Monthly Archives: May 2014

Recent Spike in Altruistic Behavior

Business ideas come in all shapes and sizes, and in this case, social behavior. Recently in the news there have been valid reports of wealthy individuals leaving money hidden in different places throughout cities for people to find and collect via social media. People have been going crazy over this new trend to find money hidden throughout their cities. It’s fun because it’s like a scavenger hunt with a pay off in the end.

What Causes it to Happen
This kind of behavior happens every year around Christmas time when random strangers will go into a wal-mart and pay off someone’s lay-way items. The news channels now like to start on this story as early as possible because it begins a trend right away. Part of the effect is that people enjoying watching those kinds of news stories but also because they do something else to viewers, it creates a feelings inside them that encourages them to go do the same thing. This is called the “CopyCat Effect.” It’s the same reason certain violent actions happen after watching someone else do that from the news that pushes another to go out and do the same thing only this time the effect is larger because of the positive behavior.

If you have participated already in finding some money then you understand how great of a feeling it can be to know that someone else used their money to give back to others so it encourages that person to pay it forward. In Austin people are encouraged to become their own givers by placing money around town. For many who find the money it has helped them tremendously because so many are in need of help. For those that are giving away the money, it creates a trend for others to help one another and that is what one program is encouraging others to do. If they find an envelope with cash in it then they should take a portion of that money and either add to it or pay it forward by posting on their website a clue as to where they placed it next.

Playing Catchup
If this is the first time you are hearing about this trend then maybe you should spend more time on social media or watching the news. If you would like to be someone who wants to help another person you can join in. If you are someone who is in need of cash then you can join in as well. The idea is to help one another by Paying It Forward, whether you are giving it away or finding it.

This is where it got started
Millionaire Gives away Money

If you live in Austin you can participate too
Read about the trend here

Check out the website Moolah Mystery
Sign up and register and then start following the website and twitter account
The people who run the website would like for you to post selfies with any cash you find. This is to show others that the program is real but also to spread good cheer.
Remember as a registered member you can give away money as well.

What these web developers have done for Austin is create a whole new way of doing business for the good of everyone. Remember your business model can be anything you want it to be and even though they are giving away money in the form of cash, there are other components at play in what they are doing. The individuals who created Moolah Mystery said they had been working on it for over 2 years to get it right. Although it looks easy enough, it is hard for a trend to catch on but giving away free money helps too. Good Luck!

Read more about the trend
More News Here

Twitter Helps Push the Trend
Donor Givers People The Hunt

NuVu Studio: Kids shouldn’t have to wait to learn the fun stuff

There is a special school in Cambridge that proves that teens can be taught the same things that most students don’t learn until they are at a Master’s level. So far the students have worked on some amazing projects that incorporate engineering and design principles without the feeling that they are. The unique aspect to this program is that the focus of their projects is from a creative-learning perspective instead of just math and science.

The results so far have shown that the students are very capable of performing at that level using some very creative applications. Not all the projects the students work on are math and science related; they cover a variety of areas that are normally reserved for higher learning, a field that needs to open up more towards young adults instead of restricting themselves as they currently do.

The Innovation School
The school was created by Saeed Arida, David Wang and Saba Ghole (watch her TED Talk). You can discover and learn more about the program through their website. Everything they are creating is applied towards their dissertation. You will see that all their projects cover a variety of areas, so it is not just one field they focus on, students are able to apply different principles on any subject.

Creating new ways of learning is difficult in an age where all the answers are found online today. It’s very easy for a child to simply look up the answer online and claim it as something they understand without any real effort in learning. Schools like this challenge students to apply higher end principles to projects they are interested in. A student who learns the structure of DNA shouldn’t have to wait until they are in graduate school to work on a project that interests them. This program provides the guidance needed to help a student like that get started on their idea right away, something they can keep building on as they work their way up the higher education chain.

NuVu Studio

NuVu Studio YouTube Page

TechCrunch News

Can middle and high school students be engineers too?

Collection of Innovation Videos

Saba Ghole talks about nurturing a beginner’s mind

LittleBits is the Lego’s of Today

[Article Updated 7/24/2014]

If you ever wanted to teach your kids how electronics works it can get pretty confusing but with LittleBits they have made the process just as much fun as playing with legos, the only difference is once they are done building they can see their project come to life.

In the video on TechCrunch website you watch a video to see just how the product works. This is a great way to see if this is something your math and science student need for the summer. You can build from their kits and add to them.

LittleBits helps make building things fun while at the same time learning engineering principles along with math and science. Kids, as well as adults, can benefit from learning how electronics work early on.

