From Global to Local, AngelHack Heads Back to Sac!

I found my way into the wonderful world of startups at 24 years old, newly graduated, and excited about making a positive impact on the world. When I first joined AngelHack I didn’t know what a hackathon was (a 36-hour long coding competition), or realize the crazy journey that I was about to embark on that would take me all over the world.

My first trip took me on a multi-country hackathon tour that started in England and ended in Switzerland. I learned the ins-and-outs of what a hackathon was, who participated, and how to nurture the projects created post-event. From there, I went on to Australia, Spain, Thailand, Mexico City, London, Zurich, Fiji, and several places within the United States including Las Vegas, New York, Houston, Austin, and Hawaii. During this time, I explored different tech scenes, met tons of new friends, and saw some developers, designers, and even some non-technical entrepreneurs build some pretty impressive apps.

In 2014 we encouraged our community to become ‘Whole Developers’; a concept AngelHack coined that encourages developers to learn business soft skills to adequately and accurately describe what they built. In 2015 we watched their ‘Thoughts Become Things’ by taking the winning hackathon ideas from around the world, turning them into startup realities. Last year, we proved that ‘Anyone. Can. Code’ regardless of your skill sets, and brought out 52% more hackers than any series in the past.

I truly fell in love with the hackathon culture and community.

While this life of travel, and exploration is more than I ever could have hoped for, there is nothing quite like coming back home to Sacramento. Like a majority of my colleagues, I am based in Sacramento with lots of fond memories of this place. Compared to some other cities it is small, but I have never seen so much heart, coffee, or farm fresh food in one place.

For these reasons, and many others I am beyond excited to bring AngelHack’s 10th Global Hackathon Competition: ‘Commit To Your Code’ to my home town!

A little behind this year’s theme: Commit To Your Code. Since 2011, AngelHack has been in the business of organizing, facilitating, and executing hackathons – however, something some may not know about us is that we are also in the business of accelerating hackathon ideas. Having perfected the sourcing process over the course of our ten global hackathon series’, we invite each winning hackathon project into our HACKcelerator; ensuring global representation during our 12-week program, Silicon Valley week, and Annual Global Demo Day.

You can get a glimpse of this from the documentary Seed, now streaming on Amazon Prime, which shows the entrepreneurial journey of three startups from Nairobi, Palestine, and Palo Alto – all of whom went through our program last year.

While I am excited to bring a hackathon to Sacramento, I am even more excited to have Sacramento representation in our HACKcelerator this year! Though small, the tech community in Sacramento is thriving, and stock piled full of, super talented entrepreneurs.

Join us June 24th-25th in Sacramento at The Urban Hive for your chance to gain entry into our HACKcelerator, and represent SacTown with the top 1% of developers, designers, and entrepreneurs, globally!  Use: kels for a free ticket as a thank you for reading!

Our guest blogger, Kelsey Ruiz, is the PR and Media Relations Manager for AngelHack.

Sign Up for the 3rd Annual Startup Grind Summer Party

Startup Grind Sacramento will be hosting the 3rd Annual Startup Grind Summer Party on July 11th at the Urban Hive.  Unlike our normal monthly event which features an interview with an accomplished entrepreneur, this event is just a party to celebrate the Sacramento Startup Community.  We’ll have food, adult beverages, and live music.  Best of all, it’s free.

The party will feature tables with 10 Startups.  If you would like a table to promote your startup at this party, you can sign up here.  Our party typically has over 200 attendees and we have had some media coverage.  Here’s Mark S. Allen giving the Startup Grind Summer Party some TV coverage.

Here’s the event info:

Date:  July 11, 2017

Time:  6 pm – 9 pm

Location:      The Urban Hive

                        1931 H Street

                        Sacramento, CA 95811

Fee:  Free (but you have to register here)

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.

2017 Sacramento Region Innovation Awards Launch

The Second Annual 2017 Sacramento Region Innovation Awards has kicked off and awards will be given out in the following categories:

  • ADVANCED MANUFACTURING (utilizes advanced systems for information management, robotics, and workplace organization)
  • FOOD & AGRIBUSINESS
  • HARDWARE & ELECTRONICS
  • MEDICAL & HEALTH (devices, drugs, diagnostics, medical IT products, etc.)
  • SOFTWARE (consumer/enterprise, social media, apps, gaming, cloud, big data)
  • SUSTAINABILITY (including clean technology, energy, water, climate change adaptation, green building)

You can nominate or self-nominate your technology or product for consideration here.   The awards will be evaluated by notable professionals in the Sacramento Region (Including StartupSac own Laura Good).  Applications are due by July 31, 2017 and announced during the Awards Luncheon on  November 7, 2017.  More information about the awards can be found here.  The coverage of last year’s awards can be seen here.

