Team Focus: Vital Flo, Inc.

As the program wraps up, Luke Marshall, CEO of VitalFlo, Inc. took some time to share his thoughts on his experience, what keeps him motivated!

Luke Marshall is the cofounder of VitalFlo, a company that is redefining the standard of care for asthma management by providing actionable recommendations to patients when they need it most: before they have an asthma attack. Their handheld medical device and digital health management app enables asthmatic patients to track their lung health and asthma medications at home. Through VitalFlo’s integrated platform, they provide population-level insights to healthcare provider networks, diagnostic support to physicians, and actionable recommendations to patients when they need it most.

Read on to learn more about Luke and VitalFlo, and visit their site to sign up to try their product!

Contact VitalFlo


IP: Why did you decide to apply for the Innovators Program?

Luke Marshall: I first found about about the Innovators Program through our good friends at NC RIoT. Tom Snyder had previously partnered with IP and knew about all the great education and community resources it has to offer to young companies like VitalFlo. Once learning about it, we jumped at the chance to apply!

IP: What are you most looking forward to in this program?

LM: We have been really thrilled to become a part of the great network of entrepreneurs, community partners and investors that Liz and Nick have developed for the Innovators Program! Getting to work directly with great companies like Becton Dickenson, Citrix and Red Hat, and seeing how they operate and approach problems at scale, has really helped us think about what systems we’re putting into place in our company as we envision reaching that level. Also, getting feedback from IP’s Executive Counsel has been huge for us – the experience all the executives bring to bear is really inspiring, and their advice is second to none.

IP: What skills or backgrounds do you each bring to your team?

LM: We have a great core team at VitalFlo, with each person bringing different skills to bear. James Dieffenderfer, CTO and inventor of the VitalFlo mobile spirometer, just wrapped up his Biomedical Engineering doctorate at NCSU where he worked on projects like VitalFlo as part of the ASSIST program. He has been a rockstar of digital health technologies from all angles, with great experience in hardware, embedded code, and machine learning technologies. Ravi Chilukuri, COO, has over 20 years of product development experience in hardware. He’s had great success leading development teams as they scale from small operations into dominant players (and did so most recently as VP of Product Development at local RTP late-stage startup, Phononic). We also have an amazing team of contract developers, manufacturers, and regulatory experts that position VitalFlo for success. As for me, I have been building and leading technical teams focused on commercializing university-based technologies for the last eight years. It has been a priviledge to work with this great team as we work to build VitalFlo into a company with enough scale to really make an impact for asthmatics everywhere.

IP: What was the “ah-ha” moment that led to starting your company?

LM: VitalFlo was born from an interaction between James and Dr. David Peden, a really top-notch pediatric asthma specialist from UNC School of Medicine who is now on our Board of Advisors. Dr. Peden basically described the current state of affairs in asthma management to James: how current lung health monitoring can only be done in-clinic and therefore infrequently. He asked James, “Can you solve this?” So James went to work on developing our patented technology.
Ravi and I met James a little while later while prospecting for promising university-based technologies to commercialize. When James showed us his solution we were blown away, and we immediately went to work.
All three of us on the management team have a history of respiratory ailments in our families, so building a solution for this was exciting for its promise and potential impact, but it is also personal.

IP: What problem are you trying to solve?

LM: There are 25 million Americans currently suffering from asthma symptoms – that’s 25 million Americans that aren’t sure about whether they’ll have trouble breathing today, whether they’ll miss school or work today, or about whether they’ll be one of the 10 Americans that will die today from asthma.

Our solution empowers these patients to take control of their asthma. VitalFlo’s mobile spirometer and smartphone app let’s patients monitor their lung function and asthma medications on a daily basis. With our powerful machine learning analytics, we can help predict whether they’re at risk of an asthma attack, and then notify them and their doctor so that they can avoid missed days, trips to the emergency room, or worse. VitalFlo lets asthma patients and their families breath easy.

IP: Any big takeaways from the Innovators Program that you’re excited to integrate into your business?

I was super excited to learn some of the design principals, and to incorporate them into our development cycle going forward! Since so much of our design choices had been before I joined the team, going through this process with IP was a great opportunity for me to do a deep dive into our design and product pipeline. We’ll definitely be using the processes we learned to continually iterate our product to better serve our customers.

