PONCHO – The Cool New Way For Weather Updates
Posted on October 20, 2015 Leave a Comment
I know it’s been quite awhile since my last blog post, apologies for that. It’s been a rather busy last couple of days, and I have finally found some time to update and write a few posts. No different from my usual posts, I wanted to start off with a product review. A few weeks back, I came across an interesting company called PONCHO. The company offers a unique weather service through its API that makes it a little more personalized and catered towards your individual needs. What do I mean by personalized? I’ll get into that more below.
Want tailored weather and travel reports that will make your day? I’ve got you covered. – PONCHO
So what exactly is PONCHO? How is it ‘personalized weather updates?’ – Well, it’s exactly as I just said. PONCHO delivers weather updates that are preset by what YOU need. It isn’t your typical weather website, nor does it offer an app (yet?). Instead, how PONCHO works is you register on its website to have weather updates delivered to you via email or text message. If the service is offered in your area (it is in mine – THANK GOD), you can register yourself on its website through a simple and seamless process. This is where PONCHO offers you more personalized service. As you register, the service will ask you a few simple questions regarding your lifestyle such as what time you wake up on weekdays, what time you leave work, weekend sleep schedule, and more. (FOR YOU PRIVACY TROLLS IT DOESN’T GET TOO PERSONAL SO BACK OFF) I took the liberty of taking some screenshots showing how you can personalize PONCHO below.
So far, I’ve been checking my PONCHO updates everyday – as soon as I wake up and when I leave my office. I really like the personalized weather updates and its easy simple messaging via Text enables me to get my weather alerts without having to open up a clunky weather app. Also, the funny puns it incorporates with its updates is kind of cool. Nothing like getting a little humor to start your day off (with a cup of coffee of course).
Kudos to Matt Hartman for really showing off PONCHO more by featuring one its team members on his Weekly Product Roundup (linked so you can view it). Keep up the great work PONCHO!
To learn more or to sign up, I suggest you check out their homepage here.
PitchCraft Ep. 11 – Recap
Posted on October 8, 2015 Leave a Comment
Another Thursday gone, and another lovely PitchCraft session with Sol Weinreich. For those who are unfamiliar with PitchCraft and are new to my blog, PitchCraft is a weekly blab.im session that is conducted by Sol. To give you a little background on Sol, he’s the founder of minr and is based out of NY. I had the privilege of finding out about Sol through SSG, a Startup Study Group that I am part of. In addition to running his own company, Sol is probably by far one of the most active and engaging entrepreneurs that I know of in NYC.
Getting setup for PitchCraft ep. 11 with @laureltoubyhttps://t.co/ly78cRu3Rj#blab
— Sol Weinreich (@SolfromBrooklyn) October 8, 2015
Every Thursday, Sol holds a weekly blab.im session that has one guest VC, and two startup entrepreneurs. The purpose of his PitchCraft sessions, is to have entrepreneurs discuss their problems as well as their companies, to the guest VC. Basically, the real question that Sol asks to his guest entrepreneurs is: “What keeps you up at night?” No different from his previous sessions, this week’s episode featured an amazing VC. Laurel Touby, founder of Media Bistro, who also runs a VC Firm out of NYC, called Flatiron Investors. Sol’s two guest entrepreneurs were, Leon Lyazidi, Co-Founder of Activatr, and Nathan Kane, CEO of Quedify (Their name is REALLY hard to say, so they’ve changed to AlecTutors.com).
To give a little background on both entrepreneurs’s companies, Activatr is a social media marketing platform that lets users harness the power of word of mouth on social media. They do this by getting their messages heard among millennials through spreading the word and earning rewards for doing so (cool concept). Leon was sharp and seemed very passionate about his company (OH…he’s also a signed musician? – COOL). Next up, was Quedify (kwe-de-fy??). The company run by Nathan, is an on-demand tutoring service platform. Basically, its mission is bringing tutoring into the modern world (NO – NOT ONLINE TUTORING, BUT PHYSICAL TUTORING). Nathan pitched his company pretty well to Laurel and it was a decent engaging conversation.
