Videos - Page 2

Ohneka Farms: Hydroponic Farming Meets The Internet Of Things

Startup: Ohneka Farms


Founders: Brielle Pettinelli & Eric De Feo

Pitch: Ohneka Farms is developing ROOT, a countertop smart planter that allows you to grow a variety of plants seamlessly by automating watering and lighting cycles with the swipe of a finger.

Andrew’s Commentary: 

In terms of trends, I’m not sure there’s a bigger one than consumers’ growing distrust of big agriculture and their desire to know that their produce is grown safely without the introduction of non-natural fertilizers, pesticides and preservatives. This trend has led to significant growth in farm-to-table restaurants and supermarkets supplying local, organic produce.

In Brooklyn, where I live, there seems to be excitement everywhere in growing produce on terraces and roofs. Hydroponic farming, a method of sustaining plants with water and minerals and without soil, promises to be another exciting alternative for home-grown produce, particularly in urban areas. As adoption of hydroponic systems grow, you can expect hydroponic planters to play a prominent role in the Internet of Things. From smartphones, owners will monitor and administer sustenance to their plants based on information derived from the planters in which they live. Clever Internet integrations may lead to the acceleration of more hydroponic systems inside the home, representing a big business opportunity for startups focused on the convergence of farming and web technologies.

Video Highlights


To connect smart gardening systems throughout the home to a flourishing network of growers around the world, no matter their experience level.

Macro Thesis:

The entire growing industry will be transformed with the introduction of smarter software that personalizes growing. Everyone will be able to grow plants with the swipe of a finger. Every growing experience will harness collaborative growing networks in order to address gardening pain points.

With signs of drought and soil depletion all over the world, people are going to depend on smarter technology to conserve resources in order to cultivate more locally-sourced vegetation. In the future, people will be able to easily grow and monitor gardens from the comfort of their own homes.

Market Sizing:

We are addressing a 30 billion dollar US home and gardening hydroponic growing market that is quickly expanding with the introduction of smart, integrated devices. The legalization of cannabis in the United States will lead to a greater number of homegrowers. This taps into the already 2.7 billion dollar legalized marijuana market (2014), steadily growing 74% up from 1.3 billion in 2013. As more American states and territories legalize cannabis, this market will only continue to flourish.

Product Or Service:

We are building a countertop device that allows you to grow a variety of plants in your home seamlessly. All you have to do is take our plant pods, pop them into the ROOT system, input into our app what you would like to grow and your plants will begin to sprout! Throughout the growing process, you will be notified of the health and status of your plants and be periodically reminded when to add water and plant food.

Real And Vaporware:

Our first product ROOT will launch this winter, and we have already gained pre-orders. ROOT is simple, yet customizable, offering a user-friendly experience. ROOT technology delivers information regarding the status of users’ plants in real-time, allowing them to control lighting and watering cycles. Unlike simple “planters,” ROOT has evolved to become a “smart planter,” allowing busy people who may not always be home to water their plants to relish in the joy of gardening indoors at little cost and time.

ROOT is our first consumer product and we plan to scale our software and hardware systems throughout the home all the way to industrial applications.

Why Us:

Our team is experienced in integrated product design, merging the philosophies of universal, human-centered design with forward-thinking engineering and manufacturing practices. We orchestrate a team of designers trained in biology, aerospace engineering, architecture and UI. We bring these disciplines together to create new experiences for each consumer. We leverage professional experience from companies as varied as OXO, Gensler, IBM, Sony, GE and MakerBot.

ROOT was selected this past winter to be part of the first class of DreamIt Athena – a female-founder startup accelerator in Philadelphia. The ROOT system has also been featured in several international publications. Moving forward, we aim to create compelling new products and experiences customizable for any user of any experience level.

Want to make a Roadmap Video about your startup for the chance to be featured on Forbes? Learn more here.

Jumptuit: A New Search Bar For Your Data At Facebook, Google and Dropbox

Startup: Jumptuit


Founder: Donald Leka & David Schwartz

Pitch: Jumptuit’s mission is to connect all of your data sources and help you control them in one convenient location.

Video Highlights


To connect all of your data sources and help you control them in one convenient location.

Macro Thesis:

The macro thesis is best understood by describing a problem, solution and approach. The problem is that we live in a world with great technology. There are so many cool devices, apps and cloud services to choose from. Unfortunately, they don’t always work well together, and we continue to create and store more data in new places.

