Jumpstart Foundry's 2014 Graduating Class

We are proud to announce our nine graduating companies for 2014. This has been a huge year for the cohort. Two have already raised additional capital and half already have revenue. The companies are as follows.

Join us on August 21st at Schermerhorn Symphony Center at 2PM to see these incredible companies pitch.

  • Aloncii:  Moving fashion forward.- Revitalizing couture and moving fashion forward - think Warby Parker meets Jimmy Choo. We upload a 3D scan of your feet to our system; you choose the design. Our software alters the patterns to fit your feet, our production partners put the pieces together, and in a few short weeks you’ll receive beautiful new shoes made just for you.

  • Applyance:  Applications made simple.- Applyance is the application engine for the Fortune 5,000,000 that delights reviewers and applicants with the power of simplicity. Applyance provides a common application process for jobs, schools, competitions, etc. that is simple, enjoyable and smart, and ensures you never answer the same question twice.

  • Arrister:  Custom products on-demand.- Arrister makes custom products on-demand. Our online marketplace allows customers to browse our products and customize them using our fun and intuitive online configurator.  Our catalogue is optimized for mass customization using our high-speed manufacturing equipment. We’re Arrister, we bring people and products together.

  • Boomalang:  Bringing languages to life- A language exchange platform, matching you to native speakers from different cultures for peer-to-peer live video chat.

  • Healthcare MarketMaker:  What's your practice worth?- Healthcare MarketMaker is a cloud based marketplace that empowers buyers and sellers of medical and dental practices.  About 33% or 400,000 physicians will retire in the next ten years and Healthcare MarketMaker will not only assist in helping those physicians exit medicine but, more importantly, will provide entering physicians with tools to manage the value of their practices during their career.

  • Octovis: Bringing the power of wearable computing to healthcare.- Octovis is removing the impediment of technology in patient encounters. Often the clinician spends a majority of their day inputting data into an EHR which reduces the time to see and interact with patients. We give them back their efficiency with our HIPAA/HITECH compliant data collection services on Google Glass, pushing patient data into the EHR real-time.

  • PinPtr: Affordable 3D precision positioning...within centimeters.- PinPtr is a precision positioning platform aiming to bring low-cost, centimeter-scale 3D location information to applications where accuracy matters. Think driver-less cars, drone navigation, collision avoidance, and land surveying, all in a single, easy to use, one size fits all solution.

  • Skill Spectrum: The best way to test-drive talent.- Skill Spectrum connects a pre-vetted pool of high-caliber students to companies for projects, internships, and full-time positions. We reduce inefficiencies in the hiring and on-boarding process while preparing students for their careers through frequent, real-world work experience.

  • Spotwise: Real-time parking analytics.- At Spotwise, we provide a real-time parking management platform that allows cities and private operators to generate more revenue as well as reduce costs. We set up smart cameras that monitor parking spots automatically via a computer vision algorithm. We stream real-time occupancy data collected from the camera into an intuitive dashboard so that area managers can make sense of the information, allowing them to set more profitable price points and more efficient enforcement routes. Eventually we'll roll this data out to drivers looking for spots as well.

splitscnd: Peace of mind for parents in dangerous driving months

Guest post by Mel Taylor of splitscnd

From the get go, we envisioned splitsecnd as a way to make the roads a safer place, not just for our customers, but for all drivers. We began by looking at driving issues in all seasons and circumstances. What we discovered about the summer was startling: teenagers are driving 44% more during the summer, the 99 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest for drivers ages 15-20, and 7 of the top 10 deadliest driving days of the year for teens occur in June, July and August. Overall, driving accidents are the #1 cause of death among teenage drivers.

This deserves attention. All of our attention. So we decided to do something about it. We launched splitsecnd by launching SafeSummerTN.com through The Tennessean on May 24th just before the start of the deadliest time of the year for teen drivers. Through SafeSummerTN.com we set out to provide tips and resources to Middle Tennessee parents to promote safe driving practices. We provided a pledge for teens to promise safe summer driving and we gave away 100 splitsecnd devices and three months service to Middle Tennessee families with teen drivers. In case you aren’t familiar, splitsecnd devices plug into the cigarette lighter of any car, detect collisions, alert emergency responders, track driving habits, and monitor texting while driving. Plug-in peace of mind, we call it. But this campaign isn’t about us, it isn’t about selling product (in fact we gave away nearly $15,000 in product and service); it is about making a difference, starting here in our hometown of Nashville.

The support we’ve received locally, starting right here at Jumpstart Foundry, is a big reason why we wanted to hone this campaign at home. It gives us a chance to give back to our local network and community, which has made our progress possible. We hope to expand our SafeSummer campaign further in the future, across the United States.

Launching a startup is about more than selling a product. It is about making your mark on society. Like the startup community Jumpstart helps nurture here in Nashville, splitsecnd wants to nurture a community of safe driving advocates. We are proud to begin this campaign where we began. Right here in Middle Tennessee.

