Author Archives: Kevin Ohashi
“I think I have a lot of entrepreneurship in my blood and don’t mind putting in the long hours required to make something successful. Especially when I know how big it could get.”
Dan Puuri and Steve Person are the Founders of Docview. Dan is the managing partner of Docview. Dan has 21 years of experience working at the Lansing, Michigan Police Department. His primary responsibility was being charge of Planning and Research and Crime Analysis. Dan also holds a BA and MA in Criminal Justice. Steve is the Sales Director of Docview. Steve has 25 years experience working as a police officer where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant at the Lansing Michigan Police Department. His expertise is in police, RMS, CAD, electronic crash and ticketing, mobile systems, Planning, Research, Crime Analysis, GIS, and organizational leadership. Steve won awards from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and a Michigan Digital Government Development award for Best IT collaboration Among Organizations.
Docview works with law enforcement agencies to create digital images of traffic crash, crime and other reports. Docview also manages and sells these reports to interested parties on behalf of the departments; often to insurance companies and law firms. Docview solves the problem of physically going down to a records unit to request paper documents. Instead, parties can simply visit their website and purchase the necessary reports directly and have them delivered instantly. Docview helps police departments reduce operational costs and consumers get the information they need faster, cheaper and in a digital format.
“Looking back the ability to start and fail and then just start up again has been a major cultural advantage that has been very good for business in the US.”
Morten L. Jørgensen is a Co-Founder at Magma. Morten is a serial entrepreneur and has founded multiple companies and including a VC backed startup. Morten’s experience is almost entirely in the web space. He has started, a music community called BandBase, and a web 2.0/marketing consulting company called dotweiser and co-founded an interactive design firm called Aabenbart with Sebastian Stockmarr and Andrew Dahl. Morten’s current business is Magma an Aabenbart spin-off which was part of the inaugural Startupbootcamp group in Fall 2010.
Magma is an online management tool for planning, organizing and collaborating to create publications. It is designed to be used by editorial teams working with print and/or digital magazines, journals, etc. The goal of Magma is to remove the constraints of the publishing work flow process and make it as easy and efficient as possible.
“If new users don’t quickly understand your website, don’t expect them to stick around figure out how it works”
Marco Massaro is the Founder of eBackers. Marco is a user interface/design specialist. eBackers is his third company. His first was Audiolizer, a streaming music service. His second is Masswerks, a web development company that specializes in user interface design. His most recent company is eBackers.
eBackers “is a place for web professionals, online businesses, startups and people with ideas to connect.” It behaves much like Craigslist with users anonymously posting information about their needs. It also anonymizes email addresses and automatically expires posts. Unlike Craigslist, it is very easy on the eyes and has an intuitive user interface. eBackers’ goal is to create a place for web oriented people and businesses to connect.
“Most of our marketing is done through in-store samples. We’ve found that once customers taste the bars, they’re hooked!”
Siblings Bill and Leigh Keith run Perfect Foods Research Corp. Perfect Foods is a family owned business started by their parents in 1995. Perfect Foods’ main product is a nutrition bar (Perfect Foods Bar) that is 100% whole food with absolutely no GMOs, preservatives, chemicals or fillers. They are produced in their own certified organic factory in San Diego, California. Perfect Foods believes food can be delicious and healthy without making compromises such as using artificial preservatives. Their hand made product has gotten the attention of many top dieticians, athletes and health conscious people. It has also made a guest appearance on a popular TV show: The Big Bang Theory and recently voted favorite energy bar by actress Marisa Tomei in the August issue of Shape Magazine.
“The best thing for a small business owner is a product that does what is promised backed by as many raving fans as possible.”
Adam Neary is the Founder of Profitably, a new technology company providing analytics for small businesses. The goal of Profitably is to allow companies to increase their growth and profitability by quickly integrating their financials from QuickBooks into Profitably and running the analyses that matter most. Not only do they provide a pretty user interface to help visualize businesses, they make recommendations based on the financial data that can be acted upon immediately.
