Tech Talk with Lose It!

This past spring, the Boston chapter of Tech in Motion hosted an exciting evening of demos and drinks based around green and health tech startups, including Lose It!, a weight loss application. Tech in Motion Boston took the time to sit down with Community Manager Whitney Klinkner of Lose It! to get the inside scoop on her company and the startup scene in Boston.

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Q: First off, can you give us a quick introduction to “Lose It!”?

Lose It! is a program that helps folks lose weight by managing their calories in and calories out- a pretty basic concept. We’ve taken it to the next level by making the calorie counting process as painless as possible. The app was started out as a way to make calorie counting easier (as opposed to the old fashioned way of pen and paper!). Then it got picked up for an Apple commercial back in 2008 which helped skyrocket the app and the company. We started off in Copley Square, but made the move to the seaport in 2012. When we moved there, we had about 5 people, and now we are at 12. We have more than doubled our size which is pretty exciting.

We just hit 32 million pounds lost with the app and right now we have about 19 million users; there are about a million people on average who are using the app regularly, which is great. We are consistently in the top 5 for the health and fitness store on iTunes.

Q: With over 19 million users and a team of only 12 people, did you guys find yourselves struggling to keep up with the demand of the app?

It’s actually not as hard as it might seem with our smaller team. When we first started out, the main idea was to get as many things done as soon as you could. Now with a bigger team, we are able to prioritize what needs to get done and have better control so things don’t fall through the cracks. With more people too we are able to give our users more of what they want; one big thing our users have loved is integrating our app with other devices like Fitbit and Nike Fuelband. Our CEO has always believed that a small group of hard working people can do extraordinary things – so that’s been our philosophy from day one. We are hiring a few more people and are excited to grow and accomplish even more!

Q: Just as a startup in general, were there things you found difficult?

One of the great things about Lose It! is that so many have heard about it through word of mouth. Our user growth has been huge, but managing the of the demands of all these people has been a bit of a challenge. We get hundreds of emails from users each week with items they’d like to see added to Lose It!; managing those expectations has been a bit difficult from where I sit. We’d love to implement everything under the sun to help folks to achieve their goals, but it’s just not feasible. We continue to grow and sustain the program in the way that we think makes sense while incorporating feedback from users to shape new features.

Q: Boston is becoming a great place for startups lately, so how do you like the idea of being a Boston startup?

I think being a startup in Boston is awesome. There are so many smart people here and lots of new graduates with all of these great ideas. Unfortunately a lot of these guys and girls go to the west coast after they graduate. I think we need to make the up and coming graduates more aware of all the cool things happening in the Boston start up scene so we can keep more or this new talent local. I know #DownloadBoston has been doing a great job of trying to let people know about local apps and having the city of Boston celebrate them, which I’d really like to see more of. We should feel proud the start up culture here in Boston.

Q: So you guys did a demo with Tech in Motion, do you see an importance to a meet up group like Tech in Motion for startups?

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One of our goals for this year was to go out for more community events like Tech in Motion. It’s a great way to get our name out there, and to meet new people in the Boston startup community. A lot of people didn’t realize we were here in Boston and so the exposure is great for us as a company. It’s also great to learn about other startups in the area and see what they are doing. We are all in the same boat trying to grow our companies. It’s great to make connections and help each other out when it makes sense.

Q: Final Question: can you leave some words of wisdom for those wanting to get into a startup?

I think that if you want to join a startup, you have to be prepared to work very hard and never have the attitude of “that’s not my job.” In my experience, you have to wear a lot of different hats, especially in the very early stages. No day is ever the same and you get a lot of exposure to parts of a business you’d never imagine. Once the company grows you can figure out which areas you really enjoy and sort of steer yourself in that direction, which I think is something you might not get if you started in a big company. I would recommend a start up to anyone who likes a challenge and and does not mind working hard.

Recap: New York’s Spring into Networking and Tech Mixer

There truly isn’t a better time than spring to be introduced to all that tech has to offer, so Tech in Motion NYC gave members the opportunity to munch, meet, and mingle with 200 of NYC’s techies last month. Mercury Bar East in Murray Hill, Manhattan was filled with reoccurring tech friends and new faces to Tech in Motion. New ideas were pitched, business cards were exchanged, and relationships were made as members rang spring in with a bang!

