Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Air Pacific Flourishes Under the Supervision of David Pflieger

Fiji’s premier airline carrier, Air Pacific Ltd recently celebrated six successful decades in operation, a milestone the enterprise reached on September 1, 2011. Employing a staff of more than 800, the company transports upwards of one million passengers annually to a wide range of international destinations including the United States, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands.

Installed as Air Pacific’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer in May 2010, David Pflieger brings more than two decades of experience to a key leadership role that he continues to excel in as time goes by. Mr. Pflieger confronted a number of serious business issues when he originally joined the airline, many of which were related directly to inadequate cash reserves and increasing fuel prices. Widely credited as the primary architect of Air Pacific’s dramatic turnaround, David Pflieger cut operating losses from F$91 million (approximately $45.5 million USD) to F$3 million in less than one year, a notable achievement that garnered F$24 million in net profits for the now stable company.

Over the course of the past two years, David Pflieger has effectively streamlined Air Pacific and its regional subsidiary Pacific Sun to grow combined revenue by seven percent. Following an extensive reorganization of managerial structures and renegotiation of union contracts, Mr. Pflieger laid the foundation for Air Pacific’s future success by focusing on performance, timeliness, and customer satisfaction. His targeted approach has proved viable in numerous ways. Today, Air Pacific and Pacific Sun earn a gross revenue total of F$580 million. 

Aside from reinvigorating Air Pacific and its subsidiary financially, David Pflieger developed and implemented an innovative fuel conservation program, the first of its kind in the company’s history. Moreover, Mr. Pflieger created a Guest Service Department to ensure that every person who travels with Air Pacific enjoys their flight to the utmost degree. Further information about the airline and its customer-oriented business model can be found at www.quora.com/David-Pflieger

Monday, October 29, 2012

App Helps Tame Wild Inboxes

Like many modern folks, Ria Greiff had out-of-control inboxes. With her duties as a psychology professor, clinical director, model, and full-time mom, she barely had time to manage her emails while she was managing her work responsibilities and personal life. Hence, she and her husband Scott, a lead software developer, came up with the idea of creating an app that would help her and other people regain control of their inboxes. After many late nights of working on their idea, the husband and wife team launched MailTamer.

Designed to assist individuals who are drowning in excessive emails, MailTamer is a mobile app that allows you to achieve inbox zero by providing a sender-centric view of all your emails from multiple accounts. You can filter your emails by all senders, senders who are already in your contacts, or date. You also have the ability to drill down to see the details of a message, web preview messages in HTML format, and search senders and folders. MailTamer is available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod, and a Mac version is currently in the works.

Ria says she went from 10,000 to 400 emails in half an hour using MailTamer. She now invests all of her freed up time back into the app's operations and marketing, making radio appearances to promote the “zen of a zero inbox.” Scott, meanwhile, is adding features to MailTamer. Additionally, the Greiffs will soon be releasing another app called TaskTamer.

“We're starting to realize we're more than just an app or a couple of apps,” says Ria. “What we really want is to grow into a business that helps, in general, with productivity and efficiency issues. Eventually we'll get to the point where we'll develop an actual company and the company will represent the apps themselves but right now we're just on MailTamer.”

GoBee an Entrepreneur With Affordable Business Training

Founded in 2011 by Lap-Tin Tsun, GoBee is a Sydney-based startup providing affordable, high quality, and practical business education for entrepreneurs and small business owners. At GoBee, anyone can learn about business planning, sales, marketing, accounting, funding, presentations, and more from real and successful entrepreneurs, small business owners, consultants, and experts from around the world. GoBee's modules start at less than $5 each, proving that business training need not be expensive. All presenters have been evaluated based on their qualifications, and GoBee promises only strategies that have already been tested and proven.

GoBee is free to join and you can preview modules before purchasing them. Once you've bought a module using credits, you can watch it as many times as you like for the next 90 days. If you're not sure where to start, GoBee has some featured training videos, as well as sections showing the most popular and latest materials.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weather Puppy, a Weather App That's Actually Cute

Suraj Hemnani thinks weather apps are boring, so he started Weather Puppy, a brand new weather app that has cute pooches on it. With 72 puppies and 4 themes, Weather Puppy makes checking weather conditions fun. The puppy changes along with the weather and time, so if it's bright and sunny outside, for example, the featured pup may be wearing shades. Open the app on a rainy day and you'll see a soaked puppy wrapped in a towel. Check the weather before bed and puppy may already be sleeping soundly.

