Cloudability to Graduate from TechStars Cloud with 2k+ Customers

[ Cloudability founders Jon Frisby, Mat Ellis and J.R. Storment at the TechStars Cloud office in San Antonio. Photo courtesy of Cloudability. ]

From startups to Fortune 500 behemoths, everybody is using cloud-based services like Google Apps and Dropbox, Amazon Web Services and Rackspace.

But does any organization actually know how much it spends on the cloud across the board (since employees often sign up for services and expense them) and how to keep costs under control?

Manually entering data into a spreadsheet is one less-than-attractive option for avoiding a "who forgot to turn off the extra servers before the weekend" situation. Or you could sign up with -- what else -- a freemium SaaS company like Portland, Oregon-based Cloudability, which bills itself
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Sick of Facebook Connect? Trove Promises Less Pain for Developers and More Control for Consumers

You know the drill: try out a new service or app these days and you're confronted with a Facebook or Twitter authorization. Like us, you may cringe at how much is being asked for or mutter "fine" under your breath before hitting "accept." At that point, you hope the company doesn't misuse your info.

Now imagine if all your data, including photos, appeared on the device or new app where you wanted them, almost magically. And if you bought a new smartphone or tablet, you'd only have to download your favorite apps and they'd be ready to rock, no configuring necessary. Plus you wouldn't have to worry about privacy or security because you could easily control which apps saw/got which data.

Sound too good to be true? Trove is betting this scenario will become normal eventually, and it could happen even sooner if it succeeds at courting both developers and consumers.

Since launching its API in August, Trove has focused on developers. Their pitch: spend more time building products instead of solving "plumbing" problems. [ The founders first got attention for their developer survey of which APIs were worst to work with -- the overwhelming answer was Facebook. ]

Taking a page from the Twilio playbook, Trove is...

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Social Travel Engine Tripl Lets You Pimp Your Profile

Travel recommendation network Tripl lets you add trips, recommend people to see worldwide and earn points based on how global you are.

Sweden-based Tripl went live in September but recently revamped its service with the addition of profiles that feature a bio line, trip timeline, showcase of services like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, and passion and interest tags.

When you first sign up, Tripl asks you to...
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Tadpoles Day Care App Gives Parents Peace of Mind with Real-time Updates, Photos and Videos

Parents with children in day care can easily envision nightmare scenarios: exposure to deadly allergens, forgotten or incorrect medication, choking or broken limbs, all because the providers weren't paying attention. The iPad app Tadpoles is designed to give childcare providers a way to keep track of kids' needs -- and parents peace of mind while keeping them informed throughout the day.

"Having a child and needing to go back to work was the original inspiration for Tadpoles," co-founder Andy Monroe tells LAUNCH. "I felt like I was missing out on so much by not being there. By simplifying the process of taking a photo and sharing it I thought I would be able to see more updates about my child.  That problem is magnified inside of a childcare center where you may have 100 children and hundreds of parents."

Tadpoles, which Andy Monroe founded with business development expert Bill McHugh in 2011, is available as a web-based service and iOS apps. The day care and preschool versions of the apps give parents real-time notes and reminders, photos and videos of their children at day care, and school notifications and alerts.

Improving efficiency was important as well: "For the most part childcare is...
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Wish Apple's App Store Was Social? Try Crosswalk

We all know the App Store isn't designed for app discovery beyond what's already popular and Apple chooses to feature. Existing apps for app discovery haven't solved the problem either.

Considering how social everything else is, you should be able to see what apps your friends have downloaded/favorited, follow interesting people and share comments/reviews on apps you use as well as get relevant recommendations. And developers should be able to know more about who's downloading their apps and when as Apple doesn't offer real analytics.

Just-launched Crosswalk, built on Apple's iCloud API and requiring Facebook to log in, has created the social layer that Apple has not, making all of those things possible -- the platform for developers will launch soon and provide the company's primary revenue stream.

