Entrepreneurial

Startup Toovio offers “Minority Report”-type ad service for retailers

Big Brother has the capability to watch – and respond to – your every spending move. That’s the premise behind Toovio, a startup that has created technology to help retailers and other consumer-facing companies market personalized offers to their customers in real time.

Think of the scene in the film “Minority Report”, when Tom Cruise’s character is walking through a mall while his eyes are getting scanned and he is being bombarded by a slew of personalized 3D ads.

“We call it offer orchestration,” said Toovio’s CEO Josh Smith, 31, of the capabilities that allow companies to communicate custom offers over a range of channels that include checkout, website, kiosk and customer-service call centers.

“We have visibility into their (customers’) previous behavior,” he said. “There’s learning, based on whatever interaction is happening, and we’re getting smarter – hopefully driving revenue.”

Toovio, which already has a number of small to mid-sized companies in the U.S. and Europe using its technology, will next month test a service that takes advantage of mobile apps that consumers download on their smart phones.

Chicago incubator hopes to SPARK startups

Think you can form a technology company from scratch in just a week? That’s the idea behind SPARK, a new incubator program launched by a group of Chicago-area entrepreneurs.

The program is aimed at seeding viable ideas for Web-based and mobile applications during an upcoming startup competition that runs from July 22 to 27 in the Windy City.

“SPARK is about doing, not talking,” said 29-year-old Maliha Mustafa, a former investment banker turned entrepreneur and SPARK co-founder. “What we’d like to do is actually execute.”

Mobile drug authentication app needs work

Ghanaian entrepreneur Ashifi Gogo has developed a mobile-based technology he believes can help consumers and pharmaceutical companies fight back against drug counterfeiters in developing nations. But experts said his solution needs work.

Gogo, a 28-year-old Dartmouth College engineering graduate, co-founded Sproxil Inc. to end the “menace” of counterfeit drugs in West African countries such as Nigeria, where he said up to 80 percent of the over-the-counter medication bought by consumers is fake.

Gogo said when consumers purchase a drug protected by his trademarked Mobile Product Authentication technology, it comes with a scratch code that provides them with a number they can enter into their cellphone as a text and get an immediate text response back on whether the product they just bought was real or fake (read original story here).

App is crap

- Mark Suster is a partner at Los Angeles-based venture capital firm GRP Partners and the author of the blog “Both Sides of the Table”. The opinions expressed are his own. -

I recently wrote a blog post entitled App is Crap: Why Apple is bad for your health, in which the thrust of the argument is that the technology ecosystem will be better served by applications on mobile devices that work inside your browser, rather than applications you download onto your device.

The downloaded world is a hugely costly proposition for software developers and also makes it harder for new phone manufacturers to produce products. Neither is good for innovation in the long run.

  •