LouieLab

LouieLab opened on December 1, 2016.Louie Lab

LouieLab

It’s a new collaboration between Louisville government and the people. It’s designed for use as a coworking space, so government and people can work on specific projects together, like the Civic Data Alliance‘s hackathons through Code for America.

At the opening, two tech projects were demonstrated:

  • Smart Louisville, the city’s next-level open data interface
  • CASPER, the smoke alarm detector with a built-in 3G signal

Smart Louisville

Smart Louisville TeamVolunteers from the Civic Data Alliance built the interface between Amazon’s Echo Dot (“Alexa”) and various city data interfaces (“APIs”).

I was a (minor) part of the team that put all of this together. Most of the work was done by Reydel Leon, with lots of input from Michael Schnuerle (the city’s first Data Officer), Ed Blayney (who just won a Navigator Award for his work on SpeedUpLouisville), Matthew Gotth-Olsen (who manages LouisvilleKY.gov, and was once in a hardcore band), and others.

As it turns out, the most common 3-1-1 call is to find out about junk pickup day. Soon, anyone in Louisville with a Dot can just ask it, “Alexa, when is junk pick up day?”

The volunteers also have developed the interface to programmable light bulbs that can change color and intensity based on pre-selected options. That way, for example, the bulb could:

  • turn yellow to warn allergy sufferers during high pollen days
  • flash red during a tornado warning
  • flash through a full cycle of colors in time to a dance beat (although my theoretical ‘disco mode’ seems unlikely to ever get developed)
  • …and many more, in fact, the city would love to hear your ideas on useful interfaces

Where There’s SmokeCASPER

CASPER (the Completely Autonomous Solar Powered Event Responder) was developed by local makers Nathan Armentrout, James Gissendaner, and David Jokinen at the LVL1  smoke alarm hackathon a year ago. It listens on the standard smoke alarm frequency band (so that it should work with any variety), and makes a wireless call to alert the authorities. It’s primarily in use right now at vacant and abandoned buildings, since fires at a vacant building spreads to neighboring properties 80% of the time. The city of Louisville has several in use now, and plans to roll out many more. Other cities are also expressing interest.

News RoomLouie Lab Group

Here is some press coverage of the opening:

Other Nifty Tech Stuff

Here in Louisville, we’re also founding a chapter of the VRARA (Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality Association). We had dozens of people at the kickoff meeting last week.

Warp Zone, our video game creating coworking space, just had another successful Ludum Dare game creation weekend.

The KY Science Center just ran another three-day Celebration of Coding event, aimed at getting youngsters involved in software.

Startup Weekend Louisville #9

Startup WeekendOrganizers

Louisville’s ninth startup weekend was held at Bellarmine College on October 14-16, 2016.

I volunteered this time around, spending most of Friday at the check-in table to help welcome and orient people as they came in. It gave me a chance to see friends as they arrived, and meet a lot of new people.

This was our largest event ever, with 80 some-odd people. A little over half of them pitched their one-minute idea, and eleven of those ideas were upvoted into teams.

The teams spent all weekend (54 hours from start to finish), with top-notch mentors. On Sunday evening, starting at 5:00, the teams each gave a 5-minute (ish) presentation on their idea, research, prototype, and business model.Judges

The three judges were Fred Durham (CafePress), Grace Simrall (city of Louisville’s Chief of Civic Innovation), and Chris Bailey (Revio).

The Winners

The three winning teams were:

  1. UpNext, a phone app to make karaoke easier
  2. CritterFacts, daily texts about animals
  3. Touchband, a social media wristband

UpNextOther entrants were: Samurai School, Buy Spy, Ring of Fire, Glass Capitol, Bocca de Lupo, Book Club, JamFit, and News Lancing.

Around the Web

Here are other looks at the event:

Here are some other events coming up:Everyone

And here are some resources for the local startup scene:

 

Pokemon Go

Pokemon GoI’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

This sermon looks at Pokemon-Go.

Background

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality (AR) game. It’s played on phones, and mixes the real world with the digital world. In a way, it’s like a cross between geocaching and yelp, but with a scoring system.

Seek

To play Pokemon Go, first players must find Pokemon.Pokemon Go Map

Jesus came to seek and save the lost (us). When he sent out his disciples, he gave them instructions on where they should look for their audience.

