The Extreme Tech Challenge team has reviewed each and every one of the nearly 2,000 interested applicants to determine the Top 25 semi-finalists. The hottest areas in technology are represented in this group from medical and wearables to IT and conservation. All are poised and ready to scale.
We announced the Top 25 live on stage at the TIBCO NOW conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 9:50am Pacific Time. TIBCO is an XTC sponsor, which has offered every single applicant free 3-month access to their amazing data analytics tool, TIBCO Spotfire, to help them strengthen their presentations with real-time information quickly and easily pulled in and beautifully displayed with graphs and/or charts.
The Top 25 will now compete for a chance to be one of the ten finalists who pitch live on stage at the world’s largest consumer electronics show, CES, in Las Vegas on January 8, 2015 at 2pm in the Marco Polo room at The Venetian (Get Tickets HERE). Thanks to TIBCO, the Top 3 winners selected at CES will fly to Sir Richard Branson’s private Necker Island to pitch the legendary entrepreneur, along with an all-star panel of judges.
Here is the Top 25 in random order.
Admetsys created the first fully-automated blood glucose control system for hospital care. It’s basically an artificial pancreas.
Largest and fastest growing Virtual Medical Practice which allows patients to have video office visits.
They’re revolutionizing electricity generation by empowering all of us to turn our waste into renewable on-site energy.
The first medical hands-free technology on Google Glass for surgeons.
9:50am – 10am PACIFIC TIME
It will be livestreamed HERE: http://now.tibco.com/video/tibconow2014-livestream/
The point of the Extreme Tech Challenge is to help entrepreneurs reduce the friction to scale. But let’s back up for a second. Do you know what I mean by “friction”? It’s all the stuff that gets in your way when you’re trying to take a great idea and build it into a great business. Technical challenges, lack of funds, lack of know-how and other tangible and intangible resources—it’s all friction.
The latest prize from XTC partner IBM goes a long way to eliminating a couple of those major lack-of-funds and lack-of-expert-resources issues. Building or buying (and then maintaining) cloud hosting infrastructure and databases takes a hefty percentage of a startup’s budget and (even worse) can distract your technical experts, who need to be focused on innovation, not infrastructure.
Enter IBM, which is generously offering all three XTC finalists FREE cloud infrastructure from SoftLayer, an IBM company.
It’s also offering FREE services from Cloudant, an IBM company that delivers IBM’s scalable, always-on NoSQL database as a service (DBaaS). These services give you control over your apps and data but take off the pressure of running all that infrastructure, so they can help you get you off the ground—and then some. With data centers all over the world, they can help you comply with data residency rules as you grow internationally.
Here are the details of what IBM is offering to help winners reach their goals:
➢ 3rd place, total value $15,000: $1,000 / month worth of cloud hosting and $250/month of Cloudant DBaaS usage for 12 months
➢ 2nd place, total value $30,000: $2,000 / month worth of cloud hosting and $500 per month of Cloudant DBaaS usage for 12 months
➢ 1st place, total value $39,000: $2,500 / month of cloud hosting and $750 per month of Cloudant DBaaS usage for 12 months.
And keep watching this space, because I’ll be posting info on more prizes soon!
Will.i.am jumped into the tech entrepreneurial ring this week announcing the new smartphone, PULS, which he said over and over again was not a watch (But it really is a watch…and more). His presentation was all too familiar:
The dark clothing;
The simple messaging;
The sleek and sexy product;
The line-up of celebrity and corporate endorsements;
More importantly, he went beyond what I always call ‘the message’. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the words your PR specialist has told you to stick with no matter what the question. Always bring it back to the message of your brand, who you are, and the features of your product, right?
What Will.i.am did so effectively was to go beyond the product and speak about the purpose and the mission. It’s something that Steve Jobs nailed.
It’s something to consider as you market your product. What is your purpose? What is your mission? That’s the secret to creating a strong brand.
Below is my interview with Will.i.am at DREAMFORCE, in its entirety. His story is amazing.
One interesting fact I’d like to point out is that he grew up in the projects and his mom sent him off on a one-hour long bus ride every day to a better neighborhood to attend school. She dressed him in a full suit every single day telling him it was a reminder that he was there to work, not play. She didn’t just want him to succeed, she expected it. And he, thereby, did as well. And now he’s giving back to his neighborhood. That’s where his purpose and his mission comes in, and we kept coming back that during the interview.
