The tech-dominated San Francisco Bay Area isn’t exactly known as a hub for high fashion — Facebook’s new James Perse staff hoodies are about as fancy as things get around here — and fashion shows aren’t typically in our purview here at TechCrunch TV. So when we were invited to attend the Geek 2 Chic fashion show, an event hosted by Microsoft benefiting the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, which is pronounced “nifty”) which mentors at-risk youth and teaches them business basics and encourages technology careers, we had to check it out.
These models weren’t the types you’d see at fashion shows in New York or Milan: Geek 2 Chic took 26 “geeks” from the local tech community and gave them full makeovers to take to the catwalk in front of a live audience. It was a fun opportunity to watch people get a little out of their element and have some fun, and of course it was all for a good cause. Check it all out in the video above.
Have a lot of stuff? Don’t have a lot of space to store that stuff? Don’t know how you’d get yourself organized enough to keep track of it, even if you did have the space? No worries. Urban storage startup Boxbee has the solution to all your too-much-stuff-having problems.
The idea behind Boxbee is simple: You put stuff in a box. Then Boxbee comes and takes the box and puts it in secure storage for $6 per month per box. If you want your stuff back, Boxbee will deliver it to you for $15 plus $2 per box. Boxes are 24 inches long by 20 inches tall by 12 inches wide, so they’re not HUGE. But they should provide ample space for users to keep their winter clothes stored away for a few months.
In addition to the storage service itself, Boxbee has a web interface and mobile app for keeping track of all the stuff you’ve stored. That is, you can take photos and categorize items that you’ve got in one box or another. That way, when you need items in a particular box, you can make sure that you get the right one.
On the storage side, Boxbee manages a network of commercial warehouses and keeps tabs on what goes where with the help of barcodes. Pretty soon, it’ll be moving to RFID tags, which should improve the process even more. Since it operates in a 15-mile radius of San Francisco, the company can make deliveries from its warehouses within hours of a request being made.
Boxbee hopes that by making storage more convenient and a little less expensive than renting out a whole unit, it will be able to tap into a new market of customers who should probably be storing their crap somewhere other than their tiny apartments, but don’t want to deal with the cost and hassle of doing so.
The company launched at um, LAUNCH, where it received the best new startup award. It has been operating in private beta since then, spending the last few months as part of the AngelPad startup incubator in San Francisco (which has its demo day next week!). The startup is in the process of raising a seed round, which it will use to make a few more hires and expand into new markets.
VC firm First Round Capital has steadily expanded its The Dorm Room Fund from Philadelphia, to New York. And today, the firm is heading west with its latest Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area-based initiative, which is a $500,000 fund run by an all-student investment team to invest purely in student-run startups in the area. You can find out more about the Bay Area Fund here.
We’re told the first Dorm Room Fund Bay Area Investment Team is composed of 10 students from Stanford and Cal Berkeley. As we explained previously, First Round puts around $500,000 into a fund student startups in the area. The student-run investment team source investments and make decisions unilaterally to invest in startup ideas. As students graduate, more will be added.
The average each investment is around $20,000, and is structured as an uncapped-convertible note First Round signs off on every investment and is available to the student group to consult on questions, but this is largely run by the students. In fact, First Round will conduct a training for the group with the goal of helping them to understand investment philosophies and scout out interesting ideas and businesses independently. Any carry made by the investment (i.e. if the startup is acquired) is put back into the universities.
The Silicon Valley team is composed of Mediha Abdulhay (UC Berkeley), legendary investor Vinod Khosla’s son Neal Khosla (Stanford), Ryan Jung (UC Berkeley), Bastiaan Janmaat (Stanford), Ruby Lee (Stanford), Adam Goldberg (Stanford), Rick Ling (UC Berkeley), Anjney Midha (Stanford), Amanda Bradford (Stanford) and Jeremy Fiance (UC Berkeley).
Philadelphia Dorm Room Fund launched last year and already has committed 9 companies so far including Dagne Dover, Firefly and Whamix.
As we’ve mentioned in the past, it’s good for the startup ecosystem to help students find capital to get their ideas off the ground. Not only is it a great way to actually find interesting ideas that could be the next Facebook or Google, but even if these ideas don’t end up turning into products, First Round is finding and fostering promising talent.
Looking forward to this week’s Disrupt NY 2013, we used the CrunchBase dataset to surface regional trends in U.S. angel funding. Not surprisingly, we found relatively few metros with a substantial number of angel funded companies and the San Francisco Bay Area continues to be a formidable presence. But take a look at NYC (in red) – they’ve gone from 12 percent of the angel deals in 2008 to 20 percent in 2013. In fact, NYC appears to the only region with growing market share.
What’s more surprising about NYC’s angel activity is that it is not reflected in its general share of venture rounds. When we looked at non-angel investments we found NYC’s share of activity to be relatively flat since 2008. It’s not clear to us what’s driving this, but we suspect others will have some good theories and that brings us to the data behind the graphs.
To avoid our own Reinhart and Rogoff debacle, we’re publishing all of the data behind these charts. In fact, we’re publishing a significant portion of the CrunchBase dataset in Excel for everyone to slice and dice. You can download the file from the CrunchBase blog where you will also find some instructions and caveats. By publishing this data, we hope to continue a trend we started with our Mining of the Series A Crunch.
There are definitely times where I feel like my social life has gotten a bit … not monotonous, but tied to a familiar pattern of bookstores, movie theaters, bars, and karaoke bars. That’s why I’m checking out a new site called SpotOn.it, which tries to break people out of their own personal ruts by recommending different types of events.
There are lots of other activity-recommendation apps out there (the most interesting to me has probably been Weotta). SpotOn.it is different because it integrates with your Google Calendar, from which it can learn two important things — what you like to do, and what your schedule looks like.
“Our tech is based off building statistical models off of how people spend their time,” said co-founder and CEO Smita Saxena. She noted that she and her co-founder and CTO Charles Feng both have a background in machine learning.
SpotOn.it is also crawling the web to gather information about different events and activities, and identifying the basic characteristics of each activity. (The service has a pretty broad range of sources, Saxena said, though it’s still working on getting local events information from print magazines — she described it as “the last frontier”). Put that together with your event information and it can recommend nearby activities that take place when you’re free and that are tailored to your interests.
You can also “like” activities and add them to your wish list (which is shared with other users) or your calendar. That, in turn, gives SpotOn.it more data for making personalized recommendations.
It sounds like there’s a pretty broad range of activities. For example, Saxena said that SpotOn.it has been in private beta, and that one of the big user groups is moms in the San Francisco Bay Area. So if a mom had an hour or two free with one of her children, SpotOn.it could recommend play groups nearby. I also signed myself up and got a pretty interesting range of activities that I could do this weekend — like tandem skydiving and visiting the GLBT museum. I hadn’t heard of most of them, but they all sounded like things I might enjoy. (Though, no, I’m not going skydiving.)
The service is free, and Saxena said that she plans to make money eventually by integrating local deals that are tailored to users’ interests. She also said SpotOn.it could integrate with other services through an SDK allowing those services to offer activity recommendations to their own users.
The company is a graduate of StartX, the incubator for Stanford students and alums.