Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Hottest Tech in Stamford: Language Learning

You wouldn't expect Stamford to be the home of better language learning, but it was Language Zen that won the August 10th pitch.

What was so special about Language Zen.

The multilinguists who made LZ followed the language hacking techniques of polyglots (learn that!) and developed a mobile teaching system with a small but healthy revenue base.

They will be appearing a the next Private Equity Forum in NY.

Full Results

Language ZenMicah  Greenberg, CEO micah@languagezen.com              Language Zen is a web app that uses proprietary machine learning technology to be the most quantifiably effective way to learn a new language (2.2X faster than Rosetta Stone and 3.4X faster than college courses to be exact). We let users learn from music, explore their personal interests and data-mine spoken conversation for relevant content. Language Zen is currently booking $12,000/month in consumer revenues with a 3.5 month payback period and low churn.

Comment:  Savvy startup group tackling a slightly crowded market in a clear new way.                                                          

Mother's Milk Is Best, Inc
Elizabeth Schinkel, Founder brina5@hotmail.com 970-556-4780Pure, concentrated human milk promotes optimal growth and contains immune  boosting bioactive nutrients that serve a profound role in the survival and health of a premature newborn. Our solution is simple: using mature technology we remove water from mother’s milk without damage from heat or pressure; thereby reducing the volume while increasing the benefits of the mother’s milk. It provides the nutrition needed in the lower volume a baby can handle and is inexpensive. This system is unique; It alone allows a mother to tailor her own milk’s nutrient concentration for her baby as needed to promote growth.

Comment: Very unusual pitch for this group but show s promise. Heartfelt but needs a little more business edge.  

Pearl's Premium Inc.     
Jackson Madnick, President,  jackson@PearlsPremium.com, (508) 653-0800Ultra Low Maintenance Grass that needs mowing only once every 4-6 weeks, needs 1/4 the water of other grass and stays green year round without chemicals, now in over 400,000 lawns in all 50 states

Comment:  The grass really looks greener here. Needs a marketing boost.   

Jim Calisi, Founder & president, jim.calisi@clenchsports.com  (860) 538-4713          At CLENCH, we make custom-fitted sports mouthguards. And using the latest advancements in digital dentistry and 3D printing, CLENCH is offering athletes an affordable alternative to traditional, store-bought mouthguards (aka Boil-&-Bites).

 Comment: Great pitch, promising market looking for a barrier to entry.....

Judges at Work

Judith Benardete from Private Group Networks
Alex Jordan, BookU
Devin Dixon, Sprout Connections



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Can Smart Tech Save Policing?

A few years ago I saw a presentation by Verint, the company that listens in on phone calls with customer reps.

According to them, they they can evaluate the tone of the conversation as well as key words.

If the tone reaches a certain threshold or if certain key words pop up they can predict with apparent certainty loss of the customer.

So when will the police cams get AI and start picking up on he interaction.

There are obviously two sides to this issue and it would help to have an impartial real time evaluation.

Is this the future of Robocop?

What do you think?

Monday, July 11, 2016

June Report: Great Startups Begin WIth a Seed - literally.......

Startupalooza returned as an iBreakfast and attracted one of the largest number of presenters we have seen in years!

We also got a reminder about how great ideas spread.....as seeds. One of the great books on the spread of ideas, Crossing the Chasm was based on the spread of new seeds.....and that's who won in June!

The Winner:

Pearls Premium Ultra Low Maintenance Lawn Seed
Jackson Madnick, President      jackson@premium.com           (508) 653-0800Ultra low maintenance lawn seed (grass) that you mow only once a month, rather than every week, needs 1/4 the water compared to other grass, stays green year round without chemicals and sequesters 4 x the carbon compared to other grass to help lessen climate change.

An innovative, useful solution for millions of lawn owners. Obviously this existing product hit some kind of wall that investors found to be a workable challenge.

