10 Innovative Companies you’ve probably never heard of

Entrepreneur Magazine, in their latest issue, has released their annual 100 Brilliant Companies list. It’s chock full of all sorts of small innovative companies you’ve most likely never heard of. Not yet, at least. I’ve pulled out the top ten companies I found most interesting and summarized them here below. Enjoy!

1) Withings – Ok, so this one you might have heard of. The largest company on my list, Withings is a consumer electronic company that focuses on the connected health revolution. Think Google/Apple hybrid of healthcare devices, design friendly devices with data analytic’s to back up each device. One of their feature products is a smart body analyzer (read fancy wireless scale) which measures your weight, bmi, fat mass, heart rate, and air quality. The scale will record the data and sync with your smart phone app to provide valuable feedback on health goals. Their newest product, Aura, is a smart sleep system which consists of a large lamp (shaped somewhat like a Dyson fan) and a sleep pad that you place under your sheets. These two products connect to your phone and provide an optimal sleep environment for you tracking your sleep patterns, body movements, heart rate, and breathing cycles. Watch for this company to come out with some revolutionary products in the healthcare industry.

2) Zooppa – This next company offers a service well outside my experience realm, but I couldn’t help but add them to my short list due to their unique business model. Zoopa is an advertising company which crowdsources client campaigns among its users. The best part is it’s a win-win for both parties. Clients will host contests on Zooppa for members to create commercials or product campaigns. So talented individuals without much real world experience or any industry connections can shoot a short commercial for a Zooppa client, such as Chevron or Pizza Hut, and instantly bolster their portfolio, not to mention win whatever competition the client has sponsored. The company on the other hand, gets hundreds or thousands of submission from which to choose from and use royalty free since every submission becomes pro

3) Spoiler Shield – How many times has your favorite show been ruined by a spoiler on Facebook or Twitter? Spoiler Shield is here to save you from yourself. Download the app and then you can access all your social media accounts through the app which will block all messages pertaining to shows you select. They currently offer the service for about 50 popular TV shows, NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports. When did the founders decide to start this service? When the co-founders flew cross country during the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones and landed to a Facebook newsfeed full of spoilers.

4) Whistle Labs – Think Fitbit for Fido.  Whistle Labs originally created The Whistle monitor. The activity monitor is a waterproof device that attaches to your pup’s collar and tracks your dog’s daily activity.  The flashy app will show how much activity your dog has had and how intense his or her workout was. You can also track your dog’s medication and set daily activity goals for your dog. Their newest product though is even better. The WhistleGPS does everything that the activity monitor does but also tracks your dog via cellular technology. This way, next time Roofus runs away, you’ll be able to see where he is and how fast he got there.

5) Bionym – Talk about futuristic. Bionym has created what they claim is the “first wearable authentication technology that allows you to take control of your identity through cardiac rhythm recognition.”  The Nymi bracelet is much more secure than other biometric readers (fingerprint or retina) because your heartbeat can’t really be faked or cheated like you can do by lifting a fingerprint. Their Youtube video is very very cool. It imagines a world where your Nymi bracelet can unlock your car, make secure transactions, and unlock your computer or iPad. Feasible? Yes. Currently realistic? Not quite. From what I could tell there aren’t any large vendors that have partnered with this company to make all this cool technology real. Furthermore, the link to their blog hasn’t been updated since 2012. But keep an eye on this small company it could be a huge player in an ever-more-present technology connected world.

6) Ossia Inc–  I’ve seen at least a half dozen companies in the last few years market their new wireless charging systems, but this may be one of the most promising yet. And, according to this Gizmag article, the product could start to retail in 2015. Ossia has created a product called Cota that can wirelessly charge your devices around your home using your normal Wi-Fi signal. The website is a little vague on how it works (which I would be too if I was the first mover on this) but it uses smart antenna technology to charge any device that has been paired with the system within a 30-foot radius. Not only do you no longer have to go plug your device in, but you also don’t have to rest it on any sort of dock like every other wireless charger system I’ve seen. I’ll be very excited to see this product released and hopefully marketed at a reasonable consumer price.

7) Hello Doctor – Hello Doctor is much simpler than the last two companies’ technology but is most likely more important. Hello Doctor is an app that allows you to aggregate all your medical records (paper or digital) in one easy-to-use place. The service also allows you to take notes on any sort of documented paper in any specific spot. The example they use on the website is noting whether a prescription size is an OK quantity to take. The service was started when the founder’s friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor which led to two years of endless doctors appointments. Each doctor would only allow a certain amount of face time and if Maayan Cohen (founder) couldn’t produce the right document in time, they might have lost valuable time with the specialists. The service also allows you to email your documents to your team and they will be tagged for you before you log in the next time around. Personally, I use Evernote to keep track of limited medical records but this could be a very useful app for someone who is constantly headed to doctors appointments.

8) Estimize – “Estimize is an open financial estimates platform which facilitates the aggregation of fundamental estimates from independent, buy-side, and sell-side analysts, along with those of private investors and students.” In other words, Estimize takes educated guesses from thousands of investors (some professional and others who are just hobbyists) on what prices to buy over 900 stocks. The company constantly scrubs the data to ensure users aren’t intentionally submitting low or high end bids as well. This ensures a clean dataset by looking at a user’s track record as well as other components. For an investor, Estimize seems too good to be true. I’ve recently signed up for the service but only time will tell its value. Lastly, the company also has a notification service that will alert you on upcoming earnings forecasts and significant changes in consensus.