You can watch additional videos on other kits that LIttleBits offer.

Find out more about littlebits

If you would like to purchase your own LittleBits kits you can do so here
Purchase and Build your kits Today

LittleBits Website
LittleBits Twitter
LittleBits YouTube Page
Ayah, Founder of LittleBits Twitter Page

Littlebits is now Cloud-Enabled

Littlebits Lets you build Smart Home

Solar Powered Highways with Built-In Heat Pads & LED Lights

[Updated: 6/18/2014]
New Portion down below with updated links.

Now that solar powered panels are publicly available to anyone it’s not surprising the ideas that people come up with. Scott and Julie Brusaw came up with the idea of replacing asphalt roads with solar panels that have built-in heat and LED lights. Their idea has enabled them to create an indiegogo account to help raise funds for their project. Infact they have also received funding from the Federal Highway Administration. They have already built several prototypes to showcase how they work. Their hard work has paid off in ways they never imagined.

Designing a system to replace highways and roads and pretty much anything with asphalt has lots of opportunities for use. Schools will be able to change the configuration of any area into their choice of play or use. Roads will be able to display the lighted lanes and crosswalks with flashing announcements ahead of the driver for unexpected objects. Any place with roads will be able to display anything they want, even an emergency helipad for search and rescue operations because the LED lights allow for any display. This will help cut down on the use of paint on roads. In order to get a better idea of how they work, watch the video below.

The number of views on that video show just how interested people are in creating sustainable highways that pay for themselves. Roads and highways that don’t have to be salted or cleared every time it snows would save cities millions of dollars a year. Less accidents with drivers hitting animals because the LED lights would light up anytime an object appears on the road. The cost saving benefits are too much to pass up and this is why they were able to exceed their crowdfunding goal of $1 million dollars. You can watch their Indiegogo video below to see how you can be apart of this great idea.

Scott’s idea of creating solar panel highways is one that has taken a lifetime to unfold. His work is one that many consider to be quite the game changer in how we maintain our highways and because they use the internet to convey information, something only a hand-ful of cities have and not at the extent of Scott’s idea, they will be able to save lives and help drivers make better decisions. You can learn more about Scott’s idea at a TEDx talk he gave, down below are the two videos that make up his speech.

The video includes other ideas he has for solar panel highways. It is great to see though how much support he has gotten for his work and hopefully within the next twenty years we will start to see his idea come to life within cities.

If you want to become a part of this great project check out all the links down below.

George Takei gives his support
Make a Donation
Solar Roadways Website
Solar Roadways Twitter
TechCrunch News on Solar Roadways

Note for Entrepreneurs
In watching what Scott has created for himself you will notice that he took matters into his own hands by creating solar panels that have multiple uses. You will notice that he did not create a company to sell to investors just to get funding. He focused on his product and worked hard to showcase how it works on his property at home. This allowed him total freedom to do what he wanted with his product without any strings attached from corporate investors. You will notice that he took a piece of his land and built a foundation to demonstrate how he built it, how it works, and the many uses for it.

Entrepreneurs who are interested in building a product should focus on making it a reality first and make sure it works the way it is suppose to before trying to raise any money. People want to see first what it is suppose to do with a working model before donating. Once you have several examples, like Scott created with all his Youtube videos, then you can start putting together a campaign to raise funds. This will allow you to side step the need for Venture Capitalist’s, whose goal is only for their self interests in returning a profit for themselves, and focus on raising money from people who are only concerned about making sure your product and business take off.

The direction that Scott took has paid off because he was able to pass his goal of $1 million, thanks in part to George Takei’s tweet, which means he will now be able to put into production his product. Right now Scott will be working on changing the roads for national forest areas which will prove helpful with animal crossings and fallen trees and rocks.

The idea is to put in all the hard work first, which is something you cannot avoid, and make it a working model. Once you have that down, then you can start putting together a demonstration video and once you’ve done that you can start to build a social media campaign to help raise awareness.

If you have been keeping up with this blog then you know that for anything to really take off, there has to be some influencer in the social media world that will help get an idea off the ground, and in this case, it was Mr. Takei’s tweet that created the spark needed for Scott to reach his goal. Now if you do a search on solar panels and Scott you will see dozens of articles written about his work. As an Entrepreneur, it is your job to build it first and then do everything else after.