Jesus called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness. He sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 10:1-7)

Choose

After finding some Pokemon, players choose which ones to keep.

Jesus chose all of us, while we were not worthy.

You didn’t choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:16,19)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

TrainTraining

To advance in the game, players train their Pokemon.

Spiritual training keeps us “in shape” as followers of Christ. Just like a physical muscle or skill, if we don’t exercise, we’ll lose strength.

The more frequently we’re kind to others, help those in need, study the scriptures, and pray, the better we’ll get at it. Then, in moments of stress, expressing the love of Christ will be second nature to us.

Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things — for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:25)

Bible books that sound like they could be Pokemon:
• Amaziah
• Baalam
• Basemath
• Dodo
• Jehoshaphat
• Nergalsharezar
• Zebedee

Evolve

In the Pokemon Go game, the creatures improve their abilities after enough training, and actually become a new creature.

In Christ, we also become new creations, after being born the second time.

He will change our weak mortal bodies into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power he will use to bring everything under his control. (Philippians 3:21)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (Romans 12:2)

Go

What makes Pokemon Go different from other games is that it overlays the real world. To travel in the game, you must travel in real life.Bible

For us to advance the gospel, we often must travel in real life. Christ’s last words to us before he ascended were:

Jesus said, “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-19)

It’s hard to make disciples of all nations when we’re sitting on the couch. Going out, meeting people, making friends, helping others, trying new things… all of that leads to us building relationships. By following Christ ourselves and spending time with others, we can share God’s love and fulfill our purpose.

Download

You can download the handout and a flyer for the sermon here.

Text Analytics

I’ve worked professionally with databases for a living for around 20 years, to varying degrees.

I’ve worked with words professionally for roughly the same amount of time (as an author, editor, and publisher).

It’s only natural that I’d be interested in ways of mashing them together.

Text AnalyticsSix Plots

If you’d like to learn more about text analytics, text mining, unstructured data mining, and several other synonymous terms for turning a big pile of words into meaningful data, here are some good resources.

Sentiment Analysis

If you want to sort piles of words into good/bad, happy/sad, calm/mad, and such, that’s where sentiment analysis comes into play.Sentiment Analysis

SQL Server and R

Most of my database career has been using Microsoft SQL Server. I’m at the beginning stages of learning R, a data science language.

Mining the Bible

As a case study, I’ve imported dozens of translations of the Bible into SQL Server, where I can look for correlations. It’s an interesting text to work with, since all these translations (a) started from the original Hebrew and Greek, (b) are written in English, and (c) have passages uniquely identified through a numbering system. That allows for some intense analysis.Bible Sentiment

Here is some great work that other people have already done in that field.

 

Guest Post: Stan Siranovich

For those who’ve wondered what a National Day of Civic Hacking is like, here’s a post from Stan Siranovich that covers his (and my) experience at last weekend’s event.

National Day of Civic Hacking

A Day at the Louisville 4th Annual Hack for Change

Stan Siranovich – Data Scientist | Data Analyst – Specializing in Chemical and Biological, Laboratory, Manufacturing and IoT Applications

Ever wondered what’s it’s like to go to one of those all-day hacking events? I did too and wanted to find out. So when the Louisville 4th Annual Hack for Change came up I registered and went. Here is what I found out when I arrived…

This particular hack was going to work on several different projects, and after an intro and brief project description by Michael Schnuerle, and a break for some coffee and donuts, we moved into the various project groups.

Some of the projects were:

  • A 311 Chatbot to allow easy submission of issues to the city of Louisville (h/t to the OPI and Innovation Office of Louisville Metro Government)
  • An Analysis of KY Voting Precincts, including senate and house boundaries and voter record data
  • A CityVoice deployment for Louisville Metro on the Dixie Highway Revitalization Project
  • An analysis and visualization of Bicycle Accident data in the Louisville and Southern Indiana metro area

(for more details please visit the 4th Annual Hack for Change link)

Being an avid wheelman with a life-long interest in the clear presentation of data, I chose the Bicycle Accident project. Dave Mattingly coordinated the project and there were six of us in the group. In experience level and position along the “data pipeline,” we ranged all the way from Dave the Data Commando to a recent Code Louisville graduate. After a brief round of introductions we got to work.

