Startup Grind Sacramento and the City of Davis Hosts Rapid Brands Founder Chris Johnson

Startup Grind Sacramento in partnership with the City of Davis will be hosting Rapid Brands Founder, Chris Johnson.  His leadership and strategic execution has led Rapid Brands to become the fastest growing microwave cookware company in the country.  It all started with Johnson’s first invention the Rapid Ramen Cooker, microwave cooker for ramen noodles.  The company now boasts over 25 products and the company’s retail footprint has grown to over 50,000 doors nationwide in less than 3 years. Johnson appeared on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank” in 2013, and secured an on-air deal with Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban.  Johnson and his products have been featured on “Good Morning America,” CNN, Yahoo News, and the cover of Comstock Magazine to name a few.  Johnson has secured license partnership with billion dollar brands such as Disney, Marvel, Nickelodeon, Collegiate, Top Ramen, Minute Rice, and General Mills to name a few.

Johnson has served on the Board of Directors for the Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, Executive Board for Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce and Board of Directors for Positive Coaching Alliance.  Johnson currently serves on the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish.

The mission of Startup Grind is to educate, connect, and inspire entrepreneurs. At this event, there will be networking and great food.  Here are the event details:

Date: January 25, 2018

Time: 6 pm

Location:  : The Hunt Boyer Mansion, 604 2nd St, Davis, CA 95616

Register: StartupGrind.com/Sacramento

Apptology is a sponsor of Startup Grind Sacramento

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Startup Grind Sacramento Hosts FourthWave Panel Discussion

Startup Grind Sacramento in partnership with the Urban Hive will be hosting a panel discussion consisting of the FourthWave 2017 graduates.   FourthWave Co-Founder and season entrepreneur, Tracy Saville, will moderate the panel discussion.  Here are the confirmed panelists:

FourthWave, a Los Angeles non-profit, is an accelerator focused on women-led companies with inclusive teams and graduated their first cohort in Sacramento.

The mission of Startup Grind is to educate, connect, and inspire entrepreneurs.   At this event, there will be networking, great food, and live music!  Here are the event details:

Date:  January 9, 2018

Time: 6 pm

Location: The Urban Hive, 1601 Alhambra Blvd, Sacramento, 95816

Register : StartupGrind.com/Sacramento

Apptology is a sponsor of Startup Grind Sacramento.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Raising Capital through an ICO (Initial Coin Offering)

A friend of mine kept nagging me to buy Bitcoin when it was around $900. Honestly, the whole concept of cryptocurrency seemed a little wanky. For those of you that don’t know, Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency enabled by blockchain technology which debuted in 2009.

The founder(s) of Bitcoin remains unknown to this day and is only known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. Anyway, I finally caved in and started buying Bitcoin when it hit $1300 and at the time of this writing it’s valued at more than $7,200 (which really makes me wish I bought more).

In 2010, if you bought $100 worth of Bitcoin, it would be worth more than $1 M today (the highest value of Bitcoin in 2010 was 39 cents).   The staggering rise of Bitcoin has led to the rise of countless cryptocurrencies.  In fact, Coin Market Cap currently lists over 1000 cryptocurrencies.

Similar to an IPO (Initial Public Offering), a cryptocurrency will have an ICO (Initial Coin Offering).  For example, Ethereum debuted at 40 cents and has a value over $300 at the time of this writing.

While I was covering TechCrunch Disrupt 2017, I witnessed the ICO of SparkleCoin, a cryptocurrency backed by diamonds, which had a countdown punctuated with a confetti canon (I always enjoy a good party).

Initially, when I heard the concept of ICO, I shrugged thinking that it’s another cryptocurrency in a crowded market.  Why would I speculate on another cryptocurrency?   However, ICOs have evolved beyond cryptocurrency -it’s been a way for startups to raise capital.  A startup can assign an amount of equity per coin in a similar way that equity is assigned to stock in a publicly traded company. With blockchain technology, a company’s coin can easily be traded on various exchanges (CryptoCoinCharts lists over 100 coin exchanges).

I talked to an angel investor and she said that she preferred to invest in companies that have done an ICO.  One of the reasons is that she can cash out a lot earlier in an exchange whereas with a traditional investment in a startup, she may never have the option to cash out.

