Flayvr Working on Fundraising

flayvr-logoFlayvr came before Apple started organizing your photos into “moments.” The start-up, based in Tel Aviv was formed to organize our every growing collection of pictures. It works by automatically organizing photos and videos from your smart phone into albums that you can then share easily with family and friends and those on your social networks. The company has plans to grow and therefore has conducted a large fundraising campaign that has earned them $2 million to keep expanding. Right now about 2 million smartphone users use the app and that number is expected to grow with the new funding. The money came from a variety of sources including regional investors like Kaedan Capital, Moshe Lichtman, Aviv Venture Capital, iAngels, and angel investors Rafi Gidron, Zohar Gilon, Yariv Gilat, and Partam Hightech. Before this big campaign, Flayvr raised $450,000 from Israeli angel investors.

The app is available for iOS and Android and has lived longer than some of the similar competition in the photo organizing app business. The competition includes organizational tools like Everpix, Snapjoy, Batch, and Flock. Once Flayvr is installed on your phone it effectively takes over as your photo gallery to view and browse the pictures you have taken. To organize the photos it analyzes the context of each picture from data from social, behavioral, user-generated, geolocation, computer vision, and time-based clues. Once Flayvr has organized the pictures its easy to upload to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Google+, email, or iMessage. Other features of the app include a slow fade in/out of pictures to see many photos in an album quickly, without having to scroll through.

With the newly fundraised money, the company would like to double its team from 5 to 10 and expand more in the United States. Eventually, they would like to have most of their business operating on cloud technology to extend the platform. Even though the new Apple OS does something similar to Flayvr, the company is confident that it will only boost their sales because it stresses that this type of service has become necessary.

The Changing Face of Charity

impact-give_directlyTechnology has made it easier to donate towards philanthropic causes. However, this has changed the game for the ways charities usually function and how they interact with donors.

The biggest change is in the demographic of those who are giving and how they are able to give. Millenials can’t donate in traditional ways. Charity used to thrive on banquets and large gifts, but the younger generation doesn’t have the capital to give that way. So, targeting smaller gifts, online is the best way to rope them in. As millenials age and have more economic leeway, they will remember the charities that they made relationships with early and possibly give larger gifts.

Charities that are ahead of the game are using technology to their advantage when targeting those who may donate. For example a service called Centscere donates a few cents every time you “like” something on facebook or send a tweet. Other companies are doing similar things, like Google’s One Today that donates a dollar a day to a charity of your choice, or Check in for Good. Check in for Good utilizes the check-in habits of millenials in restaurants, coffee shops, theatre, etc. and donates money when they post that they are there.

The biggest change for traditional philanthropists is that donors and activists are organizing on their own. They have the tools with the Internet and the various app interfaces to collect money and put it towards the causes they see fit. The need for institutions still exists, but the way these institutions interact with people and how the donors interact with them is changing. Gone are the days of word of mouth. Charities need to have an online presence that clearly outlines who they are and what they do via a website and social media. There is still a place for charities, but they need to be aware of the changing market, especially as sites are linking donors directly to people with need. For the future of established charities, they need to make it transparent exactly how what they do impacts the final step, those in need.

Disney to Start Own Startup Incubator, With Help from Techstars

681047-786x305The Walt Disney Company is getting into the startup incubator/accelerator business with its launch of its new program Disney Accelerator. The media giant is looking for ten “early-stage companies with innovative consumer media and entertainment product ideas.” Those companies will receive $120,000 each as well as mentorship from various tech and entertainment companies, amongst them the many companies under the Disney umbrella, including ESPN, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Walt Disney Imagineering, not to mention Disney CEO Bob Iger. In return for their financial commitment, Disney and Techstars will receive a total of 6% equity of each company (3% each).

The company describes the program as “powered by Techstars.” Others who have partnered with Techstars for developing their own startup incubators include Barclays, Microsoft, and Sprint. The team dynamic works in such a way so that Disney provides the mentorship and financial and networking resources, while Techstars brings its technology and startup accelerator experience, creating somewhat of a powerhouse incubator specializing in media and content distribution technology. This will be a joint partnership in that it will be equal investment from both Techstars and from Disney. Techstars will additionally appoint someone to help run the day-to-day operations full-time under the supervision of Michael Abrams, Disney’s senior vice-president of innovation.

Kevin Mayer, Disney’s executive vice president for corporate strategy and business development, says the Disney Accelerator “offers a unique collaboration between some of the best creative minds in the entertainment industry and the modern-day visionaries who are starting 20130213-Warner-Bros-and-_headerbusinesses on the strength of exciting new ideas.”

Mayer says he expects to receive quite a few applications from companies involved in either ad tech, application ideas and technology, like HTML5, mobile, new business models, or even monetization techniques. Participants will be selected based on the concept and whether the idea matches up with something Disney can readily identify with.

Disney will kick off the accelerator program at the end of June in Los Angeles. However, it’s not the only one of its kind, and will have to compete with other programs, including Warner Bros. Media Camp, which will be in its second year this summer. Mayer is, however, undeterred, stating that he doesn’t expect Warner Bros. Media Camp as being a distraction from Disney’s Accelerator garnering attention.

GameAnalytics: Getting the Numbers Right with Unity.

204655_GameAnalytics_LogoGameAnalytics, a software startup, has just received a big franchise boost in the video gaming space.

GameAnalytics is located in Copenhagen, raised $2.5 million in the 1Q13, and is assisting developers with in-game metrics.  Unity is the leading development platform for creating video games (with 400,000 monthly active developers) and will now include the GameAnalytics software in all new releases of Unity’s game engine software.  A developer can find it at the Unity Asset Store.