Splitsecnd is an alumnus of Jumpstart Foundry, going through the program in 2010. To learn more about splitscnd, visit their website at www.splitsecnd.com.

Hustle: To Change Your World, You Have to Lie a Little

A couple months ago, Marcus Whitney, CMO at Jumpstart Foundry gave a talk at Nashville's TEDx conference. Driven by a compelling personal story and grounded in psychological concepts, Marcus explains the three steps to hustling. Check it out below.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVNF5kfddZ...

Cohort 2014 is Officially Launched!

On Sunday, May 18, Jumpstart Foundry kicked off its 2014 accelerator program by welcoming 10 new teams of talented entrepreneurs to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. Over the next 3 months, this cohort will work hard and test their limits as they partner with the staff and mentors at Jumpstart Foundry to grow their businesses and develop an investable story. This particular cohort represents the 5th collection of teams to come through Jumpstart Foundry, which historically boasts a 78% success rate for companies that have been brought through the program.

The kickoff event is just one bookend of the program, which culminates on August 21st with the 2014 Investor Day event, in which 1200 guests will come together to hear each company’s pitch as they vie for the capital they need to grow. Throughout the program, each company will have access to Jumpstart’s comprehensive pool of trusted mentors, who will work closely with the teams and provide best-practices on launching and growing their startup companies.

The mentors at Jumpstart Foundry are carefully selected leaders of Nashville’s business community, who have specialized expertise that they are willing to share with the cohort over the course of the program. Mentors take valuable time out of their schedules in order to be a part of the growth of these teams, but the experience is rewarding for both mentors and companies alike. The teams will use the value provided by the mentors, along with the proven accelerator process offered to them as a part of Jumpstart Foundry, to take their ideas and turn them into a reality.


Jumpstart Foundry is a 14-week accelerator program located in Nashville, TN, with the goal of launching 10 successful companies in mid-August of each year.

Announcing Jumpstart Foundry's 2014 Cohort!

We are pleased to announce the 2014 Jumpstart Foundry class! With 10 teams leveraging technology to solve business and consumer problems, we are confident that these teams will harness our expertise to bring significant value to Nashville, the southeast, and investors. You can read more about them in The Tennessean or below.

Healthcare MarketMaker
Virtual marketplace to connect healthcare practice buyers and sellers—Zillow for healthcare practices.

PinPtr
Cloud-based positioning system using patent-pending localization methodology and a network of stationary base stations

WoodGoods
Online marketplace for browsing, building, and buying custom hardwood products on-demand.

Hack_app
Common application and professional network for code schools—f6s for career accelerators.

Skill Spectrum
Connect students with part-time consulting work via online platform.

Aloncii
Production technology for the fashion industry products (e.g. custom-fitted shoes)

Spot!
Intelligent parking system: provides cities with a better way to route citizens and tourists to parking spots.

Octovis
Prevent medical errors by using contextual information and wearable computing.

GlobeSpeak
Connect native speakers via intelligent matching algorithm—eHarmony for language learning

Beyond Right Now Technologies
Drones that target feral pigs for eradication.

These companies will begin their Jumpstart Foundry experience on May 18th, culminating in Investor Day on August 21st. Check back here for more information on our cohort companies and Investor Day.

Jumpstart Foundry, Vanderbilt CTTC work to strengthen entrepreneurial programs

Vanderbilt University’s entrepreneurial community will have greater access to Jumpstart Foundry’s (JSF) proven program for education, mentorship and networking through a new collaboration with Vanderbilt’s Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC).

JSF and CTTC will engage in a new program that identifies, evaluates and selects new project proposals from Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students. CTTC will nominate select proposals through a stringent due diligence process for placement in JSF’s top 30 applicant pool. JSF will rank order this group and begin interviewing the top ranked teams. The final selection round will comprise of the top dozen or so teams from the above pool and will be given an offer to participate in JSF’s annual business accelerator program, which begins in May.

“This new engagement represents a dynamic extension of our growing relationship with Jumpstart Foundry that promises to create new and valuable opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded members of the Vanderbilt community, ” said Alan Bentley, assistant vice chancellor of technology transfer and intellectual property protection.  “We’re excited and fortunate to work with one of the most highly-regarded accelerator’s in the country.”

In 2013, JSF selected Vanderbilt startup InvisionHeart, LLC to participate in the accelerator program. The startup expects to close its Series A funding shortly and was recently selected to pitch at Google Demo Day with just nine other startups from around the country.

“We have been incredibly impressed with the potential at Vanderbilt,” said Vic Gatto, CEO of Jumpstart Foundry.   “The combination of Vanderbilt intellectual property and human talent with the Jumpstart Foundry curriculum and mentor network will create successful startups driving disrupting large industries and improving people’s lives.”