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.

2017 UC Davis Big Bang Competition Awards

UC Davis Big Bang Competition is the biggest startup event in Davis.  This year, 70 companies participated in the 8 month program that started in October 2016 and concluded with the final pitches held on May 25th.   Personally, I was impressed with the final presentations.  Here are the award winners of the competition:

1st Place ($10, 000) 

Raydiant Oximetry has developed a low-cost, noninvasive fetal pulse oximeter that keeps mothers and babies safe during labor and delivery. The device is intended to reduce medically unnecessary c-sections that can create health complications to millions of babies and mothers each year and increase healthcare costs.

 

2nd Place ($5,000)

Chromatiscope aims to boost students’ scientific literacy by combining four specialized laboratory devices—each of which costs thousands of dollars—into a single, easy-to-use device that costs just $40 to $70. The result: more students can have the experiences necessary to excel in STEM.

 

People’s Choice ($2,500)

This award was voted by the audience.

AthleticOutlook:  A web-based platform that connects high school and college athletes with NCAA-experienced coaches for evaluations, feedback and resources.

 

Gowan / AGR Challenge Award ($10,000)

Two teams tied for this award and split the cash prize.

FloraPulse is building a data service for growers that provides water stress data for their crops in real time. This could replace current technology (pressure chambers) that dates back to the 1960s and that is slow, expensive and often inaccurate.

ReNew Foods is developing great-tasting, healthy snacks from high-quality rescued fruit and vegetable pressings.

Biomedical Innovation Award ($4,000)

Oomni Inc. is developing a drug called Oomnicoxib. When combined with current chemotherapies, the drug will improve cancer treatment.

 

Global Poverty Alleviation ($3,000)

Reach 1600 Foundation has developed a free, adaptive SAT prep program for students from underserved communities.

Innovation in Food & Agriculture Award ($3,000)

WISRAN identifies operation logistics inefficiencies in real-time for growers to capture profits.

1st Place Food + Ag Innovation Pitch and Poster Contest ($1,000)

Global Water Farms is working on developing solar powered desalination plants.

 

It will be interesting to see how the startups that participated in the competition turn out.  Sierra Energy can trace their roots as a past Big Bang People’s Choice Winner.  If you are interested in participating in next year’s Big Bang’s Competition, check out their site around October.

 

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.

 

 

The $400 K Exercise

The idea of creating a SaaS based project management platform for the construction industry came from Todd Robertti while speaking to his father, an industry veteran.  Todd who is also well versed in the construction industry, as well as in software development, knew there was a lot of potential for improvement.

In developing Linkd, Todd and his team had a goal of completing their MVP in time to demo it at the Startup Grind SOCAL Regional Conference.  Although they got accepted into the conference, they did not make the top 20 startups which had the opportunity to pitch to investors.

However, Derek Anderson, Startup Grind CEO, liked their product and offered to put the WireFlare team in front of investors if they could get 5 potential customers to write $5k checks each for future services (the checks could be voided and were only to prove market validation).   A funny thing happened during this exercise; the potential customers actually offered to invest in WireFlare and they inadvertently raised $400 k.

Since then, WireFlare has hired 5 developers, was accepted to the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program, Oracle’s Velocity Program, and Amazon Activate.  In addition, WireFlare was one of the top 50 companies to present, and pitch to investors, at Startup Grind Global 2017.  In May of 2017, WireFlare raised another round of money, expanded their relationship with IBM and introduced plans for incorporating AI through the use of Watson. WireFlare’s platform, called “Linkd”, will be released this September.

The take away from this tale is that ideas, help and guidance come in all forms.  Listen to those around you that want to help, and believe in your product.  More importantly, listen to those who criticize, accept setbacks and be ready to pivot.  Validate, understand and thoroughly research your market. If you build something with expertise and true demand you might even get your potential clientele to invest in your ideas.

 

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.

