Last month, Amy and I matched all of the Colorado first time DonorsChoose.org projects. So far, 103 projects have been fully funded, with a total of $25,722 donated. We still have plenty of matching dollars out there, so we’ll continue to run this match for a while.
In the meantime, I started talking to my friends at Sphero about doing something similar for all the DonorsChoose.org projects that have a Sphero as part of them. They got excited about it and have announced a $110,000 gift to Donorschoose.org to match anyone who donates to any of the 200+ teachers on Donorschoose.org who have Sphero products included in their projects.
Amy and I, through our Anchor Point Foundation, joined Silicon Valley Bank, Needham & Company, Flex Logistics, Nasco, and my partners at Foundry Group, in providing the funding for the match. SVB, Needham, Flex, and Nasco are Sphero business partners and I deeply appreciate their support of Sphero, DonorsChoose.org, and all of the teachers we are helping fund.
If you want to support a teacher who has a Sphero-related project for their classroom, jump in now. And, if you are a teacher who wants to do something around Sphero’s STEM-related robots and software, including Sphero BOLT, Sphero Mini, and the newly-released Sphero Specdrums, join DonorsChoose.org and put up a project today! Finally, if you are a Sphero business partner and want to participate in this, email me and I’ll get you in the mix.
This match will continue until the dollars are used up. Amy and I are incredibly proud of our friends at Sphero, along with their partners SVB, Needham, Flex, and Nasco, as well as my own partners at Foundry Group, for helping teachers get more STEM-related activities in their classroom through DonorsChoose.org.
I’ve watched a pretty remarkable thing unfold in the past year that culminated yesterday in the launch of a new product from Adero. For a one minute overview, watch the video below. For a longer overview, read the Hello from Adero post from Nate Kelly, the CEO.
Adero is shipping now. As a reader of my blog, you can get 20% off a purchase using the code FOUNDRY20. I’ve been using the production product for 30 days and it’s dynamite.
Adero is what has emerged from our investment in TrackR and is a very long story for another blog post. After a very difficult Q4 last year, we reset a number of things on the business, including the leadership team. Nate Kelly, who had been hired as COO, took over as CEO and in February decided to effectively start from scratch with the hardware, software, and long-term product vision.
Nate and the team have – in nine months – designed, built, and shipped an extremely impressive next-generation product. The amount done in that period of time has been mind-blowing to me after having worked with many hardware-related companies. It’s not just the creation of the product, but the quality of the total product – hardware, software, brand promise, and organization to support it – that is impressive.
I’m really excited about the next phase of this company. We’ve had many successes emerge from companies that stalled or had major problems. Every successful company of ours has had at least one near-death experience. The last year has been extremely intense for this company, and I have enormous respect for the effort of every person there.
Help me on the next journey of Adero by becoming a customer and giving me feedback – of any type – to pass on to the team. They are a learning and building machine that is as impressive as any that I’ve gotten the pleasure to work with over the years.
Watch the following one minute video and ponder whether or not you were that kid (or have one of those kids.)
I was totally that kid. But, most of it was in my mind, which I why I ended up being a software version of that kid. About the only machine I played with was my Apple ][ because it was a computer. I hated the lawnmower, never worked on cars, was afraid of the Cuisinart we had (and all the sharp blades), ignored power tools, and stayed away from anything that plugged into an electrical socket on the wall.
Ironically, I have excellent hand-eye coordination which I think came from three things: (1) playing video games, (2) playing tennis, and (3) having crummy eyesight.
I still have crummy eyesight. Even though my glasses correct most of it, I know that my brain works extra hard to compensate for it. So, as a kid, even though I played a lot of sports, I often played them without my glasses on which made some things worse but forced me to work even harder to deal with hand-eye coordination.
I didn’t realize until I was an adult that I have a very difficult time with any sort of near vision stuff (I’m very nearsighted and have terrible astigmatism.) When I reflect on this, I realize that I avoided doing anything that required near-focus mechanical dexterity. So, I spent a huge amount of time in my head. You would often observe me sitting around programming the computer, or reading, or going for long runs and pondering things by myself.
I wish I’d had littleBits then. While I did fiddle around with the hardware on my Apple ][, I avoided anything else that included tools, wires, nails, bolts, and screws. That was a huge miss on my part, as I’ve found that I love to play around with physical hardware products and electronics as an adult. And, I love to invest in companies that make hardware that makes physical stuff, especially for kids.
So – if you are that kid, or have that kid, jump into things with littleBits. Post something on social media as part of their #MakingChangemakers campaign. Write a blog post about why being that kid helped you achieve what you are today. Share the video above. For every 100 RTs, shares or Likes your post receives, littleBits will donate a Code Kit to an at-risk classroom of your choice to celebrate that kid everywhere.
When Amy and I cook, we want it to be as hassle-free as possible. That’s where the June Oven comes in.
