Sunday, April 22, 2012

Startup Weekend Prague

I have spent this weekend with around fifty enthusiast at the Startup Weekend in the new Node 5 incubator in Prague. I have enjoyed company of many interesting people and learned about their interesting startup projects.

Startup Weekend is a continuation of the very successful IPO 48. This time under the command of Petr Ocasek and his gang. Thanks gays for this event. It brought together many different people with different interests and background, from different locations or countries they have gathered together to work on new interesting ideas. I have served as a mentor. This role has one advantage, I get in touch with all the participants and I can learn what they are enthusiastic about. Let me give you a short description of the teams and projects:

KiddieQ App  is an iPad game for pre-school kids. The game tries to estimate the kids school maturity. The interactive game makes the kids decide what is right, what is left, what are the colors etc. Main point is, kids are not aware of being tested. The app generates a report at the end assessing their maturity. The team seems to have the right expertise, Orin is a psychologist and Martin takes care of the graphical design. On top of that they have two programmers. The trick will be to create a game interesting enough for kids, which will in the same time provide good data for reliable tests.

Drawing pog attracted seven people to work on a web based drawing package. Michael from Bochum is the inventor, who has programmed almost the whole app in JavaScript. At Startup Weekend he has put together a team helping him with purifying details, testing the market, inventing differentiating features, monetization schema etc. At this point the unique factor is the way the lines are put on canvas. No straight lines. The app imitates hand drawing giving the lines a touch of uncertainty, looking very naturally on the screen. 

Blame it on the fish is an app and a team of four. They have a very interesting idea resulting in a nifty application. You would have notice them in the room immediately. They had an aquarium with a fish on the their table. Users can ask in the web app about their future and the fish will decide for them. A camera connected to the server is following the swimming fish and depending on its movement an answer is generated. Forget the oracle, ask the fish. Nice app. @biotf

SunsetHill team has attracted eight members, the largest crowd of the Startup Week. Even if the idea is not very optimistic in its nature. Vaclav has suggested creating an on-line pet cemetery. The app lets the users create a memento for a loved pet. The grief can be shared with friends also by Facebook.

Four people make the BarkBuddy team. They say: your dog deserves friends too. It will be an HTML 5 application taking advantage of geo location finding where to walk the dog out. Practically you turn on the app, you'll find all the dogs around and you can get in touch with them, discuss the location, dog food etc.  They have done an extensive customer search, they questioned 35 people. 15 questioned had smart phone, connectivity and have express their interest to connect with other dog owners. What more they were also OK to pay for the service.

Three people stared with the idea of collecting the medical information over cell phones. Soon they have pivoted to a business card exchange app. The business model is simple. Users will create a business cards and the team will collect money for each exchanged card. Business card customization, fancy design will be also available for a small charge. They want to achieve the variability by paying for passing collected card to third person.  The initial feedback is very good. It is very similar to eClub CloudCardz.

An article a day is a one-man show project. Luka is designing an app to learn foreign languages. The idea is to link interesting articles to a web. The app will rank them by difficulty and serve one a day for reading. The application is for people who already have basic language skills. The supports translation too.

SingSomething is a four members team. They got inspired by smashing success of DrawSomething. Great idea. I am sure, there are other teams in the world already working on the same idea. Lets see who will be the first on the market. 

CssHat has four members on the team. They have demonstrated a wonderful performance. Over night they have developed a Photoshop plug-in generating a css from a Photoshop drawing. Nice job. The app aims at Macs an will be offered through App store. Watch out. 

CrowdStudies met at startup week first time. They have a project trying to solve old problem, break the barrier between students and teachers. They are designing an app for publishing and commenting courses presentations and study materials. The audience is clear, the idea is clear, but the solution is difficult. I keep my fingers crossed and wish them success, this app is really needed. 

If you read this and are part of the team send me a URI to update this blog.

Monday, April 16, 2012

3c Projects

we had a great meeting on Friday discussing several projects in the CTU Cloud Computing Center. The projects are ranging from Android to Internet SaaS application. Some of the projects are just before starting pilot testing other are still in a research phase.

Martin has presented his application developed with a portal This portal helps their customers find mainly small craftsmen companies offering household fixes, but sometimes even a construction company for building full houses. Currently the craftsmen are job biding in the evening when they get to their computer. The new app will allow immediate reaction, sending an offer as soon as the customer requests a service. The application runs on Android and interacts with the portal using REST API. The messaging is based on C2DM Android protocol.