We need a solution to instantly access our pictures, music, videos and documents stored in many places without any hassles, and to be able to easily move our files from one place to another.

What’s the approach? We love choice and will continue to store our data in many different places. No single service will become the sole repository of our files. However, a service that connects our favorite devices, apps and cloud services would make our lives easier.

Market Sizing:

According to Gartner, global revenue from cloud storage services alone will exceed $3 billion in 2015 and 4 billion in 2016. People are using multiple cloud services in their daily lives and in the workplace. The average employee uses a remarkable 28 cloud services for file sharing, collaboration, content sharing and social media. Data fragmentation is everywhere and affects virtually everyone.

Product Or Service:

Jumptuit provides single sign-on and search across platforms and keeps your data in sync. Jumptuit automatically optimizes your files for instant high-quality streaming. You can even use Jumptuit to copy and move files between platforms. This means your data, wherever it is stored, is now at your fingertips.

Real And Vaporware:

We have launched a full-feature browser service available at and apps for iOS, Windows and Android for smart TVs. Our partners include Amazon and Microsoft.

Android Mobile and Mac OS X apps are currently in development and we are working on expanding support for documents.

Why Us:

We have developed a proven methodology and solution to manage data across platforms. Jumptuit is a recognized first mover in the emerging data aggregation and platform connecting space.

Andrew’s Commentary:

I imagine Google and Apple have long-held ambitions of being the single cloud-based repository for all of your data. But most people use different repositories for storage, depending on the medium being stored: photos are most likely to be on Facebook or Instagram, Microsoft Word documents might be in Dropbox or Google Drive and our videos are probably stored on YouTube or Vimeo.

As a user of both Dropbox and Google Drive, sometimes I can’t even remember between the two where I stored a PowerPoint presentation. Instead of consumer data storage moving toward consolidation, it seems more likely that this fragmentation will accelerate and remain the norm.

The upside of this pain point resulting from storage fragmentation is a business opportunity for the right startup with an intuitive UI and seamless integrations with different data repositories to become the go-to search bar for finding your data.

Want to make a Roadmap Video about your startup for the chance to be featured on Forbes? Learn more here.

WESTxEAST: Local Fashion For A Global Audience

Startup: WESTxEAST


Founder: Liya Thachil & Tania Chackumkal

Pitch: WESTxEAST is delivering an online shopping experience for the new consumer of luxury goods, a market that has been overlooked and underserved: the emerging market consumer (EMC).

Video Highlights


To deliver an online shopping experience for the new consumer of luxury goods, a market that has been overlooked and underserved: the emerging market consumer (EMC).

Macro Thesis:

Our macro thesis involves the direction of fashion and luxury shoppers. These people are no longer found solely in cities such as London or New York City, but rather New Delhi and Dubai. These cities have a burgeoning upper class and are opening their economies for the first time.

Through observing these emerging market consumers, we discovered a new style DNA, one that takes cultural influences and makes them more modern and accessible. This is the next frontier of luxury consumption and we will see more brands entering this arena.

Market Sizing:

In regards to market sizing, our target is emerging market consumers who are recently affluent and connected online. They spent $20 billion dollars on luxury goods in 2014 alone. Their consumption rate is expected to grow about 5-8% per year.

Product Or Service:

Our service is an e-commerce. We scout designers and curate pieces into style stories. These stories provide inspiration and style ideas to this unique customer because it relates to their fashion needs. Customers can communicate directly with us and request customizations or have their questions answered. Through careful curation, culturally sensitive content and a wide array of options, WESTxEAST provides them with a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

The logic behind starting off in the US is because a lot of emerging market consumers jet set to North America and Europe to shop the latest fashion collections. There are enough pockets of these consumers within NYC to provide a good basis for testing. Also, e-commerce is an efficient, accepted way to shop here, so before investing into building infrastructure from scratch in global regions, we want to perfect our platform first.

We discovered EMCs when we started a personal shopping service in India back in 2012. We realized that this consumer was constantly being overlooked and was craving top brands, as well as someone to guide them. This caused our service to quickly expand beyond South Asia to the Middle East. Their style is cross-cultural, fusing modern and traditional silhouettes. Our platform is inspired by their style and celebrates it.