IP: When you are not working tirelessly to launch a company, how do you spend your time?

LM: None of this would be possible without the support of my amazing wife, Hillary! She keeps me level-headed (well… mostly) through the highs and lows that come with startup life. Because of that, carving out quality time with her has always been a top priority. We really love to cook together – especially for guests! We also like to unplug and take our dog Eddy out into the woods for a hike.

IP: How do you stay energized for the long workdays of entrepreneurship? go-to snacks? rituals?

LM: We’re hugely motivated to solve this problem. In the US alone, 10 people die per day of asthma related causes – if working to solve a problem of that importance and scale is not energizing… you’re in the wrong business! That said, I also try to stay sharp by taking care of myself. My most focused and productive days tend to start with 15 minutes of meditation and 3 to 5 mile run with our dog.


Thanks Luke for sharing your experience with us, can’t wait for VitalFlo to blow us all away!

If you’d like to learn more about VitalFlo or the Innovators Program, check out more here.

VitalFlo  Innovators Program

Visit us soon for more interviews with this year’s participants!

Cheers! -Magdalyn

 

Team Focus: Allstacks!

The Innovators Program is chugging along, and I was excited to learn more about one of our awesome external teams last week, Allstacks. CEO Hersh Tapadia and CTO Jeremy Freeman have partnered together for 10 years, and after years of collaborating on project after project, they identified a hole in the project management market for a good analytics tool that gave useful data to drive decision-making.

Allstacks is business intelligence tool for engineering management in which they pul together all the data that is generated by the team and give them leading indicators of project health so they can better direct their attention and ship better quality products on time without having to spend a lot of time digging around trying to figure out what’s actually going on.

Dashboard of Allstacks

We had the chance to chat with Hersh and learn more about what drove their team to build Allstacks and how years of experience can groom you for building the perfect product! 

If you’d like to learn more about Allstacks and how it can transform your project management, learn more today!

Learn more about Allstacks!


Magdalyn: Why did you decide to apply for the Innovators Program?

Hersh: Primarily what made us want to apply was the partnership with Citrix and Red Hat. They’re two prototypical customers for our company, so it gave us the opportunity to work really closely with that type of customers to build a good product.

M: Awesome! What are you most looking forward to in this program?

H: We’ve been able to define some structure around working with our customers that allows us to recognize patterns and identify areas where we can make small changes that have large impact, and what really drove that was the tools that have been taught in the program. 

M: What skills or backgrounds do you each bring to your team?

H: It’s kind of an interesting story about me and my partner, we’ve been working together for over ten years, and this is our fourth company together. We met when we were in undergrad and i was spinning a company out of the university that was a medical device, and my partner jeremy was my first hire. that company was more bleeding-edge, and jeremy and the team wrote all the software for that. We ended up getting picked up and acqui-hired (before acqui-hiring was a thing) by a startup coming out of Johnson and Johnson. So I joined as a cofounder of that company and i was able to bring over the technology. I was able to hire back the critical parts of that team, so once again Jeremy was the first hire. We ran product there for 6 years, and we were ready to do something new, so we ended up building a business for 2 years looking for our next idea. We ended up working on a confluence of factors – data science projects, API development, and other algorithm development tools – we didn’t realize it then, but basically over the past 10 years we had trained ourselves in all the different components that allowed us to develop Allstacks really quickly. We built and launched the product in less than three months. 

M: What was the “ah-ha” moment that led to starting your company?

H: The idea came to us kind of two ways – my partner and i had actually had launched another data-based company, and when we actually ran the data, we found out that the data from the original product we had didn’t work out, but there was one slice of that product that was really interesting to our customers – people were interested in knowing what the productivity of their employees was inside of the tools that they’re paying for. So we started trying to understand that market and looked deeper into the productivity analytics market, and what we found is that there was a huge hole for engineering management. 

We then came at it from another angle in that we thought back to our experiences – because my partner and i both happen to be engineering and product managers for 10 years – and realized that it was actually a problem. We thought back to our own experiences working with senior management and how frustrating it was that we weren’t able to give good, quantitative answers to how things are going. We realized that the part of the problem was that there wasn’t good data available, and whatever data that was available is very siloed and not holistic. and by looking at that kind of data lead to blinded, partially-informed decision making which was really ineffective.

