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.

Startup Lessons from Garage Ventures Bill Reichert

Silicon Valley icon Bill Reichert from Garage Technology Ventures recently spoke at Startup Grind Sacramento and offered some invaluable insight. With over 20 years as an entrepreneur and two public companies, Bill’s resume is quite impressive.

Originally from Chicago, Bill grew up spending quality time with his grandfather who exposed him to the adventurous world of entrepreneurship. He was in Silicon Valley when the PC was first released and arguably ran one of the first app development firms in United States history, which was apparently amazingly successful but eventually “crashed and burned.” In 1992, Bill and his buddy helped save a failing organization called “The Learning Company,” which later became the first business they took public for $60 million. Later down the line, the Learning Company was sold to Mattel for $3.6 billion. Ouch!  Bill eventually stopped kicking himself for selling too early and learned the ingredients to achieve success years later at the National Venture Capital Conference with Peter Lynch.

“I only invest in companies that even a complete idiot can run.”

This statement hit home for Bill, making him simplify his approach and become cautious with ventures that seem overly complex. When he looks for investments, he wants startups that have novel technology, a sustainable competitive advantage, and can make a significant impact in its designated sector.

Take for example Voke VR that “utilizes a synchronized multiple point-of-view stereoscopic panoramic camera system” technology. They’ve partnered with the Sacramento  Kings to enable mobile users in the stands or at home to receive an advanced VR spectacle without the bulky headset. The audience is able to pause, rewind and review the action from virtually any angle on the court.

When asked about ways for entrepreneurs to receive funding, his response was surprising:

“The best way to receive funding for your startup is to get endorsements from bigger companies for validation and reach out to venture capital sources.”

Bill firmly believes that by following these simple words of advice, you will be “head and shoulders” above your typical startup seeking that almighty dollar. Of course, you will most likely still need to meet the criteria that he mentioned when looking for a potential investment (i.e. novel technology, etc.).

Watch the full interview with Bill Reichert at Startup Grind Sacramento 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.

Impact Global Venture Summit Highlights Sacramento Region Startups

Impact Summit

The inaugural Impact Global Venture Summit was held on November 14, 2016 at the brand new, state of the art, Golden 1 Center. Over 700 people attended and 50 Northern California startups participated in the summit with the goal of providing local startups exposure to investors.

impactvcfounders

Impact VC Founders (left to right): Jack Crawford, Dixon Doll, Eric Ball

This was also the big debut for event organizer, Impact Venture Capital.  Impact VC was formed from Sacramento based Velocity VC in partnership with Dixon Doll and Eric Ball.  Dixon Doll is a well-known Silicon Valley investor with early investments in 20 unicorn (with a valuation over $1 B) companies.

Most of the event consisted of pitches from 20 startups.  Many were from local startups including HomeZada, California Safe Soil, Gatekeeper Innovation, and Barobo.  Startups from the Bay Area also attended with Mountain View based Nightingale Security and Santa Clara based Cornami each receiving an investment from Impact VC.

homezada

HomeZada Co-Founder John Bodrozic

The other big star of the summit was the Golden 1 Center itself.  For many of the attendees, it was their first visit to the most technologically advance arena in the world. The event in concert with the arena really illustrated Sacramento’s emergence as an innovation hub. Sacramento Mayor, Kevin Johnson, tweeted out, “…Now that’s #Sac3pt0!”

 

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.

Kevin Nagle: Have Passion & Obsession

Kevin Nagle was able to swing by a Startup Grind Sacramento and enlighten us with some heartwarming tales of his past that contributed to the man he is today. Co-Founder of Envision Pharmaceuticals and Co-owner of the Sacramento Kings, Kevin gained recognition as Sacramento’s Executive of the Year. He’s also one of the lead investor in Sacramento Republic FC and on the board of Moneta Ventures; the Sacramento region’s biggest early phase venture fund.

Kevin Nagle speaking Startup Grind Sacramento

Born in Minnesota and raised in Long Beach, CA by a single mother in “borderline poverty,” Kevin’s ambitious attitude took shape at the age of only 6 years old. With his father out of the picture, he would collect golf balls from a nearby golf course and sell them to golfers in need. He had a plethora of jobs that he claimed all built character and humility. Kevin even recalls ducking out of sight when the popular kids would be his customers working weekends at Jack in the Box. As Kevin grew older, his entrepreneurial spirit would sharpen. He discussed how he strategically maximized profits from his older sister’s paper route and that laid the foundation for his future empire.

