My name is Ricardo Williams and for over the past 2 years, I have been organizing a little event called Nerd Nite here in Orlando, Florida. These days, I am in charge of every single aspect of the program, from all the backend work to hosting duties every month to plenty of specialty programming in-between. I absolutely love it. I tell people all the time that I’m glad to do all of it because “I’m Nerd Nite’s biggest fan”.
Being in the position that I’m in can very easily make Nerd Nite Orlando turn into “the Ricardo Williams Show” and that is exactly what I DON’T want. Nerd Nite was not created to serve the needs and desire of one, but many. So in an effort to create more work for myself, I started a new meetup within the Nerd Nite umbrella called “Town Hall”.
At Town Hall, nerds can hangout and have more of an intimate discussion; as well as present ideas, voice their opinions, and ask questions of the the Nerd Nite team.
I held the pilot event on Monday, June 29th at the Effin Amazing office and I am incredibly proud of the results. At the meetup, I announced upcoming programming from Nerd Nite, discussed other applications and programming via Nerd Nite, held an open discussion on what kind of topics should be presented at future Nerd Nites, and the evening finished off with the group voting on a Nerd Nite talk to watch from a different city. (Everyone in the group also submitted anonymous notecards about what they would like to enjoy at Nerd Nite in the future as well as what they do not like about Nerd Nite.)
The discussion (and debate) was incredibly useful feedback for me as an organizer because my goal is to make the best events possible and thanks to the support of so many of Orlando’s most passionate nerds I can continue to do that.
Nerd Nite will return on Thursday, July 9th at the Geek Easy with an all-female lineup of speakers.
RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/362569213942412/
Last week, local financial startup Fattmerchant closed a venture capital deal for $750,000 that will help improve its processing service, create new jobs in Downtown Orlando and allow the company to reach more merchants.
The subscription based company, which offers a flat rate credit card processing was funded by early stage venture firm venVelo and private investors.
“With the wealth of talent on our board and strong partners like Enterprise Florida and Rollins College, venVelo continues to grow its portfolio and work to contribute to the success of these exciting companies,” Allen H. Kupets, COO of venVelo said.
Fattmerchant is planning to expand its 10 person staff and add eight more employees before the end of the year. In addition to raising funding, Fattmerchant will be creating a board of directors. Currently, CEO of Ruth’s Hospitality Group Craig Miller and founder of Code School Gregg Pollack serve on its board of advisors.
Fattmerchant recently won the Venture Capital Competition at Rollins College this past March. Among the young startup’s accomplishments is their successful competition of Starter Studio’s three-month accelerator program which helped better their business model, business pitch and target audience.
This week, Orlando Tech Association announced companies for its June 18 Tech Meetup. Orlando Tech Meetup will feature four new companies that include startups serving the music, travel and auto industries, each with its own distinctive app and service. OTA’s Meetups bring out the best startups and technical companies to demonstrate their latest work. For those interested in learning more about the startup community and to connect with local entrepreneurs, be sure to RSVP.
JOOX is the world’s first rewards-based music stock exchange. It has a fan-funding system that allows fans to support their favorite artists with the rewards they receive, completely done on its free app. JOOX offers premium data and analytics as well as additional services to artists to help them further monetize their data.
Need a last minute flight with a good deal? FlightFishing offers the best Internet’s flight deals in one place. Choose to receive information by email, text or twitter, and FlightFishing will have information that is already filtered to accommodate the user’s preferences.
If you are a talented musican interested in breaking into the music industry, consider brand development. Bandbasher is a local startup that provides members with a simple, intuitive environment for artistic development and collaboration.
Veehic is a consumer based used car marketplace with enhanced features to target a growing segment of the auto buying marketplace. Veehic drives to give “a better way to sell used vehicles.”
Interested in demoing at next month’s meetup? Let us know in an email at email@example.com
When your child is sick the last place you want to be is in a waiting room. Around other sick people. Waiting.
Almost a century ago, people avoided this by having the doctor come to them. Orlando founder Matt McBride looks to bring back the good ol’ days with Mend Family, an app that sends doctors to your home for house visits.
Mend works much like Uber and other on-demand services where users enter their location into the app and then choose a doctor from specialties such as family, internal medicine or pediatrics. The family describes their symptoms and needs, and Mend sends out the doctor for a house call. Families can review doctors by satisfaction ratings, and the app lets the patient know exactly when the doctor will arrive, similar to Uber. Mend offers services like checkups, vaccinations and even mobile x-rays, and accepts insurance from 45 major payers.
Mcbride McBride thought up the idea from the numerous doctor wellness visits he his wife would make for his their two children. Taking your child to a waiting room full of sick people can be a challenge for any parent.
“I think a lot of parents struggle with those visits, but what alternative is there,” said McBride. “Being in tech, I saw what Uber was doing with their fleet, and I thought wouldn’t it be cool if that was a fleet of doctors. And that’s how Mend started.”
