Hacking H(app)iness - Becoming Self iWear

By John C. Havens

JCH_image_high_quality_headshotI’m a geek, and have been writing about tech and culture for a number of years.  I love the gadgets and am a huge Apple fan although I’m not much interested in their Watch as I already have an iPhone so don’t need to strap one to my wrist.  While I am fond of the idea of sending self-drawn emojis, it’s the inclusion of Apple Pay in the watch that’s truly genius.  Apple already trained us to purchase music and movies via one-click payments attached to our credit cards – now they’re doing the same with one-authentication arm gestures at Point of Sale.

But the new Health App in the iPhone 6 is set to truly transform culture.  By allowing multiple quantified self and tracking apps to aggregate data in one place, the app will help a person understand their physical wellbeing like never before. I say “wellbeing” versus health, because the focus of my work is on quantifying happiness as it manifests in the form of active and passive data and I believe this type of Health App can help people understand and increase their sense of self worth like never before.

In my book, Hacking H(app)iness – Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World, my hypothesis is simple – if you want your life to count, you have to take a count of your life.  By formally taking a measure of your life, you gain insights about the actions and behaviors that bring you a sense of purpose and increase your wellbeing. 

The physical measures like the ones featured in Apple’s App are fairly easy to track.  In my case, I’ve been actively measuring my exercise, sleep, and weight data with a Withings Pulse Monitor and Scale.  The monitor tracks my steps, sleep, and heartrate via a small wearable and their Health Mate app.  The Scale measures my weight and body mass, and synchs with their app.  Here’s a sample of some of my recent data:

 When I speak on the subject of quantified happiness, a variant of the quantified self where my focus is on analyzing multiple elements that factor into a person’s wellbeing, many people feel that measuring or scrutinizing these types of things might sap the joy out of these experiences.  I have a three-part answer in response:

You’re Worth Measuring.  My Dad was a Psychiatrist for over 40 years, and it was his death that inspired my work on wellbeing.  He allowed people to take a measure of their lives, and feel that they counted.  Observing areas of your life that include emotion and physical reactions to emotional stimuli may feel squirrely at first, but they’ll reap insights designed to help you make positive change.

  • It’s Only For a Finite Amount of Time.  Like any project, you won’t need to track yourself in granular detail for the rest of your life.  And passive sensor data (from apps that track without you having to do anything) mitigate the time commitment of tracking by a huge deal.  More importantly, studies like the PEW Research Internet Project’s Tracking For Health Study indicate that tracking for a relatively short time period can improve your overall approach to health for the rest of your life.

  • Taking Actions Leads to Insights.  A lot of us think we know what makes us happy yet we remain miserable. Using apps or technology to provide an outside perspective means we bring fresh data that can bring actionable insights to our lives.  For instance, you might get a Biowatch from Neumitra to measure your autonomic nervous system, so you can timestamp and GPS locate what brings you the most stress throughout your day.  These are all taken passively, so all you need to do is decide what to avoid in the future to alleviate your stress.

While there are dozens of mood apps you can try in conjunction with your health tracking, (I’ve been using In Flow) it wasn’t until I recently tracked my Values that I was able to fully understand what areas of my life were out of balance that negatively affected my wellbeing.  I’m the Founder of a non-profit foundation called The H(app)athon Project, and I created a Values Tracking Survey with one of our Board Members, Peggy Kern.  Our premise was based on the work of Konstantin Augemberg who wanted to see if he was living his life in accordance with his values.  There’s a great deal of research showing your wellbeing decreases if you’re not living in accordance with your values, but it’s amazing how few of us can even name all our values, let alone live to them on a daily basis.

