Third Annual Timmy Awards Now Accepting Nominations for 2017’s Best in Tech

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Tech in Motion invites the tech community to choose the top IT employers in North America

(July 11, 2017) – Tech in Motion, one of North America’s largest tech event series, is pleased to announce that nominations are now open for the 2017 Timmy Awards. The Timmys recognize companies and managers that create the best places for technology professionals to work in 10 major cities, with past finalists such as Jet, Venmo, Facebook and Pandora. The awards program will accept submissions here today through August 14.

“While there are dozens of award ceremonies recognizing companies for technological advancements, the Timmy Awards aim to celebrate the employers and managers that make this growth possible,” says Mandy Walker, Director of Marketing at Tech in Motion and Motion Recruitment Partners. “Since the Timmy Awards were created in 2015, over 400 finalists have been celebrated for creating work environments that enable innovation in the technology spheres of various industries.”

For companies or managers in the communities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, LA, Orange County & San Diego and Toronto, the public can submit nominations for any of the four Timmy Award categories this year:

On August 21, Tech in Motion will announce the Timmy Award finalists for each region and kick off the voting period, which will officially be open to the public until September 8.  Winners will be selected through a combination of votes from the tech community and a panel of local judges. For a comprehensive description of the awards, nomination and voting process, please check out the Timmy Awards here.

Award winners will be announced at a live ceremony in each city during the month of September, with presentations from leaders in the tech community. The Timmy Awards Ceremony is a free event open to the public. To find out additional event details on the Timmy Awards nearest you, visit techinmotionevents.com.

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About Tech in Motion Events

Tech in Motion is an international events series that brings local tech community professionals together to connect, learn, and innovate. What started as a collaborative project between IT recruiting firms  Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates in 2011, grew into an organization of over 85,000 members across 11 chapters in North America including Boston, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, LA, Orange County and Toronto. Please visit www.techinmotionevents.com for more information about our notable speakers, sponsors and events.

Media Contact:
Lindsay Lewis
[email protected]
469.458.9486

The 2017 Timmy Awards: What to Expect

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Two years ago, Tech in Motion set out to recognize (and celebrate) the best employers for tech professionals in North America through the Timmy Awards. In 2016 alone, the Timmy’s saw more than 2,000 companies nominated and over 83,000 votes cast to name each city’s “Best Technology Manager,” “Best Tech Startup,” and “Best Tech Work Culture.” The Timmy Awards has featured national household names such as Dollar Shave Club, TripAdvisor, Instacart, and Venmo, as well as dozens of local heroes that make each community successful. In pursuit of the same level of success, this year, Tech in Motion is making a few changes to improve the entire award series from the nomination process all the way through to event night. To learn what these changes are, check out the 2017 Timmy Awards FAQ below!

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2017 TIMMY AWARDS FAQ
When will the 2017 Timmy Awards take place?

In the past, the Timmy Awards were spread throughout the year in 10 different regions. This year, the award ceremonies will all take place in the month of September, bringing together our cities in a unified effort to showcase the best employers for technical employees. Every one of the 10 cities will hold a Timmy Award ceremony within a few weeks of each other.

Who can attend? The Timmy Awards is still a free event that is open to the public, not only to attend, but also to submit nominations for. This award series is an amazing opportunity to gain exposure for any companies or individuals in the tech community, and in order to keep it in the local community, we want anyone who is invested in the future of tech in your city to attend, including tech professionals, managers, entrepreneurs, and founders.

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Which awards are presented?

Tech in Motion began with three award categories: Best Tech Manager, Best Tech Startup, and Best Tech Work Culture. This year, Tech in Motion decided to add an additional award category: the Best Tech Workplace for Diversity award. The goal of the original Timmy Awards categories was to recognize companies not just for their use or development of technology, but also for their investment in the people that make technology possible, which the new award category rewards.

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Below are the criteria by which each of the Timmy Awards winners are selected in each category:

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How will the nomination process run in 2017?

Nominations will be open from July 5th to August 14th for 10 regions (Toronto, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago, Orange County, LA, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco). Nominations will be open to the public to nominate a company or person that creates the best work environment for technology professionals to work in 1 or all 4 award categories. Additionally, as previous years, nominations will continue to be a two-part process. To be eligible as a finalist for any category, it is required to fill out and complete Part 1 and 2 of the nomination forms. However, we are now automating this process, which means that once you complete Part 1 of the nomination form and are eligible to become a nominee, you should receive an automated email within 24 hours prompting you to complete Part 2.

If you’re interested in getting involved in the 2017 Timmy Awards, as a sponsor, MC, venue host, etc., please contact your local Tech in Motion chapter.

Read about the 2016 Timmy Awards held in various regions by clicking the links below:

30 Tech Leaders Making Philadelphia a Better Place to Work

On June 9th, Tech in Motion is proud to present their first annual Philadelphia Timmy Awards, which will be held at The Chemical Heritage Foundation (315 Chestnut St).  The “Timmys” are hosted by Tech in Motion in tech hubs across North America, with the goal of acknowledging the local companies and individuals that strive to create the best places for technology professionals to work in. After all the votes are in, the finalists in each city come together for one celebratory evening where the winners are crowned as the best (1) tech startup, (2) technology manager, and (3) technology work culture. Here are Philadelphia’s 30 impressive finalists (who you can see at the event if you RSVP below):

RSVP here to attend the 1st Annual Philadelphia Timmy Awards!

