Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stamford Tech Meetup #8

At last night's STeM we had a surprisingly good turnout. Rainy weather didn't keep the Stamford Tech crowd at home. We had a bunch of new comers and a bunch of old timers (relatively) as well. This eighth addition of STeM consisted of Seph Skerrit and Proper Cloth, Limor and Spotery, and John Boyd and Meetingwave. Let's get to the demos:

Proper Cloth is a really cool just in time men's shirt company. You can design the shirts on their really beautiful website and they are shipped to you within 2 weeks. If someone buys your shirt you get a $5 store credit. Not too bad (shirts average about $100).

Spotery is a place where you "spot" things. News things that is. The site has an editorial bent on the news that helps you figure out what you need to know. Dealery came out of this as well. A place where deals are aggregated.

Meetingwave is a company that helps you set up meetings with other people. John, a patent attorney, founded this company and is currently targeting the alumni associations that are out there.

In the end, Proper Cloth hammered the competition and took home the Founders Card.

Busy day today, so I will write more when I can! (And yes the blue cow was my desktop background embarassingly enough!)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stamford Tech Meetup #7

Last night's Stamford Tech Meetup was pretty good. We had three really cool cutting edge companies. First off was Eventros presented by founder Simon Kirk. An interesting play for events - its a way for people to connect virtually at real world events. It's done in HTML/Javascript so no need to build native apps. Two months in its starting to make its way around the event circuit...

Second was Guest Vessel by Eliot Yaxley. It's a way to rent our your home, but the way that it differs is that you can get GV Tokens for it. These tokens are then redeemable for another home for YOU to rent. Pretty clever. The Brooklyn based startup is a few months old.

Finally Dave Lifson and Postling our Stamford Tech Meetup #7 winner. Posting is a social media dashboard that pulls in all of the social media APIs that are out there so that Small / Medium Business owners can manage their assets efficiently.

After our vote off I showed off my latest mix of technology with art. A movie I made with nearly 2 million images from Flickr, nearly a month of CPU power, and a handful of Macbook Pros. A movie within a movie within a movie in an infinite loop. Here it is...

We had a good mix of angels, technologists, and other interested marketing and advertising folks attend. Overall a great lucky 7.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stamford Tech Meetup #6

Last night's Stamford Tech Meetup #6 was really well attended. It was a beautiful night in the neighborhood and an awesome night to be talking tech. Our presenters included Watch It Too, Tutor Trove, and Pond 5.

First up was Tutor Trove. Tutor Trove a New Haven, CT based startup aims to help tutors online visually display what they are teaching. The Flash interface was awesome and I have to say the ability to take a math equation and turn it into a chart in about 1 second was awesome. The various interfaces for chemistry and biology I'm sure were just as impressive (although we didn't have enough time to see everything). Who says Flash is dead? Awesome presentation, Eli.

Next up was Pond5. Pond5 is a New York based company that provides stock clips to film makers but also gives shooters a chance to sell their clips in the marketplace. With a 50% payout rate, they are the highest in the business and the largest marketplace out there. Dana Tower, co founder, showed us some of the great things about the service which included the ease in which to preview a clip. Simply roll over a clip and watch it or listen to it. That's it. No downloading or anything like that. If you are a film maker, that's key. Kudos Dana and Tom for building an awesome business.

Finally we had Watch It Too. Watch it Too is a Flash based conferencing service with a simple drag and drop interface. It was very easy to get concurrent users into a "room" and easy to drag and drop all kinds of media in. Brian August (the VP of Biz Dev) did a simple demo where we had another user in the room and we were able to watch YouTube clips in about 2 seconds. (Brian's a slow typer :) ). I can see where Webex is scared here.

After Watch It Too, I wanted to build a forum where we could get extremely early stage ventures and ideas up for feedback from the community. Moocrunch was the guinea pig. It was something that was whipped up after seeing how poor video comments were. Lots of great feedback including focus groups, education, a Watch It Too plugin, etc.

Then came everyone's favorite part of the night, the Vote. Watch it Too and Tutor Trove were locked in a dead heat and in the Vote Off Watch it Too won by a single vote. Congratulations to all that presented last night and all that attended to witness the excellent presentations and show that was put on.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stamford Tech Meetup #5

Last night Stamford Tech Meetup #5 took place. We had a relatively small turnout but nonetheless the passion was there.
We had three presenters last night:
Gabble On, Tooble TA, and Cmp.ly (pronounced Comply as in compliance).

Gabble On is a language learning tool which takes traditional language tools like Google Translate, Babblefish, etc and makes them into a usable and learnable format. There's an iPhone application that allows students to take words that they've learned and turn them into flash cards. Pretty cool b2b application and pretty amazing given that Ethan's been working on this alone.

