Archive for Technology

The Spark Smart Watch (for sleep)

Eddy Zhong had no prior experience in the field of entrepreneurship, but has shown that to create a successful tech-startup you do not need to. At age seventeen, Zhong started up a technology company called Blanc Inc that manufactured smart watches unlike any other kind. The Blanc Smartwatch, called Spark, is a motion censored watch that vibrates when it senses the user is falling asleep. The estimated revenue for the first year of the watch is projected to make $70,000. The target market for Spark is to students, medical professionals, and security guards who tend to have trouble staying awake. The price for the Spark is between $50 to $100.

Zhong got the idea from his brother, who had difficulty staying awake during a test after studying too much. To build his prototype without funding, Zhong used his connections through friends and school. His startup work force composes of other high school students like himself and first worked out of the Cambridge Innovation Center.

After establishing Blanc Inc., Eddy dropped out of high school. In addition to Eddy’s start up business, he has invested in a summer camp with a concentration of entrepreneurship. It will be called Leangap and is targeted for teenagers. Students that are looking to attend Leangap have come from across the world. The program will be the first of its kind and involve building and coding. Leangap will be held in Cambridge, MA, which is Eddy’s hometown.

Zhong will continue to enterprise. He also looks to attend Babson College, which has the most prestigious program in entrepreneurship.

Never, Never, Never Give Up

In 2011 three former Stanford University students; Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Murphy saw that one of the downsides of social media was that it made people less prompt in their responses like people usually would in face to face interactions. Their answer to this problem was to create what has now become one of the most dominant social media apps on the market: Snapchat.

Snapchat is an app which allows users to share short lived and self deleting pictures back and forth, prompting swift responses and increased communication. When Spiegel first pitched the idea in class, fellow students called it improbably to succeed, but being a true entrepreneur at heart, he did not give up and since its release in 2011 it has grown in popularity at a staggering rate.

A great example of how not giving up on your idea really can pay off.

Dropbox- A Coder Turned Entrepreneur

Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox, has all the symptoms of being an entrepreneur! The creation story of his company, Houston claims, came from an idea that came to him after constantly forgetting his USB flash drive during his studies at MIT.  During his time as a student he found a multitude of problems with storage services and decided to set out to solve this problem for himself.  Little did he know that his solution would end up benefiting millions of others as well.

Image result for Drew houston

In 2007, he and his co-founder Arash Ferdowsi were able to secure enough funding to begin the development of the program were soon launched Dropbox. Within 24-hours of its launch, Dropbox “had 75,000 people signup for the wait-list.”  When they were only expecting 15,000, tops.  Dropbox had an enormous success rate, and, by the end of 2013 Dropbox had gained over 200 million users.

So what sets this company apart from others? Well Dropbox is a technology company that claims to build simple, powerful products for people and businesses.  Unlike many other companies, Dropbox is innovative in that they value the creation of products that are easy to use and are built on trust. When people put their files in Dropbox, they can trust they’re secure and their data is their own. The users’ privacy has always been their first priority, and it always will be.  Image result for dropbox images

Houston believed that technology should get out of the way, so there’s no limit to what people can do. And his tightly-knit team seems very committed to realizing ambitious ideas and making technology work for the world, and I’m sure that the best from them is still to come.

“Sometimes you just get this feeling — it’s a compulsion or an obsession. You can’t stop thinking about it. You just have to work on this thing,” words from the entrepreneur himself, Drew Houston.

Tumbl(r) Into Success- David Karp

David Karp, inventor of Tumblr, discovered his passion for entrepreneurship at a young age.  He was only 14 when he got his first internship with an animation producer.  Karp was fascinated with the whole industry and started digging into it further.  He started learning more and more programming languages and eventually became very skilled in programming and coding.  This drive would soon take him far and give him the platform that he needed to excel.

In 2007, at the young age of 20, Karp launched the opening of the successful platform called Tumblr.  Tumblr was an idea that Karp came up with.  It is a mix of twitter, Youtube and WordPress.  It gives each user the ability to have their own blog where they can post blogs, pictures and video.  After the first 24 hours of the launch, Tumblr had 75,000 users.  And it soon grew to be a huge and time consuming platform.   His intention with Tumblr was to give the consulting business he owned the attention that he needed for it.  He soon realized that he was incapable of balancing both of these businesses, and shut down his consulting business to run with Tumblr full time.