OK, now to the fun part; Laurel Touby is frickin great folks. If you have not heard of her, or do not know of her, I HIGHLY suggest you follower her on Twitter (linked above). This was my first time ever hearing about Laurel, but she was just amazing. She’s not your typical VC folks, she’s smart, savvy, and also very comical (who doesn’t enjoy a little humor from a VC). Her attitude was relaxing, but you could definitely get a sense that she has a VERY serious side to her when it comes to business. She asked hard keen questions to both founders, and really made them think quickly on their feet. Basically, the 30 second elevator pitch :).
Overall, the entire session was probably by far the best I’ve seen so far. Sol’s PitchCraft episodes are becoming more and more fun and engaging. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a session this much that featured a VC.
Well, since you’ve read up to this point, why not watch the entire recap? DO IT, JUST DO IT!
Twitter & Its Newest Update – Moments!
Posted on October 6, 2015 1 Comment
Well, Twitter has been on fire for the past few days. With the announcement of Jack Dorsey as its new permanent CEO yesterday (see here), Twitter has yet to stop its momentum. In continuation with its stellar week, Twitter has just released its newest feature, called ‘Moments.’ The newest feature, was initially announced during Twitter’s Q3 Earnings report a few months back – part of “Project Lightning.”
Moments, the best of Twitter in an instant – Madhu Muthukumar – Project Manager, Moments
The tech industry went ablaze as Twitter slowly rolled out the new Moments feature. Here’s a summary of what Moments is according to Twitter’s latest blog:
How it works
Tapping on the new lightning bolt tab on your phone opens a list of Moments that matter now. As new stories emerge throughout the day, we continue to update this list. Looking for more? You can also swipe through to topics including “Entertainment” and “Sports” to find more stories from the past few days.
Engaging with a Moment
- When you click into a Moment, you’re taken to an introduction with a title and description.
- Start swiping to dive right into the story, with immersive full-bleed images and autoplaying videos, Vines, and GIFs.
- A single tap gives you a fuller view of the Tweet, which you can favorite, Retweet, and more. A double tap lets you instantly favorite the Tweet.
- The progress bar at the bottom indicates how much more each Moment has to offer.
- Swiping up or down dismisses the Moment and takes you back to the guide.
- At the end of a Moment, click the share button to Tweet your thoughts, and send it out to your followers.
Following a Moment
Moments are often updated as new information or great Tweets become available. You’ll know a story has been updated since your last view when you see a blue dot in the upper righthand corner of the image associated with the Moment. For stories that update very frequently — like live sporting events or awards shows where it’s critical to know what’s happening minute by minute — you’ll see an option to follow the Moment, which blends the Tweets directly into your timeline. So you can keep track of the latest updates in real time without having to tap back and forth between tabs. When that story ends, so do the Tweets, leaving your timeline just as it was before.
So far, Moments has been nothing short of amazing. I was able to test both the desktop and mobile updates. I really like its features as it’s a quick summary of trending topics that not only show text summaries, but looped vine/gif videos as well :). Currently, it’s only available for U.S users only, but it appears Twitter plans to roll this out globally in due time.
Oh, the best part of Moments, is that they enabled the ability to embed :).
New! Find the best of Twitter in an instant with Moments: https://t.co/QAKGUSVBbT pic.twitter.com/KAjfkysVKC
— Twitter (@twitter) October 6, 2015
Twitter Names Jack Dorsey as CEO!
Posted on October 5, 2015 Leave a Comment
Image courtesy of Techspot.com
Good morning! Hope everyone had a great weekend. I wanted to start off this week with a short and simple post: Jack Dorsey is named CEO of Twitter! Previously, Dorsey, Co-Founder of Twitter as well as Square, was initially interim CEO as Dick Costello decided to step down. It took the board at Twitter, months…MONTHS, to finally reach a unanimous decision in making Jack the permanent CEO. Below is a Tweet from one of Twitter’s Board Members, Peter Currie – who led the search for the ‘right’ CEO for Twitter.
The Board completed a comprehensive process to find the best leader for @twitter, and we were unanimous: @jack. http://t.co/1RWPKacF5t
— Peter Currie (@plscurrie) October 5, 2015
However, even with all that, the Twitter board had taken its sweet old time to decide on who should be the next permanent CEO. Because of this, a VERY well-known VC, who, was one of the first to ever invest in Twitter initially, has been extremely vocal in showing his disappointment with Twitter’s board. That man, who always wears fly cowboy shirts and shiny belt buckles, is Chris Sacca. Sacca is probably by far the best advocate for Twitter and Jack Dorsey. Although he isn’t on the board, he always makes sure his voice is heard, whether through Twitter itself, or by any other means necessary. Check below to see what I mean :).