I started out by pulling the data into RStudio and doing some exploratory analysis which included using the ggplot2 and base R visualization packages. As it turned out, there were no deep insights to be had and our goals would be well served by some simple visualizations that would allow Louisville Metro Government to identify problem streets and locations.

After spending some time developing a map in CartoDB, I decided to switch to Tableau Public. (I was much more familiar with Tableau.) After a few glitches pulling in the map outline and selecting the visual properties, I was able to post a useful map showing the location of bicycle accidents by location, number, type, weather condition, etc. After that, it was a simple matter to post the map on the Tableau Public site.

Meanwhile, Dave was hard at work with Qlik Sense and was able to develop a working prototype.

After a working lunch, provided by the sponsors, Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher paid us a visit. Next came some hand shaking and consultations with the individual groups; he then provided appropriate contacts in city government to further the development work for several projects.

We finished with the individual groups giving a summary and in some cases, a demo on what they accomplished. Overall, it was a productive and satisfying day’s work. I’m definitely coming back for the 5th Annual Hack for Change and even some other Hacks as they arise.

Finally, a big thank you to:Civic Data Alliance

for making the event possible.

Event Photo Gallery

Bike AccidentsBike Accidents by YearBike Accidents by DayBike Accidents by HourBike Accidents by AngleBike Accidents by WeatherBike Accidents ZoomBike Accidents SQL DataCivic Hacking Team FOIACivic Hacking Team ChatbotCivic Hacking Team CityVoiceCivic Hacking Glass Capitol
Civic Hacking Teams

Nerdy Event Roundup

There are a lot of great things happening in Louisville this weekend.

Geek Dinner

Get a jump on the weekend activities at the quarterly Geek Dinner. Gather at the BBC in St. Matthews on Thursday at 6:00. No pitches, no presentations, no recruiters; just a friendly get-together for technophiles.National Day of Civic Hacking

The National Day of Civic Hacking

Also called Hack For Change, this is annual event is a way for the government to promote the use of public data.

I’ve been to this one every year. I love it.

It’s a great way to make new geek friends, create something, and learn new stuff.

Here’s a flyer that you can use to spread the word!

ISSA Kentuckiana Network Forensics Workshop

The ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) is hosting this network forensics workshop. Proceeds benefit Hackers for Charity (a group that I love to support; Johnny Long and his family’s mission to teach tech to street kids in Uganda).

WonderFestWonderFest

WonderFest is Louisville’s model-building and special-effects convention. It even hosts the country’s largest model contest for sci-fi, horror, comics, etc. There are also seminars, workshops, celebrity guests, and other coolness. I’ve attended several times, and even exhibited there a few times when I still ran a publishing company.

LEGO Kids FestLEGO Kids Fest

I’ve always loved LEGOs, but still haven’t been to one of these trade shows. This is at the Fairgrounds, right across the street from the Crowne Plaza that’s hosting WonderFest.

Neighborhood Summit

Also at the Fairgrounds, this summit focuses on healthy, sustainable, safe, attractive neighborhoods here in Louisville.

Butchertown Art Fair

Check out the exotic creations of the Butchertown neighborhood, home of LVL1 makerspace, Play Louisville, Cellar Door Chocolates, and other cool local businesses.Sub Rosa

Sub Rosa Reunion

Gather with freaks, geeks, and weirdos just like you at the Sub Rosa reunion, hosted by everyone’s favorite ginger: Divinity Rose.

After hanging out, stick around the Bard’s Town to catch the Friday showing of…

The Roast of Prince

The Louisville Roasters pick on someone new each month. This time around, it’s the color formerly known as purple. Roasters include David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and more.Julie of the Wolves

Louisville Outskirts

This benefit for Girls Rock Louisville includes one of my favorite local bands, Julie of the Wolves. Art destroys apathy.

Bonus Event

Next weekend, check out the Louis-Villainz Market for Mischief.

 

VEX Worlds 2016

This year, I once again volunteered at VEX Worlds, the world championship of robotic competition, held in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

VEX Worlds

The REC Foundation (Robotics Education & Competition) organizes robotic competitions around the world, all year long. These focus on high school students, and also have event brackets for middle school and college.

The VEX Worlds championship moved to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in 2015, where it uses all four wings and the Freedom Hall arena.