For more information about Vanderbilt CTTC, click here.

Source: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/cttc/muse/jumpst...

JSF60: Interview with The Skillery's Matt Dudley

Matt DudleyJSF60: Interview with The Skillery's Matt Dudley

  • Matt Dudley, Owner and Founder of The Skillery. Matt is a 2012 graduate of Jumpstart Foundry. 
  • The Skillery started two years ago in Nashville as a means for people to find and teach classes. 
  • They are opening a physical co-working space in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville in early 2014.
  • Matt was pushed in the direction by Jumpstart Foundry.
  • During JSF, Matt spent the bulk of his time trying to figure out how to scale The Skillery. He decided to try to deepen the roots instead by asking what locals needed most. 
  • Co-working takes many forms, like CoLab and ESPACES. The Skillery will not have closed offices, it will be very open to encourage collaboration. They have also partnered with a local coffee shop to provide excellent coffee.
  • "I learned a ton going through JSF. Sort of like what I imagine business school would be, if you compressed business school into 14 weeks."
  • "It helped me ground my business and gain a better understanding of it." 
  • When Matt was very young he hung posters around his neighborhood advertising his services as a Ghostbuster.
  • High school, college, and grad school squashed his entrepreneurial path. He had a teaching career for nearly a decade, but he had not listened to his entrepreneurial voice in a long time.
  • "Open your ears and listen to yourself."
  • Matt is inspired by his brother, who has always listened to his entrepreneurial voice. 
  • Stop reading all of the tech blogs out there. There is a lot of snake oil. Pick and choose the valuable information. 
  • It's very easy to get swept up with the amount of buzz about the startup community. Instead focus on what you are working on and how to create real value, and forget about what everyone else is talking about.
  • Matt recommends the book, For Better or For Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families(AFF) by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg. How to balance entrepreneurship and family. 
  • Contact Matt at TheSkillery.com or email him Matt AT theskillery DOT com. 

This wraps up our latest season of Jumpstart Radio for Entrepreneurs. We hope you have enjoyed the show.

Please subscribe to our new podcast feed in iTunes and leave a review for the show. You can also subscribe using Stitcher. Jumpstart theme song “DLDN Instrumental (ft. Onlymeith, Mellotroniac)” by: St. Paul from ccMixter.

InvisionHeart Demo Day Pitch

InvisionHeart

Jumpstart Foundry Investor Day 2013: InvisionHeart Pitch from Jumpstart Foundry on Vimeo.

During the summer of 2013, eight technology start-ups graduated from our intense, 14-week, business accelerator program. The summer accelerator program ended on August 22 at our annual Investor Day. Each team got to pitch their company to a room filled with hundreds of investors, mentors and media.

Sit back and learn about JSF alum, InvisionHeart, a mobile hardware and cloud system that allows for the capture and review of cardiac data, serving hospitals, clinics and ambulatory care.

The secure cloud platform at the center of InvisionHeart's technology enables a network of physicians, nurses, technicians, and billing specialists to securely access and annotate patient ECG tracings. From credentialed mobile devices, a recipient can instantly access captured ECG tracings, as well as select alerts and push notifications to aid the rapid turnaround of completed reports by busy practices and hospital departments.

As patients are increasingly treated in ambulatory surgery centers, rural hospitals, and care clinics, there is a need for technology to provide connectivity among geographically distant clinicians. Further, as technology travels within hospitals and to patients, conventional ECG devices are physically challenging to transport. The InvisionHeart ECG is small enough to be carried in a lab coat pocket, powerful enough to operate for several days, and transmit data via a HIPAA compliant, 256-bit encryption system.

Learn more about InvisionHeart and follow their progress on AngelList.

NewsBreak Demo Day Pitch

NewsBreak

Jumpstart Foundry Investor Day 2013: NewsBreak from Jumpstart Foundry on Vimeo.

During the summer of 2013, eight technology start-ups graduated from our intense, 14-week, business accelerator program. The summer accelerator program ended on August 22 at our annual Investor Day. Each team got to pitch their company to a room filled with hundreds of investors, mentors and media.

Sit back and learn about JSF alum, NewsBreak, a video-based advertising, interaction and promotion platform for gas stations and convenience store networks.

NewsBreak is a merchandising technology platform for the convenience store industry that converts fuel only customers to multi-product transactions, resulting in the increase of high margin in-store sales. Their SMART, multi-channel platform manages and distributes content based on key consumer buying variables that maximize the effectiveness of each merchandising message.

Learn more about NewsBreak and follow their progress on AngelList.

Rocket Raise Demo Day Pitch

Rocket Raise

Jumpstart Foundry Investor Day 2013: Rocket Raise from Jumpstart Foundry on Vimeo.

