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

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.