Inno/Vention Power Pitch February 2014 NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Pfizer Auditorium, Bern Dibner Library of Science & Technology 5 MetroTech Center Brooklyn

Brooklyn Borough Hall Station

Last night I was invited to judge the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Inno/Vention Power Pitch hardware (There was a software competition. I did not judge that) competition. This competition is a student run event sponsored by the EIA student club.  I love going to these events to see and hear the product ideas the students have and how they plan on executing the business.

Inno/Vention Team List

Inno/Vention Team List

This is how it works: At the start of the semester the EIA holds an event called the Sparkstart Kickoff/TeamHunt. At this event the students announce their ideas and hunt for people they would need to build their team. During the next several weeks the students attend educational events to help them develop their idea further into a business. They learn customer validation, market research, product development, business model canvas and various techniques from the great mind of Steve Blank. The students gave their first pitch at the event last night. Five teams are picked to move forward to the next pitch event. The student teams are given a stipend to spend on prototyping. There is a schedule for the Inno/Vention Competition here.

Our task as judges was to score the teams on various categories that are part lean startup model. After all the teams presented the judges collaborated and picked the five winning teams. The winners were:

  1. Skinesiology
  2. C-Cubed Robotics
  3. Team Limitless
  4. SensD
  5. Listen To Your Wrist

#CleanwebNY February 2014 Hosted at NYU Urban Future Lab Brooklyn NY

Patrick Morris Co-Organizer With Opening Remarks

I got there very early. It said it started at 6:30pm, but the people started to arrive at 6:30PM. This was my first time attending the #CleanwebNY Meetup being held at NYU Urban Future Lab Brooklyn NY on the Engineering (formerly know as NYU-Poly) School’s campus. The venue is a partnership project between NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and the NY NYCEDC. The space is in the 15 Metrotech Center building. Amy (Head of Community) gave me a great tour of the space. It has not officially opened yet, but it is looking great. I can’t wait till after the build out and they have their opening. Congrats on the great space NYU Urban Future Lab!!

The  #CleanwebNY meetup is about startups developing products (software or hardware or both) for the Clean Technology space.  They also are a part of this initiative:

Patrick Morris Co-Organizer With Opening Remarks

Patrick Morris Co-Organizer With Opening Remarks

The opening of the event was done by Patrick Morris Co-Organizer of the event. Great job in introducing the line up. The theme of this event was Cleanweb Connected Devices.

The first up to present was Jun Shimada Co-founder of ThinkEco. Their produce connects electric utility customers’ appliances such as air conditioners to the web. The data the devices collect flow into their cloud solution and gets processed for the utility companies. They partner with the utilities companies to create a program such as this for the customers. I have seen many variations of products like these in the past the difference with ThinkEco is their execution strategy. The partnerships with the utility is key. From the presentation it sounds like they have learned how to work with the utilities communicating their vale to them effectively.

Next up was Gabe Blanchet and Jamie Byron Co-founders of Grove Labs. Grove Labs creates hardware and software appliances for greenhouses and farms. The have created their own platform called GroveOS. Their competitive advantage is that they are cheaper and cloud connect when you compare them to their competition. They are also working on a pilot with Abu Dhabi and the UAE. If successful their products would be used in the entire country. That is a huge deal. I wish them a lot of luck. It sounds like Grove is a company the big players would want to buy. Such as what happened to MakerBot (bought by Stratasys). The big companies are making an effort to outwit the Innovator’s Dilemma. 

The last presentation was given by Brian Langel Co-Founder Dash Labs. Dash Labs creates software that uses information collected from a OBD device. These devices connect to the car diagnostic. I have seen their product before. I had sworn that they at one point they were selling a hardware product. I am not sure if they pivoted from that. Their direct competitor Automatic sells the hardware and provides the software. Dash Labs concentrates on the data collection and provides a social driving experience for their customers. If I had a car I would use their product. 

All in all I thought this event was informative. It was great to see the progress of the companies I have seen before.  

Check it out. I have more pictures of the event below. Sorry for the low light conditions, but you should make out the slides and the speakers ok. I did my best to caption the images and make adjustments to the images. Enjoy.

Over a Billion Apps and Nothing on: Why should I install these apps?


Have you ever had this experience; while surfing the web asked to install an app for every website you land on. What is happening? Why do I need all these apps when the website works fine? Installing the app brings no value. I have installed some of them and then as quickly as I installed them I delete them. They are the same thing as the website…no value. 

The more apps out there, the more the app stores are clogged with mediocre junk, the more the overall noise level keeps going up, which leads directly to this profligate nagging. Companies keep asking how can we get people to find and install our amazing app instead of the one question they really should have asked.

Why the hell are we building an app in the first place?