Entrepreneur Rule #1: “Have Passion & Obsession”

On the path to becoming a successful entrepreneur, Kevin says that a passionate attitude is mandatory. A personal example of how he demonstrated passion was early in his career. At the time he was working in corporate America making over $500 k / year with a grip of stock options. However, these perks did not fill the void in his heart and he abruptly quit shortly after entering a 3 year employment deal. He has had passion for every endeavor he embarked on which in most cases, required to make sacrifices. Still, he understood the importance of “diversifying your lifestyle” and always made it to his family’s special events.

Entrepreneur Rule #2: “Carving the market, Staking your Claim…And Thinking of the Next Generation”

Kevin’s medical background started in the pharmaceutical management benefit services where he sold his own Integrated Pharmaceutical Services (IPS) for $200 million that eventually turned into CVS Caremark. During the week of 9/11, there was limited airfare and he was stuck in Las Vegas planning for the next generation. Comparing his approach to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, Kevin wrote a white paper outlining the vision and how his firm would be disruptive, transparent and compete with the big players on Wall Street. The early days of Envision aimed at bringing transparency to their customers and had a concept so disruptive that bigger companies falsely claimed their business models were identical to that of Envisions. Fortunately, his organization was well-capitalized and able to sustain the competition for 2 years but suffered severe losses. Refusing to throw in the towel, Kevin stuck the course and by focusing on his target market of senior citizens increased his revenue from $5 million to $78 million within a year.

Entrepreneur Rule #3: “Biggest Deal Killer is not Being Over Prepared”.

Kevin reminded us of the competitive overzealous nature of today’s market. Being able to articulate your idea in a clean and concise manner is so important to at least getting your foot in the door. He used Costco as an example and how they only allow startups 8 minutes to pitch the business idea and determine whether or not it should be on their store shelves. Therefore, Kevin firmly believes that every aspiring entrepreneur should constantly “shine their deck” and make it presentable to anyone under any circumstances. This aligns with his core principles of passion and obsession and how that will catapult you into a heightened degree of success.

Watch the full video interview for material not mentioned in this article!

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 Co-Founder Dave McClure: Have Fun, Get Sh*t Done

Dave McClure is a Silicon Valley icon that is recognized as one of the region’s super angel investors. Over the years he has advised and managed a number of successful startups which includes 3 unicorns (Twilio, Credit Karma, and Grab) . He’s the co-founder of 500 startups and invested in more than 1500 companies around the world. Three companies  have evaluations over $1 billion with over 300 with a valuation $10-$999 million range. He was recently a guest speaker at Startup Grind Sacramento and offered wisdom that was practical, to the point with a hint of humor.

“As an entrepreneur, you realize that you’re kind of clueless.”

In his humble manner, Dave explained how his path to success was a confusing and gradual process. He laughed about his past mistakes and launched 500 startups as a vehicle to guide entrepreneurs that are still wet behind the ears. It is a personal conviction to compensate for what he perceived was his failure of creating a large scale startup. “Looking back on the last 10-15 years and realizing that I could’ve figured out problems faster, part of it was trying to help people figure it out faster…and make [entrepreneurship] a little more approachable…for geeks.”

While many successful entrepreneurs glorify the ambitious startup lifestyle, McClure understands that it’s not all sunshine and ice cream. His ability to relate with entrepreneurs at any career stage allows him to connect with his audience and keep them grounded in reality. He recalls how difficult it was raising funds for his first startup saying, “We raised $30 million in 2 years and the first $5 million in the first year….It was a bit challenging.That’s a complete understatement, it was a ****ing pain in the ass.” His witty remarks kept the audience laughing and was a reminder that behind all of the clout in the industry, successful entrepreneurs are regular people just like us.

“When making a lot of investments, only a few will work out.”

As the perfected imperfect creatures that humans are, we try to make the best decisions in business, relationships and life in general. However, the truth is that more often than not, investments will fail to deliver as anticipated. “[We] know we’re gonna be wrong…and might not find an outcome that frequently but we hope that 20-30% of those get to a series A or larger investment and 5-10% in total get to $100 million plus sort of outcome…Maybe if we’re smart we can steer in of some of the capital into winners…but it takes about 10 years.” McClure’s calculated approach to business signifies he has well accepted that with investments, slow and steady wins the race.

“We do diversity because it’s a good investment not necessarily of social impact, that might happen and we hope it does but [ultimately] we’re trying to make money.”

