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Member Spotlight: Colvin Pitts of Lytro


Click to refocus. Click and drag for Perspective Shift.

Lytro has just opened a new office in Redmond at thinkspace. We are excited to be expanding our physical presence, and are thrilled to be part of the thinkspace community. The Lytro camera lets you capture and share what you see in a whole new way. The key innovation is light field technology, which captures all of the light rays in a scene to create interactive, living pictures. Instead of capturing a flat 2D image, the light field includes all the rays of light traveling in every direction through a scene. And that changes everything.  By capturing the light field, you can do incredible things. Like refocus pictures after you take them. On the camera you can tap the touchscreen on whatever part of the picture you want to bring into focus. Once a picture is imported into your computer, click to refocus.  It also allows you to change the perspective of the captured image.


Click to refocus.  Click and drag for Perspective Shift.

The company was founded in 2006 by CEO Dr. Ren Ng, whose research in light field photography won best PhD dissertation in computer science at Stanford in 2006 as well as the internationally recognized ACM award. Lytro has raised approximately $50 million to date from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, NEA, and K9 Ventures along with individual investors.

Visit www.lytro.com for more details.

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Member Spotlight: Dan Vache of United Fresh Produce Association

UnitedFresh_logo_orange2

Last week, I sat down with Dan Vache, who is a long time member of the thinkspace community.  Dan works for the United Fresh Produce Association which is a trade organization.  Since 1904 they have been representing all parties involved with handling fresh fruits and vegetables – from the grower to the shipper to the distributer.  Dan heads up one of two remote office locations, with the headquarters being located in Washington, D.C.

In talking with Dan, I asked him a number of questions about his job at the United Fresh Produce Association.

Q:  What is a core value for the United Fresh Produce Association?

A:  A core value is protecting consumers, and trying to expand the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy lifestyles.

Because the United Fresh Produce Association is primarily located in Washington, D.C., they deal with a lot of legislative issues.  A major campaign that they are currently working on is to put salad bars in every school cafeteria.  They recognize that many children don’t get exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables, and exposing them at an earlier age can help overturn current challenges and patterns with health and lifestyle (diabetes, childhood obesity, etc.).  The United Fresh Produce Association is a strong advocate for the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and believe that a lot of those health challenges go away when produce is consumed (rather than starchy, processed foods).

Dan concentrates on the supply chain.  Basically anything to do with fresh produce once its been planted and harvested (read more about that here).  Because of this, he has the opportunity to travel quite a bit.  This year he has traveled to Peru and all throughout North America.

Q:  What are three things you never leave home without?

A:  My laptop, my phone, and my running shoes.

In a few weeks, Dan will travel to Brussels to take part with the International Standards Organization as they redevelop standards for certain aspects of the produce industry.  For example, the labels on produce have a code on them so they are easily tracked through the system and retailers can ensure they have the correct pricing (read more about that here).

Q:  Is it true that the labels on fruits and vegetables are edible?

A:  Yes they are.  It’s food contact, so it can’t harm anyone.  You can eat those, and its biodegradable.

Q:  Speaking of things that are edible, do you have an opinion on the “dirty dozen?”

A:  There is a lot of misinformation on that.  The group that puts that out, probably in their own mind is well-intentioned, but they are very misleading.  They tend to overstate some things and leave out some good factual information.  And quite honestly, some folks that read that do not do additional research and its detrimental to themselves because they then consume less fruits and vegetables….and from my standpoint that’s not the right approach to take.

Q:  So at the end of the day, it’s probably better to just eat your fruits and vegetables?

A:  Yea, exactly.

Thank you Dan, it was a pleasure talking with you!  I’m off to go blend a nice green smoothie, filled with fresh kale, mango, banana, and carrot juice (thanks for the inspiration!).

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Q&A With Thinkspace Startup: Appuri

There are so many innovative, amazing startups here at thinkspace. This week I had the chance to meet and chat with Damon Danieli of Appuri, one of the residents of thinkspace, to learn a little more about what they’re up to.

What is Appuri, and what do you do?

Appuri is a stealth startup.

