Sunday, January 12, 2014

I’ve Seen The Future Of Health Tech And It’s Going To Improve Your Life In 2014

I've Seen The Future Of Health Tech And It's Going To Improve Your Life In 2014

I just returned from the most exciting Consumer Electronics Show I've ever covered. Thanks to extraordinary demand for gadgets that make us healthier, stronger, and smarter, the technology industry is putting some serious brain power behind the next generation of wearable health devices. Over the next year, a torrent of new devices is hitting the market to provide automated elite coaching, a pocket-sized clinical lab, and your own personal assistant.

Labs In Your Pocket

It seems that nearly every time I rush head-first into a new diet or exercise program, I find months later there's some crucial oversight that's holding back my progress or actively destroying my body. Exasperated in frustration, I drag myself to a clinic for expert diagnostics, only to discover simple advice I should have been following from the beginning.

Now, nearly every expensive lab test I've gotten over the past year is coming to the delightful convenience of my smartphone. The Sensoria smart sock correctly diagnosed that I make the runner's rookie mistake of heel striking, leading to a workout-stopping knee pain (available this spring).

Valencell's PerformTech in-ear heart-rate monitor calibrated my V02Max (a common measure of endurance) in a nearly painless five minutes of light stair-stepper work on the CES show floor (available now). The results were within 5 percent of lab-test results I received months earlier and helped me know that two months of running San Francisco's hills are probably paying off.

Quality rest is just as important as hitting the gym. The Basis B1 wristwatch, Sleeprate app, and Withing's Aura bed pad will diagnose the quality of the major stages of sleep, including crucial REM cycles.* I got a preview of Sleeprate's heart-rate-monitor-powered app, and apparently I've got a nasty restless sleep cycle (Basis update coming January 21, Sleeprate January 23rd, and Aura in the spring).

Unlike a lab test, these devices can follow you wherever you go, ensuring you actually follow through with the advice. Many of us work so hard at self-improvement; it's nice to know that our time isn't going to waste.

Automated Elite Coaching

The defining feature of the world's sharpest coaching minds is a broad novel strategy that is meticulously applied to each student. The delicious replicability of elite coaching makes it ripe for automation.

While last year was all about fitness gadgets that monitor activity, "what's going to happen next is teaching technique," said Ruth Thomason of Cambridge Consultants. Cambridge was showing off the ArcAid basketball free-throw technique video analyzer. Normally available to college sports teams with budgets larger than the entire Humanities Department, this kind of video technology could bring elite coaching to the masses.

The marathon-enthusiast fitness company, Polar, is releasing what claims to be the most advanced training watch on the market. The Polar V800 meticulously tracks heart rate to advise athletes when they're overtraining, analyzed through a free online web app, Polar Flow (available in April).

There's also hope for my fellow ADHD brethren: Interaxon's Muse headband is like a mind-reading meditation coach. Using classic techniques from the field of neurofeedback, the behind-the-ear mounted EEG device measures brainwaves to coach users into a state of meditative peace. Unlike its competitor, Neurosky, which is mostly used for brain-controlled computing (and women who love to wear rotating cat ears in San Francisco), the muse will track improved mindfulness over time.

In the same way online education is bringing the teachings of world-class professors to anyone with an Internet connection, the future of health tech will be to essentially roboticize elite coaches in the devices we wear on our bodies.

The Digital Mother

"Sit up straight and brush your teeth!" Sometimes, we know exactly what we're supposed to do, but just aren't very good at following through. The latest health tech is here to gently nag you into better health.

The Lumo Lift is a vibrating shirt pin that buzzes whenever it detects slouched shoulders. It's pretty much impossible to answer 5,000 emails a minute and remember to sit up straight for eight hours. This little guy helps you remember (available in the spring).

For objects around the house, the aptly named "Mother" device imbues everyday objects with the nagging power of our lovely moms.'s Mother interacts with satellite "cookies" that know when and how an object is being used; for instance, whether a bottle of pills is being picked up and poured upside down. The same goes for a jar to water the plants (available in the spring).

2014 is going to be an exciting year for digital health. For years, technology has conspired to transform our upright bodies into hunched-back zombies. Now, it can make us all ubermen. Bring on the gadgets!

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

26 amazing startups you need to watch in 2014 | VentureBeat | Business | by Dylan Tweney

26 amazing startups you need to watch in 2014 | VentureBeat | Business | by Dylan Tweney

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

It might cost you $39K to crowdfund $100K under the SEC’s new rules

It might cost you $39K to crowdfund $100K under the SEC's new rules


On October 23, 2013 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued the proposed rules for Regulation Crowdfunding.  The 585-pages included an explanation of the rules, the feedback it received, and a cost/benefit analysis.

A cost/benefit analysis is common in many regulations to give the public an estimate of the costs associated with implementing the proposed regulation.  It answers the question, "Do the costs outweigh the benefits?"  For Regulation Crowdfunding it sheds light on the question, "How much will it cost to raise money via crowdfund investing, and how do I keep it to a minimum?" Here's a closer look at what that analysis tells us.

The Background

The legislation requires that the selling of crowdfund securities take place on registered websites.  The websites hosting the transactions are known as funding portals or broker dealers.  These entities must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Intermediary Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  The legislation mandates investors have access to a business plan, use of proceeds, a valuation of the company, and financials. Firm may need to retain a Certified Public Accounting firm to certify the company's financials or audit the company's books.  Every step costs money, from completing the required documents to retaining professional services to assist in compliance.

