by Dot Cannon
Creativity has thousands of faces.
And TechDay L.A. 2017, at The Reef on Thursday, proved just how far technology can stretch, when combined with imagination.
TechDay, a New York-based startup organization, hosts free events in three cities. Their goal: to connect the startup community in value-driven events in New York City, London and more recently, Los Angeles. Thursday marked TechDay’s third appearance in downtown L.A.
The doors opened at ten that morning. Admission was free–and the atmosphere was festive.
On hand were more than three hundred startups. Participants met with prospective investors and clients as they showcased their ideas on the exhibit floor.
A number of them also pitched their ideas on the Live Stage.
Naturally, doing justice to everything we saw would be impossible. But here are just a few favorites.
Designer Yuting Su was exhibiting her plush interactive storytime octopus, “Octobo”. Octobo has a tablet display on his head and soft sensors throughout his body. He’ll react when young readers shake his hand or give him things he likes, as outlined in his accompanying storybook. Currently, Yuting is planning a Kickstarter campaign to manufacture Octobo, which was selected for several showcases, including the Indie Prize Showcase, in 2016.
Meanwhile, Nonprofit ChickTech‘s mission is to get, and keep, women engaged in high-tech careers and training. ChickTech offers hands-on workshops. to spark high-school girls’ interest in technology. But they go on to support women of all ages in tech-related careers. Their career programs both support women in tech, and offer information to women interested in changing to STEM careers.
Currently, ChickTech’s website lists chapters in eighteen U.S. cities. But Midwest Region Regional Director Katie SanFilippo told us much more is coming! If you’d like to start a chapter in your city, donate or become a sponsor, or volunteer, they’d like to hear from you as they expand.
“Where?” is usually our reaction to a new robotic innovation. And robotic engineer Pavlo Manovi had one to show us.
SNAP, according to its website, is “the first safe flying camera”. This is a 4K camera, small enough to fit into a backpack. And lightweight–it weighs eighteen ounces!
Meanwhile, the “safe” comes from the way it’s constructed. The drone blades with which it flies are shielded by the wheel-like structures. It’s currently on pre-order, and the website says SNAP “smart tracks” you as you fly it–with a specially-created motor controller, or with your phone.
Spotlighting experience–and ideas
When we ventured into the Live Stage area, we saw a lot that wowed us.
First, NetSuite Software Industry Marketing Lead Kelly Scott, hosted a late-morning “Fireside Chat” with Found Animals Foundation Executive Director Aimee Gilbreath.
Nonprofit Found Animals Foundation supplies resources and data to help pet owners microchip, register and find their pets, if the animals become lost. And the story of Found Animals Foundation’s growth was enough to inspire any startup founder, as Aimee and Kelly discussed “Overcoming the Five Barriers to Growth”.
“The biggest thing is, we went from one per cent of our time, at the kitchen table, to seventy people on staff,” Aimee said.
As the conversation continued, Aimee offered important lessons for startups–and for entrepreneurs in general.
“Whether you want to be or not, you are the walking embodiment of your organization’s culture,” she said. “Investing in people…has been the most important part of our growth, and we haven’t always done it well. (All of our staff are so focused on day-to-day operations that sometimes, you don’t invest in employees.)”
And if you’re expecting smooth sailing with that great idea, Aimee cautioned, it’s time to think again.
“You are going to run into roadblocks,” she said. “It’s part of being a startup. Your first plan (won’t) work. Our most valuable feedback comes from our most upset customers.”
After the fireside chat came demos of products in different categories. Health and fitness, social media and e-commerce were just three of the categories.
For us, one complete standout was the “Magnet” app. In our twenties, during our dating days, we would have really enjoyed this one.
Magnet, explained CEO and founder Alessandro Sciassi, is an app which allows you to “browse” singles at an event or venue in real time. If someone lists as “single” on the app, and you find him or her attractive, you swipe. If the attraction is mutual, that person swipes, too. Then, the app connects the two of you for a five-minute chat.
“Dating apps are not stigmatized…as they used to be, years ago,” Alessandro said. “And that’s important. You want your friends around when you meet a stranger.”
“We hope to make dating safer, and, you know, make money.”
Just outside the stage area we found another great idea: Party on Demand. Currently in beta, Party on Demand will soon be launching its mobile app.
And, what do they do? Well, according to their Instagram page, they can provide “party supplies in one hour or less, 24/7”. They offer boxes of party supplies, and in addition, they can arrange food delivery, a chef, DJ or karaoke. We could foresee this being a lifesaver if things go wrong when you’re planning a birthday party, shower or even a wedding–and a timesaver otherwise.
We forgot to ask how much they charge to supply this “party animal”. But their customers can probably find plenty of those, on their own.