During the summer of 2013, eight technology start-ups graduated from our intense, 14-week, business accelerator program. The summer accelerator program ended on August 22 at our annual Investor Day. Each team got to pitch their company to a room filled with hundreds of investors, mentors and media.

Sit back and learn about JSF alum, Rocket Raise, a messaging app that lets people support the causes they care about, led by a consumer brand, while they text.

Rocket Raise enables brands to win the loyalty of Millennials by engaging them in their corporate giving. They bring their social responsibility efforts to the spotlight to win loyalty from an audience that is difficult to reach. It's like Kickstarter for causes, conveniently built into a messaging platform.

Learn more about Rocket Raise and follow their progress on AngelList.

Poliana Demo Day Pitch

Poliana

During the summer of 2013, eight technology start-ups graduated from our intense, 14-week, business accelerator program. The summer accelerator program ended on August 22 at our annual Investor Day. Each team got to pitch their company to a room filled with hundreds of investors, mentors and media.

Sit back and learn about JSF alum, Poliana, a web application that simplifies the legislative system by analyzing and visualizing money’s influence in politics. Abraham Lincoln once discussed a "government of the people, by the people, for the people" in his famous Gettysburg Address. Since then, things have changed in how our government represents its constituents.

You'd be surprised at the mass amount of big political data out there. Poliana is striving to take that data and display it in a way that makes sense to people, and isn't just a bunch of confusing numbers. By creating interactive graphs, it's easier for people to understand where trends fall (or don't fall) in politics and what influences legislation.

No matter your opinion on politics, Poliana aims to create a population of informed citizens by giving them the ability to explore and understand their government.

Learn more about Poliana and follow their progress on AngelList.

In Tags

JSF59: Interview with Meevl's Milos Blasko


JSF59: Interview with Meevl's Milos Blasko
 

Milos Blasko

  • Milos Blasko is Co-Founder of Meevl
  • Meevl helps companies increase their brand awareness and engage their employees. They use social media to leverage the power of employees to amplify their brand online.
  • Milos explains Meevl's pivot.
  • Milos graduated from Jumpstart Foundry in 2011. He had no prior entrepreneurial experience. He learned something new everyday from the program and our mentors.
  • They were inspired by the other teams in the cohort who helped them along the way.
  • Milos was mentored by Rob Hendricks, Rob Humphries, and Jamin Guy.
  • Meevl is based in Slovakia, the startup scene is growing there. He is an organizer of the Slovak branch of Startup Weekend to help serve their community.
  •  Tips: 
    • Go big or go home. Make your startup your full time job.
    • Find a mentor who is willing to share his experience with you. 
    • Be sure your startup solves your own problem. 
    • Identify your most productive hours during the day. Rescue Time is a great browser plugin to help you with this. 
  • Milos recommends reading 37 Signals' Getting Real and Jim Collins' Good to Great (aff)
  • Recommends signing up for StartupDigest.com's newsletter. Check out James Clear, a great resource for advice on entrepreneurship, motivation and healthy living.
  • Public beta is now available from Meevl.com. Check out their blog for marketing tips.
  • Contact Milos on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Are you a proven founder or co-founder? We would love to speak with you about being a guest on the show. Please email dave at jumpstartfoundry dot com for details. Thanks.

Enjoy the show? Please subscribe to our new podcast feed in iTunes, we love your ratings too. You can also subscribe using Stitcher. Jumpstart theme song “DLDN Instrumental (ft. Onlymeith, Mellotroniac)” by: St. Paul from ccMixter.

Interview with Ledge

Interview with LedgeGuest podcast interview with Clark Buckner (ETPCast), Kelly Boothe (SouthernAlpha), and JSF COO, David "Ledge" Ledgerwood. 

One of the most impressive aspects of the Jumpstart Foundry Investor Day event is the variety of entrepreneurs it draws. As Ledge explained (in the interview), there are entrepreneurs in their forties, and there are some that are only 24. Some of the plans arrive at the center with millions of dollars already invested in the company, and others are nothing more than an idea scribbled on a napkin. Over the course of 14 weeks, Ledge and the Jumpstart Foundry team work with them, helping to establish a strong, pitch-ready business model. It’s an intensive project that requires a large commitment from both JSF and the entrepreneur. He jokes that there are some weeks where he spends more time with his mentees than he does with his family.

For the entrepreneur, it’s a long process of taking constant criticism and questioning. For Ledge, it’s acting as part-therapist and part-drill sergeant. He’s said it’s not just the business model that is shaped. He really enjoys watching the transformation of the entrepreneurs
themselves. They learn a lot of humility, and lose any arrogance they might have had. It makes sense. Often, as entrepreneurs, we’re prone to believing in ourselves a little too much--it’s an occupational hazard. There are times when we’re the only ones that do see the potential in what we’re doing, and we have to be able to persevere. However, there are also times when we need to be taken down a notch and bend our ear to the devil’s advocate. I actually had a recent conversation with Dr. Cornwall at Nashville Product Camp, and he echoed this exact sentiment, cautioning against “surrounding yourself with only cheerleaders.”