Tooble TA is another education tool which helps teachers figure out how their students learn. They are able to upload multimedia to their online lesson manager and see what pieces of media each student responds to. Matt, the CEO, a recent MBA graduate from Yale, explained that while technology has moved so quickly education is still in the 1800's. Makes sense.

Finally Cmp.ly is a very interesting take on what is happening out there in the marketplace. The company helps other companies in disclosing how marketers were compensated if at all. They also have a URL shortening service which allows me to determine what level of compensation the marketer is receiving. Thus if I tweet out a link to say an Amazon book, it would be a Comply 6 link that means that I have an affiliate relationship with Amazon. Tom, the founder, mentions an episode where Ann Taylor gave away gift cards and would only activate them upon receipt of a blog post mentioning the company. Interesting stuff! Cmp.ly Disclosure - I have no financial involvement in any of these companies.

So then the voting came and it was close with Cmp.ly out to an early lead. At one point there was a three way tie. Then Tooble came back strong and in the end we had to vote again. Cmp.ly vs Tooble. Voting resumed and there again was a tie. Unprecedented! I decided to award them the joint crown for Stamford Tech Meetup #5. Congratulations.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stamford Tech Meetup #4

The recap from last night's Stamford Tech Meetup #4 held at Tiernan's on Main Street May 24th 2010. We had four presenters last night

  • Social Wish
    Social Wish is a way for you to raise money via your social networks for your cause. They have a unique payment gateway option which allows you to get to your money faster and with less fees. It's a different open way to raise small amounts of money similar to that of Kickstarter.

  • Speak to Me
    Speak to me is a way to connect experts to people that are looking for them. They have a widget that connects users to experts on a per minute fee. Video, audio and chat are included when you grill your expert.

  • Fifobooks
    Fifobooks is an online bookstore for independent book downloads. They're taking advantage of the e-books revolution with Kindle, iPad, Nook, eReader, etc.

  • Adopt a Guy
    Adopt a guy is a new take on the dating scene by allowing girls to pick which guys they would like to "adopt." Once these guys are placed in a shopping cart only then are they allowed to contact the girl. Cute animations and an interesting spin on dating set this site apart.

After it was all said and done, we took a vote on our favorite startup from STeM #4. It was a tight race between Fifobooks and Adopt a Guy at the beginning. However, as voting continued Socialwish pulled through and tied Fifobooks. So we had a vote off and SocialWish ended up winning by a vote to be crowned the winner of STeM #4; (winner received a one year membership to Founder's Card valued at $695.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Relevancy leads to Viral Buzz

So like a ton of other people did last night, I watched the finale of Lost. Now there's a ton of folks that have written about the actual show so I'm going to skip that in order to write about something that was nearly unavoidable....the commercials. I think at one point (around 10:15 - 11:00 ET) there was a one to one ratio of commercials to content. (5 minutes of content to 5 minutes of commercial). So there were a lot of commercials. Kudos to Cuse, Lindeloff and JJ for making a show so darn compelling that millions of us sat thru commercials.

Regardless, I think that these expensive commercials which I heard were approaching $900K for a 30 second spot were somewhat wasted with a few exceptions. The two that jump out at me were Verizon's Goodbye to Lost Messages and Target's Smoke and Keyboard ads. And the reason that they did was because of the integration that they had with the show's content. Heck, I would bring my eyes back to the screen because I thought the show was starting again.

The Verizon ads were a combination of user generated content with some clever editing. They would pull a scene where a character from Lost would be looking at a screen or a book or something and cut to a Verizon generated screen with YOUR message. Pretty simple to do from a production perspective. No need to hire actors, no need to be on set. Take existing footage and re-cut it. Easy. (Except for, I'm sure, the millions they had to pay to actually use the footage).

The Target ads were much different, although again, from a cost perspective probably not too expensive (less licensing of course). The first ad had the infamous "numbers" 4 8 15 16 23 42 that had to be typed into a computer in order to avoid destruction. But instead of hitting enter like Desmond did for years, the button got stuck. Time to get another keyboard at Target for $23. The second ad was with the "smoke monster" flying around all of your beach gear. Get a smoke detector for $10.99. Jeez I think I really even remembered these prices correctly.

Just goes to show that if you can make the ads relevant (even though I doubt that I was going to leave the series finale at the moment to go get keyboards or smoke detectors), people will WATCH and remember them. On top of that, both companies now get a "cool" factor associated with them. And in a way Tivo proof themselves (at least the first time around for Target).