Take a look:
• We will be looking for teams with the right vision, passion, and set of abilities. Successful start-up teams tend to have a programmer, a marketer / salesperson, a product manager, and someone with basic administrative abilities (put together simple financial analyses, deal with legal aspects, etc.). Ideally, the team members will have worked together before.
• One person on the team must be designated as the team lead at the time of the initial submission and thus is authorized to make all decisions on behalf of the team.
• Entrant teams must have a novel product or service that is scalable, addresses a clear market opportunity and gives the company a sustainable competitive advantage.
• Teams must have identified and validated a number of customers. They must demonstrate a strong need for their solution, e.g. actual sales, a large number of interviews across customers and experts.
• Teams must have a prototype or minimum viable product they will develop over the course of the competition.
• The product / service ideas that win in new markets need to have the right vision. These ideas will be part of a larger story of how things have evolved to today, and what will need to happen going forward. They should hit the wave at the right time — neither too early nor too late, along with reasoning for “why now”. Your product / service idea should address what the challenges with existing solutions are, and why your idea is a break-through.
• There are a number of markets you can choose to compete in. We want to hear from entrepreneurs who are competing for markets that generate at least $1 billion in sales per year. This means that the total number of potential customers multiplied by how much they’ll spend on your product each year should be greater than $1 billion. We also believe entrepreneurs should focus their efforts in capturing entirely new markets that didn’t exist before, or in disrupting old markets with new technology.
• You will be judged by the quality of your application. We will assume that the style, wording, and thoughtfulness of your presentation will be a reflection of how you will present your idea to customers, partners, and other future stakeholders.
• We are looking for WINNERS to weave into our community. There is no hard-and-fast rule as to current revenue level or prior capital raised, but we will be biased to pick disruptive companies where we think we can add value and make a difference to your success. That said, we are generally focused on companies with less than $10,000,000 in revenue since inception.
• The proposed business should not be in violation of any intellectual property rights; including but not limited to patent infringement.
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Bill Tai, Gary Shapiro, Lars Rasmussen, Othman Laraki and John Souza Offer Five Key Tips for Tech Entrepreneurs
Startups participating in The Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) (www.extremetechchallenge.com/enter) will have the opportunity to be mentored by some of the world’s leading venture capitalists and tech leaders. Members of the all-star judging panel and advisory council offer five key tips for tech entrepreneurs as they compete against hundreds of startups vying for capital, world class coaching and a chance to pitch Sir Richard Branson.
“Always surround yourself with the highest quality people you can,” said Bill Tai, Extreme Tech Challenge co-founder and legendary venture capitalist. “In the end, the best teams win.”
“Forget a lengthy business plan,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. “Quickly test your concept with feedback from scores of potential customers, then respond like a ninja and go to market.”
“Innovation happens outside the comfort zone,” said Lars Rasmussen, Facebook’s director of engineering for Facebook and the co-inventor of Google Maps. “Most people can do more than they think they can.”
“Choose the one thing that is going to matter the most to your users and customers,” said Othman Laraki, Color Genomics co-founder and former Twitter VP Product. “Take your best shot at making it awesome.”
“An overnight success is many long nights in the making,” said John Souza, founder of Social Media Marketing University, serial entrepreneur and veteran investment banker. “And it’s not about coming up with more ideas, it’s about making things happen.
More than 1,000 startups have already entered the Extreme Tech Challenge, a unique competition designed to fuel the world’s top emerging tech entrepreneurs and accelerate their success. Launched by MaiTai Global, the event gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their ideas at CES 2015. The top three finalist will venture to Sir Richard Branson’s private Necker Island to pitch him and our all-star team of judges, including the inventor of Google Maps Lars Rasmussen, Samsung President Young Sohn, CEA President Gary Shapiro, and Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from the edge of outer space.
Submissions for the Extreme Tech Challenge will be accepted until September 30, 2014. Participating startups should be tech-based with less than $10 million in revenue and have a working demo and product/market fit. Prizes include access to funding, free infrastructure, distribution support, investment banking consultation, legal and tax advice, social media training and social media management services.
To enter, visit www.extremetechchallenge.com/enter. To view an infographic that maps the path to the finish line for this year’s startup participants, visit www.rightsourcesocial.com/xtc. The infographic was created by SMMU and Right Source Social, two of this year’s XTC partners.