The Miami-based startup has also teamed up with dog shelters and non-profits across America, allowing them to fundraise by selling their own branded themes within the app. Weather Puppy's partner charities include Paws4You, Detroit Dog Rescue, the Pennsylvania SPCA, the Austin Humane Society, the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, the Humane Society of Broward County, Animal Humane New Mexico, the San Antonio Humane Society, The Anti-Cruelty Society, the Humane Society of Utah, SPCA Tampa Bay, and Animal Haven.

Prismatic, Your Personalized Interest Network

Co-founded by Bradford Cross and Aria Haghighi in early 2012, Prismatic is an iPhone app that gives you a personal news feed based on your interests. All you have to do is sign up with Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, and Prismatic will start connecting you with the most interesting stories on the web. Featuring clean, simple layouts, the app promises to provide you with “a delightful reading experience.”

Prismatic knows how to balance all your interests, so you always get a combination of what you like and new stuff that you wouldn't find otherwise. Because the app is designed to help you explore content without any limits, it also suggests links that you might find interesting. And when you do come across something you'd like to pass on to your friends and family, you can share it with them via email, Twitter, or Facebook right from the app.

According to Cross, social networks are what inspired him and his team to launch Prismatic. While social networks have made the Internet more human by connecting a billion people in one big conversation, they have made us arrogant as well, he says. “We decided to build an 'interest network' focused on interesting content – the stuff you're not seeing on social networks. This seems to be what everybody wants and loves much more so than 'filtering the signal from the noise' in what they already see.”

Creating this “interest network” was no easy feat, as keeping people engaged can be tricky. Hence, Cross and company focused on achieving the right mix of technical research, design research, and social to make Prismatic a daily use product. So far, 20 percent of the app's weekly users are using it six or seven days per week. Prismatic recently added more social features, allowing users to follow their favorite topics, people, and publishers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

messageQube: Social Connectivity for Seniors

Like most seniors, Rob Sweeney's 83-year-old mother does not use text messaging or email. Sweeney wanted for her to easily stay connected with the rest of the family, so he invented the messageQube, a small wireless printer that receives and prints text messages and images. The 4.2-inch cube, which runs on the Sprint network, is “high-tech communication disguised as a friendly piece of paper.” Each unit has its own phone number, allowing friends, family, doctors, and other contacts to send messages to messageQube owners via cell phones and the messageQube web, iPhone, and Android apps. The machine also has a phone book feature that not only identifies the sender and prints their name and number along with their message, but prevents spam as well.

Aside from enhancing social connectivity for the older population, the messageQube can also be used for birthday and anniversary reminders, family news, and medication reminders, which users can confirm they have received by pressing a flashing green button on the printer. The messageQube, which utilizes thermal paper and does not require any ink or setting up, retails for $199.95. A monthly subscription of $19.95 includes 2,000 text messages and 100 photos sent from the apps. Because its firmware communicates via SMS, FTP, and HTTP, messageQube is ready to use straight out of the box; it only needs to be plugged in.

Sweeney's mom and aunt now use the messageQube daily. Based on the research his company has done, the device has a potential user base of 30,000 to 50,000 seniors. And that's just the consumer market. According to Sweeney, the commercial market presents more opportunities. This includes uses in health care, education, restaurants, and government. Based in Parkville, Missouri, messageQube is now working with clients and distribution partners to expand its reach. The four-person company has raised $800,000 in seed funding.

Easy Online Transactions With Stripe

Born and raised in an Irish county called Tipperary, brothers John and Patrick Collison learned to code at a young age after Patrick received a computer as a present one year. When they were in their teens, John and Patrick started Auctomatic, an auction marketplace system that focused on local users. They sold the startup within a year and subsequently left Ireland to go to college in the US. John studied physics at Harvard, while Patrick studied math at MIT. During the fall term, the brothers began working on Stripe, a simple web-based tool that allows individuals and companies to accept payments online.

Though a “fairly lightweight commitment” at first, Stripe eventually became a full-time venture for the Collisons. Today, Stripe handles the online payment processes of various Fortune 500 companies, startups, non-profits, and side projects in the US and Canada. The San Francisco startup is backed by investors such as PayPal co-founders Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Max Levchin.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Alike Helps You Find Places You'll Love

You most likely know your neighborhood pretty well. You know where to find the best vegetable curry, where to find the cutest clothes, and where all the cool kids hang out on a Saturday night. But what if you visit a city you've never been to before and don't know anyone there? Sure, you could turn to online reviews, but can you really trust what complete strangers are saying? What's good for them may not work for you. This is where Alike comes in.

