Amazing. That was my reaction, and expect yours will be too, learning about the efforts of Dana Lewis and Scott Leibrand, true independent health innovators, on their closed-loop DIY Artificial Pancreas System (DIYPS). They began work on it in 2013, initially setting out to create a better glucose monitor alarm system–for example, one loud enough to wake someone before blood sugar dropped to dangerous levels. From that foundation, they set out to tackle “state-of-the-art medical technology that was stuck in the last century.”
After a full year of trial data (patient sample size: n=1… Dana herself) and lab-tests, they observed reduced eAG and A1Cs (tests which show blood glucose levels over the prior 3 months).
The DIYPS includes an insulin pump, and a cloud-connected continuous glucose monitor (with a receiver that auto-uploads).
From the DIYPS.org Blog:
#DIYPS was developed with the goal of solving a well-known problem with an existing FDA-approved medical device. As recounted here (from Scott) and here (from Dana), we set out to figure out a way to augment continuous glucose monitor (CGM) alerts, which aren’t loud enough to wake heavy sleepers, and to alert a loved one if the patient is not responding. We were able to solve those problems and include additional features such as:
- Real-time processing of blood glucose (BG), insulin on board, and carbohydrate decay
- Customizable alerts based on CGM data and trends
- Real-time predictive alerts for future high or low BG states (hours in advance)
- Continually updated recommendations for required insulin or carbs
…and as of December 2014, we ‘closed the loop’ and have #DIYPS running as a closed loop artificial pancreas.
The pair are looking for funding “to develop #DIYPS into a scalable system” to help make managing diabetes easier. FDA approval notwithstanding, it’s hard to imagine how an open-source biomedical technology could meet with anything but excitement by those in need of a solution.
Dana writes: “Scott and I are hoping that we can not only show the world how open source innovation and new regulatory paradigms can deliver safe and effective results… but that we can also change how all successful medical device companies approach interoperability, and how traditional medical researchers do research – possibly in partnership with patient researchers like us.”
This is the kind of creative energy that improves (and even saves) lives. Open Source/DIY technology is one kind of innovation that would be exciting to see at Health Startup Weekend in May. Personal necessity is often the wellspring of innovation. What will your legacy be?
It was pretty late on a Friday evening of November 2013. Sam Woodard, a math teacher at the Cleveland High School in Seattle, was watching the Startup Weekend Education pitches from his seat in the University of Washington Paccar Hall Auditorium. He did not know anyone at all and was initially planning on joining a team and seeing what the event was like for his first Startup Weekend. But as he heard more and more 60 minute pitches he felt that he could present his own idea. A nudge from another teacher seated next to him was enough to get Sam to stand up and wait in line for his time to share his idea: MyWorksheets, an iPad app to capture worksheets and make it possible for students to fill them in digitally.
Sam recruited a multi disciplinary team of developers, designers and business people and they built the app that ended up winning the first prize of Startup Weekend Seattle EDU 2013. Using the prizes that they won, the team ended up pushing the project further with a video for the Global Startup Battle and the winning pitch for the Northwest battle pitch competition in December.
In another serendipitous event, Software Engineer Kostub Deshmukh, Sam’s current co-founder and CTO, discovered the MyWorksheets video on the Global Startup Battle website and decided to join forces with him. Based on the feedback they got during customer validation sessions, they decided to pivot and work on MathChat instead. MathChat is an iOS app that makes it easy for students to help each other to solve math problems over chat. Sam and his co-founder are now going through the Imagine K12 incubator in San Francisco and getting more and more users for their app!
Why should you go to Startup Weekend EDU? In Sam’s own words “You don’t know what’s going to happen but this may be the event that sparks an idea that ends up being your startup!”
It’s your turn. Sign up for Startup Weekend Education Seattle.
Not in Seattle? Find a Startup Weekend Education near you!
90 days have passed and the culmination of the Techstars Seattle program is here. Demo Day. 10 companies will be pitching their businesses in front of hundreds of investors. As Always, I’m excited. If you don’t have a ticket for the event you can follow Demo Day via Twitter: #TsDemoDay , #TsSeattle, and @Techstars.
There are still tickets left for the Launch Party that follows Demo Day. You can reserve your ticket here: www.DemoDayLaunchParty.com – The discount code: DDAY_25 will give you 25% off your ticket.
Here are the 10 Companies and their one-liners:
As a millennial that grew up in Detroit, its hard for me to imagine a time before Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, or Michael Jackson.
Berry Gordy’s frustration with pop culture pushed him to create one of the most successful African-American owned and operated businesses in the U.S. He envisioned a world where the music he wrote didn’t just live on the local radio stations but would ride to the top of the pop charts. With an $800 loan from his family, Gordy founded Motown Records.