Philadelphia’s Best Technology Startup

biobotsBiobots, founded in 2014, builds 3D printers that print living tissues made out of human cells. Biobots’ revolutionary technology is set to cure disease, eliminate the organ waiting list, and even revert climate change.

boxterBoxter, founded in 2014, creates solutions for businesses to help them grow faster. Boxter’s main product funnel makes websites intelligent and answers questions that no one else can. Boxter hopes to help bring Philly’s tech scene to the next level with its innovative technology.

Curalate, founded in 2012, produces products that address curalatea marketer’s desire to attribute ROI to social media. Curalate provides the power to drive engagement, traffic, and revenue with images across every consumer touchpoint, empowering millions of people daily to easily take action on the products they want from the brands they love.

greenfish labsGreenfish Labs, founded in 2015, is a media production studio specializing in 360 Virtual Reality, helping brands thrive in a digital world with traditional media and VR products, services, and platforms that transform the customer experience. Greenfish Labs is one of the first ambassadors of VR in the Greater Philadelphia Region.

LeadiDLeadiD, founded in 2011, is a consumer journey insight platform that provides marketers with the highest-resolution view of the consumer buying journey. Seamlessly integrated with any consumer journey decision process, LeadiD enables marketers to shorten the distance between data and decision making.

MilkCrate, founded in 2014, built a mobile and desktop-milkcratefriendly platform which encourages, captures, and rewards socially and environmentally positive activity. MilkCrate guides communities to engage their members in a step-by-step process, crafting a culture around social and environmental impact.

relayRelay Network, founded in 2010, is a simple and secure way for businesses and customers to instantly connect and share private communications in real-time. Through a direct mobile interface, Relay allows consumers to quickly and easily complete transactions, access timely information, and get one-to-one support from the businesses and organizations that matter most in their lives.

roar for goodROAR for Good, founded in 2014, created Athena, a simple device with a big mission – to protect women with the touch of a button. Once pressed, it emits a loud alarm and messages friends and family with your current GPS location. Not only did ROAR for Good develop an awesome piece of wearable tech – but they are also working to make a difference in helping to reduce attacks again women.

swift capitalSwift Capital, founded in 2011, uses the latest technologies combined with a team of Business Funding Experts to get their customers the best of both worlds: fast funding and personalized service. Armed with a mission to provide funding to businesses underserved since the recession, Swift combines innovative data analytics with a relationship-focused customer experience.

veryaptVeryApt, founded in 2013, combines personalized apartment recommendations and a trusted community of apartment reviews to help people find their perfect apartment. VeryApt is the first company to empower renters to make truly informed housing decisions.

Vote for one of these Tech Startups to win a Timmy!

Philadelphia’s Best Technology Work Culture

Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI)

AGILogoAlways striving to do more.

AGI encourages its developers to continue their education and participate in community events. They participate in professional software and aerospace conferences, publishing and presenting their research. AGI also provides a subscription to online training called Plural Sight that is a development specific training site.

AGI develops commercial modeling and analysis software for land, sea, air, and space systems.

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AWeber

AWeber“Dream big, fail fast, and iterate on what works.

AWeber HQ regularly hosts technically focused meet-ups and company hack-a-thons to encourage the team and the community to grow and learn new ways of doing things.  AWeber prides itself on a culture of respect and cooperation that doesn’t come from policy, it comes from treating people like people ‐ the way everyone should be treated.

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AWeber develops and runs an opt-in email marketing service used by over 110,000+ small businesses, bloggers, and entrepreneurs around the globe.

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Comcast (CIM)

comcast cimFind the right tool, or create one.

Comcast promotes a “journeyman-style” exchange program called “Summer of Code” where, for several months, employees can trade their existing positions for opportunities within other technical departments within the company to both learn AND spread ideas, best practices, and technical skills.

While traditionally seen as a primarily service-based company, Comcast’s talented technical teams have been trying to move into the hardware and hybrid services realm for years.

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CoreDial

coredialJudgement free zone.

CoreDial allows their employees to create the best solutions for its channel partners by allowing a free flowing range of solutions to be identified and deployed.  Implementing hands-on training, shadowing co-workers and teams with more experience, CoreDial fosters personal growth.

CoreDial provides unified communication services in the cloud and on premise.

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eMoney Advisors

eMoneyCreating fun and a little weirdness along the way.

The culture at eMoney is driven by the pursuit of disruptive innovation, promoting creativity, advancing technology, supporting community involvement, among more.  eMoney’s development team regularly hosts highly-attended workshops in a faux garage, aptly named the “Innovation Lab.”

eMoney Advisor builds interactive wealth-planning technology for financial professionals and the clients they serve.

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Linode

linodeTeam-driven camaraderie.

Linode encourages all of its Linodians to enhance their technical knowledge and will pay for continuing education courses, such as Linux certification, PhotoShop instruction seminars, or subscriptions to Lynda.com’s online technical tutorials.

Linode provides market-best SSD-based virtualization for cloud hosting purposes, backed by steadfast support.

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Monetate

monetateBe both a Padawan and a Jedi.