M: Short answer, what problem are you trying to solve?

H: Helping engineering build better products ahead of schedule and under budget.

M: What’s your biggest take-away from the Innovators Program so far?

H: It’s really important to be consistent in how you interact with your customers so you can identify patterns, and by doing that, it’s been really helpful. 

M:  When you are not working tirelessly to launch a company, how do you spend your time?

I think what’s really important for me is not losing the social connections that make life meaningful, so carving time out for that is really important so you don’t lose yourself in your business. My wife and I dedicate time to our friends and family every week so that’s really helpful.


Thanks Hersh for sharing your thoughts and progress with us, looking forward to seeing Allstacks grow and thrive!

If you’d like to learn more about Allstacks or the Innovators Program, check out more here.

Allstacks   Innovators Program

Visit us soon for more interviews with this year’s participants!

Cheers! -Magdalyn

 

The day has arrived!

INNOVATORS PROGRAM RALEIGH ANNOUNCES THREE EXTERNAL STARTUPS SELECTED FOR 2017 ACCELERATOR COHORT

(Raleigh, NC) The Innovators Program Inc. and its sponsors, Citrix and Red Hat, Inc. and HQ Raleigh, are excited to announce the three selected teams for the 2017 Raleigh program. Out of dozens of applications from across the globe, these three early-stage, high-growth teams will participate in a rigorous 12-week accelerator program alongside internal teams from Citrix that lays the foundation for talented and motivated startup founders and internal innovators to develop the skill set and mindset to build high-growth technology businesses.

Kicking off today with the support of our community partner HQ Raleigh, our teams participate in bi-weekly workshops, mentorship and one-on-one sessions where the Innovators Program provides concrete, tactical strategy through action-based items to generate real growth. Each team entering the accelerator receives an equity-free $10K grant with the possibility of an additional $10K if the team makes good progress in the course of the program. The program focuses on the best practices of design thinking and lean startup methods to validate our team’s ideas with the goal of leaving the program with their first customers. At the end of the 12 weeks, teams present their pitch at Demo Day to a network of investors, innovation leaders, and the thriving startup community of Raleigh.

The Innovator Program’s unique curriculum groups both external and internal teams to leverage the strengths of their respective backgrounds. By introducing entrepreneurial thinking to large-scale enterprises and the expertise of successful corporations to early-stage startups, innovation is fostered across the board. The program also enables organizations to make the change from going “all in” on one idea to a more “sophisticated, angel investor-like” approach by rapidly innovating a few high-potential business ideas for three months, and deciding whether to invest based on market traction and opportunity.

This year’s program marks the fourth cohort in Raleigh, producing many startups that have been acquired or are still driving innovation in their respective markets. Graduates from last year’s Raleigh program are Glance.ai, Nebula, ShineBig, Vision LTC, and Malartu.

“The Raleigh Innovators Program helped our company focus on what matters for our customers. As two recent college graduates, we didn’t have a luxury of experience or connections to the recruiting industry. The program helped us iterate quickly, focus on what stuck and continue to bootstrap our venture. Lots of founders get distracted with raising capital, and the programs mentorship enabled us to stay cash conscious and iterate quickly. Today we have a profitable 100% founder owned company and we couldn’t have done it without the programs help,” says Kameron Kales, co- founder, Glance.ai, and 2016 Innovators Program alumni.

This year’s program starts July 17 with a kick-off bootcamp hosted at HQ Raleigh’s newly announced Glenwood Avenue location at Centerline Digital. Team members will have the opportunity to engage in the startup community through HQ’s multiple locations around Raleigh for the duration of the program. We are excited for our newest group to join the active community of Innovators Program partners and continue the tradition of innovative excellence.

MEET THE EXTERNAL TEAMS:

AllStacks quantifies software team productivity to make engineering managers more effective in managing their teams.

www.allstacks.com

VitalFlo, Inc is redefining the standard of care for asthma by leveraging lung-health data to provide population-level insights to healthcare provider networks

www.vitalflohealth.com

CivicRise is developing technology that mobilize effective, sustained and measurable civic engagement.

 www.civicrise.io


Stay tuned for more as our program kicks off in the next few weeks and get a deeper look at our teams. For more information, please contact us via our website: http://innovatorsprogram.co/.