Real And Vaporware:

WESTxEAST just officially launched its online shopping experience that also includes a functioning chat service allowing shoppers to access services akin to Harrods’ or Bergdorf Goodman’s without the plane fare.

Right now, the website is in English and US dollars with domestic shipping options. In the future, the website will translate into a customer’s native language and currency with international shipping.

Our future plan is to open up a brick & mortar store. Currently, we’re prepping for a pop-up shop in conjunction with New York Fashion Week. We plan to host pop-up shops bi-annually starting with NYC and the next one will take place in Dubai.

Why Us:

We come armed with a strong background within the luxury fashion industry. Liya has worked under the former Creative Director of Gucci and for Chanel’s haute couture department. Tania is an alumna of Conde Nast College of Fashion & Design in London and has received a degree in International Business.

WESTxEAST is not just another e-commerce and not just another brand. We consider ourselves a movement beyond style and borders.

Andrew’s Commentary:

This business talks about the opportunity of addressing a burgeoning global market for luxury goods and identifies very real trends at the high end of the market towards adoption of non-Western fashion. I’m a big believer in the opportunity at the high end of the market, and I also think there’s a big opportunity to capitalize on the same trends in the middle part of the market.

Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institution estimates that the global middle class, which he defines as people with annual per capital expenditures of between $3,650 and $36,500, will grow from 2 billion people in 2012 to 4.9 billion people by 2030. The biggest contributors to this group will be from China and India. America’s percentage of the global middle class will shrink from 50% to 22%.

In fashion, this means that an entirely new class of people will be buying apparel — much of it online. What cultures will contribute most significantly to the fashion trends that this massive new class of consumers will be consuming? It seems likely that a significant portion of apparel will reflect non-Western originated styles. Who will capitalize on the opportunity of selling apparel to this new class of consumers? Local startups? Localized versions of Amazon or Everlane? Or will there be a new class of startups looking to aggregate styles originating from around the world with a focus on this new demographic?

If you’re thinking about building a fashion startup in what seems like an otherwise crowded space, you might consider the green field opportunity of targeting this new class of relatively wealthy consumers who will bring their purchasing power online at an extraordinary pace.

Want to make a Roadmap Video about your startup for the chance to be featured on Forbes? Learn more here.

Lumifi: Controlling Lighting From Your Smartphone

Startup: Lumifi


Founder: Beatrice Witzgall

Pitch: Lumifi’s mission is to change the way we control and experience lighting through smart IoT enabled lighting technology.

Video Highlights


To change the way we control and experience lighting through smart IoT-enabled lighting technology.

Macro Thesis:

For decades, lighting controls have been only for the wealthy who could afford to hire contractors, programmers, third party installers, electricians and lighting designers. The introduction of LED technology, smartphones and universal Wi-Fi access is now completely disrupting the traditional lighting control market, eliminating all these experts through a simple DIY technology.

Now, thanks to the “Internet of Things,” we can integrate a Wi-Fi chip directly into any LED bulb and control it directly through a smartphone as a convenient remote. This is making smart lighting easy, accessible and affordable to everyone, opening new market opportunities.

Market Sizing:

Smart lighting control sales are projected to increase from $1.3 billion in 2012 to more than $4.3 billion in 2020. Lighting is moving from being purely a source of illumination to a source of automation, intelligence and information. Smart LED lighting will record the highest growth of all Internet of Things consumer applications, going from 6 million units in 2015 to 570 million units by 2020.

There is an even bigger opportunity in the hospitality market, as hotel guests want personalized experiences and controlled lighting or music during their hotel stay.

Product Or Service:

LumiFi offers a smart lighting software platform incorporating lighting intelligence using fully composed, pre-configured lighting moods to enhance people’s lifestyles the way that Sonos does with music and Nest does with temperature. We are integrating various lighting manufacturers into one experience, since no single manufacturer alone can outfit a space.

Our patent-pending software incorporates various lamp properties and analyzes the parameters for each individual light in a specific space. Our software algorithm then assigns different lighting attributes to each fixture to automatically create a cohesive and meaningful lighting experience.

Real And Vaporware:

We launched our iOS home consumer app about 10 months ago and have been testing, improving and building new functionalities and adding manufacturer choices. We are currently in beta for our premium version that includes features like timer, scheduler, multi-room, unlimited bulb control and quick-assign for faster commissioning.

