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Comfy Robotics, a Wholehearted CRM, and the [VR] Space of Sound

Comfy Robotics, a Wholehearted CRM, and the [VR] Space of Sound

by Jeremiah ShackelfordSeptember 20, 2016
   Sometimes we’re so set on finding a theme, that the most important ones evade our recognition. Well, I decided to do one on people in our age of ‘underlying tech’, more specifically, those at Disrupt this year and [un]knowingly at the heart of the underlying-business therein. The following 3 companies have people that caught my attention, not because they’re arrogantly aware of their SeriesA from TopVCx, or even because they’re beyond confident their particular value-add is going to cause a HUGE shift in their industry/sector, but because it was easy for me to see they’re happy-beings doing good. It is the happiness that we seek. In seed- and early-stage startups particularly, there is little more important after the gap a particular app/software product bridges or markedly improves upon. Why do you think all the ol’ timers on Sand Hill Road harp neverending on ‘spending time with young people’? It’s because regardless how momentous the journey (and even returns), the people you experience it with are what you remember. The folks from Comfy (Building Robotics), Salesflare, and Soundspace all fit the bill. Be it Oakland, Antwerp, or Columbus, Ohio; the efforts and engagement demonstrated by these hopefuls shined thru amongst all those I met at #TCDisrupt this year.
“not because they’re arrogantly aware of their SeriesA from TopVCx … but because it was easy for me to see they’re happy-beings doing good.”
   As Benioff was quick to point out in Day 2 of the conference: “It takes more than great product to make a great company”, and as quite literally Chief among those who try to live by it, he is spot-on as we try to frame/mend a much bigger riff among the tech perception. While I know of NO OTHER CEO that invests in this reality more (although admittedly I have a 5 yr-old and the Benioff Children’s Hospital is a couple blocks from my apt), it is both top-down AND bottom-up where we can make the biggest impact on the masses in the middle.

Comfy Robotics

   Where should we bridge the human-mind and its robotics/AI/ML misgivings? I think there is an argument to be made for the most simple applications around which trust can be earned. Case in point: I will trust AIrobot123 with my thermostat before I hand over the keys to my car. Comfy gets it. As advanced as their collective team can climb is NOT the answer out of the gate. As reliable, seamless, and helpful as their collective team can conjure is that initial objective. Comfy has dedicated those resources to its untraditional take on ‘productivity software’, which allows employees to collectively control their office environment. And with customers like Johnson Controls, Google, and WeWork, it would appear the strategy is working.
   At large conferences with so many people trying to attract your attention, I find it useful to peruse the demo floor (Startup Alley in this case) both empty and full. You learn different things. The fact that ‘comfy’ and ‘robotics’ were intentionally being paired drew me in even before I signalled I was open to chatting. It’s exactly the type of logical contrast I hold dear [not to mention an immensely fruitful arena for finding Truths], and getting comfortable with smart machines/systems is exactly what we as a populous need-be making ourselves familiar. In the end, those that oppose the ‘autonomous Ubers’ of the world might as well give up their old, unsafe, polluting vehicles as well, that at least is a protest that might be heard. You neverporridge see that though, do you? In fact, it would be so enlightening to see just how high the percentage is for self-proclaimed luddites that never go without their smartphones. Convenience and efficiency win, it just helps to be presented as such. I mean is it so bad that excessive energy will no longer be wasted in getting the porridge (or office temperature) just right? I think not.
“there is an argument to be made for the most simple applications around which trust can be earned.”

 A Wholehearted CRM

   Salesflare’s motto: ‘Input less data, make more sales.’ And as anyone that has been responsible for keeping their team’s Salesforce data current will tell you … well, that’s the whole burden isn’t it? Input = output. It’s a fundamental truth, in some ways THE fundamental truth, in our physical, chemical, biological, and now technological worlds. The anti-intuitive beauty that we’re about to tap into as a species/society is that instantaneously calling on various libraries/applications/databases on the [Inter]network will appear to cheat this First Law in the physical realm. It’s not cheating though, it’s the ultimate example we humans have found in optimizing input to attain seemingly impossible output. There REALLY is no reason to reinvent the wheel, or the turn-key solution, or the knowledge of our predecessors. That is what Salesflare is trying to do for the CRM and your sales team. Ever felt the frustration of an account/opportunity NOT automatically revealing itself in the system given how much time and effort it has consumed in your inbox and life? Those explicitly manual times will hopefully be coming to an end soon enough. Forget duplicate entries being a problem, no manual entry should be necessary in the first place. From the data in your inbox, or most certainly from the collective inboxes of your immediate team, the most likely if not biggest opportunities arise ‘naturally’, ‘organically’, or whatever biological term you wish to use, and that is as it should be.


Deviced by Salesflare

  Your top sales people absolutely know what accounts are priorities, so why isn’t your dumb CRM at least cognizant that they exist? And once they exist (perhaps from a notification a user confirms), it can certainly ascertain a great deal of background info (location, funding, media coverage, etc). THIS is what a symbiotic relationship looks like, NOT your top performers being distracted from that performance to manually input details that in all likelihood does NOT bring them any closer to closing the deal. It simply provides visibility to his/her manager and organization. Don’t get me wrong, transparency is vital to learning how a system works and managing it efficiently, but that baseline transparency should be automatic. It is from there, a seamless data flow between sales and marketing, that your analytics guys will start to get excited. Asking commission-based employees to focus on something that doesn’t improve their bottom line is an inherent flaw in most sales models. Salesflare is an opportunity to correct that flaw.

“no manual entry should be necessary in the first place … that baseline transparency should be automatic.”

The [VR] Space of Sound

What does VR sound like? Anything you want. Better yet, anything you can imagine and create. That is the magic of Soundspace. These guys made their global debut at Disrupt this year, and they were gracious enough to set up a private demo for me. It was much appreciated and genuinely inspiring at that. I am not a musician despite my Mom’s best efforts, nor am I a guitar-hero, but Soundspace got me going. [What can I say, that VR sh!t is cray.] There are VERY interesting things coming. My zone, your zone, our [VR] zone if we so choose. Sampling on Mars with a flock of neon flamingos setting off grape soda volcanos amongst your own #MadMax Burning Man entourage? Why not. Completely silent session to start with nothing but you walking on the Moon while Earth rises on the horizon? Not a problem. The short of it: the ‘Powerglove’ just got a serious upgrade and companies like Soundspace are making it happen. You could safely say HTC is helping as well, and as they and Oculus and others double and triple down on getting the hardware right, the frontend applications, dare I say worlds, being created are set to shine. Shine and deliver, and calling it an experience as in UX sells VR short. It’s far more.


‘don’t just guide the action. You’re [in] the action.’

  There are musicians that live in the music. There are certainly those that play and party there. Soundspace opens that up to those of us not so inclined. It really does. A bit difficult to describe, but all I can say is that our sense of sound, in harmony with sight, is set to be enhanced.  You know those silly, silent dj parties where everyone walks around with earphones on, and you can’t help but say/think ‘that kind of defeats the point for me’. Well this doesn’t. It defines the point, a new point in our tech frontier I would say. I don’t know what the Pokemon GO soundtrack looks like, but that’s ok, because I would rather create my own.
About The Author
Jeremiah Shackelford
Jeremiah Shackelford
Jeremiah Shackelford, Business & Market Developer