Warning: His beard is mesmerizing.
Video courtesy of USAToday.
Once again, congratulations to Jack and look forward to some amazing new product add-ons for Twitter!
The Power of Technology and Connection
Posted on October 2, 2015 Leave a Comment
I’m a big fan of watching various weekly product review sessions, pitch episodes, and startup related broadcasts. There are 2 that I particularly enjoy, which are Sol Weinreich’s PitchCraft Episodes, and Weekly Product Roundup every Friday’s at 4:00 PM EST, via Matt Hartman. Sol does his live broadcasts via Blab.im (a platform that I highly enjoy) where as Matt does his via upclose.me (a different live broadcast platform). However, I wanted to write a post regarding Matt’s show, as I’ve been tuning into for awhile now. It’s a highly engaging show, where Matt goes over and discusses the latest new apps or tech news that he comes across over the course of each week.
VC @betaworks // ok coder // podcast @http://hrt.mn/podcast // Weekly product roundup live video Fridays 4:30 EST http://upclose.me/matt // [adjusts glasses] – Matt Hartman
Before I go over and summarize his show for this week, it’s probably best to give you a little background on Matt. Matt heads Seed Investments at BetaWorks, a startup studio building and seed investing in next generation internet companies. It’s CEO is John Borthwick, who’s well known in the tech industry. BetaWorks has backed and helped start some amazing companies that include GIPHY and Instapaper.
Now for the fun stuff, this week’s episode was a little different than his normal ones, as it was Matt’s first time using blab.im. Although he was doing a dual record, via Upclose and Blab, it was a really engaging show. The show was more fun today because he was able to get a really engaging blab session during the entire duration of his show. Now, prepare yourselves, as his guests who hopped in his blab are some pretty awesome people in the tech industry. His first guests to join were Sol himself and Ben Tossell (Community Manager at Product Hunt). However, Sol was having some technical difficulties (oops), so he had to hop out. However, as Matt’s show continued, he got some of his BetaWorks co-workers to join right in. Brian Donohue, who works on Instapaper joined the conversation and really kicked things off.
There were some great discussions regarding Product Hunt and some of its new features, such as Product Hunt Podcasts (linked for you to view), a curation of podcasts shared by the Product Hunt Community where they get upvoted. Oh, did I mention that you can play the podcasts right from Product Hunt ;). As the conversations continued, a new guest hopped on the blab session. Can you take a guess? I’ll give you a hint, who do you know at Product Hunt? YEP – If you guessed Ryan Hoover (btw, this dude is everywhere!), the man of Product Hunt himself joined the blab! It was awesome to see Ryan jump in on the fun and participate in Matt’s Weekly Product Roundup. Unfortunately, Ryan had to leave (he is a busy guy after all) and so his spot was left open. However, have no fear, another viewer jumped right in.
Next up, was Mike Baltus (warning, this man has a REALLY nice voice – he should do radio if he doesn’t already). Matt asked a few questions to Mike as to why he enjoys blab as a platform and the conversation continued on going back and forth. Shortly afterwards, Shaan Puri, the CEO of blab himself joined :). Shaan’s is very sharp, and discussed his platform, its capabilities, and what features he felt made blab stand out from the rest (NO IT WASN’T A PITCH TO MATT). The discussions continued and there was some really good questions asked by Shaan to Matt that were really good (skip to the bottom if you just want to watch the blab).
The reason why I enjoyed this week’s session by Matt was because of how amazing it was to see technology connect all of us, for discussions. BetaWorks is based in NYC, Product Hunt is based in San Francisco with Ben tuning in from the UK, and Shaan is also based in San Francisco. However, thanks in part to technology, specifically blab.im, there were people tuning into Matt’s live broadcast from all over. Hell I was watching from Philadelphia, participating as much as I could via the blab’s chat. Whether on desktop or mobile, people were instantaneously connected and viewing the show. The session was great because it connected so many great individuals in the tech industry. Through the power of technology, connections were made. It was great to see bright minds discussing technology and reviewing products.