Microsoft Internet Explorer was one of the sponsors for this particular networking event and they showcased and demoed, MeetIE. Attendees were able to see (and touch!) how Microsoft reimagines exploring the internet with IE11. MeetIE11 is the newest and best way to explore all that the internet has to offer with IE. Our friends at Microsoft gave Tech in Motion NYC members a new and innovative way to rethink the web and produced a new way to explore what the internet has to offer with IE11 via Xbox One and Windows 8.1!

TIM2)One of our tech enthusiasts and longtime members, Christopher Davis, came to our networking mixer empty handed Thursday night but definitely didn’t leave Mercury Bar empty handed. He was the lucky winner of a brand new Xbox One courtesy of Microsoft.

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The evening was a big success and enjoyable for everyone involved! Big thanks to our continued sponsors who helped make this event a success: Workbridge Associates, Jobspring Partners and Microsoft.

Back to the Future: Exploring Drones, Robots and Tesla with Tech in Motion OC

Last month Tech in Motion OC hosted their biggest event to date, featuring high-flying drones and futuristic robots taking over Eureka Building’s high tech outdoor venue! As members arrived, they were struck by the sight of a DeLorean and a Tesla side by side on the helipad, before the realization hit that there were drones flitting about overhead.

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Featured companies Allied DronesAerial GurusEZDronesTeam Think TankAB Controls and DryWired came out to show the Orange County tech enthusiasts an impressive array of drones and robots.drone2 drones

Local Orange County mobile rechargable power pack company, XPAL Power, graciously sponsored the event and were a huge hit with the attendees. XPAL Power offers power pack cases for all the top smart phone brands and showcased all their innovative products among the motorized tech gadgets.

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Tesla Motor Company representative brought a Model S to the event and parked it right next to an actual DeLorean, compliments of the DeLorean Motor Company of California.  Seeing the two cars side by side really gave a great comparison of the past, present and future of motor vehicles!

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Drone company Allied Drones had some amazing stationary UAV’s. The company filled attendees in on how these drones are being used in regards to cinema, photography and law enforcement use. Seeing these large drones up close and personal is a thrill that they won’t forget.

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San Diego-based EZDrones has a wide variety of quality brand-name multirotors that ranged from small micro-drones to a large multi-copter, which took flight directly off the helipad! They were selling some of their smaller models and the variety of drones available amazed the crowd.

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Aerial Gurus, a local Huntington Beach company, uses drones primarily to perform aerial video and photography for use by the real estate, vacation rental and special event industries. The diversity of their drones and extent of their usefulness in regards to marketing purposes caught the interest of even the techies in attendance.

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Team Think Tank brought some robot pieces fresh from fighting to join the party. The owner, Bradley, builds many weight classes of combat robots using unique techniques and materials to employ his diverse methods of weaponry. He then travels around the country and uses his robots in combat competitions. Sounds like a great career, right?

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AB Controls is an automation robotics company.Their representatives gave guests a comprehensive look into where their specific type of robotics is useful in different markets. They design and integrate robotic and automated instruments for various applications in a number of industries.

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If you were at the event, you might have even seen bursts of water flying toward the drones at some point. DryWired decided to use Super Soaker water guns to give viewers a first-hand demonstration of how their advanced protective nanocoating technology waterproofs their drones! Along with the demonstration, they were giving away swag bags with tons of fun stuff inside for those lucky enough to snag one.

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Needless to say, this event was the perfect place to be if you happen to find drones, robots and Tesla to be very exciting! We can’t thank Eureka Building, Jobspring Partners, Workbridge Associates and XPAL Power enough for helping put together this fun, informative and high tech event.

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If you’d like to learn more about Tech in Motion: OC, join our group and be sure to check out our upcoming events!