For app users, it's actually

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Single Ladies: Vouch for and Find Dateable Guys with LikeBright

LikeBright is part of the 2011 TechStars Seattle class -- see our Demo Day coverage.

WHAT: A social reputation layer on Facebook that lets women vouch for great guys and see guys other women vouch for.  Women can post anonymous questions and contact people through LikeBright's integration with Facebook. Men can opt-out of LikeBright.

LAUNCHERS: Nick Soman, formerly a senior product manager for the Amazon Kindle; siblings Sonya Lai and Ron Lai, both were researchers at Harvard Business School.

WHY: Women trust what other women think of men. Women don't feel safe on popular dating sites, which do not allow women to vouch for men. Easy to find/vouch for men by basing a service on Facebook.
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Vizify Takes on with Profiles That Bring Together Pieces of Your Online Persona

Vizify is part of the 2011 TechStars Seattle class -- see our Demo Day coverage.

WHAT: Build a visual, interactive profile of yourself from pieces of your life contained in the online services you already use. Vizify's teaser product Tweetsheet turns your tweet activity into a sharable infographic.

LAUNCHERS:  Todd Silverstein, CEO; Jeff Cutler-Stamm, CTO; Eli Tucker. All three worked at ecommerce solutions company Monsoon Commerce.

WHY: Resumes (and sites like LinkedIn) don't tell the whole story about a person. Sites like are pretty but only point people to your info, not bring it into your personal site.

WHEN/WHERE: Nov. 3, 2011 / Seattle [ product still in private beta ]. Tweetsheet launched Oct. 26.

BACKSTORY: Todd and his co-founders read a ton of resumes while at Monsoon Commerce. "We found ourselves always wanting to know more about people than what we could glean from that piece of paper, and eating up a lot of time trying to elicit that information from phone screens," he says. "We quickly realized that we were equally frustrated with the online profiles we used in our day to day lives -- I always felt that my profiles never really did a good job of expressing the different facets of who I am. Vizify came out of our desire to change that."

BUSINESS MODEL: Freemium. Prices to be determined, but Todd says premium features will include exclusive data visualizations and enhanced profile capabilities (like portfolios).

COMPETITION:,, Naymz, XeeMe, LinkedIn, Zerply.

CUSTOMERS/GROWTH: On Tweetsheet, Todd says, "We've had thousands of people create their own so far."

GOAL: To empower people to make the online impression they want.

WHO BACKED IT:  TechStars, the Portland Seed Fund. Current round includes Jonathan Sposato (CEO of Picnik, sold to Google in 2010) and Geoff Entress (partner at Founders Co-op and Voyager Capital).

RAISING: $750K Series A.



Twitter: @vizify
Todd Silverstein
Email: todd at vizify dot com

Eli Tucker
Email: eli at vizify dot com
Twitter: @etucker

Jeff Cutler-Stamm
Email: jeff at vizify dot com
Twitter: @jeffcutlerstamm

Frame to Turn Shopify's 15K+ Stores into Touch Experience on iPad

Frame Demo Video from on Vimeo.

WHAT: An HTML5 optimized layer on top of existing e-commerce websites, such as sites built on Shopify, that turns shopping into a touch experience on the iPad. Frame comes as a one-click install for e-commerce stores, and is ready in only a few minutes. 

In store, employees can use the device to help customers make purchases. Frame will eventually utilize NFC payments, let customers see availability of nearby products and research items for customers to try on in person. 

LAUNCHERS: Kareem Amin, Nav Patel and Nicolae Rusan. The three co-founders are former Microsoft engineers and program managers.

WHY: Shopping is an emotional experience, as is the iPad. A website that feels...

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Fetchnotes: Better Than Emailing Yourself Reminders, Will Integrate with Evernote and Google Calendar

WHAT: Take, organize and save short notes by hashtags. Anyone with a feature phone [ limited to the U.S.for now ] as well as a smartphone can text themselves notes, which are synched with the web app.

