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May 24, 2014

Startup Week


Boulder’s fifth Startup Week is in the history books, and I want to thank everyone involved, especially the founder Andrew Hyde and his great team of hard workers, volunteers and speakers.  This was the first time that I’ve been able to participate fully, and it was just what I needed.  In the past I’ve been too caught up in my own business to spend the week hanging out with other people who were just starting their journeys in the startup world.  I’m sure I would have benefited from the enthusiasm and great ideas being tossed around if I had made time to go in the past, and I expect I’ll spend even more time with the startup community at Boulder Startup Week next year.

During the Keynote (which was not a Keynote) David Cohen, Brad Feld and Andrew Hyde took the stage to talk about not just the startup community, but about the many communities we have right here in Boulder.  They all made it clear that while they love the Boulder community, we need to work with all of the Colorado and even world communities to collaborate to support each other, and to make the world a better place.  In fact when they asked for a show of hands, it looked like half of the people in the audience were from outside of Boulder.  That was so cool and I enjoyed my talks throughout the week with people who had just arrived, were just visiting or were thinking about moving to Boulder.
One simple way to participate in the vision of connecting is to just get out and visit one of those other communities.  Although Startup Week started here in Boulder, it has spread along with http://startupweekend.org all over the world.
I was able to make it up to Fort Collins for the last day of their Startup Week of celebrating and supporting startups.  As part of the work I’m doing for 6kites I was interested in attending the panel discussion they had on Agriculture and the Internet of Things at CSU.  It was a very well done event with three different panel discussions and all taught me something and made me think big thoughts.  With 7 billion people needing to be fed every day, farmers are using technology and looking at the Internet of Things to better monitor, control and produce their crops and animals.
Even though Boulder Startup Week is over for another year, it is so easy to get connected to the startup community in Boulder.  I am thankful to have landed here and to be a part of a group of wonderful people who are happy to share and support entrepreneurs.


May 24, 2014 in Entrepreneurship, Internet of Things | Permalink | TrackBack

May 21, 2014

Autism and Robots

The CDC reports that 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with Autism, and it is five times more common in boys than girls.   The rate of diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to AutismAction.org, has been increasing by 10 to 17% per year.   Certainly some of that increase comes from better diagnosis, but my understanding is that it is actually increasing in society for as yet not well understood reasons.   

As part of my time off and figuring out what I want to do next, I’ve been hanging out with a lot of entrepreneurs and start up teams.  One that I just have to write about is Jalali Hartman, a Boulder entrepreneur who is trying to help children and adults with Autism, and he’s doing it with a low-cost robot.  I think that is so cool to use technology to help people, and he seems to be getting results.  His company ROBAUTO is getting great press, and it’s not because he’s got a PR machine behind him, it’s because people see what he’s doing and they want to see him succeed.  I know I do.
The first version of the robot from ROBAUTO is named ONE.  It’s already been selected as a 2014 Global IP Champion by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  He was selected, and successfully completed the 2013 HealthBox Florida Accelerator class.  He’s demoed at New Tech Meetup, this year’s Boulder Startup Week, and he’s been written up in UX Magazine, FreeEnterprise.com, Autism Daily Newscast, and most recently there was a great article in Health Source Magazine (page 24-29).  Check out the robauto.co website for even more.
Jalali tells how some people who just can’t interact or even speak, become captivated with robots.  Just interacting with the robot seems to help some of the people, but Jalali even involved them in the design process.  The great thing he says is some of the least expensive devices showed some of the most promise.  Autism can be very expensive and health coverage varies, so a multi-thousand dollar robot would be out of reach for most families even if it could be shown to help their loved ones.  ROBAUTO ONE is expected to come in at the low hundreds price point.
There is a lot of work to be done, but it is wonderful to see someone combining their love of technology with their love of people and a strong desire to help make the world a better place.  Jalali recently moved to Boulder from Florida to be part of our start-up community.  Buy him a cup of coffee and ask him how you can help.  He'll be the guy in the back of Amante coffee with the robot on the table and a big smile on his face.
I have to also add that Autism has not touched my family directly, but my daughter-in-law Tori Gold works with children with Autism, and I admire her so much for the work she does.  She loves her kidos, and her and my son Christopher have worked hard to to raise awareness of Autism.

May 21, 2014 in Entrepreneurship, Robots | Permalink | TrackBack

May 13, 2014

Denver Mini Maker Faire


I still remember discovering Make Magazine, Issue 2 in early 2005.  It looked like a big Readers Digest for hackers (the good kind) and makers.  At that time I'm not sure if "maker" was a word, but if Make Magazine didn't invent it, they certainly did their part to popularize it.  A maker is a Do It Yourselfer with a techie bent.  They might be artists, hackers, engineers, or people who just like to take things apart and put them back together, probably in a different way than how they started.