I first learned about the June Oven in 2014 and was impressed with how the June Oven was using technology to make cooking easier and more time efficient. Not only did we invest in June, but I’ve owned a June Oven for over two years.
Now four years later since I first spoke to June co-founders Matt Van Horn and Nikhil Bhogal, June has launched their second generation oven and it’s better than ever. It addition to being a convection oven, it is also a slow cooker, air fryer, dehydrator, broiler, toaster, and warming drawer.
So, with the June Oven, you get seven appliances in one which is good for both your wallet and kitchen counter space. The oven cooks the perfect medium-rare steak, air fries chicken, or bakes chocolate chip cookies. It can even cook up to a 12-pound turkey, not that I eat turkey. To do this, June does all the hard work of alternating between different modes of roast, broil, and bake to cook steak (and anything else) to your preferred doneness.
The new June Oven has never been more affordable with a limited time offer of $499 with promotional code NEW100. You can buy yours at juneoven.com.
Get your kitchen out of the past and into the future now by getting a June Oven.
The holographic display of the future is here and you can have one on your desk for under $600.
Ever since I saw Princess Leia appealing to Obi Wan that he was her only hope when I was 11, I’ve wanted a holographic display. Movies like Minority Report and Back to the Future II (do you remember the shark hologram that ate Marty?) have consumed thousands of people’s lives over the past few decades. But until now, no one has been able to make a scalable device that would let groups of people, unaided by a VR or AR headset, see and touch a living and moving 3D world.
That’s changing today with the launch of the Looking Glass, a new type of interface that achieves that dream of the hologram we’ve been promised for so long. The Looking Glass is technically a lightfield and volumetric display hybrid, but that’s pretty nerdy-sounding. I like to just call it a holographic display.
It’s a technology at the Apple II stage, designed for the creators and hackers of the world — specifically 3D creators in this case. If you’ve ever played with a MakerBot or Form 2, have a Structure sensor in your backpack, know what volumetric video is, or have 3D creation programs like Maya, Unity, or Blender on your computer, then you should get a Looking Glass. You can holographically preview 3D prints before you print them, experiment with volumetric video recording and playback, or create entirely new and weird applications in Unity that can live inside of the Looking Glass. And when I say weird I mean it — the founders Shawn and Alex put a 3D scan of me inside and gave me some new dance moves.
Check out this video on their Kickstarter page. I’ve seen this in person and what is shown in the video is real. There aren’t any camera tricks going on – it really looks that good (actually a little better) in real life. The Looking Glass is indistinguishable from magic the way the best of technology strives to be.
I don’t know of many people who genuinely want the dystopian future of everyone in VR all day long. Ok, I do know a few. But while VR may play a role, I think most people don’t want this 1984 vision of the future, where everyone is geared up 16 hours a day.
The team behind the Looking Glass is fighting against that all-headset future with this new class of technology. Join us!
Glowforge recently launched their 3D laser printers to the public, making their product line available within 10-day delivery. As an early investor (and a huge fan) this was an incredibly gratifying moment, as Glowforge is now shipping – in volume – the product from one of the most popular pre-order campaigns in history.
We’ve been a part of Glowforge’s journey to production since even before their record-setting crowdfunding campaign. But the campaign was the moment we knew that we’d found something special: the elusive product-market fit. People really, really wanted the product. Now that it has made its way into thousands of households, we’re seeing something even better. People really, really love their Glowforge.
Of course, all the numbers in the world can’t convey just how awesome their product is until you see it in action. I’ve used mine to make everything from luggage tags to wallets. It’s an incredible shortcut on the journey from idea to having something tangible you can hold in your hands – no matter your skill level. Trust me, I’ve tested the low end of the skill level personally (e.g. me …)
I’m not the only one excited about it, either. Everyone I’ve ever demoed it for is astonished at what it can do – even my partner Moody’s thirteen-year-old son can’t get enough of it and, admittedly, uses it much more effectively than I do.
Glowforge is taking another big step toward making their printers more accessible by launching their Glowforge Plus model with the Amazon Exclusives program. I waited several years to get mine and have no regrets, but now the next generation of Glowforge owners will be eligible to get their printers delivered to their doorstep in just two days with free Prime shipping.
The move makes sense from a product standpoint, but it also falls right in line with their underlying philosophy: with the right tool, anyone can be a creator. Today, it’s as easy to purchase as it is to use.
My friends at FullContact are having their 2nd annual FullContact Connect Conference. If you are interested, you can get a 50% discount on the ticket price by using the code “Foundry” on the registration page.
Connect ‘18 is bringing together thought leaders and experts – from across industries and verticals – who are experts in the world of data-driven customer intelligence and marketing. At a time when the data industry is under the magnifying glass, Connect ’18 will deliver a mixture of thought leadership and actionable sessions from a range of excellent speakers, to equip marketing leaders to create authentic and lasting relationships with their customers.
