Category Archives: Startups

There’s been a lot of conferences where the focus has been centered around consumer tech. But a new one is set to make its debut in Silicon Valley will put the focus on a more nuclear demographic and one that is probably largely ignored by many tech companies: the family. That’s right, this particular demographic is a bit more complex than simply reaching out to males or females. Rather, companies that try and market to these segments must be aware of multiple issues, like whether there are children in the family, the personalities of each member, and much more. And you can’t discount this group one bit. Why? Because it’s a major powerhouse with incredible purchasing power that could make or break any business. To help shine some light on this, 500 Startups is putting together a brand new conference that they’re calling the MamaBear family tech conference.

This one-day conference is scheduled to focus on what they call the “Mama market” which I believe is more termed for mothers and the family unit, which probably makes most of the purchasing decisions in the group. According to 500 Startups, the mother market has enormous potential in the marketplace–purchases have totaled over $2.1 trillion and it’s continuing to grow. So the goal of this conference is to help attendees understand new technology for moms, their children, and families across a wide range of topics, including education, safety, health & wellness, and more.

So this event also includes the dads, right? Nope…most likely not. Why is that? Because family tech is the new undiscovered country when it comes to emerging technology. In a 2010 MSNBC story, Jodi Kahn, executive vice president of iVillage Networks, told a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show, that we are now living in a “female-driven economy“. Tina Sharkey, president of BabyCenter LLC, a network of parenting sites, even states that for moms, “technology is no longer intimidating–it’s part of her everyday life.” And it’s true…no matter whether you’re a stay-at-home mother or a working one, technology is going to help you keep track of your family and help the home run more smoothly. A while ago, mobile carriers were promoting special cell phones that parents could give to their children as a means of keeping track of them. Now, more startups and different types of technology are sprouting up left and right to help change the family dynamic.

ScreenfuseWe all know that Silicon Valley can’t be the only place where tech innovation is taking place right? Yes, yes…I know it’s a bit blasphemous of me to say such things, but have you heard of Silicon Beach, Silicon Alley, and other fun nicknames for tech hubs around the United States? Innovation is happening all around this country and even in places where you might not think it exists. But today, I’d like to share with you a story of one innovation hub in Hawaii that has produced a brand new product that looks to help make your event a bit more interactive.

Through the efforts of The Greenhouse Innovation Hub in Hawaii, they’ve devised a new service called Screenfuse, which is designed to host all your event’s conversations in one place.  It’s designed to work with your live events, restaurants, venues, and retail properties. By their description, Screenfuse is a service that “provides intelligent social interactive displays for events, venues, restaurants, and retail. Leveraging social media networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, and others, a Screenfuse display will increase onsite customer sharing and brand engagement and will encourage customers to promote your brand to their friends and family.

If this sounds a bit familiar, then you’re right. Screenfuse is another incarnation of the proverbial “back channel” that everyone refers to when they’re at a conference or event. It’s the place where side conversations, criticisms, praise, and other social media shenanigans take place while others are attempting to pay attention to what’s happening in real life. There have been many different attempts at creating the back channel, including tools like Twitterfall, but there’s not a “one size fits all” service that also incorporates the myriad of social networks where people could be having conversations. They are all currently subjected to one particular social network. What Screenfuse looks to do is to integrate the most popular networks to give attendees and organizers a really great view of what people are thinking.

CourierWe’re all pretty busy individuals, whether it’s in our personal lives or when we’re at work. Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone would mind some help when it comes to getting things done, right? Take for example if you’re at work jam-packed with meetings and deliverables, but you’re hungry and also need to pick up your dry cleaning or even buying that new jacket you know is on sale, which ends today. Just how are you going to be able to do all of that? You might be able to source it out to TaskRabbit or even Zaarly, but you want someone dedicated and vetted, not necessarily crowdsourced. Don’t get me wrong, I’d totally use TaskRabbit and Zaarly, but I consider them more of a crowdsourced assistant for a variety of other things besides just deliveries. But in the example given above, I’d have to give my trust over to Postmates, an on-demand delivery service that is disrupting the way traditional couriers are currently operating. No longer are they just business resources, but for personal use too.

Postmates appA battlefield finalist at a recent TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, this “stealth startup” (as listed on Crunchbase) is geared to help make your life simpler by having anything delivered in three simple steps: by using the Postmates app (currently available only for the iPhone), just enter the locations where you want pick-up and delivery, a brief description, and delivery time. That’s it! If you want, feel free to include a photo of the item you want to pick up/deliver. This might make it easier for both the courier and the recipient to know what’s coming. The Postmates app also will allow you to track your delivery in real-time so you know when it will get there–no more waiting around because the courier service said it’ll be there between 7-11am or other ridiculous times. Oh, and Postmates will deliver it within two hours or less!

Being hailed as the “Uber for courier delivery” by PandoDaily, Postmates is looking to bring more luxury and professionalism into the traditional courier industry. In fact, they’re totally disrupting it by offering dedicated couriers that have been vetted and they’re levering cool technologies to make it happen–very much like what Uber did with car service.

Bravo TV's Silicon Valley reality showReality TV has finally arrived in Silicon Valley. That’s right, Bravo TV, the cable network that brought you such great shows like Kathy, Project Runway, Shahs of Sunset, Real Housewives of [name your city], Top Model, America’s Next Top Model, and many others, is perhaps the first network to try and break through and pioneer a reality/docu-series about the tech industry right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s tentatively called “Silicon Valley” and it’s being produced by the network with advised by Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, former marketing head at the social network, and now an entrepreneur with her R to Z media company.

In typical Bravo TV fashion, “Silicon Valley” looks to be similar to their other reality shows, but the goal appears to be to cast a spotlight on the inner workings of the what life is like in the tech capital of the world. Expected to air this season, “Silicon Valley” has received some mixed reactions–in fact, it’s become quite polarizing. Mrs. Zuckerberg defends what is portrayed in “Silicon Valley” when in a statement to the local NBC affiliate here: “I’m a strong believer in innovation and entrepreneurship and hope that through this series, other people will be inspired to build the next break out companies and technologies.” The hope is sincerely there and for many people who happen to be involved in that hustle, they’re praying that the series does what they do here some justice and brings honor to their profession and their quest in trying to create something that will change the world.

Instagram of Instagram's announcement

Instagram just proved that it was definitely the top dog of the photo-sharing market. Announced today was a monster deal that pairs the largest photo-sharing app in the market today with the largest social network in the world. Yes, that’s right, Facebook has jumped and bought Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, posted that they’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently and there’s no indication that it would act otherwise.

This acquisition totally makes sense and is probably a perfect one–as Mr. Zuckerberg mentioned in his post, the social network for years has been “focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family” and Instagram now gives users the ability to be totally creative and help post (what some may think) better photos to the social network. After all, a photo-sharing feature currently does not exist on Facebook’s mobile app and there are some who think that their native mobile app just plain sucks. Now, Facebook owns one of the most popular apps and will be able to integrate both the team and the app right into its collective and build something great.