Category Archives: Startups

Launch Conference

Everyone knows that there are plenty of ways to get funded–you can either start your company bootstrapped or seek investment from an investment firm or agency and you can also find an angel or a venture capitalist to give you some cash to help you along your way. Here in Silicon Valley, one of the most prominent angel investors out there that is taking names, meetings, making dreams come true for some of the tech industry’s best and brightest startups is Dave McClure. As a staple of Silicon Valley, he’s definitely one of the most recognizable names out there and has made it his goal to help as many startups as possible. From helping provide needed resources at Founders Fund to organizing a global tour bringing some of America’s brightest minds to other countries with his successful Geeks on a Plane tour, no one can discount Mr. McClure’s determination and dedication to helping the innovators of the world succeed.

And that’s probably why 500 Startups was created–this part-fund, part-startup accelerator is geared to help early-stage companies with a bit of seed investment to help get them started. Eligible startups can also enroll in their popular startup accelerator program and in an effort to promote some of their most popular portfolio platforms, mico-fund models are available to fund startups who leverage them (e.g. Twilio Fund). Mr. McClure started 500 Startups just 18 months ago, but within that time span has been, as The Next Web called “dazzlingly prolific“. From investments in startups like Curebit, 955 Dreams, SendGrid, LaunchRock, Visual.ly, Udemy, AwayFind, Zozi, VidCaster, TaskRabbit, WillCall, Miso Media, Twilio, Votizen, OtherInbox, OneTrueFan, Flowtown, MogoTix, Rapportive, Wildfire Interactive, Tello, and many others, 500 Startups has had much success changing the way people do business.

Instagram for Android is hereWell the time for rumors and speculation is over. They said it would be done in the “near future” and today, they’ve made it happen. Android users rejoice because now you’re going to be able to use the top photo-sharing app out in the marketplace on your phones without fear of being shunned by your iPhone peers simply because the app never was made available for the Android platform. That’s right, Instagram has finally come to the Android platform.

A couple of weeks ago, news broke that Instgram was moving ever so close to their goal of releasing an app for the Android that they set up a landing page that interested users could sign up and receive an email notification to tell them of the release. Well surprise! The app is now in Google Play (formerly the Android marketplace), but alas, no one seems to have received that helpful email notification telling them of its launch. I suppose the “early adopters” have leaked the word on Twitter and Facebook (that’s where I found out) and an email will go to the masses a little later on to inform them–maybe this is a way to make sure the enormous amount of people who are on Android don’t flood the marketplace and shut it down because of the demand. The Verge reports that when Instagram started accepting notification sign-ups, the service received over 430,000 responses. This isn’t bad, but definitely pales in comparison to the amount of iPhone users that the service already has (~30 million). So in order for this to have been worth something to Instagram, more people have got to start downloading the app.

Instagram for Android is free to download, but when I went to search for “Instagram” or “Instagram for Android”, I found it a bit difficult to see in my search results. Luckily, I had my Google account logged onto my desktop and installed it through the computer instead of through the phone. Now I’m able to check it out in all its photo-glory. The release of this version helps Instagram close the loop on one of their hopes for the app. As their founder, Kevin Systrom told VentureBeat:

We’re really excited about Instagram for Android as the next big step for our company…this release brings us closer to the idea that we can help every person on earth share their lives and discover the world through a series of beautiful images.

I’d say that Instagram has very much help accomplish that idea.

Frustration (was: threesixtyfive | day 244)With the proliferation of new forms of communication, lots of files are going to be sent across the Internet. The problem is that since most of us will be doing several things over the course of the day, we’re not always going to be on the same computer. From your home computer to your work computer and then maybe even your travel one, syncing files can be ridiculously difficult, especially when you want to consolidate them in order to work on them. Sure, you can definitely drop files into a Cloud service like Dropbox, Box, Oxygen Cloud, etc, but I’m betting that you’re not going to get 100% of them. And what about if you’re going to need to find that specific file that someone sent you in an email, now you’re going to need to log into your email, which can be challenging in of itself–I don’t know about you, but I have several inboxes that I’d need to search through.

So what’s someone to do? Just how are we to find what we’re looking for? In a sense, we’re suffering from search frustration. And this is where Found enters the picture–it’s a desktop service that is now in public beta that will help you figure out where your documents are and help organize your life. No longer will you need to figure out where you put that document or file–Found will get it for you, provided you give it enough information.

FacepalmAs you know, today is April 1 and what’s synonymous with the first of April is one of the most popular holidays for jokesters. It’s April Fool’s Day and this is when people can really become creative and come up with great gags and hoaxes that most people might normally fall for, on any normal day, that is. But since April Fool’s Day is upon us, I thought it would be interesting to cast the spotlight onto five interesting things that tech companies and publications are doing in order to try and fool everyone.

Editorial note: I’d like to apologize to the companies I’m about to promote here for dousing their ambitious attempts at trying to trick people…really, I thought about how best to do this before I penned this post. I don’t mean to ruin your joke.

Bringing faxing back

Down to Fax

So someone decided to create a pretty lavish campaign centered around the antiquated fax machine. It’s called Down to Fax and they’ve billed themselves as being the “chatroulette for fax machines”. Yeah, so if you ever cared to try and hook up with someone, then forget using services like eHarmony or Match.com because the newest way to get someone to go out with you is through the fax machine. Someone clearly put a bunch of effort into the site because you can view “random submissions” that someone has sent in using the Down to Fax service and there’s even a Frequently Asked Question section of the website. Basically, it’s a free service, but of course local fax charges may apply. Never worry again about things getting lost in one’s spam folder or lost since they can’t get to the proverbial “Inbox Zero”. Hell, you don’t really need a fax machine–all you need is an email address and the service will send you potential matches. And as a word of caution, please don’t go out to your nearest Best Buy or Office Depot and buy yourself a fax machine.

You might think of this as the analog version of eHarmony.

Mercedes EC145 Luxury HelicopterCould Uber be branching out into more luxury modes of transportation? That’s apparently what a credible source has told me. It looks like in select cities, Uber, the tech startup disrupting the car transportation industry, is looking to evolve to include a much different mode of getting around. As early as next year, this company, known for driving people around in Lincoln towncars and giving riders that bit of luxury and VIP service, is supposedly going to start allowing you to travel to your destination in a helicopter.

Yes, that’s right…you’re now going to be able to travel in the skies all thanks to Uber from point A to point B and avoid all that congestion. But don’t think that you’ll be able to do it anywhere Uber is…the cost-benefit for the company is to have it where there’s unbelievable congestion in the cities and simply taking you by towncar is unacceptable (and probably more expensive the longer you’re delayed). So it would make sense for Uber to roll this new service out in cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other large locations.