The conference schedule has four themes:
The Art and Science of Creating Authentic Connections – how to grow your business by combining the latest technology with the lessons of exceptional customer service
Human to Human Connections – how and why companies need to throw away the traditional B2B and B2C playbooks and focus on building authentic H2H relationships
The Rise of Augmented Humanity – the role artificial intelligence is capable of playing in creating deeper customer connections
The New Dimensions Of Privacy – how can companies thrive and continue to create compelling customer experiences in the new era of data privacy
Some of the speakers include:
- Niraj Deo, VP Product, Oracle DataCloud
- Sarah Bird, CEO, Moz
- Tom Marriott, Principal, Marketing & Communications Leader, Deloitte
- Beverley Jackson, VP Social Portfolio Strategy, MGM Resorts International
- Steve Mateer, Data Channel Executive, Pitney Bowes
- Carley Brantz, VP Revenue Marketing, SendGrid
- Bryn Weaver, Chief Privacy Officer, Wiland
The weather in Denver is amazing this time of year. So, as a bonus, you can enjoy a delightfully long evening at the Clyfford Still Museum and magnificent early mornings in the mountains.
Remember, if you are interested, you can get a 50% discount on the ticket price by using the code “Foundry” on the registration page. And, there are a few sponsorship opportunities remaining, so reach out to Scott Axcell if you want to be even more engaged.
The Misty II pre-order campaign is in full gear, with Misty II selling at a discount of 50% of its retail price. It’s 90% of the way to the stretch goal, which unlocks some fun goods. So, if you want the Apple ][ of home robots, pre-order now and get another $100 off by using my referral code!
Ian Bernstein, the co-founder of Misty (and co-founder of Sphero), has a great teardown of Misty II. He walks through all the hardware components and then opens up Misty’s brain and body so you can see the hardware inside.
Kids love Misty II also. Here are six reasons why Misty II is perfect for education along with a short video of some kids playing around with and explaining why Misty II is awesome.
If you are a kid, have kids, or are a grown-up kid, you’ve got a few more weeks to get Misty II as part of the pre-order campaign. Discounts, goodies, and a chance to be part of creating the first real, usable home robot.
I was an early investor in two of the first email service providers (Email Publishing and Mercury Mail). My experience with ESPs goes back more than 20 years and, since the mid 1990s, I’ve seen the ESP ecosystem evolve from its infancy, with just a few startups blazing a trail, to today’s robust industry populated by mature marketing technology platforms. And yes, they are now called email marketing platforms, which seems much more grown up and sophisticated.
Deliverability first became a hot issue in the early 2000s, and our portfolio company Return Path emerged as an innovator and leader. Since then, deliverability has remained one of the most important levers for email marketers.
Consequently, the role of the ESP’s deliverability specialist (a job, like many others in our industry, that is extremely challenging and not well known) has become increasingly difficult. Today’s deliverability specialist is tasked with managing more clients, across more geographies, with ever-changing parameters by individual mailbox providers. And of course, like any industry, they face greater and greater client expectations.
Most deliverability specialists have cobbled together their own solutions (such as MTA logs and response metrics) and leveraged solutions like Return Path – although admittedly these solutions are based on the same platform any email marketer would use. In short, deliverability solutions for ESPs could have – and should have – been better.
Recently, Return Path launched their innovative new Partner Platform solution, the first deliverability platform built exclusively for ESPs, with extensive input from their longstanding ESP partners. When I first heard of the development of this product, I was delighted that Return Path had committed to investing in an ESP/super-user platform to address the unique needs of the ESP and their deliverability specialists.
Return Path’s Partner Platform puts deliverability data all in one place, allowing deliverability specialists to see what’s happening across their entire client ecosystem. Information is layered together to provide meaningful metrics and insights across all clients’ programs.
The vast data assets Return Path has invested in, coupled with the ability to slice and dice data, is a game-changer for deliverability specialists.
This is a huge step for the email marketing industry and something that’s long overdue. I’m glad to see that an 18 year old, independent company can continue to make big innovations while growing their business.
Last week, I wrote a post talking about why Canada Is Going To Be The Next, Great, Entrepreneurial Tech Country.
Yesterday, we announced our investment in Golden Ventures III, a Toronto-based early stage fund.
I first met Matt Golden through Matthew Bellows, the CEO of Yesware (which we are co-investors in with Golden Ventures). I immediately liked him and we’ve worked together very effectively.
I’ve watched Matt and team build a strong portfolio of companies in Canada and in parts of the US. Every time I’ve gone to Toronto, Matt has hosted me for something and introduced me to a bunch of founders. While I get tired of big dinners, meals with Matt are always a joy, and some of the conversations I’ve had over the years with him and his friends have been extremely memorable.
We are excited to add our first Canadian fund to our roster of Partner Funds.
Welcome, Matt, Ameet, Bert, Jamie, and Marianne.