We based our work on the World Values Survey and asked people to track the following twelve areas of their lives by responding to a daily email prompt over the course of two weeks:

  • Work
  • Time Balance
  • Education
  • Arts & Culture
  • Achievement
  • Material Wellbeing
  • Health
  • Good Times
  • Helping Others
  • Security
  • Nature
  • Family
  • Spirituality

As it turns out, these attributes are relatively standard across the globe.  We had people rate on a sliding scale how each of these values affected their lives at the start of our survey.  Then at the end of each day they documented if they felt they had lived to their values that day.  Here’s a sample of the intake survey ratings tool:

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For our beta version of the Survey, we had a small number of people participate, but our results were very encouraging.  As this chart shows, people who took the survey overwhelmingly said their wellbeing increased due to tracking their Values (the metrics below refer to questions also posed at the beginning of the survey):

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And here’s the graph showing how people indicated they spent more time living towards each of the Values listed below:

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 For my part, I realized that while I rated “health” as an important value in my life, I wasn’t doing anything to improve it.  So to walk my quantified talk, I began using the Withings Monitor and have been running five miles a day for almost a month.  I’ve lost a good deal of weight and inches, and feel amazing.  But as many times as I’ve tried to lose weight in the past, this experience has been different.  I’ve known for years that I need to lose my gut, but it wasn’t until I saw data in a chart like the ones above reflecting my lack of action that I was incentivized to make a change.  Not losing weight has been a drag.  But not living to my values was undercutting my sense of purpose and wellbeing.

I hope this idea of tracking your values is helpful.  Increasing your wellbeing is not a formula, and it’s my belief happiness comes from taking actions based on your values and purpose versus simply trying to increase your mood.  Apple’s new Health app and a slew of other emerging tech can help you track and improve your own sense of wellbeing, and I encourage you to give it a try.  You’re worth the effort.

John C. Havens is the Founder of The H(app)athon Project, a non-profit Foundation, ‘Connecting Happiness to Action’ via the use of values-based, interactive technology and keynote at Miami’s upcoming Social Good Summit. He is the author of Hacking H(app)iness - Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World (Tarcher/Penguin), Principal of Transitional Media Consulting. John has been quoted about issues relating to technology and culture in USA Today, C-Span, NPR, US News & World Report, Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, Mashable, the BBC, The Huffington Post, and Advertising Age.

The Social Good Summit will take place Sept. 22-23 at the Miami Innovation Center.Tickets are on sale for $20. The full agenda can be found at www.sgsmiami.com




Strong event lineup marks Season of the Startup

With summer soon turning to fall, the greatest indication of a change in seasons is in the event calendar. The Season of the Startup is already shaping up; here’s a look at a sampling of events.

Social Good Summit Miami, Sept. 22-23 at Miami Innovation Center, will examine the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives, and community leaders will discuss solutions for Miami’s greatest challenges. The theme, #2030NOW, asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” More info: sgsmiami.com

Fintech LATAM, at the Lightbox in Wynwood on Sept. 24, will bring together 200 banking executives, tech professionals and innovators to share ideas on technology trends that are changing the way businesses and consumers use financial services. Fintech aims to push forward Miami as a financial technology center. Info: fintechlatam.com.

Startup Weekend Education, Oct. 10-12 at Venture Hive, welcomes technologists, educators and entrepreneurs with education-related company ideas to bring the idea to life and compete for prizes. More info here.

NewME PopUp Accelerator, Oct. 18-19, will have a creative edge to it, as it is partnering with the Revolt Music Conference. The event will include fireside chats, networking, a pitch competition and more pre-event mentoring. More info here.

Emerging Technology Business Showcase, on Oct. 23 at Miami Dade College/Wolfson, features startup pitches, product demos and panel discussions, including one on foodprenuers. ETBS is produced by the nonprofit Enterprise Development Corp. More info here

FinTank: Tech Weekend at Dolphin Stadium, Oct. 25-26. Watch for more info on this hackathon and teachathon coming soon.

