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Start-ups presenting at Southeast Venture Conference hail from DC to Florida

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

sevc 2014 logoOn May 6-7th at the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta the Eighth Annual Southeast Venture Conference will present national and regional venture capitalists with over 50 of the most dynamic high-growth investment opportunities in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions.The first round of presenting companies offer a dynamic picture of the Southeast’s vibrant start-up scene from DC to Miami, Florida.

In addition to market-relevant panel topics and extensive executive and investor networking, this year those who attend will also hear keynotes from Marcus Lemonis from CNBC’s The Profit, Lending Tree founder & CEO Doug Lebda and Cvent founder & CEO Reggie Aggarwal.

Several executive panels will provide additional insight for both venture capitalists and founders on topics ranging from Limited Partner viewpoints, M&A, fundraising strategies, entrepreneurial roundtables and venture investment trends among many others.

A list of venture firms committed to attending so far follows the presenting companies.

The first round of announced presenting companies include:

9Lenses | Sterling, VA
Advanced Animal Diagnostics
| Durham, NC
Aloe – Atlanta, GA
Ambition | Chattanooga, Tennessee
| Washington D.C.

Axial Exchange | Raleigh, NC
Brickstream | Norcross, GA
Campus Bubble | Atlanta, GA
ChartSpan | Greenville, SC
Checkd.In | Nashville, TN

Cinegif | Austin, TX
CircleBackLending | Boca Raton, FL
DecisionLink | Atlanta, GA
Digital Reasoning| Nashville, TN
EarlyShares| Miami, FL
Evermind | Nashville, TN
Heyo | Blacksburg, VA

INRFOOD | Durham, NC
Kanga | Atlanta, GA
Kleo | Miami, FL
LinguaSys | Boca Raton, FL
M2SYS Technology | Atlanta, GA
Monsieur | Atlanta, GA
Passport Parking | Charlotte, NC
Patientco | Atlanta, GA
PatientFocus | Nashville, TN
Paymetric | Alpharetta, GA
PhishMe | Chantilly, VA

Quad Learning | Washington D.C. 
Royalty Exchange | Raleigh, NC
Screwpulp | Memphis, TN
Solicore | Lakeland, FL

Springbot | Atlanta, GA
uKnow | Arlington, VA
Uruut | Atlanta, GA
Variable | Chattanooga, Tennessee

Voterheads |  Columbia, SC
Voxa | Atlanta, GA
Windsor Circle – Durham, NC

ZeroFOX | Baltimore, MD

Venture capital firms that will attend include:

• ABS Capital
• Advanced Technology Ventures
• Alerion Capital
• Atlanta Technology Angels
• Atlanta Ventures
• Ballast Point Ventures
• Berwind Private Equity
• Bonaventure Capital
• Bull City Venture Partners
• Catalyst Investors
• Centurion Venture Group
• CNF Investments
• Contender Capital
• Core Capital Partners
• Delta Electronics Capital
• Draper Fischer Jurvetson
• Duart Mull
• ff Venture Capital
• Fifth Street Partners
• Florida Growth Fund
• Flybridge Capital Partners
• Forte Ventures
• Frontier Capital
• Fulcrum Equity Partners
• FuturePerfect Ventures
• G20 Ventures
• Grotech Ventures
• Hamilton Lane
• Harbert Venture Partners
• HarbourVest Partners
• Horizon Technology Finance
• IDEA Fund Partners
• In-Q-Tel
• Intel Capital
• Kinetic Ventures
• Landmark Angels
• LLR Partners
• Morgan Creek Capital Management
• Mosley Ventures
• Multiplier Capital
• Noro-Moseley Partners
• North Bridge Venture Partners
• Polaris Partners
• Revolution Ventures
• River Cities Capital Funds
• Safeguard Scientifics
• SoftBank Capital
• Southern Capitol Ventures
• Spectrum Equity
• Spring Capital Partners
• SSM Partners
• Staley Capital
• Stonehenge Growth Equity
• Stonewall Capital
• SunBridge Partners
• Susquehanna Growth Equity
• TA Associates
• Tech Square Ventures
• Timberline Investment Company
• Volition Capital
• Vulcan Capital

Up to date registration and information at

Peak 10 CEO offers 4 tips for entrepreneurs

Monday, March 4th, 2013

By Allan Maurer

David Jones

David Jones, President & CEO, Peak 10.

Even though Peak 10, the Charlotte-based data center and managed services provider now has 350 employees, CEO David Jones says the company still tries to foster an entrepreneurial spirit.

“We don’t make all our decisions centrally,” says Jones.

Jones co-founded Peak 10 in March of 2000 and has led the company to a top market position as a leading independent data center, managed services, and cloud computing solutions provider in the United States, with facilities in Charlotte, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Tampa, South Florida, Raleigh, and Richmond.

Participating in the Southeast Venture Conference

Jones, who speaks often to entrepreneurial groups and is a past chair and still a director of the North Carolina Technology Association, is one of dozens of thought-leaders, venture capitalists, angel investors and entrepreneurs participating in the Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, March 13-14.

“I think it’s going to be a great event for Charlotte,” Jones says. “It has an informative agenda, not the same old stuff you usually see at conferences. It’s going to bring a lot of faces into Charlotte who don’t normally spend time here.”


The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013. The event offers firms a chance to present to top national venture capitalists and angel investors.

Specifically, that includes speakers and panelists from national and regional venture capital firms and 50 innovative presenting companies from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Last we heard, there were only a handful of seats left for the event, so it’s a good idea to reserve yours now if you plan on attending.

Part of the Peak 10 entrepreneurial culture derives from its growing an average of about 25 percent a year and regularly opening new facilities to meet demand in the areas it serves.

Four pieces of advice for entrepreneurs

We asked Jones what advice he thinks is most important to starting a company.

First, he says, “Stay focused. We’ve all heard stories of companies that try to do too many things at once and don’t do any of them well.”

But even more important, he says, “Hire the best people you can. Don’t be complacent about that.” In the end, “That will make you successful or not.”

Get the right financial leadership

Next, he says, “Make sure you have the right financial leadership. A lot of startups fly by the seat of their pants. You need to know your operating costs.  I’ve always tried to find the best financial officer I could. If nothing else, have a financial advisor who can help you strategize where you are and the things you’ll need.”

Doing that can prevent you from “Hitting a brick wall when you find you didn’t plan for what you need on the development side.”

Finally, he adds, “Make sure you have a plan that can get funded. Great ideas go nowhere unless you have a plan to get there. Keep it simple. The more complex you make it, the harder it will be to get to where you want to be.”

In general, Jones says, “We’re in challenging times, but there are still a lot of opportunities out there.”


Five reasons you should attend SEVC 2013

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

SEVC 2013Need a reason why you should attend the Seventh Annual Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, March 13-14? Here’s five:

First, you’ll make connections with the region’s top technology entrepreneurs and executives.