We have a big vision for the future, but we use lean startup techniques to learn as quickly as possible and adjust our road map accordingly.

For example, this month we are leveraging the election hype and launching a suite of mobile applications at http://www.robamney.com. The lifespan of these apps will be short-lived, but the metrics we collect inform the design and direction for the next product iteration.

With each product launched, we increase our user base, customer engagement capabilities and underlying technologies.

How did Appuri start?

The founders came together as a team first, then we came up with a vision and immediately started moving forward.

Who is on the Appuri team?

There are 4 cofounders and no employees. We use web services and contractors for all of the non-core assets. We keep the trade secrets, know-how and other intellectual property in-house.

How much funding have you raised (if any), and from whom?

We are bootstrapping the company and have not raised money.

What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?

What is both challenging and energizing about being an entrepreneur is that you are responsible for everything: product vision, customer acquisition, development roadmap, meeting payroll and so on while managing the morale and energy of the team.

If there was one thing you could have done differently, what would it have been?

There is nothing we would have done differently… yet. Which is not to say we’ve been correct, but rather our product is never far away from the last set of real user data and feedback.

What advice do you have for others thinking about building a startup of their own?

Building a company is a lot of hard work and is challenging in ways that you will never experience as an employee. So many things have to come together just right in order to succeed: building the right team, identifying the customer, creating a product, promoting it, growing revenue just to name a few. Successful startups need to execute well across many disciplines.

There is a common misconception of first-time entrepreneurs that raising money is the hard part and the rest is easy.The runway you have plays a big role in the psyche of the team, but there will always be those gut check moments where everyone has to dig deep inside themselves to make the startup successful.

With all of that said, if being an entrepreneur really suites you, it will be impossible to go back to being an employee.

What’s your favorite thing about being part of the thinkspace community?

It is a nice place to work and I’ve run into many other interesting startups and people.

Anything else you’d like to share?

A shout out to all of the Thinkspace crew that welcomed us when we came in and make us feel at home every day: Mieka, Alyssa, Sami, Samantha, Savannah, Jamie, Katie and of course Peter. It has been great working with you.

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Deep Domain – Saving Healthcare Software & Keeping Costs Low

 

Deep DomainDeep Domain, Inc. began in 2007, a small startup in Redmond, WA but the fifth business of  Howard Mahran. Deep Domain is a software company with a focus in healthcare. They’ve set out to help hospitals and clinics easily get information out of their electronic medical records systems.

With Deep Domain it’s possible to create an application that will run on top of multiple platforms without customization. They make getting information easier and simplify the process. There is now a way to reduce the time and cost to develop and run applications.

Deep Domain applies logic or “domain expertise” to hospital records and then provides the data to reporting software. If doctors want to pull all the information on their diabetic patients, they’d use Deep Domain to pull the data more easily. There’s no extra coding or IT work for hospitals and wait time for sensitive information is dramatically reduced.

In Deep Domain’s software they provide portable domain knowledge that anyone can plug into a system. It’s independent and agnostic to the systems that are running. This means someone at one hospital that’s using a certain system can use exactly the same domain logic over at another hospital. The programmers don’t have to program that code. Ladies and gentlemen, domain expertise is now bundled.

This frees a hospital’s IT team to focus on the look and feel of the information, creating a better user experience. “All of sudden the effort to get information goes way down. About 80% of the workload goes down,” says Mahran. Translation? Doctor’s get the information they need sooner rather than later. Sounds like a win-win for everyone.

“Data is a mess at hospitals—they can’t get to it easily. So we wanted to make it cheaper and faster” says Mahran.

Sound like Deep Domain has done just that.

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Healthcare’s Gone Mobile with MobiSante – Smartphone Ultrasound Imaging

Mobile Ultrasound Device

MobiSante CEO and Co-founder, Sailesh Chutani picked up a smartphone and told me it was an ultrasound machine and I could use it. I was beyond excited. Ultrasound technology has moved into our pockets and MobiSante made it happen. Amazing? Yes. But practical? You bet.MobiSante has honed in on how mobile devices can impact healthcare. They’ve combined ultrasound technology with a regular smartphone to create a portable ultrasound machine. It’s not just a fun application to download. No, it’s the actual machine. It’s a simplified ultrasound imaging system complete with a probe that can be plugged into the phone’s USB port.

