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A Day in the Life: Nestio’s Caren Maio

Meet Caren Maio, founder and CEO Nestio. Founded in 2011, Nestio is a real time residential listings database for management companies and brokers. Caren graduated from Gallatin in 2007 with a concentration in Marketing and Brand Building and now spends her days running and growing the company. Like many new New Yorkers, Caren hopped from apartment to apartment each year, each one further deepening her interest in the real estate industry and frustration with the industry’s analog documentation processes. Always knowing that she’d eventually have a company of…

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Lessons Learned: Putting the Minimum back in Minimum Viable Product

Democrateyes is democratizing beauty by bringing together experts to help consumers make informed decisions about makeup and skincare products and routines. At NYU, computer science majors take a senior-level course called Software Engineering. Based on the IEEE curriculum, we’re taught the waterfall model of web development. The problem with the waterfall approach, however,  is that you invest massive amounts of time and effort into building a product before ever showing it to customers, and often it fails to live up to the customer’s expectations.  So, I read about…

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Lessons Learned: Getting Beyond the Use Case

Somaware is working to launch its first product: eyes-free, ears-free, hands-free wearable navigation. One of the first things I noticed when my co-founder, Mike, and I began speaking to people about tactile navigation devices was how just about everyone had ideas about what (and whom) they could be useful for. It was encouraging, of course, to see that people not only understood what we were trying to do, but also found the idea compelling enough to begin imagining their own scenarios for how it might be used.…

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Lessons Learned: 8 Tips for Making the Best out of Your Customer Interviews

Sparkbox Toys is an online subscription service for parents to rent children’s toys. On one of the first days of Summer Launchpad, when Frank Rimalovski began a sentence with, “The number 1 reason start ups fail…,” I assumed he was going to say something along the lines of “finances,” “money,” or “capital.” To my surprise, he said “customers.” “Start ups fail because they don’t have enough customers.” Okay, that made sense. Customers are the focus point, they bring in the revenues that cover the costs, and you…

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Lessons Learned: Rethink Your Elephants

Limbr Activewear is designing next-generation fitness and training wear with built-in resistance bands to give athletes an effective, low-impact way to amplify their workouts.  The following is an old parable that I learned back in grade school: Once upon a time, three blind men are introduced to an elephant. Not knowing what the elephant actually looks like, each man reaches out and touches a different part of the animal. The first one feels the leg and says, “this elephant is like a tree.” The second one touches…

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Lessons Learned: The Trough of Despair

Democrateyes is democratizing beauty by bringing together experts to help consumers make informed decisions about makeup and skincare products and routines.  While Democrateyes has made significant progress during Summer Launchpad, it has not been without ups and downs. As part of the Lean Startup Methodology, we’ve spent a lot of our time talking to dozens of customers, finding patterns in their frustrations, and using this information to inform our product. Many articles have been written about how to find customers to interview and how to interview them, but fewer have…

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Lessons Learned: The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday

Brooklinen is a direct-to-consumer home goods brand that offers exceptional quality at affordable prices while demystifying the process for its customers. My cofounder, Richard Fulop, and I have already learned so much this summer during our experience in Summer Launchpad. Not only have we been pushed to question our hypotheses daily, but we’ve also had to learn a new vocabulary and a new set of tools for thinking about our ideas. Oddly enough, the one phrase that keeps turning over in my mind doesn’t come from…

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Faculty Entrepreneurs: Meet Ken Perlin

This post is the first in our new Faculty Entrepreneurs series, sharing their experiences commercializing their research via startups. Meet Ken Perlin: a professor of computer science in NYU’s Courant Institute. Ken is the founding Director of the NYU Media Research Lab, a serial entrepreneur,  the inventor of Perlin noise, and is an Academy Award winner. Professor Perlin is currently working on a product that doesn’t yet exist in today’s marketplace: a thin mat that can cover any surface and give images of pressure. The implications of Perlin’s…

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Lessons Learned: Getting to No

Smart Vision Labs is aiming to bring clear vision to the entire globe. By simply taking a picture, Smart Vision Labs can measure the refractive errors of your eye and give you your prescription on the spot. A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the World Founder Forum hosted by in Paris. As part of the event, the incoming Founder class of 2015 (Smart Vision Labs is a member of the class of 2014) peppered our class with questions about our experiences as…

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