TechbashTigerDirect’s TechBash will welcome 20,000 to Marlins Stadium on Nov. 7 from 7 to 11 p.m. for a free event that will feature more than 150 vendors, entertainment, food, exhibits, opportunities to purchase the latest technologies at Black Friday-like prices and “many surprises,” say the organizers. For the first time, the event will also include the finals of the Build Your Own PC Race For Charity. (Scene from last year's TechBash shown here). Info: tigertechbash.com

The Miami Mini Maker Faire, an all-day, family-friendly celebration of the maker movement is back to a second year in Wynwood Nov. 8 and will include a street festival with more than 120 makers, including artists, engineers, entrepreneurs and educators. Info: makerfairemiami.com

WebCongress, a two-day conference Nov. 13-14 at the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami, is back for a third year and will feature national and international speakers on digital media and marketing trends, workshops and a party. Info: webcongress.com/miami

SIME MIASIME MIA will once again gather global thought leaders from technology, media and the arts. The event, at the New World Symphony Center and The LAB Miami Dec 1-2, will again be hosted Ola Ahlvarsson (shown here at last year's event), serial entrepreneur and former Kickboxing world champion, and will include dozens of speakers, including Jimmy Maymann, CEO of Huffington Post, Bobby Moresco, Oscar-winning screenwriter for Crash and Million Dollar Baby; and Karin Nilsdotter, CEO of Spaceport Sweden. Info: simemia.co

ITPalooza, Dec. 4 at Nova Southeastern, is an all-day event for tech professionals. with a hackathon, workshops, exhibits and holiday party. Info: itpalooza.com

WeXchange 2014, an event to promote Latin American women entrepreneurs and offer networking, education, a pitch competition and opportunities to meet with investors, will be Dec. 11-12 at Miami Dade College and The LAB Miami. Info: wexchange.co

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.



Miami-based Cellmefree seems to time launch perfectly



Need to ditch that iPhone that is so last year? Just in time, Miami-based Cellmefree just launched its comparison website helping consumers find the best deal to buy or sell their devices.

By offering a buy and sell program, Cellmefree allows users both selling their used device and buying a refurbished one on the same website. “Beyond providing cheaper access to technology, our goal is to promote a virtuous way to consume where your unused items can find a second life,” says Marc Thoumyre, Cellmefree co-founder and CEO.

How it works: Cellmefree says it works with a network of professional recyclers and partners to provide high quality refurbished devices: all are rigorously tested and come with a warranty return period, the company says.

Users can pick the best offer from trusted and professional buyers and get paid in cash. For example, users looking to upgrade for the latest iPhone 6 can trade-in their old iPhone 5S for as much as $355. “Our ambition is to become the US first second-hand marketplace for cell phones by offering users premium customer service, safe transactions and competitive prices,” adds Thoumyre in its news release.

Cellmefree was founded last year by French entrepreneurs Thoumyre and Stanislas Humeau and is backed by a board of advisors such as Internet entrepreneur and investor Fabrice Grinda and Jose Marin of IG Expansion, MercadoLibre, DeRemate.

Posted Sept. 18, 2014 

Social media startup Everypost raises seed round, plans product expansions


To fuel its product expansions, Everypost, the social media publishing platform, raised $850,000 in seed funding from Miami-based Krillion Ventures, NXTP of Buenos Aires and Handmade Ventures of San Francisco, as well as  angel investors in Miami, Silicon Valley, Argentina and Brazil, the Miami-based company announced Thursday.

Led by CEO and co-founder Fernando Cuscuela, Everypost plans to use the funding for product development, including a web version of its social media publishing tool that it plans to launch in October and tablet versions for both iPad and Android. It will also ramp up marketing and advertisings over the next 12 months, mainly in Latin America and U.S. markets, Cuscuela said. 

With an average user growth of 10 percent a week, Everypost not only makes it easy to schedule and share content on all your social networks at once but it allows you to quickly customize the post for each network. It also helps users post quality content by giving  photo filters and trending hashtags, and allowing them to search and curate content from different sources right on the platform.


“We have active and enthusiastic users who are contributing to our success by sharing their suggestions and even translating parts of the app so that we can offer it in more languages,” said  Cuscuela, adding that Everypost is offered so far in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, French and German. “Our international collection of investors is also providing invaluable support and guidance.”