2017 Aging 2.0 Sacramento Startup Competition

Sacramento-CA-USA

Aging 2.0 held its third annual Startup Pitch completion April 18th at the KVIE Offices.  The mission of Aging 2.0 is to accelerate innovation that improves the lives of older adults.  From a pool of 12 companies that applied, 8 startups competed in this event this year.  Here are the results:

Envoy America

1st Place

First Place went to Envoy America which is a ride sharing platform for seniors.  They train seniors to provide rides for other seniors.  Their service can be described as non-medical care for seniors.  Envoy America will go on to compete at Aging 2.0 Optimize event in San Francisco on Nov. 14 for the $10,000 grand prize.

funeral360

2nd Place and Audience Choice

Second Place and Audience Choice (determined by votes from the audience goes to Funerals360).  Funerals360 is a resource for end to end planning for funerals and it also is a market place for funeral vendors.

The other startups that competed were:

HomeZada: a digital home management platform

Storyglory:  a tool that helps seniors preserve their family stories

Aspire 211:  an organization that combats financial elder abuse

MEDpense:  a device that is a smart medicine dispenser and telemedicine platform

Livpact: an IoT collaborative care platform

OraChill: a mouth piece that provides drug-free oral pain relief.

As a side note, Stack Labs which won the Aging 2.0 Sacramento competition last year, went on to win the grand prize at last year’s Aging 2.0 Optimize event.

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.

Eric Yuan / Founder of Zoom Communications: Make Products that Make the Customer Happy

Eric Yuan has been deeply involved with engineering since the 90’s with a knack for innovation and collaboration. He was one of the founding engineers and VP of engineering at WebEx for over a decade. Interestingly enough, Eric and his team of engineers laid the foundation for SaaS web conferencing technology almost by accident. In the early years, WebEx was originally a custom development shop until one of the co-founders felt productivity would improve if they monitored the engineers via video conference. This sparked the idea that other companies would benefit from such a concept as well and thus the pivot to web conferencing occurred.

WebEx became the market leader in Web Conferencing and later got acquired by Cisco for $3.2 B.   After the acquisition, Eric stayed on as head of WebEx Engineering.   He realized that in order for WebEx technology to evolve, it would have to be re-engineered from scratch which was something that his upper management would not allow.  Frustrated, Eric left Cisco and started Zoom..

Despite competition from a plethora of web conferencing solutions (Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix), Eric fearlessly began to develop a new solution. As Eric enlightens, “Startups [and smaller companies] are much better for building up individual products. In larger companies, it’s a little bit harder.”

His team of over 100 engineers worked around the clock for 2 1/2 years in developing Zoom’s video conference platform.  Since their launch, Zoom has achieved unicorn status and has a valuation over $1 B. In explaining the success of Zoom, Eric declares, “You can be successful if you make a product that makes a customer happy even in a crowded market.”

You can watch the full interview with Eric here.

Howard Love: The Original Business Plan Never Works!

Howard Love is a startup legend founding or co-founding a total of 15 companies since 1985. Some of his most notable enterprises have been LoveToKnow, PageWise, and Flex Jobs. He recently released his new book, “The Startup J Curve” that stresses the importance of agility and willingness to follow through with change.

No time for reading? Fine! Watch the video interview by clicking here now! 

While attending Colgate University, him and his partner changed the school’s computer network to a trading system. It evolved into a technical analysis and software charting package for users of the original IBM PC. They made an okay name for themselves and later got involved in software development tools. After moving to Silicon Valley, they named the tool “Zap” and sold them in abundance. By 1996, their original charting package eventually merged with Roguewave Software and provided him with enough funds to start angel investing.

“The Original Business Plan Never Works…But that’s Okay!”

At the time, Angel investing was frowned upon and lacked structure. Him and his venture partner decided to be a lot more hands on with entrepreneurs by partnering up and offering additional support. Howard would launch startups with any candidate he thought had potential. They may polish the original idea, provide substantial funding, and even lead the first round. Howard values the character of individuals he works with because he believes the team is most important. Funding will come and go and the the idea constantly changes. Your team members on the other hand, will stay the same which is why it’s important that everyone’s compatible for the long-term.

6 Phases of the Startup J Curve: “Create, Release, Morph, Model, Scale, Harvest”

In his 35 years of entrepreneurship, Howard understands that startups either evolve or die. Many successful startups take time to eventually reach their peak and  popular “overnight success stories” such as Twitter and Groupon he feels are a misconception. Howard admires the efforts of startups creating a solid business plan but looks more for the ability to pitch their idea. What he looks for in a business pitch is the team’s resourcefulness; are they able to do a lot with a little? He also wants a sharp and open mind, ambition, passion along with an undeniable energy that can sustain the growth process. Above all, he feels that you have to like the individuals on a personal level before even considering investing time let alone money into their venture.