More than 50 presenting companies and hundreds of high growth company C-suite execs attending, you’ll have an unsurpassed opportunity to build partnerships and hear about the latest startup trends.

Second, you’ll have an unparalleled opportunity to network with investors and venture firms from throughout the United States, not just regional firms.

Whether you’re in venture fundraising mode or an investor looking to further relationships with fellow investors for deal flow, SEVC is the vehicle to make those connections.

We’ve interviewed several of the participating venture capitalists at the TechJournal, with more to come. Here’s a sample:


Brian Rich

Brian Rich, managing director, co-founder, Catalyst Ventures.He’s participating in the Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, March 13-14.

How to pitch a venture capitalist (interview with Brian Rich of Catalyst Ventures).

SecondMarket turns dead equity into productive equity (interview with SecondMarket’s Matt Shapiro).

The bar is higher for startups seeking first round financing (interview with Intel Capital’s East Coast Director, Mark Rostick).

Will there be an app economy in five years? (interview with Ron Shah of the Stripes Group).

Seven lessons from the dark side (interview with Grotech’s Don Rainey).

What does it take to build a startup to successful IPO? (interview with Bob Hower, general partner at Advanced Technology Ventures).

Also see: Startups aim to put Charlotte on the map (Charlotte Observer story focused on Terry Cox, founder and CEO of BIG (Business Innovation Growth) in Charlotte. It includes background on how Charlotte was chosen to host the event.

And three more reasons SEVC can kick up your chances for success:



3. You’ll gain market insight and success strategies from innovation and technology community’s brightest starts.

From the CEO of SAP to the Publisher of Forbes – SEVC will feature over 40 speakers discussing the latest trends, best practices and strategies relating to technology and entrepreneurial growth. You’ll learn from them not just during roundtable discussions, but in one on one situations through hours of networking.


The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013. The event offers firms a chance to present to top national venture capitalists and angel investors.

Panel & Presentation topics include:

  • State of Venture Capital
  • Early Stage Fundraising
  • Value Creation: Company/Investor Relationship
  • Growth Stage Funding
  • M&A Outlook and Strategies
  • LP Viewpoint
  • SaaS Investment Trends
  • Getting to Market
  • IPO & Secondary Market Outlook
  • Entrepreneur’s Roundtable
  • International Health Care Trends

4. To make networking and private meetings even easier, there is an online pre-event networking platform for attendees. 

At SEVC, the online networking platform allows attendees to connect with one another prior, during and after the conference. Attendees can see other attendee’s interests, request and setup meetings and connect helping to maximize the lasting connections you’ll make at this year’s conference.

5. Even more CXO and Venture Partner networking to create relationships that can last your entire career.

Networking is center stage at SEVC. Over one and a half days there are 3 separate open bar networking receptions, a networking breakfast, lunch networking and 7 additional networking breaks.

The event sells out, so it’s a good idea to Register today.


Need funding? SEVC seeks presenting companies for March event

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013. The event offers firms a chance to present to top national venture capitalists and angel investors.

If you’re a high growth innovative company looking for funding, you still have a chance to present your business plan in front of top national venture capitalists and private equity professionals at the 2013 Southeast Venture Conference March 13th and 14th at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC.

Applications to present at the event are still being accepted.

The event seeks  high growth, innovative companies from diverse technology industries including Software-as-a-Service, New Media, Bio-IT, Clean-Tech, Medical Devices, Mobile, Security, among others.

You’ll meet  hundreds of the region’s leading entrepreneurs and high growth company executives (from startups to pre-IPO), National Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Professionals, M&A facilitators and other leading professionals serving the high growth technology community.

SEVC highlights both early and later stage investment opportunities from: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington DC.

Last year’s SEVC Average Presenter Profile:

  • Average Annual Revenue: $5.9 million
  • Average Capital Raised to Date: $6.7 million
  • Average Number of Employees: 35

While the presenting companies are from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the investors fly in from all parts of the country, including California, New York, and Massachusetts, as well as those that are regionally focused.

Exclusive panels, speakers, programming

The SEVC features market relevant investor and executive panels, exclusive networking opportunities, featured speakers and dozens of the region’s top private technology firms presenting to a national audience of venture capitalists, investment bankers and private equity investors.

As a TechMedia company and sponsor of the event, the TechJournal has reported on many firms that subsequently landed angel or venture backing. Venture capitalists tell us, they find new firms to put on their radar and track at each year’s event and many have returned year after year to spot hot Southeast opportunities.

SEVC is also an unparalleled networking event in which innovative firms meet potential partners, customers, and employees, in addition to making invaluable contacts within the venture and angel funding community.

Additional information on presenting and registration can be found at andyou can view a list of past presenters here.


2013 Southeast Venture Conference set for Charlotte in March

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013.

The seventh annual Southeast Venture Conference, a major event for investors and entrepreneurs, is headed to Charlotte, NC, March 13-14 at the Riz-Carlton.

The conference features presentations by 60 of the region’s high growth investment opportunities.

They will include both early and later stage companies from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington DC.

The conference offers an unparalleled opportunity to Network with hundreds of the region’s leading Entrepreneurs and High Growth Company Executives, National Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Professionals, M&A facilitators and other leading professionals serving the technology community.

We’ve covered many startup and later stage firms that presented at previous SEVC’s and later landed multiple financing rounds.

SEVC is also teaming with the Internet Summit in Raleigh Nov. 6-8 this year to present the two-day Startup Summit focused on entrepreneurs.

ttendees and speakers include leading incubators, venture capital firms, and innovative companies. We’ll feature 16 presenting startups that will showcase their companies and concepts. You’ll have the opportunity to meet them one-on-one in our demo pit.

Speakers at the Startup Summit include influential entrepreneurs and leaders from the investment community:

  • Angus Davis, Founder & CEO, Swipely
  • Paul Singh, Partner & Master of the Hustle, 500Startups
  • Sarah Lacy, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, PandoDaily
  • Scott Maxwell, Founder, OpenView Venture Partners
  • Michael Doernberg, CEO and Co-founder, Reverbnation
  • Laura Witt, General Partner, ABS Capital
  • Rob Go, Partner, NextView Ventures
  • David Morken, Founder & CEO,
  • Jonathan Perrelli, Founding Partner,
  • Dayna GraysonNorth Bridge Venture Partners
  • Neil Kataria, Founder & Chairman, newBrandAnalytics
  • Greg Cangialosi, Managing Dir, Nucleus Venture Partners
  • Jason Caplain, General Partner, Southern Capital Ventures
  • Robbie Allen, Founder & CEO, Automated Insights
  • John Burke, Founder and General Partner, True Ventures
  • Joe Velk, Contender Capital
  • Chris Heivly, Managing Partner, Triangle Startup Factory
  • David Jones, Partner, Southern Capital Ventures
  • Joe Schmidt, CMO, Cafepress
  • Tom Lotrecchiano, Sr Vice President, Cafepress
  • Matt Williamson, Founder & CEO, Windsor Circle



Which states lead in the job-creating app economy?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

mobile devicesThe app economy has created 519,000 jobs nationwide and is a significant economic driver for a number of states, according to a study released today by CTIA-The Wireless Association and the Application Developers Alliance.