Recently released for the iPhone, Alike is a mobile and web app that tells you which places nearby match your tastes and preferences. Simply key in the name of your favorite spot and it will show you a list of recommendations that are most like your search query. Alike also provides venue details, menus, deals, ratings, photos, and more.

Founder Maria Zhang, a software engineer who had previously worked at Microsoft and Zillow, leads Alike's team of self-described data geeks and mobile enthusiasts who love to shop. “Our mission is to make searching on the go simple and easy so everyone will end up having wonderful experiences while out and about,” she says.

But how does Alike know just how similar two places are to each other? “We've painstakingly collected hundreds of terabytes of data and crafted complex algorithms to really understand the essence of a place,” Zhang explains. “We compare these essences to discover similar places. The great thing about this big data approach is that there is no waiting for a critical mass of 500 of your friends or 10 million other people for the service to be useful.”

So far, Alike has analyzed nearly 20 million places and over 201 million attributes. And it's continuously doing so to offer even more and even better suggestions.

Easy Nocturnal Planning With Wendr

If you're tired of sending endless texts, emails, or tweets to all of your friends just to find out what they're doing tonight, then Wendr is the perfect app for you. Founded by Sam Zises and Nick Kaye, Wendr makes it easy to discover what your friends will be up to when the sun goes down, find new and interesting stuff to do, as well as let your pals know if you're going out, open to suggestions, or staying in for the night. You can group your friends into crews and control who sees your plans. For example, if you're going to a party but don't want your co-workers to know, just set your visibility to your best buds. Wendr only focuses on your plans for tonight, so everything resets automatically at 6 am. Currently compatible with just the iPhone, the app recently won Thrillist and Samsung's Speed Dating for Startups competition.


Monday, October 1, 2012

HowAboutWe Helps Couples Decide What to Do on a Date

Brooklyn-based dating startup HowAboutWe recently launched HowAboutWe for Couples, an online members-only service designed just for couples. Every month, users receive a curated “DateBook” containing the best dates in the city, all hand-picked for their quality and originality. Couples choose their favorite and go; HowAboutWe takes care of everything else, from booking to redemption. Previous offerings include a private tour of the Museum of the Moving Image (plus cocktails), two hours at a shooting range, and a private stand-up class followed by a comedy show with dinner and drinks. Membership is $80 per couple per month and can be applied to one date in the DateBook. If nothing strikes a couple's fancy, they can pause their membership for the month. Should they decide to go on more than one date, they pay for each subsequent date booked.

HowAboutWe for Couples is still in private alpha testing but already has a monthly retention rate of 80 percent. “These are incredible experiences that you can't get anywhere else,” says HowAboutWe co-founder and co-CEO Brian Schechter. “We work closely with New York's smartest lifestyle curators and with top-tier vendors to craft the dates.” Yes, the service is only available in NYC at the moment; however, there are plans to expand to other cities such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC next year.

For those who are still looking for love, HowAboutWe's first product is a dating site that was launched in 2010. HowAboutWe (for singles) encourages people to get offline and go on actual dates based on the proposition, “How about we (insert activity here)?” The dating site sees 2,000 new users each day and has generated over 100 percent revenue growth annually.

The startup has raised $18.5 million since its inception. Investors include RRE, Khosla Ventures, High Line, LaunchTime, and NYC Seed, among others.

Karma: Instant Mobile Giving

Launched in 2011, Karma is an app that aims to revolutionize giving by letting users instantly send gifts from their phone. “We know we're not the only ones who live far from friends and family,” says co-founder Lee Linden. By pinpointing a problem they had themselves, Linden and the rest of the Karma team built a platform that allows for real-time, person-to-person mobile gifting.

To send a gift, select a product and card within the app. Karma will then notify the recipient via text, email, or Facebook. Recipients can choose their favorite colors, styles, and flavors, as well as swap the gift for another item or donate the value to charity. To receive a gift, they just need to enter their address, and Karma will wrap and send it. Additionally, Karma does all the remembering for you – birthdays, weddings, and other important dates, as well as all of the gifts you've sent in the past.

This past May, it was announced that Karma had been acquired by Facebook.