Ability to share notes with groups or individuals planned. Android app out before end of 2011, iOs app eventually. Will integrate with Google Apps (calendar is top priority), Evernote and Outlook. Founders also plan to release the Fetchnotes API.

LAUNCHERS: Alex Schiff, CEO, and Chase Lee, CTO. Both are full-time students at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.          

WHY: People still email and text themselves notes for their to-do list and ideas. Evernote can be too clunky/take too much time to set up for jotting down six- to seven-word notes. Feature phone users don't have an easy way to save notes.

[ Screen shots after the jump. ]

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CloudMine Launches in Public Beta Because Doing Back-end Yourself Sucks

Back-end as a service platform for mobile application developers. CloudMine generates API keys in one click to easily cloud-enable your application. Cloudmine powers the back-end for apps through a simple API call. Developers can use the REST-based API or download SDKs for the platform of their choice and not need to worry about servers, web applications and scaling. Server maintenance is now CloudMine's problem.

LAUNCHERS:  Brendan McCorkie, co-founder and lead of business development. Marc Weil, co-founder and engineer. Ilya Braude, co-founder and engineer.

WHY: Developing the back-end is something developers have to do, rather than something that they like to do. Back-end is not the thing that makes apps awesome, but powers all the things that do. Developing the back-end for every app slows down the ability to release apps. Developers can now...
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Card Gnome: Netflix for Eco-Friendly Greeting Cards

WHAT: Card Gnome is a wind powered e-commerce site for eco-friendly greeting cards created by professional designers. Card Gnome features a catalogue of more than 4.5K cards created by greeting card designers that can be mailed anywhere in the U.S. for $4.99. Card Gnome's Netflix-like suggestion system will learn your favorite styles and users can refine their search with advanced options for the cards message -- which can be personalized -- keyword and gender. Unlike other crowd-sourced card options Card Gnome employs a community of screened designers -- some of whom create cards for major greeting card companies like Hallmark. 

WHY: Greeting cards are a way of expressing emotions. A lot of people seem to think greeting cards are a communication tool, but they're a gift that lets someone know you're thinking of them, but the sheer size of the online catalogue of cards makes it hard to find the right one, users need a system to streamline the selection process.

LAUNCHERS: Joel Wishkovsky, CEO, and Chad McGimpsey, COO...

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Dispatch Promises to Become your Front Door to the Cloud

WHAT: Dispatch brings together an individual's cloud services into one place. When the service launches, it will support Dropbox, Google Docs, and Gmail, allowing you to drag and drop things between services, preview files, launch into different Google Docs accounts, and send packages of things from your different services to anyone in your social graph.

LAUNCHERS: Jesse Lamb, CEO; Nick Stamas, Gary LosHuertos and Alex Godin.

WHY: Non-techies don't have one easy place to store all their data in the cloud or move that data from one cloud-based service to another. Existing cloud storage services are not social.

WHEN/WHERE: Oct. 18, 2011 / New York [ beta expected to launch in about 10 weeks or early January 2012 ].

BACKSTORY: "We've been interested in the cloud for a while," Jesse tells LAUNCH via email. "We were one of the early developers to use
Read more Gives Restaurants One Platform to Bring Orders from Any Website, App or Device

WHAT: is an API for online food ordering. Participating restaurants receive orders from any website, app or device connected to's national network. Developers can embed the API on their website orapp and get a cut of orders they generate.

LAUNCHERS: David Bloom, CEO, and Felix Sheng, CTO.

WHY: Many restaurants don't yet take orders online, and those that do are probably not available on relevant apps or devices. Online restaurant orders is a $170B market opportunity in the U.S. alone.

WHEN/WHERE: 2011 / New York.

