Why Los Angeles Was the Right City for cyPOP

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I co-founded cyPOP.com two years ago while an undergrad at the University of Washington in Seattle. My co-founders and I raised a seed round, built an initial Beta site, and launched. Just prior to graduation, I began looking into where we would base the company.

In deciding where to base the company, there were many factors to consider. In the end, we decided that Los Angeles was the best place for cyPOP to call home for several reasons.

  1. Talent Pool. You are only as good as the members of your team. One of the great aspects of Los Angeles is the fact that not only do you have a large tech sector to draw talent from, but you also have great Universities and a large traditional industry sector. While technology is certainly important to a tech startup, it is not the only concern. Being able to hire great people from across industries is a significant plus for LA.
  2. Content. You would be hard-pressed to find a city that has a greater impact on the world through its content creation than Los Angeles! Movies, fashion, magazines, high-profile sports, and entertainers are all here. For websites, the technology is again important, but the thing that makes people want to keep coming back is what they find once they visit your website. For us, the access to strategic marketing and partnerships across all these industries was a big part of what made LA so appealing.
  3. International market perception. This may sound strange, but if you are marketing a product that no one has ever heard of, it is important that they be able to identify something with who and what you are. By being from Los Angeles, cyPOP is immediately identifiable as being ‘from the USA and from a major, recognizable city’. This plays a part when bringing our product to users in other parts of the world. In Asia for example, cyPOP has received solid market awareness in part because our home market is one that the target market recognizes and can identify with.
  4. Money. A startup lives (and dies) off of investment. In the case of cyPOP, we believe strongly in a diverse and strategic investor base. Similar to the ‘talent’ section, having access to traditional tech investors and later on VC’s is important, but we also strongly believe that non-tech strategic investors are equally, if not more important to our long term success. By bringing on the right high-wealth Angel, you can open up industries (content), partnerships (distribution), and influence (more money & more strategic relationships). Los Angeles has a great diversity within its investor ranks, so as you grow your company, certainly look for technical investors and influence; you have the rare opportunity of also pitching other industry leaders.

Last point I want to touch on here is the support of the community. Since relocating the company to LA, I have experienced a tremendous welcoming and friendly attitude. This has been from both the startup community and many other areas including the wonderful USC community (at which I am currently an MBA candidate). All of these aspects are why I feel having my startup cyPOP.com here in Los Angeles is the best place for us to be.

Twitter: @JosieBaik I @cyPOPINC

Recap: Tech in Motion’s Fashion Tech Event

Thursday, September 12th, our NYC chapter held a successful event during New York’s infamous Fashion Week, called Demos & Drinks: Fashion Tech. We had six hot Fashion Tech companies demo for an audience of 300 fashionable techies: Gilt Groupe, Hukkster, Baublebar, Makerbot, Acustom Apparel, and Material Wrld.

After enjoying an hour of networking, cocktails, and light appetizers, our technical audience was ready to explore the variety of fashion tech demos. It was a packed house at Alley NYC!

crowd

The crowd waited anxiously to speak with the different companies. Acustom Apparel (featured in the photo below) was one of the big hits of the night. Acustom Apparel uses innovative digital technologies to craft custom clothing— intelligent fit for your style and your body. Although they were unable to bring the actual 3-D body scanner, they brought examples of the 50+ dimensions it collects with each scan. Sorry ladies, they only do men’s clothing right now.

Acustom Pic

Makerbot, a 3D printing machine, was also a huge hit with our technical audience. Not only did they bring some 3D printed jewelry, they also offered a live demo of the printer! Earlier that week, Makerbot was making ripples in the tech news sector for their collaboration on one of the first 3D printed dresses (Business Wire). Pretty awesome if you ask us!

Makerbot

All in all, the evening was a huge success. We’d like to give a quick shoutout to our continued sponsors who made this event a success: Jobspring Partners, Workbridge Associates, Grasshopper, and Buncee.

Stay tuned for our next event in NYC and join our official meetup group!

Public Transit in a Sustainability-Focused World

Matt CaywoodSingle-occupancy vehicles are a crutch of modern society. Too many modern US cities were built with cars in mind, and it’s turned our cities into places for sitting in cars (in traffic), storing cars (in vast parking lots), and breathing car emissions. Automobile manufacturers and tech companies around the world are diligently working to electrify and robotize single-occupancy vehicles, but nothing they can do will cause a greater impact on the sustainability of our planet than an increased focus on using public transit.

Promoting demand for transit is a very efficient way to go. All forms of public transit are more efficient than single-occupancy vehicles. More important, transit agencies have to operate buses whether they’re full or empty. One person who stops driving – or just drives less – takes an entire car off the road, without much affecting the amount of transit required.

In order to promote better transit choices, thus increasing transit demand, we developed the TransitScreen display. It presents real-time transit information at any location, in (currently) the Greater Washington D.C. Area and the San Francisco Bay Area. Both of these regions have serious traffic issues (two of the longest commutes in the country, over 1 hour total per day), yet they also have an abundance of public transit options. Within those regions, residents of the central city typically understand the benefits of public transit, and half of them utilize transit daily or weekly.