Monetate believes very much that diversity is the mother of creativity.  For this and other reasons, Monetate formed a committee dedicated to the topic of diversity.  Monetate sponsors local events focused on diversity (e.g. LadyHacks), and employees frequently attend these events.  To encourage creativity Monetate hosts “hack days” once a quarter where its employees spend three days working on a project that is not on the roadmap.

Monetate makes it easy to create, deliver, and analyze personalized experiences across web, email, and mobile apps.

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Music Choice

music choiceCreativity and endless limits.

Music Choice has a program called Engineering Choice, where employees can pitch a project they feel would be beneficial to the company.  After presenting it to the entire department, if it gets approval they’re given the opportunity to work on that project.

Music Choice creates products that allow seamless movement between audio and video and provides easy access to a library of 20,000 videos.

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O3 World

O3 WorldInnovation through experimentation.

O3 World allows its employees to work on projects that would benefit the office is a positive way.   One such project – using custom-built iOS and Android apps, iBeacons, and a Raspberry Pi, makes is so that each employee is greeted by a song he or she has personally selected when he or she walks into the office. “Theme Music” a simple, but fun way to start the day off on the right foot.

O3 World specializes in digital product design and development, from conceptualization through implementation and support.

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Weblinc

weblincWork hand in hand.

WebLinc is a company this nurtures its employees by providing technical learning reimbursement and sponsoring local tech initiatives such as Girls Develop It.  Each WebLinc-er is very much a part of the creative process and is considered an expert in their field.

Weblinc provides an ecommerce platform for fast growing brands.

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Vote now for the company you think has created the best workplace!

Philadelphia’s Top Tech Managers

Anthony Romano, VP of Engineering at Leadnomics

Anthony RomanoGreatest project is his team.

Anthony makes an effort get to know each of his team members as people. You can tell by the way his team works together and enjoys each other’s company that they feel comfortable with each other, trust each other, and have fun together.

Leadnomics is a digital marketing company headquartered in Philadelphia.  Through its proprietary technology platform and expertise in optimization, Leadnomics has developed an industry-leading solution and partner network that creates more valuable relationships between consumers and service providers.

Chris Cera, CEO at ArcWeb Technologies

Chris CeraEmployee-to-employee mentoring.

Chris ensures a great team culture by listening to his team. He firmly believes that its the team that defines the culture.  Chris champions employee-to-employee mentoring and career development opportunities within Arcweb Technologies and believes that Arcweb exists to create new possibilities for Arcwebers and its customers.

Arcweb Technologies is a digital product development company focused on the finance and healthcare industries, and our mission is to build products people love.

Don Nawrocki, CTO at PeopleLinx

Don NawrockiCreates an environment of openness.

Don openly tells people in his organization that he knows that they look at other job opportunities and sometimes interview. Accepting this, he asks that if they find other offers that are attractive that they are in turn open with him, so that he can either agree that moving on is the right decision for the person, reply with a counter-offer, or offer career advice where he can. This helps people understand whether the grass is actually greener and recognize when they are being treated and compensated fairly.

PeopleLinx helps sales professionals create presence, networks, and engagement with buyers. Its technology integrates with your CRM data to deliver personalized sales guidance.

Felicite Moorman, CEO at StratIS

Felicite MoormanHuge advocate for women and girls in tech.

Felicite ensures a great team culture by giving back to the Philadelphia community.  She and her team participate annually in Philly Tech Week, as supporters and speakers for multiple events, to promote the growth of technology in Philadelphia. Felicite is an active speaker and recent advocate for TechGirlz, as well as mentor through BuLogics’ Girls in Tech Internship Program.

StratIS is an award-winning wireless access, energy, and automation platform for multifamily and campus communities, the commercial residential platform of Smart Cities.

Gabrielle Trotter, Linchpin at BuLogics, Inc.

gabrielle trotterCandid and consistent feedback.

Gabrielle is a clear cultural leader at BuLogics and beyond. From organizing company events and outings (such as an annual 100 mile bike ride and Dave & Buster’s blowouts) to being a shoulder to lean on for her teammates, Gabrielle steps up and in where it matters most, at the heart of the company!

From idea to shelf, BuLogics designs, builds, and certifies wireless solutions for the Internet of Things.

JD Albert, Director of Engineering at Bresslergroup

JD AlbertA kid with a new LEGO set.

JD will actively engage his team members and ask – what are your goals?  What would you like to spend more time learning about? After discussion comes action: You get assigned to work on a project in your interest area, or you get to sign up for a crash course in something new. JD gives you the option to blaze ahead into new territory.

Bresslergroup is a research-driven product innovation lab and consultancy whose employees work together every day to creatively solve meaningful design problems in unexpected ways.

Jody Hamilton, CTO at Zivtech

Jody HamiltonConsistent challenges and rewards.

Jody is committed to ensuring that employees grow into more senior roles through training and challenges. Under her guidance, Jody has brought many people to Zivtech who did not have previous developer training. One employee with a degree in architecture, got her first Drupal lessons in Jody’s living room.  This employee is now a technical documentation specialist at Zivtech, working with one of the company’s Fortune 50 clients.

Zivtech, founded in 2008, is a Philadelphia web design and web development shop that works with healthcare, pharmaceuticals, education, publishing, government, startups, and nonprofits.

Mike Harris, CEO at Zonoff, Inc.