For a startup to raise money through an ICO, they should expect to pay for about $500 K in legal fees (this is cheap compared to an IPO which may cost north of $5 M – typically it’s about 7% of the revenue generated).

iComplyICO, a Vancouver BC based startup, aims to drastically reduce the cost of an ICO  by streamlining the legal, compliance, and due diligence procedures that traditional IPOs must go through today. iComplyICO CEO, Matthew Unger, said that his goal is to reduce the cost of a legally compliant ICO to below $100 K.

Here are examples of some successful ICOs for this year:

  • Filecoin ($257 M): A blockchain-based storage network and cryptocurrency
  • Tezos($232 M): new decentralized blockchain that governs itself by establishing a true digital commonwealth.
  • EOS($185 M): a blockchain architecture designed to enable vertical and horizontal scaling of decentralized applications
  • Bancor($153 M): enables built-in price discovery and a liquidity mechanism for tokens on smart contract blockchains.
  • Status($90 M):  an interface to access Ethereum, built for Android & iOS.

As you can see, it’s possible to raise a tremendous amount of capital through an ICO at the fraction of the cost of an IPO.  With that said, the SEC has declared that some ICO’s are actually securities and subject to regulations.

Recently, the SEC charged two companies, REIcoin Group Foundation and DRC World, of defrauding investors with their ICOs.  In these case, the two companies claimed to have cryptocurrencies backed by Real Estate and Diamonds respectively (and it turns out they didn’t). So investors, beware!

For startups, an ICO can be an amazing vehicle to raise money; there’s less red tape and the costs are a fraction of going public. If you are thinking of raising capital through an ICO, you need to consult with legal counsel that’s well versed in this field.

Personally, I foresee that once the regulations and procedures for raising capital through are fully established, IPOs will go the way of the dinosaur and be replaced by the more agile and leaner ICO.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

 

Startup Grind Sacramento Hosts Luxer One Founder Arik Levy

Startup Grind Sacramento in partnership with the Urban Hive will be hosting Luxer One and Laundry Locker Founder Arik Levy.    In 2005 Arik Levy started Laundry Locker, an innovative locker-based delivery system for dry cleaning. It quickly grew into San Francisco’s largest dry cleaner, with lockers in over 300 buildings and thousands of happy–and clean–customers.

In 2013, Arik noticed that residents, carriers and properties were all trying to deliver packages efficiently and safely to apartment buildings but no one had quite figured out how to make work. He decided to bring his unmatched experience with lockers, apartments and delivery to the problem of package delivery and Luxer One was born.  Luxer One is the maker of high-tech parcel acceptance lockers for package deliveries at apartment buildings, large corporate campuses and retailers with expected revenue of $20 M this year.

The mission of Startup Grind is to educate, connect, and inspire entrepreneurs.   At this event, there will be networking, great food, and live music!  Here are the event details:

Date:  November 14, 2017

Time: 6 pm

Location: The Urban Hive, 1931 H St, Sacramento, CA 95811

Register : StartupGrind.com/Sacramento

Apptology is a sponsor of Startup Grind Sacramento.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Startup Grind Sacramento hosts GrowthX Founding Partner Will Bunker

Startup Grind Sacramento in partnership with the Urban Hive and Projectile X will be hosting serial entrepreneur, Will Bunker on October 10.  Will co-founded the dating site that eventually became Match.com. He has invested in over 160 companies and  He currently is a founder partner at GrowthX Academy and GrowthX Capital.   GrowthX Academy is an immersive 12 week boot camp in San Francisco that has programs in Sales , Marketing, and Design.  GrowthX Capital is a seed stage venture capital for technology startups.

This event will be co-hosted by with ProjectileX. ProjectileX is a youth business education non-profit organization dedicated to furthering youth entrepreneurship through teaching a startups-oriented curriculum, organizing entrepreneurship conferences and networking events, empowering the youth to solve societal problems through projects, funded by our incubator, as well as putting the youth in a the driver’s seat to utilize our resources and connections and their drive to effect change in the K12 school system. ProjectileX’s programs are now in 116 schools across 12 countries.

