Monday, April 29, 2013
A lot of us are drowning in our email inboxes these days. Shawn Carolan, a managing director at Menlo Ventures, was no exception. For years, he struggled daily to keep up with his email, which caused him to have less time to go out into the field, check out the marketplace, and meet with entrepreneurs. He looked for solutions that would help him deal with the information overload more efficiently but didn't find anything that addressed his needs, so he started Handle.
Today at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC, Carolan unveiled Handle's launch product, the world's first priority engine. “This is not just about getting your email down to zero,” he told VentureBeat. “This is about finding and keeping your priorities straight and spending time on the things that matter.”
Unlike most productivity apps that focus on the project, Handle centers on the individual. The idea of the system is that if you're clear on your priorities, you spend the majority of your day on them and go home each night having made progress on the really important stuff. Handle lets you “triage” your inbox and sort through your myriad emails to create a prioritized task list, which acts as your blueprint for the day. And because to-dos come from other places, not just your inbox, you can also add items to your task list and prioritize them. Then there are keyboard shortcuts to help you become as efficient as you can be.
“If important work is undone or unplanned for, your subconscious will haunt you,” says Carolan. “We realized that the only way people end up being happy and feeling good is when they know they spent big parts of their day on the things they care about most, and brought these things through to completion the best they can.”
Currently in private beta, Handle is available on the web and iOS. The priority engine is just the beginning for Handle – it is part of a human operating system Carolan and company are building to make life easier.
In this day and age, more and more people are working remotely. The office can be a coffee shop, beach, or library. Before the explosion of tablets, remote workers lugged their laptops around with them wherever they went. But now we have tablets, which are lighter and smaller and therefore more portable. Still, computers have the capacity to get more done. Fortunately, Campbell, California-based hopTo has developed a solution that combines the strength of the desktop with the freedom of the tablet.
hopTo lets you access your desktop files and applications on your tablet. And don't worry about fumbling around an interface that was built for the mouse; hopTo is designed to take full advantage of the tablet platform in an attractive and easy-to-use package. According to the hopTo team, the app began with the simple idea of using a tablet to access written documents on a computer. Then they saw the potential for it to be more simple, fun, and mobile, and the rest is history.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Launched in August of 2012, Watsi is a global health care crowdfunding platform that lets anyone help fund a life-changing medical treatment for people in need. Donors can contribute as little as $5, and 100 percent of donations go straight to treatment. The idea for Watsi came to co-founder Chase Adam on December 3, 2010, when he was traveling through the village of Watsi in Costa Rica. A woman boarded the bus he was on, carrying a red folder and speaking to the passengers near her. Adam thought she was selling something, and by the time she had made her way to where he was sitting, he saw that the plastic bag she was holding was filled with money. When Adam saw what was in the folder, everything made sense. There was a photograph of the woman's son with a big incision across his stomach and a document that described his medical condition.
“In that moment I had what can only be described as an epiphany,” says Adam. “If I could somehow connect this woman with my friends and family back home, she would have the money to pay for her son's medical treatment within the day.”
Today, Watsi is using technology to connect patients who have treatable illnesses but cannot afford basic health care with the people who can help them. Focusing on low-cost, high-impact medical treatments, the non-profit aims to change the lives of a million people in need, believing that everyone should have access to medical care regardless of nationality, religion, or socioeconomic status.
Every cent donated on Watsi directly funds medical treatment for the patient of the donor's choice. Watsi even covers the credit card processing fees, and handles its overhead separately through foundations, private donors, and corporations. And to ensure transparency, Watsi posts all of its financials online.
Guxiu, Dreamdays is an app that helps you remember significant life events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
Featuring a clean and beautiful user interface, Dreamdays lets you count down to important occasions in style. What sets it apart from regular calendar apps is that you can add voice memos to record your thoughts and feelings. You can also customize the background for each event and set your favorite event as the app cover. There are five default categories (life, anniversaries, birthdays, school, and holidays) and you can create your own. In addition to categories, a color-coded system enables you to sort through your events with ease.
Currently available for $0.99 on iTunes, Dreamdays launched in December of last year and has more than 150,000 users worldwide. The app is available in English and Japanese.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Based in San Francisco, California, Repost is a new startup that aims to make it easy to share content online. Taking a cue from the video industry, the Repost platform allows you to embed complete articles anywhere easily and quickly. According to founder and CEO John Pettitt, while sharing services are a dime a dozen, they don't actually share the content; they share links to the content, which is very different. Pettitt goes on to say, “If you want to take an article from one site and publish it on another, you have to find a person, get permission, and then manually copy it.” You have to preserve the formatting, too. Then there's the issue of search engines seeing your republished content as a duplicate.