Opening Ceremonies Lots of Booths 1 Lots of Booths 2 Lots of Booths 3 Lots of Booths 4

The 2016 event set the Guinness World Record for the largest robotic competition, with 16,000 worldwide teams only sending their winning 1,100 teams to the USA.

You can watch ESPN for championship highlights on July 20.

Teams

Students came from all around the world for the championship. Over 30 countries competed, including a team of Syrian refugees (who named their robot Robogee).

You can watch the parade of nations at opening ceremonies here.

Syria Lebanon Ethiopia Russia Canada Malaysia Australia China China Mexico Team Interview

My photos here include teams from Australia, Canada, China, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, and Syria.

Costumes

The kids enjoy dressing up. I can totally relate.

Costume Avengers 1 Costume Clowns Costume Hothead Costume Idea Man Costume Rose Head Disney Girls 1

Technology

Dozens of companies from around the country attend to meet the fans and showcase the cool stuff they’ve got cooking.

This year, all four days of my volunteering were at the TALK (Technology Association of Louisville Kentucky) booth, where we joined forces with Sullivan University, Boice (now a part of Data Strategy), and Marwood Veneer. One of the big draws to our booth was the Rad Science Skateboard Build, the STEAM curriculum codeveloped by Marwood and TALK. Our buddies at the MakerMobile were giving tours and making stuff.

NASA — my old company –was there, too, giving rides in their MRV (Modular Robotic Vehicle).

TALK 1 TALK Booth Maker Mobile 1 Maker Mobile 2 Holodeck 1 NASA MRV MRV Dash

People

The VIP lunch, and volunteer dinner gathered hundreds of great people.

The speaker for lunch was Kentucky’s Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton, who has a degree in Industrial Engineering. I didn’t even realize that.

VIP Lunch 1 VIP Lunch 2 VIP Lunch 3 VIP Lunch 4 VIP Lunch 5

VEX Dinner Stage VEX Dinner Crowd VEX Dinner Northrup VEX Dinner Paul 2 VEX Dinner Tony

Coming Up

The championship will keep coming back to Louisville until at least 2019. They’re always looking for volunteers. If you’d like to get involved, get in touch at the REC Foundation Volunteer page.

 

Venture Sharks

Last week, my company CompassioNote competed in the semifinal round of Venture Sharks.Venture Sharks

We went up against eight other teams, and the top four of those teams (including us, yay!) were chosen to move on to the final round.

Venture Sharks

Venture Capital sponsors the annual Venture Sharks contest in which teams of entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.

Teams get four minutes to pitch their idea/service/product, and another four minutes to answer questions from the judges.

Each year, there are ten semifinalists chosen from among the fifty or so applicants.

The winner of Startup Weekend (one month beforehand) is automatically accepted as the eleventh entry. That’s how we got involved.

Two of the other ten selected entries had to drop out, so there were only nine teams instead of eleven.

May 4 is also Star Wars day. ‘May the Fourth’ be with you.

The Finalists

These four teams advance to the finals, on May 4th:

  • CompassioNote: That’s us! Aaron Priced pitched our service that compares our customers’ contacts to life events like new homes, new jobs, marriages, and deaths.
  • Farm Specific Technology: Austin Scott invented a flex-roller crimper to make it easier and faster for farmers to remove cover crops and replant cash crops.
  • Switcher Studio: Nick Mattingly (no relation) and his team developed an app/service to make video and sound editing easier and faster. Works on Apple products, and costs roughly $50 a month.
  • Uncrash: Trenton Johnson wrote an app to help body shops and garages with their workflow and customer communication.

Our judges were Alli Truttman (Wicked Sheets), Tendai Charasika (SuperFanU), and Ross Jordan (Yearling Fund).

CompassioNoteCompassioNote

So who the heck are these guys, and what do they do, anyway?

You can watch this video of our final pitch at Startup Weekend, but even though our company was only one month old by that time, our idea had already matured. (The same can’t necessarily be said of our personal maturity level.)

The one-liner:

  • CompassioNote helps companies have better relationships with their customers by using personalized data.

What that means:

  • CompassioNote compares your list of contacts against several sources for life events so you’re notified when something of interest happens to the people you know.

What that does:

  • It gives you a reason (and a time) to reach out to people that you mostly know, but not all that well, to establish or strengthen that personal bond.