Infographic brought to you by Right Source Social.
The Extreme Tech Challenge is built on the premise of helping entrepreneurs lower the friction to scale, not just for those who reach the top 10, but for all applicants who take the time to apply. So, today I am excited to announce another XTC partner that is going to help in our plight.
TIBCO is giving ALL applicants a 3-month license to TIBCO Spotfire to help them to create the most amazing slide deck presentation to submit for the http://www.extremetechchallenge.com.
TIBCO Spotfire for desktop is an analytics and business intelligence platform. It allows users to perform in-depth analysis on their data through the use of predictive and complex statistics. It really makes it easy to visualize a large amount of data in just about any type of graph – a bar graphic, pie chart, tree map, heat map, or even a scatter plot chart, and more.
TIBCO Spotfire allows users to easily connect to a database, pull in a subset of data, and then quickly create visualizations to help them make more informed decisions. It can take just about any data, whether it’s from Salesforce, Google Analytics, LinkedIn, Twitter — anything with an API or that that can be exported or the software can pull data from, and it turns that information into easy-to-read graphs and charts. No coding required! Users hardly have to be tech savvy at all to create the most amazing visual demonstrations of their success thus far.
The reason I asked TIBCO to offer applicants a FREE 3-month license is because the XTC judges want to see the data. Not only are they going to be analyzing the working product demo but also proven product/market fit. Applicants must show the judges, not just tell them, that they’re bringing tremendous value to market and are poised and ready to scale. They want to see a demonstration of how entrepreneurs have used data to make strategic business decisions. And the judges aren’t going to have access to spreadsheets. Even if they did, I guarantee they wouldn’t have the time or energy to read all of them. TIBCO Spotfire will allow applicants to quickly create charts and graphs, then export them into their PowerPoint presentations. If they make the Top 10 or even Top 3, the finalists can even do their presentations straight through Spotfire to allow them to respond to the judges inquiries for deeper analytics real-time.
TIBCO Spotfire allows anyone a 1-month free trial HERE. But Tuesday morning at 10am PT, everyone who has started an application by that point will receive a 3-month license for TIBCO Spotfire directly in their email. So watch for it!
Enter the www.ExtremeTechChallenge.com now to strengthen your slide deck with amazing analytics that will set you apart from the competition!
Remember, September 30, 2014 is the deadline to submit your completed application.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
~ Kym McNicholas
For those of you who haven’t heard, the Extreme Tech Challenge is hosting a series of free webinars through our partners at Super Summit called XTC Academy. We explore different topics to help you better your submission, and your business. These interactive webinars give you a chance to access some of the top professionals in their respective fields that are experts in helping grow business and know the startup world inside and out. Keep an eye on our Twitter for announcements on upcoming XTC Academy sessions @ExTechChallenge.
On Wednesday we held a webinar with Powerpoint ninja Ljana Vimont, owner of boutique design agency Stinson. Stinson makes premium decks for some of the world’s largest Fortune 500s, as well as small startups located all over the globe with the aim of helping communicate their products, brands, and ideas more effectively. Ljana took the time to share the formula to a perfect deck and walked us through the 6 key elements of design to help you become a powerpoint ninja too.
Photography is an ideal way to convey emotions and create a connection to audiences. Leverage high resolution, high quality images when possible and ensure they fit within the brand guidelines that you’ve set out. Photos can make an incredible impact and depict exactly what you’re trying to say with an image, and make your deck look much more modern and exciting.
If you’re thinking, “I’m bootstrapping, I don’t have money to hire a professional photographer” – fear not. There are incredible sources online that feature stock images at unbelievable prices. Stinson’s favorite is Dollar Photo Club – where, you guessed it… images are a dollar a piece! Ljana advises taking your time when browsing for images. You won’t find the perfect one in seconds. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes browsing for the perfect visual depiction so you can leverage it to tell your story.
Stinson suggests that concepts presented on slides should, as often as possible, be presented in a visual manner. They create custom illustrations for each client for as much content as they can in order to simply communication and enhance the experience of the target audience. Luckily, with all of the tools online to solve many of life’s problems… there is a solution for making your own illustrations. You don’t have to hire an artist, a designer or use a corny powerpoint ClipArt image to make your point – (avoid the latter like the plague!)