Adam has a BA from Boston College where he studied English. After college Adam worked for a short span as a Wine Director before switching gears and launching himself into management consulting and heavy data analytics. His got his start at A.T. Kearney, a leading management consultancy, before launching the Business Intelligence team at a London start-up called Concentra. Finally, Adam worked as a Vice President at a leading turnaround/restructuring firm, AlixPartners. Through these years, Adam worked with most major industries including automotive, financial services, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and the public sector. Adam realized he was solving the same problems over and over in different industries. Profitably was born out of his idea that these common problems could be solved with an automated solution.
Adam has agreed to do a slightly different format of interview; we will be focusing on the real struggles facing entrepreneurs, specifically their adoption of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy from the Lean Startup movement.
“I’m very well aware of the life lottery I won. And I know I didn’t do anything to deserve it – could’ve just as easily been born to another set of parents in another time or place. Sure, I’ve worked hard as hell for what I’ve achieved, but that doesn’t make me special when countless others have triumphed over much more with much less to show for it.”
Alexis Ohanian is most well known as one of the Founders of Reddit where he goes by kn0thing. Reddit was in the first group of startups at YCombinator. Reddit was also the first exit from YCombinator when they sold to Conde Nast Digital in 2006. He has given a Ted talk (on Mr. Splashy Pants, a humpback whale) and presented at many startup/web events. He has done a Kiva fellowship in Armenia. Alexis is also an accredited investor and has an angel investment firm named Das Kapital Capital, LLC. He is also a board member of the Awesome Foundation. Currently, Alexis is a founder at Breadpig. He also has a marketing role at Hipmunk, a new flight search startup founded by his Co-Founder at Reddit, Steve Huffman. Alexis also represents YCombinator in the East Coast of the US.
Breadpig’s mission is To help make the world suck less by selling you the geeky things you love and giving all the profits to good causes. They do this by finding worthy charitable organizations around the world to donate the money the earn too. Next, they find geeky things to sell and then donate all of the profits to the selected organizations. Their first geeky thing sold for charity was the xkcd book (xkcd volume 0), which is a collection of the wildly popular xkcd web comic and the profits were donated to Room to Read for the specific purpose of building a school in Laos. Since December 2008, Breadpig has raised and donated $167,641.15.
“I took the project I was working on at the time (which was a homepage builder I made for my own personal site) and ran with it.”
Anthony Casalena is the Founder of Squarespace. Anthony is a Computer Science graduate from The University of Maryland College Park. His first taste of the startup world was when he was an intern for a VC backed startup called HyperOffice. After only two weeks he became a regular programmer and played a major role at the company where he re-wrote the main product line. Anthony started Squarespace in his dorm room at UMD College Park in 2004 and continues to work on it today.
Squarespace is a New York City based company focused on creating beautiful and powerful websites. They have one of the most advanced (if not the most advanced) WYSIWYG website editor I have ever seen. It gives users full control over the look of the site to a granular level through CSS. They have loaded in many professional themes that people can build their websites on top of while also allowing people to create their own if they choose to do so. They have created modules to do many of the most popular features on websites such as blogging, galleries and more. Squarespace recently raised their first outside investment, a whopping 38.5 million dollar investment from Index Ventures and Accel Partners.
“The internet has caused massive disruption and the studios to a large extent are still playing catch up.”
This is part of our Startup BootCamp (SBC) 2010 Coverage. We will be profiling many of the teams that have recently completed this seed funding program in Copenhagen, Denmark. You can also read our interview with the founder of Startup BootCamp, Alex Farcet. The format is slightly different from our regular format. Each interview will begin with a set of questions about the experience of going through SBC and follow up with questions about the specific startup.
Ben Johnson and James Hobbis are the founders of Gruvi. Ben and James are both from the UK and living in Copenhagen, Denmark. Ben has an MBA in Technology Management from The Open University and has many years of experience working with the film industry. His previous job was at Preview Networks (formerly Play Networks) where he was in charge of international business development and worked with clients such as Sony, Universal and Paramount. James is an engineer by training with a background in Aeronautical and Mechanical engineering. He also has an MBA from The Cass Business School. James is an E-Commerce expert with experience working as the head of E-Commerce at Fidelity. He also worked at Saxo Bank as a project manager on an integrated SEM (Search Engine Marketing) toolkit. Together, Ben and James founded Gruvi.