That would include Alexandre Hohagen, VP of Facebook Latin America and based in Miami, Stefano Zunino, who heads Digital Worldwide for JWT, Miami-based Nobox CEO Carlos Garcia and Mark Kingdon, an early investor in Twitter and Fab.com. “Everypost’s mobile-first business approach was a smart move, allowing them to offer a tool that competitors just aren’t ready to compete with,” said Kingdon, who recently moved to Miami from New York and is one of Everypost's newest investors.

Cuscuela moved his family here in 2013 as part of the first accelerator class at Venture Hive. The team has now grown to 12 – nine in Argentina and three in Miami - and Everypost plans to soon hire business development and marketing managers in Miami, Cuscuela said.

"Everypost has an exceptionally talented founding team with long-term vision and global ambition. We believe that their easy-to-use, time-saving social media publishing solution is a must-have for brands, bloggers, journalists and professionals," said Melissa Krinzman, managing partner of Krillion Ventures. "As their lead investor, we look forward to helping them realize their potential.” 

Posted Sept. 18, 2014


How Citrix fell hard for Delray startup Virtu.al - 'there is tech talent in South Florida'

When Citrix Systems began courting its latest hot acquisition prospect, it didn’t need Silicon Valley as its hunting ground.

Virtual-300x163With an eye on increasing its investment in mobile app security infrastructure, Citrix on Wednesday announced that it has acquired Virtu.al, a four-month-old South Florida startup.

The Fort Lauderdale-based publicly traded tech giant said Virtu.al’s technology and its small Delray Beach-based team, including founder and CEO Chris Wade, will help simplify IT security management for applications, data, endpoints and networks, while supporting Citrix‘s core vision for providing people with new ways to work. Future enhancements to the Citrix mobile workspace delivery platform with the Virtu.al technology will make it easier for enterprise customers to gain instant, secure access to apps, desktops, data and services from any device over any network, Citrix said in its news release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed Wednesday.

Virtu.al was so stealth. its “website” was a single landing page. But Chris Fleck, the Fort Lauderdale-based vice president of Mobility Solutions at Citrix, had been tracking Wade’s career and was instrumental in putting together the acquisition. Citrix had never acquired a company so young before and Virtu.al is the first South Florida company it has acquired in a decade, said Fleck, speaking by telephone from a Citrix analysts event in Santa Clara, where Citrix also has a large operation.

ChrisfleckFleck said he was attracted to both the skills of the Virtu.al team members— “they are world famous hackers, deeply skilled in security” — and the technology is “very appealing and potentially disruptive to the old way of doing app development.”

The deal is also an indicator that there is tech talent in South Florida, Fleck added. “Chris Wade is a genius.”

Fleck explained that Virtu.al’s technology could solve a large and expensive problem for mobile app developers. They need to test their apps on physical devices, and with hundreds on Android phones, multiple versions of iPhones and iPads and a growing numbers of wearable devices, developers can spend half their funds and considerable time on testing. This technology virtualizes the process in the cloud. “You want to test it on a Samsung Galaxy s5, you just click,” he said.

Fleck said Virtu.al’s technology will be presented to analysts Thursday.

“I am really excited. There are unique things we can do internally, and we are working out how we can help the developers,” said Wade, also speaking by telephone from California. Wade said he has known Fleck for awhile and after an interview with CEO Mark Templeton, “we clicked and it convinced us [the acquisition] was the right way to go. ... We’ve been very well received out here in Santa Clara by the employees and the analysts. We feel welcomed into the Citrix family.”

Citrix has 9,500 employees globally, with 1,800 in South Florida. The company booked $2.9 billion in 2013 revenue and its solutions are in use at more than 330,000 organizations (including the Miami Herald) and by more than 100 million users globally.

 Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

Posted Sept. 17, 2014

10 South Florida semifinalists to pitch at Media Sparks

LAB_MediaSparks_PreviewThe LAB Miami and Festival of Media LatAm today announced 10 semifinalists for the Media Sparks competition, an inaugural event connecting innovative Miami media and marketing startups with Latin American businesses. The Sept. 30 event is being held at The LAB Miami with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The finalists represent diverse projects ranging from a publishing platform for freelance and entrepreneurial journalism to an app that provides a convenient way to post multimedia content across multiple social platforms. All have the potential to make an impact in the fields of media and marketing in Latin America.