 

IMPORTANT PROGRAM UPDATE

Hello innovators!

WE’VE GOT 2 BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS Y’ALL!

1. Due to multiple requests, we have decided to EXTEND THE APPLICATION DEADLINE until Wednesday, June 28! We have had lots of great interest in the program and want to give everyone a chance to apply. So get those last-minute applications in, y’all!


2. Though we can’t *officially* announce an exciting new partnership, we are excited to share that we have opened potentially 2 NEW SPOTS for the 2017 Raleigh program. These spots are reserved for companies focused on healthcare and medical tech, so if you or anyone you know would be a good fit, make sure to apply and share!

Participants will be announced soon, so stay tuned as kickoff approaches! 

Apply Now!   |  Learn more

Best,

Magdalyn

5 reasons why the Innovators Program is better than the Hacker Hostel

Hello dear reader! 

As we all know, Silicon Valley is the home of the hottest incubator around, the Hacker Hostel run by Erlick Bachman of the un-famous Aviato. While the HH has produced some big wins (and even bigger busts), we think that the Innovators Program is a great solution for motivated entrepreneurs who want to vigorously pursue their startup.

Here’s 5 reason why we think the Innovators Program is a better fit for you than the Hacker Hostel:

1.  Workshops that produce concrete, tactical actions for your startup

As great as it is sitting around a table day after day with your buddies hacking away, it’s very helpful to have hands-on help when it comes to launching your startup. At the Innovators Program, we work hard to provide real-life action-based strategy and empower our founders to persevere through #startuplife. It’s easy to talk about but hard to implement without good guidance and motivation. Through bi-weekly workshops, office hours, monthly executive council meetings, and alumni dinners, we help you get the job done right.

2.  Equity-free funding

No more equity grabs – our participants maintain 100% ownership of their company. Unlike *SOME* accelerators or incubators, we give our program participants $10K in no-strings-attached, equity-free funding to help you bring your idea to fruition. 

As HH members know well, hosting your web applications can be crazy expensive, so our participants get $120K credit with Amazon Web Services to store, compute, migrate, database, analyze and mobilize your data.

3.  A strong network of alumni and mentors

With the support of our partners Citrix and RedHat, we provide access to expert help and one-on-one mentorship throughout the 12 week program as well as lifetime membership to the Innovators Program network. Our program has great relationships with top VC’s both locally and nationally, and we help foster partnerships through our introductions.

We also *promise* to not highjack any investor meetings.

4. Location, location, location!

While Silicon Valley is the Mecca for startups, Raleigh was recently named the top spot outside of SV for tech startups, thanks to local innovation, access to capital, and a pipeline of talent from UNC, Duke, and NC State.

Our participants get a 15 month membership to HQ Raleigh, a thriving community of entrepreneurs and change-makers located in the heart of Raleigh’s bustling Warehouse District. HQ has great vibes and is the perfect place to immerse yourself in startup life.

5.  No having to live together

Your Fage yogurt is safe.


If you think the Innovators Program is right for you, be sure to apply today!  Thanks for reading!

Apply Now!

Cheers,

– Magdalyn

Innovators Program Raleigh Now Accepting Applications

The Innovators Program Inc. and its sponsors, Citrix and Red Hat, Inc., announced that they are accepting applications for the 2017 Innovators Program in Raleigh. The three-month accelerator program lays the foundation for talented and motivated startup founders and internal innovators to develop the skill set and mindset to build high-growth technology businesses.

Early applications are due by June 14th, final applications must be submitted by June 23rd, and the program kicks off on July 17th.

Learn more >>    |    Apply now >>

The cohort-driven, mentor-assisted program is open to three external startups, and three internal teams. All of the selected teams will gain best-practice expertise, coaching, and mentorship to help develop their startup ideas, build and market customer-centric products in high growth markets, and prepare to raise their first round of funding.

Innovators Program – Raleigh 2016 participants: Glance.io co-founders Chris Comerie and Kameron Kales, and the program team, Alex Kehaya, Liz Tracy and Nick O’Connor at the Kick off at Cherokee Investment Partners in downtown Raleigh.