The SEC looked at 3 variables:

a) the success fee (in terms of a percent (%) of proceeds) paid to websites for facilitating the transaction,

b) the compliance cost related to the preparation and filing of individual forms both during and after a campaign, and

c) the costs for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) review or audit (an expense that scales over $100,000).  Certain costs like the success fee as a percent of the raise are variable, others scale like the CPA/Audit costs for raises over $100,000 and others like the compliance costs are fixed.  The SEC provided both low and high estimates for these costs based on assumptions and surveys it took.

For raises under $100,000, the SEC estimates portal and compliance fees will eat up between 12.9% and 39% of the money raised. For raises over $100,000 but less than $500,000, that figure may drop down to 7.96%.  And for raises over $500,000 but under $1M, it may drop to 7.66%.

For those of you who just want to see a graph, my team at Crowdfund Capital Advisors plotted that below. We decided to stick with industry estimates and make individual calculations for every extra $1,000 in capital sought. This is close to what it looks like:

The Strategy

If you are looking to raise money via crowdfunding, the moral of the story is, try to raise as close to the next threshold as possible. The thresholds are at $100,000, $500,000, and $1M. So if you need to raise $60,000 for your business, aim for $99,000. Not only will you pay less for that money but you will have more of it. Of course, this assumes you will be able to secure $99,000 from backers. Same holds true for the $100,000 to $500,000 levels and over $500,000 level. While this was not the intent of the legislation (to force companies to seek more capital than they need), it may make sense when trying to decrease the cost of raising that money.

The Most Likely Scenario

The proposed rules allow entrepreneurs to do a crowdfund offering to unaccredited investors at the same time they do a private offering to accredited investors. This is called a parallel offering. Entrepreneurs who want product and market validation from the crowd, with more substantial capital (outside of the $1M cap in Regulation Crowdfunding), while skipping the full audit requirements required of raises over $500,000, will most likely do a $499k crowdfunding raise and seek the rest from accredited investors outside of Regulation Crowdfunding.

Sherwood Neiss helped lead the U.S. fight to legalize debt and equity based crowdfunding, coauthored Crowdfund Investing for Dummies and cofounded Crowdfund Capital Advisorswhere he provides strategy and technology services to those seeking to benefit from crowdfund investing. 


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Friday, December 20, 2013

ChallengePost Will Soon Support Software Innovation On An Ongoing Basis Outside Of Contests

ChallengePost Will Soon Support Software Innovation On An Ongoing Basis Outside Of Contests

Hackathon and online technology challenge contest provider ChallengePost (disclosure: ChallengePost is the current service provider for TC Disrupt hackathon events) is pretty proud of its 2013 – the company awarded $7.5 million in prizes to developers and software creators this past year, topped 400,000 registered users on its platform, and hosted 130 hackathons and online competitions. That represents 100 percent growth in business compared to 2012, but already the company is turning its attention to something new: supporting the kind of innovation that happens within a confined time frame at hackathons, but on a continuing basis.

"The future of every industry is a battle to create an ecosystem that has a platform for developers, and the developers and designers themselves," ChallengePost founder and CEO Brandon Kessler explained in an interview. "That to me is a hugely important aspect of the future and it's already coming true, and ChallengePost sees ourself as the only platform that excels at developer marketing."

Currently, ChallengePost powers both the kind of 24-hour in-person hackathon that we host at our Disrupt Events, as well as longer format online events they call "challenges" that could span weeks, and that generally produce much more polished and usable software. Embark, the transit app acquired by Apple earlier this year, was first built at a ChallengePost online challenge event, for example, as was Movil, the video startup acquired by Samsung to boost its smart TV platform.

"The thing I am most focused on is allowing software makers to submit their software outside of a challenge, as well as inside of a challenge, so developers can showcase their work any time," Kessler said. "In order to best inspire developers to build and showcase software, we want to do it beyond just challenges and hackathons and allow them to do it any time. The time-constrained nature of challenges has limited our ability to respond to the intense demand to showcase software."

"No customer has ever said 'we only want to engage developers between the months of March and April,' and no software maker has said 'We only want to show our software to the world between the months of January and April,'" Kessler added. "They want to do it all year round, and that's where we as a company are at right now."

Of course, ChallengePost will continue to offer its platform for contests, hackathons and challenges, but the sense I get from Kessler is that they see a lot of opportunity for revenue and platform engagement left on the table dealing only with time-constrained competitions. The need to build a platform with a rich developer ecosystem doesn't ever go away, and while a high-stakes, high profile hackathon draws a brief spike in attention from software builders, having that fizzle away after the fact because there's no easy support system in place once the contest closes makes little sense.

Kessler is keeping mum on the specifics around how a ChallengePost product that isn't time-constrained will work exactly, and when it'll go live for users, but he says they'll be back with more information soon. For now, with the company at the peak of its popularity, all that's certain is that this is a good time for ChallengePost to capitalize on is customer interest and user engagement to take its platform to the next level.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013 Why Productive People Have Empty Schedules

Why Productive People Have Empty Schedules

By Drake Baer
What's the one resource you can't borrow, invest, or recover? Time. Lessons on guarding yours by Warren Buffett, Peter Drucker, Charles Dickens, Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, and others.

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