McClure recognizes the potential in people from all backgrounds which has resulted in a diverse global network of entrepreneurs. Saying that more than 50% of his founders are non-white and 20-30% are female, his business model is shifting the traditional standard of gender/race dynamics in the workplace. “We actually think that there’s a lot of smart people that don’t have a penis and there’s a lot of smart people that aren’t white and went to Stanford…we just wan’t to make money…we like to say we’re arbitraging racism and sexism for our own economic benefit…” For example, one of his current endeavors has been developing a platform for Black and Latino entrepreneurs. Despite that sounding like a social effort, it’s commercially viable given that these demographics make up 30% of the American market.

Moreover, McClure believes that his foreign outreach into less developed countries will become profitable as well. Places like Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia have huge populations with markets that continue to increase their internet usage. By strategically investing a couple million dollars here and there, he hopes to establish a solid foundation for when these markets begin to take off. “If we’re willing to deploy capital in those markets for an extended period of time and learn, we are going to find some things that work. When those things start to work, we would want to have already done a hundred investments, made friends, built our brand, have people on the ground and understood how those markets work.”

“Have fun get sh*t done…When we have fun, other people have fun.”

500 Startups has a reputation for being a fun and festive accelerator.  McClure may be a bit unorthodox in his approach to business but understands the value of hard work and creating a solid product. He feels that no amount of money is worth sacrificing fun and personal sanity. Still, there has to be a balance between fulfillment and progress that his organization instills into the minds of his employees. When asked why do many startups fail, he said it could be for a number of reasons. However, he insisted that the main cause is usually because “they build stuff people don’t want or build it for the wrong customer.” He assures the crowd that in order for any VC or investor to take an entrepreneur seriously, they must have gotten their product out the door and have some type of customer base. He emphasized that although this truth may sound basic, they’d be surprised how many people miss this point.

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.

50 Years of Star Trek: Highlights of Some Predictions and Inspirations

The crew of the Starship Enterprise began their voyage 50 years ago, airing for the first time on September 8, 1966. As I kid, Star Trek was my favorite show. When my cousins and I would play Star Trek, I would always play Scotty, the miracle working engineer. In many ways, Star Trek was influential to me personally. My decision to go into engineering and join the U.S. Navy were both inspired in part by Star Trek. In honor of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary, I would like to highlight a few of the predictions and inspirations that have arisen from Star Trek.

Diversity in the Work Force

If you watch the original series now, you probably wouldn’t think twice about the crew’s cultural diversity.  However, the crew’s diversity was unheard of the 60’s and included Lieutenant Uhuru (a black woman), Lieutenant Sulu (an Asian), and Ensign Chekov (a Russian). If you look at the times, the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, the United States was also in the middle of both the Vietnam War and the Cold War. In comparison, Star Trek’s closest contemporary, Lost in Space, had an all-white cast. Star Trek had an optimistic view that in the future we would all learn to resolve our differences and work together.

startrekcrew

The Cell Phone

I was watching Star Trek with my niece and when Captain Kirk pulled out his communicator, my niece commented, “How cute, a flip phone.” Interestingly enough, Dr. Martin Cooper inventor of the first hand held phone admits his inspiration came from Star Trek. In addition, Motorola’s first flip phone, the StarTAC, looked remarkably like a Star Trek communicator.

The iPad

When the iPad first came out, it reminded me of Star Trek’s PADD (Personal Access Data Display). Interestingly enough, when Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, first demo-d the iPad, he showed the rebooted Star Trek Movie as an example of a video that could be watched. In a recent History Channel documentary, 50 Years of Star Trek, it was revealed that Apple approached Star Trek to license the “PADD” name.

The Tricorder

The Tricorder was a medical device used by Dr. McCoy to diagnose his patients. The Tricorder has yet to be invented. However, XPRIZE has a $10 M Tricorder Challenge which is an open competition to develop a “Tricorder device that will accurately diagnose 13 health conditions (12 diseases and the absence of conditions) and capture five real-time health vital signs, independent of a health care worker or facility, and in a way that provides a compelling consumer experience.” Results for the competition will be announced in 2017.

The Space Shuttle

The Starship Enterprise would use Shuttlecrafts to ferry crew members to a planet when they couldn’t use a transporter.  In 1972, when NASA began to develop a re-usable spacecraft, they called it the Space Shuttle Program. The prototype for the shuttle program was originally to be named the “Constitution.” After receiving hundreds of thousands of letters from devoted Trekkies, President Ford requested the prototype to be renamed “Enterprise.”

Star Trek creator, Gene Rodenberry, had an optimistic view that humanity will overcome the challenges that threaten to destroy us and travel to the stars. After 50 years, Star Trek is still going strong in books, video games, movies and television.   For you inspiring entrepreneurs looking for an idea for your next startup, try watching a couple episodes of Star Trek.

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.