The mission of Startup Grind is to educate, connect, and inspire entrepreneurs.   At this event, there will be networking, great food, and live music!  Here are the event details:

Date:  October 10, 2017

Time: 6 pm

Location: The Urban Hive, 1931 H St, Sacramento, CA 95811

Register : StartupGrind.com/Sacramento

Apptology is a sponsor of Startup Grind Sacramento.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Favorites at TechCrunch Disrupt 2017

The winner of TechCrunch Disrupt 2017 Startup Battlefield is Pi.   They developed a device that allows smartphones and other devices to charge wirelessly .   Amazingly, they were able to demonstrate this on stage in front of a live audience.  In comparison, in the previous week, Apple announced their wireless charging pad, Mophie,  which is clearly an inferior product.  Along with the bragging rights, Pi received a $50,000 cash prize.

Pi and the runner-up, Oneva,  got the limelight but there were literally hundreds of startups that participated at the event that don’t get any attention .  I spent three days wandering the floor at Disrupt; talking to scores of startups and I would like to highlight a few of my favorites.  So, in no particular order…

Hashgraph

Hashgraph has a bold claim. They stated that their patented algorithm is faster and more secure than blockchain (the underlying technology that enable cryptocurrencies ).  Blockchain has been the basis for other startups that have figured out innovative uses for its distributed ledger system.  If Hashgraph’s claims hold true, they can potentially replace blockchain in a rapidly growing space.

Waggit

Being a dog owner, Waggit caught my eye.  Their high tech collar captures the vitals for dogs which can be tracked on an app.  Their point is that dogs can’t tell us when they’re in pain (since they can’t talk-we’ve tried) and that their platform can help diagnose your dog’s health.   This can be a useful diagnostic tool for veterinarians.

SparkleCOIN

One of the new areas of coverage at Disrupt is Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain.  SparkleCOIN is a new cryptocurrency that had their ICO (Initial Coin Offering) at the event.  Every SparkleCOIN will be backed by $5 worth of diamonds.  In addition, they plan to build a whole ecosystem including an exchange and an ecommerce site.

UnitOneDose

UnitOneDose is a robotic pharmacy dispensary.  Their  system accurately dispenses the drug in containers that can be only opened by the patient with their wrist band. Having seen how pharmaceutical drugs are dispensed in hospital and retail settings, I immediately saw the  benefits.  The current process is manually intensive and prone to errors and abuse.   I can easily see their device being the standard in hospitals. 

JumpStart

On the final day of Disrupt, Mexico was hit with a 7.1 magnitude earth quake.  Coincidentally, JumpStart had an earthquake demonstrator that simulates a 7.9 magnitude earthquake.  To see a video click here.  It was a pretty impressive demonstration.   By the way, JumpStart provides supplemental earthquake insurance.

eggXYt

eggXYt is an example of a startup that solves a problem that most people are unaware of (including myself).  In a nutshell, 6 billion male chicks (of a breed that’s meant to lay eggs) are killed annually.  Their technology is able to detect the sex of the egg shortly after they’re laid and prevents them from going through incubation process.  Their technology can also potentially save $1.5 B annually.

Equbot

Equbot uses artificial intelligence to analyze investment opportunities.  Pretty intriguing.  They’ve already been using their platform to make investments and claim that it’s done amazingly well.  However, because they are currently working in negotiating their A round, they couldn’t provide specifics. 

Aris MD

Aris MD has developed a platform that enables surgeons to superimpose patient data (like an MRI) over a live patient using augmented reality (AR).  This is probably one of the most practical and innovative uses of AR that I’ve seen.

Stemless

Stemless has developed a solution that allows for online ordering and payment for cannabis dispensaries.  For those not familiar with the cannabis industry, it’s primarily an all cash business.  Their solution is not just a technical solution but also a legal solution where they had to work and negotiate with banks willing to work in cannabis industry.

Ourotech

Chemotherapy is painful process as an oncologist goes through trial and error with FDA approved chemical cocktails on cancer patients.  Ourotech has developed a testing platform where they can test various cocktails on cancer cells obtained from the patient in a lab environment and then recommend an optimal course of action.  This process totally makes sense to me and I can see it becoming standard practice with oncologists. 

