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............................ 1871 - Where Digital Startups Get Their Start ........................


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Red Rocket's Best Startups of 2014

Red Rocket's Best Startups of 2014

Red Rocket gets introduced to a couple hundred startups each year, in the normal course of doing business, or via our involvement with FireStarter Fund, TechStars, Techweek, VentureShot, Founder Institute or other startup groups or events.  We wanted to honor the best of these startups that we met, or got reacquainted with, in 2014, in Red Rocket's 3rd Annual "Best Startups of the Year".  This list is not intended to be an all-encompassing best startups list, as there are many additional great startups that we are not personally exposed to each year.  And, this list is not intended to be only for businesses that launched in 2014, it is open to startups of any age, that they or their advisers had some personal interaction with us in the last 12 months.  The business simply needed to have a good idea, good team or good traction, that caught our attention.  Congrats to you all!!

THE BEST STARTUPS OF 2014 (in alphabetical order):

Abe's Market (CEO Richard Demb) - B2C E-commerce for Natural & Organic Products

Change Lane (CEO David Harig) - B2C Mobile Oil Change Station at Your Home

ClutchPrep (CEO Marcio Souza) - B2C Video Guides for College Textbooks 

Datatopia (CEO Paul Brizz) - B2B Buy and Sell Data Marketplace

DoggyLoot (CEO Jeff Eckerling) - B2C curated ecommerce and deals for pet supplies

Dryv (CEO Dan Parsons) - B2C Dry Cleaning Delivery App

eForward (CEO Josh Morales) - B2C Low Cost Overseas Shipping

Fitness Cubed (CEO Arnav Dalmia) - B2C Under Your Desk Pedal Exerciser 

HealthIPASS (CEO Rajesh Voddiraju) - B2B Healthcare Payments Platform

Inventables (CEO Zach Kaplan) - B2C Digital Invention Manufacturing for Masses

Legal Funding Central (CEO Joshua Schwadron) - B2C/B2B Legal Funding for Plaintiffs

MightyNest (CEO Chris Conn) - B2C School Donations From Kids Ecommerce

MoxieJean (CEO Sharon Schneider ) - B2C upscale resale ecommerce for kids clothing 

Office Hero (CEO Marcelo Lanzarotti) - B2B Lease Free Office Space Finder

Options Away (CEO Robert Brown) - B2C Call Options For Airfares 

Project Fixup (CEO Sarah Press) - B2C Takes Work Out of Online Dating
Public Good (CEO Jason Kunesh) - B2C philanthropy portal site

Ridogulous Labs (CEO Sean Kelly) - B2C Smart Dog Collar Technology

Sensor Jet (CEO Julia McLachlan) - B2C Fire Supression System for Home Kitchen

Shelfbucks (CEO Erik McMillan) - B2B in-store beacon promotion platform

Social Market Analytics (CEO Joe Gits) - B2B/B2C Social Listening for Stock Trading

The Tie Bar (CEO Michael Alter) - B2C E-commerce for Men's Accessories

ViralHeat (CEO Jeff Revoy) - B2B Predictive Social Analtyics

Wavve App (CEO Andrew McNealy) - B2C At-Location Dating App

WeDeliver (CEO Jimmy Odom) - B2B Same Day Delivery Service

And, don't forget to check out the 2012 winners and the 2013 winners, many of whom continue to be doing great things.

Congratulations to you all!!  Keep up the good work.  

FORBES: An Unexpected Source of Innovation: Chicago Tech Center 1871 Expands

An Unexpected Source of Innovation: Chicago Tech Center 1871 Expands
By Vicki Gerson
Innovation can crop up where and how you least expect it. In our series “An Unexpected Source of Innovation,” we will visit some of America’s little-known hubs of technological creativity!
Chicago is well known for being the heartland of manufacturing … but a center for technological innovation? Not so much so, many people would assume. However, as with many assumptions, nothing could be farther from the truth! In fact, according to a study conducted by the Illinois Innovation Council, Illinois ranks second in the nation (after California) in the number of high-tech startups.
One of the catalysts for innovation in the city is Chicago’s leading tech startup center, named 1871 after the famous Chicago fire. 1871 is positioned to cater to the growing tech and entrepreneurial community in the Chicagoland area where members will be able to take advantage of mentorship programs, educational sessions and meeting rooms.
Originally funded by a $2.3 million grant from the State of Illinois and private sponsorships, it’s located in the Merchandise Mart with the purpose of increasing innovation and job growth in the region. Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker provided early funding for 1871, while corporate sponsors such as CDW, Google and Comcast also supported it. The goal was to go beyond building the next Groupon or next Google, but to offer a place where people would be able to look back and say that Chicago’s 1871 was the place where great tech companies got started.