The report, entitled “The Geography of the App Economy,” also calculates the number of app economy jobs in each state, the “app intensity” (share of app economy jobs relative to overall jobs) and the economic impact for states. The research was conducted by Dr. Michael Mandel andJudith Scherer of South Mountain Economics, LLC

Some unexpected states on top in app economy

While app innovation is occurring across the country, particularly in renowned high-tech areas such as California and Washington, some unexpected states have emerged to the top app economy states.

For example, Virginia and Maryland have close ties to government agencies and the military thus are developing apps for those sectors. Massachusetts’ app developers are making higher education more accessible, while one Colorado app developer created the iTriage app, which helps people identify what could be wrong based on their medical symptoms.

The app economy is in its infancy, but is growing at an exponential rate. Apple iTunes and Android Market application stores first opened in 2008. According to CTIA’s research, there are more than 2.4 million apps available on more than 11 different operating systems from more than 28 independent non-carrier stores. In 2011, the mobile app revenue was almost $10 billion[1], but by 2016, it’s expected to be more than $46 billion.[2]

The top 10 app economy states, ranked by economic impact (per million each year), are:

  1. California = $8,241
  2. Washington = $2,671
  3. New York = $2,313
  4. Texas = $1,183
  5. Massachusetts = $1,143
  6. New Jersey = $1,087
  7. Georgia = $1,062
  8. Illinois = $847
  9. Virginia  = $788
  10. Pennsylvania = $632

The “app intensity” is determined by taking the percentage of app economy jobs in a state as a share of total jobs, which measures the importance of these jobs to a state. The national average is 1.

The top 10 “app intensity” states and intensity figures are:

  1. Washington = 4.47
  2. California = 2.71
  3. Massachusetts = 1.71
  4. Oregon = 1.70
  5. Georgia = 1.56
  6. New Jersey = 1.29
  7. New York = 1.16
  8. Virginia = 1.04
  9. Delaware = 0.93
  10. Colorado = 0.90

Apps are increasingly a part of consumers’ everyday lives. Consumers’ insatiable demand for apps is driving the app innovation across the country.

An example of the rapid growth of innovation, Applico, a New York-based app development firm and board member of the Application Developers Alliance, hired its first employee in May 2010 and expects to employ as many as 150 by the end of 2012.

“The app economy took off in 2008 and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a significant driver of great jobs that pay well while fostering and creating truly revolutionary and innovative ideas, products and services. Few could have known four years ago that we’d use our wireless devices to improve efficiency and effectiveness in industries such as health care, education, transportation and utilities.”

He adds, “Precisely predicting what those capabilities will be four years from now is just as challenging, but I’m confident that the wireless industry’s competitiveness and customer service-driven focus will lead to more awe-inspiring and innovative wireless devices and apps,” said CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent.

“The app industry is a borderless economic force, providing opportunity across the country–even in places we might not expect.  In a challenging economic environment, the app industry has created more than a half million jobs in the five years since Apple’s iPhone launched. This new industry is propelling innovation and jobs in urban centers and rural states. And this is just the beginning,” said Jon Potter, President of the Application Developers Alliance.

“The mobile app economy is still in its infancy and it’s accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Mobile apps are creating a tectonic shift in how everyone lives their lives and operates their businesses. As a result, jobs are being created across the spectrum – both technical and non-technical,” said Alex Moazed, President and CEO of Applico and member of the Alliance Board.

Building on the February 2012 study by South Mountain Economics that measured the total number of app jobs nationwide, this study delves deeper into the App Economy.

Researchers examined The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) database of help wanted ads in each state to calculate the number of app jobs as well as the economic impact of each state’s app economy.

Good news and bad seen for small businesses on Intuit Index

Monday, October 1st, 2012

IntuitU.S. small business employment continued to grow slowly in September, while hours worked and compensation rose. Revenue in August declined for the sixth consecutive month.

These are among the results for the monthly Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU) Small Business Employment and Revenue Indexes, which together provide a current picture of the economic health of the nation’s small businesses.

The Small Business Employment Index shows that employment rose by 0.2 percent in September, which is an annualized growth rate of 2.5 percent. The growth equates to approximately 40,000 new jobs created in September, although Intuit is recalibrating the employment index and expects these numbers to change. Average monthly compensation grew by 0.6 percent, or $17, an increase from the growth of $2 seen last month. Average monthly hours worked increased by 0.18 percent, or 12 minutes. The index is based on data fromIntuit Online Payroll and covers the period from January 2007 through Sept. 23.

The Small Business Revenue Index indicates that August small business revenue fell by 0.4 percent from the previous month. Continuing July’s trend, the retail industry, along with the accommodation and food services sector, saw the biggest declines at minus 0.7 percent respectively. Construction followed with a decline of 0.6 percent. The index is based on data from QuickBooks Online and covers the period from January 2005 through Aug. 31.

“This month’s indexes bring both good and bad news,” said Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit to create the indexes.

“The bad news is that while revenue rose earlier in this tepid recovery, they are now dropping for most industries. In addition, small business employment is growing very slowly, and is essentially flat.

“Couple that with the slow employment growth of less than one-tenth of a percent for big businesses, and we see a slim chance of full employment anytime soon.

Big comeback for startups seen

“The good news is that more people are going into business for themselves. After five years of declining self-employment beginning in January 2007, we began seeing a big comeback starting in November 2011.

“Nearly 600,000 additional self-employed folks have been added since then, and there are now 14.2 million people who are self-employed. One theory is that the decline in revenue per business may reflect the entry of these new businesses into the economy.”

Small Business Revenue Index

Small businesses overall saw a decline in revenue in August. The health care and social assistance saw the smallest decline of all the industries, at minus 0.3 percent, which is slightly less than the 0.4 percent decline seen in the previous month. The health care sector, has however, had the longest decline, starting in November 2011.

Sector August Change in Revenue
All - 0.4%
Accommodation, food services and drinking places - 0.7%
Retail trade - 0.7%
Construction - 0.6%
Professional, scientific and technical services - 0.5%
Real estate and rental and leasing - 0.5%
Other services - 0.3%
Health care and social assistance - 0.3%

The Intuit Small Business Revenue Index is based on data from more than 100,000 small businesses, a subset of the total QuickBooks Online financial management user base.

Small Business Employment Index

Based on September’s numbers and revised national employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Intuit revised upward the previously reported August growth rate to 0.2 percent from 0.16 percent. This equates to 50,000 jobs added in August, up from a previously reported 30,000 jobs, though these numbers are expected to change once the index is recalibrated.