MobiSante’s new imaging system runs between $7,000 and $8,000, making it an affordable option for rural clinics, emergency rooms, military medics, and emerging markets. The average cost of a hospital’s bulky ultrasound imaging system can run up to $100,000 and take extensive training to operate.

Chutani showed me how to operate MobiSante’s system in less than 5 minutes. Once we captured the images, he explained how the data could be emailed out while keeping patient information confidential. This would allow the information to be sent to a doctor for diagnosis without requiring their physical presence. Ladies and Gentlemen, mobile healthcare has arrived.

MobiSante built the world’s first smartphone-based ultrasound imaging system, MobiUS™ SP1 and it’s FDA approved. Not bad for a Redmond startup located here at thinkspace.

Mobile Ultrasound Device

We had a chance to play around with the mobile ultrasound device- it is seriously accurate and easy to use.

When asked what advice he’d give to others thinking about starting their own startup, Chutani chuckles as he says, “You must be convinced that there’s nothing else you want to do.” Chutani worked tirelessly getting the MobiUS™ SP1 ready, running tests, submitting reports, and waiting for FDA approval. “Enjoy the process,” he says. “It helps if you’re trying to solve a problem that will impact people. Here we know the impact of [MobiUS™]. Every time we do a trial we see the potential.”

It’s this potential, this desire to see people’s lives impacted, that keeps MobiSante alive and well. Doctors, nurses, people in the tech community, and many others have gotten behind MobiSante’s ultrasound imaging system because it works. It has the potential to make a life and death difference. Amazing? Yes. Practical? You bet.

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Carolann Joy Salon – Small Business Success & Entrepreneur Not Afraid to Fail

Carolann Joy Salon

Carolann Joy Salon is a boutique hair salon in Redmond, WA and the small business of a true artist. Named after its owner Carolann Joy Schmidt, Carolann Joy Salon is almost impossible to get into—almost. Why the high demand? Joy says she owes her success, in part, to her clients.

“[Carolann Joy Salon] clients are people I truly care about. I never have to fake a smile.” Schmidt is passionate about making people feel beautiful. Her genuine warmth and artful eye go far in making people feel at ease. Plus, Schmidt’s 10 plus years in the industry doesn’t hurt either.

Carol Ann Joy Salon also has a referral program to incentivize word of mouth referrals. They ask that if someone gives a compliment on your haircut that you pass along the salon’s card. If you send a friend over to Carolann Joy Salon, you receive $25 toward your next appointment. A lot of the salon clients have taken advantage of the program and the influx of new clients has meant two new stylists and another successful Redmond startup.

Like any small business, Carolann Joy Salon faced challenges in the beginning. The week they started construction on the salon’s space, Schmidt’s husband lost his job. Like any entrepreneur, Schmidt continued moving forward.

She turned the layoff into a stepping stone and Schmidt’s husband became her business partner, building out her studio and designing her amazing website (check out his web design company Lava Lounge Creative). Everything went into the business, including their life’s savings. It may have been a leap of faith, but Schmidt was not afraid to fail.

To any entrepreneur, Schmidt says failure is part of the game. Be okay with failing and know that it can help with growth. Learn from failure and move forward. And move forward is exactly what she did.

Carolann Joy Salon now boasts three stylists and a virtual receptionist. Thinkspace handles the phones and booking for the salon and Schmidt says the extra help has been a lifesaver. “Before, I was answering the phones. I just had all the calls go to my cell phone. It was a nightmare. My cell would ring, I’d run to the back of the house, shut the door and answer the phone, ‘Carolann Joy Salon, how may I help you?’ You’d hear my husband in the background telling the kids, ‘Shhh! Mommy’s on the phone. She’s talking to a client.’” She laughs while recounting the story.