BACKSTORY: "I ran the restaurant business development team at American Express for five years." David tells LAUNCH via email.
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Pearltrees: Slick Social Bookmarking and Curation Tool Now on iPad

 A web-based and iPad application to organize and curate your social life online. Users collect, or bookmark, web pages, tweets, Google+ posts and more, and arrange them in pearls or pearltrees. A pearl holds anything interesting you find on the web with a URL. A pearltree is a collection of webpages that functions like a folder. On the iPad, you simply organize your pearls by touching and dragging. Pearltrees also features pearl sharing and collaboration with others.

Users can write editorials that explain the pearltree's purpose to effectively attract visitors. Users can also customize your avatar to give your pearltree a unique identity.

LAUNCHER:  Patrice Lamothe, founder and CEO. Before founding Pearltrees, he worked as product leader at business strategy advisement company Boston Consulting Group.

WHY: Everyone consumes content online, but there's no easy way to curate all your content across several websites and social networks. Pearltrees lets people organize the web their way, democratizing access to content and organization of content.

December 2009/Paris. Launched iPad application October 12.

BACKSTORY: Pearltrees first launched as website, but when the iPad came out, Patrice realized that the tablet is a "natural and a perfect fit." Patrice was, and still is, on a mission to create a more complete web experience that allows anyone to organize everything. He set out to create a product that lets everyone serve as a medium for information and content on the web.

BUSINESS MODEL: Freemium. Patrice says they plan to add...

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MoPix WYSIWYG Digital Platform Helps Filmmakers Turn Films into Apps

WHAT: Platform for filmmakers and content creators to distribute their work as paid apps for the iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Android devices. Filmmakers choose from templates and customizable options to create a DVD-like experience that bridges video content with the interactivity, enhanced features, and extra content of an app. Depending on the number of features, the price varies from app to app.

WHY: Not every film at a festival gets distribution, and using a traditional middleman means less money for the filmmaker. Studios are looking for ways to replace declining DVD revenue. People are willing to pay for apps and want to watch quality content on their mobile devices. [ MoPix will demo its app at the LAUNCH 'PAD tablet event Oct. 21. ]

WHEN/WHERE: March 2011 / Los Angeles...
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Forget Pagers, NoWait Texts You When Your Table is Ready

WHAT: An iPad app for casual-dining restaurants to manage seating. Restaurant hosts or hostesses put the customer's phone number in the app and notify the guest via text message when a table is available.

Customers are free to leave the restaurant until they are notified, at which point they can cancel their table or tell the restaurant (also by text message) they will be there soon.

Restaurants can also use the system to send thank-you messages to the guest and invite them to join reward-type programs by texting a response. The restaurant does not retain customer phone numbers unless customers opt-in to their programs. Restaurants can connect multiple devices to the platform, including their iPhones.

LAUNCHERS: Robb Myer, CEO; James Belt, director software information architecture; Richard Colvin, director software engineering; Luke Panza, business development.

WHEN/WHERE: April 2011 / Pittsburgh...

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Surc: Universal iPhone Remote Approved by Apple

WHAT: Software and hardware that make your iPhone a universal remote for all of your electronic devices. The Apple-certified Surc case acts as a bridge to other electronic devices by adding infrared capabilities to the iPhone so it can run a whole suite of home entertainment devices with the tap or swipe of the screen. The Surc app contains a database of electronic codes to pair your electronics, or it can be programed manually by pointing Surc at your remote for your devices remote and then tapping the corresponding buttons on the devices. The Surc app can be customized a variety of ways from style and layout of the remote to using swipes or buttons as controls.

Surc owners can also share remotes they have programmed with their friends and the greater Surc community when they add a device that is not currently coded in the Surc database.

LAUNCHERS: Daphna Kalman CEO, designed multimedia marketing campaigns for the IMF, World Bank Group and the American Cancer Society; Brian Fough, VP; Ramy Isaac, CTO; Lee Golan, VP of development; and Michail Kalman, board chairman.

WHY: People have too many electronics that rely on infrared technology and an assortment of remotes to go with them...