Icons are an impressive, clean and modern way to illustrate your point, and top reco is Noun Project. Noun Project allows you to search through a vast library of stock icons and customize them to your brand – so you can easily manipulate the colors, sizing, and distortion of the icon in PhotoShop or Illustrator. Use the icons to clearly indicate each point so the viewer gets a visual cue to what you are talking about. Minimize your text, and talk to the icon – or just keep it clean with a summarizing point underneath for decks that are emailed.
“Infographics should not be left out of presentations” says Ljana, Stinson’s owner. They are a powerful ally as they communicate your information in a way that resonates with your audience. Stinson creates custom infographics for every presentation that they work on.
Infographics are all the rage now on blogs, in news articles, and of course in presentations and decks. They are an incredible way to visually depict an entire story so you can have less text heavy slides and more clarity. Stinson recommends using Pinterest for inspiration when thinking about your infographic creation – and if you’re on a tight budget and can’t get a graphic designer to create one for you, use sites like Pik To Chart to illustrate your point. If you have a few extra bitcoins lying around, check out our friends at Right Source Social who made us the epic infographic pictured here.
Using charts and graphs can be a powerful alternative to simple text or raw data. You should always be looking for ways to turn your data into visuals that transform your information and how it is perceived. Think about your audience. Are they really going to have the time or the interest to mine through all of the data on your screen? Collect it and display it in a crisp, clean manner to make them Ooo and Aah at your incredible results, and more importantly, think about it. “Don’t just put a random chart in there. Think it through and tell a story” suggests Ljana.
Stinson uses all kinds of different graphs and charts to demonstrate results, and sometimes even uses animation to make a serious impact showing growth. Ljana’s favorite chart to use right now is the Donut Chart. Simple, sleek and modern – the donut is a great way to present both quantitative and qualitative data.
It is the golden rule of marketing to protect your brand and demonstrate a clear brand identity which means you probably have an official font, or at least a go-to that fits your brand. With that in mind, make sure you still have fun with the font you have experimenting with different sizing and boldness. Stay away from messiness like shadowing and make sure to use colors that match and are pleasing to the eye. Your font should pop on the background and be very clear and legible.
One of the most important things to remember when creating your deck is to be careful of how it will be received or displayed, meaning: Mac or PC. There are fonts that exist on both that do not exist on the other – and that cool font you downloaded from DaFont (our fave), is probably not on your VC’s computer already. So always either export to PDF (especially if you’re going the cool font route) or stick to a standard font found everywhere, like Arial. Ljana’s go-to font is Century Gothic because it is modern and clean and works everywhere. She also recommends never going smaller than a size 13. No one should have to squint to read your deck.
Oh, and last but not least? Serifs are so 2001. Sans serif will completely modernize your deck.
K.I.S.S. Keep it simple startups!
Simplification of main concepts and ideas is key to any great presentation. Creating simple yet resonant visuals that stick in your audiences’ mind helps communicate your message with maximum impact. This is not your annual report or even a press release. It’s tough to be concise, but that’s your mission every time a deck is involved. Summarize your thoughts and get right to the point – especially with Sir Richard Branson. He is famous for scoffing at powerpoints usually because there is just WAY too much information involved. The other key elements listed above will help you to achieve a simply, clean deck that cuts out a lot of unnecessary wording and clutter.
“Don’t leave it until the last minute… or it will show. Anyone can create an amazing powerpoint presentation if take the time, and spend the effort making it flawless.” – Ljana.
Ljana was full of amazing tips and tricks for powerpoints and is an incredible resource for anyone able to make the investment. As vested supporters of the Extreme Tech Challenge, Stinson has graciously offered a break on pricing for your 10 slide pitch deck and can deliver before the deadline if you contact right away. email@example.com As bootstrapped budgets are a reality for all of us, Ljana has made an exception to the normal rule of whole presentations only – and is willing to work with participants on piece meal projects for your XTC pitch such as: individual slides, graphics, and infographics. For pricing and information contact them right away so you can get your projects in before September 30th.
Check out Stinson’s site to view their impressive portfolio. This is what they can do for you:
Do you have any powerpoint tips you’d like to share? Tweet us @ExTechChallenge
With just 1 WEEK LEFT until FINAL submission, the Extreme Tech Challenge is heating up with new entries flooding in every day – and so we’ve added more superstar advisors to create more value for your experience. The XTC Advisory Council welcomes seasoned investors Cyan Banister, Scott Banister, Shervin Pishevar, Veronica Serra, and IBM Watson Executive John Wolpert.