By partnering with thinkspace, the salon doesn’t have to pay someone to be a receptionist and sit at the studio all day, and clients get the service they deserve. Schmidt says it’s been amazing—a true godsend. “I feel like they’re always looking out for our business,” Schmidt says. “ A lot of people get here and ask, ‘Where’s your receptionist?’ We joke that we keep her in the closet.”

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Can You Say Grace? – Redmond Restaurant Graces 5 Does Food Differently

Graces 5Graces 5 is a restaurant startup with the mission of revolutionizing healthy eating. Boasting a juice bar and soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free kitchen, Graces 5 still has something for everyone. Find it hard to believe? It’s true. We checked their menu

This restaurant startup has definitely been a learning experience for owner Tim Sharpe whose main lesson as a first time entrepreneur has been to hire a good team and delegate. An average of one in four restaurants close or change owners within their first year, so Sharpe’s team will be essential in his success. “Hire a team you can trust,” he says. “Start small and surround yourself with key people.” Sharpe decided early on to pick people with the skill sets that he lacked to help him get the job done.

Graces 5 has been two years in the making for Sharpe, a two time cancer survivors and father to a 5-year-old daughter who just beat leukemia. To say he’s passionate about healthy eating might be an understatement.

While this will be Sharpe’s first restaurant, he’s all too familiar with nutritious eating, citing it as an integral part to his recovery from cancer—the second time. The first time Sharpe was diagnosed, he underwent chemo but continued eating processed low quality foods.

The second time around, decided to Sharpe look at how his lifestyle and eating habits were affecting his overall health and decided to do things differently. He looked at alternative therapies, worked with a naturopathic doctor and watched the quality of foods he ate. He began to live a life that supported his health.

Sharpe is committed to making Graces 5 a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free restaurant where anyone can come eat good food, made with quality ingredients and not have to worry about food allergies, dietary restrictions or harmful chemicals. Graces 5 is about local organic ingredients, so much so they have their own urban garden complete with fruit trees and a variety of herbs.

Graces 5 will be a place where plant to plate could quite literally be a few feet. And for what they can’t harvest on site, Graces5 is working with local farmers to keep ingredients fresh and healthy.

You can learn more about Graces 5 and taste some of their delicious food at our Wine Wednesday event on September 14th from 5:30-7:00pm. Wine Wednesday is a monthly reoccurring event that features a thinkspace entrepreneur and local winery. Wine Wednesday is a free event open to the whole community! We would love to have you there. RSVP.

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VALA Eastside – Nonprofit Startup Embraces Art

vala eastsideVALA Eastside, which stands for Venue for Artists in the Local Area, is the nonprofit startup of artist and thinkspace member, Jessica Lambert. Lambert believes everyone can create, or as they say around ThinkSpace, “Everyone was given a box of crayons in kindergarten.” VALA works to bring artists together with the public so that local art can be enjoyed by everyone. Lambert is on a mission to expand the art scene in Redmond, WA and VALA Eastside is how she plans to do this.

Small Business & Nonprofit: Where do I start?
A nonprofit startup can be an exciting venture, but it can be hard to know where to start. Lambert suggests that one should “have a good understanding of what it is you are trying to do. Have specific goals, a mission, a vision. It will all be vital to how you develop your organization. But, there should also be room for your business to grow organically.” In Lambert’s case, she listens to the community and the artists to see what the needs are.  To her, listening is key.

Startup Hurdles
Like any small business, a nonprofit startup has it’s challenges. The biggest hurdle for VALA Eastside has been laying the foundation and making people aware of the project. However, Lambert is determined. She is working with the City of Redmond and the Redmond Chamber of Commerce to figure out the needs of the community and what works best for everyone.

VALA’s website and Facebook page are also up and running, and Lambert hopes to gain more exposure through the relationships she continues to form. Her parnership with ThinkSpace also provides her with access to other small business owners and like minded people.

Art on the Eastide
VALA is looking to showcase artwork and energize the art scene of the community. VALA Eastside is looking for ways to support artists and understand what their needs are. Lambert partners with people. She builds relationships with patrons of the arts and is an advocate for artists. She is confident that her city has the talent and will to have a fun and vibrant art scene.