As I look at the recent tech diversity workforce reports, I see data that reflects the current dominant tech culture. To be Black and be a part of the tech ecosystem means that you might have gone to a college or university where you were amongst the 3% who were Computer Science majors according to the Computer Research Association. Recent research also shows that weak ties in your social network might be more diverse than that of your White counterparts, and pattern matching by VC’s could prohibit you from getting funding for your new startup company.
On January 12, 1959 in Detroit, after writing songs for other record labels, Berry Gordy must have at some point asked himself, “How might we create a place where African Americans can create pop hits and own their publishing?” Today, I ask the question, “How might we create fertile ground for the African American community in Seattle to grow with the city’s current tech boom?”
Motown was a place-based solution that provided training for songwriters, focus group events for performers to hone their sound, and physical space in the form of Hitsville, USA on West Grand Boulevard. Thanks to support from community leaders, engaged citizens, Startup Seattle, Crosscut.com, and companies like Google, the Central District, an historically African American neighborhood, has “Hack the CD”. It is a collective of self determined social innovators reliant on the community for sustainable and equitable growth in the Central Area of Seattle, also known as Africatown.
The students also had a pitch workshop from public speaking professional, Toyia Taylor of we.app. Ten of the students received a Coding Dojo Junior Green Belt which shows their exceptional level of mastery.
Games are usually a big hit with kids. In May, two Middle Schoolers took first place at the University of Washington Startup Weekend with their game that teaches kids to code. It is important that this generation learn to be creators and not just consumers of technology. Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Insights show that 73% of Whites and 67% of Hispanics believe Blacks influence mainstream culture.
As the Central District community of thinkers, hackers, and makers grows, they’ll need events to apply their knowledge and skills. Hack the CD is organizing the Central District Startup Weekend hackathon event on September 26 – 28. During this weekend, Garfield High School will open its doors to a 54 hour entrepreneurial jam session with software developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and creatives young and old. No high school or college degree will be necessary to pitch an idea, form a team, and build a venture. There will be coaches covering a wide range of fields from community organizing to growth hacking. They’ll have an after party following the demo of the new products, in honor of the local pioneers that came before, like Manuel Lopes, Quincy Jones and Jimi Hendrix.
“Imagine a place where people of one community share resources. Imagine life without competition and instead replaced with collaboration. Imagine a collective society. Imagine our very own Central District possessing these qualities; building each other up instead of dragging one another down. Wouldn’t that be some place? Who wouldn’t yearn to live in that world?”
– Addisalem Gebremedhin and Solomon Welderfael via Central District News
What if there are more coding bootcamps and hackathons in our neighborhood? What if the young coders built apps for local businesses? It gives me goosebumps when I close my eyes and imagine what an “Africatown Innovation District” could look like in just the next five years if the teams that start businesses at the Central District Startup Weekend continue to collaborate.
An Innovation District is what the Brookings Institute defines as a synergistic relationship between people of a community, anchor businesses and the built environment that facilitates idea generation, but also spurs productive, inclusive and sustainable economic development.
Just like Motown had Hitsville, Africatown will need physical space that not only incubates social innovation but communicates collaboration. In her book, “Weaving a Tapestry of Resistance,” Sharon Sutton, the first African American woman in the United States to be promoted to full professor of architecture, says that the physical environment can be understood as a system of three-dimensional, hieroglyphic symbols – a text that conveys information about the social, political, economic, and cultural relations of a society. What will our environment read?
August 28th marks the 2nd Startup Weekend Bootcamp that Seattle has hosted this year and we’re hoping to make it something really special.
BattleDecks (aka PowerPoint Karaoke) is “an improvisational activity in which a participant must deliver a presentation based on a set of slides that they have never seen before.” (Wikipedia-official definition y’all)
As far as we can tell, in Seattle, this has only been done once before by Creative Mornings which was both 1) a blast and 2) a learning experience.
As part of the Seattle Startup Community, we at UP Global HQ are excited to resurrect this nifty activity with our own little twist.
1) We’re gonna make it all about pitching startups!
2) We’re gonna do it at night, over drinks!
3) We’re gonna learn something!
Behold, PITCH KARAOKE! An untraditional take on pitch prep featuring 6 mystery pitch-decks, 6 unprepared pitchers, laughs, learning, and beer.