Updated Portion
This article, after writing it, became the most popular one on this site. Infact it has been viewed more times than all the other articles written on this site and for good reason. Scott’s idea has now taken off so far from his goal that he will be putting his dream into action by next year because the city of Sandpoint, Idaho has asked him to replace all of their city sidewalks, an airport tarmac, a welcome center parking lot, and Amtrak Station platform. Other cities from around the US and world have already invited him to speak about his idea and many have made offers for him to bring his idea to their city.

From a boy who played with electric race car tracks as a 6 year old who dreamed of making all roads electric he has now gotten the attention of many government officials and cities around the world looking to improve their road and highways with his idea.

If you want to learn more about his recent goals, offers, & new business strategy, click here

Here is Scott and his wife with Bill Nye at the White House for his work

Show your Support with Solar Roadways Support Twitter Account

Need to turn your selfie into a piece of art? There’s an app for that

It’s no surprise that there are all kinds of apps out there that do some amazing things, infact, research labs are at work trying to combine all sorts of famous techniques into a portable app to use whenever and make the person using the app look like a genius.

Researchers at MIT have created an app that combines the famous photography techniques of famous artists and use those styles to make your selfie look better. Is such an app really needed? For those interested in learning how the app works, yes, but for the younger generation their lack of art history will keep their attention focused on apps that offer “filters” instead of famous photography techniques.

What makes this app so different? You can change the lighting on the face, transfer the style of certain photographers onto your image, and add certain styles upon styles to the face.

The app is not currently available but stay up-to-date with the researcher, YiChang Shih, on when it will be on the market. You can watch the video below to see how it works.

Read more about the app here

Can you identify the viral component in each video?

Viral videos are fun to watch because they have something that makes us so interested in watching them, sometimes over and over again. It now has become an art to create videos that spread like wildfire. But what makes viral videos spread so fast? In a previous article written it was discussed that awe-inspired is one component that makes something go viral but what about videos that look basic on the outside? Why do they go viral? Note- all original videos had millions of hits.

Watch these videos and try to identify each video’s special trait. Feel free to post your answers down below. Ex: Name of video with Viral traits next to it.

This man, Dan Berber, created a doggy paradise by creating self-powered wooden trend mills. In the video below it has caught on like fire just recently with so many people impressed at what he has done for dogs. If you like that watch his swimming video for dogs.

There are videos where the <insert trait here> just goes off the charts that you can’t help but watch it a few more times. These kinds of videos catch on for a couple of reasons and it’s the reason they are able to rack up millions of hits so quickly. These two girls posted a video of them just singing a song they like and they ended being flown over to Los Angeles to appear on the Ellen show and now they are a regular part of Ellen’s show and appear in TV shows now. All because of that first video they posted.

Then there are videos where you are just amazed at the talent that pours out of it that you begin to wonder why you haven’t learned that yourself. In these two videos you see children performing very complex dance routines.

Then there are the videos that you wonder, at first, why you would need to watch them but then you realize they offer something that is useful in the end. After watching them you realize why they were viral hits in the first place. In the two videos below you are shown a new way of doing something you have done many times before but now in a more efficient manner. The second video will correct a mistake you’ve probably been making since you first saw it.

Now we move on to these kinds of videos and why they go viral. There is no need in explaining why, infact, out of the millions of videos that are out there on the subject I decided to only post one because this article would never end if I included the best.

Whether you are looking to find the best viral videos or make your own for your company or to practice, it’s not an easy feat. Infact some videos create more videos because of people’s reactions just as these viral videos did. Can you find out why?

What made this video go viral so fast?

What was the real story behind this film?

This video sparked a nationwide debate on beauty, but what did it do for the brand?

This video helped change the course of political debate during elections in Mexico, why?

Music videos are another that have viral components to them. Some happen because of a death by the singer or the song is so catchy that it takes off, or is the latest trend in music.

If you were able to identify all the components in each video give yourself a pat on the back. It means you are able to understand some of the new marketing tactics that viral videos have created. It’s no longer the case that you have a great product or service in order to get people to watch, there has to be other characteristics in the video in order for people to share it with others. Once you know what they are then you will be able to get your name out there faster.

I will post answers to each video next week.

Reading Rainbow makes a Comeback via KickStarter Campaign

[Article Updated] 5/31/2014
In the time since this article was written, Levar Burton was able to surpass his goal of $1 million dollars, which currently stands at $3 million and growing. Their new goal is set for $5 million since they still have 32 days left in their crowdfunding campaign. Might as well make the best of it, right? Glad to see so many to a show that gave so much to kids who watched it when it was on TV.

