NJ Startup Weekend – A Hackathon for Entrepreneurs

by Peter Hogan-De Paul

New Jersey Startup Weekend

While HackPrinceton was going on at the Princeton University campus, New Jersey hosted another large meetup for developing great ideas, the NJ Startup Weekend.

What Is Startup Weekend?

Part of a series powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, Startup Weekend focuses on entrepreneurs, developers and designers hacking together concepts for new products in under 72 hours! The goal is to come up with a complete proof of concept, with a simple working model for the product.

Startup Weekend

Last weekend’s event took place at the co-working space JuiceTank in Somerset, NJ, the perfect location for a large collaborative gathering like Startup Weekend. Open work areas, breakout rooms and personal workspaces abounded.

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Everyone gathered Friday evening for an introduction and a couple of icebreakers, followed by the entrepreneurs presenting pitches for ideas to the group. Participants then voted on the concepts presented, and working teams formed around the different ideas.

Twenty teams were originally formed, but several merged due to lack of specific skills needed to get a concept off the ground. When the dust finally settled, the real fun began. Teams worked until JuiceTank closed both nights of the event, and many continued to work through the night outside of the venue.

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Innovation Under Pressure 

A number of fantastic product ideas were pitched at Startup Weekend. Kwick was an application that used SMS messaging to facilitate financial transactions among users, similar to Venmo, but without the need for a smartphone application.

Plenty of Cats took a novel approach to helping animal shelters save cats by gamifying the process with their game “Meow or Hiss”, similar to Hot or Not. Using the Petfinder API, this group gained a lot of traction on Facebook over the weekend.

Winner! Winner!

The winners of the event, however, were clear favorites among everyone at the event!

The first spot went to Waddle, an app that integrates with social platforms, displaying a map of where the subscriber has traveled, based on posts to FourSquare, Facebook, Twitter and the like. By using date filtering to figure out when these events occur, the app lets users recall events by location, as opposed to having to sift through a timeline.

The second winner was Shop Smart, a tablet platform that can be mounted on shopping carts, providing consumers with their shopping lists as they travel through a store. Users can add items to their shopping lists before entering the store, and the same shopping list appears when they log in on the shopping-cart tablets. Location services in the store notify shoppers when they approach items they need and check the item off their lists by scanning the item using a barcode scanner attached to the device. In addition, the app could give users reminders about items they purchased before and may need to pick up, suggestions for recipes, and notifications of special promotions. This product really could revolutionize how consumers shop in supermarkets!

As winners, Waddle and Shop Smart will receive free co-working space at JuiceTank and were also made semi-finalists in the technology accelerator group TechLaunch. Both apps certainly promise to become much more with support from their teams and the generous support of sponsors.

Charging Station

Phone.com Supports Startup Weekend!

As a sponsor of the event, Phone.com offered both advice and support. Our popular device-charging station provided power for participants’ phones while they focused on honing their  concepts. I also threw my hat into the ring as a mentor for teams, to help with any unified communication questions or other technical questions team members may have had.

I strongly encourage anyone who has a  Startup Weekend going on in their area to participate and be inspired. Whether your team wins or loses, the relationships, ideas, skills and camaraderie built is well worth your time, sweat, and money. I’m looking forward to the next Startup Weekend myself, if only so that I can participate!

I’d also like to give a shout out to everyone who was involved in the sponsorship and organization of last weekend’s event, especially JuiceTank members Charlie Patel, Mason Carter, and Zion Kim. They and their team really delivered an excellent event in a wonderful space. Kudos to all!

Small Business, Global Presence. Yes, You Can!

by Adele Fredeluces

globalnumbersPhone.com makes it easy and affordable to support a business in several countries!

Need virtual numbers in different regions and the ability to call internationally? For Ofelos Media, a Phone.com client based in Cyprus, our phone service delivers all that and more!

Ofelos Media offers business and marketing services that help small companies expand and establish an online presence. Services include scanning and electronic archiving of documents, strategies for mobile and online marketing, and guidance on social media. Phone.com gives Ofelos Media the telephony resources to maintain their relationships with global clients, and enables them to operate economically.

While their main office is located in Cyprus, Ofelos Media has another office almost 2,000 miles away in Denmark, with each location using numbers local to those countries. “The features we love most about the [Phone.com] system is its ability to handle global numbers, which gives us a local presence in each country,” says Ofelos Media CEO Marianna Frangos.

At each office, Ofelos Customer Service Specialists also use Communicator, Phone.com’s soft-phone service, along with our iPhone app, so they don’t have to buy and maintain phone equipment. Frangos says that’s good business sense. “Communication is both effective and efficient … we have no upfront investment and no hardware to maintain, so we save time and money!”