Pitch Karaoke seeks to support anyone interested in startups and entrepreneurship by:
– helping people overcome public speaking fears
– educating the community on the critical elements of a 5 minute pitch presentation
– pushing future entrepreneurs to be comfortable with the concept of failure
– bringing together the Seattle startup community in a humorous yet relevant environment
6 mystery slide decks will be created to showcase 6 imaginary startups.On the day of the event, volunteers from the crowd will be asked to pitch these startups in front of Seattle’s welcoming, friendly, and HUMBLE entrepreneur community. 😉
– They will NOT see the slides in advance of their presentation.
– They will NOT be told the outline of critical presentation elements.
– The startups will be imaginary. They do not exist in real life… yet.
– Presentations are Ignite-style: 5 minutes total – 20 slides auto-advancing every 20 seconds.
At the conclusion of the pitches, the audience & pitchers will gather to discuss the critical elements of a good pitch and to recap highlights from the evening.
Check out this sample of what’s to come:
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Hope to see you there!
This article is written by, Lewis Krell, a Canadian ex-pat currently stealing jobs from hard working Americans. In his spare time, Lewis enjoys planning trips on Utrip, allocating capital to its most productive use and dispensing advice despite being severely under-qualified to do so.
I believe that entrepreneurship and capitalism are two of the most positive forces on the planet. I believe that Shark Tank is one of the best shows on television. I also believe that too many bright, entrepreneurial minds are currently working in finance, accounting and consulting because they have narrowly defined views of what being an entrepreneur can be. The reality is that we can’t all be founders and CEO’s but one can be extremely entrepreneurial without being the entrepreneur.
After working for five years at an established, traditional Investment Consulting firm, I decided to pack my bags and join a promising travel technology start-up, Utrip, as the Director of Business Development. Despite my affinity for entrepreneurship, I didn’t leave my corporate confines to start up my own venture, but rather, I left to work directly under the guy who left his own corporate prison to start a successful company. I think of myself as a modern day ‘Hand of the King’.
There is no industry that suffers more from survivorship bias then entrepreneurship and it shows due to the plethora of articles about quitting your job to become an entrepreneur. If you are lucky enough to write an article giving advice about why you should start your own company that means one of two things:
• Your journey has just begun so success nor failure has happened yet
• Things have gone, at the very least, moderately well for you
You seldom see the article about people who tried and failed to make it on their own and then went back to their old careers. Failed entrepreneurs are much more common than successful ones and you can be sure that they are much less likely to write advice columns. I mention this because I find that the connective tissue of all stories about cubicle jockeys working for a big company daydreaming of making it on their own is exactly that – they go out on their own.
This can be a dangerous thought. Not everyone is meant to be a CEO and even if you are meant to be a CEO and start your own business, maybe the time isn’t right for you right now. Too many people get discouraged from leaving their traditional jobs because they think the path you have to take is to go ahead alone, or at most, with a cofounder, and start your own venture. Too many people equate entrepreneurship with being the founder of a new company.
Many would-be entrepreneurs stay in their comfy 9-5’s because they don’t think they have found the idea yet. The billion dollar idea that will lead you to a life of yacht parties and space exploration if you’re a fun person, or bequeathing millions to your pets and having your mistress record your horribly racist opinions if you are a terrible person. However, as the morbid expression goes:
There are many ways to skin a cat and there are also many ways to be entrepreneurial.
So what’s it like going from Finance to the Startup world? It’s not for everyone but for me it is a great fit. I find it liberating and not only because I really enjoy not shaving. To work for a company that you truly are passionate about, and where your success is perfectly aligned with the company’s success, more than makes up for the fact that I’m pretty sure our office furniture was purchased at a prison auction. Although it’s great having no websites blocked at work and I certainly am saving money on dry-cleaning bills, the thing I enjoy the most is that my impact on the company is tangible.
Every phone call I make can lead to something good for the company as opposed to my old firm where I was just another handsome, young cog in a well-oiled machine. A cog that worked to make the older, richer cogs in the machine… even richer. Please note that this arrangement doesn’t bother me. Those old, rich cogs worked hard to build the machine I was lucky enough to work in but I didn’t want to wait 15 years to become one of them. I knew the moment I handed in my resignation letter that the wheels were already turning to replace me. In a short period of time things would be running along smoothly again, just as they had before I got there, and just as they will long after I’m gone.
They say – if you don’t want your boss’s job then you are in the wrong job. Although I wouldn’t have minded my boss’ paycheck or his ability to delegate work, I never once wanted his job. I knew I didn’t want to get too comfortable where I was and forsake my entrepreneurial inclination. Luckily, I had a great work/life balance so I was able to spend time exploring some of my ideas further. I filed for patents and I had prototypes built, but I never actually made the leap to fully commit myself to any of these endeavors.
