Tag Archive: Uber

  1. Female entrepreneurs pitch businesses in Ubers

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    Pitches are no longer confined to the elevator.

    Businesswomen across the nation pitched their startups to investors while riding Ubers in New Haven, Kansas City, Baltimore and three other U.S. cities on Wednesday. The event, which was created in collaboration with Uber, business accelerator The Refinery and the Kauffman Foundation, kicked off the “Fueling the Growth” competition. The 20 semifinalists selected from UberPITCH will be notified Nov. 2 of whether they have advanced to the next round in Stamford, where they will compete for $125,000 in prize money.

    The event’s goal was to empower female entrepreneurs, whose companies received only 3 percent of total venture capital funding between 2011 and 2013 when they were the ones in a CEO position, according to The Refinery co-founder Jennifer Gabler.

    “It’s about making those connections for women entrepreneurs in real time,” Gabler said.

    Out of 275 applicants, 150 entrepreneurs received redemption codes to plug into the Uber app, Gabler said. After a participant punched in the code, she was given the option to request an UberPITCH. Once the request was made, a female Uber driver picked her up and she had the opportunity to give a seven-minute pitch to an investor in the back seat.

    In New Haven, pickup spots are located outside several coffee shops, such as Blue State and Starbucks Coffee.

    “I thought it was fun. It was a creative idea,” Elidah CEO Gloria Kolb, one of the 150 entrepreneurs, said.

    However, that does not mean the pitch session went smoothly at first: Originally, Kolb was picked up by an Uber driver who had previously been given a promotion code, but had then been notified she was no longer needed for the event. Thus, there was no investor in the backseat when Kolb entered the car, Kolb said.

    After the confusion, Kolb hopped into a second vehicle with an actual investor, Cynthia Tseng from Fairview Capital. Kolb then pitched Elidah’s product, a device used to treat stress urinary incontinence.

    Unlike many treatments for SUI that require invasive surgery, Elidah’s device is worn in the perineal region for 20 minutes and electrically stimulates nerves and muscles, acting as Kegel exercises. Treatment continues for four to five days a week during a six to eight week period. Once therapy is completed, patients use the device weekly to maintain continence, Kolb said.

    “It was nice that the investor was a woman; that always makes it easier for me,” Kolb said.

    Even though one-third of women experience urinary incontinence, Kolb added, some male investors don’t find enough value in the product.

    Kolb enjoyed the atmosphere the car drive created, she said, since the proposal was conversational instead of seeming like a pitch.

    As a result, the entrepreneurs were able to receive productive feedback. Hugo CEO Leslie Krumholz said she considered using a slideshow on a tablet for her pitch but decided not to since the competition rules were unclear. After she presented her business — a mobile application that would allow patients to record their personal health history from medical offices and opt into voluntarily sharing the information with data users — Crossroads Venture Group Executive Director Mary Anne Rooke told Krumholz that a slideshow would have benefitted the pitch, according to Krumholz.

    In addition, Rooke advised Krumholz not to hold back on the positive high-profile reviews the product has received in future presentations.

    The semifinalists will compete in Stamford on Nov. 16.

  2. My iPhone, My Precious

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    I fantasize about chucking my iPhone off a cliff. Sharp rocks split its screen as it tumbles into oblivion. I’m certain that I would feel better without it. But when my fantasy came true and my phone fell in a toilet I’d just pooped in, I frantically fished it out, cleaned it off and rushed it to the Apple Store for a replacement.

    I am disturbed by the attachment I have to my phone. If I am in its proximity, I feel like Frodo carrying the One Ring around his neck, consumed in its power. My phone is not mine; rather, I belong to it. It is the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I look at before I fall asleep. I can’t make it through an hour-long class without checking my alerts at least once. As the day wears on, I develop an anxiety about my battery percentage. I go home just to charge it, or at the very least, I bum a charger off a friend like a cigarette.

    Smart phones are supposed to be tools that make our lives easier. I do use my phone to look up facts, check train times and find biking directions. But that’s not where my battery goes. It goes to the moments where I post an Instagram photo and refresh six times in the next three minutes to check for likes. It goes to the eight times I toggle mindlessly between the hourly and daily forecast on my weather app. It goes to the articles I skim and the time I spend rearranging the icons on my home screen.

    My battery goes to Facebook. How does Facebook get to me to spend so much time reading updates from people whose daily activities I don’t give a shit about? Why do I know so much about the job search of that guy I met at Borders in 2008, or about my high school friend’s ex-boyfriend’s cat? The most shameful part is how much time I spend staring at my own profile. I become obsessed with the timeline of my own life, and what it looks like to my 1,000 friends. But to what end?

    When I’m in my phone, I’m not in the world anymore. Yes, I learn things from my constant connection to the Internet. But I don’t experience anything. Sometimes when I become depressed, all I need to do to feel better is leave my phone in the house and go a day without it.

    So I do try to resist. If I can’t leave my phone at home, I uninstall my Facebook app, or change the password to something impossible to remember, and log out. I let my battery die. I bury it in the bottom of my backpack. I hide it in the living room while I sleep.

    It sucks that I need it so much. Certain services like Uber are only available on smartphone apps. Without a cell phone, I’d never be the first to claim tickets to see a famous person speak on campus, and I’ll never have the Fastest//Fingers//First when the YDN sends out pitches. I can’t even fathom how people made plans before cell phones. If I didn’t have a cell phone, how would I find someone to go with me to Woad’s?

    I’m worried for myself, and I’m worried for us. It’s untenable to think that our attachment to smartphones will ever loosen. I do have faith that people are bigger than these mere inventions, but when we stare at a sunset through a Mayfair filter, or zone out from a party to send a Snapchat, we’re only getting smaller.

    Sometimes when I look up from my phone it feels like I’m seeing the world for the first time. Seeing it the way it’s supposed to be seen. But I always look back down.