Startup Trends 2014 II

Startup Trends II on CurattiNote
No sooner than I finished this post than my friend Evan Sanchez Tweeted that Google purchased for $3.2B. If that doesn’t make you want to fire up a startup I don’t know what will. Amazing and is covered in our Distributed Home section below.

In Startup Trends 2014 I covered five macro trends from Internet of Things to Learning To Think Like Video Game Developers. Today’s post covers five more macro trends including:

  • The Distributed Home (Smart, Social Homes are Startup Rich & Complicated).
  • What Health Care Is Doing (Complicated & Startup Rich).
  • What Insurance Is Doing (Underwriting Digital and Rich and Startup Rich).
  • Telco 3.0 (Can You Say M&A?).
  • You Are The Interface (Google glass & wearable tech).


Fjord created great icons we used to organize this and next week’s Startup Trends 2014 report on Notes such as “Internet of Things” are my addons to Fjord’s organizing graphic:

Fjord 2014 Trends Icons

The Smart Home

Our homes are about to get smarter, more social and interactive. Everything from our thermostats to our televisions will connect to two distinct webs: The Internet of Things and The Social Web. Our fridge will know when its filter needs changing and, with the right assortment of apps, our “filter subscription” will fill the need even before we realize its that time again.

As our intelligent things have conversations with themselves we will be “in the know” too. The data about our usage will be summarized, pivoted, shared and compared. If you are away and left the upstairs window open it will show in the data and a PING will go out or “business rules” will simply close the window. AT&T’s “Cabin” commercial explains the “intelligent home” with humor:

Cool startups wanting to help your home get smarter include:

  • Washington, DC based (leader in the digital home / Internet of things race).
  • San Francisco, CA based (cool Minority Report-like tool adds pointing, waving and grabbing to your computer).
  • Palo Alto, CA based (cool app control for your thermostat, smoke and carbon detectors NOTE Sold to Google for $3.2B Monday).
  • New York, New York based (pain free storage options for city dwellers).
  • Austin, Texas based (Controls your lights via a smart phone).
  • Waltham, MA based (invisible audio that sounds amazing, digital and invisible).



Healthcare is near and dear to me. I am a cancer survivor, but healthcare is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Americans pay more to get less than almost anyone in the world. Technology is the answer, but there are significant hurdles such as the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act HIPAA (1996), entrenched bureaucracy and overwhelming demand.

The combination of 80M boomers living longer and needing more healthcare is creating a tectonic shift. In Durham we see the shift. The shift makes Duke’s hospital not its world class college the center of a recent building boom. Hospitals are the new “city centers” springing up condos, restaurants and services as fast as they can be built to service a growing number of customer patients.

Brave startps are tackling the unique challenge that is healthcare. I just founded a startup to help crowdsource cancer research working with The Duke Cancer Institute (Durham, NC), UNC Lineberger Cancer Center (Chapel Hill, NC), Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, NY) and Carbone Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI). Cool healthcare startups:

  • Durham, NC based (crowdfunding cancer research to cure cancer in our lifetime).
  • San Francisco, CA based (crowdfunding cost of patient care worldwide).
  • New York, New York based HealthBlueprint (crowdsources support for healthcare startups).
  • San Francisco, CA based (Electronic Medical Records EMR can be costly and dangerous, PracticeFusion uses the cloud to lower costs and increase accessibility).
  • Palo Alto, CA based ( management of medical records and I say THANK YOU since bills can be overwhelming too).
  • San Francisco, CA based (fertility healthcare app with more planned).
  • New York, New York based (gamification for getting fit and staying healthy).


Insurance Is Money

One of the many things Warren Buffet knows better than you or me is Insurance = money (why he owns several insurance companies including the lovable geco. Since insurance is a statistical bet with sophisticated algorithms predicting redemption cash other cash must be put to work. With CDs generating 1% return insurance companies have gone looking for better return and may be about to underwrite the next round of the digital revolution.

What about bringing innovation and creativity to the insurance and finance space. Who is doing that?

  • San Francisco, CA based (never balance another checkbook b/c levelmoney is connected in real time to everything).
  • San Francisco, CA based ( mashup of insurance sites, rates and information).
  • San Mateo, CA based (private social network for doctors and researchers).
  • Mountainview, CA based (owned by Intuit so no longer a startup, but worth noting since they set the template in the personal finances space).
  • Detroit, MI based (reviews for real estate, insurance and banks).


Telcos Own Our Souls

Not hard to see what we spend our time and money upon these days. Go to any public place and observe. You will note people sitting at tables together with heads down as they text others. You will see people walking and texting (a dangerous idea). You will see that our phones are rarely more than a few feet from us.

Smartphones are the teddy bears of a new generation.

Expect Telco M&A to go up in 2014 and expect the creators of the web’s backbone to get better at understanding how to use SoLoMo (Social, Local and Mobile) reach, marketing and the infinite number of service possibilities scaled and ubiquitous connection brings. Cool mobile startups include:

  • MontrĂ©al, QC Canada based (social password management app won best app at CES).
  • San Francisco, CA based (Twitter founder Biz Stone’s latest startup promises a new “search engine” experience).
  • San Francisco, CA based (not going to pretend to know what is about to do, but should be cool).
  • Venice, CA based (mobile video and photo sharing service that turned down $3B to stay independent).
  • San Francisco, CA based (leading “achievement movement” with cool new “right time, right place” loyalty app).


You Are The Internet

The web will be part and parcel to every aspect of your life. Our phones will be close, our thermostats will be smart and our children will love us unconditionally and forever. Well two out of three isn’t all bad (lol). When a watch company receives $11M when they asked for $100K something is up.

Wearable tech is about to be Large and In Charge. Here are a few startups looking to harvest some pebbles too:

  • Palo Alto, CA based (riding the wearable tech wave Pebble crowdsourced $11M and their first watch is on the market).
  • San Francisco, CA based (new video game console funded on 8.5M).
  • Palo Alto, CA based (3D printing for the masses).
  • Slovenia based (wants to RFID your life so you never lose your keys, purse, wallet again).
  • Brooklyn, New York based bitbangerlabs creators of (cool “light painting” app see video below).


Wanted to finish up strong with this very cool, inspirational video from BitBangerLabs showing off their PiexlStick light painting application. Too cool just wish I could understand how it actually worked (lol). For another day. Thanks for reading and please share your favorite startups in comments here or on GooglePlus (Martin W. Smith).

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Passionate cancer survivor, Internet marketer and former Director of Ecommerce who believes in Margaret Mead's quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Glad to be an "Editor of Chaos".

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  1. Michael Nelson says:

    Enjoyed this article Marty – the SoLoMo is a trend that particularly interests me from a digital marketing standpoint. It feels like local has been a bit ignored in the past year or two and I think mobile is the catalyst to get it back to the forefront.

    Heading off to check out the companies!

  2. Agree with Michael. Local hasn’t been as Large and In Charge as I expected.’s achievement based and contextually relevant rewards might be able to amp it back up. What is missing is an “in the moment” recognition and money saving engine.

    Why don’t we receive scannable coupons from an app when we are in the grocery store. When we are headed to the movies where is the “free popcorn” offer? When its’s 6:00 and we just searched “best Chinese in Downtown Durham” why isn’t there a “your friends like x” recommendation engine?

    Local + Mobile + Social is, I agree with Michael, a business opportunity hardly realized. Have fun checking out the many startups I discovered Michael as they are changing our worlds fast, very fast (see that Google purchase of for $3.2B?). Going to be exciting and fun. Appreciate the note, read, Tweets and social support Michael :). Marty

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