Introducing ‘Early Stage,’ a weekly column bringing you what’s new and interesting in the world of startups and venture capital.
Startup of the week:
Who they are: Somewear, a startup backed by Highway1, a San Francisco-based incubator for hardware startups.
What they do: Their first product is Relay, the world’s smallest satellite hotspot.
Why it’s cool: The hotspot, which fits in the palm of your hand, ensures that you’ re connected no matter how deep into the wilderness your backcountry camping trip, rock climbing expedition or white water rafting voyage takes you. Just hold down the SOS button and emergency services will be called to your location.
“Adventures involve risk, ” CEO James Kubik said, debuting the product at Highway1’s demo day Tuesday. “So even when things go really badly, Relay is your backup.”
Relay also powers the Somewear app on your phone, even if you don’ t have service, letting you see real-time updates on local conditions and access a network of rangers from local and national parks. Or, use the app to stay in touch with your mom. She’s probably worried about you.
Where they stand: Somewear is getting ready to beta test Relay this summer and expects to launch the product in the spring of next year. Rangers and guides in Yosemite and Point Reyes National Seashore already have signed up with the app.
Only in Silicon Valley:
Not Hotdog was indeed born in Silicon Valley — “Silicon Valley” the hit HBO TV show, that is. What started as an inside joke from the show (a ridiculous app created by character Jian-Yang) now is a real, working app you can download for your iPhone. Marketed as a “Shazam of food” on the show, the app only does one thing — it tells you what is, or is not, a hotdog. Take a picture of an object with you phone, and using artificial intelligence, the app will tell you “hotdog!” or “not hotdog!” It worked well when I tried it out, correctly identifying my foot and a cherry as “not hotdog!” and a picture of a hotdog I found online as “hotdog!”
Run the numbers:
Who is the country’s least popular public company CEO? Oscar Munoz, CEO of United, according to a new report by San Mateo-based business insights platform Owler, which gave him a score of 21.5 out of 100. The rankings, based on more than a quarter million inputs from Owler community members, come shortly after United faced a global backlash over a viral video showing police dragging a passenger off an overbooked United flight. Marissa Mayer of Yahoo is the second most-disliked CEO, followed by Marcelo Claure of Sprint and John Legere of T-Mobile. Meg Whitman of Hewlett Packard Enterprise wasn’ t far above them, with a score of 43.7 out of 100.
Who scored the best? Craig Jelinek of Costco, followed by Arne Sorenson of Marriott.
Bill Gates fired off a tweetstorm of inspiration this week, offering advice to students graduating college and venturing out into the real world. He started off by suggesting they go into artificial intelligence, energy or biosciences, and then wrote that there are a few things he wishes he had known when he left college:
“Intelligence takes many different forms. It is not one-dimensional. And not as important as I used to think. I also have one big regret: When I left school, I knew little about the world’s worst inequities. Took me decades to learn.”
He urged today’s youth to start fighting inequity sooner, and to surround themselves with people who challenge them, teach them and push them to be their best selves.
“Like Warren Buffett, I measure my happiness by whether people close to me are happy and love me, ” he wrote, “& by the difference I make for others.”