I want to know who exactly is going to all the trouble of installing the McDonalds app on their device instead of simply visiting the McDonalds website in the browser as needed. What problem does that app solve for french fry enthusiasts that it needs to be permanently installed on your device? Why are they giving away free Big Macs just to get people to install this thing?

Jeff Atwood makes a great point here. I don’t see the value in installing their apps. Visiting the website works fine. Just seems that everyone has been on and is continuing the “we have to have an app” trend.  

via Coding Horror: App-pocalypse Now.

I Thought Facebook’s WhatsApp Deal Was Crazy. Then I Did Some Math. –


This article, I saw this morning, puts together a good argument why the cost Facebook paid for WhatsApp was justified.

There’s no disputing that Facebook paid a huge premium for an untested company in a hotly competitive communications sector. But it takes less than I thought to turn WhatsApp into a decent, if justifiable, business. And that doesn’t even count other benefits of scale, strategic defense and Google -rattling that are harder to quantify.

Turns out when you compare it to the wireless carriers such as Verizon’s purchase of their 45% stake in its Verizon Wireless joint venture the reasoning is clear.

At first, the numbers look as stark as you’d expect. We know that Facebook paid $42 for each of WhatsApp’s 450 million users. Verizon, by comparison, valued each of its roughly 97 million monthly contract connections at about $2,984.

Verizon collected about $669 for each of these post-paid connections last year, and made another $168 per subscriber from other sources.

What did WhatsApp collect for its service, which allows for unlimited and quick text messaging? What a pesky question. Basically zero. For math’s sake, let’s take the figure to 50 cents per user in 2014.

The analysis goes on from there. You can read the rest in the article. Looking to the future and WhatsApp’s recent announcement at Mobile World Congress about adding voice calls looks like it might have been worth it for Facebook to buy them now.

One last not about this. This could of been a defensive move by Facebook. Why let Google buy them.

via I Thought Facebook’s WhatsApp Deal Was Crazy. Then I Did Some Math. –

Startup Pitch Deck V1.6

An Office

I have been asked many time to help out with pitch presentations. Over time I have come to realize it would be great to have a template that I could give out. This PPT is that template.

The following are slides that you can change and move around. Basically do whatever you want to it. It is free to use. Take out stuff or add stuff…whatever.

The last several pages contain references, notes, further reading and other resources that may help. Enjoy.

Let me know what you think. Over time I will update it and post new versions. Enjoy.


The Application of Implant Technology for Cybernetic Systems [Arch Neurol. 2003]


To assess the usefulness, compatibility, and long-term operability of a microelectrode array into the median nerve of the left arm of a healthy volunteer, including perception of feedback stimulation and operation of an instrumented prosthetic hand.

via The application of implant technology for cybern… [Arch Neurol. 2003] – PubMed – NCBI.


And there soon will be the six million dollar man/woman. Or will it be 6 billion dollar man/woman with inflation.


Comcast vs. the Cord Cutters –


“Comcast and the new, giant Comcast are going to do as much as they can to stop you from unbundling,” said Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, a consumer advocacy group. “In order for you to get content you like, you’re going to be pushed to pay the cable bill, too.”

via Comcast vs. the Cord Cutters –

I got rid of cable TV during the summer. I feel free!!!! However I use Time Warner Cable Internet (Premature freedom) with boost. Sometimes they have forgotten the boost. The speed is ok, less than what they say it should be, and the support is lacking.

I called up last week because the internet was out. I did the entire reboot and restart thing. They wanted to send someone out. The next day it was working ok. They forgot to tell themselves to cancel the appointment. This was not the first time this has happened. Can’t they tell when the internet is back up? Yes they can. Ugh.

Made in The USA Back in Style for Small Businesses


“Instead of hiring people, we’re using robots,” Ellram says. Chinese companies are also using robots, but U.S. manufacturers are ahead of them, she says.

via Made in The USA Back in Style for Small Businesses.

Everyone wants manufacturing back because they think it will bring back jobs. Fills me with American pride to see people trying to bring it back. However it is to be seen if the return is an automated one at best. Where are the jobs for humans? The jobs will be for the robots.

Hardwired NYC Meetup February 2014, Hosted at Quirky

Hardwired NYC #7 Feb 2014

The walk was long (Ugh, from 7th ave to 11ave) , but I finally made it to the Hardwired NYC Meetup February 2014 event, Hosted at Quirky. Even though I was late I was early. People were just flowing in to Quirky’s offices located on the far West 28th street. As a life long New York’r going this far west is a trek. I am not sure I could get use to that commute. LOL

Before going to the event I noticed a link on the event page. I am did not see it before. So I may have missed it. The link was to Quirky’s NDA. I read it and it was simple, but strange that they would imply the use of this for this event. I have heard other people complaining about these NDA’s at events at the Makerbot offices. They require you to sign the NDA before you enter. At this event you did not sign anything, but the NDA was implied. I have no idea how Quirky could in force this, but anyway. We are here to hear peoples hardware startup stories. Of which I love to hear.