This will be especially beneficial for small to medium-sized game developers who don’t have the bandwidth and/or financial resources to set up their own database to track and measure user behavior and experience.

Imagine this: The first or second level of a game is too difficult and the new user is turned off and  never comes back to the game; or, the monetization opportunities are not calibrated correctly and it results in few or no in-game purchases.  Understanding in-game play and behavior based on hard facts is critical to a game’s success.  

Yes, quality content is the primary driver but the ability to measure and understand what the in-game experience is a close second.   An objective understanding may allow a developer to modify or revise the video game, ultimately moving the “success” needle in the right direction. This may include finding and fixing software bugs, maximizing monetization opportunities, fine-tuning game design or making sure there is an overall plan to insure quality.

GameAnalytics has moved from a freemium model to a FREE model for the developer, so the inclusion of the software with the Unity game engine adds all kinds of value (with little downside risk) for the developer and ultimately the consumer.

Some of the features are pre-set to match the industry’s standard metrics, including the various per user stats.  The software also provides insight into cohorts which can get very detailed (ie, time-to-first occurrence for a unique event in the game).  I also like the funnel analysis which allows you to measure the player’s moves and where there might be a friction point which the developer can refine.  Finally, in the browser version, you can literally “see” the user’s experience with the aid of a heat map.  This gives a developer insight into how the user wants to play the game.  

Hopefully the user’s heatmap or “footsteps” match up with the way the developer envisioned playing the game.  If not, GameAnalytics provides the developer a real-time opportunity to make adjustments that better meet the gamer’s desired experience.


logo_mdCanadian shoppers whose merchants have a relationship with FinanceIT don’t need to pay out-of-pocket for purchases.  FinanceIT has built a credit platform that allows a consumer to finance certain purchases at the point of sale, possibly at a better interest rate than their credit cards and definitely with more payment options.

FinanceIT’s clients are vendors who sell vehicles, home renovations, health offerings, or retail products to the consumer.  The business model focuses on making the financing of the product available to the consumer at the point of sale so that there isn’t any excuse not to purchase if the buyer is feeling a little light in the wallet.  The vendor can offer financing deals which delay payment for 3, 6, or 12 months at an interest rate as low as 7.13% — financing which may be much more attractive than credit card financing with a 30-day settlement and/or financing starting at 14 or 15 percent.

It was announced today that FinanceIT just raised $13 million in a Series A round to apply towards their application rollout in the United States.  They are a Toronto-based company that has managed to write $500 million plus in loans with 2,500 vendors since their inception in 2011.

To make the credit process as frictionless as possible the consumer requirements need to be simple and easy to secure.  Clearly, the key driver in any financing/credit business is the consumer’s credit score. The score is the determining factor for the interest rate and any of the other structuring features of the loan, including amortization, payment deferral and length of loan.  Once the credit inputs are determined and approved the vendor can receive payment in one business day.

Ideally, a win/win.  The vendor is pleased to make a sale without retaining the consumer credit risk and the consumer is pleased that they have more financing options for their purchase.  I didn’t notice who retains the credit risk for FinanceIT, but wouldn’t it be great to see them create a two-way peer lending market and they could lay off the credit risk on a peer lender and serve as a matchmaking tech platform?

Dreamforce 2013

df-logoThe Dreamforce ‘13 event kicked off yesterday in San Francisco and runs through Thursday, November 21st.

After working with their customer relationship management (CRM) software product for about three months in 2011, I decided to attend their Cloudforce event at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York in November 2011.  At that point, I knew of Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, but I had never seen him live or watched any of his presentations on YouTube.  As is customary for these big events, Marc is the keynote speaker and his presentation (both on stage and as he walks through the aisles of the entire event) is two hours and during that time he is marketing Salesforce to the audience using stats, experiences, trends, enterprise collaborators while all the time weaving it all into very effective storytelling.  

I found those two hours inspiring since his vision and message were both current and forward thinking.  What I mean by that, is that the product roll-out for Cloudforce (Chatter) was timely and matched off with the consumer’s workflow needs at that time.  Also, his vision addressed workflow needs in the very near future and the fact that Salesforce was evolving into a cloud based, mobile and social enterprise software.  Additionally, the APIs would be a focus so that developers could quickly and easily build apps to interface with Salesforce.

The Cloudforce ‘11 (a one day event) had the right side room of the Javits with an overflow room imbedded in the expo. The reported audience size was approximately 10,000, which at the time I thought was a very good turnout for the event.  Two years later, it’s reported that the Dreamforce 2013 will have 150,000 attendants during their four day event and the Salesforce team will spend a significant amount of time on Salesforce 1.

Salesforce 1 allows the user to connect across all their platforms with a significant emphasis placed on mobile.  A sales or business development professional can head off to a meeting with their smartphone or tablet and quickly view their day; dial into a call or meeting; stay on top of daily activity during the course of the day; collaborate with managers and colleagues as meetings take place and new events unfold; update forecasts and recalibrate sales growth on a real time basis.  A great set of marketing and management tools at your fingertips to create transparency, collaboration, knowledge and better productivity.  Just as important, the software allows a manager to develop a culture that includes best practices and mitigates the scenario which includes opaque customer detail/information and feedback often leading to poor decision making by all involved.

Salesforce has had a big run this year with their stock up 30+% percent and much of this movement since June.  Compare this move to Oracle’s appreciation which is about 5% for the year.  I wonder if Oracle was to hold a party, could they get 150,000 guests to attend?  Although, if I was putting money to work, I would probably put a majority of it to work with Oracle given their lackluster performance this year and their ability to print money with their database solutions.