Image via Huffpo

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

CT Film Festival

Through organizing the Stamford Tech Meetup, I met Dave Bonan (@CTFFNewMedia) who runs the digital arm at the Connecticut Film Festival. I was invited to speak about "Interactive Video and the Future of Filmmaking" as well as to be on a panel entitled "New Media Frontiers 2.0." (Actually I was double booked for a tech demo at the same time as the panel but such is the problem of being in demand! :) jk).

Arrived late to Danbury CT on Friday night but woke up relatively early on Saturday morning to get ready for my 75 minute talk. A few people in the audience appreciated the interactive session with Choose Your Own Adventure, Augmented Reality, Klickable, and some of the other things that I'm working on.

Later at the panel we had a blogger, a programmer, a musician, newscaster and myself talking about the future of media. The discussion got heated and we bounced around from topic to topic but it was a great debate. The audience got into it too and I think that we have some great material for the tape.

Exhausted from the experience and hoping that we can recreate some of the energy at some other upcoming events!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The TV of Tomorrow

I was asked to be on the panel of Tracy Swedlow's TV of Tomorrow Conference in San Francisco. It was a lot of fun but I realized that I had a tough time connecting with some of the other attendees. Turns out that they are all traditional TV / Cable folks that actually know what EBIF and tru2way mean, while I'm just an Internet guy with an idea and a passion. What was really cool was that Tracy was able to get all of the interactive internet video providers into one room onto one stage. (This is her passion as well, and kudos to Tracy for pulling this thing off).

On my panel were Brian Rogers from EvenHere, Nick Alt from ConciseClick, Baba from VideoClix, Shana Steele from Tremor Media, Michael Fink from YouTube Annotations, myself, Abe from Clikthrough, Scott Bloomfield from Veeple and Rob from content creator Rob Chad and Matt. It was pretty interesting to see everyone's demo and to hear everyone's thoughts. I've always wanted to drive interactive video because I believe that we are not working against each other but actually should be working together. The great thing is that each company had a slightly different spin with a slightly different target audience. Here's the rundown:

Evenhere - They drop items into a timeline that appear in a video. When you are watching you have the option to purchase these items. They charge on a CPM / CPA basis. Target audience appears to be professional content - currently implemented on BFF.tv

Conciseclick - They are clickable video with popups that show up when you roll over something. Came from an agency and I think they are still targeting those clients. Not sure how they charge, but nice implementations with Hotwheels and Mattel.

VideoClix - They've been around for 11 years now and have a nice interface for professional content creators that track objects within their video. Then the creators go in and create content for each tag. They had a nice sizzle reel.

TremorMedia - Aren't they an ad network? Not just. They also have an Acuedeo tool that furthers interactivity for their brand partners. Pretty cool. They provide buttons and overlays that easily plug in.

Clikthrough - They target the music industry and have a really comprehensive system that gives the viewer anything from ratings to ecommerce to social media. Pretty nice interface.

YouTube - Small company attached to a small search company. Even Michael said that annotations was pretty low-tech but what's interesting is the adoption of annotations. (They've also released what Michael describes as wiki annotations). One out of every six has some type of annotations. He's no longer working on the product anymore.

Veeple - They are targeting the pro-sumer and corporate users including GoDaddy. Pretty interesting how they've allowed users to put PDF, Word, PPT files into a video.

Rob - Funny guy who is part of a trio of comedians from LA. They do a lot of cool things with interactive video including choose your own adventure.

And then there was me. I told my favorite story about our favorite movie (Miss Pettigrew) and the audience got that. I was also able to fit in a story about In The Heights and how its a different game than Miss P and why it worked better. And then time was over. Wow that was fast. We even had to postpone the click awards. So apply for them, and email me if you'd like to apply. On my way now to go meet up with old friends from Google....

Bowling Not Wii

So on Wednesday night, I checked out the Flybridge VC bowling event in NYC's Bowlmor lanes. It was pretty interesting event as I'd say the top NYC entrepreneurs were there. It got me thinking about an ongoing debate about entrepreneurship and whether entrepreneurs could be created or were just born. I've read a bunch of posts on the topic but I've come to a few realizations....
(BTW, our team was pretty awesome - i think we should have won - Baveo's Ari Greenberg, Bill from Goodwin, Stefan who just got funded, Alex and myself). Actually it's really one realization. Should an entrepreneur have a breadth of knowledge or a depth of knowledge?