But what about those residents who aren’t aware that using the public transit options by their home or work could save them time and money? What would it take to make them aware of their options? Many people are interested in living more sustainably, but most don’t have the time to change.

By providing comprehensive and ubiquitous information, TransitScreen helps lower the barrier to changing behavior. No longer are you faced with buses that wander vague routes at arbitrary intervals. In one glance, you can see where the closest buses are located, and where they go – demystifying those systems. You’ll even be able to see the frequency of bus service at different times of day. You can also see whether there’s a bicycle available at the nearest bike share dock, or whether a new dock has been installed in your neighborhood.

As a society, we’re not going to stop using single-occupancy vehicles. There’s too much demand created by the physical form of our sprawling cities. But there’s no reason we can’t start changing transportation patterns now, influencing future development patterns so more choices exist and single-occupancy vehicles are less important. The ideal is for everyone to have a choice: if you need a personal vehicle to get to work, you might prefer public transit on the weekends. Or if your weekend plans rely on your car, take public transit to work. You may find out it saves you time. You may notice your stress level drop by not having to deal with the morning traffic jam. Or you may re-kindle your love or reading with the extra time you gain not having to focus all your attention on the road. In the end, that’s the definition of sustainability — long-term well-being.

Technology’s Influence on the Coaching World

Over the past couple years, we’ve seen an influx of technology in the sports world. People and companies across the world have developed amazing products and services that have revolutionized the way we watch and play athletics.

I wanted to touch on an area that has seen significant growth, but may not have gotten as much attention. Specifically, I’m talking about the way in which technology has impacted the coaching world.

Although it may not be obvious, here at CoachUp, we live and breathe technology in the coaching world everyday. Our mission is to help athletes reach the next level in both sports + life and we believe that private coaching is the secret to doing so. If you take a look at our platform, we aim to revolutionize the private coaching industry in a way that has never been done before. Early on, we realized that the private coaching industry was ripe for disruption. Primarily because there was no governing body of private coaching and the industry itself was fragmented (i.e. there was no place for people to consistently find great coaches and compare the quality of coaching they received). So CoachUp set out to use technology to fundamentally change the industry.

We did this in several ways: First, we needed to allow athletes to find their perfect private coach. We solved this problem by launching the world’s first online marketplace devoted entirely to connecting with safe, vetted, private coaches.

Second, we needed to professionalize the industry. We wanted to employ a set of standards to which all private coaches could be held accountable. CoachUp discovered that there were hundreds of thousands of coaches across the nation who loved working with athletes to take them to the next level. However, the problem was that the majority of these coaches were not business people. That is, they were not going to set up their own private coaching business, market their services, and create or maintain their own website.

Again, CoachUp stepped in by applying technology in order to solve the issue. We created an online dashboard that provided all the tools coaches needed to run a successful private business. Using the CoachUp platform, any coach can connect with athletes, view their schedule, manage their clients, view their training notes, and process payments. Furthermore, starting this month, coaches are now able to download the CoachUp mobile app (available on both iOS and Android) and run their entire business from the palm of their hand.

Although we’ve made a lot of progress, CoachUp is not the only piece of revolutionary technology affecting the coaching sector. Performance enhancement is another aspect that has been impacted by new technology. Video footage of practice and games has long been a tool utilized by coaches and trainers and I imagine this will continue. However, there are now many services that specialize in sports video analysis. Ubersense is one such company. Using their mobile app, coaches are able to record, annotate, measure, and distribute videos of athletes. This allows athletes to see exactly what they’re doing wrong in both practice and competition.  Hudl is another company looking to disrupt this market. Their technology allows coaches, athletes, and recruiters to coach smarter, create highlight reels, and recruit the best talent.

The college recruiting business is also an area that warrants mentioning. Recruiting has been widely disrupted by the creation of new technology. First, athletes are getting better exposure than ever before. Look no further than services such as BeRecruited, which allows coaches to connect with prospects in a way that was previously not possible. Not to mention the millions of highlight reel videos and pictures that flood YouTube and the rest of the Internet. Coaches are now able to find and interact with potential recruits merely by being active on the same social media channels.

The final area I would like to touch upon is the rise of wearable sports technology. Last weekend, the top award at the OnDeckCup hackathon was a project called the ‘No Brainer’ which was a safety device aimed at notifying coaches and trainers when a player has experienced concussion-level impact to the head. Devices such as this one seem to be on the rise. Another company growing in this sector is Hothead Technologies, which has developed small sensors for football helmets that notify coaches when a player’s temperature becomes too high.

When we look at the rise in popularity of products such as the Nike FuelBand and the JawBoneUP, I feel it is only a matter of time before these products find their way into the tool sets of coaches everywhere. While geared heavily towards the consumer market, a few tweaks and changes would make products such as these valuable training instruments for coaches everywhere.

The fact that technology has affected the coaching world is undeniable. However, we have only just begun to explore the ways in which technology can enhance the lives of coaches and athletes everywhere. As products and services grow and mature, it will be exciting to see the breakthrough technologies and disruptive products that evolve in the years to come!