The Innovators Program Inc. is a partnership between HQ Raleigh, a workspace and community for high-impact startups, and Nick O’Connor, an Angel Investor based in Silicon Valley, and founder / head of program success at Venture Toolkit, a services company that designs and operates innovation programs for Fortune 500 companies. Nick was also the designer and operator of previous Innovators Programs run by the Citrix Startup Accelerator in Raleigh, Silicon Valley, Santa Barbara, and Bangalore, India. Since 2014, the program has included 22 internal innovation teams from both Red Hat and Citrix, as well as 37 startups, 10 of which have received $500,000 or more in seed funding.

This unique program allows companies like Citrix and Red Hat to engage their local startup ecosystem in ways that are both startup-friendly and impactful, with a program designed to provide a “high signal to noise” for the startups on their ability to get market traction. So far, this approach has produced four seed-funded local startups, one startup acquired by Citrix, a number of cash-flow-positive, bootstrapped startups, and a vibrant community of external and internal innovators.

The program also enables organizations to make the change from going “all in” on one idea to a more “sophisticated, angel investor-like” approach by rapidly innovating a few high-potential business ideas for three months, and deciding whether to invest based on market traction and opportunity.

Selected participants will learn and apply core principles used by successful technology startups to gain traction and develop their brand, business model, and growth strategy during the program. Each participating startup will receive one-on-one mentorship, weekly workshops, and a $10,000 grant. At the end of the program, the program will award additional grants of $10,000 per startup based on successful completion and commitment to the program. Internal teams will pitch internally to their organization for funding.

Innovators Program Raleigh alumni that subsequently received seed funding include health-tech startups Savii Care and Medicom, Ag-tech startup Smart Farm, and HR recruiting startup EmployUs.

Graduates from last year’s Raleigh program are Glance.ai, Nebula, ShineBig, Vision LTC, and Malartu.

Early applications are due by June 14th, final applications must be submitted by June 23rd, and the program kicks off on July 17th. Learn more or apply at: innovatorsprogram.co.

 

Learn more >>    |    Apply now >>

 


Adolfo Rodriguez, Vice President, ShareFile Platform and Workflows, Citrix

“At Citrix, we are deeply committed to creating and cultivating an innovative environment for our employees. In many ways, this is not just an investment in our people as we help them to continue extending their skillset and experience, but also in our solutions and, ultimately, our customers. The Innovator’s Program provides a terrific opportunity for us to practice lean thinking and entrepreneurial mechanisms in creating incredible new technologies that align to our company’s mission. It allows us to explore ways to leverage fresh, new thinking to deliver capabilities that better address our customers’ needs.

Over the past three years, we have had 9 internal teams enter the program here in Raleigh and 20 teams globally. The majority of these projects are now either in the hands of customers or on schedule to be. The insights our teams gained through their participation was invaluable, enabling us to focus on evolving critical contributions to our customers’ success. In addition, our employees have leveraged the budding start-up community in downtown Raleigh, allowing us to better participate in the thriving culture.

As we enter the 2017 season, another three Citrix teams will enter the program. The impact will be tremendous.”


 DeLisa Alexander, executive vice president and chief people officer, Red Hat

“At Red Hat, we’re passionate about doing our part to spur innovation and entrepreneurship — both internally and in the growing startup ecosystem in Raleigh. The projects our Red Hat teams worked on last year continue to bring value to our organization. We’re excited to collaborate with Citrix and HQ Raleigh to bring this program to life for the fourth year.” 


Malcolm Benitz, Co- founder and CEO at Medicom and 2015 Innovators Program alumni

“The frameworks and the mentorship in the Raleigh Innovators Program really helped us learn what it takes to develop our idea into a high growth business. In 2016, we processed 500 million images for our customers and moved our growing team into a larger office space in downtown Raleigh and the growth has continued into 2017.”


 Kameron Kales, co- founder, Glance.ai, and 2016 Innovators Program alumni

“The Raleigh innovators program helped our company focus on what matters for our customers. As two recent college graduates, we didn’t have a luxury of experience or connections to the recruiting industry. The program helped us iterate quickly, focus on what stuck and continue to bootstrap our venture. Lots of founders get distracted with raising capital, and the programs mentorship enabled us to stay cash conscious and iterate quickly. Today we have a profitable 100% founder owned company and we couldn’t have done it without the programs help.”

 

Red Hat and the Shadowman logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Red Hat, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.