The opportunity to work for Utrip presented itself mainly because some of the ideas and thoughts I had while working meshed with what the company was creating. I was able to pitch ideas to the CEO I never would have had if I tried to start my own venture years before. By being patient and realistic I was able to find a great opportunity to see some of my ideas come to life, and to finally take the plunge to become an entrepreneur.
It’s important to note that I have no illusions about my role in the company. I get to work on and help with some of the most exciting parts of being an entrepreneur like fundraising, product discussions, strategy discussions, hiring and of course, selling. Having said that, my sweat and tears (and minimal blood) that will go into this business – if it’s successful as we hope – will never be on the same level as Utrip’s CEO, Gilad Berenstein. Gilad started Utrip at age 23 and as much as I thought I would make a kick-ass CEO at age 23, the reality is that I was probably not mature, motivated or sober enough to be running a company where people’s livelihoods depended on me.
Not jumping half-heartedly into trying to start my own venture, as I almost did, was one of the best decisions of my life. Every day I come to work and find creative solutions to solving problems as I attempt to turn our wonderful product, Utrip, into a market-leading business. My life is very entrepreneurial, but I am not the entrepreneur. And I couldn’t be happier with the arrangement.
Momchil Kyurkchiev and Andrew First crossed paths while working on the monetization side of Youtube. They decided to leave Google to start Leanplum, a service that helps product managers and marketers optimize mobile content and messaging by providing a platform for mobile A/B testing, personalization and analytics. I recently called the two founders to learn about their progress and how they have benefitted from being part of Techstars.
How did you come up with the idea?
Andrew: We used to run hundreds of A/B tests at Google. The Google culture is very data-driven, they constantly iterate and always test hypotheses. We realized that the speed and ability to iterate had really diminished with the move from web to mobile apps. We decided to bring the best practices from Google to mobile app development.
Tell us about your experience with the Techstars program.
Andrew: To be honest, the Techstars program was probably the most productive time of our lives. Not just because it was a lot of work, but also because we got the right things done. As engineers coming out of Google, we knew how to build systems but we didn’t know a lot about the business side of things. We learned this at Techstars and it was invaluable to us.
How did you benefit from participating in Techstars?
Momchil: The mentors provide amazing and very direct feedback that puts you on the right track. We ended up establishing great relationships with our mentors who gave us lots of advice and helped us connect with the right people, including our first paying customer. On top of that, being in an office where you have nine other companies who are in the same boat as you is very powerful.
What was the hardest part of Techstars?
Andrew: The hardest part of Techstars is what they call “the rollercoaster.” A day that stands clear in my memory was early on in the program, when we discovered we had a competitor. Up until that point, we thought we were the only company in the world who had thought of this idea. We set up a meeting with you to share the bad news. The first thing you did was laugh out loud and then say, “What are you talking about, guys? This is probably the best thing that could happen to you!” We were a bit confused. You said, “Look, if you have a competitor, that is proof you have a market.” We realized there was a market worth fighting over. At that point, we went from the worst of days to one of the better of days.
What was the best part of the program for you?
Momchil: It was getting the chance to control your own destiny. The fulfillment you get from having your own business is just incredible. In terms of professional happiness, nothing really compares.
What do you wish you had known before starting Techstars?
Momchil: One of the things that caught us by surprise was that nobody invests between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. We raised about half of our
goal between demo day and Thanksgiving. Then, nothing. Until January 5, when the people who had radio-silenced us for a month showed up with a check, ready to invest. That was a nerve-wrecking month.
Can you tell us more about your progress?
Andrew: We raised $250,000 before demo day. After demo day we got highlighted on AngelList as one of the top-trending startups. A big reason
for this was our demo day video. The Techstars videos are so professionally made, and the pitches have been practiced dozens of times, literally. That made a big impact on AngelList. We reached $500,000 in funding before the holidays and the rest came in January. As of now, we have raised about $1.1 million in total.
What is your advice for people who are considering applying to Techstars?
Momchil: I am gonna quote master Yoda on this one: “Do or do not, there is no try. ”
Leanplum is out of the Seattle 2012 program, which runs for three months from August through October. The application round for Techstars in Seattle opened on March 17 and if you think you’re ready, I encourage you to apply. The deadline for applying is May 4.
Hi, I’m Andy Sack. I’ve had the pleasure of being the Managing Director of Techstars in Seattle for the past four years and I’m excited to announce that we have opened applications for our fifth program.
Top four reasons you should apply to the Seattle program:
1. You’ll be mentored by the best and your network will explode. Seattle’s startup community is a big one with a strong, northwest frontier spirit. You’ll be instantly connected with Seattle’s high quality mentors, investors and resources. Get ready to be surrounded by like-minded, helpful Seattleites everywhere you go!