As she does for Ofelos Media, Phone.com’s number specialist Jenny Dempsey can help you find the perfect local and global phone numbers for your business.  Marianna Frangos again: “Phone.com’s customer service is excellent! Jenny is always keen to help us with any problems that arise, and help walk us through Phone.com’s many features.”

Phone.com University

Phone.com University – How To Set Up Our iPhone App

by Derrick Arteus

Our Phone.com Mobile Office App is a great tool that lets you access and manage one of the Phone.com extensions on your account from your iPhone. The app has many great features, including the ability to:

  • View SMS, voicemail and faxes in your Phone.com Inbox
  • Place outbound calls using your Phone.com number as the caller ID
  • Access your extension-specific call logs and address book
  • Send faxes from your iPhone
  • Set up a conference call
  • Change your voicemail greeting

If you haven’t already done so, download the app for your iPhone or search for phonecom mobile office on Apple’s App Store.

How to Set Up the Mobile App

After launching the application on your phone, it will ask if you already have an account with us. Tap Yes to continue.

The next screen will ask for your cell phone number. You will want to enter a valid cell phone number on this screen, as the app will later call that number and have you enter a validation code to authorize use of the app on your phone. Tap ok after entering your number to continue.

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The next screen asks for your Phone.com number, extension number and voicemail password. If you do not know this information, here is a quick run-down on how to find it in your Phone.com account on a computer:

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  • After logging into your Phone.com account, go to Configure and select Manage Numbers. Choose any of the Phone.com numbers listed on the Manage Numbers page.
  • To find your extension number, go to Configure and select Manage Users & Extensions. Decide which extension to use from this page.
  • To find your voicemail password, select the Edit box next to the extension you have chosen in the step above. On the Extension Settings page, scroll down to the Voicemail section and make note of the set of numbers in the Password field.

After entering the above information and tapping ok, the app will provide you with a validation code to enter when the app calls you. Make note of this number and then enter it after answering the call from Phone.com.

Once the app is fully validated, you will be on the home screen, where you can access all available features.

Tip: Tapping the More… option takes you to newly developed features that let you manage voicemail greetings and send a fax directly from your phone!

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That’s all there is to setting up our app! See you next Monday for more Phone.com knowledge.

iOS_app

More New Features On The Phone.com iPhone App

by Jeremy Watkin

Since the overhaul of our iPhone app we’ve received an overwhelming amount of feedback from our customers. Many say that the app is adding value to their phone service, as it makes their business phones even more accessible.

Some of the best feedback we’ve received has been in the form of feature suggestions and bug reports that help us continue improving the functionality of the app. Guess what? We are listening and we cannot thank you enough for sharing your feedback with us!

Users with iPhone 4 and above may have noticed our recent update to the app — updates aren’t available on the iPhone 3GS; however, the old version of the app is still available for those devices.

Here are some of the fantastic new features!

  • Send Faxes:  Send faxes using the app by attaching images, Microsoft Word documents and PDF files saved on your mobile device.
  • Record Greetings:  No more logging into our control panel to edit your voicemail greetings.  You can record your own greeting or create a text-to-speech greeting on the fly, then set it as your voicemail greeting.
  • Manage Greetings: Edit, review and delete existing greetings for your extension.
  • Enable and Disable Voicemail:  Enable or disable voicemail for your extension.

We also improved components under the hood. These enhancements include an improved login process, menu updates and faster loading of your contact lists—especially for those of you with enormous contact lists.

Don’t you feel like you just unwrapped a gift?  We’re excited to continue improving our mobile app.  Please keep the suggestions coming and we’ll have more for you to unwrap in the future!

Phone.com University

Phone.com University – Saving Your Settings With Presets

by Derrick Arteus

Presets allow you to save a copy of your call handling rules, which can then be applied at a later date. These are great if you need to temporarily change how your calls are forwarded but don’t want to lose your original settings.

Adding a preset

To add a preset, go to Configure at the top of your account and select Add a Preset. This will present you with the call handling rules page that you are accustomed to seeing. Set whatever call handling rules you want saved as the preset, add a unique name (1), and then select Save Rule Settings (2).

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Activating your preset

After saving your preset, you will want to activate it on your call handling rules page. This will differ slightly based on whether you have a menu or direct forwarding. In this particular example, we are accessing the call handling rules directly from a number. To activate your preset, select the Use call handling preset option, choose your saved preset (1) and select Save Rule Settings (2).

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Your preset is now activated and the call handling rules in the preset will be applied to all phone calls.

Saving existing call handling rules as a preset

If you already have call handling rules set up, and don’t want to have to re-add them as a new preset, you can use the Save as preset option within the call handling rules screen (1). Selecting this will prompt you to enter a preset name. After adding a preset name, select Save Rule Settings and your current call handling rules will be saved as a preset that you can use in the future.

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That covers everything you need to know about presets. See you next Monday for some more Phone.com knowledge!