Tomas has explained his location verification application. He is developing a GSM finger prints technology to verify a GSM user’s location. In other words the user claims a location and the algorithm verifies it. Verification works without GPS, finger prints require only the GSM cell towers, therefore all works indoor as well as in cities within little streets and between tall buildings.

Vratislav originally started to develop a helpdesk application, but soon has found much more interesting app called MallMania. He is addressing teen aged girl fashion freaks and provides a simple platform letting them exchange pictures showing what they wear today. Currently, he has a working version using the Facebook to spread the information. The application is still very simple and will be used to verify the customer interest before he proceeds.

Martin worked during his studies in several professional companies as a freelance Java developer. He is using his experience designing a professional programming framework. As a sample application to test the technology he has again chosen a helpdesk. The whole application uses the server, fat client architecture. The server part is in Java running on GAE. It is designed around Spring framework with REST templates for API. The fat client leverages GWT. He has spent a long hours orchestrating all these technologies together. He had to go over many undocumented and always changing details and I am really interested to find out what are the advantages compared to old-fashioned but much simpler solutions based for example on Wordpress or other simple frameworks.

Tomas #2 and Tonda are for almost one year developing a simple application for mobile devices allowing users exchanging business cards. CloudCardz will allow fast exchange of the basic data residing on the Internet. The acquired contacts are listed and ordered alphabetically or in time. Important contacts can be moved to the Android contact list. Currently, graphics needs some improvements before starting to find the customers and their needs.

The purpose of our meeting was to put all the developers together and exchange the experience and help each other. We are accumulating lot of experience, we need to documented it and spread it to make the development of our future applications simpler and faster. I will soon announce next meeting. Come and join us in our effort. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

New eClub Projects

last Wednesday we have met in eClub to see eight new business projects and proposals. You can review the short annotations in this blog or watch the presentations. We follow up next Wednesday. Lucie Havlickova will review the presenters style, skills and advice them how to better communicate their ideas.

We always organize the dry run presentations for the eClub competition. The purpose is to give a chance to the teams to test and communicate their idea to the audience. This time we have attracted eight new teams. You can read below the short annotations or thanks to Vojta and his Meta TV watch the presentations. Lucie promised to watch them too to help improving and pointing out the major presentation problems. She will join us next Wednesday. Join us too to find out how to give a great presentation.

Plans and awards.

The best news is: new teams are emerging. Overall the quality of presentations is improving. Students are discovering the problems and advantages of trying to convert their ideas for useful products. The final presentations are scheduled for May 9.

Currently, I am busy trying to attract potential local and overseas jury members and mentors. The list of jury members has to be complete and announced well before the final presentations.

Even more challenging is raising money to fund the winners. I am discussing with major Czech companies to make donation to the MediaLab Foundation - our source of funding. Keep the fingers crossed. The more money we will leverage the more teams will be funded during the summer. Even if you have not participate in the dry run, you can still sing up for the final presentations. Try to get the summer scholarship. Summer is the best time to convert your dreams to something useful, our mentors will help you.

Check our web pages, I have managed to update the whole eClub site. All the presentation videos are on line. I have made some small changes in the program. Join us!

New projects

The InfyAD team has opened the session. They have presented a simple system estimating analytics for outdoor, billboard advertisements. They want to help advertisers to choose the best location for their ad and particular customer segment. Good idea!

The CitySmartGo has presented a very interesting idea with an international focus. An auction-based system finding cheaper and smarter transportation, such as taxi, cab or shuttle. It will be a free mobile and web service for travelers and transport providers matching the best quote-price.

The project ServerSense is a new web server logging and load controlling portal. The team is aiming at individuals and small providers. Their market differentiation is integration of many different tools for managing and monitoring web servers.

Techambition is an project focusing on technical disciplines as chemistry, electrical engineering, machinery, civil engineering and science in general. The innovation is graphics and animation presenting the basic principles.

Avoid hangover use the DrinkMachine – no, this is not the point. The DrinkMachine team has very ambitious plan to design and market machines serving drinks in bars around the world. Their product will serve drinks faster and cheaper than the bartender. Sorry to say, I will miss the  bartendress

Bzumo is a very committed team with a very interesting project. They try to improve the ease and speed of accessing information from various Internet services. Effectively, they want to bypass the Google search results and jump directly to the information page of the service provider, such as wikipedia, yahoo, ...

Very useful, very simple! TransportAlarm is a small mobile application. It wakes you up before reaching your travel destination. It provides simple scheduling tools.

MindSpy is a visionary project maybe even a research proposal. It uses biomedical signals, such as EEG etc. With the help of AI algorithms many different information can be derived for users. The presentation suggested many applications specifically for mobile phones. Watch the presentation.