For those who made it through and participated in the event, the process was well worth it. Some had the opportunity to obtain the necessary funding to fully scale or implement their plans. Now that it’s over, Ledge is tightening his COO hat and gearing up for the year ahead; it’s strategic planning mode. He’s having conversations with Fortune 500 companies, working on expanding the Foundry’s profile. He also wants to try to assemble Work Book versions of their processes, in an effort to expand JSF. 


Clark Buckner is a new media strategist who especially enjoys the podcasting medium. He partners with individuals and organizations to create engaging and useful content. Want more interviews with entrepreneurs? Check out his ETPCast podcast. You can also read more about me and my business, Buck Branding.

Kelley Boothe is co-founder of our sister site, SouthernAlpha.

dVisit Demo Day Pitch

dVisit

During the summer of 2013, eight technology start-ups graduated from our intense, 14-week, business accelerator program. The summer accelerator program ended on August 22 at our annual Investor Day. Each team got to pitch their company to a room filled with hundreds of investors, mentors and media.

Sit back and learn about JSF alum, dVisit, a mobile and web app that enables patients to be treated for routine care by their family doctor.

dVisit is a platform that allows existing patients to save time (2.5 hr on avg) and be treated by their family doctor for routine illnesses. The doctor gets paid for that care and maintains continuity of care for patients while managing patient volume.

Learn more about dVisit and follow their progress on AngelList.

In Tags

This isn’t going to be a history paper

Matthew SniffJumpstart Foundry alum, Matthew Sniff, shares his lessons learned about running a business in this guest post. Sniff is CEO and Founder of Photorankr, the ultimate social network, marketplace, and portfolio solution for photographers.

“This isn’t going to exactly be like finishing that history paper the night before it’s due.  You have to understand what starting a business takes.”  I still remember those words during my initial interview with Vic Gatto more than a year ago when our team of all [undergraduate] students was competing for admission into the second Jumpstart Foundry class. If I had known back then what I was getting myself into, I should have quit on the spot.  The next few months, and especially the year following it, would prove to test my relationships, my perseverance, and my sanity.

First, though, I’d like to step back and give you some perspective into how I got myself into this situation.  Coming from a blue-collar family in rural Ohio, I grew up with 6 siblings (including myself and two others who were also involved in the company).  I was never into startups, or even knew what a startup was, until high school came around.  Most of my childhood was spent close at home with my brothers and sisters.  We would spend our time doing things outdoors – fishing, skiing, gardening, and even raising goats and ducks.  As the youngest in the family, by the time I got to be in high school, everyone but my twin sister had left the house for college.  Then, as a sophomore in high school, we moved away from our childhood home to another small town in North Carolina (yes, this article is still about starting a dorm room company). 

 I just so happened to be running my first company (whether I knew it or not)

It is at this point in my life where I really began to get curious (and bored).  At the time, my dad worked for an international vinyl flooring company.  I decided that he needed a better way to really pitch the product to his clients so I took the product (vinyl flooring samples), cut it up into small squares, glued it to a piece of sanded plywood, and put an advertising sticker on it.  He loved it.  After taking the “custom vinyl boards” (as I called them) on a few sales trips with him, he showed corporate at their next meeting and they ordered 5,000 of them at $5 per board the very same day.  I was 15 years old messing around with a table saw and some flooring glue in my dad’s garage – and I just so happened to be running my first company (whether I knew it or not).

Over the next two years, CVB would end up profiting nearly 6 figures off of a steady stream of purchase orders from clients in both the US and Canada.  However, college was right around the corner and the business wasn’t scalable past my dad’s garage (or the few clients I had collected).  Feeling bored between the high school and college gap (again), I took a stab at creating a couple of iPhone apps (my first experience in programming) from scratch.  Having no idea what I was doing, I somehow pumped out two apps.  The first was a parody soundboard of Lebron James (as a Cleveland, Ohio native I couldn’t resist) and the second was a “Snow Day” Calculator.  The first was a complete flop, but the Snow Day Calculator (released in winter that same year) somehow rose to top 25 status in the App Store.  Who would have thought 1,000 middle school kids would pay 99 cents to know if they should do their homework or not? Spurred by this success, I began to think I was either lucky or that I may have a knack for making cool things (or both).  So, after the success of the Snow Day Calculator, I decided to take a stab at something I had always loved to do – photography.

Photorankr, the company to what seems I’ve given most of my life to over the past two years, was started back in December of 2011 (yes, in a dorm room).   Long story short, in less than two years I was able to go from an 18 year old kid not knowing how to write a line of code, to the CTO of a web company with over a quarter million lines of code (most of which was written in TextEdit), to the CEO of a (profitable) 7,000 person social network with customers in every country on the planet.  