At the event, the 10 semi-finalists will present their projects before a panel of judges. The judges will then select the top three to five companies that will go on to present again at the Festival of Media LatAm in Miami Beach on Oct. 3. One winner will be named the “Hottest Media Startup of the Year.” Judges include: Carlos Garcia, CEO of Nobox; Marco Giberti, partner, Vesuvio Ventures and an angel investor; Stephen Grabiner, member, board of directors for Times Newspapers; and Charlie Crowe, chairman, C Squared.

 “Media Sparks provides a global platform for budding media startups and entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative businesses. This year’s shortlist shows we have already uncovered some of the most innovative and game-changing businesses across the Latin American media industry,” said Charlie Crowe, chairman and editor in chief of Festival of Media LatAm.

"As a gateway to the Americas, Miami  provides innovators with the chance to make an impact both locally and globally," said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation’s Miami program director.. “Media Sparks is one example of this. It gives local startups the opportunity to connect with companies from Latin America to share experiences and scale their ideas, while allowing international media companies the chance to sample innovation being developed here.” 

The 10 semi-finalists participating in the 2014 Media Sparks competition are:

  • SociallyBuzz: a social media management, marketing and advertising company for businesses.
  • Jurnid: a simple way to publish and read news stories of any genre.
  • Everypost: an app that allows an easy and convenient way to post multimedia content across multiple social platforms.
  • Handprint: a smartphone that international travelers can use in the United States that offers a daily, flat rate for talk, text and data.
  • Partnetting: a business-to-business online community that facilitates and recommends connections between enterprises.
  • Yandiki: a digital services company that helps businesses hire and manage creative talent and services from around the world.
  • Komuns: a social network that helps parents meet new families and share events together.
  • Smart Beemo: a digital marketing tool that helps boost social media campaigns with real-time intelligence and data.
  • MediaAmplify: a one-stop-shop media distribution platform through which multimedia content is delivered from one platform to all devices including traditional cable/satellite.
  • Bederr: a smartphone app that allows people to access loyalty programs, credit card services and other benefits in one place, as well as connect with local businesses.

At the event, the semi-finalists will have five minutes to present, followed by five minutes of a judge-led question and answer session. Finalists will move on to present at the Festival of Media LatAm. To register as an attendee, visit www.mediasparks.eventbrite.com.

From Oct. 1-3, the Festival of Media LatAm will feature dozens of thought-provoking speakers and panelists including: Dennis Crowley, founder of Foursquare; Ted Nash, co-founder & CEO of Tapdaq; and Adam Ostrow, CEO of Mashable. Innovative companies from all over the globe will share their insights on how they connect with their audience in a fast-changing media landscape, and share insights with semifinalists on ways to grow a successful business.

For more information visit www.festivalofmedia.com/latam/media-sparks or contact Danny Lafuente at danny@thelabmiami.com.

- submitted by Danny Lafuente


Sprint-Techstars accepting applications for mobile-health accelerator

Mobile health-related startups ready to rev up their businesses are invited to apply  to participate in the 2015 Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator, Powered by Techstars.  Ten startups will be selected.

The 2015 program will be conducted at the Sprint Accelerator facility in Kansas City March 9 through June 4, 2015. The 2014 Demo Day drew more than 1,500 attendees.

Participating companies relocate to Kansas City for the duration of the program. Each company receives up to $120,000 in funding. In 2015, Techstars is adding a first-of-its-kind equity back guarantee


Knight announces $15 million Cities Challenge

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation already runs the Knight News Challenge and the Knight Arts Challenge. On Tuesday, the foundation announced a new initiative: the Knight Cities Challenge.