But with Repost, you simply copy and paste an embed code onto your site. You don't have to worry about the formatting as Repost will automatically format all of the article's elements (photos, links, and rich media) to match the look and feel of your site. Further, the republished article updates whenever the original changes. And because the author is basically inviting you to share their article, you don't have to request for permission. The source publisher maintains ownership of their content, receiving attribution and even analytics.
Repost already has 3.5 million articles from 4,000 publishers, including PR Newswire, Slashdot, Fox Sports, The Inquirer, and PandoDaily. Reposted articles have a 5.7 percent clickthrough rate, compared to links that only have a 2 percent chance of being clicked. Readers are also more likely to read farther down the page.
Here is a sample of a Reposted article:
Why Is It So Hard to Share Content? (via Repost)
Yes, there are lots of sharing services. But here’s the thing, they don’t actually share the content. They share links to content. VERY different. If you want to take an article from one site and publish it on another, you have to find a person, get permission, and then manually copy it. Assuming…
Remembering usernames and passwords is a modern-day problem most of us have to deal with daily. Brennen Byrne and Jesse Pollak were tired of it, so they decided to build Clef, a mobile app that replaces usernames and passwords with your smartphone. With Clef, you don't have to type or remember anything – well, except for your PIN for accessing the app and keeping your phone safe. Once you're in the app, just scan a Clef QR code to log in to a website. Sites that currently use Clef include WordPress, StackOverflow, LiveJournal, HootSuite, WiserGiving, ErliBird, and 5C Ride Share.
Based on military grade cryptography, Clef is roughly equivalent to using a newly generated 300-character password whenever you log in. Clef is also designed to handle breaches and be super secure, so your identity will remain safe even if the company's entire database was exposed. And should you ever lose your phone, you can deactivate it remotely via the Clef website.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Founded by Jeremy Murphy and Mike Aucoin, TheSuitest is a hotel search engine that “crunches millions of room prices and amenities” to save travelers money. Murphy and Aucoin both used to work in finance and never planned on entering the travel industry. But during their business travels, they realized that hotel search engines were limited – they only compared pricing and locations and left out room amenities such as square footage, view, bathtub, TV size, and more. The pair felt that travelers had to waste a lot of time on overlapping searches just to find that information. Thus, they created algorithms that could analyze raw data like date, location, pricing, and all the details that were missing from other hotel search engines. To collect this enormous amount of data, they went straight to the hotels. According to Murphy, they found that third-party sources were either incomplete or inaccurate.
TheSuitest is currently available in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
A cross between Wikipedia, Reddit, and Pinterest, Hypejar is an online community and consumer opinion platform where users can discover, follow, and share mass consumer products releasing in the future. Unlike other review sites, Hypejar focuses on products that have yet to be released. The service was founded by Toronto entrepreneurs Won Jun Bae, Mike Kwon, Dylan Jude, and Grant Yim, who were all tired of googling for information about upcoming products. The four wondered why, in the social media age, there were still no searchable sites devoted to new products. It was 2006 at the time, the year when Tickle Me Elmo became the must-have item for the holiday season. As Tickle Me Elmo's popularity grew during that holiday season, the idea for Hypejar began took shape.
After countless iterations, drastic pivots, and some off time, Bae, Kwon, Jude, and Yim finally arrived at something they felt was not only useful for them but to many other people as well. Hypejar, which launched in beta in 2012, aims to make the future more searchable and accessible while aggregating demand levels for future products. “Not only do we want a full compilation, we want to know what you think of it and how much you anticipate it,” write the co-founders on the Hypejar website.
Hypejar keeps you in the know by providing a place where you can see which products are slated to be released in the future, when they're coming out, and detailed information about them. Get notified of new releases by putting products into your “Jar.” You can also see how anticipated or “hyped” a product is, be it a movie, gadget, video game, book, TV series, or music. Users determine how hyped a product is by “hyping up” or “hyping down.” The co-founders of Hypejar believe that it is useful for everyone to find information about upcoming products as well as know what the levels of anticipation are for them.