Tuesday, May 29, 2012

OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Leader in Bio-Oncology Pharmaceutical Management

Established in 2003, OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., brings together the four major players in the process of treating cancer and blood diseases: patients, physicians, manufacturers, and manage-care organizations. Ellen Scharaga, Senior Vice President of Operations, oversees all facets of pharmacy, specialty injectable, and home infusion, including government, Medicare Part D, HMO, and PPO programs, and directs pharmacy dispensing and the call center. Typical of OncoMed’s top staff, Ms. Scharaga possesses decades of experience in leadership positions in pharmaceuticals and home infusion as well as business expertise.

Headquartered in New York, OncoMed maintains licensing to deliver its specialized prescriptions in every state. The company’s inventory includes numerous chemotherapy and bio-oncology medications and limited-distribution pharmaceuticals. For physicians, OncoMed reduces administrative time and lowers reimburse risk. Patients gain better access to medications and care management, reducing out-of-pocket expenses. Manufacturers increase their performance and credibility with OncoMed’s streamlined distribution, including “just-in-time” capabilities providing life-saving treatments. Managed care programs benefit through the care management and bio-oncology pharmaceutical-distribution platform.

Compounding and mixing occur in a clean-room environment supervised by oncology-certified pharmacists, who remain available 24/7 to assist in formulating optimal prescription plans. Packaged in stability-ensured and temperature-sensitive containers, all orders arrive at offices or homes with clearly marked order identification/patient numbers. Ultimately, OncoMed and Ellen Scharaga endeavor to make life easier for physicians, patients, manufacturers, and managed-care organizations, freeing doctors to treat, patients to heal, manufacturers to produce, and manage-care groups to manage care.

Monday, May 28, 2012

GrubHub Improves Its Online Ordering Service

Founded in 2004 by Chicago-based software engineers Mike Evans and Matt Maloney, GrubHub.com is a service that lets hungry people order online, over the phone, or through its Android and iPhone apps for free. Available in over 300 cities in America, GrubHub has a database of more than 13,000 menus. On the GrubHub website or apps, users can type their address and find out which delivery and pickup restaurants are near them. They can also view delivery hours, read customer reviews, and avail of exclusive coupons.

This month, GrubHub rolled out its OrderHub service and is testing it in over 400 Chicago restaurants. Using re-branded Kindle Fire tablets, which are provided by GrubHub at no cost, restaurants can now expedite the order fulfillment process, as orders are instantly confirmed on the screen. Pre-OrderHub, restaurants received orders via fax and had to manually confirm them by entering the order number on their phone during an automated call from GrubHub. According to Evans, OrderHub has decreased confirmation times by 80 percent.

Bump Unveils Phone-to-PC Feature

Bump, the Android and iPhone app that lets users share photos and contacts by bumping their phones together, recently added a new feature. Now that they have delivered a quick and easy peer-to-peer sharing service, the team behind Bump is offering a solution to the complex and bothersome process of sharing files with ourselves.

Co-founder and CEO David Lieb says, “We take all our photos with our phones nowadays, but getting them where we want them on other devices is hard.” He adds that because he can never find his cable and finds syncing with his computer “a pain in the pass”, he ends up emailing his photos to himself – a task which is just as inconvenient.

Anyone who takes pictures with their phone (and who doesn't?) is sure to share Lieb's sentiments. In fact, Bump users have been asking for such a feature. According to Lieb, “One of the comments we always hear is, 'I wish my computer worked just as well. I wish there was Bump on my computer,' so we decided to build that.”

Now at 75 million downloads, Bump has been upgraded to allow phone-to-computer sharing as well. To transfer photos, simply open the Bump website on your computer and the Bump app on your phone. Select the images you'd like to move within the app, then tap your mobile device on your computer's space bar, and presto! The photos are in your browser. You can download them to your hard drive, post them to Facebook or Twitter, or create a link to them for sharing with friends and family.

Lieb says that people still want to save their photos to their computer and that they don't want cloud services doing the work in the background for them. Although automated wireless sharing is a great technology, users still want some physical interaction. “We think it's better to make it a bit more intentional, so you actually do a little more work, but in exchange, you get this very cognitively simple thing – you know how it works, and you feel in control.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gumroad Makes Online Selling as Easy as Sharing a Link

Young developer and entrepreneur Sahil Lavingia didn't understand why selling online had to be such a complex process for creators. Selling through popular marketplaces meant getting only a portion of the proceeds and competing with other users, while setting up one's own website was costly and time-consuming.