Meet Shinebig, the North Carolina startup disrupting the $2.1 billion survey market

We’re just a few weeks away from the Innovators Program 3rd Annual Raleigh Demo Day on December 12th. As we gear up for all ten companies to take the stage, we’re spotlighting Shinebig, the final external startup in our Q&A series. Shinebig is focused on grabbing a share of the $2.1 billion survey market by narrowly focusing on delivering simple media-based survey experiences that match audience expectations set by social media.  With Shinebig, organizations can perform market research, crowdsource content, AND connect with audiences at the same time. The startup is led by co-founders Kelly Giles and Tola Oguntoyinbo, both graduates of the School of Media and Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill.  

IP: What made you want to participate in the Innovators Program?
KG: The opportunity to be around other smart, motivated entrepreneurs. The people and environment really push you to make progress.

IP: Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you came up with the idea for Shinebig?
TO: I was working on few ideas at the same time that took advantage of browser-based webcam technologies.  After experimenting for a while, the Shinebig concept eventually won the feasibility contest.  

IP: What problem are you solving with Shinebig? Where do you see the biggest value in what you are building?
KG: At its core, Shinebig is about connecting organizations and their audiences. Specifically, we see an opportunity to help conferences and events pick up some of the money that they are leaving on the table. Our product is designed to help our customers establish meaningful year-round communications with attendees that will keep them engaged, help to generate content and insights, and attract sponsors.

IP: How did you two start working together?
KG: We are both graduates of the UNC J-School but didn’t know each other there. A mutual friend and J-School alum introduced us about six months ago. We met for coffee, and here we are.

IP: What do you feel each are other’s strengths as team members?
KG: Tola is equal parts creative visionary and skilled programmer.  
TO: Kelly excels at both business and product development.  

IP: What is the most rewarding part of launching and growing your startup?
KG: There is nothing like creating something from nothing. It’s amazing to see something that started as a kernel of an idea take shape. You’re really willing something into reality.

IP: What mentors have you worked with so far in the program? Any takeaways that you’ve already started applying?
KG: We were really lucky to start out with working with Tom Snyder from RIOT. He gave us tons of great ideas about how to ask interesting questions that benefit both audiences and the brands asking them. Nick and Alex have really pushed us to think of ways to generate quick wins. They push us to get out of our heads and validate quickly.

IP: Have you learned anything from your fellow participants?
KG: We are always blown away during presentations. All the teams are awesome, but the Glance team in particular has shared some great insights about simplicity and usability. The Red Hat crews are all fantastic presenters.  And we’re also petitioning the Malartu folks to start holding start-up bootcamps – their product has some real potential.  

IP: What’s your current focus at Shinebig and where do you hope to go next?
KG: Our current focus is market validation. We’re testing a few different areas and getting traction. Based on these results, we’d like to hone in on one and really go about creating a fantastic user experience. We are definitely in the “do things that don’t scale” phase and plan to be there for a little while.

IP: What’s an ideal workday like for you? And how about an ideal day off?
KG: An ideal workday — meeting with customers, learning how they’re using Shinebig and what we can do to add more value. An ideal day off is doing something outside enjoying this amazing NC fall weather.

IP: Favorite movie quote?
TO: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” 

Learn more about Shinebig here, and make sure to catch their pitch during Demo Day on December 12th. You can register to attend here, or stay tuned for access to the livestream! 

Job searches suck. These young North Carolina entrepreneurs are fixing that.

It’s officially been one month since the 2016 Innovators Program Raleigh kicked off! The three-month accelerator program, a partnership between Red Hat, Citrix, and HQ Raleigh, helps early-stage tech startups develop a go-to-market strategy, find customers, and prepare for their first round of funding. Teams also receive a $10K grant.

In this week’s Q&A feature, we’re taking a closer look at Glance, a text-messaged based job search platform founded by Chris Comrie and Kameron Kales. Students can be notified of part-time jobs via text message, and can send a one-word reply to easily apply for the role. Glance was the Audience Choice Winner at the Big Idea Pitch in March and a Finalist at the Charlotte Venture Challenge in April.

Find out why they got started and what life has been like since joining the Innovators Program.

kameron-chris-alex-2

Innovators Program (IP): What are you most looking forward to in this program?

