and perfect the site’s capabilities and performance. (If you’re a talented and ambitious Ruby on Rails developer, get in touch.)  Long term, we want to make OwnerAide the preferred platform for property owners and managers nationwide to complete maintenance and improvement jobs in the $100–$1,000 range. A t the same time, we want OwnerAide to be the preferred network for any skilled individual to earn extra income.  We genuinely believe OwnerAide will make people’s lives better because it saves homeowners and property managers time and money, and it helps others earn money doing what they’re best at.

If you’d like to learn more visit www.owneraide.com.

Preview: TechCrunch Disrupt NYC

by Categorized: Entrepreneur, Startup Tagged: , , , Date:

In New York City this week, TechCrunch is hosting its Disrupt conference where a number of startups will have their chance to impress a panel of judges and win the $50,000 grand prize.

The Disrupt Battlefield is where the new startups will be making their pitches to investors, VCs and innovators.  15 companies already presented Monday with more to come Tuesday.  I will be there Wednesday when the winner is announced.

Another Disrupt feature is the Startup Alley, where some of the more promising startups in the world get the chance to show their companies off.  Shizzlr, a company that started at UConn while I was a student there a few years back, is one of the companies on Startup Alley.  I hope to catch up with them there.

Wednesday’s agenda also includes a presentation titled “Revolutionizing Beer” with Entourage’s Adrian Grenier.  Plus, MC Hammer is a judge for the Battlefield.

JOBS Act Simplifies Crowdfunding

by Categorized: Startup Tagged: , Date:

U.S. President Obama signs the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Congressman John Larson can be seen in the upper right. (REUTERS)

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, legislation designed to make it easier for startup companies to attract investors, will be signed into law by President Obama Thursday.

The JOBS Act — a rare bipartisan bill — will provide crowdfunding as a legal option for startups.  Before the JOBS Act, entrepreneurs could only hope to attract the attention of accredited investors, but now startups raising $1 million or less will be permitted to let anyone purchase a limited amount of equity capital.

According to research done by the Kauffman Foundation, from 1980 to 2005, firms less than five years old accounted for nearly all net job growth making it clear why both parties would get behind this bill.

“The JOBS Act takes the training wheels off of angel investing and is great for entrepreneurs,” Ted Yang, angel investor and Stamford Innovation Center founder said.  “It isn’t just millionaires who have the capability to invest in startups.”

Not everyone believes the JOBS Act is a good idea, though, saying that it leaves non-accredited investors susceptible to get-rich-quick scams and investments that are too good to be true.

To avoid such pitfalls, Derek Koch, the Founder & CEO of Independent Software in New Haven, makes a couple of suggestions: remember that startups are risky investments and invest through only reputable, preferably accredited sites.

“Investing in a startup is different from buying shares in a more established company,” Koch said.

Frank Marco, a partner with the New Haven law firm of Wiggin and Dana, feels the motivation behind the bill is sound because innovation is what will drive the economy.

“Crowdfunding sounds good in concept,” Marco said.  “I am concerned about the horror stories in terms of someone being defrauded.”

Marco says the success on the bill hinges upon the regulation.

“It won’t be the wild west out there, [crowdfunding] will be regulated by the SEC,” he said.

Sarah Krikorian, a member of the Gabinja team I met at Startup Weekend Stamford, feels the legislation will only serve to help them getting their company off the ground.

“While I understand the concerns of the investment community over aspects of this legislation, I see the overall effect of the JOBS Act as positive,” Krikorian said.  “If enacted this legislation will open doors to new sources of financing for small companies like Gabinja.”

Yang says the Stamford Innovation Center is planning on hosting angel training classes and intends on tailoring the course to fit news JOBS Act requirements.