I think the answer is breadth. I look at guys like Jeff Stewart (Mimeo, Urgent Career, Monitor110) and realize that his companies span many different industries (printing, sales, information). What resonates in my mind though was what Rich Forman from Register.com said at a recent M&T event.... He started Register.com as a wedding registry and it turned into a domain registry. Wow. Imagine that he was working with a bunch of folks with depth in weddings, gifting, and / or retail? They would not have been able to turn on a dime. That was cool. Speaking with Jeff, he said the same thing. Get a bunch of generalists first until you have a definitive idea on business model, product, etc. Essentially have a bunch of McKinsey entrepreneurs (breadth smart), that were former athletes (never say die), that are crazy (everyone needs some craziness) and there's your team.

Now do just do it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Notes from the First Stamford Tech Meetup

On Wednesday February 24, a group of techies got together at Tigin Bar in Stamford, CT. We had a semi private room and although we could only use an S-Video cable to a PC connection, we got the first Stamford Tech Meetup (#STeM) off.

We had four presenters that all provided an aggregation type theme, although a few of them fell into the travel niche, one fell into theater, and one into food.

The first brave soul that demonstrated was David Marcus from Routefriend.

Routefriend's elevator pitch (IMO) was Kayak for non-air travel. It worked pretty awesome. There was a lot of great Ajax on the site that made for quick loading and user friendly controls. David's got a ton of content that he was able to scrape from the sites themselves and is now working on a way to provide travel displays to the various city owned train stations.

CommutePlan was the second demo up. Nik Ran the CEO and founder wowed us with five minutes of his work. I'd say the elevator pitch was Drupal for Transportation Hubs. CommutePlan was still in the alpha stage but I could see where Nik was heading with it. He demonstrated the content management system and showed where he was going. Perhaps Nik should team up with Routefriend's David and CrowdFusion (that demo'd last night at NYTM).

TheaterAdvisor was next up. I'd say it was Yelp for Theater. Great presentation by the founder Andrew Asnes as he covered a lot of the things that I was going to ask about the site. What was really cool was the integration with NY based Hunch where a user could come to the site, answer some questions, and a Broadway recommendation would be given to them. I'm looking forward to this launch of this site as I saw a great show this past weekend that I'd like to review.

Last but not least was RecipeBridge. Bill Brennan the founder presented what I'd call Google/Yelp meets Recipes. A robust interface and on the target search results provided me with an awesome way to probably construct something with all of the random ingredients in my refrigerator (chocolate sprinkles, BBQ sauce, garlic, chicken wings, beer).

Overall, this was a great first meetup for STeM and I can't wait to see what is next in store...!

Sign up for Stamford Tech Meetup!

Games, games everywhere, but which one?

Cross posted from Klickable.TV

I like to talk about the gaming concept mashed up with video a lot. I think that it's a great way to build engagement with your viewer, especially with online video. As we know, the video game industry is growing daily while Hollywood (sans Avatar) is shrinking. Furthermore, at the same time, video engagement rates (abandonment) decrease (increase) as the video plays on (from our friends at TubeMogul). We talked about using Klickable TV as a great way to captivate an active viewership that is front of their computer (active) by using a medium that traditionally has been passive (video). One such example is the easter egg hunt. I love the story about the film trailer that skews 30-40 female but once sent to 20+ year old guys that know that there is a hidden easter egg where they can win free movie tickets, their interest in the film increases greatly. We've also discussed creating different "versions" of the same video where a viewer can watch the "Joe" version and then if they want a different experience, they can watch the "Nick" version of the same exact underlying video. Shoot once, capture different audiences forever....(almost).

There are so many different types of gaming experiences that we can create with this platform and a reason why I'm reluctant to provide too too many examples. Once you see how others use Klickable TV you almost feel like this is the ONLY way to use it, which is definitely NOT true. However, I want to get your creative juices flowing and help you find the best way to use the platform that is in line with your goal. As we see from the Tubemogul article, audiences have short attention spans. One user recently put together a mash up of gaming with video using the Klickable TV platform. Their goal wasn't to sell anything, it wasn't to even build awareness; the goal of the video was to collect email addresses of people that they thought might be interested in their product and to have them watch the ENTIRE video from start to finish.

So what type of puzzle did they choose? Easter eggs are a great way to get repeat watches of a video but a lot of the success is based on where the hidden spot is located. If the spot is located near the beginning of the video, the rest of the video may or may not get watched (also dependent on how skillful the viewer is). They actually chose a "puzzle." The viewer had to find different pieces within the video and the sum of all of the parts yielded the answer that they had to send in via a form (with their email of course).

Did it work? You bet. They had ten pieces in the puzzle. And on average the number of clicks per view was 9.5. Pretty darn good. Email your success stories to info@klickable.tv