Who this helps:

  • People who raise funds (museum supports, alumni, political campaigns, etc.) can keep up with their important donors.
  • People who sell supplies or services can keep up with their contacts at major clients.
  • People who have a lot of friends and acquaintances don’t have to let those casual relationships fade.

“Being human is good business.”

In essence:

  • We add the human touch back into the processes that automated systems have rendered obsolete, or at least invisible.

The New Stuff

At the semifinals, we announced our integration with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, and our partnership with KiZan Technologies on both the development and sales channel fronts.

Your Next Move

If you’d like to find out more about what we do, or become a customer, or refer a customer, sign up for our mailing list and let us know what specifically interests you.

If you’d like to cheer us on at the Venture Sharks finals, register for the luncheon.

If you’d like to help us spread the word, tell your friends about us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Cool Job: Corporate Agent

I’ve done a lot of things for a living over the years, and after working with a number of short-lived startups, I figured it was time for a “real job.” I started with Capital Holding which rebranded as Providian while I was there.

Cool Job, Part 4: Corporate Agent

Agency GroupAfter working for several startups (six jobs in two years thanks to money running out, projects falling apart, bosses going to prison… the usual), I decided to give corporate America a try.

I went to work at Providian (which was Capital Holding when I interviewed). I interviewed at one of their main buildings, but when I showed up for work two weeks later, the building was boarded up. They’d opened their new offices in a brand new building across the street, and forgot to mention it to me. 😉

My building was known as Agency Group (since we wrote software to support insurance agents). I was officially a Corporate Agent.

There were lots of cool things about the job, like a gorgeous building with an ornate atrium, three different bosses who were peers of each other (one focused on the road ahead, one focused on the task at hand, and one focused on the people’s well-being). It was a good arrangement, and I wished that it had caught on in more of corporate America at the time.

I made a lot of good friends, including one that I would go into business with years later.

The Quest

Irv BaileyI wasn’t quite ready for corporate culture. Actually, it’s more that corporate culture wasn’t ready for me. I was young, smart, and bold. Moving through six jobs in two years, each better than the last, left little room for fear of failure or fear of reprisal. I knew that if anything were to happen to me, I’d find a better job within a couple of weeks.

I had my share of conflicts, victories, mistakes, and clashes, like most people in most jobs.

But there’s one really cool thing in particular that I’d like to focus on.

The CEO, Irv Bailey, worked in a different building a few blocks away. One day, he called an all-company meeting, so several hundreds of us crammed into the biggest room we had to listen to what was up. He spoke a lot about corporate vision, opportunities, challenges, other divisions, and many of the things that top-level execs share with their employees. But most of the company’s big picture was new to me. My brain started connecting the dots from idea to idea, and I got more excited as I listened, knowing the kind of things that I could do to help us along that a lot of long-timers didn’t realize.

I sent the CEO’s secretary an email with some thoughts. I was surprised to hear that Irv wanted to meet with me personally to discuss them. Wow.

The Tower

Providian TowerI actually dressed up, with a tie and everything. I met him in his tower office and we talked for a long time. Some of my ideas, the company was already doing, and I didn’t realize it. Some, the company had tried and failed. Some were… not actually legal (oops). But there were a few left that he really liked.

After that, he set up a quarterly meeting with me to see what things I was cooking up over in my department, even though there were probably eight managers in the hierarchy between the two of us. We’d also talk about the corporate culture, the wonders of technology, and anything else. He also expressed an interest in how my department was run, and we’d also discuss that. I kind of felt like an undercover operative, a different kind of Corporate Agent. Cool.

Using my background in startups, graphics, gaming, outer space, broadcasting, and other skills and talents from my experience toolbox, I came up with some pretty cool stuff. Cool for the time, anyway. The sales department called one of my projects “the most exciting thing they’d ever seen come out of IT.”

The Dungeon

ProvidianWord got out that I was going outside the chain of command, by meeting privately with the CEO. My new boss didn’t like that at all. (Having the three bosses was a little to progressive for most people there, and they restructured us back into “normal” org chart reporting.) She actually forbid me from going to my upcoming meeting. When I called Irv’s secretary to cancel, she was confused and asked, “Who’s this person that says you can’t come over?” Irv and his secretary had never heard of my boss before. Her reputation did not reach as far as mine, we found out.