Chicago is a world famous city, but it is not necessarily known as an innovation hub. It may be time to change that perception.

Known as “Chicago’s Entrepreneurial Hub For Digital Startups,” the center opened its doors on May 2, 2012 with 50,000-square-feet of space on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart. The center is being run by the non-profit Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, which received more than 300 applications for space. At first, the center housed up to 400 individuals and roughly 100 startups. One of the main objectives of the center is to help businesses build themselves up to the point of self-sufficiency.
The Big Picture

Technology affects all areas of the economy in every state, from real estate to education to finance to food. 1871′s companies are creating innovative tech products and services that are changing the way traditional industries operate.
New businesses are also critical creators of jobs and economic growth. 1871′s graduates have raised more than $40 million and created more than 1400 jobs. As the center of the entrepreneurial and tech communities in Chicago, 1871′s ultimate goal is to support the companies that are fostering economic growth throughout Chicago and Illinois.
Because most startups have very little cash or are unable to get bank loans, the center provides entrepreneurs with office space. Comcast’s investment in 1871 gives tenants free access to a high-speed Metro Ethernet Dedicated Internet Service, TV service in the common areas, and phone service.
With $2.5 million additional money from Governor Pat Quinn this year, 1871 was able to expand itself by 50 percent, adding 25,000 square-feet to accommodate additional entrepreneurs who wanted to become members. With the new space, 1871 is currently home to more than 300 companies where entrepreneurs can become a collaborative community.
A Glance at Some of the Innovative Businesses Here
1871 has incredible diversity among its startups:
·         Quick2LAUNCH can, in less than 48-hours, help corporations develop visually compelling presentations and templates for PowerPoint. It also has a graphic design service for presentations.
·         Youtopia is an education gamification platform (toolkit) that uses points, badges and leaderboards to make what students are already learning – from elementary through college – addictive and fun. Its platform unlocks new pathways to learning.
·         Georama helps travelers discover vacations based upon their interests. Travelers can plan, book and share trips.
·         WeDeliver is a same-day, on-demand delivery service using a web-based platform.
As Daniela Bolzmann, co-founder and CMO of WeDeliver says: “This is a place where every startup can call home. For me, 1871 is home. It’s where I met my cofounder, and it’s where we work for months at a time. Many times we spent more hours at 1871 than we did at our own homes. It’s a place where we’ve connected with our peers, met mentors, built our company and even trained our fleet of delivery specialists. The culture at 1871 is inspirational – the passion and fury that’s going on in the hallways is contagious.” Chicago is certainly hoping that this inspiration and passion continues to spread!
Vicki Gerson is an award-winning print and on-line writer for consumer, trade and custom publications who focuses on company profiles, business features and business blogs.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Hanukkah !!

Statement for THE ARTISTS GAZE issue of Poets/Artists

“I guess a collector starts to grow up when he finally learns to appreciate paintings he can't own.”

This has always been one of my favorite statements for a variety of reasons. 

First, while I have certainly aged over the last 45 years of collecting, I’m not sure that I have really grown up or matured because I still find such total – almost childlike - delight in discovering an exciting new work by an unknown young artist and also in seeing the growth and continued development of the artists I have been privileged to work with over so many years. I still break into a sweat and the feeling is totally visceral when I happen upon a work that just takes my breath away. If losing that kind of connection or passion is a part of growing up, then I’m totally with Peter Pan and I’m never going there. 

But, at the same time, as I reviewed the list of participating artists in this project, and found myself bemoaning my stupidity in not already owning examples of some of their works – Aleah Chapin and Susannah Martin come especially to mind – I bit my tongue and reminded myself that the most important consideration is not what’s on my walls, but what’s out there for the world to appreciate and enjoy. And that’s a blessing for all of us – collectors – creators – and civilians as well. 