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Instinct Aims to Disrupt Traditional Guitar Lessons with Interactive Web Platform

WHAT: A virtual music teacher in your web browser. Anyone can create an interactive guitar lesson with instant feedback that uses animations to show where your hand goes, what notes to play and provides pitch detection. While practicing, Instinct tells you how quickly you're picking it up, ensuring you're especially practicing the things that are hard for you, to get you playing a recognizable tune within 10 minutes.

Its polyphonic pitch detection software -- built in-house -- can detect if users are playing the right chord, which consists of several notes.

Social integration is in the works to let users see what lessons other people are taking and compete with their friends. Mobile apps and support for other instruments will also eventually come.

LAUNCHERS: Blake Jennelle and Brian Stoner, co-founders. Blake and Brian co-founded MyDunkTank, a fundraising site for fun challenges, in 2010. 

WHY: When you are alone with your instrument, you don't always know if you're playing the notes correctly, how the song is supposed to sound or where your fingers should go.

WHEN/WHERE: New York / Launching Spring 2012. 

BACKSTORY: "I started studying guitar as an adult and was becoming aware of...

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Who Is the Most Social Business of All? Social Business Index Sucks in Data and Ranks Them for You


WHAT: A tool built on the Dachis Group's big-data analytics platform that scores and ranks large companies' social media presence. The data comes from the company, its employees, partners, vendors, customers and influencers as well as through various APIs, data buys and partnerships, scraping, crowdsourcing company contributions and the SBI team.

Companies are ranked in relation to the performance and social engagement of other companies in their markets. Companies not listed on the SBI can opt-in for free and receive the SBI analytic data.

Employees of any company listed on the index can register and gain free access to their company's profile where they can see their social presence and follow benchmarks for their industry to see how their company stacks up.

Right now, Google is the top-ranked company overall, followed by Facebook, News Corp., Time Warner, and Wal-Mart.

LAUNCHERS: Jeff Dachis, CEO, co-founded Razorfish...
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Zeo Launches Smartphone Version of Sleep-Management System at Price for the Masses

WHAT: Zeo Mobile ($99) is a lightweight, wireless headband that measures brain waves to determine sleep quality and uses bluetooth to communicate that data to the iPhone, iPad and select Android devices. Data from headband is 90% as accurate as data from clinical sleep lab.

Alarm on the smartphone app wakes you at the optimal moment (when you're in and out of REM sleep) so you feel refreshed when you awake. [ REM sleep restores the mind, deep sleep restores the body. ] Use the Zeo Mobile app or Zeo website to analyze sleep patterns, add notes/journal entries and learn ways to improve your ZQ (sleep) score. Link sleep data to those in wellness/fitnees apps like DailyBurn and RunKeeper [ see our story ].

Existing product, Zeo Bedside (new price of $149), uses a headband with a proprietary alarm clock. Both Mobile and Bedside products include an email-based coaching program.

Zeo Mobile ships Oct. 26. Best Buy, an investor, is making Zeo products available in all stores. Launching in the U.K. in October and mainland Europe in time for holiday shopping.

LAUNCHERS:  Ben Rubin, CTO, and CEO (not a founder) Dave Dickinson, whose background is in biotech. Other co-founders are Jason Donahue, former VP of brand management (now at Harvard Business School) and Eric Shashoua (in medical school).

WHY: Sleep is critical to overall health, and most Americans don't get enough or enough quality sleep. Sleep clinics are only for those with serious sleep problems. Consumers have no reliable products for sleep management. The smartphone product needed to appeal to a larger audience that includes health-conscious people, not just frustrated sleepers.

WHEN/WHERE: Zeo Mobile: Sept. 26, 2011 / Newton, MA. Company: 2004 / Providence, RI.

BACKSTORY: While taking a basic psychology class at Brown, the founders learned that if you wake up at the right time, you feel more refreshed. As sleep-deprived students, they were
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