The past week in Chicago has shed a lot of light on the technology scene here. TechWeek kicked off at the Merchandise Mart on June 22nd and provided a great space for all tech enthusiasts to hear from some of the greatest minds in the industry, as well as a platform to network with like-minded individuals.
To top things off this week, we had another installment of Technori Pitch, highlighting five local startups and a keynote speech from Chuck Templeton, Founder of OpenTable and OhSoWe. If you have ever booked a reservation for a restaurant online, chances are you have either used or heard of OpenTable. The online service takes the hassle out of picking which restaurant to choose from, and makes the reservation process seamless and as hassle free as possible.
The idea came to Chuck when he was observing his wife going through the frustration of booking a night on the town. The OpenTable platform allows users to easily identify a restaurant, click a few buttons, and boom: have a table booked. Time saved equals time to indulge in fun.
While Chuck is no doubt extremely proud of what he was able to build, he addressed a different side of things with his keynote speech on Tuesday night. Our world is becoming extremely complex and will face some of the toughest economic and social scenarios human kind has ever experienced: Climate change, depletion of natural resources, increase of government debt, overpopulation, large differences in individual incomes, etc.
Sure, there are non-profits and various other organizations that have always and will always continue to solve these problems. However, these efforts alone are not enough. In order to tackle the challenges our world faces, entrepreneurs in the private sector need to build businesses that not only earn profits, but create a culture of solving economic, social, and environmental problems. We can’t sit back and react. We need to be proactive.
This type of thinking is what drove Chuck to become a huge proponent of Impact Engine. It is a twelve-week accelerator program that “provides entrepreneurs with the resources, tools, and support they need to build market-based ventures that change the world”. More so, it includes seed capital, a highly coveted network, office space at Chicago’s 1871 location, and a platform for large-scale exposure. Everyone is encouraged to apply, but your idea better have world-changing proponents behind it.
After Chuck’s speech, things kicked off as usual with presentations from five local startups: RightFit, Kurfuffl, GiGFunder, SwingByte, and Project Fixup.
Everybody wants to be fit. We set our alarms for 6:00 AM to go on a run, plan on hitting the gym right after work, or even map out our healthy eating for the week. But lets be honest, that almost never works out according to plan. We get so busy with our jobs, personal lives, or other commitments we have going on. This is where RightFit comes into play.
It is an online platform where trainers and trainees can unite to form the perfect relationship based on individual preferences and goals. By filling out a detailed questionnaire about yourself, RightFit is able to recommend a trainer that will fit your exact specifications. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never lifted a weight in your life, or if you just missed the cut for the 2012 London Olympics. You can even check out personal videos for each trainer so that you know exactly what you’d be getting yourself into.
Want to work out in the comfort of your home? No problem. More advanced and are looking to exercise in state-of-the-art facilities? RightFit has got you covered there as well. They even have nutritionists that can accommodate the foodie inside of us all. It’s simple to sign up and kick-start a new lifestyle by visiting the RightFit site.
Competitiveness is an innate feature programmed into every single one of us. When you break it down and truly think about it, we are competing in almost all aspects of our lives, every day. A lot of times it can be tough; however, it can also be extremely fun and social.
Kurfuffl has taken this philosophy and created a social gaming platform that brings people together through competition. The mobile based application allows you to create competitions in whatever realm you can think of and watch who comes out victorious. Want to see who can run the furthest over a week span? Which one of your friends can eat the most slices of pizza at Giordano’s? Maybe you’ll even get into a kurfuffl about who can get the most legitimate phone numbers for potential dates at the bar…
The possibilities are endless and Kurfuffl allows the users to get creative and control their own competitions. They might even encourage some cheating every now and then, because as their co-founder says, “competition without controversy is boring!” You can download their mobile application on all Android-powered phones today, with the iPhone application coming out early August.
The landscape for discovering musical talent has changed drastically in recent years, giving consumers access to artists in almost any geographic location with the click of a button. These days, we can listen to music across a variety of different platforms: Spotify, iTunes, Pandora- and the list goes on.
However, one thing about music will never change: people crave the atmosphere and experience of a live concert. So, go ahead and check out your local venues for the band you want to see play today!
…Wait. That band you want to see isn’t playing anywhere near you. In fact, they aren’t even currently touring. Bummer. A big reason behind this is that a lot of artists don’t have the necessary funds to commit to a tour. Enter: GigFunder.
GigFunder is simple. Sign up and send out a tweet to the band you want to see in concert. If you pique their interest, the band will set up a campaign on GigFunder highlighting the expenses they would need covered in order to go on tour. Then, you put on your marketing hat and spread the word like wildfire in hopes that other people want to see them live in concert, too.
GigFunder is looking to revolutionize the way consumers and artists interact with one another. See for yourself by signing up today and getting on the tweet waves to communicate with your favorite band today!
I don’t know about you, but at one time or another, I’ve imagined myself wearing a red Nike polo on Sunday at a PGA tournament, sinking a deep putt followed by a fist bump. This scenario isn’t too likely in the near future, but hey, nothing is impossible. In the meantime, it’s probably a good idea to nail down your golf swing.
This is where swingbyte comes in. It is a device that attaches to any golf club that delivers a variety of swing data in real-time. It also connects directly with your smart phone or tablet via Bluetooth technology. It will show you the swing plane and the actual path of the club for each shot, as well as gives you a visual representation of the data. On top of that, the platform provides specific metrics to ensure you can adjust your shot to replicate the beautiful swing that landed smack dab in the middle of the fairway.
The device has gained a lot of publicity from major news and technology outlets, and is now being sold at thousands of AT&T retail stores across the country. The device will currently run you $149. Learn more about the product features and how it can improve you swing by checking out their site.
It’s 2012 (riveting statement of fact, I know). This means that almost everything we are used to is changing at a rapid pace. One of those things is the world of dating. There are tons of sites we’ve all heard of: Match, eHarmony, OkCupid, and the list goes on. The problem is that these sites are all too similar. You create a profile, click around the site, send out messages, and wait to hear back.
To solve this problem, Project Fixup has created a new way of online dating. There are no profiles, no messages, no scheduling.
The way it works is pretty simple: tell Project Fixup about yourself. Get fixed up. Confirm the match. Go on a date. They even guarantee awesomeness, with a full refund if you aren’t satisfied.
Want to try it yourself? They have an upcoming event for Craft Beer lovers, where you and a date travel around the city indulging in some delicious liquids from some of the best breweries around. Check out the details.
It was once again a packed house for Technori Pitch and we would like to thank keynote speaker Chuck Templeton and all the startups for their presentations. Join us next month for another great opportunity to network, learn about the technology scene, and find your next favorite product!
|About the author||Ryan Thorpe||@Technori|
|Ryan Thorpe is your typical Chicago kid. Loves the sports teams and slams deep dish pizza. Also has one of the goofiest dogs you will ever meet, Bud. Enjoys anything that has to do with the Chicago start up scene, and tries to immerse himself into the space as much as possible! Say hello to Ryan at @budcity.|
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