Mike HarrisEqual parts transparency, collaboration and results.

Mike is family-oriented and considers each of Zonoff’s employees to be part of his family, so he created a warm, comfortable company culture that inspires through a relaxing, enjoyable and productive environment. Creating a sense of community is one of Mike’s primary missions, so he created a large kitchen for the office to serve as a gathering area for the company, bringing in food and snacks for employees, having beer on tap for after-hours imbibing, and hosting executive breakfasts where the executive team makes waffles and omelets for the company.

Zonoff empowers the world’s leading brands to deliver smart, seamless living to the mass market through its Consumer Internet of Things software and services platform.

Natalie Hirsch, Director of Product Management at WizeHive

Natalie HirschRolled-up sleeves management style.

Natalie is always mentoring team members, and giving them the opportunity to lead, as well. She is diligent in providing educational resources …from holding a weekly class on the software solutions with recordings, case studies, homework and office hours… to showing others how to approach better agile project management techniques.  The newer and less seasoned team members respect her and try to emulate her professional and people-centered approach.

WizeHive makes it easier for grants managers, nonprofits and business teams to configure and deploy cloud-based solutions that help them organize, automate and streamline their business process management.

Ryan Lockard, Manager of Software Engineering at Elsevier

ryan lockardActively pursues increasing productivity.

Ryan cares about his teams and actively pursues increasing productivity and tackling our technical debt.  He actively walks his team through their career path and works with them to improve and reach their goals.

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, and deliver better care.

Vote for the Best Technology Manager here!

The Timmy Awards ceremony will celebrate the local technology community and also recognize not only the winners, but the entire Philly community for creating a great business environment to thrive in. The event itself will be a great opportunity to network with finalists and other members of the tech community.

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Related articles:

How to Win Big with (I)IoT, Industrial Analytics & Big Data

Written By Rick O’Brien, President of SemperCon.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is on track to change the way businesses work. Enterprises are already going digital—employees are using mobile devices to access information, communicate and collaborate. Just as mobile devices and applications have become ubiquitous, cloud connected sensors, industrial devices, machinery and equipment are also being developed at a rapid rate.

sempercon cloud iot Companies that depend on durable, physical goods to conduct business—from manufacturing, mining and agriculture to healthcare organizations, transportation and logistics—are already realizing the opportunity of the Industrial Internet of Things. In a recent survey of 450 businesses across the world, 30 percent indicated that they already adopted IoT technology. In another, half of the interviewed business leaders indicated IoT as a key priority in their strategic use of technology to win, serve and retain customers.

Want to get into a career with Internet of Things? Here are some IoT-involved openings.

Whether a business serves consumers or other businesses, IIoT can help with more fully engaging customers, increasing productivity and simplifying internal processes. The productivity gains associated with IIoT enabled business models can be significant. Recent studies have estimated that manufacturers, for instance, can boost productivity as much as 30 percent and reduce maintenance costs by as much as 30 percent with IIoT. Businesses more interested in boosting customer value leverage IIoT solutions in order to commercialize industrial analytics and business intelligence. By taking a ‘big data’ approach and launching product-service hybrid offerings, significant value is extracted from IIoT.

cloud imageSuch solutions produce a large volume and variety of data that IT departments must be prepared to manage. The sheer volume and structure of data collected from hardware devices challenge conventional data storage methods. Businesses that require real-time business process support from IIoT systems will need to scale fast enough to transfer the entire collection of raw data being generated to and from a location.

Industrial IoT solutions’ administrative and user dashboards differ to some extent based on whether they are designed to drive new revenue or promote internal cost savings. Generally, system administrators should be able to control features, manage users, and access real time system diagnostics and reporting via a cloud-based dashboard.  Alerts and notifications also play an integral role for IIoT solutions. Well configured user monitoring and alert functions allow business leaders and administrators to keep their fingers on the pulse of their business—supporting user adoption and customer utilization. When developing customer-facing solutions, convenience will be especially critical. Tech buyers value mobility and thus prefer IIoT solutions with mobile accessible user dashboards.

Did you miss the IoT Drinks & Demos in Philadelphia? Check out the List of Upcoming Events at Tech in Motion so  you don’t miss the next one.

The user interfaces of IIoT apps must present data so that it’s both useful and immediately actionable. Data filtering, predictive and visual analytics can all be used to simplify IIoT data and enable smarter business decision making. Industrial IoT solutions must also grow smarter as users think of innovative ways to apply its business intelligence. Data service exchanges allow IT leaders to extract critical data points from a wider pool of devices and partner with third party data service providers to continuously evolve their IIoT offering.

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We are still at a stage where few IT leaders understand the process of developing an Industrial IoT solution. The properties encapsulated above only brush the surface of meaningfully applying IIoT to businesses. This IIoT strategic planning checklist covers 50+ practical and technical IT requirements that should be evaluated when determining how IIoT can evolve your business processes and customer offering.

Sempercon was a demo company at Philadelphia’s Drinks & Demos: IoT Editionrick o brien this summer. Check out the past event and join the Tech in Motion chapter here.

About the Author

Rick O’Brien is a serial entrepreneur with 20 years experience leading product development, marketing and sales for mobile, hardware and software technology startups and enterprises. Nearly eight years ago he launched Sempercon, a software development firm that specializes in building Internet of Things, mobile and web app solutions for enterprises and startups.