Increase in Hours Worked, Increase in Compensation

Small business hourly employees worked an average of 107.2 hours in September, an increase of 0.18 percent, or about 12 minutes, from the revised figure of 107.0 hours in August, making for a 24.7-hour workweek.

Average monthly pay for all small business employees rose to $2,768 in September, an increase of 0.6 percent, or $17, from the August revised figure of $2,751 per month. The equivalent annual wages would be about $33,200 per year, which is part-time work for many small business employees.

Small Business Employment by Geography

The Employment Index showed growth in overall employment in September for all regions except for the West North Central and the Middle Atlantic divisions, which fell by 0.13 percent and 0.05 percent respectively. A state-by-state breakdown showed the largest employment increases in Washington and Michigan, a trend that continued from last month. New York and Oregon saw the largest decreases.

U.S. Census Division Percent Change in Employment
East North Central + 0.3%
West North Central - 0.13%
Middle Atlantic - 0.05%
Mountain + 0.10%
New England + 0.12%
Pacific + 0.3%
South Atlantic + 0.3%
East South Central + 0.14%
West South Central + 0.4%

Small Business Employment by U.S. Census Division continues to grow in most parts of the country. The data reflects employment from approximately 84,000 small business employers, a subset of small businesses that use Intuit Online Payroll. The month-to-month changes are seasonally adjusted and informative about the overall economy.

State Change in Employment
Arizona + 0.02%
California + 0.40%
Colorado + 0.30%
Florida + 0.50%
Georgia + 0.20%
Illinois + 0.20%
Maryland + 0.40%
Massachusetts - 0.04%
Michigan + 0.80%
New Jersey + 0.16%
New York - 0.20%
North Carolina + 0.02%
Oregon - 0.13%
Pennsylvania - 0.09%
Texas + 0.40%
Virginia + 0.18%
Washington + 0.50%

Small Business Employment increased for most states in which Intuit Online Payroll has more than 1,000 small business firms. The month-to-month changes are seasonally adjusted and informative about the overall economy.

Need tech talent? Hacker Tour connecting startups and students

Friday, August 24th, 2012

hacker tour busIt can be tough for tech start-ups to recruit engineering and science students for internships and jobs without brand recognition. The Readyforce Hacker Tour 2012 is intended to help remedy that via an eight-week national bus tour designed to connect students and startups.

The Hacker Tour includes campus career fairs, CEO/CTO speakers, meetups, coding competitions and “maybe a party or two.”

It will stop at schools across the country, many in tech hubs from the San Francisco Bay Area to The Research Triangle, NC. It will visit Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Other stops include Boston, Austin, and San Diego.

Stops on the Hacker 2012 Tour:

hackerforce tour map

Companies invited to sign-up

Readyforce invites companies interested in joining Hacker Tour 2012 to learn more and register at:

Sponsors include early stage companies like Red Owl Analytics, Codeacademy and Quixey and later stage organizations like Etsy and Sonos.

It seems to be helping start-ups looking for talent.

“Partnering with ReadyForce on the Hacker Tour will expose ZestFinance to thousands more students across a much more diverse set of universities than we would be able to accomplish on our own,”  says Adam Redlich, Head of Talent Acquisition at ZestFinance.

“At Elance, we create opportunities for students to work for themselves while they build an online portfolio that gives them an edge in the competitive job market,” said Rich Pearson, Chief Marketing Officer, Elance. “We are excited to be a part of the inaugural Hacker Tour because it is a unique way to tell students about a unique job opportunity.”

“At SoundCloud, we are always looking to hear from talented and motivated individuals across all disciplines, so sponsoring Readyforce’s Hacker Tour represents a natural fit for us,” said Eric Wahlforss, CTO and co-founder, SoundCloud.

 Colleges like the program

Colleges and universities are also enthusiastic.

Corbett Morgan,  startup analyst at the Technology Commercialization & Knowledge Transfer Office, The Ohio State University, says,  “Readyforce is the progressive, soon to be widely adopted, method for students to interface with startups; the Readyforce Hacker Tour makes this opportunity tangible.”

He adds, “Telling a talented student, ‘Startups want you and your skills. They are coming to you and they want to meet YOU,’ is a powerful message and undoubtedly bridges the disconnect inherent in the outdated apply-online recruitment method.”


Entrepreneurs fuel job and revenue growth even in sluggish economy

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Ernst & YoungDespite a persistently high U.S. unemployment rate and sluggish overall economic growth, one segment of the U.S. economy continues to exceed expectations – entrepreneurs.

According to data compiled by Ernst & Young LLP from more than 600 finalists of the 2012 US Entrepreneur of the Year program, innovation-driven entrepreneurs continue to defy the odds, expanding their companies, spurring job growth and creating momentum in an otherwise moribund economy.

Research compiled from these companies, which together employ nearly 700,000 workers, affirms that, nationally, these innovative, expansion-oriented entrepreneurs continue to grow impressively, achieving the following between 2009-2011:

  • 30 percent job growth, compared to negative overall U.S. job growth (approx. -1 percent)[1]
  • 48 percent revenue growth, compared to overall U.S. revenue growth of 5.6 percent[2]

“These results are proof that entrepreneurs, who are focusing on innovation and new-market expansion, are doing far better than the national averages,” said Bryan Pearce, director of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program for the Americas.

Optimistic and continuing to hire

“These entrepreneurs are more optimistic about the future and are continuing to hire.

This positive attitude and forward momentum amidst uncertainty truly characterize the entrepreneurs who have inspired our 26-year-old recognition program. Their confidence led the rate of employment growth among these companies to double between 2010-2011.”

Employment growth

Entrepreneur of the Year finalist data spans 26 regions across the US and can also be segmented into nine industry categories. Energy, cleantech and natural resources led the group in employment gains at 49 percent between 2009 and 2011; technology followed at 42 percent and services at 33 percent. Life sciences had the slowest employment growth.

Regional employment growth was led by entrepreneurial companies from the Southeast region, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, whose employee ranks jumped 71 percent over two years. Rounding out the top three were the Southwest, including Dallas, Texas and the surrounding area, which produced job growth of 42 percent, and the Northeast which turned in 35 percent employment growth.

A separate Ernst & Young global report issued in June that surveyed more than 400 award-winning entrepreneurs worldwide showed that the majority of positions these companies created were filled by experienced employees with university degrees.

Revenue growth

Revenue growth among Entrepreneur of the Year finalists was equally impressive. Sectors leading the group in revenue gains between 2009 and 2011 were energy, cleantech and natural resources at 87 percent, technology at 73 percent and retail and consumer products as well as distribution and manufacturing, both at 49 percent. Real estate, construction and lodging had the slowest revenue growth.

Regionally, East Central finalists, consisting of companies based in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C, Virginia and Maryland, turned in impressive numbers, with 63 percent revenue growth over the past two years.