2. Your company will accelerate. A wasted year in the technology space can make you outdated and worse, miss your market window. Why would you delay?
3. You’ll be in the center of the Seattle tech scene. There’s no question that the tech community in Seattle is expanding at a rapid rate. Be in the middle of it all surrounded by Amazon, Microsoft and tons of amazing startups.
4. Seattle is beautiful. Yeah, you might hear people complain about the rain, but not to worry since Techstars takes place during our best months. Seattle is surrounded by amazing day hikes, camping trips, kayaking, and basically any outdoor activity you could ever imagine is here! And yes– you will see the sun too.
If Seattle sounds like a place you want to spend three months working on your startup then I’d like to invite you and your co-founders to apply to the Seattle program and give your company an unfair advantage. Applications for Seattle are open. Early application deadline is April 13th and final deadline is May 4th.
Thibaut Labarre is the Startup Weekend Education’s Innovator of the month!
When Thibaut lived in France, he was involved in a movement for students to innovate the way they were taught. Doing that, he discovered that Startup Weekend had an education vertical and was scaling that vertical across the world. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean from France to become a student in Natural Language Processing at the University of Washington. He is now a developer at Amazon’s customer service and volunteers as a Startup Weekend Education organizer in Seattle, WA!
Check out his TED Talk at TEDxYouthSeattle – “Let’s Become the Mutagenic Agents Education Needs”
This post was written by Gabrielle Mehlman. She is a first-year master’s student in Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, focusing on UX research. She’s also the lead singer in a fresh-off-the-bat, yet to-be-named alt. rock band in Seattle, so follow her on Twitter to see when and where they’ll be playing!
I walked in a bit nervous. I had heard people would be “intimidating” and would have “done a million of these so I’d be totally blown out of the water”. I am certainly no expert, and just began in the field of user experience/research… I couldn’t even figure out which simple category (Designer, Maker, Hustler) I fit into. Turns out plenty of people can’t figure out where they fit either, so first piece of advice, don’t worry about that.
There was a bit of mingling, a few announcements including a great, short talk on the Secrets to Startup Weekend by Greg Gottesman of Madrona Venture Group and then the pitching began. It was great to hear everyone’s ideas, and see how supportive they were of each other. At the very end, I decided to pitch a half baked idea just to get up there and try it – and I was happy I did! There were a ton of great ideas, so deciding on one was not easy. In the end, I chose Boomerang: Turning your old stuff into cash.
Boomerang resonated with me because I recently left Providence, RI to come to Seattle. Along with it, I left a trail of “stuff” behind: at the curb, my friends’ houses, the Goodwill, my old apartment, and my dad’s already-too-full house (sorry Dad!). And a lot of it was valuable! But when you can only take whatever you can fit in your car, your idea of “valuable” changes a bit. (i.e. “Is it replaceable or non-essential?Yes? Dump it!”)
So my main goal of the weekend, aside from getting to know and working with inspiring, awesome people, was to gain some user research experience. This included creating an online survey and several personas, performing interviews and cutting these into a (very) short clip – of course, with the help of the team.
My favorite part of the weekend was going out and talking to people on the streets about their experiences with “getting rid of old stuff”. I wasn’t sure how talking to complete strangers would go (visions of heinous rejections ran through my head), but I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and helpful people were… admittedly once I assured them that I was not, in fact, asking for money.
I video-recorded these interactions, and then watched them over and over again to create the short video for the pitch. Little do these people know that they now have a “biggest fan”! Each time I watched them, these people became more and more real to me… they were my friends, my family, my next-door neighbor. I felt as though I had found an amazing, tiny window into these complete strangers’ lives, something so rare in this fast-paced, digital world.
Needless to say, we tied for third with RackFin, a social network for hunters and fishers, and felt great about our accomplishments! No doubt I’ll be going to another Startup Weekend soon.
And now for some advice for SUW newbies:
1. Don’t necessarily believe what people “say” about Startup Weekend. It isn’t scary! People are super friendly and supportive, so no need to be an expert.
2. Be clear on what you want out of the weekend. You’re going to have to make decisions fast, so the more you know what you want, the more likely you will be to get it!
3. Once you know what you want, be sure to go out and get it. Time is short, so you need to be assertive and make time for the things you want to do! If networking or making new friends is important to you, make sure you take time to talk and connect with people. If there are certain skills you want to gain, seek those out and tell your team, who will more likely than not want to help you get them!
4. Some things you and everyone else will be looking for (so don’t be ashamed!)
To anyone doing Startup Weekend Seattle EDU, good luck and have fun!
What’s your first-time Startup Weekend advice?