Nothing, still nothing, gets me out of bed in the morning like running my own company

From these experiences, of all the things I’ve learned, and of all the ups and downs that I’ve had – nothing, still nothing, gets me out of bed in the morning like running my own company.  The creativity, the freedom, and the passion keep me up late and wake me up early.  The responsibility, the complaints, and the bugs keep me from getting to class on time.  Most of all, though, making a product that people love to use and creating something that helps people live better (and knowing that I was responsible for that) – makes all the sweat, pain, and sacrifice worth it.  Now, I’d like to share with you what I wish I had known before getting myself into this mess.

The following are 9 (…sorry if you thought there’d be 10) of the most important things I’ve learned about how to run a successful startup company (between going to classes that is).

1. Learn to take more risks

Without a doubt, as a founder, you will have to take risks.  The big questions, as you may assume, is how to mitigate the risk and how to best make decisions when faced with a two-way street.  One of the most important skills you can learn when beginning your company is to filter advice.  You will receive more advice than you ever thought possible – some of it good, and some of it quite terrible.  There is merit in almost every opinion.  You must learn to look at advice and criticism from all angles, synthesize the crux of all issues raised, and come away with a decision that puts your company in the best possible situation – one not with minimal risk, but one with the biggest opportunity, paired with the one you believe yourselves able to best execute upon in a relatively short period of time.

2. Find great co-founders

The single-most important thing for success isn’t even the idea itself.  It’s who decide to start the idea with.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t realized this when first deciding to begin photorankr.  Within the first 6 months of the company, we had a falling out with one of the co-founders and within 12 months from that point we had a second falling out with our earliest employee.  Both I considered to be two of my closest friends at the time.  Although both happened under very different circumstances with very different outcomes, the emotional burden was still there and so was the frustration.  Probably the three best things I can remember to take away from these experiences (amongst others) are:

 1)   Never higher your friends just because they’re your friends

2)   Never higher someone without a test run first (have them work with the team for a month or two)

3)   Never higher geniuses you can’t get along with.  Also never higher the nice guy just because he’s nice.  Try to find the middle ground – someone who fits in with the culture of your company and someone who you can train if necessary but also is willing to put in some sweat.

3. Just do it (yes, learn the programming)

As a non-programmer when first founding photorankr (a purely technology based company) I was faced with this fact very early on.  I soon realized that I was going to have to be the one to learn the code as we surely didn’t have the resources to hire a development team and the only people who were going to be able to manage the project for an extended time period were ourselves.  As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t let any obstacle stand in your way of getting things done.  You shouldn’t let anything stop you from achieving success.  Coding was just one of those obstacles you’re going to have to overcome – and trust me, yes, you can learn to code.

4. Don’t underestimate marketing

The most important thing for any business is to evaluate whether or not their business is actually a business.  This involves validating your revenue streams, proving your idea can take hold in its respective market, and finding out what your customer acquisition cost and customer lifetime value is.  To do this, however, you cannot wait for things to take off on their own with minimal marketing efforts.  I cannot stress this fact enough as it is true not only because of what you’re losing out on in terms of number of adopters/customers, but also in terms of foregone compound growth.  It is this compounding growth that is essential to growing your company faster than you ever thought possible and validating everything you need to at a much faster frequency.  Whatever you don’t put in this week or this month, you won’t see returns on next week or next month.  The more time you put in now, the more you will thank yourself over and over and over 3 months from now.     

5. Hold a weekly meeting

Without a doubt, team morale and unity are two of the most important things to keep check on while running your company.  Without enough of these two essential ingredients, your company is bound to become disconnected, complacent, and the worst of all – satisfied.  Above all else, do not ever be satisfied with where you are out.  There are always bigger deer to hunt – better partners, bigger clients, a better product, etc.  Team morale and unity comes from a common culture, a desire to work for each self’s own interest and the company’s, and a strong leader with ridiculous amounts of perseverance.  Nothing keeps a team’s trust, desire, and efforts inline like an optimistic and doubt-less leader – one whom everyone can feel safe, comfortable, and proud to work with and not for.  The best way I’ve made this all possible, without a doubt, is by holding a weekly meeting to keep everyone up-to-date, involved, and excited about progress.  Show up to meeting with progress every week – hold each other accountable and great things will result.

6. Pivoting is great, but perseverance is key

There is a reason the word “pivot” has become one of the most overused startup buzzwords today.  I’ve seen one too many companies pivot because of the new “shiny object” in the room.  A few of the pivots that we’ve made were always quantified and always strategic.  To quote a fellow Jumpstart alum you certainly don’t want to “beat a dead horse,” but without keeping true to your vision you will never make it as you’ll end up going full circle in the end - or at least pretty close to it (and remember, in the end, it’s not the idea that is the best determinant of your success).  Ask yourself if each pivot you’re about to make is inline with the overarching vision of the company.