Now, as a token of reward for your patience in reading up to this point, I present to you the replay of the session. Warning: It is pretty damn funny :).
Tap Conference 2015
Posted on October 2, 2015 Leave a Comment
Hello! I didn’t get to do a post yesterday, as I was busy attending a conference. I had the amazing opportunity to attend Tap Conference 2015, held in New York City at the New World Stages, that was organized by Button. To give you a little background on Button, the company focuses on connecting mobile businesses with the entire mobile app ecosystem. Founded by Michael Jaconi, Mike Dudas, Chris Maddern, Tanner Hackett, Stephen Milbank, and Siddhartha Dabral, Button’s focus is ‘enable smart connections between apps that drive installs, increase engagement, and facilitate mobile commerce.’ Staying true to its realm, Tap Conference 2015 was the first ever conference organized button that focused on panels discussions regarding mobile, mobile apps, and the mobile economy as a whole.
Assembling the brightest minds in mobile to chart the path forward in the app economy – Tap Conference 2015
There were some amazing panel sessions covering topics on:
- The Mobile App Economy
- The Past, Present, and Future of Delivery
- Contextual Commerce and the Future of Buy Buttons
- The Role of Regulation in 21st Century Marketplaces
- Connecting Fortune 500s to the Mobile Economy
- A hell of a lot more
The entire Conference was focused on how mobile and the mobile app economy has grown, and what are some useful best practices for marketers to gain a presence in front of their consumers in the space.
I met a lot of great people, and overall it was an amazing conference to attend. There were so many bright minds and individuals, ranging from Facebook, Google, Foursquare, Stripe, Pinterest, Business Insider, to startup founders and entrepreneurs. It was a great event for people to learn about what was going on in the mobile economy and to see how companies, big and small, were adjusting their practices to keep their consumers happy and engaged.
Oh, I think my most favorite part was who spoke first, as it was none other than Gary Vaynerchuk ;).
Below are some photos I took from the conference. Enjoy~
IceCream Product Review – A New Clever Camera & Photo App
Posted on September 30, 2015 Leave a Comment
Came across this amazing new App for iOS via SSG and Product Hunt, called IceCream (NO IT DOESN’T GIVE YOU THE ACTUAL DELICIOUS COLD STUFF). They are currently featured on Product Hunt’s home page and are gaining a lot of momentum through upvotes. I wasn’t sure what the product actually was at first (the name made me think of eating ice cream though), but I decided to check it out and see what it was about.
The App that Frees Up iPhone Space. Fast. – IceCream
IceCream is a camera/photo app, that enables iPhone users to utilize their internal storage to the fullest, without having to go through the hassle of having to delete photos. Have you (like myself) ever come across the dreaded “Cannot take photo – not enough storage” message while trying to take a photo? Well, IceCream seems to combat that, as it wants to help users get rid of those annoying messages about storage. Think of it as an all-in-one maintenance app with the ability to take photos with it as well.
I downloaded the app for my iPhone thanks in part to a special deal going on for Product Hunt members (if you’re not a Hunter, I suggest you sign up via the link for Product Hunt above). Their website is really fun and designed superbly. The app itself has a sleek UI/UX design, and is VERY easy to navigate. Registering is simple, just pick a username and add your email, and you’ll be sent a verification code (I thought this was weird, but hang on). Once you finalize your registration, IceCream works its magic and lets you know exactly how much free space you have, and how many pictures you have left that you can take. Navigating through the app was fairly easy, as you just swipe left or right. Opening the camera feature was easy enough and snapping a photo was a breeze. Everything is done through their servers (for you privacy pirates have no fear, they have a great privacy and terms of agreement). Ok, so now back to the verification code – IceCream also has a cool feature where you can comment and share photos within your private network of friends (other IceCream members). This is probably why they want to make sure everything is secure and accommodating for its users.
Overall, I was very impressed with the app. The platform itself reminded me of a social network (hint???) and the ability to store photos and free up more space on your phone is a godsend. I really envision a lot of users wanting to use this, as it’s not just a photo app or a storage app. It lets you have the best of both worlds.
Thanks in part to the wonderful networking world of SSG, I was fortunate enough to send a few interview questions through a team member of IceCream to its founder, George Berkowski .
Below is the interview conducted:
Q: What is IceCream?