If you want to get more in depth with the most helpful entrepreneur insight available, watch the full interview now! 

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.

Y Combinator COO Qasar Younis Discusses Entrepreneurship

Qasar Younis was interviewed at Startup Grind Sacramento and share how he has climbed the ranks of the entrepreneurial ladder. He is the CEO of Y Combinator (YC), an organization that provides seed funding for startups while linking them with potential investors and acquirers. Qasar reached success through Talkbin that was originally backed by YC before being acquired by Google 10 months later. He than became Google’s product lead for business facing product and has assisted dozens of entrepreneurs turn their ideas into a reality via YC.

Growing up in the rural environment of Pakistan and migrating to Michigan in the 80’s, Qasar’s initial background was in the automobile industry and virtually everything engineering-related. After leaving automotive in the early 2000’s, he gained skills in software and mechanical engineering ultimately attaining an MBA from Harvard. With a new focus, he launched a startup with a group of friends called Camisa in Chicago, Illinois. The business model was nearly identical to TeeSpring where users can sell and submit T-shirt designs via crowdfunding. Unfortunately, Camisa never reached the desired level of success and Qasar learned a lot from this failure.

“The Market Doesn’t Care about Your Vision.”

Qasar felt that his team was not well-balanced and he was trying to play a role that didn’t match his skillsets. In addition, not being in Silicon Valley severely hindered their degree of exposure. Camisa’s vision was not timed properly for the market to be attracted to what they were offering. This 3rd point is key because as entrepreneurs, it’s real easy to get wrapped up in our vision. However, he believes that building a successful business is based on supply and demand. If what you’re supplying isn’t demanded by the marketplace; the chances of success is zero to none. Once Camisa went down, him and his partner moved to Silicon Valley and zoned in on their soon-to-be success; Talkbin.

“If You’re Serious About your Brand, You Can’t do it Part-time.”

Qasar mapped out that he had exactly a year to put together a team, create a product and find funding. This led to entering the YC startup incubator where he received countless hours of mentoring and investment prospects. Although funding was an important element to the equation, it was the insight from YC supporters that he contributed most to his success. Less than a year later, Google randomly spotted them on the radar, recognized that his vision aligned with theirs and was immediately acquired.

You can view the full interview with Qasar here.

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.

The Startup J Curve

The Startup J Curve

In his book, the Startup J Curve, noted entrepreneur and angel investor, Howard Love, essentially states that there is no straight line from startup to sustainable success.  Rather, it follows a J Curve where the company initially dips after it starts.  The dip can occur for several reasons:

  • Product takes longer to develop
  • Customers don’t embrace the initial product
  • The business model doesn’t quite work

Love describes this dip as the Valley of Death.  A young startup needs to be able to crawl out of it before they run out of cash.  Much of his book describes strategies in working through the Valley of Death.

Here is a description of the 6 phases of the Startup J Curve:

  1. Create: This is where the initial excitement occurs for a startup and the three elements come together: the idea, team, and the money.  This is the best time to raise money because the startup is selling the dream.
  2. Release: This is where a startup releases their product to market and where the market will provide feedback.  It’s where the rubber hits the road and reality hits.  It’s at this phase where founders really need to listen to their customers.
  3. Morph: In this phase, the startup needs to make adjustments on their product or business model based on customer feedback.  At this phase, there needs to be several iterations until product market fit is achieved.
  4. Model: In this phase, the startup needs to optimize their business model.  The goal is to get to a point where there is a direct ROI if more money is invested in the startup.
  5. Scale: After the business model has been nailed, this is where investment into the startup is able to scale the business.
  6. Harvest: this is where the startup graduates to a fully established business and is where the founders have the opportunity to reap the benefits of their labor. It is also where they need to decide on what direction they would like to take including IPO, acquisition, etc.

A startup founder needs to be aware where they are on the J Curve.  For example if they focus on scaling strategies before they actually nail the business model, the odds of success are diminished. This video is a great overview of the Startup J Curve.

If you like to meet Howard Love and get a copy of his book (while supplies last), he will be speaking at Startup Grind Sacramento on December 13, 2016.

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.