As Make Magazine launched, they also created Maker Faire which in its first year had over one hundred makers exhibiting all sorts of projects, and in 2012 they drew 120,000 people to the event.  I've always wanted to go out for Maker Faire, but while doing Gold Systems I never felt like I had the time.  In hindsight, that was silly, but now I intend to make it out there. (ha, get it?)

On May 3rd and 4th of this year, there was a "Mini" Maker Faire held in Denver, and as part of the work I'm doing for 6kites, I got to go with my good friend Marty.  While it wasn't huge, it was a lot of fun.  The best part was seeing all the kids running around, excited to see and get their hands on all the projects.  It gave us hope that young people will want to get involved with engineering.  Local Boulder company Sparkfun was out in full force teaching kids how to solder and assemble different kinds of fun electronic kits.  I'm really impressed with Sparkfun and want to make it out to their facility tour some Friday afternoon.  It will be like the Celestial Seasonings tour for geeks, hackers and makers.  Be sure and check out their website at sparkfun.com

So here are some photos of the Mini Maker Faire.  If it looks like fun, there will be another one in Fort Collins on October 5th, call the NoCo Mini Maker Faire.

There were many robots of all sizes.  Here is one from, I think, the Berthoud Robotics High School club.  Marty and I got to drive it around and try to pick up and throw a ball with it.


Here are a couple of amazing R2D2 replicas


Note the sign at the Denver Mad Scientist Club table


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was there, doing some amazing science demonstrations.  In this one, they were showing how a supercold piece of metal could be made magnetic, as long as it was cold.  I believe he was pouring liquid nitrogen onto the metal.  It was better than magic.


Not everything was electronic.  There were also quite a few artists showing their work.


Last but not least, perhaps the busiest place during the show was the Sparkfun area.  Again, these people do a great job getting kids of all ages learning and playing with electronics.


There was so much more, but this is enough to get you thinking about what you missed.  For a list of all the companies and individuals who displayed, check this link.



May 13, 2014 in Entrepreneurship, Internet of Things, Robots | Permalink | TrackBack

May 01, 2014

The Internet of Things, and my new thing

My last blog post was November, 2013.  A lot has happened since then, and that’s a major understatement.  Since then we shut down Gold Systems - I’m not ready to tell that story, or even to say how hard it was to write that just now.  That’s for another time when I’m ready to tell the story.  But rather than just be quiet until then, let me tell you what’s going on right now.

My good friend Steve gave me a Raspberry Pi in December, and with the help of my other good friend Marty, I got lost in connecting my little computer to the world and learning to write code again.  It was thrilling to be back to my roots, working with Linux and actually learning how to connect sensors of all types to my little computer.  It was refreshing to not be working in a Microsoft world, and I formatted the disk of my last PC and loaded Redhat Linux on it.  (My wife just pointed out that she helped.  She knows Linux better than I ever will and I'm grateful to have in-house tech support.)  I had been making the move to Apple for some time, but for development I’m really enjoying playing with Linux.  And it hasn’t crashed once.

In March I had a chance to go to Adelaide and Sydney Australia to be a mentor at the ANZ Innovyz START technology accelerator.  This was my second trip to work with Janna Mathews and the great group of people in Australia, and it was just what I needed to get me thinking about what’s next for me.

While there I spent time with entrepreneurs who are working on 3D printing applications, Internet of Things projects, a game studio and several working to help educate people in entrepreneurship, technology and more.  Between the Raspberry Pi, what I learned in Australia, and my fascination with computers that connect, sense and interact with the world, I realized that my next thing would be very different than what I was doing at Gold Systems.


The Boulder entrepreneur community is a wonderful group of careing individuals and many have contacted me and spent time with me.  I am very grateful to you all, and I realize I am just getting started on reconnecting.  In particular, Herb Morreale, an old friend and the CEO of 6kites, spent time with me and we had many great conversations about entrepreneurship and what opportunities exist today.  We realized we both believed that what’s being called “The Internet of Things” could in fact be “The Next Big Thing.”  Herb invited me to spend time at 6kites and to help set up the 6kites Labs, so that I could research and experiment with new technologies while keeping an eye open for how this could be a new market for 6kites.  I am having a great time looking at the technology and opportunites, and I'll be doing regular blog posts now about what I'm finding.  If you are an entrepreneur involved with IoT, I'd love to hear from you.  

I just got back to Boulder from a trip back to Kentucky where I attended a board meeting for the International Bluegrass Music Museum.  We’re building a new museum as we’ve outgrown the old one, and I’m helping the board to look at new ways to display the artifacts and engage people with the music, and that even ties in a bit with the work I’m doing with Herb and 6kites.  Museums have moved beyond static displays and the experience is changing rapidly.  It’s an exciting and busy time for me even though I don’t really have “a job” at the moment.  I’m looking forward to seeing where the 6kites project goes and figuring out what I want to do next.  Perhaps something that ties together my love of music, technology, the Internet of Things and flying . . .

 Stay tuned, there's more to come . . .


May 1, 2014 in Entrepreneurship, Internet of Things | Permalink | TrackBack