Exploring Reality, Musicality and Beyond in Philadelphia

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It was a dark and stormy night, but for the June event in Philadelphia, the show still went on to both amuse and bemuse the senses of attendees. Several fantastic demo companies came out despite the stormy weather to display the innovations they are working on in music tech and virtual reality. Local techies came down to City CoHo to experience modernizations such as apples that transmit sound and glasses that can virtually take you to the other end of the world. The high energy group buzzed around the exhibits set up around the room to learn more about what is happening in these industries.

Interested in attending a Tech in Motion event? Find a demo, mixer or tech tech IMG_3612on our upcoming events list!

Rob Hardcastle of DYIM came out to exhibit his social music experience. The device lights up in different colors throughout the evening as attendees came by to try it out. This innovation allows people who might not be so musically inclined to create sounds through simply pressing different buttons. The creator, Hardcastle, says that DYIM really “allows people with no musical experience to express their musical thoughts and dreams.”

Below, Edge of Nostalgia founder presented his app to the audience during the lightning round introductions. Throughout the evening, he showed off how to turn ambient noise into interactive sound and eventually a type of music.

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Did you ever think you could make music by squeezing apples? Sam Cusumano of Electricity for Progress showed off his BioData Sonification technology doing just that. Using interactive controllers and headphones you can hear sound in real-time – transmitted through the apples.

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Drexel University’s ExCITe Center came out to show off the research projects being produced in their space by students and beyond. The ExCITe Center specializes in interactive technologies and collaborative projects, with many focused in the music tech space.

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Greenfish Labs demonstrated their Virtual Reality software and applications that they develop for clients. Techies got to not only hear about it, but also try on a pair of goggles and see it in action

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A local meetup group, VR Philly, got to come out and experience the latest and greatest in the VR field. Local tech enthusiast Scott J. Ross said, “The VR scene is still so small and embryonic, we need events like this to meet collaborators face to face”. It was great to see this community come together with Tech in Motion.

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Temple University’s BEEP showed off a few innovations developed with their Electroacoustic Ensemble. One local techie said, “I was extremely impressed by the entrepreneurial ambition of tonight’s event. This is what makes the future”.

Dr. Adam Vidiksis, who leads this group, has a similar mindset with the goal of increasing technological literacy among its participants and audience.

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Dj CUTMAN of GameChops provided the tunes for the evening and kept the audience going. He debuted with Tech in Motion at our Gaming Expo last October and we were excited to have him back to hear what was new in the mix.

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Special thanks to Kurant Cider and Ole Smoky for providing refreshments for the evening.  Guests enjoyed the unique flavors of the cider and moonshine samplings. Dan from Ole Smoky got to try out the Google Cardboard our sponsors, Workbridge Associates and Jobspring Partners, brought out.

Looking for a job? Check out and apply for one of the positions from Workbridge Associates and Jobspring Partners.

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This event showcased several local innovations within the musicality and reality space, an often over looked arena in Philadelphia. VR and Music Tech crowd out at events in the future – join Tech in Motion Philly to be a part of the next event!

Is Pac-Man a Museum Piece? You Bet!

When video games finally win widespread recognition as a major art form, some of the credit will surely go to Chris Melissinos. Chris, a guest speaker at Philadelphia’s Gaming Expo, is the man who created the largest-ever exhibition on “The Art of Video Games” for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“Video games are a medium that incorporate all forms of art: illustration, sculpture, music, narrative, character, culture, everything,” said Melissinos, a Queens native whose exhibition drew near-record crowds in Washington before starting a nationwide tour that just landed at The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. (Feb 15-May 18)

As Verizon’s Director of Corporate Strategy for Media and Entertainment, Chris tracks new technology, picks the coolest stuff and develops the plans for bringing it to Verizon’s customers.

“Given my experience with and passion for video games, you can bet they will examining their role in Verizon’s future media strategy,” said Melissinos, who began programming at 9 and completed his first game when he was 12. “Verizon provides an amazing set of platforms, from mobile to cloud, upon which video games can be delivered and enjoyed.”

Such efforts to shape gaming’s future come just as many Americans are enjoying the efforts Chris made to chronicle its past.

He first got the idea for a gaming retrospective 9 years ago. He and a friend came across a treasure trove of gaming memorabilia, systems, accessories and more than 6,000 games. Chris remembers marveling for several hours at his friend’s time capsule, and then the idea struck him.

“These,” he thought, like Indiana Jones before him, “belong in a museum.”

It took Chris 7 years to make his idea a reality, but the reception vindicated the effort. The Art of Video Games drew 680,000 visitors in its 6 months at the American Art Museum, second in the museum’s history.

The family-friendly exhibition features 20 gaming systems spanning 40 years, each equipped to demonstrate 4 artistically important games. Visitors can also play five of the pivotal titles in game history: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower.

“Video games, at their core, are about connection,” Chris explained, “connecting players to the artist and other players. Verizon, at its core, is also about connection, connecting customers to the people and things who matter most to them.”

RSVP to see Chris speak at Tech in Motion’s Gaming Expo in Philadelphia on October, 16th, along with some awesome demos from ten Philadelphia-area gaming studies and video-game inspired anthems from Dj CUTMAN.