Remember the days when you could turn on PBS and watch Levar Burton teach you about new books, tell you stories, and go on adventures in your mind? Those were the days when learning to read was fun and interesting. I still remember the intro in my head and so did most of your friends at school. It’s what connected kids at school together, common TV shows we all watched together at home. Now you don’t have that anymore. Take a look back at a song that most kids could sing back word for word.

Brought back some memories of sitting in front of that TV and singing along didn’t it? Levar made reading fun and interesting, something most kids don’t get anymore. They have no physical connection with books today unless they have great parents who make it a habit to visit the public library once a week.

Funding for reading programs today goes to low income kids primarily. The question of “how do we get kids interested in reading” back in 1983 turned into “how do we get kids to read, period?” in 2009. This shows a lack of respect for teaching kids to read. It’s not enough that schools should be required to teach kids to read, it should primarily come from the parents. In order to use the internet one must be able to read unless all they use it for is to watch tv or movies or play video games. Mr. Burton stated, “Right now, 1 out of every 4 children in America will grow up illiterate.” How do we expect to compete with countries like Japan, China, and India where they beat us in math, science, and technology every year? Children need to not only learn how to read but to learn that it is FUN to read.

Change in Direction
In less than a day, a feat that has only been accomplished a few times on kickstarter, Levar Burton was able to meet his goal of $1 million dollars to bring back the Reading Rainbow program. As of writing this article, over $70 thousand was raised. Instead of on TV, it will now be on the web, in classrooms, and on tablets. For a long time now there has been an app of Reading Rainbow but Levar felt there needs to be more involvement and in order to make that happen he decided to raise the funds with today’s crowdfunding options. It’s great to say that he met his goal and is well pass the mark since yesterday. Chances are he will get back more than he expected but that should not come as a surprise because he gave millions of children who watched his show for three decades the idea that reading is fun, something no dollar amount can match. He created a video for his campaign, watch below.

Great ending on the video if you know who that person is. Children still do not read as much as they should for various reasons but Reading Rainbow was a show that brought different books to you and made it fun. If Reading Rainbow impacted your life in anyway share your thoughts below in the comment section.

Find out who else donated

Opposing Views
Reading Rainbow is not the only program out there encouraging kids to read, First Book and Children’s Literacy Initiative, are a few others but they operate in a different way than how Reading Rainbow works now. Reading Rainbow was a program brought to you by PBS, a program that was free paid for by grants and other funding. First Book and Children’s Literacy are non-profits whose aim is to foster reading in children not for profit.

In one way there is a view that Kickstarter should be used to develop struggling startups from the public not for for-profit entities, which Reading Rainbow now claims for itself. Those should be high praise marks because it is For-Profit companies that know how to make their product and service last longer because that is the point of their business model. If it wasn’t for For-Profit companies, non-profits wouldn’t have anyone else to beg for money from, besides the government. Why should non-profits have to keep asking for money all the time? Shouldn’t they learn how to survive on their own? For-Profits have and they are doing great. Prices go up because costs keep going up so they improve. Non-Profits only get better at asking for money and selling small things here and there.

Reading Rainbow will be able to offer more innovative programs now that they are no longer begging for money anymore. They have come up with different ways of generating money for all their different programs. One of their programs will be for teachers to use their special tools in classrooms with a monthly subscription, whereas, schools in poor performing areas will have access to their resources for free, so there is a balance still of making sure those who need it the most get what they need and those that can afford to pay, do.

Should you donate?

A Legacy Lives On
Whether you grew up watching the show or not, it has a special place in our hearts for what Levar Burton brought into this world for children, and even adults learning to read. He taught us that the best adventures happen in our head from the words on the pages. He taught us that we can be anyone we want when he go on the adventures in all those books. So whether you want to contribute because you want one of the special prizes he is giving away or would like to give back to a show that gave you so much, each is good enough because it will go to help a new generation of kids learn how to read in a fun and engaging way. I will never forget coming home from school waiting for the program to come on and the endless hours watching that show.

You can adopt a classroom or have a private dinner with him or appear on the show, any one of those prizes can be had for a special donation. Check out his kickstarter page and see just how big of an impact he really had and to learn more about what he wants to do now.

His online kickstarter campaign will probably break his goal by twice that amount. He will be able to fund his program and give kids the ability to read at their grade level which will benefit the rest of their life.

All I have to say is Thanks Levar Burton for making reading fun, I especially enjoyed all you taught me growing up. This also includes a nod to Mister Roger’s Neighbor program.

Contribute Now

KickStarter Campaign

Reading Rainbow News
Washington Post
Mashable News
ABC News