Southeast, Midwest have healthy gains

Also putting up healthy gains were the finalists from the Southwest and Midwest, with revenue growth rates of 53 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

“For almost five years, the U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year awards winners have generated double-digit revenue and employment growth,” added Pearce. “Their global mindset and ability to innovate make them the success stories that will keep America competitive.”

Impact of access to capital

The Entrepreneur of the Year finalist data also showed significant differences in both employment and revenue growth for companies that acquired funding from private investors over their life-cycles versus those that did not receive outside investment.  In fact, companies that received private funding grew revenues at 178 percent and employment at 32% over the past two years.

“Companies’ challenges in accessing capital continue to drive a more intense focus on business fundamentals – as banks and other lenders are looking for long and unwavering histories of success when making their decisions,” said Herb Engert, Ernst & Young Americas Strategic Growth Markets Leader.

“These entrepreneurs have been able to provide evidence of solid year-over-year growth through the worst of the recent global recession. It is heartening to see such determination yield such tremendous success.”

Novak Biddle partner: more early stage capital, but later stages consolidating

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Sean Glass

Sean Glass

By Allan Maurer

Low interest rates don’t do much for a bank account, and that has had one good effect, says Sean Glass, partner with Novak Biddle Venture Partners. “There is more early stage capital around than ever because of the rate environment,” he says.

“When you have really low interest rates, people will take more risk with their portfolio. So there are a lot of angel investors who wouldn’t be in other times. More money available means more investors get a shot at it (creating a successful startup).”

That view contrasts somewhat with those of Jim Jaffe, president and CEO of the National Association of Seed and Venture Captialists (NASVF), who told us that the seed level funding of $100,000 to about $1.5 million can still be the “Valley of Death,” for many startups needing outside backing.

At SEVC this week

Both Glass and Jaffe are among the dozens of investors, entrepreneurs and 60 presenting companies participating in the Southeast Venture Conference in Tysons Corner, VA, Wednesday and Thursday (Feb. 29-March 1).

Glass, who is also founder and CEO of Employ Insight, and a founder and executive board member of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, says that while more early stage capital may be available, the flipside is that “We’re seeing a consolidation of late Series A rounds to mezzanine money”(often the final large round before an IPO or other exit).

“So,” says Glass, “We’re seeing a lot of entrepreneurs get started, but it’s getting harder to land that next round. They have to show traction a bit faster.” That contrasts with several years ago when companies that got seeded were fairly sure of a next round, he adds.

Glass says that signs the economy is getting better may not be such great news for entrepreneurs. “You would think it would be good for them, but it’s bad, because all of a sudden investors have alternatives with equal returns and less risk. It will take money away from the process.”

Glass says other changes are at work in the venture-backed startup economy.

Americane Entrepreneurs building a company now, for instance, “Will probably have to compete with someone outside the U.S., not just from firms in Boston and Silicon Valley. They may see competition from London, Rio, Santiago, and maybe Beijing. That’s why Groupon had to start going international early on, making sure it could win those markets.”

Pinterest could have done without so much early press

That means getting attention early on may not be the best thing for some companies. “My friend, the founder and CEO of Pinterest (Ben Silbermann) says he wishes the press hand’t started writing about them for another 12 to 18 months,” because the competition comes out of the global arena so quickly. “That makes it harder to build a new Facebook or Twitter,” says Glass.

Glass also says that many tech entrepreneurs don’t understand that many businesses may have good but limited potential. “A lot of tech startups can build nice $10 million to $15 million businesses but will never hit the scale needed to impact a venture firm’s portfolio.”

Businesses that do interest venture firms, he notes, “Need a large amount of capital to produce lots of profits quickly.”

Glass says entrepreneurs who can find a niche and build a company in a way larger firms can’t because they’re not geared to doing new things are going to “Get paid, because those big companies have cash and they want to buy growth.”

So, he says, “There will be options for exits and expect to see a lot of merger and acquisition opportunities.”

Interviewed by phone while in the Florida Keys, Glass says he sees evidence of an improving economy there. “There are people on the streets, restaurants are full, and the marina is full of boats – and they’re big boats.”

Glass says he’s looking forward to attending the SEVC, one of, if not the largest Mid-Atlantic venture event, this week. ”



Four reasons to attend SEVC 2012

Friday, February 17th, 2012

UPDATED – Fewer than 40 seats are left for the Southeast Venture Conference in Tysons Corner, VA. Here’s four reasons you may want to grab one of them.

  1. SevcLearn from top entrepreneurs like Netflix’s co-founder and OpenTable’s founderEntrepreneurs Marc Randolph,  co-founder and initial CEO of Netflix and Chuck Templeton, founder OpenTable, changed the concept of dinner and a movie.  Their companies transformed how people interact with the entertainment and dining industries.  Come share a drink and a meal with them and hear them speak about the strategies that led them to success and where they are investing their time and money for the next big thing.
  2. SevcTake in presentations by 60 companies driving regional growth and technology advancementWith a record number of presenting companies at SEVC, you have unparalleled access to the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast’s brightest stars. See the list of presenting companies here.
  3. SevcLearn the latest strategies and industry trends discussed by noted subject matter expertsOver 40 leading industry insiders and venture capital professionals will provide lively discussion and debate on the latest trends for M&A, Fundraising Strategies, IPOs, Venture Capital, Valuations, Hot Investment Sectors, Global Growth and more.
  4. SevcNetworking, Networking, Networking… Did we say Networking?Whether it’s setting formal meetings with investors and executives through our attendee networking platform or making lasting connections through hours of  networking breaks, meals and receptions – SEVC is designed to help you connect with leading venture capitalists and investors from around the US, peers and leading entrepreneurs.

Hundreds of venture capitalists, private equity investors, entrepreneurs, senior technology executives and others from the innovation community will be networking in force at this year’s SEVC.

Register today to nab one of the remaining seats at the region’s premiere venture forum.

Connect with 60 high growth tech companies at the Southeast Venture Conference

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Sevc 2012Make connections with 60 showcase high growth technology companies from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic as they present to hundreds of executives from the region’s innovation, entrepreneurial and venture communities,  at the Southeast Venture Conference February 29th – March 1st at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

In addition to presenting companies and hours of executive networking – the conference will feature a speaker line up including Netflix co-founder and former CEO, Marc Randolphand includes dozens of leading venture capital investors from groups like Lightbank and NEA; industry insiders from organizations including Bloomberg, Motley Fool and theNational Venture Capital Association; and other successful entrepreneurs such asOpenTable founder, Chuck Templeton.

This year’s presenting company line-up includes:

Register today to guarantee your space at the region’s premiere venture forum!