This post was adapted from the original article “Pac-Man a Museum Piece?” at Verizon.com. Read the full story at Verizon.com.

From Russian Linguist to CTO: A Recap of Philadelphia’s First Fireside Chat

On Wednesday, March 26, Tech in Motion Philadelphia hosted their first ever fireside chat at CityCoHo Philly Nexus with Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Richard Bunker of the Neat Company. Led by Christopher Wink of Technically Philly, the conversation covered Bunker’s journey from Russian Linguist to successful CTO, with a healthy dose of insight into the future of the Neat Company.

“I was paying to go to school for Russian literature by doing jobs as a programmer for Polaroid and Pepsi,” Bunker said about his beginnings, “and I discovered there are better paying jobs as a programmer than there are as a Russian literature student.”

Bunker’s path to CTO was never a straight line, but instead a varied path that included positions such as managing director, president and CIO. His first leadership gig was at SEI, as Vice President over about 50 software developers, followed by a stint as CIO for Procurian.

“CIO’s don’t become CEOs, so I made the move to the front office,” said Bunker of his transition to a Chief Technology Officer position.

Bunker leads the tech department as CTO of the Neat Company, which offers an integrated system of software, hardware, cloud services and mobile applications that allows users to perfectly scan documents and manage them in Quick Books, Constant Contact or other programs. Neat’s technology recognizes the type of document that is scanned with their hardware and intelligently parses the data accordingly.

“We’re going to keep selling hardware. We have groovy scanners,” Bunker acknowledged, “but the value is in our software…And I went to high school in the seventies; I’m allowed to say groovy!”

A little known fact about the Neat Company is that they process 12.5 Lowes receipts per minute, according to Bunker. Anyone with a small business has receipts and is going to keep scanning them. While Bunker believes this could be done directly with an in-browser application, Neat’s clients still prefer the mobile app.

“A lot of the hard stuff – synchronize, categorize, move things around – is going to move to the cloud,” said Bunker, indicating that the mobile app would soon become just a thin app. “We’re operating a cloud business at scale.”

When the conversation turned from cloud services to the Philadelphia tech scene, Bunker was full of optimism for the city, citing the high number of students and how the money made when companies are sold stays in the area as the former founders begin new startups. Neat Company even sponsored a code camp recently to give back, but Bunker sees the real growth for the community coming in the future.

“We are hiring people and we are doing things very close to what you would find in Silicon Valley,” Bunker told the audience. “These skills are becoming part of the community; those skills become a part of Philadelphia.”

While Chris Wink was a stimulating moderator for the conversation, Bunker inspired quite a queue of technologists waiting to speak with him after the Q & A wrapped up. Beforehand, he left the crowd with a phrase that has become his mantra.

“I try to say yes when people ask me to do things,” Bunker said with a smile.

crowd

In addition to an educational evening from Bunker and Wink’s dialogue, guests also enjoyed bites from the Corner Foodery and beer donated by Shawnee Craft Brewing Company. CityCoHo graciously donated their space for networking and the fireside chat, as well.

shawnee craft beer

Thank you to sponsors Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates, who made the event possible.To join the Philadelphia chapter of Tech in Motion, please sign up here.

Socialie Lets Startups Test Their Strategy

Socialie: the Startup program allows for free trial.

Guest post by Kristin Adams, founder and CEO of Socialie

Hi friends and colleagues. I would like to start off by introducing myself; my name is Kristin Adams, founder and CEO of Socialie. My team and I could not be more excited to take part in the upcoming Tech in Motion Philadelphia event: Entertainment Tech Drinks & Demos. We love any opportunity to rub elbows with the best and brightest of the tech world, and from what we’ve heard, there’s going to be some serious talent at this shindig on January 30th. We view this as an opportunity to not only discover what our fellow tech companies have been working on, but to also educate you on the platform we’ve been building with the hope of getting some feedback from Philly’s finest. In exchange for your honest opinions and expertise, we’d like to offer you our platform for a 3-month trial at no cost. Now that I’ve hopefully reeled you in with the whole “free” thing, allow me to tell you a bit about who we are and what exactly it is that you’d be getting.

We believe people are the most important element of social media, so my team and I created a tool that helps companies leverage the people behind their brands by building a connected network of their social accounts and then allowing them to easily send network members suggested content for approval, editing and publishing via SMS. Our platform helps you manage and leverage your non-owned social media marketing strategy and drive your brand message to wider audiences (Click here to find out what is non-owned social media marketing is).

The idea for Socialie came about back when I was running social media for the UFC. One of the biggest pain points while working with sports and entertainment clients was seeding content to very busy and mostly mobile brand influencers. The 400 athletes on the roster were a huge social asset, but it wasn’t easy to consistently get them to share brand content across their social channels and then for us to track it. I wanted to solve this problem. So I left my job, moved to Philly and built a small team of people who believed in my idea and were willing to work their butts off to help me bring it to life.

Now, back to the good stuff; how you’ll be getting this for free. We decided to put the Socialie tool into the hands of the smartest, most creative and passionate group of people we could think of: startups! For a limited time only, we’re offering the Socialie platform at no cost, and all we ask in return is that you share your feedback and help us spread the word. We want to learn from you what’s working, what’s not working and where we can improve. So give your marketing budget a break and try out a new word-of-mouth marketing tool that makes it easy to promote your company’s mission. Did you just roll-out a new feature? Published a great blog post? Get everyone promoting your stories and content.