What is most interesting is that while it took tech to develop, it is a non-tech product. Yet seeds are also the product that inspired one of the most useful texts in the tech world: Crossing the Chasm. That book explains how new ideas - particularly in tech - make their way navigating from early adopters to the mass market. It was all based on the case study of new seed adoption in the 19th Century.

Talk about going full circle. Or just going to seed!

The First Runner up was:

The Wealth Factory      Angel   Rich     CEO     angelrich27@gmail.com         2024605627Commentary: The gamifactiation of financial educaton for the young with major corporate backers and some great name dropping (i.e. the First Lady) plus a solid pitch made this a close contender.

The Second Runners Up were:

Yannis  Moati   CEO     yannis@hotelsbyday.com  2123630120         
HotelsByDay allows customers to book hotel rooms for half a day, to refresh, rest, interview, prepare for a meeting. 
Check-in AM, Check-out PM - Simple! Our company is reinventing the Hotel stay!  Imagine getting into a city at 8am, and have a meeting at 1pm. What do you do with those hours in-between? During those hours, thousands of hotel rooms are sitting empty and millions of people are wandering aimlessly.  There is a massive gap in the market.  And that is why we created HotelsByDay. Through our apps and website, HotelsByDay allows customers to book DayRooms.

Commentary: A new spin on an old, once disreputable idea was credibly and extremely well delivered. A great execution play that could have been the winner if there were defensible IP. (Best wisecrack of the day, Trump could be an investor: "Making Times Square Great Again!")

Kristen Fletcher           CCO     kristen@fletchpr.com            6313983456
MeVee is the social media live streaming platform that allows users to go live, monetize, and share everywhere. Explore MeVee to discover interesting, funny, and premium content. You can also live stream privately with a friend or a group. The Wall Street Journal writes that, “MeVee was designed intentionally to be different from other live streaming apps” while The New York Times says that MeVee is “causing a stir.”

A great solution for the personal video age - one submission to all platforms and direct rev share. Would have been a shoo-in if the advertiser/monetization aspect were more evolved and the IP protectable.

Special Mention
Vivek    Kumar CEO/Co-Founder         vak1000@gmail.com            678 613 1386
NangioTx was founded in 2015 to provide safe and effective ways to regenerate blood vessels for the treatment of peripheral artery disease.

Commentary: While the judges agreed this may be the most promising and certainly life-changing product in this crowded list, as a biotech product, this was in a special case. It has to navigate FDA approvals and needs startup money in the millions. Nevertheless, the ability to safely regenerate real blood vessels is extremely interesting and the company will pass on to our specialized healthcare startup partners at Health 2.0, MedStartr and MidAtlantic Biotech Angels.          

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Smart Storefronts: Winners from Boston Event at McCarter & English

Here are the winners from our June event at McCarter & English in Boston.

Oleg    Vyadro,           CEO    OLEG@IMAGESURGE.COM         
ImageSurge converts any retail storefront into a through-glass touch interactive marketing and eCommerce platform.

Comments: Innovative solution to make storefronts com ealive. Has revenue. Shortest runway to likely success.

Ernest  Jacquet COO  ernestj@MentorLLC.com      FROZEN7 is Liquid Nitrogen manufactured natural ("Farm to Table") Ice Cream retail chain opening first store in The Market Place Mall (owned by Irvine Co.). FROZEN7 is trademarked (Disney) and competes with SUB-ZERO and Creamistry- growing over 100% per year.

Comments: Great franchise concept. Has two competitors, no IP but a likely momentum pay.

Private Group NetworksJudith  Benardete, CEO          jbenardete@gmail.com           845-392-2629            Private Group Networks Private Group Networks has developed an app that facilitates communication for groups of all kinds. iSpark- currently in use as the FirstTouch app for soccer teams- will solve problems resulting from the need to improve communication between, for example, health care providers and their constituents. FirstTouch is applicable to affinity groups of all kinds that form community around any issue whether that is political activism, non-profits, medical conditions, greek life, alumni groups or trade associations.