Kameron Kales (KK): We are extremely thankful to be a part of the program this year. We are most looking forward to working with the incredible mentors and advisors the Innovators Program connects you with. Those mentors will provide invaluable feedback instrumental to our product and customer development.

IP: How did you guys meet and team up?

KK: We have worked on a variety of things together throughout college [at Appalachian State]. We both were passionate about tech, startups, and knew the struggles of searching for a job really well. We were successful in finding a job but most of our peers were not. And that’s a problem. We wanted to work on solving that.

IP: Tell us a bit more about that.

KK: We are trying to design a process that makes the job search experience not suck. There have been hundreds of job boards and career sites which focused on the employer’s experience and no one has yet to nail the candidate experience. We set out to create a product which job seekers love to use, that provides them excellent listings based on their previous experience and enables them to learn more about the company before applying. It’s time the job seeker was treated like the incredible asset he/she is.

IP: What originally gave you the idea or inspiration to start Glance?

KK: We both were incredibly frustrated with the job search experience. The process is is slow and disconnected. I have yet to meet someone who was excited to download a new job board app or create another login. We wanted to work on making the experience a fun one, while still providing excellent value. It’s an incredibly hard problem but we are lucky to have the backing of the Innovators Program to enable us to go full force in solving it.

IP: Is there an entrepreneur or business leader you admire?

There are a few!

We admire Sheryl Sandberg and her ability to communicate incredibly well. She is an incredible executive who helped scale Facebook internationally. We’ve learned half the battle is having a great business/product, the other half is being great at communicating that to others. She is the best at that.

Elon Musk continues to amaze us in his ability to contribute across multiple industries. The knowledge he is able to consume and comprehend is absolutely incredible.

Tristan Walker (Walker and Co) is an underrated leader but is inspiring in his CODE2040 efforts to provide technical education/experience to top engineering talent, regardless of background. His ability to motivate young people to tackle hard engineering challenges is noteworthy.

IP: What’s one big lesson you’ve learned thus far in the program?

KK: The only thing that matters is your customers. In our experiences, a lot of “entrepreneurial” classes hype up all of these other things (hiring, PR, pitching, etc) and while these things do matter, until you have customers who LOVE your product, they are noise distracting you until you have solved that essential problem.

IP: Which mentors & experts have you worked with so far during the program? Any tidbits they shared with you that left a mark?

KK: We have been exposed to incredible mentors in the program. A few small tidbits that stick out most so far:

Nick [O’Connor, program director] has hammered into our heads to talk to our users as much as possible. The fluff around building a business doesn’t matter if you don’t have a dedicated user/customer base who LOVES your product.

Grady provided incredible product support. He has reminded us to quickly make changes and get feedback, even if a product is not perfect. All of the features we want to build don’t have to work 100% yet. Any time we have available should be spent on interviewing users. We can build the perfect product based on what our users love once we know exactly what that is.

IP: Tell us about a typical “day in the life” during the Innovators Program.

KK: A typical day starts with Chris blasting music at the crack of dawn (and I’m not a morning person). [Kameron and Chris live together in theThinkHouse living and learning accelerator] We get to the office around 8 or 9am and try to go over what we finished the day before and what needs work. We spend probably 80% of our time talking to our users and the other 20% iterating on our product based on their feedback. We are still in the discovery and learning phase so staying close to our users is the most important thing we do. We spend the late hours of each day building our product based on the data we have gathered from users.

IP: What do you guys like to do when you’re not working on Glance?

KK: I like to read, mess around with new programming languages and attend pitch events. I like hearing other people present their ideas and progress and taking the best parts to incorporate into what we are doing at Glance.

Chris Comrie: I really enjoy anything hockey. I grew up playing and still keep up with it when I can. I also enjoy reading, and building new things in software or hacking together a cool weekend project. I am a big believer in weekend projects because they push your imagination and help you learn new skills that you can apply to your weekly tasks.

IP: Favorite song to get you motivated for a long workday?

KK: I love pretty much anything Chase Rice. A big cup of coffee and Spotify on repeat makes the day easy.

CC: Two step by Dave Matthews Band gets the juices flowing.

Learn more about Glance or start your text message-based job search here. We promise it won’t suck.