 

Tech in Motion Boston Springs Forward: Demo & Drinks Recap

Springtime is a time for new beginnings and Tech in Motion Boston chose to celebrate the warm weather by hosting a demo and drinks event centered around health and green tech. Techies from all across Boston gathered at MJ O’Connor’s on Tuesday, April 29th to network, drink and meet some great companies who were out showcasing their green and health technologies.  PavlokLose it!Sol Power, and Energy Harvesters came out for the evening to show off their goods.

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After a brief networking session, the evening transitioned into our presentations. Pavlok presented a habit-forming bracelet, Lose It! is weight loss app, Sol Power offers charging stations and and Energy Harvesters allows users to charge mobile device batteries by walking.

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All of the presenters had 5 minutes to demo their product to the audience.  It was great to see all of the companies feeding off of one another.  Energy Harvesters saw an opportunity to position themselves after Sol Power by saying “Well if you’re ever not near a charging station, you have one of your own.”  Similarly Maneesh Sethi, creator of Pavlok said that if you need help to Lose it! simply wear his habit forming device that will shock you if you miss a day at the gym.

At the conclusion of the demos the attendees rushed the tables to get a closer look. It didn’t take long for Sol Power’s charging station to fill up with various mobile devices needing a charge.

Tentatively we tried Pavlok on ourselves. The shock isn’t as bad as one would think (think of it like a shock collar for dogs), but being shocked multiple times a day would definitely help break bad habits!

Lose It! had a lot of traffic at their table, after all they did bring some goodies along with them (tshirts, pint glasses, stickers) but according to one of our event coordinators, the app really does work!  She’s been using it for a few weeks now and is already seeing great results.

Buzz about Energy Harvester’s Walking Charger™ also filled the room, so it was clear that once the company can develop one for commercial use, they have at least 200 promised sales.

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Tech Talk

We asked our techies two questions related to the event, “In what areas of Green Tech do you think Boston could benefit most from?” and “What is your dream fitness/health app?”  Here’s what they had to say!

“Green up that transport! Hybrid taxis, green buses, solar-powered T etc…” – Adam S.

 

“Something that integrates with your brain/nerve/health system.” – Felix F.

 

“Increased efficiency of water reclamation because the infrastructure under us is scarily old.” – Anonymous Attendee

 

“Gain it! Opposite of Loseit! I realize it’s a minority but I need help gaining weight!” – Paul G.

No surprise but our most popular app answer was one that would do all of the work for you – and apparently Boston needs to clean up its transportation system!

We had a great night hanging out with everyone as usual. Again we want to thank our sponsors Workbridge Associates and Jobspring Partners.  You can view all of the photos from the event on our Facebook page and check us out on MeetUp to see what’s happening next!

 

Lack of Engineering Talent: Is it the Geek Syndrome?

griffinI recently attended a dinner event for a prominent university here where internal university updates are discussed. Filled with lecturers, deans, VPs and other state & local VIPs, it’s a pretty standard gathering of higher education people. At this years dinner, the president of the university was discussing the brand new data center. Proud of the fact that it’s the schools first LEED Platinum certified building, she wanted to call out the person responsible for the initiative. This is how she announced the individual:

“My resident computer geek”

I talk to a lot of people about the state of the technology industry, especially with regards to job opportunities. Whenever I point to the wealth of technical job openings that remain unfilled, people always ask “why is there such a lack of tech people?” The reason I give surprises many and gets dismissed. It’s this:

It’s still not cool to be involved with computers.

Despite all the recent fame and success of technology / internet entrepreneurs, people still think of techies as the taped glasses & pocket protector-wearing geeks from the movies. It’s very hard to imagine why the “D&D playing virgins, living in their parents basement” historical stereotype persists. Yet, here we are.

“My resident computer geek”

Its difficult to find a faster growing sector of the economy with higher earning potential than computer science. Yet despite the existence of demand, the year after year growth of the sector, the massive unemployment rates of certain generations and the high earning potential of a computer based job, the supply is actually going down.