Mobile is the new “normal” for federal employees

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Touch Screen PhonesMore than half of Federal employees use at least one mobile device at work, CDW-G found, and many are using personal devices to accomplish work-related tasks. Nearly all Federal employees who use a mobile device for work believe the device makes them more productive, and the majority say increased mobility will improve citizen service.“Mobility is the ‘new normal’ for Federal employees”

The report, based on a survey of 414 Federal employees and IT staff, examines current trends in mobility, how agency IT professionals are managing mobile devices, and the steps they are taking to secure Federal data.

Mobility is no longer just a nice-to-have capability, CDW-G found: Nearly all 203 Federal IT professionals (99 percent) said they have deployed mobile devices to their agency workforce. What’s more, 62 percent of those IT professionals said their agencies allow employees to use personal devices for work.

“Mobility is the ‘new normal’ for Federal employees,” said Bob Kirby, vice president of federal government for CDW-G. “Employees increasingly expect to be able to work anywhere and at any time. Agencies responded first by deploying mobile devices, and now they are enabling use of personal devices. And the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is likely to continue, following the Obama administration’s November 2011 executive order that asked agencies to limit the number of IT devices they issue to employees, including mobile devices, in order to reduce costs.”

Agencies are providing a good security baseline for mobile device use, with the majority establishing mobile data security policies (85 percent) and requiring data security training for mobile device users (84 percent). However, CDW-G found that there is room for agencies to improve security measures in order to protect sensitive data. For example, while 82 percent of IT professionals said their agency deployed encryption for mobile devices, far fewer said their agency protects mobile devices with multi-factor authentication (54 percent), remote lock and wipe (45 percent), and data loss prevention software (39 percent).

“Federal employees – just like those in other industries – access a wide variety of data in the course of their jobs, from financial information to employee and taxpayer records to email and social networking accounts,” Kirby said. “Employees understand the need to keep private information just that – private. But as cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated, they need a full suite of security tools to help them.”

Mobile device management (MDM) – over-the-air distribution of applications, data and configuration settings for all types of mobile devices – can help agencies deploy and manage security tools across the mobile workforce, while reducing IT management costs. While 71 percent of Federal IT professionals say they include MDM in their security efforts, CDW-G found that most are not deploying a full suite of security tools to agency and personal devices via MDM, revealing an opportunity to improve agencies’ security posture.

CDW-G recommends that agencies:

  • Evaluate and/or establish a BYOD policy
  • Assess their MDM needs
  • Audit their MDM tools to ensure they support the agency’s security goals
  • Incorporate the personal devices employees use for work into the agency’s MDM strategy

The CDW-G Federal Mobility Report surveyed 203 Federal IT staff and 211 Federal employees. The margin of error for the total sample is ± 4.8 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

For a copy of the complete CDW-G Federal Mobility Report, please visit

Early registration discount for Southeast Venture Conference ends Friday

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Speakers headed to the 6th Annual Southeast Venture Conference in Tysons Corner, VA, Feb. 29=March 1

Early, discounted regsitrations  for the Southeast Venture Conference at Tysons Corner, VA, Feb. 29-March 1 end Friday, Jan. 20. This year the SEVC features Marc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix, Chuck Templeton, founder of OpenTable, Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association,  top venture capital firms and innovative tech startups.

Randolph is a leading Silicon Valley investor in addition to being co-founder and former CEO of Netflix. Randolph and Templeton are just two of the hundreds of leading venture investors and entrepreneurs headed to this year’s event.

VCS representing $50B in capital attending

Venture capital firms at the event represent $50 billion in investment money.

The 6th Annual Southeast Venture Conference also features presentations from more than 60 of the hottest Southeast and Mid-Atlantic high growth tech companies. Companies that presented at the 2011 SEVC had average revenues of $6 million.

Also on the agenda: Paul Lee, partner, Lightbank, Marshall Brain, founder of, Jalak Jobanputra, venture investor, New Venture Partners, Harry Weller, general partner, NEA, Sean Marsh, co-founder, Point Judith Capital, Robert Peterman, Toronto Stock Exchange, and Roland Reynolds, managing director, Industry Ventures.

New this year

New this year is a pre-event networking platform, which will allow attendees to connect ahead of the event, increasing the opportunities to make it even more productive.

The Southeast Venture Conference is the premiere venture forum in the region and has sold out every year. Register here.


Cyber security must focus on users, not just attackers

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
David Maimon

David Maimon

Computer security experts have long pointed out that human beings are often the weak link allowing cyber attacks to succeed. Now, researchers at the Maryland Cybersecurity Center have reaffirmed that security measures must aim at users, not just attackers. “Users expose the network to attacks,” one said.

In a unique collaboration, an engineer and a criminologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, are applying criminological concepts and research methods in the study of cybercrime, leading to recommendations for IT managers to use in the prevention of cyber attacks on their networks.

Michel Cukier, associate professor of reliability engineering at the A. James Clark School of Engineering and Institute for Systems Research, and David Maimon, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, are studying cyberattacks from two different angles – that of the user and that of the attacker. Both are members of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center.

Their work is the first look at the relationship between computer-network activity patterns and computer-focused crime trends.

“We believe that criminological insights in the study of cybercrime are important, since they may support the development of concrete security policies that consider not only the technical element of cybercrime but also the human component,” Maimon said.

In one study that focused on the victims of cyberattacks, the researchers analyzed data made available by the university’s Office of Information Technology, which included instances of computer exploits, illegal computer port scans and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

Applying criminological rationale proposed by the “Routine Activities Perspective,” Maimon and Cukier analyzed computer focused crime trends between the years 2007-2009 against the university network.

According to this perspective, which is designed to understand criminal victimization trends, successful criminal incidents are the consequence of the convergence in space and time of motivated offenders, suitable victims, and the absence of capable guardians.

The researchers hypothesized that the campus would be more likely to be cyberattacked during business hours than during down times like after midnight and on weekends. Their study of the campus data confirmed their theories.

“Our analysis demonstrates that computer-focused crimes are more frequent during times of day that computer users are using their networked computers to engage in their daily working and studying routines,” Maimon said.

“Users expose the network to attacks,” Cukier said. Simply by browsing sites on the Web, Internet users make their computers’ IP addresses and ports visible to possible attackers. So, “the users’ behavior does reflect on the entire organization’s security.”

Maimon, a sociologist, takes the study a step further.

“Your computer network’s social composition will determine where your attacks come from,” he said. In a similar vein, “the kinds of places you go influence the types of attacks you get. Our study demonstrates that, indeed, network users are clearly linked to observed network attacks and that efficient security solutions should include the human element.”

Cukier adds, “The study shows that the human aspect needs to be included in security studies, where humans are already referred as the ‘weakest link.'”

Cukier and Maimon said the results of their research point to the following potential solutions:

  1. Increased education and awareness of the risks associated with computer-assisted and computer-focused crimes among network users could prevent future attacks;
  2. Further defense strategies should rely on predictions regarding the sources of attacks, based on the network users’ social backgrounds and online routines.