7. Learn to filter and respond to criticism (Respect takes you places)

Respect every person you take the time to meet with.  This comes not only from a rule of courtesy and human kindness, but also from the fact that every opinion constitutes what someone else thinks of what you have.  The fact that they are right or wrong (whether you know or not) is irrelevant.  Determine whether or not the advice is time-sensitive, look at the criticism from all perspectives (not only just yours and theirs), and then determine whether or not you should act on their advice as a team.  Also, remember, the best advice always is to not take too much of it.  This should make the point of filtering the advice much more lucid.

8. Never be satisfied

The cause behind every languishing startup is always satisfaction.  This may sound funny, but think about the consequences of satisfaction.  If you become satisfied with the product you are building, you will fall behind the competition and forget about innovation.  The key advantage every startup has over the competition is their ability to move lightning fast, their inherent ingenuity, and their never dying spirit and naivety.  Never be satisfied, keep the fire in your belly, and all of these things will follow with success at the end of the road.

9. Don’t be too professional. Have fun.

Probably one of the stupidest ideas as a group of teenage college students attempting to run our first startup was trying to be too professional.  This had a number of consequences.  The first being the fact that we had significantly hampered our ability to stay creative and get stuff done.  By holding more meetings (both business and product oriented), we were just creating more problems, more fights, and more tension.   Most of all – none of us enjoyed them.  They took far longer than planned every single time and almost always ended up providing less value than desired.  Keep it to one meeting a week, keep work fun, and you’ll keep the creativity and passion alive.

 

Zingfin Demo Day Pitch

Zingfin

During the summer of 2013, eight technology start-ups graduated from our intense, 14-week, business accelerator program. The summer accelerator program ended on August 22 at our annual Investor Day. Each company got to pitch their company to a room filled with hundreds of investors, mentors and media.

Sit back and learn about JSF alum, Zingfin, a service that helps stock investors identify trends and patterns using social sentiments data-mined from Twitter.

Zingfin provides retail investors with decisive stock market insights by intelligently listening for social signals, identifying the opinion leaders and measuring their predictions. See the social sentiment on your favorite stocks, follow the people with the most correct predictions and get early insights on newsworthy events with Zingfin.

A reputation tracking algorithm calculates the accuracy of people's stock predictions and ranks them in a visual leader board. Explore the relationship between particular stock and other asset classes/funds with our proprietary correlation engine.
A text analytics engine understands text from social media and converts it to aggregated sentiments.

Learn more about Zingfin and follow their progress on AngelList.

Hack Nashville

Hack NashvilleOn October 18th at 7 pm, Nashville coders and creators will gather for an epic, 48-hour hackathon. At Jumpstart Foundry we recognize the need to grow and support our local technology community, so we are proud to be a sponsor of the fourth, annual Hack Nashville.

We took a few minutes to interview Phillip Maddox one of the Hack Nashville organizers to learn more about the event. 

What is Hack Nashville?

Hack Nashville is a 48-hour hackathon for coders and creators. Over the course of the weekend we gather and create things. Projects are diverse and range from healthcare SaaS products to wi-fi enabled smoke detectors.

Who do you expect to attend?

Developers and Designers are welcome to attend and contribute to any project the imagination can contrive. We pride ourselves on providing a collaborative environment that's suitable for professionals and beginners alike.

How was Hack Nashville conceived?

Following the cancellation of Startup Weekend in 2011, a group of local developers decided to create an event centered around a product-first approach and Hack Nashville was born.

Hack Nashville

What should attendees expect to learn?

Our events provide a relaxing atmosphere where experienced developers and newcomers alike can gather and learn from one another. The collaborative, peer-to-peer learning that takes place is invaluable. What you learn is purely up to you. The projects are diverse in strategy and programming languages.

Do you have any other comments?

Hack Nashville is a laid back, fun weekend for coders and creators. Free food, beer and awesome swag is always on hand. Our wonderful sponsors have enabled us to continue providing these amazing events for local tech talent to collaborate, network and show off their skills.

Get a free ticket now while they are available.

 

 

JSF58: Interview with TestFairy's Yair Bar-On

JSF58: Interview with TestFairy's Yair Bar-On

Yair Bar-On TestFairy

  • Yair Bar-On, CEO and Co-Founder of Tel Aviv startup, TestFairy.
  • TestFairy is a service that helps Android developers do better testing.
  • The idea came up from testing their own apps for Android.
  • There are 11,800 devices currently running Android!
  • Most companies rely on the crowd and staff to test their apps, but they don't know what the tester did. What made the app crash?
  • TestFairy records a video that shows exactly what happened and it records the CPU, signal, GPS, battery logs, etc. to provide the developer with the best report possible.
  • They developed the GroupShot photo app in Jan 2012 for iOS, which received Best of 2012 from Apple in the photo app category.
  • Gil Megidish is Yair's partner and CTO. Gil created Dumpr.net 10 years ago, long before Instagram. 
  • They met together in 2000 working as developers for Vocaltech, the first company to have a VOIP product, even before Skype.
  • Tips:
    • Go talk to anyone who will listen. 
    • Improve your pitch from person to person.
    • Don't keep secrets. Share your ideas.
    • The more people you speak with about your ideas, the better the ideas become. 
  • Yair reads TechCrunch and The Next Web to  stay on top of what's happening in the tech world. 
  • TestFairy is available for free now, a paid model will be implemented for larger companies soon.
  • Contact Yair on Twitter @yairba