So I will try to be a good sport and soldier on. The fact that I do have wonderful pieces by so many of the artists in the upcoming issue and the show – many of whom Didi Menendez brought to my attention – is only the smallest solace.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Medical industry problems hospitalized her, and then inspired the launch of her tech startup

Medical industry problems hospitalized her, and then inspired the launch of her tech startup

Kate Rosow Chrisman
File 42968

As Star Cunningham walked from the third floor to the sixth floor of a renowned medical building, critical medical information was left behind.  Instead of travelling with her, the data stayed locked away on the third floor of a building, unwilling to share its secrets and insights to Star’s treating physician – information that would prove critical.
A few days later, Cunningham ended up back in the medical center.  She was dangerously sick and her primary care physician spotted the problem.  The specialist prescribed something that was dangerous for people with her condition (short bowel syndrome).  “Its ridiculous that I could be prescribed something that harmful to me when the data exists not to do so,” said Cunningham. 
File 42967
Like so many other entrepreneurs, Cunningham (pictured left) started her company because of a personal frustration.  She knew if the medical system was failing her – a well-education, highly involved patient who did her homework – it was failing lots of other patients as well.  Her company, 4D Healthware, is tackling some of the problems the healthcare industry either can’t or won’t take on themselves. “We are a software company and we are firmly in this space of personalized medicine,” said Cunningham.
Patient Driven
4D Healthware is driven by a user’s own data.  The platform supports all kinds of different wearable devices (as wearables grow, they expand their list).  Information from a user’s wearable is directly imported into 4D Healthware’s system, where it analyzes the data and sends back user-specific information.  Eventually, Cunningham wants the system to work seamlessly as patients visit doctors, flagging any potential hazard (like a bad prescription) the moment it happens, not days later. 
With a background in data and technology, Cunningham knew her product had to use data in a way that was useful for individuals.  She likens the state of personalized medicine using big data at the very start of Dorthy’s yellow brick road. 
After crunching data from wearables, company uses an algorithm (vetted by doctors) to give users feedback and encouragement.  She thinks the product is poised for success as patients get more involved in their care, especially those already using a tracking device such as a Fitbit.  “Consumers recognize that they have to get involved in managing their own health, and then consumers will drive doctors to look at the results,” Cunningham said about the platform.
Cunningham offers up an example.  A patient is diagnosed with high cholesterol and her doctor gives basic information to eat better and exercise more.  But the patient is still left in the dark on how to affect daily change.  4D Healthware can give daily interactions, encouraging behavior modifications that could improve a patient’s health.  Unlike scheduling an appointment with a doctor, “We interact with you in real time,” said Cunningham.
Having personalized information and a wealth of data from wearables gives the platform insight into a user’s health journey.  “It’s different for everyone but people are engaging a lot more with our platform because the recommendations are so personalized,” said Cunningham.
Over the next six to twelve months, the team plans to add more users to the site and increase the number of algorithms they use to crunch data.  4D Healthware will add more wearables to work with their technology, but she wants input from real users. “We wanted to have a way for the community to drive our development so that we connect devices to the platform that the community wants to use,” said Cunningham.  The team will also roll out more partnerships, including with naturopath clinics and non-traditional wellness programs. 
Having bootstrapped their way to this stage of development, the company is now raising $1 million of funding. 
Cunningham leaves no room to wonder – she is passionate about improving the healthcare field.  “There was a time where I walked around literally with a binder of information and I would sit down and have a conversation with my doctor,” said Cunningham.  With her vision to bring information from patient to doctor, seamlessly and without delay, binders should be a vestige of the past. 


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE: http://inc.com/howard-tullman/should-you-hire-failed-founders.html


Friday, December 12, 2014


The pioneering Center for Jewish Leadership officially launched at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership on October 26, 2014, with a groundbreaking symposium titled Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Jewish Leadership. We were excited to bring together on one stage innovative leaders from US and Israel. The impressive panel of presenters transcended the line between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, a scope that was equally reflected by those in the audience.
It is now my pleasure to share videos of the speaker’s presentations. I hope that their insights on entrepreneurship, innovation, and Jewish leadership will be useful in your own work and can be leveraged to advance Jewish communal life.



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