“Michel and David’s research exemplifies the interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center,” noted Michael Hicks, director of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center.

“Resources are not unlimited, so true solutions must consider the motivations of the actors, both attackers and defenders, as well as the technological means to thwart an attack.  Michel, an engineer, and David, a criminologist, are considering both sides of this equation, with the potential for game-changing results.”

More Information:

Maryland Cybersecurity Center:

Michel Cukier Profile Page:

David Maimon Profile Page:

Cyberstates report: Tech industry job losses declined in 2010

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Tech America FoundationThe U.S. high-tech industry lost 115,800 net jobs in 2010, for a total of 5.75 million workers. This two percent decline in tech industry employment was less than half of the 249,500 jobs lost in 2009, which followed several years of sustained growth, according to the TechAmerica Foundation’s 14th annual Cyberstates report.

Over the longer term of 2007 to 2010 – the span of the economic downturn – the tech industry fared better than the private sector as a whole, with a four percent decline in employment versus a seven percent decline in the private sector.

“Of the four high-tech sectors highlighted in our report, only software services added jobs in 2010 – 22,800, a one percent gain,” said Robert F. Bennett, chairman of TechAmerica Foundation.  “Of the jobs lost, 72,100 were in communications services, 53,600 were in tech manufacturing, and 12,900 were in engineering and tech services.  Fortunately, the initial numbers for 2011 look more promising in terms of job growth.”

Job growth occurred in all four tech industry sectors

TechAmerica Foundation also today released a midyear jobs report for 2011 based on a different monthly data set from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This report shows that between January and June 2011, the tech industry added a net 115,000 jobs, a two percent gain, not adjusted for seasonality.

During this time period, job growth occurred in all four technology industry sectors, with the fastest growth in engineering and tech services.  A 12 month review of June 2010 in comparison with June 2011 also shows growth in three of the four tech industry sectors, with job losses occurring in communication services.

“Tech jobs were down in 2010, trending with the rest of the economy, but we have fared better than the private sector as a whole over the course of the economic downturn and there are some positive signs for 2011, said Dan Varroney, acting President and CEO of TechAmerica.  “We are poised not only to grow our own industry but to support the growth of the economy as a whole.  The key to growth is to support what we call the Four T’s: technology, talent, tax, and trade.”

“Technology: We need robust federal investment in basic research to create the scientific base that companies can use to produce new products and innovations.

“Talent: We need to invest in STEM education to provide our children with the foundation in math and science that will prepare them for high paying careers while allowing highly skilled foreign nationals educated at our universities to remain in the United States and join American companies instead of returning to their home countries and competing against us.”

Tax system needs reform

“Tax: We need to reform our tax system to make capital welcome.  We are competing against countries that are aggressively implementing tax policies that lower the cost of business.  We need comprehensive tax reform that attracts investments in technology and creates a framework that encourages repatriation of profits made by foreign operations of U.S.-based corporations.

“Trade: We need to open new markets to U.S. products and services by finishing the pending Free Trade Agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea and continue to pursue other opportunities to expand trade.”

Eight states added tech jobs in 2010

The state-by-state data reveal that eight states added tech jobs in 2010.  The largest gains occurred in Michigan (+2,700), the District of Columbia (+1,400), West Virginia (+400), Utah (+400), and South Carolina (+300).  On a percentage basis, the District of Columbia saw the fastest job growth in 2010 at 4.3 percent, albeit at a small base.

For the sixth straight year, Virginia led the nation with the highest concentration of tech workers – 98 of every 1,000 private sector workers in the state were employed in the tech industry.  Massachusetts and Colorado ranked second and third, respectively.

Cyberstates 2011 relies on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report provides 2010 national and state-by-state data on high-tech employment, wages, establishments, payroll, wage differential, and employment concentration. All data are the most recent available at the time of publication.

Cyberstates 2011 may be purchased for $150.  The 2011 midyear report may be freely downloaded. Both reports can be accessed at:

Jobson to demo new video job interview tech at Digital East

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Digital East 2011Traditional job searching, interviewing and hiring is a backwards process that is undergoing a transformation, a certainty that will be demonstrated at the Digital East 2011 conference September 28-29 at the Sheraton Premiere Tysons Corner hotel. It is one of a dozen innovative firms to demonstrate new tech at the conference, which includes dozens of top digital media experts offering the latest tips, techniques and best practices at the event Wednesday and Thursday.

JobOn co-founder and CEO Jody Presti will show how his company’s technology is changing the way that retailers, restaurants and food service companies hire hourly employment.

One of a dozen DEMO firms

JobOn is one of only a dozen selected to present at the conference’s DEMO Showcase, which will be heard by 800-plus attendees including interactive marketers, senior Internet executives, online strategists, web entrepreneurs, bloggers, designers, usability experts and other new media professionals. (See links below for interviews with participants on SEO, Killer Facebook ads, phone apps for low income groups, web analytics tricks, deploying company video successfully, and creating excitement around a brand.)

JobOn combines employment listings with the ability for applicants to submit a recorded video interview. They answer a few common interview questions via a webcam or smart phone, and then click to send the responses to employers with jobs to fill.

For job seekers, this saves the time and cost of going to each employer to fill out a paper application and then scheduling an interview. At the same time, for less than the cost of a classified ad, employers get to pre-screen applicants before calling them for a second, face-to-face interview. JobOn hosts the videos, which are free for job seekers.

Says Presti, “Employers know within a few seconds if someone is a good fit, so we put the interview first to prevent employers from wasting time on paper applications and inappropriate interviews.”

The market for this technology is significant: there are 80 million employees and nine million workplaces that hire for retail, restaurant and other food services. Turnover ranges from 70 to 200 percent each year, which often leads managers to make “panic hires” that don’t last.

For a look at what some of the other digital media experts will be discussing at Digital East see:

Are you missing these web analytics tricks?

The right marketing mix creates search demand

Want to monetize social media? Hook users on achievement

Should app developers put more focus on low income groups?

Get the most from deploying video in a company

Four tips on search engine optimization from AOL’s SEO director

Killer Facebook ads: target more than the bullseye

Create a halo effect of excitement around your brand

Want to monetize social media: hook users on achievement

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
Rogelio Choy

Rogelio (Ro) Choy - COO, Formspring

By Allan Maurer

A few years ago, the idea of paying for virtual goods online with real currency seemed outlandish to some. “It blew people’s minds,” says Rogelio (Ro) Choy, COO of the question & answer social site Formspring. But game companies such as Zynga, creator of Farmville, among other popular Facebook games, are successfully using that model.

Choy is one of dozens of Internet mavens, social media experts, marketing gurus, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs participating in the upcoming Digital East conference in Tysons Corner, VA, Sept. 28-29.

He’ll be discussing how to monetize social media efforts. He’ll address display advertising, brand advertising, performance advertising, social currency, mobile advertising and virtual currency. He’ll discuss each in some detail based on what he’s learned in a career packed with social media experience.

