Interview with Vitrium: enhance your PDFs with DRM, tracking, and analytics

January 16, 2009

To mix things up a little and expand beyond the Silicon Valley startup world, this week’s episode features a Canadian startup called Vitrium Systems. Vitrium has two key product offerings: Protectedpdf, a digital rights management solution for preventing illegal redistribution of electronic content; and their latest product, Docmetrics, a tool for electronic document tracking and analytics.

In this interview, I had the opportunity to speak with Peter Nieforth, Co-Founder & CEO of Vitrium. Our discussion focuses on Docmetrics, a flash application that can be integrated with any PDF and used to track key usage statistics, including when the document was read, how many pages were read, the time spent on each page, if the document was printed, etc. It also includes an optional embedded form to capture responses directly from the reader, allowing document distributors to learn more about their customers and collect sales leads. There are currently over 30,000 published PDFs that utilize Docmetrics, which is impressive considering that the product launched less than a year ago.

In addition to discussing Vitrium’s products and technologies, Peter shares his perspective on the entrepreneurial climate and venture capital environment in Vancouver vs. Silicon Valley. He also discusses his personal background and gives some advice on balancing work and family, so be sure to check out the video!

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Interview with Polaris Wireless: software-based positioning for your mobile phone

December 19, 2008

In this interview, I had the opportunity to speak with Manlio Allegra, Co-Founder & CEO of Polaris Wireless, a startup company that provides a software-based location system for mobile phones.  Their technology is fundamentally different from GPS, which requires hardware, and doesn’t work well indoors or in dense urban areas where satellite line-of-sight is difficult to achieve.  The core of the Polaris system is its Wireless Location Signatures (WLS) technology, which is based on the fact that every location has a unique radio frequency (RF) signature, which can be determined by signals from surrounding cell phone towers.  Accuracies of 30-60 meters have been achieved by the Polaris system.

During our conversation, Manlio discusses the WLS technology, covering system calibration, RF signature processing, accuracy, and privacy concerns, as well as new positioning development projects in the works.  He also touches on some business aspects, sharing the challenges of competitors in this space, and highlighting applications that integrate well with the positioning data they provide (public safety / E911, consumer location-based services, etc).

Manlio provides a great comparison of WLS and GPS, and talks about the complementary aspects of the technologies, since WLS works best in dense urban areas, and GPS is strongest in rural regions; a hybrid solution would provide optimum utility to users.  He also mentions that for the millions on the network without GPS hardware, Polaris can provide an easily deployable locating solution where no other option exists.

During the second half of the interview, Manlio focuses on entrepreneurial advice, sharing his insights on network/carrier partnership negotiations, investor selection and communication, and the long runway required for companies in the mobile space.  As a business school graduate from Stanford, he provides step-by-step tips for one’s early career path, including work experience that is beneficial to have before diving into an entrepreneurial venture.

For a visual understanding of how WLS works, check out this cool demo!

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Interview with Replay, Part 2: Secure VC Funding in this Economy

December 5, 2008

In Part 2 of this series on Replay Solutions, Jonathan Lindo first covers his tips for funding a startup, which involve starting with angel investors, networking extensively, and ultimately closing a round of venture capital funding.  He mentions that in today’s economic climate, it’s crucial to be able to demonstrate an exceptionally unique technology, a large user base, or corporate profitability before approaching VCs for funding, in order to create a more compelling case for your startup. Replay just recently succeeded in securing an additional $2M in VC funding, an impressive feat in this economy.

Jonathan also shares his personal background as an engineer and entrepreneur, and provides advice on what it takes to succeed in the startup world, which includes perseverance, stubbornness, and the development of a network of mentors to support you along the way.

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