Recap: Tech in Motion’s Summer Mixer in San Fransisco

1. Tech in Motion-SF sets up for over 450 RSVP’s. The Summer Mixer at the Monarch is the largest event that the San Francisco region has put on.

Tech in Motion San Francisco

2. Tech in Motion volunteers, Christina and Stephanie are alert and ready to greeting and signing in members as they start to arrive.

Sign-in Desk!

3. Two members start off the night with networking in one of Monarch’s side lounges.

Deep Tech Talk!

4. Tech in Motion was able to have the whole bar for it’s members. The upstairs portion seemed to be where everyone wanted to be.

Drinks and Tech Talk!

5. It was photo time for this group! Sorry for interrupting your networking conversation!

Networking 101!

6. Best thing about Tech in Motion is that the tech industry (Engineers, Sales Associates, Product Managers, Marketing Team, Etc.) can come together and always have something to talk about.

Group photo of SF Members.

 

Recap: Tech in Motion LA’s Demos & Drinks

Last Tuesday, Tech in Motion LA hosted a Demos & Drinks event featuring three unique companies and their products. Total immersion, cyPOP, and Slim Surveys were the featured companies! The event had a laid back feel, allowing guests to mingle and check out the demos at their leisure. Each company presented their product simultaneously at their designated stations.

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Tech in Motion guests were offered a wide variety of beers, and the dessert tray was a sweet success! The event not only gave the companies a chance to show off their applications, but also allowed guests to network and get inspiration for whatever projects they may be working on.

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Total Immersion provides the world’s most widely used commercial augmented reality platform. Through its patented D’Fusion® software solution, Total Immersion blurs the line between the virtual world and the real world by integrating real time interactive 3D graphics into a live video stream. They had a popular demo station, seeing as how their product is very interactive. Their app allowed users to virtually “try on” Ray Bans® and project animated images of themselves on a projector screen!

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CyPOP is a uniquely designed online destination where meaningful content, engaging conversation, and vibrant images are all centered on like-minded people with similar interests. The co-founder and CEO were on-hand to show guests their site and walk them through how one would utilize it.

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Slim Surveys is a micro survey tool that allows users to quickly take a survey in 30 seconds or less. Mobile optimized and perfect for anyone that needs an effective survey tool. They explained how their surveys work, why they work and why their product is a better option than their current competitors. They showed test surveys so guests could experience it firsthand.

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The LA Demos & Drinks event was great fun and a huge success! If you missed out, check back soon for our next one. And of course, join to stay up-to-date on all the cool events happening in YOUR city!

Recap: Big Data Through the Lens of the Obama for America Tech Team

Last Thursday at the hot Chicago co-working space 1871, Tech In Motion: Chicago held their 15th event with the largest crowd to date – over 300 techies were in attendance to learn about Big Data and Analytics from a few of the lead developers from the Obama for America campaign. Gabriel Burt, Dan Wagner, Chris Coté and Scott VanDenPlas were the guest panelists for the evening and each served an integral role on the tech teams behind Obama for America during the 2012 campaign.

The evening kicked off with Dan Wagner who served as the Chief Analytics Officer on the 2012 Obama campaign, overseeing a 54-person team of analysts, engineers and organizers that provided analytics and technologies for voter contact, digital, paid media, fundraising and communication. His department’s work was credited with “reinventing how national campaigns are done” and has been highlighted in Time Magazine, MIT Technology Review, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the Los Angeles Times and Harper’s. It was really interesting to hear him talk about his struggles to actually convince many of the companies and organizations he’s worked for that big data actually works, and that an analytics department is one worth putting funding into.

Gabriel, who now works with Dan at Civis Analytics, spoke next. Gabriel co-led the Analytics Technology team on the campaign that created its 50 TB integrated database and created tools that empowered hundreds of analysts and organizers, and oversaw some of the campaign’s most creative and impactful projects, including media optimization, mapping and analysis tools, record matching, and targeted sharing. He blogged more about his campaign experience.

After the Civis Analytics team spoke, Chris Coté, who was lead engineer for the DigiTech group discussed more about his experience with OfA. The DigiTech group was responsible for making the massive technology backend (Narwhal) accessible to the digital team, who handled majority of the front-end work. With his prior experience in social media integration he was tasked with creating “Blaster”, software that “blasted” twitter and facebook messages to the President’s millions of followers.

Wrapping up the evening was Scott VanDenPlas who was the Director of DevOps for the campaign. Scott explained how the infrastructure they built has been credited as a major differentiator in the President’s successful reelection bid. In total, these systems pushed a peak of 4 gigabits per second and 10,000 requests per second over 2,000 simultaneous nodes in 3 geographically separate data centers, serving 180 terabytes of data and over 8.5 billion requests. Below is the sample image that he presented showing the details of the infrastructure used by the team. To see the larger scale version of the image, click here.

We’re currently putting a recap video together of this event as it really was a fascinating presentation about how to best utilize big data. Check back later if you’re interested in viewing it!