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10 Interesting Startups to Watch Out For This Year

10 Interesting Startups to Watch Out For This Year

Startups have amassed huge popularity in the past decade. Everyone dreams of launching a startup on their own. A mindboggling 100 million startups are launched annually, according to figures in the GEM Global Report.

The majority of them perish without having any impact. Only a few make it to the coveted upper echelons of the business world. Here are 10 very interesting startups to look forward to in 2016.

1. Brigade

1

    Founded by Sean Parker (cofounder of Napster) and Matt Mahan, Brigade aims to encourage users to understand civic issues and seek reform.

    The mission of the company, according to Mahan, is “to empower people in their civic life and to have influence over the direction their society goes in by having them articulate and identify where they stand on issues, uncover alignment with friends, get organized into groups of like-minded people and ultimately act collectively to shape the policies that affect their lives.”

    Last November, the company launched interactive ballot guides in San Francisco and Manchester, New Hampshire to educate voters about ballot initiatives and candidates.

    With the presidential battle heating up for this year’s ultimate showdown in November, this political app will definitely garner more users.

    2. Operator

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      Gone are the days of traditional shopping when we used to hop from one store to another, painfully searching for things to buy. Thanks to plenty of well designed e-commerce sites and business apps, we can shop easily from our own homes.

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      However, online shopping can still be tedious because of the overwhelming amount of options it offers. The Operator app intends to take the painful part out of your shopping.

      You simply text what you need to find and within no time a person begins working on your request to present you the best options.

      Started by Uber cofounder Garrett Camp and former Zynga executive Robin Chan, this app is currently only available for the iPhone.

      3. Nextbit

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        The Nextbit Robin, dubbed the only cloud-first smartphone, is one of the most awaited phones of this year. The phone garnered an astonishing $1.3 million in 30 days from its Kickstarter campaign.

        Robin comes with: a 5.2-inch 1080p touchscreen, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 chipset at the helm, 3GB of RAM, a 13 MP rear camera with face detection, autofocus and dual-LED flash; a 5 MP selfie snapper, a USB Type-C port, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; NFC, GPS, and a 2,680 mAh battery.

        What makes it different than other smartphones in the market is that it backs everything into the cloud. With the purchase of this smartphone, you get 32 GB built-in storage and an additional 100 GB of cloud storage.

        When the internal memory starts filling up, the phone uploads your inactive data, apps and media to the cloud, and deletes them from your phone. So, when you need this inactive stuff, you can easily get it back.

        Nextbit is the brainchild of Tom Moss, former head of Android business development, and Mike Chan, former head of Android power management.

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        4. Distrokid

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          Last August, the hip hop group Jack & Jack hit No. 12 on Billboard Top 200, the first time for an indie music group. On top of that, they kept 100% of their sales and streaming royalties.

          This was made possible by Distrokid – a music distribution service started by entrepreneur Philip Kaplan. Artists who want to sell music on platforms like iTunes need to be signed by a record label, or go through a distributor like Distrokid. It allows you to get your music to iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and 100+ other stores.

          For a small fee of $19.99, Distrokid allows you to upload unlimited albums and songs for a year. Furthermore, it takes no royalties on the sales you have made. Thus, it is very useful for indie artists without a record label who want to get their music to listeners.

          5. Magic Leap

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            Augmented reality has caught the attention of the world for some time. Unlike virtual reality which replaces the real world with simulated one, in augmented reality, computer generated images are layered on top of the real world.

            Magic Leap, founded by Rony Abovitz, is one promising startup working in the field of augmented reality. It recently raised $793.5 million in new funding in what might be the largest “C” round in Internet history.

            Magic Leap may not have made any product available for public consumption, but it definitely has plenty of resources to usher us into an era of augmented reality in the near future.

            6. 3Scan

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              3Scan has undertaken the task of revolutionizing the field of anatomic pathology by changing the way doctors, biotech companies and researchers study tissue. The company has transferred the task of analyzing cells and tissues from analog to digital technology.

              3Scan uses its patented “Knife Edge Scanning Microscope” (KESM) to generate 2D and 3D models of tissues. 3Scan’s technology is very effective in applications requiring high throughput of a large volume of samples. It also provides data processing software to model 3D tissue reconstructions, provide interactive image views and apply quantitative analytics.

              7. Zeek

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                What do you do when you get a gift card that you are unlikely to use? You’ll probably keep it, hoping it might come of use someday. Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could just get cash in exchange for the card? The founders of Zeek thought so.

                Zeek is a mobile and web based platform that allows users to sell their gift vouchers for cash. In addition, it allows you to purchase, at a discount, gift cards to stores from which you are more likely to buy.

                The market for unused gift cards is huge. It is estimated that around $450 million worth of gift cards go unredeemed each year in the U.K. alone. Zeek intends to penetrate this market and expand its service to other European countries in near future.

                8. Luxe Valet

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                  Parking your vehicle can be tough and exhausting if you live in a city. Luxe Valet, founded in 2013 by Curtis Lee and Criag Martin, can relieve this problem for you.

                  This smartphone app-based service lets you call one of their valets when you need to park your vehicle. For a small fee, the company’s valet will take your car and park it in one of their parking lots. They will even get your car washed or refueled if you want them to do so.

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                  First started at San Francisco, Luxe Valet has expanded its service to seven major U.S. cities.

                  9. Mobcrush

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                    Mobile gaming has carved out a big share in the global gaming market. As more powerful phones get introduced, mobile games are becoming increasingly sophisticated. With this in mind, Royce Disney has come up with Mobcrush, a platform for live streaming of mobile games.

                    Mobcrush enables users to broadcast, watch and chat about games played and streamed in real-time. Similar PC based live streaming platforms, such as Twitch, were bought for almost $1 billion by Amazon last year. And, Mobcrush has shown potential as it has already raised $15 million from various investors.

                    10. Fuse

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                      If you are an app designer or a developer, watch out for Fuse. Fuse is a UX tool suite that helps you create beautiful, smoothly animated user experience in native mobile apps. This app comes with visual tools that facilitate the collaboration between designers and developers.

                      It allows you to create, edit and preview your app in real-time on multiple devices simultaneously. Founded by a group of experienced designers, Fuse has received funding from Northzone and Alliance Ventures.

                      Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm9.staticflickr.com

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                      Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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                      Last Updated on February 11, 2021

                      10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

                      10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

                      Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

                      You have to work hard to develop the right skills

                      If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

                      1. Make your presentation short and sweet

                      With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

                      JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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                      2. Open up with a good ice breaker

                      At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

                      • Joking
                      • Tugging on their heart strings
                      • Dropping a bombastic statement
                      • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
                      • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

                      You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

                      3. Keep things simple and to the point

                      Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

                      4. Use a healthy dose of humor

                      Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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                      It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

                      5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

                      Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

                      6. Practice your delivery

                      Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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                      7. Move around and use your hands

                      Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

                      8. Engage the audience by making them relate

                      Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

                      9. Use funny images in your slides

                      Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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                      10. End on a more serious note

                      When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

                      As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

                      Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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