Comments: Good numbers and signs of growth. Buyout possible but some fears of being overtaken by a big player.

QC Check LLC  Marc Blumenthal        Managing Partner      marc@novationsinc.com       QC Check is focused on helping businesses do better through real time customer & employee feedback which is critical for any business that wants better product & performance, customer retention, business growth and success. When businesses don’t get real time feedback, it can go viral when it’s too late to reverse the damage.  QC Check has a working prototype, a great team, filed IP and an innovative solution to a 7-billion-dollar market that is stuck in the Middle Ages. Smart strategic funding of $250 k is sought in connection with a pending SBA loan.

Comments: Great idea for improving customer feedback but requires some customer effort and does little to improve the actual feedback.

A New Bicycle from Washington? Results from DC

Congratulations to the winner, Wilz Bikes - an expandable bike that grows from a stroller to a tricycle and then a battery-powered vehicle - may still be an idea on a piece of paper but it is clear that we have already helped this idea get off the ground!

The runner-up, Dog Pawz - a dog-walking aggregator that doubles as an in-home pet product retailer - didn't even realize what they had until our workshop helped uncover it.

As for the second runner-up eGrocer, they got an education in having a "Wow" factor - a pantry camera - before getting anyone's interest in the finer points of their plan.

We'll be back in Q3.

Results from the May NY Startupalooza

Here are the results for the May event with commentary.


First Wave
Brian Bell,  CEO, brian@firstwavetechnologies.com    716-560-2203
Over 80% of patients on life support develop delirium after 4 days adding $65,000 of cost and resulting in 300% higher mortality due to difficulty clearing common IV sedatives from the body. Alternatively, over 1000 patients have been reported in the literature showing inhaled anesthetic are cheaper, more consistent and reduce time on the ventilator.  But traditional OR machines are large, expensive and most importantly, manually controlled. MCD has developed a next-generation anesthesia making delivery of these beneficial gases practical for the first time, and is endorsed by the #1 physician worldwide in ICU delirium.

Comment: Big potential even with FDA hurdles ahead

Bazaar Technologies   
Yasser Toruno  CTO  yasser@accessbazaar.com     9174424506  
We're simplifying the entire wholesale distribution process. We are a three-sided B2B marketplace that leverages technology in a way that has never been done before.

We've built a platform to be a one stop shop that allows retailers to see multiple wholesalers, compare prices, product, and inventory to help retailers make the best purchase decisions for their businesses.
- Analytics to monitor your business
- Directly engage with wholesalers
- Browse product listings and make purchases
- Same day door to door delivery"                  

Comments: Useful. Could be hard to sign up small retailers in scale. Great local startup.

Tomer  Dicturel  CEO  kristen@mevee.com    
MeVee is the free social media live streaming platform that captures the can’t-miss moments, carries video and banner ads, and shares advertising revenue with content creators. MeVee records your live videos – they won’t disappear unless you delete them. Push the “Go Live” button to start broadcasting worldwide. Share your streams on all major social media channels. Anyone can view your streams, even without downloading the app. Explore MeVee to discover interesting, funny, and premium content. You can also live stream privately with a friend or a group. The Wall Street Journal writes that, “MeVee was designed intentionally to be different from other live streaming apps” while The New York Times says that MeVee is “causing a stir.”

Comments: Compelling but had to clearly differentiate in crowded field.

Future Moments LLC
Gary Levitt, Owner,  gary@micswap.com     323-201-1497
We're a mobile app creation company making fun unique tools for everyday content creators.  As of now we've created ‘MicSwap’ & ‘MicSwap Pro’, the first and only microphone modeler and recorder to hit the iTunes app store. Forbes said it’s “like Instagram for your voice”. We also created ‘Audio Fix: for Videos’, a useful app optimizes and cleans the audio in your videos. Our latest app, ‘Audio Master’, automatically masters your songs, demos, podcasts, etc. http://future-moments.com

Comments: Clever app. Useful. Needs some marketing help but very promising.