In the 3 days at TechCrunch disrupt, I talked to scores of startups.  I wished I could have highlighted more in this article.  It will be interesting to see which of startups become the next big thing.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014

Highlights from Apple’s 2017 Special Event (with Snarky Comments)

Apple held their 2017 Special Event at the new Steve Jobs Theater where they made several announcements on their upcoming products that will ship this fall.  It’s so cliché, as they described each product as the best (Apple Watch, iPhone, AppleTV, etc) ever.  What else would you expect?  In the two hour event, Apple had numerous product announcements and demos;  so as a public service, I’ll boil it down to what I think are the highlights (with a side of snarky commentary).

Apple Watch (Series 3)

I stopped wearing watches when I started carrying a cell phone.    Why have a watch when I can check the time on my phone?  When the Apple Watch first came out, the same thing came to mind.  Why would I want an Apple Watch when I have my iPhone?  Then you have to factor in the fact that the phone needs to be tethered to your iPhone in order to effectively work.  So why would I want to buy another high priced item that I have to manage and charge?  What’s interesting is that the Series 3 now comes with a SIM card that allows the  Apple Watch to function independently without the iPhone.   In fact, their selling point is that you can leave the iPhone at home.  Interesting concept; maybe the Apple Watch can replace the iPhone.    Realistically, no.   Personally, all I can see is having to pay for another cellular connection.

Apple TV 4 K

4 K television owners can rejoice.   Apple TV now supports 4K resolution.   As for me, I’ll probably consider this when my 1040 HD TV craps out and I end up buying a 4K TV.  But until then, I’m probably not in the market.

iPhone 8 /8 plus

So, the here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the unveiling of iPhone 8 and 8 plus.  So, it’s the normal stuff we expect like faster chip and better camera (sadly, it seems like the battery life is the same as the iPhone 7).  The hardware will better support augmented reality (supported by AR Kit which is part of iOS 11). What I found interesting is that they announced the ability to charge the phone wirelessly.  However, it  requires a charging pad which will be sold separately and expected to be released in 2018.  The moment that I thought this was a ho hum release, Tim Cook declared “there’s one more thing…”  in the iconic Steve Job fashion.

iPhone X

It’s been 10 years since the iPhone first debuted and at the event,  Tim Cook debuted the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone 10 – this also begs the question, what happened to the iPhone 9?).  The  most notable change is that the phone lacks the home button and essentially is all screen.   The primary authentication method is their Face ID which replaces Touch ID.  This is made possible by their new TrueDepth Camera which allows for the phone to recognize the face in three dimensions.  My first thought, is that it can easily be hacked by a photograph.  Apparently, it can’t and they even tested against Hollywood style masks.  The other feature enabled by the TrueDepth camera is the ability to created Animoji (animated emoji) using the movement of your face (does it seem like they’re stretching? ). As far as I can tell, that’s the main difference between the iPhone X and the iPhone 8;  and oh, yeah, and then there’s the price.  The iPhone X starts at a staggering price tag of $ 1 K ($999).

Final Thoughts

For me there’s a sense of relief when Apple doesn’t change their iPhone adaptor (When, they moved to the lighting connector, I had to trash all the docking stations I strategically had around the house).  Overall, I thought this announcement was more evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  As a mobile app developer, I’ll probably will end up getting the iPhone X so that I can stay current.  As a consumer, I didn’t really see anything  truly compelling to want to fork out a grand for the latest and greatest and would hold on to my current iPhone until it gets accidentally doused in the pool.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Case Study: Developing a Mobile App for a Medical Cannabis Delivery Service

One Apptology’s more interesting projects was to develop an iPhone and Android app for Swift Comfort, a medical cannabis delivery service based in Davis, California.  In doing this project, we had several objectives for the app.  In this article, I’ll describe how we accomplished those objectives using our ReadyBuilt platform and the results.

Paperless Patient Onboarding

In California, for a dispensary/ delivery service sell medical cannabis, they need to get the following from a patient:

  • California ID
  • Recommendation from a physician
  • Signed patient agreement form
  • Maintain records of their patients

Apptology was able to make the entire patient onboarding paperless.   In the app we developed, the patient can take a picture of their ID and recommendation and send it to the delivery service.