Image result for tumblr logo

Tumblr continued to grow and had proved itself as an extremely successful startup.  As of December 1, 2016, Tumblr hosts over 324.7 million blogs.  Although it hasn’t come close to reaching the 100 billion value of Zuckerberg’s Facebook , Tumblr’s 800 million dollar value is nothing to pass up.  Karp was included in Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2013.  He used his entrepreneurial mind to design his company in such a way that it was innovative in an age of blogging and networking.  Where others looked at the revolutions of blogging and social networking and saw new tools for communication, Karp saw possibilities for making them easier and more intuitive. Tumblr lowered the bar to creating a beautiful, dynamic website and raised the payoff in the form of positive social reinforcement.

uBreakiFix

Justin Wetherill built a multi-million dollar business out of his bedroom in Orlando, FL. What started out as a simple problem – a broken iPhone screen – turned into an idea that Justin developed into uBreakiFix, which is now an international franchise operation.

After working as a staff accountant for a few months out of college, Justin quickly realized that he didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk for the rest of his life. He and his friend David Reiff tried their hand at a few different business ideas, including an online custom t-shirt business and a custom gaming computer business. Neither of them picked up much traction though. It wasn’t until Justin dropped his iPhone 3G and broke the screen that the idea for uBreakiFix was born. Not wanting to pay $200 to have the phone fixed by Apple, Justin ordered some parts online and decided to learn how to do it himself – and proceeded to break his phone even worse. But that didn’t stop him. He went on to buy a bunch of broken phones on eBay and learned how to fix them through trial and error. David built a website to advertise their services. For $79.99 you could mail in your phone and they would fix it and mail it back. The business took off, and they quickly realized that customers wanted same-day repairs, so they opened up a storefront. In the first month, they made $18,000 in revenue and $28,000 the second month – Justin quit his job in the third month.

The business expanded from one store to two quickly. Justin would hire and train his friends and paid them $10 an hour with a deal that if they worked hard for six months, they could own a store. Within three years, uBreakiFix went from zero to 47 corporate stores and a revenue of $27 million. Currently about 15% of the stores are owned by former employees.

Justin’s story shows that entrepreneurship is a lot of trial and error and learning to get back on your feet when something goes wrong. It’s also about accepting risk – the reason why his company was able to grow so fast was because they put almost all the revenue back into the company, betting on the fact that their idea would be successful.

To read more about Justin’s story, see this interview with him in Forbes.

Respawn

On March 1, 2010 Activision reported the firing of two senior employees to the Security and Exchange Commission. One of these employees was Jason West the Infinity Ward president, game director, co-CCO, and CTO. The other was Vince Zampella the CEO and co-founder of Infinity Ward.

They were dismissed and replaced by Activision, the same company who helped fund their own company Infinity Ward during the golden days of their Call of Duty franchise.

-Jason West on left and Vince Zampella on right

On April 12, 2010, the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about West and Zampella’s new ambitious venture. They were forming a new game developing studio called Respawn Entertainment.

West and Zampella got funding from Electronic Arts (EA) while keeping all intellectual property. After hearing about West and Zampella leaving and starting a new project, a bunch of their old employees from Infinity Ward left to join thier LLC, Respawn.

In June 2013, they debuted Titanfall their new and revolutionary take on first person shooters. The game was released on March 11, 2014 only for xbox. By October 5th of 2015 IGN reported that Titanfall’s sales passed 10 million globally (awesome for a game only on xbox). Recently they have been even more successful with their multi-platform sequel, Titanfall 2.

-Respawn developing team

Official site: http://www.respawn.com/

Los Angeles Times article on Respawn: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/12/entertainment/la-et-ct-callofduty12-2010apr12

IGN article on 1o million in Titanfall sales: http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/10/05/titanfall-sales-pass-10-million-globally

 

M3D: 3D Printing Made Simple

The Micro 3D printer (M3D) is what Michael Armani and David Jones consider to be “the first truly consumer 3D printer.”  This innovative product is a relatively small 3D printer that can sit on a desk and allow anyone to begin 3D printing.  These two millennial entrepreneurs began their journey for this innovation in a basement back in 2012 where they brainstormed and designed a variety of different technologies.  This brainstorming led to the idea of a consumer 3D printer.  They turned to Kickstarter for support in making this idea a success.  According to their website, this “quickly became the largest crowdfunded printer in east coast history, and even more exciting, the world’s first truly accessible consumer 3D printer.”