9) Tile – At last an end to your lost belongings! The tile, literally a small (36mm x36mm) square, is a bluetooth-enabled tracker beacon for your belongings. Stick it on your laptop, phone, iPad, wallet, purse, bike or anything else you care deeply about not losing. The tile will transmit a signal if you’re within a 50-150 ft radius of the device. Further away? No worries. If there is another tile user near your tile, it will send you a notification with your tile location and a map of  the location of your valuable belonging. The best part however, is that this happens unbeknownst to your fellow tile-er. So essentially, as long as there are plenty of tile members in your area, your range is everywhere. The tile connects to your smartphone app, which will allow you to track the device and also send an alert to the tile if lost. The alert will activate a tone that will help you locate the tile. The tile’s battery life lasts a year and then after that, you can send your old tile back and the company will send you their latest and greatest.

10) Luvo Inc – Healthy food, green packaging, big name partnerships. Since it’s inception, Luvo has been serving healthy, flavorful food and doing it with star power partnerships. They have signed on major partners such as Jennifer Gardner, Derek Jeter and Troy Polamalu. They’ve also teamed up with Delta Airlines to serve their food in flight. A local search on their website will show you where their products are offered around you (all Super-Targets and Fresh Market’s look to be covered). Don’t want to go out to buy Luvo? You can buy their products on HSN here. Everything seems to be reasonably priced as well. A 7-pack of entrees will only set you back about $23. Tasty and healthy food at a reasonable price, what could be better?

Now what? How to be a college graduate

Now that all the pictures have been taken, all the old run-down furniture has been pawned off to all your underclassman friends, diploma is in hand and car filled to the brim, you pull away from your home with a sense of bewilderment. Now what? Here’s some baby steps to help get you on your way.

Now What?

1) Employment – Hopefully between those last couple finals and term papers, you were sending out résumés and securing interviews and perhaps that dream job. For those who weren’t so lucky, your first step is polishing up that résumé. Send it to your uncle, your old grammar teacher, or even give it to your current boss (they know you’re not going to lifeguard forever). The more eyes who see your résumé, the less chances you have of misspelling anything. You don’t have to take everyone’s advice, but it never hurts to get as much of it as you can. Furthermore, many colleges offer alumni career services. Use them. You’re going to be paying those student loans whether you have a great job or not.

Once you’re résumé is pristine, it is time to start networking. If your parents belong to any organizations, ask them to get you a members list and then start researching them on LinkedIn. If you find someone promising, ask your parents for an introduction. Searching through your school’s alumni database can also yield results. The key point is don’t be afraid to reach out. You’re never going to get anywhere if you don’t and they, more than likely, will be impressed by your proactiveness. Like with dating, the worst that could happen is you get turned down.

If you live somewhere that you’re interested in staying, just show up! To be fair, this really isn’t your best chance but it’s definitely worth trying. So go ahead, put on a nice suit and drop a résumé off at a target company. The likelihood you’ll get an in the spot interview is very rate but at least be prepared for it; know the business and be able to answer all your standard interview questions. Just in case. What else are you going to do all summer long?

Finally, don’t be afraid to branch out. Apply to anything and everything. You can always say no if you are offered a job. Just don’t limit yourself. Furthermore, this is not your first and only job. You want to get something in your field, but it doesn’t have to be your dream job. You’re 22 or 23 years old, you can compromise.

2) Residence – Now that you’re employed or well on your way, it’s time to start thinking about where you’re going to start the next chapter of your life. My fiancé did a wonderful guest blog post about our process of finding our first apartment. Here is the post, but the gist is as follows.

Budget – There is no point of even going to shop for an apartment if you don’t know how much you’re able to spend. Current financial wisdom states that you should spend about 30-35% of your gross income on your house. Therefore if you have a starting salary of $40,000 you have about a thousand dollars a month for rent, electric, cable, internet, and water. When looking for an apartment many complexes will be able to tell you about how much their residents pay for water and electric. Speaking of budgets, stay tuned for how to budget the rest of your newfound paycheck.

Breakdown needs and wants, then do your research – Sure we’d all love granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, but are they necessary? Figure out what you can’t live without, and make a wish list for your apartment hunting. Then start your research. It’s not worth creating a financial hardship just so you can have a bigger closet or a more open kitchen.

3) Stay connected and get involved – Welcome to your new community! You know how your parents would always read the local newspaper and actually care about local school board elections? Well now it’s your turn! All that money you think is disappearing from your paycheck is actually going to your state and local taxes. Thereby, you might as well be active in your local community or else your money is being used regardless of your opinion. Sure, this may not be your home forever and I’m certainly not suggesting attending every county council meeting. Just stay informed, and if something peaks your interest get involved. It’ll make you feel better about where you live and you may make some great contacts along the way.

Finally, stay connected. First to your college friends. It’s very easy to become distant and caught up in your own new routine and life. Call your friends. They’ll appreciate it and you never know when you’re going to need them. Also, stay connected to your university or college. Whether you donate or not, be an active member of the alumni body. Your college shaped you and helped mold you into who you are and gave you the great opportunities you’ve had and will have. Pass it along by housing an underclassman for the summer or reading their résumé.

4) Network and challenge yourself – After graduation it’s very easy and normal to feel a little lost. After all, pretty much every part of your life up to this point has been broken up into four month semesters. Now you’re starting a job with really nothing on the horizon except retirement ……. in 40+ years (yeah let that one sink in). Research, and common sense, have shown that the most successful people are the ones who set goals for themselves. Just this process of benchmarking your future allows you to have a general idea of where you’re heading. Forty years is a long time so set 1, 3, and 5 year goals for yourself. It can be anything. If in 5 years you want to buy a house, figure out how much you need to be saving for a down payment. Or maybe within the next year you want to meet more business people in your community. So join the chamber of commerce or your local respective professional organization. As Momma always says, it’s all about who you know.

It’s not easy being a full fledged adult, and it’s going to take some time to get used to. Get organized and make sure you pay those bills on time. Feel free to read my blog post about some useful apps to help you along your way. Good luck!!