After a lot of arguments to settle that situation, it seemed that my boss kept trying to sabotage my efforts. She’d cancel or delay software projects of mine that were ready to move to testing, that I’d already run past focus groups that I formed myself. She told me that people didn’t want that, they wanted some other thing that was crappy.

Then the bad bad news happened. We found out that all my projects my boss had mothballed were being shown to people outside the company — by my boss. My prototypes were being touted as “ready to roll into production” and “the future of the company” to outside buyers that eventually did buy Providian and laid off much of the workforce. I left before that happened, though. I felt like I was working for a traitor.

When I turned in my notice, it wasn’t long before someone had told Irv about my boss essentially driving me out of the company and misrepresenting / stealing my work (which was the company’s intellectual property, even). Things didn’t turn out well for her.

For my next job, I wanted a clean break. Something else to do. So I left town, and took a job a couple hundred miles north, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Go back to Part 3: Floor Show or onto Part 5: Wire Transfer

CompassioNote

“It’s sort of a cross between MacGyver and Shark Tank.”

This weekend, I built a new company with people I didn’t know.

It’s all part of the amazing event that is Startup Weekend. This happens in cities around the world every weekend.

This is my third time participating in a Startup Weekend, and my team won first place!

Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend Louisville #8

If you’ve never been to a Startup weekend, I recommend it.

A hundred or so people get together and pitch ideas to each other on Friday night, then we gather around the ones we like the best. We spend Saturday researching, building, and talking to potential customers to see if the idea is one that people want. Then we spend Sunday polishing it up to we can present our final 5-minute pitches to a panel of judges, who make their decision based on factors such as team-to-customer interviews, a working prototype, ongoing viability, and potential market size.

It’s sort of a cross between MacGyver and Shark Tank.

We all start with nothing but ideas, and after 54 hours of feverish activity, one team walks away on top.

I love doing it because it’s a great way to meet to people, hear new ideas, work on a short-term project that excites you, learn a new methodology or industry or technology, and have a final product of some sort to show when you’re done.

CompassioNote

(L to R): John Davenport, Kartik Kamat, Dave Mattingly, Aaron Price, Mihir Kotwal

Keep up with #SWLou and #StartupWeekend to stay involved.

CompassioNote

Our team initially started off with a sad story that we didn’t want to see repeated.

Kartik Kamat told us that his retired friend and mentor had passed away, but that he didn’t hear about it until well after. Kartik’s pitch was that we’d build a tool to notify us as soon as there’s an obituary for our friends and loved ones that we don’t have daily contact with.

Many of us had similar experiences, and we formed a team to help.

Here’s a video that our teammate Aaron recorded, to explain his own experience, to help us get the concept across to our potential customers and to garner their feedback.

Aaron Price for CompassioNote

A 45-second video explaining the problem, and our solution.

We found that the idea resonated with a lot of people, and although we originally envisioned our target customer as HR departments that would want to keep track of former employees (after all, if someone has been there a long time and made a lot of friends, they probably want to hear about it after the employee had retired). But we found out that HR tended to care more about current employees than former ones, and suggested that sales teams would be more interested.

That was our lightbulb moment. Imagine being a salesperson with a list of a few hundred clients and a few thousand prospects. If one of them passes away, you’d at least like the option to send a card or flowers. Providing personal service like that, when it’s most needed, can cement a lifelong customer relationship.

We pivoted our efforts, and found that we can purchase obituary information for the entire country, and integrate it with professional sales tools like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Goldmine, and others.

We built a personal-use web version (that you can try here), to make sure we had a functional process, but we expected that the real money would come in from professionals whose careers are built upon relationships with very large numbers of people.

CompassioNote Pitch

The winning pitch!

Eleven Startups Enter… One Startup Leaves!

You can watch every pitch here (we all had five minutes to speak, and three minutes to answer questions from the judges).

Or you can skip to just our winning pitch here.

Coming Next

One of the prizes was automatic entry into a much bigger contest, so we’re gearing up for that.

While we do, we’re juggling dozens of other tasks to which I won’t get into just now, but I’m sure I’ll cover later.

Please sign up on our website, like our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and connect to us at LinkedIn.

#startupweekend, #swlou