Welcome back to Small Empires, our look at life inside startups. Alexis Ohanian, creator of such things as Reddit, HipMunk and BreadPig, has returned as our inimitable host. This season we are expanding beyond New York City, traveling across the U.S. and even across the border to Canada, to meet with awesome companies shaking things up. Keep it locked here for deep dives into the joys and pains of startup life and conversations with entrepreneurs trying to reinvent industries and solve massive problems.
Dec 18, 2014
My favorite web series, High Maintenance, began appearing on Vimeo back in 2012. The directors picked Vimeo for the same reason many independent artists do: a guarantee that their material would appear without ads and free of the clutter that surrounds videos on Youtube. This year, after a very successful run as a free show, High Maintenance became the first big-budget project backed by Vimeo, an attempt to emulate Netflix original content creation for a streaming video audience.Read Article >
Dec 11, 2014
Unless you're one of those gluttons for punishment who tunes in to CSPAN on a regular basis, it can be tough to follow along with the way the wheels of government are turning. That's especially true in recent years, when partisan gridlock has been the norm, not the exception. Civic engagement, as measured by voter turnout, is at its lowest point in the last 75 years.Read Article >
Dec 4, 2014
Warning: this episode contains scenes of graphic violence and mature contentRead Article >
Worldstar isn't just a company. It's a meme, an adjective, and a verb. It means to go nuts, to lash out, or to have fun. It can describe a moment that is hilarious or poignant or sickeningly violent. For 30 million people each month it's the site that brings them their daily dose of music, news, and entertainment. Whatever you think of WorldstarHipHop.com, one thing is for sure, it is completely unique.
Dec 2, 2014
Building and launching an app is actually cheaper and easier than ever. With free tutorials and open source toolkits, the barrier to entry is low. Much of the complex backend work can be offloaded to big providers like Amazon or Facebook, who handle cloud storage or identity. Getting people to actually notice your company among the throng of new startups launching every day, however, is very tough. Unless you're featured in an app store or make it into the top 10, it can be difficult to find your initial traction. That's where a viral video comes in.Read Article >
Nov 25, 2014
We've reached a stage where most consumers are familiar with the concept of a "smart home," full of "connected devices," that works, at least in the commercials, something like the futuristic home of The Jetsons. The problem is that unless you're building a home from scratch, most people are going to be adding these smart features in a piecemeal fashion. Each device has to justify its price tag over cheaper, more conventional appliances.Read Article >
The August Smart Lock brings a couple of enticements to the table, starting with its design. Crafted by the legendary Yves Behar, the August lock is a gleaming, modernist beauty. More importantly, it's social. Because the "keys" to the lock are just some code executed by a phone, you can use the app to send "keys" to anyone you like. Having friends over but you're stuck in traffic and won't be there to let them in? You can use the August to send a temporary key that will get them into the house and self-destruct at your command.
Nov 20, 2014
Before there was Vidyard, there was Redwoods Media, a small Canadian startup making marketing videos. Slowly but surely, the company, like so many startups, had to learn two lessons and has come to embrace them over time: being creative is difficult to scale, and they'e actually much better engineers than they are artists.Read Article >
Nov 18, 2014
When venture capitalists are considering whether or not to invest in a startup, there's a stock question many will ask the founder: What would you do if Google decided to enter your business? You could swap the name of any tech titan — Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon — into that query. The bigger picture is figuring out whether the thing you're building is a unique and defensible business or just a cool feature these companies haven't bothered to focus on yet.Read Article >
Nov 11, 2014
Ahh beer. You can drink it. You could brew beer in your bathtub. Maybe you already have. One of the great things about beer is that in some ways it's pretty straightforward to make. That simplicity also allows for lots of variety. You can throw in everything from pumpkin to strawberry to chocolate when it comes to flavor, but brewing for yourself isn't a great way to make money.Read Article >
Nov 10, 2014
Welcome back to Small Empires, our look at life inside startups. Alexis Ohanian, creator of such things as Reddit, HipMunk and BreadPig, has returned as our inimitable host. This season we are expanding beyond New York City, traveling across the U.S. and even across the border to Canada. Keep it locked here for deep dives into the joys and pains of startup life and conversations with entrepreneurs trying to reinvent industries and solve massive problems.Read Article >
Nov 4, 2014
One of the reasons venture capitalist are so eager to invest in technology startups is that the mobile internet has enabled massive, global companies to be built with very little infrastructure and a small number of employees. Instagram had tens of millions of users and international reach when it was bought for a billion dollars, but was staffed by only a dozen hard working coders and designers.Read Article >
Oct 28, 2014
Let's say you need to fix your vacuum cleaning robot, or even worse, the machine that makes your vacuum cleaning robot. You know which part is broken, but where do you go from there? Most of the time when the machine reaches the customer, it's already assembled and the parts aren't labeled at all. Without that crucial bit of info, it can be very difficult to explain to a sales rep exactly what you need, or find a replacement you can order on the web. Googling for "round, squiggly rubber thing with the metal edges" won't help.Read Article >
Partpic, a startup from Atlanta, Georgia, is hoping to solve that problem. Think of it as visual search for replacement parts. Snap some photos of the item with your phone and the app will try and match you to a replacement part you can buy nearby or online.