Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Utah’s Startup Scene Is Almost as Spectacular as Its Fall Scenery

utah-fall-colors-380x285

This week, I’ve been in Park City, Utah, attending the Venture Capital in the Rockies fall conference. Basically, it’s a gathering of VCs based in the Intermountain West and early-stage startup companies on the hunt for investors.

As you can see from the image I snapped with my iPhone on the day of my arrival, the fall foliage makes for a pretty awesome view, and the crisp, cold air — it even snowed briefly yesterday — has an invigorating quality to it.

But there’s more to the place than pretty pictures. There’s a fairly active tech startup scene here. I sat through several presentations yesterday from some companies with cool ideas that are just getting off the ground. A few that caught my attention:

Storyvine: This two-person startup, based in Boulder, Colo., aims to make producing high-quality videos easier and cheaper than ever before. It walks you through the process of shooting and editing a video in a way that comes out more polished and thoughtful. Computing giant IBM is an early client. Founder Kyle Shannon started the interactive marketing firm Agency.com back in the 1990s, took it public, and later sold it to Omnicom. Monique Elwell is a longtime Wall Street analyst.

Cypher: If you’ve ever tried to take a call on your mobile phone in a noisy environment, like a restaurant or on a busy street, you’re going to want Cypher on your phone. It has developed a technology to isolate the sound of your voice and mute the background noise you don’t want to hear. The result is a clearer call. The company is based in South Jordan, Utah, and its founders come from companies including Control4 and Fusion-io.

Wave: If you’re familiar with wireless-charging technology for your mobile phone, like Qi and PowerMat, then just imagine a city bus that does the same thing. That’s idea behind Wave, based in Salt Lake City. Spun out of a research project at Utah State University, the idea is to enable wireless power transfer in vehicles. Park the vehicle over the charging station in the garage, then drive it around all day. A few buses using the technology are already running, including a trolley with the Monterey-Salinas Transit system in California; another is running in Long Beach. Its video is kind of cool:

OrderStorm: If you’re a small or medium business and have a website, chances are pretty good you use WordPress to run it. But if you want to sell things from your site, you probably have to redirect your customers to a third-party site. OrderStorm, based in Littleton, Colo. is a cloud-based add-on for WordPress that creates that makes it pretty easy to add and manage e-commerce capabilities to a WordPress site.

space-monkeySpace Monkey: A consumer digital backup service, the company offer one terabyte of cloud storage for $10 a month. The linchpin is the Space Monkey device, pictured at right. Files aren’t stored on the device directly, but instead are distributed throughout the network using a peer-to-peer technology. Basically, little pieces of each file are spread out across the entire network. But you can get access to any of your files anytime, and from your computer (Windows, Mac, and Linux-supported) or a smartphone (Android and iOS). Based in Midvale, Utah, its founders, Clint Gordon-Carroll and Alen Peacock, are both veterans of Mozy, another Utah-based consumer backup service that ended up being acquired by storage giant EMC. The idea is to get the technology adopted by Internet service providers like Comcast and build it into their cable modems and other consumer gear. The company has already raised $2.25 million in seed funding from Google Ventures.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work