But with Gumroad, selling on the Internet can now be as easy as sharing and communicating online. Launched last year by Lavingia, Gumroad lets creators sell directly to their followers. Nothing needs to be set up, and there are no upfront costs, either. Users only have to sign up for a Gumroad account, upload their digital creation (e.g. music, images, videos, code) to the website, and price their item. Gumroad then creates a secure download link to the item and takes care of the payment and delivery. Aside from being easy to use, the service is inexpensive as well; Gumroad takes just 5 percent and 25 cents per transaction.

“If Gumroad goes as well as I hope it will, I want to work on it until I die,” says Lavingia. “I think it solves a really big problem.” We sure agree.

Weplay Connects and Organizes the Youth Sports Market

Started in 2008 by former Geocities exec Stephen Hansen, Weplay is an online youth sports community for coaches, parents, and young athletes. Both a social networking site for kids and a sports management tool for adults, Weplay currently serves a roster of more than 50,000 teams across 60 different sports, including basketball, baseball, football, cheerleading, and soccer.

Lane Soelberg, who presently heads the company as CEO, explains that the youth sports market, while passionate, is also very fragmented. Weplay acts as that “connective tissue” – aside from being the first service of its kind, Weplay is also unlike other team sports websites because it is both functional and social. “We want to be different, engaging, and fun, and not just a list of where and when the games are being played,” says Soelberg.

On the COPPA compliant Weplay site, youth athletes can set up their own profile, connect with their teammates and make new friends, share photos and videos of their sports events, and play online games. Coaches can use the site to manage their team schedule, send messages to parents and players, recommend training exercises outside of practice, and reward their team with virtual badges. Meanwhile, parents can easily keep track of their kids' sports schedules and organize carpools with Weplay's calendar and messaging tools.

Based in Santa Monica, California, Weplay is backed by leading brands such as Major League Baseball, the Cartoon Network, Microsoft, and Benadryl; as well as popular athletes such as Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, and LeBron James. Recently, the company acquired the exclusive license for Fastpoint Games' top fantasy sports platform, which has been utilized by the NBA, NASCAR, and FOX Sports TV, among others. According to Soelberg, “We have many passionate sports families gathered on Weplay and we remain dedicated to making their shared sports experiences fun.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

Experts in High-Stakes Commercial Litigation: Myron M. Cherry & Associates

Based in Chicago, Myron M. Cherry & Associates, LLC, takes on clients ranging from the classic underdog to major corporations, handling both plaintiff and defendant commercial litigation with high stakes. Founded by skilled litigant and mediator Myron Cherry in 1973, the trial-law firm handles everything from class actions, legal malpractice, and employment law to environmental law and government investigations. A tenacious advocate, Myron Cherry has argued cases all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.

Myron M. Cherry & Associates, pioneers in writing the country’s first significant environmental laws, continues its commitment to stewardship of the planet, winning settlements in such areas as groundwater pollution and preventing the construction of a major landfill. In 2010, the firm reached a $44 million settlement with the Air Line Pilots Association, International, on behalf of more than 2,100 United Air Lines senior pilots disputing pension actions by the union during bankruptcy restructuring. In a legal malpractice case, Myron M. Cherry & Associates prevailed against large New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP for Ventas, Inc., a real estate investment-trust company.

A graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, Myron Cherry teaches trial litigation as an Adjunct Professor at the institution. He sat on the Special Committee on Energy Law of the American Bar Association for 11 years and on the United States Holocaust Commission for six years. The renowned attorney also held key posts on the Democratic National Committee, served on the U.S. Senate Judicial Nominations Committee for Illinois twice, and acted as a founding Master of the Atticus Finch Inn of Court. Recognized as a Top 100 Illinois Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers magazine and featured in several other notable publications, including Crain’s Chicago Business, Audubon magazine, and The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Cherry enjoys following sports, running, and listening to classical music and jazz in his leisure time. 

Print 3D Creations at Home With the Cube

Rock Hill, South Carolina-based 3D Systems is no stranger to the three-dimensional printing industry. It has been in the business for more than 25 years, after all, and has successfully established itself as a leading, international provider of 3D content-to-print solutions. Now, 3D Systems is bringing the technology to the individual consumer. Earlier this year, the company unveiled the Cube, its first 3D printer for home use.