A: IceCream is a new clever camera and photo app that allows you to Free Up Space fast on your phone. You choose how much more room you need ~ for 250, 1000, 2500 or 5000 more photos – and we free it up with the tap of a button.
Q: Who are its founders?
A: IceCream was founded by George Berkowski, an MIT rocket scientist, tech entrepreneur, former Head of Product at the revolutionary HAILO taxi app (launching the app into 13 cities) and author of How to Build a Billion Dollar App (Little, Brown Books).
The IceCream team also includes co-founder and serial app engineer Andrew Paul Simmons, who has built more than 30 apps for CNET News, 60 Minutes, Big Brother, Survivor and Flowboard. As engineering lead, Andrew sprinkles over ten years of app experience on to IceCream.
The team went to MIT, Imperial and Oxford University
Q: What was the vision behind your product?
A: Our vision and mission to make sure people “never miss another moment”. Our Free Up Space feature allows you to keep taking photos when you most need to ~ when you’re out and about. It is about freeing up space fast AND keeping all your precious photos and videos on your phone.
It was inspired when I had to delete precious photos off my phone when I proposed to my (now) wife! The long story is here.
Q: Why the name IceCream?
A: Who doesn’t like IceCream? We wanted a memorable, fun name that everyone would remember. Photos, videos and memories should evoke positive emotions ~ like summertime, the beach, friends ~ and IceCream!
Q: Does it cost anything to use?
A: Right now it is FREE to download and use. Users will always be able to Free Up a good amount of space for free, and then power users, who need to free up even more will pay a one-off, in-app payment of around $0.99 to make space for another 1000 photos (we’re working on the details).
Q: What would you say your spirit animal would be?
A: Definitely an eagle ~ I love the sensation of flying and being up in the air.
You can download the app directly by going here. Also, below is an amazing video created by the IceCream team that shows you what the app does :).
Haaash (NO NOT THAT) – A Tech Product Review
Posted on September 29, 2015 Leave a Comment
Edit: There have been lots of discussion surrounding the company’s name. See here for an explanation.
I came across yet another interesting product thanks in part to my membership to SSG. The product is called Haaash, founded by Soufian Malih. Nicknamed “The New Generation of Products Help Centers,” the platform is a all-hands-on help center that alleviates the need to search for questions via any search engine. Have a question about a topic but are tired of sifting through webpages to come to your exact specific problem? Well, seems like Haaash wants to be the end-all solution for your problem.
Haaash is the new generation of products help centers.
A community meant for a community, I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure of speaking with the founder, Soufian, via SSG. In order to gain a better grasp on his product, I conducted a semi-interview via Slack directly with him. You can read his answers below that will help you get a better understanding of Haaash.
Q: What’s the story behind Haaash?
A: For a long time help centers were a static hard-to-explore ghost town that most customers use at last resort when needing help. This explains why most of us choose asking search engines for answers rather than digging into pages of help centers.
Q: How does Haaash work?
A: Haaash’s aim is to take help centers to the next level by making them interactive, open, fun to use and engaging both for product makers and users.
Q: Any inspiration behind why you built Haaash?
A. By borrowing the Stackoverflow model, Haaash makes of the help center an open community center where users can directly ask product makers questions and get answered in real time. Share their hands on experience with others and connect with the product worldwide users.
Q: Is it free?
A. Haaash is initially free under the basic account up until you reach a certain number of monthly unique visitors. From there, we have 3 tier plans, starting from $12 a month to our premium, $149+ a month. You can learn more about our pricing by visiting http://haaash.com/plans.
Q: Is there a catch for signing up?
A. NO! Joining is free and we don’t require you to register a credit card!
I went ahead and reviewed Haaash’s site a little more and found some cool features that come with it. For example, you can upvote questions or answers, comment, share via social networks, and also flag anything you feel is inappropriate (this is cool in case of Trolls). It’s UI/UX is fairly simple and signing up is rather easy. All you need is a Twitter account and it does the rest for you. Sign in via your social network account and you can start ‘Haaash‘ing away immediately. Overall, I was pretty impressed by the platform and hope that it’ll gain some momentum and traction as it grows its user base. Oh, did I mention, it was featured on Product Hunt as well? 🙂 – you can view it here.
You can also view some screenshots of the platform below.