Figure 1. Submitting a recommendation and ID through the app

After the service validates the recommendation (unfortunately, this is a manual process), the patient can enter their data directly into the service’s database on the app (this saves them from keying in the information themselves). We selected MMJMenu for their database for several reasons:

  • They are specifically designed for the medical cannabis solution  and meets compliance requirements
  • They have a secure service that can meet HIPAA compliance
  • They allow for branding
  • They’re free (for a single location service)

Figure 2. Filling out patient information directly on patient database on the app.

After the patient enters the information in the database, they are redirected to an Adobe Sign Document where they can sign the patient agreement form. After the patient signs the form, both the service and patient received the signed copy. At this point, the service can upload the image of the ID and recommendation and the signed patient form to the patient’s record in the database.

Figure 3. Digitally signing the patient agreement on the app

In the event the patient did not have a recommendation for medical cannabis treatment, the app has an integration to PrestoDoctor where they can speak to a physician and request a recommendation.

Figure 4. Integration to PrestoDoctor

Ordering Product

When we first created the app, we initially created a shopping menu where the patients could order product directly from the app.  However, we encountered a couple of problems:

  • Apple didn’t allow for the ability to order medical cannabis from the app
  • The delivery service would end up having to maintain two separate menu (the app shopping cart and Weed Maps).

Our solution was to eliminate the shopping menu and replaced it with an integration to Weed Maps where the service’s menu can be viewed.  In terms of ordering, we allow the patient to choose from calling, texting, or emailing an order.

Marketing

The app has the ability to market to the delivery service’s patient base.  There are a few features that I will highlight:

Push Notifications

  • One of the most powerful features of app is the ability to send push notifications directly to the patients. Our client will often send out app only specials when it’s slow which helps bring in business.

Figure 7. Example Push Notification

  • In a very competitive field (our client literally has 20 competitors in their city listed on Weed Maps), customer loyalty is essential. To encourage this, the app has a rewards card feature.  The reward card in the app is like a digital punch card.  After a purchase, the driver can enter a secret code that punches the card.  When they collect enough punches, they will get free product.

Figure 8. App Rewards Feature

Content

In order for an app to be successful, it has to provide useful content so that the user has a reason to use the app, other than just ordering product.   The app has to ability to delivery content in various forms including:

  • Videos (including an integration to YouTube)
  • Pictures (including an integration to Instagram)
  • Social Media feeds (Facebook and Twitter)

Analytics

The app has a supporting Content Management System which is where  our client can manage the content, send out push notifications, and look at analytics.  Below is a screenshot of the analytics dashboard.  In this case, it shows that in a 7 day period, there were 356 users of the app; 96% of the users were returning customers, and the most common feature used was the “Call” feature.   Analytics are important for our clients to understand how much their  app is being used and how it’s being used.

Figure 12. Analytics Dashboard

The app we developed for Swift Comfort has been an essential part of their business. They’ve been in business for over a year and have done very well despite being in a highly competitive environment with 20 medical cannabis delivery companies listed on Weed Maps in their city alone. A branded app will make a medical cannabis delivery service / dispensary stand out in a competitive field by making patient onboarding easy and providing the ability to market to their customer base.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

500 Startups Batch 21 Demo Day

500 Startups Batch 21 Demo Day was muted compared to past Demo Days.  Normally it’s a festive themed environment.  However, there was no theme this time.   Christine Tsai, 500 Startups CEO, address the elephant in room and spoke about the difficulties following Dave McClure’s resigination after sexual hassament allegations.   She affirmed 500 Startups commitment to diversity and to build and support startups.  Despite the turmoil experienced during this time,  I found this batch to be excellent.  Batch 21 consisted of 31 companies.  Several have already achieved six digit MRRs.   So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite startups at Batch 21.

Save the World (and Make Money)

Folia Water is my favorite of the batch.  They developed a filter that can be used to make potable water.  The best part is that it only cost pennies to make.  One filter can make enough potable for a family of 4 for a week and only cost a quarter.  Folia Water has the potential to provide cheap clean potable water for third world countries where this is a challenge.


Wow, this is Really Cool!

Lumotune has develop a digital display that is transparent.  Essentially this enables any window to become marketing vehicle.    I can see every major brick and mortar retailer and restaurant adapting their technology.  

 

Best Display

I waited half an hour (it turns out that investors have a priority over pseudo-journalist) to take a ride in VR Motion’s  virtual reality vehicle simulator.  Their current business model is to sell their simulators to police departments.  I’m not sure what that market is like but it was a fun ride (I even got dizzy when I took the virtual car off roading).