Are you a proven founder or co-founder? We would love to speak with you about being a guest on the show. Please email dave at jumpstartfoundry dot com for details. Thanks.

Enjoy the show? Please subscribe to our new podcast feed in iTunes, we love your ratings too. You can also subscribe using Stitcher. Jumpstart theme song “DLDN Instrumental (ft. Onlymeith, Mellotroniac)” by: St. Paul from ccMixter.

Utilize Health Demo Day Pitch

Utilize Health

During the summer of 2013, eight technology start-ups graduated from our intense, 14-week, business accelerator program. The summer accelerator program ended on August 22 at our annual Investor Day. Each company got to pitch their company to a room filled with hundreds of investors, mentors and media. 

Sit back and learn about JSF alum, Utilize Health, a service to match patients with neurological disabilities to specialized therapies and facilities to maximize their potential for recovery.

Approx. 11 million people in the US. suffer a physical disability from severe neurological conditions such as stroke or spinal cord injury. Fortunately, modern innovative rehabilitative treatments can lead to significant functional improvements in patients and an overall higher quality of life.

The problem is three fold for patients, providers and payers.

Problem #1: Patients

Patients lack knowledge of the available treatment options so they are not effective in finding modern and potentially life changing treatments.

Problem #2:

Providers - Providers have expensive underutilized equipment. Underutilized equipment means lost revenue.

Problem: #3:

Payer - If patients don’t have the opportunity to utilize these innovative therapies, the payer incurs a high lifetime cost of care for each patients that ranges from 1M to 4M.

Learn more about Utilize Health and follow their progress on AngelList

JSF57: Interview with Acacia Interactive's Jayme Hoffman

JSF57: Interview with Acacia Interactive's Jayme Hoffman

Jayme Hoffman

  • Jayme Hoffman is Founder of Acacia Interactive Inc. He is a 2012 Jumpstart Foundry graduate.
  • Acacia Interactive builds iPhone and Android apps. Four apps so far, getting ready to ship their best one yet, Wax!
  • "Content is our bread and butter."
  • They created a place where people can easily compete. 
  • They originally made the app more difficult by getting too complex. 
  • "People tend to share content that already exists."
  • "The NBA was a platform for Michael Jordan to compete and show the world how great he was. There are people, places and things out there that are the Michael Jordans of their world, but there is no NBA for them. We have created Wax!, a platform to help those people show how great they are."
  • Jayme joined JSF 2012 with Wax, which pivoted into Kiwi. They always wanted to create Wax!, but were not as good as they are today. 
  • Twitter released Vine. Instagram released video. Competition suddenly became fierce in the social video app space, but their idea became validated.
  • It was tough to get users to upload videos worthy of sharing. Not like Vine's viral videos.
  • He started trying to build tech startups when he was 12 years old. When his friends were playing video games, he was teaching himself website design and code.
  • His Mom and Dad supported him. His father inspired him.
  • His first business was I Sell Your Auto, which he learned a great deal from.
  • Jayme's high school teachers taught him about entrepreneurship and gave him the necessary push. 
  • "Surround yourself with people smarter than you."
  • "Be humble."
  • "Recogize your mistakes as quickly as possible."
  • Jayme recommends these great books. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses; How to Win Friends & Influence People; Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. (AFF)
  • He recommends Chris Dixon's blog for people into consumer tech.
  • Marcus Whitney (JSF Founding Partner and Mentor) and David Mason (StudioNow) have helped Acacia develop a strong user acquisition strategy.
  • Acacia is seeking a marketing and content person.
  • Learn more about the app and download it when it's available from Wax.ly.
  • Visit Angel.co/Wax for more information.
  • Jayme offers his phone number and encourages other young entrepreneurs to reach out with questions.

Are you a proven founder or co-founder? We would love to speak with you about being a guest on the show. Please email dave at jumpstartfoundry dot com for details. Thanks.

Enjoy the show? Please subscribe to our new podcast feed in iTunes, we love your ratings too. You can also subscribe using Stitcher. Jumpstart theme song “DLDN Instrumental (ft. Onlymeith, Mellotroniac)” by: St. Paul from ccMixter.