Tech + Gadgets
The technology-driven entrepreneurial boom headquartered in San Francisco is now extending well beyond bootstrapped startups and hot IPOs to disruptive efforts by established firms in many fields.
A perfect example is the “innovation studio” at MKThink, an architectural think tank with offices in North Beach that in addition to its traditional design work has pioneered data-driven solutions in fields like education.
Jayati Sengupta, the CEO and founder of Flipgigs, a newly launched social marketplace that connects teens with summer jobs, says “it started with a personal problem.
“My 15-year-old daughter wanted to look for a writing gig. Kids today, they’re not interested in just doing errands; they’d like to find jobs that cater more to their talents.”
So Sengupta started asking anyone she could think of for advice.
Jean-Francois “Jeff” Clavier is the Founder and Managing Partner of Palo Alto-based SoftTech VC, one of the most active early stage investors in Web 2.0 startups. He is therefore in a great position to comment on the major trends in the tech boom currently sweeping through the Bay Area and beyond.
“Our hope, when we make investments, is that we can recognize and anticipate the big trends,” Clavier says. “A lot of startups will fail but every now and then we hit the bull's-eye. We try to look closely at the technology platforms that enable consumer behavioral evolution.”
Calling itself “the first on-demand rideshare community,” Sidecar emerged from four months of beta testing last week, having already facilitated 10,000 rides in and around San Francisco.
It's a free smartphone app (available in both iOS and Android) that connects you with nearby drivers when you need a ride. You can choose to make a donation to the driver for that ride if you wish; it’s voluntary.
“During testing, people told us that they love the convenience and the friendliness of Sidecar,” says CEO Sunil Paul. “The reception has been astounding.”
We are living in an age that features the emergence of new marketplaces that are changing the way many of us live and work.
It’s a mobile (iOS) marketplace connecting businesses with people via their iPhones for the purpose of getting work done anywhere, often across multiple venues simultaneously.
Back in November 2010, John Harris, a veteran of some 30 years in the consumer products and tech industries, tried to find an effective tracking product that could help members of his family take care of his mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s, and a niece, who is Autistic.
“Both of them get lost sometimes, especially my niece,” he explains. “But I couldn’t find anything suitable. The devices were all too big, weighed too much, and were too big to fit into a pocket. Plus their battery life was too low, about 24 hours.”
Startup companies divide broadly into two groups: Those that want to generate a lot of buzz, and those that don’t want to generate any buzz at all.
The latter usually are trying to remain in “stealth” while they build a prototype for a product or service that might otherwise be easily copied by a competitor.
But the Presidio-based Pearl.com, headed by CEO Andy Kurtzig, has been methodically going about its business for eight years now, very much below the radar, so much so we cannot even consider it a startup any longer.
I’ve been with my fiancé for almost four years now, living together for three. For the first and a half, he was sexting other women. When I finally found out about it six months into the relationship, I confronted him and he swore up and down that he would stop, that he never did anything physical with any of them, and that it was because he was afraid of being in such a committed relationship. I even found the nude photos saved to his phone, and he tried to tell me that his phone "automatically saved" all incoming pictures. I'm not dumb enough to believe that, but I brushed it off. He finally stopped after a while, and I began to trust him again. We got engaged a year and a half ago and things have been good.
“San Francisco is a city of 800,000 strangers,” says Paul Davison, a biotech engineer turned CEO of the startup Highlight, a location-based social networking mobile app that notifies users of people nearby who share their interests and friends. “I’m convinced that in 10 years, you’ll be able to walk into a bar and know everyone’s name and what you have in common. It’s going to be our sixth sense.” Highlight was the darling of this year’s SXSW, so Davison just might be right. Here, he chooses the best of SF's tech scene.