“3D printing will be the canvas of the 21st century,” says CEO Abe Reichental. He is confident that with the Cube's user-friendly features, consumers will respond well to it. With a price tag of $1,299, the Cube has a print space of 5.5” x 5.5” x 5.5” and is WiFi-enabled, allowing users to send prints form their computer without the need for cables. Users can then upload and share their works on Cubify.

Reichental isn't only trying to attract the artistic types with his company's product, though. He believes that anyone can be creative once all the friction and intimidation has been removed, which is what the Cube aims to accomplish.

With iGottaGuide, Authentic Local Experiences Are Just a Click Away

Launched in April of last year, iGottaGuide is a startup that caters to tourists; its goal is to connect local and foreign travelers with amateur and professional tour guides within a city. Co-founder Keith Petri came up with the idea during his own adventures, in which he learned that the best way to experience a city is to travel with someone who knows their neck of the woods like the back of their hand, and without spending too much money as well.

“I remember being in Rome and going to the Coliseum and didn't enjoy it, because it was like walking around Times Square – full of tourists,” he recalls. “Then I got to Florence and had a completely different experience.” A local showed Petri and a friend around the city in a way that could never have been experienced through a guidebook. Their tour included a trip to a secret bakery that was only open between 3:30 and 5:30 am.

Petri, who describes himself as a “lover of travel and hater of tourists' traps”, wants to save people from cookie-cutter vacations that involve guides who “walk backwards with [a] gaggle of tourists in tow”.

Currently, the service is only available in New York City, but its website does note that iGottaGuide will soon be serving other areas, namely, Boston, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. In the meantime, travelers who plan to head to the Big Apple can browse the local experiences being offered on the site, and book their ideal vacation once they find it. On the other hand, locals who would like to guide visitors around their city can list their itineraries on the website. iGottaGuide handles all payments and charges a 15 percent service fee on every transaction, though Petri plans to make the service entirely free one day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Presto: The Future of Ordering at Restaurants?

Rajat Suri was in the middle of pursuing his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he decided to start his company, E la Carte. Hence, he dropped out in 2008 and worked at restaurants to support himself while he developed a small computer that could be used for ordering at eateries. A year later, Suri unveiled his first prototype. Today, the Presto touchscreen tablet can be found in  restaurants like Calafia CafĂ© and Santorini.

Presto, which features an 18-hour battery life and built-in credit card reader, allows customers to order and pay for their meals right at their table. Diners can also use the device to split their check, have their receipt emailed to them, and play games while they are waiting for their orders to arrive. And unlike the iPad or other consumer tablets, Presto is more durable, having been designed especially for restaurant use.

Suri says people expect quicker service nowadays, and his device “makes it strictly better to attend a restaurant.”

Tapping the Crowd for Innovative Answers

Crowdsourcing trailblazer InnoCentive was founded in 2001 to help commercial, non-profit, and government organizations find better solutions to their problems. The first online global community for open innovation, InnoCentive currently boasts 250,000 registered solvers from about 200 countries; members include entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, inventors, and other professionals. To date, more than a thousand public challenges have been posted and solved, and a total of over $35 million in cash prizes have been given out. NASA, The Economist, Procter & Gamble, Life Technologies, and Booz Allen Hamilton are just some of the organizations that have turned to the platform to innovate with less time, cost, and risk.

In 2006, non-profit Prize4Life offered the first million dollar prize on InnoCentive for the advancement of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research. A fatal neurodegenerative disease, ALS causes nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement to stop functioning, affecting more than 600,000 people around the world. Prize4Life launched its challenge to speed up the development of a biomarker, the discovery of which will allow biotech and pharmaceutical companies to develop treatments for ALS. Five years and countless submissions later, the $1M ALS Biomarker Prize was awarded to neurologist Dr. Seward Rutkove of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Other notable problems that were solved through InnoCentive include the creation of an effective, two-in-one solar light for people living in rural parts of the world; the cleanup of the remaining oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill; and the enhancement of an existing drug for tuberculosis.

InnoCentive also provides an open innovation environment for internal, employee-focused challenges, allowing organizations to make the most of their internal resources. The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company is currently headed by President and CEO Dwayne Spradlin, who previously held leadership positions at Hoovers Online and VerticalNet Inc., among others. Last year, he co-authored the book, The Open Innovation Marketplace, with InnoCentive co-founder Dr. Alpheus Bingham.