Innovators Program Raleigh announces ten startups selected for 2016 accelerator cohort

The Innovators Program, a three-month accelerator sponsored by Citrix Systems and Red Hat and supported by HQ Raleigh, announced today the ten early-stage, high-growth technology startups selected for its 2016 program.

Now entering its third year in Raleigh, the cohort-driven, mentor-assisted program will include five external startups, two internal innovation teams from Red Hat, and three internal teams from Citrix. This unique grouping combines entrepreneurial thinking with large-scale enterprise expertise and seeks to foster both new startups and corporate innovation.

In addition to a $10K grant, each team will gain access to weekly group classes, one-on-one coaching and mentorship, co-working space, corporate resources, and capital connections.

Over 60 applications were submitted from startups as far as Alberta, Canada; Bangalore, India; and Myanmar, as well as U.S. hubs like Nashville, Silicon Valley, and New York. Coincidentally, all but one of the selected teams are Triangle-based ventures.

The external teams:

Nebula is a modular, customizable workstation suite founded by brothers Geoff and Zach Milburn. Calling it “Salesforce meets Squarespace,” the team is building a user-friendly, adaptable, and pay-as-you-go SaaS platform for businesses on the Internet. The team has launched several web and app-based startups and graduated from the inaugural ThinkHouse accelerator in 2014. http://nebulasites.com

Geospatial (d/b/a VisionLTC) is a geospatial market analytics platform for the senior housing, medical office, and healthcare industries. The platform provides operators, owners, investors, lenders, developers and other industry stakeholders with critical market analytics to facilitate improved strategic decision-making. The team includes co-founders and serial entrepreneurs Arick Morton and Grant Hamm. www.visionltc.com

Malartu is a fully functioning online investment platform created by co-founders Jon Spinney and Sean Steigerwald. The company plans to develop and integrate metric-tracking tools for startups to automatically generate and report KPIs for potential and/or current investors. North Carolina State University’s Entrepreneurship Clinic director Lewis Sheats is a founding advisor. www.malartufunds.us

Glance is a text-messaged based job search platform founded by Chris Comrie and Kameron Kales. Students can be notified of part-time jobs via text message, and can send a one-word reply to easily apply for the role. The co-founders are also current Fellows of the ThinkHouse, a living and learning accelerator for young entrepreneurs.

Askglance.com

ShineBig is creating a multimedia platform that makes it easy for businesses to ask engaging questions and receive engaged responses. Founder Tola Oguntoyinbo is a serial social entrepreneur and former The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s CUBE Entrepreneur in Residence. http://shinebig.com

The two internal Red Hat teams (focused on creating next-generation people programs for internal use):

The Red Hat Performance Management and Development team plans to create a performance management process that focuses on associate development and is scalable for Red Hat’s future. The team includes Arrie Brown, Jorge Herrera, Beverly Heustess, and Kim Jokisch, and is supported by Geri Duncan.

The Red Hat Ambassadors team aims to create a transparent, efficient, and scalable referral program that can enhance both the associate and candidate experience. This team includes Jonathan Edwards, Jorge Herrera, and Jenna Slawson, and is supported by Rob Trout.

The three internal Citrix teams:

MediFlow is an intuitive patient intake solution reducing frustration for patients and medical institutions while resulting in secure, timely and accurate information. The internal innovation team is led by Joseph Saponaro, Domenico Matteo, and Brian Stengaard.

RecapIt enables workers who capture audio, video, and images as part of their daily tasks to do so more easily by streamlining that process into a simple capture, save, and share workflow that’s managed from a single mobile device. The team is spearheaded by Citrix employees Ben Robbins, Tarun Goel, and Nicholas Madariaga.

The CSP team, located at the Citrix Fort Lauderdale, Florida campus, is changing the way Citrix on-boards service providers. By changing the flow and eliminating lengthy processes, they shorten the on-boarding process from months to days. The team also hopes to reduce churn in the CSP program. CSP will be led by Citrix employee Nizar Tyrewalla.

The Innovators Program Raleigh officially kicks off today, Thursday, September 15, with a four-day design sprint. Over the course of the next three months, these ten teams will learn core principles of design thinking, lean startup, and go-to-market strategy with a goal of finding their first customers and validating their business model. The program will culminate with a Demo Day on December 12 in Downtown Raleigh.