Special Mention

Parabiotic Research & Development Corp.     
Ira Trachtman Founder/CEO  ira.trachtman@parabiotics.com    516-650-6416
Parabiotic Research & Development is an early-stage company developing innovative combination antibiotic/probiotic drug products for the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel disease-Crohn's and colitis as well as infectious diseases. There is no other drug on the market for IBD that shares the same properties as our lead product PB-1, that are both therapeutic and prophylactic combined in one single dose.                          


Friday, May 27, 2016

Startupalooza in the News: So this is what we do....prepare you for the Sharks!

Startupalooza travels: Still Time to Pitch on June 1st in Boston

Read the full story in the Stamford Advocate

Alan Brody's first question Tuesday was innocent enough: Describe your startup to an “angel” investor you are meeting for the first time.

It was successive variations of his next question — hammered home again and again to individuals attending Stamford “Startupalooza” — that knocked most off their pedestal: “Do you remember what they do?” In most cases, participants admitted they had only a hazy recollection of the business summaries they had heard less than 15 minutes before.

Billed as a chance for entrepreneurs to get coached up on how to get the attention of angel investors — then get the chance to do just that — Stamford Startupalooza was held May 24 at the Workpoint co-working facility at Shippan Landing on Stamford’s waterfront. Unlike Startup Stamford Weekend held annually at the Stamford Innovation Center to convene teams to develop business plans, Stamford Startupalooza included several companies already well down the road of bringing a prototype product to market.

It is one thing to develop a product, and another thing to develop a backer, said Brody, who as president of Convean helps startups connect with investors and who authored a book on the topic titled “Are You Fundable?”

“What I really care about is how do I get rich by giving you a bunch of money?” Brody said of the typical angel investor’s perspective. “The reason they call it the ‘elevator pitch’ is you’ve got 30 seconds — when the door opens, you are free to leave. ... The question is what would you say so that even when the door opens, the (investor) doesn’t leave?”

Workpoint hopes to host Stamford Startupalooza three times a year, according to Sheelah Quinn, the facility’s general manager and head of sales, with the inaugural event Tuesday sponsored by McCarter & English and Fiverr. The forum showcased several intriguing ideas ranging from the Vidpal on-demand video service for broadcaster use — the winning pitch by John Ortega — to a way to help baseball players learn to hit effectively regardless of pitch location. Entrepreneurs struck out time and time again with angel investment experts, however, with their “elevator pitches” eviscerated as woefully forgettable.

In advance of a “Shark Tank” style pitch competition, Brody was joined by Sandy Wollman, an organizer of Westchester Angels in New York, who likewise spared no quarter as participants gave their best efforts at how they would go about chasing down his investment dollars.

“Respectfully — nobody got my attention,” Wollman told workshop participants. “Any time you are talking to an angel investor, you only have one goal: get to the next conversation. One of the mistakes startups make is that they go into so much detail about their product. ... I want to know what you do — in one sentence.”

In the case of the baseball device, Wollman did just that in boiling the concept down to a pitch that might catch his notice: “‘I’ve been a baseball player my entire life and I’ve developed a way to make batters better baseball players; and as a matter of fact, I’ve shown this to ... Joe Torre and he is very interested in my idea.’

“I’m in,” Wollman continued. “You caught me right away with what you do — you’re making a baseball player better (and) you have a proprietary way. ... What you’ve done is you’ve gotten me to the next conversation.”

More Information

Stamford Startupalooza 2016 participants

Vidpal, on-demand video marketplace — winner

CircleLink, preventative health — runner up

Newsfundr, online news resource — runner up

Voco, text matching app — runner up

CLENCH Sports, custom mouth guards

CrowdFlik, online video synchronization

Ergonomic Values, baseball hitting aid

FooNow, web-based food ordering

GiftTitan, social media gifting app

Medsender, digital health record transmission

SnipMe, short-form TV show production

Stash America, data security

Ultima Smart Systems, artificial intelligence