Although Armani and Jones weren’t the first entrepreneurs to design and develop a 3D printer, they were the first innovators to create a truly consumer-oriented 3D printer.  This has widened the market for 3D printers substantially because students, artists, and everyday consumers can now begin 3D printing at a low cost with an easy to use design software.  The M3D is now being sold through their website beginning at the low price of $349 and will hopefully be released for retail sale soon.

This innovation proves that there is great potential in emerging industries such as in the 3D printer market.  This encourages me as a Computer Information Systems major to keep my eyes peeled for opportunities in the technology industry, which is changing and improving at a rapid rate.

More information regarding the M3D can be found here at their website.

Palmer Luckey

Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to mess around with virtual Reality. Palmer was born and raised in California where he grew up with the same want that I had. Palmer is 24 years old and is the creator of the Oculus Rift VR headset. He developed the first prototype in 2011 in his parents’ garage. This prototype was the CR-1 and it featured a 90-degree field of view. He continued to improve the module until he reached the 6th-generation, which was named ‘Rift.’ He sold his first 100 headsets as self assemble products. A man named John Carmack was one of those 100 customers. He improved the module and showcased it at the 2012 E3. Palmer dropped out of college to work on the Oculus Rift which had become virtually famous in one day. Palmer’s net worth in 2015 was $700 million! Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. Palmer followed his passion for VR and became a billionaire doing it! Talk about a successful entrepreneur!

Unlimited Tomorrow – Easton LaChapelle

Easton LaChapelle was just 14 when he made his first robotic hand. It was made from Legos and fishing wire and put together in his bedroom. His creation took home third place at the 2011 Colorado state science fair, but an encounter at that fair sparked an idea for Easton. He met a 7 year old girl with a prosthetic limb. He said, “[It had] one motion — open, close — and one sensor, and just this alone was $80,000.” This pricetag shocked Easton, and he vowed to invent a prosthetic for under $1,000. And he did just that.

Easton developed a prototype using 3D printing that costs just $350 to produce, and made the designs for it open source. He wants to work toward changing the world but recognized that one person alone can’t do that – it takes multiple people to make a difference, and by making his designs open source and letting other people benefit from his ideas, he’s expanding his reach and impacting more lives than he ever could have done on his own. He said, “Our hope is that all developments made from this project can go back into improving the lives of everyone who inspired our work.”

Check out his robotics start-up and watch this video for more about his story:

How Alexis Ohanian made the world suck less

When he was still in college, Alexis Ohanian told one of his professors that he wanted to the world to suck less. At first he and his friend Steve Huffman planned to make the world “suck less” by inventing a mobile sub-sandwich ordering app, but after some thought decided to create “the front page of the internet. That front page they created is Reddit. What Ohanian did was make an online community of people who could interact and voice their opinions on an infinite number of things. To make things easier (and less cluttered), reddit was divided into multiple “sub-reddits,” like ‘Politics,’ ‘Music,’ ‘Gaming,’ ‘Technology.’ and the list goes on and on. His aim was to offer a home for people to talk about anything, not matter how weird or niche it was. And users also have the opportunity to create their own sub-reddits (thereby, their own communities), and discuss whatever they want to with other users.
In addition to being the central hub of almost anything on the internet, Reddit is also where a lot of ideas initially started off as small communities before growing to what they are now. For example, reddit was the first place where people interested in Cryptocurrencies talked and connected before it became what today is known as Bitcoin. In fact the subreddit for entrepreneurs (linked here) is one of the fastest growing communities that is home to an astounding number of incredible ideas, and entrepreneurs use it to gain feedback and comments from fellow community members.

I think that the invention of Reddit is an incredible feat in the field of entrepreneurship, because it not only gave people a platform to be informed and be entertained, but also a means by which they may interact with others, voice opinions, find new ways to get their ideas and voice out and be more productive members of the community!