In order to sign up for the program, head over to socialie.com/startups and fill out the form at the bottom of the page. Once you sign up, we’ll be in touch to schedule a demo. The signup deadline is January 31, so hurry up and get on it!

And don’t forget to RSVP so you can get entertained at the Tech in Motion Drinks & Demos this Thursday!

Recap: A Second Edition of From Startup to Success

During a time when so many new businesses fail, Tech in Motion: Philadelphia members had the privilege of hearing the secrets of those who did not on Tuesday, October 22th. A crowd of techies gathered at a co-working space, Benjamin’s Desk, for drinks, networking and the second edition of “From Startup to Success”, a series highlighting local tech companies’ rise to triumph.

Networking!

As usual, the night kicked off with an hour of mixing and mingling with CTOs, founders and other technology enthusiasts.  Guests arrived to a full spread of food and libations, with beer supplied by Shawnee Craft Brewing. The amazing smorgasbord of sandwiches from local restaurant, Jake’s Sandwich Board, was a hit with the guests, though the soft Philly pretzels disappeared just as quickly.

Food & Drink Provided

Audience waits eagerly

Once the attendees had a chance to meet and chat with the speakers, the educational portion of the evening began. The presenters of the evening were quite a successful lineup:

Ted Mann of Snip Snap kicked it off with the story of how real life circumstances inspired him to build his coupon aggregating mobile app. He urged everyone to “download it so guys like me don’t get benched on the couch.”

Ted Mann, CEO and Founder of Snip Snap

Ross Shanken and Manny Wald presented for LeadiD, giving the audience both the story behind the company and the technology that makes it tick. For Ross, the startup fantasy was a reality; however it wasn’t immediate – it took eleven months to get their first client. “You can change the world,” he said, “but it’s a lot of hard work.”

Manny followed the inspirational tale with a breakdown of the coding that LeadiD uses to run. He touched on the challenges of building scalable, highly-available systems for real-time transactions. The techies in the audience were on the edge of their seats as Manny broke down the technical difficulty of being blind to the context in which his code is executed, when authoring third-party JavaScript.

LeadiD speaks to a packed house

Ryan Findley focused on telling the audience about the beginnings of his IT company, while encouraging entrepreneurs of any skill level to “just go for it”. Tim Raybould of TicketLeap also recounted the story of his business, from the perspective of someone who took over a startup after it had reached success. Tim talked tech and his guiding principles for Ticketleap: “Be likable, be innovative, hustle!”

Panel-style Q & A wraps up the night

The night wrapped up with a Q & A session directed at the speakers. Secrets were shared and private details were unveiled. (Who was TicketLeap’s first employee after the founder? His mom.) To become a part of this interactive evening next month, please visit Tech in Motion Philadelphia to join for free.

A big thank you to our speakers for their participation, and to our sponsors for the night: Shawnee Craft Brewing, Benjamin’s Desk, Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates.

How To Prototype Your App With People (Using Mechanical Turk)

Ted Mann SSWhen my iOS app SnipSnap was accepted to DreamIt Ventures two years ago, it was little more than a screencast and a high-fidelity prototype built on Keynote templates. Vaporwear. We were planning to build a fairly sophisticated OCR app for coupons and had zero technology. But we learned you can overpromise like this with early features–if you know your way around Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service.

M-turk, as it’s known for short, allows you to outsource small jobs to real people. You can route tasks there via their API, allowing your app to deliver work to remote workers and then take back the results. Without all those outsource workers, we never would have been able to get SnipSnap working at the scale needed to prove out the capital investment in writing OCR software.

Step 1. Proving Out The Concept

The goal of our iOS app was to parse out all coupon details and then return back a digital version ready to redeem in-store. We thought of it as DIY mobile couponing. I knew the concept would work in stores, as I’d spent the prior six months photographing coupons–Babies “R” Us, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target–and then successfully redeeming them off my phone’s camera roll. It just worked. I knew how much more valuable this experience would be in app form, with all the structured coupon data enabling features like expiration-date alerts and location-based reminders and scannable barcodes.

Having seen the effectiveness of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) at powering a class of business-card scanning apps, like WordCard Mobile and CardSnap, I figured we could take that same approach and apply it to coupons. Thus was born my spiffy prototype and lofty promises to the DreamIt selection committee. After quitting my nice stable job at Gannett, and reassuring my pregnant wife all the while, I ventured off to West Philadelphia to build this seemingly simple utility in three months or less. It took less than one week to realize how horribly misguided I’d been.

Sh*t, ORC Software Is Hard

OCR on coupons was, quite simply, a bad idea. We tested every option–from the free, open-source Tesseract OCR library, to Abbyy’s crazy expensive in-app SDK and various other server-side OCR products. The app could extract some text, but not nearly enough.

The problem: Coupon layout is sloppy, irregular, and unstructured. Perhaps most problematic, even when we did extract text, we had to formulate countless natural-language patterns to be able to parse the text into the appropriate fields, like the expiration date. Our mentor put it bluntly: Our approach was DOA.