 

My Vote for Unicorn

RealAtom is a market place for commercial real estate loans.  I would’ve assumed something like this was already developed.  They’ve taken a process the commercial real estate loan process from 40 days and reduced it to two.  In the nine months since they’ve launched, they’ve received $450 M in loan requests and booked $600 K in revenue.   I wouldn’t be surprised if they join the exclusive unicorn club.

 

Sign Me Up

As BillTrim was giving their pitch, it reminded me about several AT&T and Comcast bills that looked like I got overcharged but just don’t have the time to argue.   Upload your bills to BillTrim and they’ll negotiate a better rate.   If they’re able to save you money, they’ll get 25% of the savings.  Signing up with BillTrim is on my to-do list.

 

There are a lot of Janitors…

Swept is a management tool for the janitorial industry.  I really like startups that make niche industries more efficient.   Honestly, I don’t know what the market’s like but there are a lot of janitors…

I’d Recommend this to My Clients

I don’t think that I would get what MedStack if I wasn’t an app developer.  We’ve done medical related projects that require HIPAA compliance and it’s a messy complex process.  MedStack has a turnkey solution that makes the HIPAA compliance process a lot easier.

Join 500 Startups

How well the Batch 21 companies do remains to be seen, but 500 Startups does have an excellent track record. Producing 3 Unicorn startups (with a 4th possibly on the way), 37 Centaurs (valued $100-999 M), and over 300 Ponies ($10-99 M), you might be wondering how to get into 500 Startups. Well, first you’ve got to apply!

If you’re interested in joining 500 Startup, good candidates should have:

  • Balanced Team
  • Product Launched
  • Traction with Good Metrics

If your startup is interested in applying for a future batch, you can apply here.

After applying, be sure to ask your local Startup Grind director for a warm referral!

211info App: Adapting to a Mobile Population

211info is a non-profit based in based in Portland, Oregon; they provided referral services for local community services in the State of Oregon and 4 counties in Southwest Washington.  Traditionally, their clients would dial “211” and their team would answer the phone and verbally provide them the answers.  As technology has progressed, they have taken queries from email, SMS, and there is also a self-serve tool on their web site.

211info received a grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services / Child Welfare Division to develop a mobile app to expand their capabilities.   The 211info team developed the user interface in-house and partnered with Apptology to do the coding.  Apptology was able to develop an iPhone and Android app that leverages 211info’s resources database.

The app is a self-serve tool allows their clients to search for local resources.  One of the features of the app is that it will use the user’s location by leveraging the smart phone’s GPS capabilities.  The resource’s description, address, phone number, and web site are displayed and can also be viewed in a map view.  The user can further use the smart phone’s capabilities by using tap-to-call, view their web site, and get turn by turn directions.    Users can also call, email, or text 211info team within the app for further assistance.

In developing the app, 211info was acknowledging the fact that smartphones have widespread adoption and is nearly ubiquitous among young adults.   The adoption has been relatively easy and 15% of inquiries to 211info now come from the app.   A surprising base of users has been health and human services workers.

“I was at a Health Round-Up and someone needed some direction on resources. I pulled out my 211info mobile app and was able to easily direct them to an agency. It was so easy!”

-Michelle Homer-Anderson

(Southern Oregon Head Start Director)

When asked about feedback about the app, Matthew Rasmussen, Coordinator at Oregon Department of Human Services, responded, “The app is simple and easy to use, yet visibly streamline and functional. As a result we have seen an impressive number of downloads and expect this trend to continue. Our goal in developing an app is to engage and assist young people with meeting their own basic needs using technology they already use. Our target audience already uses their phones for nearly everything they do and we want to meet them where they already are, offering them the information they need in an easy to use platform. We believe we achieve this goal with the app.”

Emily Berndt, 211info Director of Partnerships, stated that they are tracking the feedback on the app and overall, it has been overwhelmingly positive.  They definitely see the advantages of having a mobile app has had to their customer base and see it as a useful tool for other referral agencies such as theirs.

Please note if you download the app and you’re not in 211info’s service area, the app will only give the option to call, email or text for referral info.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.