In the 1930’s physician house calls were standard practice with almost 40 percent of patient/physician interactions happening in the home. Though studies have shown that house call visits are effective in reducing readmissions by almost 25 percent, the practice has since gone down to about 1 percent of interactions, mainly due to lack of support by insurance carriers. But as technology has shrunken and improved the tools available in a doctor’s black bag and demand for health care services rises, insurance companies have begun to return to the house call model to reduce costs and provide more effective services.
“I saw what Uber was doing with their fleet, and I thought wouldn’t it be cool if that was a fleet of doctors.”
Mend beta-launched on June 8th and already has 100 downloads and seen 30 patients. The service is currently only available in Baldwin Park and Winter Park but plans to expand throughout Orlando later this year. Mend also offers telemedicine anywhere in Florida.
According to IBIS World, the primary care market is a $246 billion dollar industry growing 4.4 percent annually. In Orange and Seminole counties the market is $628 million with about 5 million patient visits annually.
Prior to Mend, McBride co-founded Fast Forward Academy in 2010 an edtech site that offers online training to tax and accounting professionals. In five years McBride and his cofounder grew the site into an industry leader with more than 150,000 users.
“We did really well at Fast Forward, and I learned a ton about creating a great customer experience which will be a key differentiation of Mend from competitors,” said McBride. “I don’t want to put all our ideas out there yet, but we plan to rethink and reimagine what the entire doctor visit experience can be very soon.”
For Alexandra Gramatikas, a night of wine tasting and a simple observation lead to the creation of custom button cover company ALTR. Using a specially repurposed UV inkjet printer ALTR can transform anything from everyday oxford shirts to a pair of sandals with an easy slide over custom button.
However, it is Gramatikas’ success since the launch of ALTR, including winning the Joust Business Plan Competition, SCORE Pitch Fest, and being named an NAWBO Emerging Business finalist, that has completely taken the start up community by storm. Adding to a list of accomplishments, Alex has received a patent for her custom button covers and secured a partnership with custom retailer Zazzle.com.
The beginning phases of a startup can be some of the most challenging times, but they can also provide valuable lessons. Here are a few lessons learned from Alex on the launch and growth of ALTR.
“It is literally the one thing that I tell people. Half of the stuff I’ve learned is because I’ve asked someone. I didn’t know what fulfillment and what e-commerce to do at first. But, I would just email people or large companies that were in our industry and just have a conversation.”
Marketing matters for Startups.
“Unless you’re Taylor Swift promoting a new product, you can’t bet on social media. You must have a well thought out, concise marketing strategy. Before spending money, go out and do customer validation, so when you do spend money on Facebook, ads, or, in our case, bloggers, it’s going to the market that will actually buy your product. “
You can be in tech without the software.
“ALTR is not immediately thought of as a tech company. Tech is generally more synonymous with mobile applications, online platforms (software) and gadgets (hardware). However, we’ve integrated both hardware and software into our daily operations. We’ve re-purposed existing hardware (UV Ink Jet Printer) to customize our Button Covers (API Integration for Zazzle and our website). We hope to improve upon our software by creating a seamless customization platform for our customers.”
Hear more of Alex’s story and lessons learned tonight at the 2nd Startup Grind Orlando.
On June 6, developers, marketers, designers and more gathered at Canvs to make a difference in Orlando for the National Day of Civic Hacking.
This year’s hackathon was organized by Code for Orlando and hosted by Canvs. The hackathon itself is held in over 100 cities with the idea of open data in mind. This year, over 40 attendees contributed to the event locally.
“For Code for Orlando, I think it’s important that we are able to show the city that we have a willing and able body of people who want to contribute back to the city in a tangible way,” Andrew Kozlik, Director of Technology for Echo Interaction Group said.
In its strong efforts, the hackathon will not only help Orlando civically, but will also help Orlando grow to become more tech friendly. The open-door policy allows for its participants of all backgrounds to come together, work together and create new solutions together. By adopting the open data policy, it mirrors Code for Orlando’s efforts and has benefits to help the city grow.
“I grew up in Orlando so I wanted to find a way to give back to the city that treated me well. Code for Orlando is proving a good way to do that. The nice thing about Code for Orlando is that it gives you an opportunity to directly impact your local environment,” Kozlik said.
The projects started at this year’s hackathon are listed below.
On Saturday, May 16th, Ricardo Williams, host of Nerd Nite Orlando, participated in the Hendo demonstration at the Future is Here Festival in the Ronald Reagan Building (Washington DC) and becomes one of the first people to ride a real life Hoverboard.
Hendo founders, Jill and Greg Henderson introduce the device.
Information below courtesy of the Hendo Hover website (About Us):
“Right up front, we’ll admit that our plans are big—and our dreams, bigger. Because we’re developing something that is truly, manifestly . . . revolutionary. Seeing things from an outsider’s perspective, and thinking differently in general, is a definitional aspect of Arx Pax and its Hendo hovering technologies. Which brings us to our founder, Greg Henderson, what he saw and what he sees. Greg envisioned a way to employ an unexploited technology in ways others had not. He labelled this epiphany: Magnetic Field Architecture™ (MFA). Then he trademarked and patented the hell out of the idea. At an altruistic level, MFA has the ability to change the way we think about the way communities are designed and built—from family homes to hospital rooms and more. In other words, build structures in such a way that, with the flip of a switch, they can literally be lifted out of harm’s way, so that the potential ravages of earthquakes and floods will no longer hold sway over the inhabitants and occupants.
