Two life-shaping events formed the foundation of St. Louis entrepreneur Rey Castuciano’s startup, Table Wisdom. The first event happened in 1989, when Castuciano, along with his mother, father and sister, immigrated to the United States from the Philippines. Among the frustrations experienced by the then-15-year-old boy were those that dealt with learning a new language. “My issues were accent and vocabulary. It was difficult to maintain a conversation flow. When I tried to converse with native-English speakers in high school, I’d often stumble and was made fun of,” says Castuciano, who says he learned English in large measure by watching American television programs. Twenty-three years later, another life changing experience saw Castuciano spending eight hours per day for six weeks in a St. Louis nursing home, tending to his father, who had suffered a stroke. “I saw the isolation of some of those nursing home residents, but what I also observed was that, while those residents were experiencing physical difficulties, many of them were very lucid, and they spoke well,” says Castuciano. Not long afterward, “I saw a video in which some seniors in Chicago were Skyping with kids in Brazil, for conversational English sessions. That’s when it hit me,” he says. “We have a lot of immigrants who want and need conversational English and we have this large aging population. Why can’t we connect the two, using technology as an enabler?” Thus was born Table Wisdom, a social enterprise which seeks to connect recent immigrant young adults to the elderly in retirement communities for conversational English and mentoring sessions via video-chat and face-to-face meetings. Listen to a discussion of Table Wisdom on KMOX Radio/St. Louis at 10:50am central time...Read More
Feeling stressed out? A group of St. Louis entrepreneurs wants to help you. From their office in the Cortex district of mid-town St. Louis, a team of developers from Data Dog Health, Inc., is creating an app to monitor your stress level via a wristband, much like the popular Fitbit technology that measures your heart rate from the pulse on your wrist. The inspiration for the product, called Mindset, says Data Dog co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Russell, came in 2013. Click here to hear Elizabeth Russell’s interview on KMOX Radio from Tuesday 8/25 “I met my co-founder, Ravi Chacko, at a bioengineering design conference in Seattle, where we wound up placing in a pitch competition. We began working together and decided to tackle the issue of access to mental healthcare. And this is where we found our niche – realizing that anyone who has stress or anxiety could benefit from a digital interaction such as we’ll provide.” Mindset features both a hardware and software component. “For the hardware,” says Russell, “think of what you think of with Fitbit. We pair with any third-party wearable device that measures heart rate and has a Bluetooth Low Energy connection. Just as Fitbit monitors activity as a way to gauge your physical fitness level, we are gauging your stress level via heart rate as a measure of mental health.” (for the record, she notes Fitbit does not have such Bluetooth capabilities and is not yet compatible with the Mindset system. She says products such as Mio link do use Bluetooth, and are compatible). As the wearable device detects increased heart rate, and thus determines the wearer is becoming stressed, it will deliver that...Read More
Move over Invisible Girlfriend. Make way for Invisible Industries. Invisible Girlfriend, the St. Louis startup that generated worldwide attention in both social and traditional media circles after its formation at a St. Louis startup competition in November, 2013, is evolving, say its co-founders. And that means a new name. Click to hear Invisible Industries’ Kyle Tabor’s appearance on KMOX Radio, St. Louis from August 18, 2015. The service was conceived by St. Louis entrepreneur Matt Homann, based on his own personal experience from several years ago. Newly divorced and weary of answering questions about his dating life, Homann envisioned a service aimed at ending all of the prying questions from friends and family. His proposal was a company that created a faux girlfriend or boyfriend – one who could interact with a customer through text messages and other communication — all to convince others that the user was involved in a real relationship. After pitching the idea on the first day of the 2013 St. Louis Startup Weekend, a team of developers (who’d never met each other before the event) fine-tuned the idea, and two days later, judges chose Invisible Girlfriend (and its twin service Invisible Boyfriend) as the winning entry. Almost immediately the concept was the talk of the Internet, then, mainstream media. But much of the initial buzz tended to be dismissive. One writer called Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend, “the world’s saddest service.” Others called it, “creepy” and “weird.” Conan O’Brien created and broadcast a video parody of the service on his late night talk show. Still, the idea caught on. Not quite two years after its birth, the service’s website boasts of a half million visitors from 193...Read More
Something big is happening in St. Louis.
If you’re plugged into the local innovative entrepreneurism movement, you know we’re becoming one of the fastest growing centers of biotech, IT and consumer entrepreneurship in the nation.
Here’s what St. Louis entrepreneurs are saying about the opportunities and outreach created for them by InnoVox STL:
|“The owner of a chain of grocery stores in Southern Illinois heard me on your interview. About two weeks later he was meeting with the regional head of RDS (with whom I’ve formed a business relationship) and mentioned he heard us on the radio and wanted to know what RDS thought of our system. I set up a meeting and made a demonstration and he agreed to install DealieDo in his stores. We are getting the installation ready now. All because of one 7-minute interview that you coordinated!!! Thank you!!!!” – Rob Rose, Dealido
“Before I returned to the office we received an inquiry directly from the KMOX spot – that was awesome! We have not closed the deal but we are getting closer. Had several more calls related to the spot over the last couple of months.” – Tim McIntyre, eTwist.
“Immediately following our appearance on KMOX Radio, we had dozens of e-mails and SMS messages congratulating us. One of those messages came from a very large event production company in St. Louis who wanted to engage us. Through a series of additional efforts, we are now in a long term contract with that company. So, directly springing from our participation/exposure, we were invited to work with this company and are now growing that relationship.” — Brian Slawin, BusyEvent
“We received several inbound leads thanks to the KMOX Radio appearance from InnoVox. RoverTown was able to present to the St. Louis Cardinals thanks to the InnoVox Connect pitch event. We were able to meet the Cardinals’ staff and now are proud to call the Cardinals one of RoverTown’s clients. Additionally, we were invited to attend 2014 St. Louis Arts Awards event thanks to InnoVox Connect. We were able to meet Dave Steward of World Wide Technologies from the event and have built a relationship with him.” – Jeffry Harrison, Rovertown
“A local investor we had been talking to for about 5-months happened to hear the KMOX appearance live and sent me a note saying I sounded good and we should re-connect sometime soon. He is now an investor in our company, the positive PR he happened to stumble upon let him know we were still hear and going strong, which led to him re-engaging.” — Tom Cohen, Nanopore
“In the weeks prior to my appearance on the KMOX , my website was averaging roughly 20 sessions a day. On the day of appearance, it spiked to 209 sessions. This spike resulted in 6 transactions (tickets sold) on our website. Also, as a result of the KMOX appearance, I received another marketing opportunity to be on Fox2news (directly attributable to the KMOX appearance). – Pete Manzo, EAT STL
“After the radio interview, I received an email from someone at National Information Solutions Cooperative about a potential partnership. Without the radio interview, NISC would not have initiated the conversation that soon. Also, several people signed up for our newsletter in the days following the KMOX interview and Business Journal article.” –Ty Benefiel, Metergenius
“Lumate and I have definitely benefited from the InnoVox Connect event with a local arts organization. Many connections to leaders in organizations from the St. Louis area have developed out of this event and have helped me further my network of connections.” – Quentin Ortega, Lumate
“The exposure we received from KMOX/ STL Biz Journal was vital in helping us to establish our name and business recognition in the greater STL area. Your piece greatly aided our recruiting efforts as many job candidates reached out to us after hearing the KMOX piece.” – Trip Goodloe, GirlsAskGuys