Gruvi is a film community built on top of the Facebook platform. The application’s primary purpose is to create value for consumers of movies and movie advertisers. Consumers of movies join the community and get access to trailers, schedules and planning tools. Gruvi allows movie consumers to find, discuss, plan and buy a movie going experience socially with their friends. It helps movie advertisers by identifying who is most likely to go to and enjoy their movies. This pool of movie fans gets told about upcoming movies that would interest them and movie advertisers get a cheaper distribution model.
“You would be amazed at what kind of chain-reactions are set in motion when one of the startups has some smart idea, tries it and tells everybody that it works.”
This is part of our Startupbootcamp 2010 Coverage. We will be profiling many of the teams that have recently completed this seed funding program in Copenhagen, Denmark. You can also read our interview with the founder of Startupbootcamp, Alex Farcet. The format is slightly different from our regular format. Each interview will begin with a set of questions about the experience of going through Startupbootcamp and follow up with questions about the specific startup.
Disclosure: I know many of these teams personally and have worked with some of them informally to varying degrees. However, I do not have equity in any of these companies nor have I received any type of compensation from them (other than a couple beers!).
Artas Bartas is a Co-Founder at Spockly. He and his other Co-Founder, Dovydas Ignatavicius, are from Lithuania. Artas received his Bachelor’s from Vilnius University and a Master’s from Central European University in International Relations and European Studies. He has five years of experience in sales and project management. His previous company, Kaobanga.com, was an online shop for design accessories, which is now his personal blog (Lithuanian). Artas also worked at an IT company called Alna Business Solutions, where he gained expertise in business intelligence and data crunching. His most recent job was running a small web agency developing ecommerce and internet marketing projects for clients. Artas’ current business is Spockly which was part of the inaugural Startupbootcamp group in Fall 2010.
Spockly unmasks the users behind email addresses. It takes a user database, mailing list or any other collection of emails and processes them through various social networks. Once processed, Spockly turns the insights gleaned from a userbase’s social profiles into actionable information for businesses. Spockly’s goal is to allow businesses to peek into their customer’s behavior and interests without intruding on their on-site experience. Spockly can be used as a complement (possibly even a replacement) for surveys and complex registration forms for gaining marketing information.
Manmeet Singh is the Founder and CEO of Dataguise. Manmeet comes from a technical background, he received a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in India. Over his career he started out as an engineer but has also taken on roles in marketing and operations. He has held two VP of Engineering positions at Miri Technologies and Zeneb Inc. He also was a technology manager at Oracle. Dataguise is Manmeet’s current entrepreneurial venture.
Dataguise is a data security company. It specializes in finding sensitive information using their DgDiscover tool. It allows enterprises to identify and find sensitive data and then provides actionable information for managers to help secure it. The second product Dataguise sells is DgMasker which allows companies to control what information is passed to different applications and whether or not to mask elements of it. Dataguise aims to help enterprises with their compliance needs and information security.
“+200.000 mobile application developers like us were suffering app discovery; we thought apps could help users find other apps within the app, where the user already is.”
Pictured left to right – Juan Moreno, Paolo Rau, Rodrigo Carrearas, Raul Moreno
Juan Moreno is a Co-Founder at Kinetik. Juan and his team are from Argentina. Juan studied Economics at San Andres. He interned at the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and Ashoka. He was also an Analyst at KPMG. His first startup was called Mobiliciouz which he started with his brother, Raul, who is also working on Kinetik. Kinetik is part of the inaugural Startupbootcamp group in Fall 2010.
Kinetik is a cross-promotion network for mobile applications. They help developers find, connect, and collaborate with other developers. It allows developers to sign up and use their system to earn credits every time one of their users signs up for a cross promoted apps. Each credit then earns the developer an install of their own app from other apps in the network. Developers are allowed to curate the list of apps that they cross-promote to maintain relevance and ensure only high quality applications are getting promoted from their own application.