To explain this, some people point to the relative newness of technology professions as a leading indicator. The narrative goes that we’ll see younger generations see the demand, flock to it, then start to fill it. This might have been true in the 80′s, 90′s or early 00′s. But we’re squarely in the 3rd decade (at least) of computers underpinning most of our daily lives. If timing was an issue, we would have seen an influx of grads after the mid-80′s, late 90′s or mid 00′s. Yet, enrollment is down in almost every single STEM major around the country. The rise in use of non-US talent is at an all time high as companies go to Central & South America, Europe & Asia for talent.

Note: I know that higher ed is not the only source of talent and training, but it’s a big one.

Something deeper is going on that is steering people away from the sector.

“My resident computer geek”

This wasn’t some football throwing jock, stuffing kids into garbage cans. This was the president of a major university. If anyone should be sensitive throwing around pejorative names, it should be her. The dismissive remarks seem to ignore just how quickly tech savvy people are lapping non-tech savvy people in terms of knowledge, business acumen, social mobility and plain economic power. To dismiss that section of the population is dangerous at best and ignorant at worst.

Among the other members introduced that night were lit professors, authors, pharmacists and CEOs. How many of those people do you think were reduced to a unflattering stereotype? She could have easily used stereotypes such as bookworms, alcoholics, med school dropouts and crooks to describe the other members mentioned above. But she didn’t.

“My resident computer geek”

After her speech, at the end of the dinner, she had a new recruitment video cued up to show everyone. As we sat watching, the video froze and stopped playing. Everyone in the room sat there, with no idea what to do. The person running the laptop could do nothing but click play / pause a few times before the president declared “we’re having technical difficulties.”

If only there was a computer geek around to help.

Read the original blog post here on Griffin Caprio’s blog – and don’t forget to RSVP for CTO Tech Talk to hear Griffin and other leaders talk about technical co-founding and more at Tech in Motion Chicago on June 26th

Tech Talk with Adam Cheyer, Founder of Siri

As a society, we are all fans of new inventions and innovations that make our lives more convenient. Have you ever used a new tech gadget and thought to yourself, “How come no one has thought of this before?” It’s that ‘palm to forehead moment’ when we realize that could have been us with the ‘next big idea’. So why isn’t that us? We are all taught to follow our dreams and reach for the sky. An entrepreneur would be the quintessential definition of this – so what is it that makes an entrepreneur different from the rest of us?

Tech in Motion Silicon Valley was thrilled to host an event featuring Adam Cheyer where a number of entrepreneurs had the chance to listen to and chat with one of Silicon Valley’s biggest success stories. Adam had the crowd of 200 techies and entrepreneurs, both aspiring and accomplished, absorbed in his inspirational talk.

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Adam has co-founded a number of projects, including Siri, (later acquired by Apple), where he was the VP of Engineering. He is a founding member of Change.org, a social network focused on initiating and sustaining positive social change, and co-founder of Genetic Finance. While most entrepreneurs follow the usual advice and focus their efforts on one venture at a time, Adam simultaneously founded three while still working a day job.

Adam Cheyer, Tech in Motion

Adam’s path to entrepreneurship is a little different than most Silicon Valley icons. In his 40’s, never having started a company before, he enacted a plan to take multiple ideas into the world at the same time.  While fulfilling a portfolio of personal goals that included exploring his passion for technology, making a positive impact in the world, and earning some money, Adam co-founded three different companies to make breakthroughs in several technical spaces. The three technical spaces Adam wanted to impact were:

  1. Human to Machine – Siri, Inc.
  2. Human to Human – Change.org
  3. Machine to Machine – Genetic Finance

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According to Adam, the difference between being a would-be entrepreneur and a successful one is the process one takes to actually get what they want.

“Worthwhile problems can’t just be solved,” said Adam. “It’s a process.”

Most people who have an amazing idea often tend to go after too much all at once, spreading their focus thin. This is where the majority of problems they encounter, and ultimately failure, stems from. There are certain tools that are needed for a ‘successful’ idea, and the ones that have worked for Adam Cheyer include:

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With these sets of tools, Adam has seen tremendous success launching his thoughts and ideas into global reality and household names. One thing to know though: there is no specific timeline to accomplish what you want.

