Archive for November, 2012

Startup Weekend New Haven 2012 Round Up

November 11th, 2012

Exciting to see a second sold-out year of Startup Weekend in downtown New Haven. The same power-packed 54-hour intensive session of dreaming, testing and doing. The new thing in 2012 was that sit was supported by The Grid New Haven. Still located at The Grove for the working part. The pitches took place in Gateway Community College’s shining new facility. If you missed it, here is my round up of the teams that pitched:

FISTS Inc (Financial Instrument Security Technology Services)
Kevin Ewing pitched on behalf of this check-fraud technology service company for use by merchants at point-of-sale. Competing with Certegy and TeleCheck who they say focus on MICR line (routing number, account number and check number). FISTS competitive differentiater is lower pricing (flat fee rather than %-based) and patent-pending technology that uses more data including almost everything on the check including address, signature, fraction number matches RTN, customer information, etc., not just account number.

Aasta Frascati-Robinson pitched for ed tech nonprofit that is focused on creating an augment-reality mobile app for the study of history for K12. Teachers can create their own curriculum or edit/reuse lessons built by others.

A Good First Step (2nd Place)
A lead referral service for local attorneys with free information as marketing plan. Content includes video and copy for answers to basic questions. Also plan to offer sponsored content for a fee in addition to selling leads. Free for purchasers of legal services. The team did surveys of residents and lawyers, filmed first content and first version of the website over the weekend.

Task management, inventory and financial management/forecasting SaaS business for small businesses. The example used in the pitch is a solo carpenter that allows data entry on the job of customer information, materials order and task information. MyBee is focused on creating one system that replaces need for the many systems that would normally be found in separate packages (Salesforce, BaseCamp, Intuit, InDinero, etc.). Goal is to price lower than competitors.

The company creates a platform on web and mobile with real-time social media for use at live events, radio or presentations. Allows for 2-way communication from the crowd to each other and to the presenter. More structured than Twitter to allow for aggregation of sentiment from users. Sold to radio stations, if I understood directly.

Mobile app for meeting people and managing contact information for events. Individuals who attend an event enter a code to unlock the ability to see public contact info from any at the event. Also, allows for contact via the app for those that do not want to share the contact info. The customer is the event organizer who pays per attendee. Working mobile app built from scratch over the weekend! True startup weekend spirit.

Musicians Vault (3rd Place)
Downloadable app for musicians to meet, collaborate (in composing and recording? new work) and promote their work once complete. Revenue from advertising, iTunes label model (get a cut of song sold) and in app purchases of music, as well. I’m not familiar with the competitive landscape here and they did not spend much time on it.

Good Game Network
Online video/computer game wagering platform. Think you can beat someone else on Xbox live? You can bet $10 on it and GGN gets a $1 cut. Or you can earn points like airline miles or hotel points rather than cash. If legal, surprised that there is not a clear market leader already?

Snag It Deals (1st Place)
“The of deal websites.” Consumer-oriented alerting service for when a particular product comes up for sale on deal websites. Revenue expected from affiliate model. Also, great that they built a first version of the system over the weekend where you text in keywords. At scale by collecting purchase intent, there are marketing and analytic opportunities.

Building Habits

November 4th, 2012

Habits are experiencing a resurgence.  From at least as far back as Aristotle, people have seen virtue or character as an extension of the right habits.  More recently books like Switch and the Power of Habit, habit are getting bestseller status in the bookstore.  And they offer various ideas.

But we all know that building new habits is hard.


One Yalie startup that helps you tackle the challenge is Stickk.  Brought to you by two Yale professors Ian Ayres and Dean Karlan who teamed up with Yale student Jordan Goldberg (now CEO).  They teamed up to to harness the power of the behavioral economics concept of commitment contracts to help you change.  You can put money or social shame/praise on the line to motivate you to make or break a habit in the future.  Lots of flexibility and power to the model. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to do so.


More recently, I’ve been using the mobile app from Lift. Wow, that has made an impact!   For example, I have flossed my teeth 50 days in a row.  While that may seem like a small feat, I never would have gone that long before using Lift.  And they say flossing is supposed to have a positive impact on fighting heart disease (among other more obvious benefits for your mouth).
The app dominates with its simplicity.  You can add any habit others use (like Exercise or Drink More Water).  Then you can check off the habit up to once per day.  And it tracks your consitency and provides positive re-inforcement via email and app for your success.  Very simple.  And I think the power comes from the simplicity in two key ways:
  1. Not SMART.  Yes, I know some of you are thinking that these habits make poor goals as they are not measurable and may lack other SMART characteristics.  That’s right, you don’t have to count how many pushups you did, just that you did the habit Pushups.  For me, I check off if I did one of a habit that could be repeated.  (Follows the method from book One Small Step Can Change Your Life where beginning matters most of all.)   The first pushup done almost every day is way more important than not tracking or skipping more days because the goal is too high.
  2. Positive Only.  Also, the app is designed only to give you positive encouraging re-inforcement.  You get a daily email summary with the number of habits you completed and no emphasis at all on what you missed.  Keeps me engaged and pushing towards higher numbers without creating negative emotions or connotations in my animal self (the Elephant) about not achieving.  I think this is key.
I’m curious to see if people begin to use Lift as a social movement platform. For example, if you want your supporters to do something on a daily basis to spread the word, or recognize your movement, do you build a habit in Lift and point people to it? That would probably only happen if there are already a lot of users. Maybe one day.

How do you build habits?

Inside Out #NHV and What’s Next

November 4th, 2012

Inside Out #NHV started out as just an idea.

We took pictures and we posed for pictures. a face of inside out

We raised money and we gave money.

We printed massive posters and we sorted them out.

We cooked buckets of wheatpaste. And then we cooked some more.

We posted the posters night after night.

We repaired them again and again.

completed inside out project at bradley and state

completed project: one side of state at bradley

power washing inside out nhv

clean up: power washing the portraits off the walls

We had an art opening on the street.

And then we had a clean up.  (With power washing!)

I am proud of what all the volunteers accomplished.  Totally amazed that the idea grew beyond the original organizers and was really embraced by many as their own. Thank you!

With the success of this public art project in building communitty, creating fun and spreading art, many are asking what is next?  I’m curious for your ideas.  Another outgrowth was an experiment at SeeClickFix with crowd funding repairs or civic improvements.  It’s called SeeClickFund.

Valerie Rose Belanger brought up one that I’m excited about although I’m not sure it scales to more than one of the massive concrete walls.  She proposed bringing New Orleans’s Before I Die to New Haven.  Come to PechaKucha night Wed to learn more.

And what else should we do?