Entrepreneurship, Technology

Oh Where is My Wearable

In the next 12 months, I plan on buying a smart watch. Why? Currently we have companies giving us what I like to call the “standard smart watch experience”: a wearable digital screen with mobile computing power. Devices from Samsung, Pebble and the like are the natural evolutionary relatives to devices like the Casio Databank from the 80s. Unfortunately, not a whole lot has changed between the two eras (at least not enough for a stronger consumer proposition). On a separate but parallel development track, companies like Jawbone, Fitbit and Nike are now selling wearable devices that enable consumers to better understand their fitness habits (or lack thereof). With these and similar technologies like Google Glass, which I purchased and returned earlier this year, we are still at the beginning stages of this phenomenon.

So where are the future growth opportunities? Much like any nascent product category, we are about to see some accelerated development in the smart watch space, which is good news for consumers. The International Data Corp is predicting a significant uptick in the number of wearable units sold over the next few years. The hardware manufacturers in the space will continue to add new hardware components, similar to what we are currently seeing between Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S series. There won’t be much room for new hardware entrants, but with unified operating systems like the upcoming Android Wear SDK, applications will still be a terrific opportunity. The future of wearables is all about information convergence, particularly with real-time and personalized data. For consumers and startups alike, we should get excited about the future of wearables. At least until they turn into implantables..

Keep the conversation going on Twitter with #wearable!

Standard
Community, Entrepreneurship

Other Side of the Island: Startup Weekend New Jersey

newJersey_v02

I didn’t have to do much traveling to facilitate Startup Weekend New Jersey, but the amount of energy here would have certainly made a longer trip worth it. There were some great pitches on Friday night, and I’m excited to see these teams progress over this weekend and beyond. One in particular (that shall go nameless since they are still developing) is an app that, if developed, I would use immediately and every single day.

The space where this event is being held is very dynamic. If you’re a New Jersey company looking for coworking space, I definitely recommend checking out JuiceTank. Private, semi-private, and open space is available (with parking!!).

Startup Weekend is an organization that is focused on building entrepreneurship communities around the world. Now, we can add New Jersey to that long list. Looking forward to Sunday night pitches!

Be sure to follow the action on Twitter, or tweet at me directly.

Standard
Entrepreneurship, Technology

APIs for the Internet of Things

The recent announcement from Google’s Sundar Pichai should be a reminder that connected devices, otherwise known as “the internet of things,” are here to stay. Yes, we know that Google Glass isn’t exactly mainstream (remember, I returned mine), but that isn’t the only device type we can look forward to. Everything from your watch to your washing machine is connecting to the internet, but until Mr. Pichai’s announcement, many of these systems have been closed (adoption of android on new devices is a whole other story). Where an opportunity exists for existing and new IaaS and PaaS companies is to provide useful hardware-based services. There are MANY creative solutions that can be sold as a service. In addition, there is a tremendous data opportunity here, which as we all know is a major investment focus for many firms and corporations. I’m looking forward to seeing significant IaaS and PaaS development in this space.

What are your thoughts on the Internet of Things? Tweet at me with #connected, and let me know!

Standard
Entrepreneurship, Technology

Why Regulation Would Help Bitcoin

A lot has happened in the world of Bitcoin this week. The Chair of the Federal Reserve recently gave the opinion that the Fed does not have the authority to regulate Bitcoin because the technology is not tied to the financial institutions under its jurisdiction. While the Fed may not have jurisdiction over this new platform, if Bitcoin is to serve a long-term proposition, it is necessary to establish a regulatory framework in order to protect stakeholders. Hopefully the loss of about half a billion dollars from Mt. Gox will inspire some global action. While many in the Bitcoin industry (if we can call it that, yet) have assured the community that they believe in “transparent, thoughtful, and comprehensive consumer protection measures,” we have learned throughout our world history that financial services companies (particularly those operating on a global scale) are not able to sufficiently self-regulate.

The reality is that this is a huge opportunity for those in the Bitcoin space rather than an impediment. If the goal is to push Bitcoin mainstream, then it is necessary for the platform to get legitimate recognition from the major global economic drivers. This means enacting certain consumer protections that are not present in the system today. This is a rapidly evolving space that leaders like the Bitcoin Foundation can play a significant role in.

What are your thoughts on the future of Bitcoin? Tweet at me with #bitcoin, and let me know!

Standard
Community, Entrepreneurship

A Facilitator’s Journey: Startup Weekend Lancaster

That was quite the drive. But after hours of road time through the back hills of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, I have arrived at the small city of Lancaster. As preparation to facilitate the Startup Weekend event this weekend, I learned how to correctly pronounce the city’s name. This is one of the smallest events I have been to with less than 40 people attending. The experience is great, just the same, though. Friday night pitches were creative, and I heard some fantastic ideas: everything from 3D printed coffee-top designs to a ride sharing app.

As of the time of this writing, the teams have coalesced into four (maybe five) teams, and are working hard to flush out their ideas and start some software and customer development. I am continuously impressed by the level of passion individuals bring to their work at Startup Weekend events, even if the idea isn’t originally theirs. Can’t wait for Sunday night presentations!

Follow some of the action on Twitter, and be sure to tweet at me with #startups. Go teams!

Standard
Community, Entrepreneurship

Ignite Stamford V.2

21699_555963527753715_98390566_n2013 was a great year for Ignite Stamford. We had some fantastic speaking events, action nights, and great engagement of the community. Bike Stamford, a bike-friendly initiative, is a great example of the organization’s success. We hope this success will continue in 2014 with the relaunch of our organization.

The evolution of Ignite Stamford is a testament to the dedication of its founders and the participation of the community. The organization has changed from a simple speaking outlet to a true platform for community engagement and action.

Our 2014 kickoff event will be taking place soon, so be sure to get your tickets ASAP. Follow Ignite Stamford on Twitter and Facebook. If you are interested in applying to speak, just fill out the application on the website. We hope to see you at the event!

Looking forward to attending Ignite? Tweet at me with #Ignite, and let me know!

Standard
Entrepreneurship

B2B v. B2C v. …..

In a recent conversation I was having with a NYC early-stage VC, the conversation turned to a topic I quite honestly hadn’t thought much about: “In the near future, do you think B2B or B2C will be bigger?” After giving my reply, he thought that my view of B2B was contradictory to the general viewpoint of the venture capital industry. Thinking back, however, perhaps what I had a greater difficulty with was the premise of the question itself.

Traditionally, we have seen a lot companies serving businesses (broadly defined) and consumers. Now, however, we have some terrific large and small companies serving developers, an entirely new customer of the 21st century. One customer that continues to be underserved is governments, especially “non-federal” ones. I call this group SMGs (small and medium governments). There is a real data service opportunity for this group, and only a handful of local, startup and nonprofit organizations currently serving it.

Remember, that’s just the customer base; now let’s think of the even larger issue of geography. Yes, the internet has made certain products, platforms and services available to a wider variety of populations, but that does not mean that a US solution is applicable to Brazil. Of course there will be corporate consolidation through M&A activity, but the solutions still remain relatively unique given equal scaling opportunities.

So if asked again, do I think B2B or B2C will be bigger in the near term, I think the answer will be: “Yes. They will both be big, as will B2D and B2G. Plenty of room in all four for growth.”

What industries do you think will be biggest in the startup world? Tweet at me with #nextgen, and let me know!

Standard