Brian Garret and Bram de Zwart, co-founder, 3D Hubs:  3D Hubs is world's largest platform connecting 3D printer owners with people who want to print. We are on a mission to make 3D printing truly local and accessible.

Brian Garret and Bram de Zwart, co-founder, 3D Hubs:  3D Hubs is world’s largest platform connecting 3D printer owners with people who want to print. We are on a mission to make 3D printing truly local and accessible.

First up are the gents, Brian Garret and Bram de Zwart, from 3D Hubs. 3D Hubs helps connect people that need something 3D printed to the people that have the 3D printers. They do this globally and by building a community of enthusiast that are in the know about 3D printing. They realized the need when they were working for Cubed. They saw that most 3D printers are idle about 98% of the time. Damn, that is a lot of idle time. I later asked them how long do you think it would take on average to use 3D Hubs to help pay for your 3D Printer itself. They said it was about 100 prints or about 2-3 months of constant use of 3D Hubs market place community.  That is amazing. Makes me want to go out now and get a 3D printer now!! This could push me over the edge. I do own a Printrbot Simple, but I have not been liking it lately.

Emile Petrone, founder and CEO of Tindie (marketplace for hardware and "indie tech")

Emile Petrone, founder and CEO of Tindie (marketplace for hardware and “indie tech”)

Next up was Emile Petrone, founder and CEO of Tindie. Tindie is a market place for all things hardware and tech focused. An artisanal hardware market place. I have bought things on Tindie before. The interface is very simple and easy to use. He talked about how Tindie started. It started via a Reddit post. He asked the Reddit community about his business idea, got feedback and then knew he should try it out. If I remember correctly he mentioned he did a trial of this at an Apple WWDC event. Please correct me if I got this wrong here. Tindie does remind me of Etsy. The difference and similarity is that they both do  products that focus on a type of product category. Handmade verus Artisanal Hardware. The value in this business is the audience (eyeballs) Tindie brings to their customers that setup a store front on the website. I am wondering though if after the uniqueness of this blows over what will they do to keep the eyeballs coming back. I hope they have thought of that. I love the idea of these market places. They give the maker-going-pro a place to tip their toes into ecommerce in a safe environment.

Alice Taylor, founder and CEO of Makie (custom 3D printed dolls)

Alice Taylor, founder and CEO of Makie (custom 3D printed dolls)

The fabulous founder and CEO of Makie, Alice Taylor was up next. You have to love her. The Brits talk very smoothly and eloquently. Even with the jet lag she gave a great presentation. They make customizable 3D printed dolls for girls. I have hear very little of her company.  I give them a lot of credit for entering into the toy business. Wow. Just wow. Their product is very very professional looking for a 3D printed product. I wonder, I forgot to ask, which 3D printer they use. Her presentation was a mix of how she got started and lessons learned. Their two revenue stream business is fascinating. They sell the customizable dolls and they are now starting to go into online gaming. Their first game is a dress up game. They may have a boy’s doll in the works. I know little about the toy business, of what I know is that it is a very hard business to break into. She has done it. I think it is cool that she has used 3D printing to create such a unique toy.

Hugo Fiennes, founder and CEO of Electric Imp (hardware and software connectivity platform for the IoT)

Hugo Fiennes, founder and CEO of Electric Imp (hardware and software connectivity platform for the IoT)

The last presenter, before the interview with the CEO of Quirky was Hugo Fiennes, founder and CEO of Electric Imp. Electric Imp is a platform for IoT. I have heard of them before, but never heard his startup story. He worked at some very important companies like Apple, Nest and IBM as an Electrical Engineer. He started Electric Imp while he was working at Nest. The idea of having a platform for how smart things communicate over the web is brilliant. It makes the job of the electrical engineer easier. From my standpoint our customers will get an IoT product prototype quicker. However, the downside is when you want to go to production and scale to higher quantities. As the number of products increase the manufacturing cost don’t scale because you need to include the SD card package in your product. However if they can shrink it down to a chip package and manufacture that in large quantities the costs will definitely go down and scaling will happen. He mentioned they are looking into that. Quirky is a partner of theirs and uses the Electric Imp in their smart plug. Check out some of the pictures below in the gallery section of this post. In them he shows a diagram of how Electric Imp works. I like it. Again I would love to give it a try.