That briefly sums up our vision for what MFA can do. It’s a big dream, we know. And it’s long term. But we believe in its possibility . . . and its promise.”
As the City of Orlando’s Digital Main Street District, the Orlando Tech Association is the leading voice and conduit for Orlando’s tech community. And community was clearly the keyword of the 2015 Orlando Tech Week that took place April 13 -18 and drew more than 2,100 attendees.
The week-long, varied program brought together key stakeholders in the local business, creative, and technology sectors. Each day’s events provided unique opportunities to network, collaborate, share, and explore the innovations being developed here in Central Florida.
“We are thrilled with the outcome of Orlando Tech Week,” says OTA executive director Orrett Davis. “It was truly a community-led effort this year, growing from eight events in 2014 to more than 30 events hosted by 12 different venues this year.” The measure of success was not simply by the numbers, but easily as much by the range of events bridging the diverse interests of participants.
This year OTA opened a call to the community to host and curate sessions in addition to the Association’s designed events. As a result, much of the program not only was inspired by OTA member interest, they were also driven by their own research and business stories.
Program highlights included:
Just in case you imagined that the week was all about work and serious business, think again. Friday night’s Ts & Ties Party at the Dr. Philips Center was pure celebration – food, drink, conversation, and friendly competition of some very creative T-shirts and Ties.
Here’s a snapshot collage from the week:
The following is a repost of UniKey’s Founder and President, Phil Dumas’s LinkedIn announcement:
“One must put themselves in the path of giants.”
We pioneered the smart lock category nearly five years ago and now we are leading the market with the most secure and convenient smart lock for your home, the Kwikset Kevo powered by UniKey. Today we are proud and excited to announce a Series A round of VC funding that will help us accelerate development for new vertical markets and international regions to truly bring UniKey’s smart access platform to any lock around the world.
UniKey has always been very scalable and highly capital efficient thanks to our partnerships with market leading hardware manufacturers. Our smart lock technology combines the convenience and user experience that any consumer would demand with the technical specs and security features necessary to meet the needs of enterprise and commercial markets.
Thanks to our loyal customers we have seen incredible growth in the smart home space. We’ve also seen major investments in the space and while we’re excited about the burgeoning smart home and everything we will continue to do with the locks on your home, we are also excited to grow this technology and bring our smart, intuitive platform to other markets around the globe. Imagine getting the same great convenient access that you get with Kevo in your office, during your hotel stay or in your rental car.
This investment will allow UniKey to focus on all the largest drivers of the IoT market, capitalizing on not just the smart home but also the smart commercial and smart enterprise/government markets to continue to create cutting edge technology paired with more secure access control for anything with a lock. Smart enterprise will be the largest IoT device market with 40% of the total IoT connected devices by 2019 according to Business Insider Intelligence. I see the smart lock market in enterprise, government and commercial skyrocketing to 12 billion units worldwide by 2020 and I’ve positioned UniKey to leverage this booming space and move beyond just the front door of your home.
The Series A round had participation from renowned investors: Asset Management Ventures, AXCIT, CBRE, ff Venture Capital, Samsung, Haas Portman, Oriza Ventures, The Broadway Angels, VI Partners along with other prominent global investors.
At our heart we will remain a software security company – channeling our energy and resources on the security implementation at the forefront, baked into our DNA, never as an afterthought. This begins with our product development and continues with our partnerships the leading security hardware companies in every market around the world.
We love locks and will remain focused on creating the most secure and convenient access control platform for your home, business, automobile, hotel room, etc. Thanks for the continued support and keep an eye on what is coming next from UniKey,
Founder & President
UniKey is hiring engineers and developers in the Central Florida office, if interested please visit our jobs site to find out more.
Read the full press release here.
When: Friday, April 17, 2015 // 7-10 p.m. // DPAC
Where: Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, DeVos Family Room
It’s Friday. Our beloved weekly national holiday, but this is no ordinary Friday. By now we’ve spent the past week absorbing, inspiring, learning, and sharing as part of Orlando Tech Week.
And, we end this week partying.
Join us for the official T’s and Ties OTW After Party inside the exclusive DeVos Family Room at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.
For those of you who attended the inaugural OTW T-Party Wrap Party you already know about our strict “T-shirt or else” dress code. In honor of our gracious party digs, we’re switching it up this year to include T-shirts or Ties as mandatory attire and giving away coveted awards for the following categories:
Buy your ticket to this epic OTW Wrap Party and then…
Official After Party: The Courtesy, 114 N Orange Ave. in Downtown Orlando between Washington and Jefferson
Parking: Street or Garage parking suggested. Garage Parking in vicinity: Admin Center Garage (300 Liberty Ave.) and City Commons Garage (460 Boone Avenue)