Around the same time, I heard about another business card scanning app, one that had been acquired by LinkedIn. When I first used CardMunch I was disappointed; it didn’t give you a result instantly. But then, after a few minutes, the details of the card were identified perfectly. How’d they do that with just a semi-blurry photo? I puzzled over this for weeks until a much smarter entrepreneur friend gave me a clue: “Dude, they’re just Turking ’em.”

All The Cool Startups Are M-Turkin’ It

Crowdsourced labor is perfect for fulfilling simple, routine tasks that can’t be otherwise automated. Got a business card that needs parsing? You can M-turk it. Photos on your social network that need to be screened for pornographic images? M-turk to the rescue. Audio that needs transcribing? Yup, works for that too.

The more I talked with other entrepreneurs, the more I realized that this approach was not only viable, but advisable. M-turk essentially allows a startup like SnipSnap to brute-force a problem that there isn’t an easy technological solution for (yet). In reading Lean Startup, this is more or less how Aardvark (acquired by Google) built their ask/answer MVP. The DreamIt folks informed me that Adaptly, a star from a former DreamIt class, also brute-forced their product at the outset.

I’d like to say that after we had this aha moment, and hooked our jumper cables up to the Amazon service, it all clicked. Alas, M-turk integration proved to be daunting. We were also building our native iOS app and backend at the same time. Come Demo Day, we were not fully M-turk ready. We did have a viable prototype, which demo’d nicely for investors. But even then, it was powered by three friends logging into a crude admin UI and manually parsing the coupons off-site. Some call this the “Wizard of Oz” approach. And it worked beautifully up to about 10 users. Of course, there was no way it would scale when we actually hit the app store.

The Key To Leveraging M-Turk At Scale

Running out of time and frustrated by the M-turk architecture, we looked for an even easier way to plug in. Enter Houdini–a dead-simple API for creating M-turk tasks, or HITS. SnipSnap would send a coupon image, Houdini would generate the HIT, and it would then post back all the coupon details in a exactly the format we needed. Within just one week, we were rocking and rolling. Almost 100% accurate!
Then, about 2 weeks after launching, came the Apple feature in the New and Noteworthy section. Our servers held up, but all of a sudden we had an M-turk backlog. And with 100,000 new users and twice that many coupons submitted in a week, things piled up quickly. But there was a simple solution: Raise the price of our HITS. At launch, we were paying $0.05 per coupon parsed. The minute we bumped it up to $0.12, the laws of supply and demand kicked in, and we watched the horrendously long backlog evaporate in about a day. Incidentally, $0.02 of that went to Amazon, a small percentage to Houdini, and the rest to the worker, or Turker (Houdini has since changed their pricing model). Houdini even afforded us a dead-simple way to send a task to multiple Turkers, compare the results, and throw out any outlier data–consensus workflow automation, or, in layman’s terms, quality control.

Over the course of the last year, SnipSnap has become the fastest growing coupon app. We have grown close to 1 million users and over 16 million coupons snipped, and began working with several of the largest national retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and Aeropostale and Sears. All the while, M-turk continued to power at least part of our system. As we reached scale, we found that we needed to graduate from Houdini’s solution, which, while simple to set up, didn’t afford us the ability to create custom functionality (like, say, having the Turker rotate and crop a coupon image before parsing it). So we built our own form and buckled down to do the full M-turk integration.

Specifically, we found that for our type of HIT, a form that placed the fields beside the coupon image, with certain text auto-completing, made the task infinitely easier (and hence faster). That, we learned, is critical for M-turk: No matter what form you build, put yourself in the shoes of the worker, and complete a couple hundred tasks. If your HIT is boring or annoying (or worse: time-consuming), chances are they’ll see it that way too, and be that much more disinclined to complete them. Our form got a lot better and, some Turkers said it was actually kind of fun.

Eventually we developed methods for image recognition and barcode scanning and, yes, even OCR. We continue to work with researchers on approaches to correcting perspective in angled images and text, and have patented some of the tech we’ve built. And yet, Mechanical Turk continues to be the ultimate fall-back whenever all those automated measures have a low degree of confidence. Even as we’ve reached the level of 200,000 coupons snipped a day, it has proven to be incredibly scalable and cost-effective.

HOW TO GET STARTED WITH MECHANICAL TURK

  1. Check out the simplified services that sit atop M-Turk, and simplify integration, like CrowdFlower, Houdini, and ScalableWorkforce. Many others listed here: http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-crowdsourcing-services-similar-to-Amazon-Mechanical-Turk
  2. Consider using a consensus workflow to maintain quality, but also know the trade-offs: time and money. These tasks will always take longer to return a result, as you need multiple Turkers to complete. And if you have 3 workers reviewing each task you’ll pay 3x as much.
  3. Creating Gold tasks is a good way to evaluate worker quality. These tasks have preassigned answers and workers are judged by how closely their responses match. A great way for weeding out the sub-par workers and spammers.
  4. Be careful about modifying your HIT prices. Once workers become accustomed to your tasks, a change in pricing (especially downward) could cause you to instantly lose a chunk of your worker pool.
  5. Streamline your task. Add auto-completes to fields, make sure tabbing around the form is simple, consider that many Turkers are on small screens. The simpler and speedier your task is to complete the better.
  6. Spend an hour doing your tasks. Sum up how many you completed, and multiply this by your HIT price. This is the hourly wage you’re paying your M-Turk employees, and don’t you forget it.

 

This article originally appeared in Fast Company