Choy was previously the CEO of Peerpong, a Q&A service using NLP/semantics for identifying interests and knowledge from social streams. Prior to Peerpong, Ro was Chief Revenue Officer for RockYou and responsible for leading all the business efforts for the company and Director at eBay Motors, leading the online parts business. Prior to eBay, Ro co-founded Cima Systems, a leading VOIP software provider for auto dealers.

Advisor on social media

Choy serves as an advisor to a number of social media focused startups including Applifer, Nanigans, Wildfire Interactive, Project Slice, Adnectar, 500 Friends, Guestmob, Facepad, Replybuy, J2Play, GamesthatGive and Groupcard.

We asked Choy to elaborate on using virtual currency to monetize social media.

“It’s a completely different way of imagining how people can make money on the web,” Choy says. It works because making social media platforms such as Facebook an intrinsic part of the game dramatically reduces the cost of acquiring customers.

In 2011, according to eMarketer, Choy notes, “27 percent of all Internet users were social gamers of some sort and 42 percent of all social networkers play games. In all 62 million people are playing social games of some sort. So a lot of people are playing games in a social network and buying certain types of virtual products.

Those virtual products are consumables tied to achievement in the games, not permanent objects, usually, Choy says.

Hooking people on achievement

“It’s the concept of hooking people on achievement within the broader concept of gamification. You get people used to making short goals,” Choy says. Then you present them with a longer, more difficult goal they may wish to attain, but they may lack the time to complete and want to speed up the process. “That’s where you monetize.Once they’re hooked on achievement, then you charge.”

The concept can be applied to anything, content, e-commerce, any experience that’s social in nature and involves friends, Choy adds.  “Where people want to surpass time or material constraints, that’s where you monetize. Build achievement into how you think about offering your products or services on social media platforms.”

Choy says there are compelling opportunities in brand and performance advertising, social commerce and mobile marketing as well. Social commerce, for instance, “Is probably the least developed, but potentially the most compelling,” he says. We could tell from our interview that you’ll be hearing practical ideas that will get the gears of your mind cranking.


Time Warner Cable preparing for Irene to hit the East Coast

Friday, August 26th, 2011
Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene bearing down on the East Coast

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the East Coast, Time Warner Cable is taking steps to prepare for the impact of the storm.  Time Warner Cable has more than 5.9 million residential and business customers from the Carolinas to New England.

Time Warner Cable has Business Recovery Unit trailers in place in key locations along the East Coast so restoration efforts can begin as soon as it is safe to enter potentially impacted areas.  The trailers hold everything from fiber, generators and chainsaws to emergency supplies for crews, such as tents, flashlights and water.

“By positioning equipment in strategic areas before the storm, Time Warner Cable is able to quickly respond to those communities that sustain the most damage,” says Mike Munley, president of residential services, Time Warner Cable East.  “We know our residential and business customers rely on our digital phone, Internet and cable services to stay connected to information and each other, particularly during severe weather and we are committed to getting customers back on line as soon as it is safe to do so.”

With more than 17,000 employees throughout the East, Time Warner Cable takes the following proactive measures to ensure that we are ready to help customers in the event of severe weather:

•       Technicians have extra equipment and fuel on hand
•       Generators have been tested and backup power equipment is prepared for deployment
•       Additional technicians, maintenance, construction and customer service representatives are scheduled around the clock
•       Call center employees up and down the East Coast are ready to answer customer calls, online chat and Tweets from impacted areas
•       Work-from-home representatives will take customer calls from their living rooms
•       Technicians across the East can be quickly mobilized to provide support to the impacted areas that need the most help.  In addition, Time Warner Cable can call in employees from other states to help if needed.

Time Warner Cable’s 24/7 robust automated phone system tells customers if we know about an outage in their area.  If the customer hears information about the outage, customers don’t need to take any action. If they don’t hear about the outage impacting their neighborhood, they can report it by telling the system their services are out.  They can also follow the steps to talk to a customer service representative.  The number for residential customers to call is 1-866-4-TWCNOW.

In addition, outage information is available at   You can also follow the latest developments on Twitter, @TWCCarolinas.

For customers of Time Warner Cable Business Class, the 24/7 support team is available to assist by calling 1-877-892-2220.

Just plugging in 1M electric cars would boost energy costs significantly

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Elettrica, an electric car with lithium ion battery tech

Simply “plugging in” one million electric cars could add $750 million in annual wholesale energy costs unless “smart charging” is adopted, according to a joint study conducted by PJM and Better Place, released by Better Place today.

Similarly, consumers who choose to leverage time-of-use pricing can see some price relief – less than 10 percent annually – however; the wholesale energy business would still feel the impact of ad hoc charging.

Conversely, “smart charging” one million electric cars via a central network operator can cut in half the increase in wholesale energy costs compared to simply plugging in or time-of-use pricing while reducing driving costs by one-fifth.

The joint study conducted by PJM and Better Place analyzed the impact of one million electric cars on the MidAtlantic States’ grid. The study modelled the market and pricing impact of one million electric cars and related charging infrastructure.

The greater Washington – Baltimore area was selected for modelling because it already experiences transmission congestion issues and is a targeted area for electric vehicle adoption.

“Because of the ad hoc nature and unpredictability of when each electric car would be plugged in, the extra $750 million in annual costs would be borne unequally by market participants and consumers,” said Hugh McDermott, Vice President of Utility and Smart Grid Alliances for Better Place.

“With smart charging, a central network operator is able to leverage dynamic wholesale energy prices to optimize the entire fleet’s charging at the lowest possible cost and impact to the grid and the consumer. Our customers and utility partners around the world stand to benefit from smart charging.”

Smart-charging possible via centrally dispatched grid

“Smart charging is possible when there’s real-time coordination through a centrally dispatched grid, which will facilitate prioritization and varying charging rates,” said Chantal Hendrzak, PJM’s General Manager Applied Solutions. “Flexible load benefits of EV charging are captured more easily by RTO, ISO and Utility operations through integration more directly into existing operations and practices.”

Sam Jaffe, Research Manager at IDC Energy Insights, commented: “Most electric vehicle drivers will want to be able to plug in according to their own needs, but unmanaged charging on a large scale will be costly for everyone—the driver, the utility and the grid operator. A centrally managed model can result in significant cost savings and improved grid stability, without impairing the fueling needs of the EV owners.”

“While many of the advantages of electrification of transport are well known, such as the diversity of domestically available fuels, price stability and spare capacity, the Better Place – PJM study reveals that managed charging can optimize the relationship between EVs and the grid, minimizing capital expenses and maximizing grid reliability,” said Robbie Diamond, President and CEO of the Electrification Coalition (EC). “The US should work to maximize these benefits to make EVs a true asset to our economic and national security.”

Full study