If you’re interested in learning more about VALA Eastside and getting a peek at some of the artists they represent, Join us on Wednesday September 14th for Wine Wednesday. VALA Eastside is one of our featured September thinkspace members. They will be displaying the work of four local artists at the event! Wine Wednesday is a free networking event for local business professionals. Please RSVP to Join us!

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GlobalMojo- Help Charities By Shopping Online

GlobalMojoGlobalMojo is the new tech startup that scored $1.15 million in angel investments and venture capital, including substantial backing from Founder’s Co-op. GlobalMojo CEO Daniel Todd is committed to making a difference and uses technology to do it. The Redmond based small business and thinkspace member company develops apps for web browsers that let people direct money to charities and causes of their choosing.With almost $30 billion spent online every month in the U.S. GlobalMojo helps people browse with purpose, allowing them to use online purchases to direct money to deserving causes.GlobalMojo is literally changing the world through web browsers. Buying something online for your mother-in-law’s birthday is now the socially conscience thing to do.If GlobalMojo were a cartoon character, they’d be a cross between Superman and The Pink Panther—saving the world, in a very slick way.

GlobalMojo CEO, Daniel Todd has some advice for entrepreneurs looking to start their own slick startup: have advisers, hire great talent, and get feedback. Todd has a team of advisers who he can “beat up ideas with” and who aren’t afraid to hurt his feelings. This honest feedback allows him to make quick adjustments and produce results.

Feedback from consumers is also priority and people can stay in touch with GlobalMojo via Twitter, Facebook and The Mojo Blog. Asking users what’s meaningful to them inspires ideas and helps create a browser product worth using. But Todd doesn’t just listen to users, he’s also in touch with his talented employees. Employee culture matters around GlobalMojo, and “hiring the right people is one of the most fundamental pieces of long term success,” Todd says.

And just to test how hip Daniel Todd really is, we used the universal measuring stick: Mac or PC? “I’m stuck as a PC, but I’m seeing the light. It’s only a matter a time, and then I’ll make the jump. So, I guess I’m a PC, soon to be Mac?” Can’t argue with that.

ZaaLabs- Software Consulting Agency Takes on The Project of Eden

ZaaLabsZaaLabs is a software consulting agency, specializing in building mobile apps across a variety platforms. “We can basically write stuff that runs anywhere: Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Nook, Nook color.” They’re not just about Apple, they’re about everyone.Nate Beck started ZaaLabs in February 2010 and in February 2011 had a promising new product: Eden. Eden is a platform for rapid tool development for Adobe Flash and one of the many projects coming out of Seattle based ZaaLabs. While still in its beta stage, Eden is available to the public for free download.

The need for a product like Eden is evident. With so many commercial options available, most developers end up using products that don’t meet their specific needs or they spend time writing their own code. With Eden there’s a standard, a way to write modular, reusable tools. “Our goal [with Eden] is to give you 80% of your tooling needs right out of the box. That way you only need to write the 20% specific to your game.”

Designer Turned Programmer & A Passion For Print
Beck is a programmer, a gamer, and has a soft spot for good film. “I wanted to make movies but I also liked computers; so, I was kind of torn.” In college, Beck studied everything from fine art and multimedia design to computer science and web design. Eventually he found his calling in programming. In fact, a former Boeing employee, Beck went in as a designer and came out a programmer.

But if you think Beck is all about computers you might be wrong. He also has a thing for books. “I love books—LOVE books. But they tend to be technical books, like, How to Work C#. I did just reread the 4-Hour Workweek. ” Okay, so maybe he is all about programming.

ZaaLabs – What’s in a Name?
ZaaLabs is a place where employees are passionate about technology and experiment with new concepts. “We do a lot of experimental stuff,” says Beck, “so I like the concept of labs.” Beck wanted a short name that still had meaning, and after living through enough rainy winters in Seattle, he felt he had a claim to something that represented the home of the company’s headquarters. He found “zaa,” pronounced zah, the Japanese onomatopoetic word for rain.

Check out the YouTube video of Nate Beck presenting at Ignite Seattle on how to stalk celebrities using photo gps tracking: