Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Eliza Brock: High-Quality Software From Nashville

Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Eliza Brock Software offers software development, training, and consulting services. The company was started as a one-woman operation by software engineer Eliza Brock in 2010, after she job-hopped for a few years and realized that being an employee wasn't for her. As her clientele grew, Brock couldn't keep up with the amount of work she was getting and brought in former colleagues from college and previous jobs. Today, Eliza Brock Software has eight employees.

Eliza Brock Software moved into its first office in early 2013 and is currently based out of a “full-size grown-up leased office” in Nashville's Melrose/Berry Hill neighborhood. With production experience with HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, Java, XML, MySQL, and more, Brock and her team have built websites, developed web and mobile apps, taught individuals and teams through one-on-one mentoring and classes, and provided technical advice for clients.

According to Brock, running her own company gives her the opportunity to write high-quality software and treat clients with honesty, as they should be.

Totlol Is YouTube for Kids

According to a study, kids are only three clicks away from adult content on YouTube. To remedy this problem, Ron Ilan founded Totlol in 2008 to offer parents a child-friendly alternative to the popular video-sharing website. Totlol pulled kid-safe videos from YouTube and gathered them in one place. The one-man company eventually shut down, however, due to a YouTube terms of service change that disallowed the sale of advertising on sites that only offered YouTube videos and nothing else.

But last week, Totlol came back with new founders, Michael Avni and Tiffany Stelman, who decided to revive the business some months ago. Avni, a father of three, saw how easy it was for his children to find adult content on YouTube. When he couldn't find a solution, he set out to create it.

The new Totlol enlists the help of a community of parents who screen and moderate the videos. Site members watch YouTube videos, share the URL, and categorize it. They also keep an eye out for any inappropriate content. When a video is flagged, Totlol's “Parent Editors” group will review it and contact the member who uploaded it. Totlol currently has more than a thousand kid-friendly videos targeting infants, toddler, preschoolers, kindergarteners, young children, and even tweens.

Totlol plans to add content from other sources later on, as well as features like a visual search engine and time limit settings. Right now, Totlol is available on the web and iOS. The Parent's Dashboard, which members use to share videos, is only accessible via the web, with the mobile app being mostly a video viewer.

Based in Israel, Totlol is run by four entrepreneurs who “know a thing or two about technology.” The company is currently being bootstrapped; revenue will come from in-app purchases such as video playlists instead of ads.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wooga: Cool, Award-Winning Social Games

One of the leading social game developers in the world, Wooga makes games for Facebook, smartphones, and tablets. Based in Berlin, Germany, Wooga believes it's more fun to play games with friends than alone or with strangers; hence, it focuses on creating high-quality games that can be enjoyed with friends. Founded in early 2009, the studio is currently comprised of 250 employees from over 40 countries.

Wooga's signature approach to game design highlights usability, localization, and emotional character development. Every month, about 50 million people around the world play the studio's games, which include Diamond Dash, Kingsbridge, Pearl's Peril, Fantastic Forest, Monster World, and Bubble Island. The recently launched Jelly Splash was downloaded a million times over the course of five days, making it the fastest Wooga game to reach the milestone.

Backed by Balderton Capital, Tenaya Capital, Highland Capital Partners, and Holtzbrinck Ventures, Wooga has won the Gruenderszene Startup of the Decade honor and the European Games Awards for Publisher of the Year and Best Social Game.

Coin Replaces All the Cards in Your Wallet

Coming soon to bloated wallets everywhere is Coin, a connected device that holds and behaves like your credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, membership cards, and loyalty cards. If you've been carrying around multiple cards, Coin can lighten the load and help your wallet slim down. The same size as a typical credit card, it can store up to eight cards. To add card information to your Coin, simply open the accompanying mobile app, swipe the card through a small provided device, and take a picture of it. The Coin mobile app works on iOS and Android, while a Windows version is being considered and will be created if there's enough demand.

Coin can be used wherever cards are accepted, including ATMs and dip-style card readers. Just tap a button on Coin to select the card you want to use – there's a screen on the device that displays each card's last four digits, expiration date, CVV, and the name you've assigned to it.

What about security? Using a low-energy Bluetooth signal, Coin knows when it's near or far from your phone. So in case you accidentally leave your Coin behind, you'll get a notification. If for some reason you failed to see the alert and didn't go back for your Coin, it will automatically deactivate itself after a certain period of time, which you can configure in the mobile app.