For the hotel market, we have an iOS and Android app that accesses location profiles via QR codes. In addition, we built and tested capabilities for pilot projects with permissions and profile sharing tools and are now developing an advanced server infrastructure and database to manage hundreds of rooms and thousands of lights in a hotel setting.

Why Us: As an award-winning lighting designer and architect, I’m a subject matter expert with deep established relationships in the industry and applied project experiences within lighting, hospitality and the interactive tech world. I’m passionate about how lighting can transform spaces and impact people. LumiFi was created out of real world frustrations and demands of my own clients who not only advised and directed, but partially hired me to develop a better solution.

Andrew’s Commentary:

About a year ago, I renovated a home and installed speakers in every room with Sonos controllers as well as Nest thermostats for two zones. To truly “put my home on the Internet,” I would have needed all the lights throughout the house to have been managed through a smartphone app that was as easy to manipulate as the one that Nest offers for my thermostatic controls. I looked at the vendors in market, but there was no obvious solution for my lighting needs.

In a few years, you won’t consider a home renovation complete without lighting controls accessed from an easy-to-use app on your smartphone. The market that Lumifi is pursuing is massive.

Want to make a Roadmap Video about your startup for the chance to be featured on Forbes? Learn more here.

Launching a Tech Startup Without Technology

As a startup founder, is it possible to launch a technology business without building technology first? The overwhelming majority of companies launch an app or web experience that misses the mark upon launch. The companies that reach success iterate their ways there, usually over a long period of time and at great expense.

If you can validate your user experience before writing a line of code, you will save a lot of money and be much more likely to make your first product launch successful.

Video Highlights

I’m often asked: what’s the very first thing I should do while building my business? Should I wireframe the product and get an MVP built as soon as possible? Or is there another way to demonstrate traction? Consider these two companies that had very different approaches to figuring out what to build first in order to prove their business propositions.

Building Technology First

The first idea was for a fascinating new type of educational platform where there were distributed teachers, lots of students and an application that supported one-to-one instruction and one-to-many instruction. There was a desktop application, downloadable apps and a mobile website. You can imagine the sophistication that was reflected in wireframes and specification documents. This founder had also put together an impressive development team.

Building Community First

The second company is called Dreamers // Doers, a networking site for women entrepreneurs. This founder similarly had very elaborate ideas about the technology she wanted to build to support a vibrant community on the desktop and through downloadable apps. But instead of writing a single line of code, she built a Facebook group and put together a very vibrant community of 2,000 women, with a wait-list almost equal in size.

How Can You Create The Ideal User Experience?

So we have these two different approaches: does technology or community come first? Before we answer that, it might help to answer another question: what can you do to build the ideal user experience? What is the user flow like? Where are the buttons laid out?

For services that require a community of users, what will the  community members be using? What experiences are they having? Are they using the service to network? Are they using it to plan events? If you can see what features people are using first, is there an opportunity to build around the usage that already exists?

Save Time And Money Building The Right Product

If you have the opportunity to build a community first, you should. Why? Because you’re likely to both save money and time. When you build a technology product, the odds are overwhelming that it won’t work, that you’ll launch something and you’ll have to iterate again and again, each time throwing out what doesn’t work and keeping what does.

But if you have one of those businesses where you can interact with users ahead of time using a low-technology solution, you should see what works, see what they like, see how they interact and then build against that. You’re obviously going to save a huge amount of money in the build, and even more important than the money, you’ll save a lot of time.

Want to watch more startup advice videos? Check out our Founder Library.

Inspirock: Vacation Itineraries Made Easy

Startup: Inspirock


Founders: Prakash Sikchi & Anoop Goyal

Pitch: Inspirock helps you plan great vacations.

Video Highlights

Mission: To help people plan great vacations with the help of technology.

Macro Thesis: Building a trip itinerary typically requires visiting 38 websites over a period of 21 days. On the other hand, technology exists that can track millions of tourist attractions to find ones that best match your interest. It can also explore trillions of possibilities to solve constraints like travel time, distance and closing hours. It is inevitable that technology will be used to help people personalize their vacation itineraries.

Market Sizing: Over a billion international trips are taken each year with a spend of one trillion dollars. More than half of that is leisure travel. Inspirock focuses on vacations where users make their own plans – that’s $110B. A third of that spend is easy to monetize (for example, hotels). At a 10% commission rate, the market size is estimated to be approximately $3.5B.