A huge thank you to Adam Cheyer for his generous time and for inspiring Tech in Motion entrepreneurs! You can find Adam’s slide show presentation on his website.

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Don’t forget to become a part of the Tech in Motion Silicon Valley chapter to get invites to unique events like this.

Recap: Demos and Drinks from Tech in Motion DC

On a rainy Wednesday evening in the nation’s capital, our DC chapter hosted the third edition of their Demos and Drinks at the lively night hot-spot, Rumors, located in the trendy District neighborhood of Dupont. Despite the torrential downpour inflicted upon the residents of the DC metro area, our DC Tech in Motion members came out in full force and braved the rain to view the live demos of local startups including The Trip Tribe, TrackMaven and Betterific.

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After being featured in the StartupLand documentary, Dave Aidekman’s table was flocked with people eager to see the The Trip Tribe founder’s platform firsthand. The Trip Tribe offers a service that organizes and curates bucket list type destination trip with members based on social media profiles, which is perfect for travel enthusiasts.

The TrackMaven table was inundated with attendees as well. They recently had a very successful Series A round of funding (to the tune of $6.5 million) for their incredible marketing analytics platform, which tracks and “digs up the dirt” on both personal marketing metrics and that of competitors.

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The third company present that rainy evening was Betterific, which was named one of The Next Web’s 13 Startup’s to Watch in 2013. Betterific is a crowdsourcing platform that encourages it’s community to finish it’s founding statement of “Wouldn’t it be better if…” when brainstorming innovative ideas.

 We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at our next Tech in Motion DC event. Please join the group to stay up to date on our events!

Have Technology, Will Travel? San Francisco’s Tech + Travel Demo Event

On May 22nd, 200 San Francisco techies came together to explore the wonderful world of travel apps for the Tech in Motion Tech + Travel Demo, at the Crocker Galleria. Eight different apps were represented at the event with CEOs, developers and business directors running the demos. In between the demos, guests mingled with each other, got silly in a photo booth and tried out their skills on Xbox One. It was a fantastic night of networking and guests left with travel plans on the mind.

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The apps in attendance were CheckMate, Field Trip, FLYR, JetPac, OLSET, Reece, Suiteness and Traveling Spoon. They all explored different aspects of travel from flights to hotels to cultural experiences. Each company set up a booth with phones, iPads, monitors and tons of giveaways for the guests to experience.

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There was no shortage in the variety of travel topics explored that night. CheckMate showed members how hotels and online travel agencies can offer online check-in services while Suiteness provided users with exclusive access to luxury hotel suites.

Another hotel related app in attendance was OLSET, who showed how big data can give users a faster search experience in looking for hotels. Meanwhile on the flight front FLYR wowed attendees by showing Tech in Motion members how they can use the app to lock in the cheapest flight options whenever they fly.

Jetpac demonstrated their photo guide for every city in the world, based on where people take and share Instagram photos and Field Trip showed off a geo-location-based guide to the unique things in the world. Reece was not short on the “cool factor” either as the app demonstrated 3D immersive maps of major cities around the world.

Lastly, Traveling Spoon showed members how they can experience home cooked, cultural dinners when they are traveling. The guests left feeling fulfilled with new ideas of how apps can enhance their future vacations.

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The Crocker Galleria provided guests with an open space for the fun filled night. Along with the eight apps being demoed guests were given access to free samples of Project Juice and T-We beverages as well as food and a photo booth.

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Perhaps one of the most fun parts of the night though was the Xbox One booth. Here, members were able to play games and enter to win a free Xbox at the end of the night. As the night came to a close the event’s headlining sponsor, Microsoft, generously drew one winner to take home an Xbox on the spot. Guests were at the edge of their seats waiting to see who the lucky winner was!

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After two hours of food, fun and travel tech the hundreds of members trickled out of the Crocker Galleria and continued on with their work week.

“I met people I would have never expected to meet,” said one member on his way out the door, “what a successful night.”

As always a big thank you to our sponsors Jobspring Partners, Workbridge Associates, and Microsoft. From the San Francisco area? Join the Tech in Motion SF chapter to stay updated on awesome events like this.