Headed by founder and CEO Kanishk Parashar, the Coin team consists of software engineers, designers, consumer electronics experts, and a former NASA engineer. Their mission is to build products that “simplify, improve, and fit seamlessly into your life.” Coin is currently available for pre-order and will start shipping in the summer of 2014. A Coin will set you back $100, but if you're early, you can get one for $50.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Children's App Maker TabTale Continues to Grow

Founded in 2010, TabTale is an Israel-based startup that makes interactive books, games, and educational apps for children. TabTale's first product was a storybook app that the founders created in response to their own kids' needs. Since then, the company has been committed to producing innovative learning experiences for kids all over the world. Today, TabTale's catalog comprises more than 80 apps in multiple languages, including Wedding Salon, My Vehicle Universe, Baby Dream House, Doctor X, Design It!, Fairy Princess Fashion, Smoothie Master, Pirate Rush, Toy Tangram, and Puppy's Birthday Party. Many of the company's offerings sit at the top of the children's app charts on both iOS and Android. All in all, TabTale's apps have been downloaded over 220 million times.

Aiming to inspire kids' creativity and imagination, TabTale takes a multidisciplinary approach that involves psychology, creative technology, and user experience when creating apps. Recently, the startup raised $12 million in Series B financing, bringing its total funding to $13.5 million. The latest round was led by Magma Venture Partners and Qualcomm Ventures. Vintage Investment Ventures and existing investors participated as well. TabTale will use the new capital to expand its team and make acquisitions. In March, the company purchased Kids Games Club, the educational mobile app publisher that made Paint Sparkles.

TabTale also recently reached profitability. Currently, its apps see over 20 million active users per month. In September, app analytics platform App Annie named TabTale the eighth largest publisher by download value, placing it alongside names like Rovio, EA, and Disney. A large chunk of TabTale's downloads come from Design It!, a makeover and dress-up app where kids can design their own dresses and makeup styles. The company's next release will be a game called Enchanted Spa Salon, where players have to help cursed princesses become beautiful again.

Lingua.ly: Browse Online, Learn a New Language

If you already spend several hours a day browsing the web, why not make the most out of it by learning a new language? Lingua.ly, a free extension for Google Chrome, lets you do just that. Simply visit any website in the language you're learning and click on the words you want to study. Lingua.ly will automatically add them to your word collection so you can review them later. You can listen to the correct pronunciation of each word, as well as select a picture that will help you remember it. To build your vocabulary, Lingua.ly will remind you to practice the words you've learned so far. Additionally, it will recommend articles that match your language level and interests. Your personalized reading suggestions are constantly updated to keep you learning.

Lingua.ly is currently available in English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic. This useful tool has been featured in TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and Lifehacker, among others.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Complete Your Projects, One Step at a Time, With Stepsie

Is your project management a mess? Or worse, non-existent? Enter Stepsie, a cloud-based platform for idea collaboration and action planning. The service promises to be “more organised than your mum,” so you know it means business. Ideal for group projects, Stepsie makes sharing your ideas and collaborating with your team easy by grouping related tasks, files, and discussions into digestible steps. So instead of looking at a project and seeing one huge, daunting task before you, you have a logical structure you can follow. And before you know it, you're done!

Used and loved by companies such as Uber London, IDEO, Fraktal, AndViceVersa, and GoDynamo, Stepsie breaks down your projects into small steps that contain related discussions and tasks. Team members can create, assign, and comment on tasks to move the project towards completion, as well as share ideas, gain feedback, and send files to come up with awesome solutions. A live activity feed and notifications keeps everyone in the loop with the status of each project. Looking for a particular file or discussion? Search by keyword and use filters to find it fast. And because Stepsie is entirely web-based, users can access their dashboard and collaborate with their team, wherever they are.

Stepsie was founded by Jono Chatterton, who was actually working on a different project when he thought of making the platform. Not content with existing project management tools, he decided o build a better one, and Stepsie was born. Chatterton and his team provide customer support themselves, as they believe they're the best people to answer users' questions, not an outsourced staff.

Anybody who wants to see how Stepsie works can sign up for a free 30-day trial. After that, monthly plans start at $19 per month. Students can use the service for free; all they need is a student email address.

Solar Bright Lights Up New Zealand With Solar Energy and LED Technology

Based in Christchurch, Solar Bright is New Zealand's leading provider of innovative and cost-effective solar lighting products. Since 2006, the company has created progressive lighting solutions for business applications by combining the use of solar energy and LED technology.

Designed to solve a variety of specific industry-related challenges, Solar Bright's projects include installing solar street lighting in remote islands, developing a solution to minimize the impact of mosquitoes on residential areas near sewerage ponds, and safety lighting for the heavy transport sector. Solar Bright is also the creator of the world's first commercially available solar-powered ice detection road stud, the PATeye. Ideal for roads, airport runways, and railway lines in cold climates, the PATeye is triggered when the temperature drops to a preset mark, lighting up its surroundings and revealing hidden patches of “black ice.”

Solar Bright is dedicated to developing products that are well-designed, high-quality, well-engineered, and built to last.