Product Or Service: Inspirock is a free online service that helps vacation goers plan out where to go and what to see based on their interests. With a few clicks, you describe your preferences. For example, do you like an active vacation? Will there be kids? Want to explore history and culture? Then Inspirock builds you an itinerary that best matches your interests. Using its tools and recommendations, you can easily change your plan until it is just right.

Real And Vaporware: Today, Inspirock is the only trip planner that can build a custom itinerary spanning entire regions or even multiple countries. You can plan your drive up the California Coast, or your week in London & Paris or a month of sightseeing across Europe. Inspirock makes it easy to plan, customize, and share. And soon you will be able to do all this on a phone. Today, Inspirock covers all destinations in Europe and the US. Going forward, it will cover every popular destination in the world.

Why Us: We were backpacking in Washington state’s famous Cascade Mountains when we came across a beautiful view of Inspiration Lake. We wanted others to have similar experiences and we realized how hard it is to seek and plan a great vacation. A few months of brainstorming later, we wrote the first lines of code and Inspirock was born.

Here’s what we did: we spent a year building a great team and working on our core backend algorithms. Then we spent 2 years refining our UX. Now users from 150 countries have built plans covering 3000 destinations, and they love the product.

So now we’re working on user acquisition – in April we had 10,000 users and we are growing 30% month over month. Plus, we have strong support from all of our investors, and industry expertise from MakeMyTrip. Best of all, we love to help people have great vacations. So we’ll nail this one too.

Andrew’s Commentary: A few weeks ago, I went to Asheville for a 4-day cycling trip. I’m not a particularly good planner, and I’m terrible at thinking through itineraries in advance. My planning for this trip was similar to my planning for every other trip I take: a few days before the trip, or even once I land, I search TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google to make an itinerary. In this case, I was trying to figure out what routes to cycle, what sites to see, what restaurants to visit. And still my itinerary seemed so poorly thought through and inefficiently designed.

The biggest challenge for me was not finding answers to the questions I asked, but not asking the right questions. When I got home, someone sent me links for amazing hikes on the Appalachian trail. If I knew then what I know now, I would have traded one of my cycling days for one of the hikes I saw.

The future of planning a vacation won’t be the disjointed experience of booking flights, hotels, restaurants and places to visit as isolated events. I believe that next-generation online travel experiences will propose holistic itineraries that leverage many different online resources in one place.

Want to make a Roadmap Video about your startup for the chance to be featured on Forbes? Learn more here.

How to Create Market Sizing for Your Startup

One aspect of your company’s story that is crucial for making investors care is the projected market sizing of your space. Although this information is sometimes available with a simple Google search, you should be prepared to calculate this number if necessary.

Using an obviously wrong or inapplicable market size is one surefire way to damage your credibility.

Watch this video to learn how to craft your own market sizing analysis.

What methods have you used to create your company’s market sizing? Tell me in the comments.

– Andrew

6 Critical Questions Investors Ask About Your Startup Idea

Before you walk into a meeting with investors, you need to thoroughly understand who your audience is in order to deliver a successful pitch. You’ll also need to know the most important factors that investors will have in mind when analyzing your startup idea. In this video, I go through the 6 critical questions that you should be able to answer before pitching your startup to investors.

Here are the 6 most important questions that investors ask about your startup idea:

  1. Is it personally interesting?
  2. Is it big?
  3. Is it disruptive?
  4. Is it timely?
  5. Is there room to move?
  6. Is the space winnable?

Watch the video to learn the best ways to answer these questions so that investors believe you’re chasing a big enough opportunity.

From your experience, what other questions have investors asked you about your startup idea? Let me know in the comments.

– Andrew

5 Unexpected Traits of the Most Successful Entrepreneurs

When people describe successful startup founders, they often use adjectives like “hungry” and “ambitious.” Yet I’ve found that great entrepreneurs aren’t so easily defined. Here are some personality traits that I’ve observed in great entrepreneurs that are seemingly at odds with the high octane characterizations that we often imagine define them.

Here are the 5 sets of traits that I’ve witnessed in great entrepreneurs:

  • Arrogant but humble
  • Stubborn but flexible
  • Restless but patient
  • Macro but micro
  • Aggressive but conservative

Watch the video to hear how the most successful entrepreneurs leverage these traits while leading their companies.

What other personality traits do you believe make great entrepreneurs? Tell me in the comments.

– Andrew

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