Matt Turck interviews Ben Kaufman Quirky Founder

Matt Turck interviews Ben Kaufman Quirky Founder

The interview of Ben Kaufman Quirky Founder by Matt Turck was interesting. Ben’s story is one of those “it is great to not know anything and just jump right in” stories. Just do it as on your Nikes says Ben. The interview was a bit uncomfortable at one point as Ben mentions how FirstMark, the VC firm that Matt works at, screwed him. From what I see from Quirky’s fab offices, they are not hurting in the least. The Quirky offices are beautiful. The comments got some groans and laughs from the audience, but obviously you could feel the energy was a bit tense. Matt was great at continuing and asking Ben questions to get the interview on track. Some Ben did not answer. Ben did talk about the Quirky process of which everyone knows about. I do think it is interesting that Quirky has created a global manufacturing community in which they do all the product development and heavy lifting for the manufacturing process. They even do distribution. If you are a manufacturer you have to admire them. Ben has a sense of pride in that they treat the designer and IP maker as king. Quirky owns the IP and the designer has a forever license. This creates a lot of value for Quirky as they bare all the risk. I admire them, their capabilities, their relationships with GE and their retail distribution channels. Way to go Quirky!!!

After the stage act was over the networking began. I saw a lot of old faces that I have gotten to know on the hardware scene. Until the next Hardwired NYC event.

Check it out. I have more pictures of the event below. Sorry for the low light conditions, but you should be able to make out the slides and the speakers ok. I did my best to caption the images. Enjoy.

The Joy of 3D Printing at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Fuel 3D of me at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

This past Saturday I spent the day at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014. It was a perfect day for an indoor activity because of the snow was falling sideways and would hit you in the face if you were walking west.

The show was in a small event space called The Metropolitan Pavilion. The space gave the event a cozy fell. I did not attend any of the speaker events as the nothing on the schedule was of interest to me. The discussions were of topics I had heard before many times over. So I thought it best to hit the showroom floor and see if there was anything new to be seen.

There were a few interesting things that I had not see before. I had not experience getting myself scanned so I tried it at the Fuel 3D.

Fuel 3D at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Fuel 3D at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Fuel 3D is a low-end or Prosumer 3D scanner. I have seen a lot of these do a Kickstarter. Fuel 3D was no exception, they did a very successful Kickstarter.  Luckily there was not much of line which meant that I became second on the list to get my face scanned. See title picture above for how it came out. It looks very detailed. The operator took the 3D image in seconds, then transferred it to a computer and then manipulated it so that only my face was showing. The software looks very very easy to use.

I then stopped by a high end machine that cost thousands of dollars. While the imaging was a bit more detailed it did not needed to be. The low end technology is catching up to the high end. Below is my image scanned by the higher-end machine. Take a look at the detail, but also see how more complex the software is. The UI could be made to be more user friendly.

I saw a hugemungus 3D Printer company called BigRep. Their 3D printers can print full-scale objects. What I saw were prints that looked like they needed a lot of finishing. And some prints that looked like they had problems being printer. The object pictured below being printed would take up to a week to complete. This is not ready for primetime yet. Nice idea and maybe it will happen, but not now. The prints were very bad looking.

BigRep at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

BigRep at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

I stopped by another booth that had some amazing 3D prints of what looked like complex textiles. I would say it was sort of like chainmaille, but close to being made into clothing.

3D Printing Services using laser sintering at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

3D Printing Services using laser sintering at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

3D Printing Services using laser sintering at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

3D Printing Services using laser sintering at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

The feeling of these 3D prints was excellent. They had great detail. You could make this into a garment if you could print enough of it. The company uses laser sintering machines. These machines use lasers that solidify a powder. After printing the print goes through a finishing process. The process unfortunately produces 50% waste of the powder. That is a lot of waste that gets produced. What a shame. 3D printing is suppose to be good for the environment and not produce waste, but the reality is that not all 3D Printing methods can do that.

There was fashion gallery and an art gallery. Both rooms housed some interesting 3D prints. The fashion gallery looked like it had mostly accessories and 3D prints mixed into text tiles clothing. One of the most interesting ones was the 3D printed glasses. See picture below.

Fashion at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Fashion at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Imagine the possible designs you could do. The designer created ones that fit on your nose snuggly and ones that had flexible temples. The flexible temples looked like they were the most practical.

The lamps in art gallery were amazing. The organic feel and look of them made it like they just grew there. See picture below.

Art Gallery at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

Art Gallery at the 3D Printshow NYC 2014

On the way out of the show I could not help come away with the feeling that the market for consumer/prosumer 3D printers was getting crowded. Makerbot is the big gorilla in this market and they are sucking the air out for the competition. While I did see a few new players they did not have anything new to offer that would be any better. There are still the two markets at this point, the maker market that wants to tinker and maybe build a 3D printer like PrintrBot and there is the consumer/prosumer market that wants it to work with good detail out of the box. It will be interesting to see if expired patents will spur any more innovation into the market to produce anymore viable players.  It would be great if someone could figure out how to combat the 50% waste problem.