September 30, 2013

Ansa: Text friends safely, securely & without regret

Go ‘off the record’ when sharing sensitive messages

Target audience: Startups, network managers, college students, privacy experts, mobile users, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaMobile is taking over the world, as tens of millions of us migrate from desktops and laptops to smartphones and other mobile devices. Today I’m attending Launch Mobile in San Francisco to get a sense of the latest trends (see my tweets by following @jdlasica on Twitter). And earlier this month I attended TechCrunch Disrupt, where a number of young social and mobile startups were on display.

One of the startups that caught the eye of the judges was Ansa, a messaging app that gives you control over the messages you share. One judge called it “Snapchat for grownups.”

I interviewed co-founder and CEO Natalie Bryla in this 6-minute video:

Watch, download or share the video on Vimeo
Watch, embed or share the video on YouTube Continue reading

April 18, 2013

Demo Mobile: The revolution is at full throttle

Vinod-Khosla
Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures at Demo Mobile on Wednesday (Photo by JD Lasica).

Startups show disruptive potential of mobile tech

JD LasicaAs regular readers know, I straddle the social media marketing and tech startup worlds, and increasingly I’ve been drawn to events focused on the disruptive changes wrought by the mobile revolution.

I stopped going to DEMO events a while back, given the richness of the Launch and TechCrunch Disrupt startup conferences, but yesterday I attended DEMO Mobile and came away impressed by the fervor and tumult evident on stage and off.

Here are 27 photos I took yesterday in this Demo Mobile set on Flickr.

As always, let me begin with a disclaimer that I didn’t attend to provide a comprehensive blow-by-blow of all the speakers, all the sessions or all the entrepreneurs in the Demo room. Instead, here are a few takeaways and highlights that struck me as particularly interesting with a focus on startups and entrepreneurs — to be sure, a decidedly small slice of Demo Mobile. Continue reading

March 13, 2013

Startup turns a smartphone into a smart toy

Unveiled at Launch, Ubooly shows power of sensor technology (and hugs)

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, technologists, designers, marketing professionals, businesses, toy manufacturers, parents.

JD LasicaAt last week’s Launch Festival in San Francisco, I spent a few minutes talking with Carly Gloge, the founder and CEO of a new startup called Ubooly. They make cuddly plush toys that you can personalize and interact with through your iPhone or iPod Touch. (You stick the device inside the toy.) It’s for kids ages 4 to 9.

Carly gave one of the more dynamic presentations on stage at Launch, so I caught up with her after her demo. Ubooly is out “to make toys smart,” she said. Smart devices, starting with the iPhone and iPod Touch, have become “so powerful compared to anything else that has been put in toys. So we thought, let’s merge the two.”

Voilà! The Ubooly (pronounced OO-buh-lee, which I finally pronounced right by the end of the video). What’s cool about this is:

• Children form an emotional bond with these toys that they’ll carry with them for years;

• Parents get to program the toy via the online Ubooly Lab, starting with setting up their child’s favorite color, animal and sports. From there, the parents can activate educational packs that seem best suited to their little one.

Ubooly launched with six packs — written by elementary school teachers and comedy writers — and will expand to 20 by the end of the month, Carly says.

Watch, download or embed the 4-minute video on Vimeo Continue reading

January 23, 2013

Lean Startup’s Eric Ries on building accountability into your startup

Learn to measure what’s truly valuable to business development

Target audience: Businesses, entrepreneurs, startups.

David SparkWhether it’s the minimum viable product (MVP), pivots or continuous deployment, entrepreneurs love quoting the tenets of The Lean Startup movement.

leanstartupconf_logo“The Lean Startup is more than just the parts that fit on a bumper sticker,” said Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup and co-host of the third annual Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco. Continue reading

January 14, 2013

Best advice on starting a new business

Target audience: Businesses, entrepreneurs, startups.

David SparkIf you’ve ever tried to start a business, you know that you get thrown into a world of unknowns. Most of us are dependent on mentors and others to guide us through a realm where we’re bound to make tons of mistakes.

At The Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco, I asked attendees and presenters, “What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you about starting a business?” We edited down our favorite answers to create a video of the best crowdsourced advice on starting a business. Continue reading

November 14, 2012

Snoox: Recommendations from friends, not strangers

New social utility lets you pull high-quality recommendations on most topics

Target audience: Start-ups, recommendation sites, travelers, diners, shoppers, Facebook users, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

JD LasicaToday a new social recommendations engine launches and tries to answer the fascinating question: Are we ready to usher in an era when friends’ recommendations matter more than those of experts and strangers?

The answer is far from clear. But I like the concept behind Snoox quite a bit.

Earlier this month I sat down with CEO Eyal Rivlin and founder Guy Poreh (pictured below) at a cafe in San Francisco to talk about the new start-up, which has offices in Tel Aviv and New York, and the future of the social Web. Snoox aspires to be a social application that helps users to share recommendations for the things they love and to find the best of everything from the people they trust most: their friends.

It’s a promising concept, given that studies now routinely show that people trust their friends and peers more than experts and established institutions. And as much as I admire Yelp, the site has a pretty high noise level, with lots of recommendations from people with awful taste and other reviews penned by dodgy charlatans. And besides, Rivlin adds, Yelp is mostly known in New York and San Francisco and hasn’t crested yet in middle America. (Europe’s counterpart to Yelp is Qype.) Continue reading