So without further ado, let’s meet the newest stars on the advisory committee!
Shervin Pishevar, Managing Director of Sherpa Ventures
Shervin is a Managing Director at Sherpa Ventures, which he founded with Scott Stanford in March 2013 and is a Strategic Advisor and Board Observer at Uber Technologies. Named “Bill Gates’ Worst Nightmare” by the Financial Times, Shervin is a visionary technology entrepreneur, angel investor, published researcher, start up advisor, incubation expert and startup visa activist. Shervin has raised over $50m in venture funding for his start ups and invested in over 100 startups. The companies he has founded have reached an aggregate of 100 million plus.
Shervin was previously a Managing Director at Menlo Ventures, a venture capital fund with over $4 billion under management (www.menlovc.com) where he is now a Venture Advisor and has worked on investments in a number of smash success startups including Uber and Tumblr. Shervin also helped launch the Menlo Talent Fund, Menlo’s new $20m seed fund that has invested in over 35 seed stage companies including Parse which sold to Facebook in 2013. In addition to his business ventures Shervin places an incredible emphasis on giving back and is one of 10 members of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, serves as an Entrepreneurial Ambassador on several State Department delegations and at the President’s Summit on Entrepreneurship; in addition to the numerous charities he supports.
Veronica Serra, Partner Pacific Investments
Veronica Allende Serra is a Founding Partner of Pacific Investments with an MBA from Harvard, a law degree from the University of Sao Paolo, and a background of over 15 years in private equity and a variety of investment sectors. She brings an international edge to the Extreme Tech Challenge, fluent in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
In addition to her partner status at Pacific Investments, she is the Managing Director of IRR Latin America and former Partner and Head of Latin American Investments of International Real Returns LLC. Despite her busy investment business, Veronica serves on a number of boards including participation as a Director and Chairman of groups she supports.
John Wolpert, IBM Executive & Innovator
John is an experienced executive who has built innovative organizations at the government, Fortune 100, and startup levels. As the leader of IBM’s Extreme Blue incubator lab in Austin, Texas, John ran one of the most patented labs in the company. Prior to Extreme Blue, he ran the celebrated alphaWorks team, which pioneered early sharing of IBM Research technology. John is responsible for the awesome XTC prizing from IBM Watson that will allow up to 3 XTC participants to leverage Watson’s supercomputer technology!
Interest in John’s approach to intention-based collaborative innovation, first published in Harvard Business Review, led to the creation of IXC, a non-profit consortium of industry, university and government research labs in the US, Australia and the UK. IXC explored the use of multi-party fiduciaries acting as intermediaries to find opportunities for joint development. John spent five years overseas leading these and other “open innovation” initiatives.Returning to the US in 2008, John worked with retailer Best Buy to create a corporate incubator for entrepreneurial talent, called UpStart™ where he turned the project into a smash success that led to commercialization and venture capital rounds. Today, UpStart™ Mobile is one of three major brands in its category.
Scott and Cyan Banister, Entrepreneurs & Investors
Cyan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Zivity, a prolific angel investor with her husband Scott (Read about him below), board member, advisor and also a contributing writer for TechCrunch and Women2.0. Cyan co-founded the controversial website Zivity.com, which is a subscription based social networking site for creators and fans of beautiful and tasteful glamour photography. She currently serves on the board of directors for Mimoco, best known for their MIMOBOT line of designer USB storage devices. Cyan has held many leadership roles throughout her career, from leading technical operations teams in an enterprise software company to helping women master technology as CTO of a nonprofit organization.
Scott is known for his work as an early advisor of PayPal (…where he also co-invented email payments). He is also an investor of SpaceX, Uber, Facebook and Zappos. Scott co-founded Cisco IronPort Systems LLC in 2000 and served as its Chief Technology Officer. He is a former employee of Microsoft and Vice President of Ideas / Manager of idealab, where he contributed numerous innovations, including the unique bid-for-placement search engine model that powers Overture. Scott is a serial entrepreneur, co-founding several other ventures and companies such as Zivity, ListBot and Topsy Labs Inc. He is an active investor and board member for many startups where he also plays advisory roles.
Are you as excited as we are for our new Advisory Council members? Join in the conversation! @ExTechChallenge