The Knight Cities Challenge will seek new ideas that make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work — and these include Miami and Palm Beach County. The Challenge is offering $15 million over the next three years — $5 million this year — for innovative projects that answer the question: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?

The Cities Challenge launches Oct. 1 at knightcities.org, with applications being accepted until Nov. 14, and is open to entrepreneurs, architects, activists, artists, city planners, students, educators, government officials and organizations.

“We are looking for ideas from innovators who will take hold of the future of our cities,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives, adding that entries should support at least one of its "key drivers of city success" — attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of civic engagement.

Knight Foundation will host Community Q&A sessions starting in October. Check its blog and follow on Twitter @knightfdn #knightcities for scheduling updates.



Have an ed-tech concept? Join Startup Weekend Education at the Hive

StartupweekendlogoHave you ever had an idea for improving education? Here's your opportunity to  transform your education ideas into action in 54 hours – Startup Weekend Education.

Find the right people with complementary skills, test your idea with real potential customers, receive coaching from experienced education entrepreneurs and industry professionals, and win prizes that will help you take your startup idea to the next level of execution!

Startup Weekend is looking for passionate educators, parents, students, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers who want to make to make a difference in education now.

The event:   In 54 hours, participants share ideas, form teams, build products and launch education startups.  Startup Weekend EDU begins with open-mic 60-second pitches Friday night that result in the formation of small teams around the best, most viable concepts. Teams spend Saturday and Sunday focusing on customer development, validating their ideas and building prototypes with the help of experienced coaches. On Sunday, teams demo their education products and receive valuable feedback from a panel of expert judges.

When and where:
Oct. 10-12 at Venture Hive, 1010 NE Second Ave., Miami. 

Here's some of the things you get from attending:
+ A free .co domain name 
+ $2,000 of credit on Google App Engine 
+ $100 of AWS credit for hosting 
+ Awesome coaching by edtech industry leaders
+ Fun swag from Google, .Co and more!
+ Breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole weekend 
+ A network of new developer, designer & entrepreneur friends that are also excited about improving education 

The winning team will receive:

One month of mentoring from Venture Hive to propel your idea to the next level.

A free Platinum Pass to WebCongress Miami and a full day of training at the W Academy (total value $560) and many more surprises!

All startups created this weekend will be focused on education! 

For all event details, visit http://www.up.co/communities/usa/miami-fl-usa/startup-weekend/4545

STUDENTS: Contact miamiedu@startupweekend.org from your .edu email address for a discount code!

Submitted by Venture Hive 


YellowPepper adds Sam Shawki to board

YellowPepper, a pioneer in mobile banking and mobile payment solutions in Latin America, announced a new board member: Sam Shawki, CEO of MagicCube, a Silicon Valley startup providing innovative device security for remote commerce solutions.  

SamIn the past 20 years, Shawki has held management positions with both startup and public companies, including Netscape Communications, Siebel Systems, ShoreTel, Obopay and TrustedID. Prior to founding MagicCube in 2014, Shawki was head of Visa’s Global Remote Payments business unit managing all secure mobile and remote payment activities on Visa's extensive network of banking partners, merchants and customers.

YellowPepper, the fast-growing company headquartered in Wynwood, is focused on transforming commerce in Latin America with Yepex, a mobile payment platform. The company also partners with top financial groups and institutions in the region to enable over five million customers to execute over 30 million transactions per month. YellowPepper has 52 employees globally, including eight in Miami.

“Sam brings a unique business perspective and expertise to our Board of Directors,” said Serge Elkiner, co-Founder and CEO of YellowPepper. “In the last two years alone, YellowPepper has experienced phenomenal growth, and we expect that to continue in 2014. Sam’s pioneering work in mobile commerce and payments technology, as well as his experience in developing business and technical partnerships between large global carriers and startups, will complement the guidance already being provided by our board.”

 YellowPepper’s board also includes Faquiry Diaz, Luce Veilleux, Pierre Elkiner, Rafael Russ, Miguel Angel Davila, Alex Rossi and Elkiner.

Posted Sept. 15, 2014