South Jersey Startup Roundup: Plas.md, LincSphere and Linked Noodle

Photo: Souders' second product, SHARD, will allow teachers to recreate a microbiology lab using virtual reality, he says. Photo Credit: Courtesy Plas.md
Souders' second product, SHARD, will allow teachers to recreate a microbiology lab using virtual reality, he says. | Courtesy Plas.md

Plas.md: Vance Souders is the founder of Plas.md, a creative wellness studio in Camden that’s currently working on two very different projects: Bionautica and SHARD. Bionautica is in the digital health space, while SHARD is a new concept that uses Bluetooth and beacons to provide medical personnel context-relevant information about patients when it’s needed most.

On its website the company says, “At Plas.md, our goal is to create targeted applications and experiences that, much like the biological version, enhance wellness, improve performance and enable individuals across the world to attain the highest quality of life.

“Our design process leverages the strengths of mobile and wearable platforms in conjunction with indoor mapping technologies to create context aware experiences that provide the right information at the right time to delight the user and affect behavior change. We pride ourselves on developing innovative solutions that push the limits at the intersection of design, engineering and health care.”

Souders' background is in the entertainment (serious gaming) and health market spaces.

Bionautica uses the technologies in Microsoft Band and Apple Watchto drive the experience. Souders' goal is to get a minimum viable product into the Windows store this summer. Plas.md plans to expand its platform in the future to allow users to relive their favorite cinematic action movies while working out on a treadmill.

As Souders expands his company, his second product, SHARD, will allow teachers to recreate a microbiology lab using virtual reality. “The idea is to create a story-based environment for kids to learn microbiology who wouldn’t have access to the required resources and technologies. Our goal is to create an environment where people can learn fundamental problem solving using technology.”  he said.

Photo: Chris Owens, founder LincSphere. Photo Credit: Courtesy Chris Owens
Chris Owens, founder LincSphere. | Courtesy Chris Owens

LincSphere: Chris Owens, founder and CEO of LincSphere (Pennsauken), describes his mobile app as "Like Batman’s utility belt, but for networking." The app is a complete productivity tool that was specifically created to manage networking relationships.

In Owens’ previous life, he spent his time networking for his Web design company. He realized that, while he was meeting a ton of great people, the relationships weren’t being nurtured. “A majority of the networking tools that exist today, including on LinkedIn, are focused on the front 20 percent of networking — finding and initially connecting with people,” he said. “However, very few networking-related apps are focused on the other 80 percent — building those relationships. That's where you get the most ROI.

“When building relationships, individuals spend a ton of time shaking hands and giving out their business cards. Then they come back home or to their office with a stack of cards, and maybe send a few LinkedIn requests, but that’s about it. When the next event rolls around, they repeat the same process. Yes, they might get some business, but it’s slow and frustrating."

Most of the work in networking happens after the event, said Owens. “Generally, people aren’t focusing on that because it’s difficult.”  With LincSphere, Owens wants to help people build relationships correctly by focusing on what he calls "generosity-based networking.”

LincSphere has been under development for two and a half years. The iPhone version just went live on the app store, and LincSphere is currently looking to raise a seed round.

Photo: Katrina Naidas pitched at the Waterfront Ventures conference. Photo Credit: Waterfront Ventures
Katrina Naidas pitched at the Waterfront Ventures conference. | Waterfront Ventures

Linked Noodle: Marlton-based Linked Noodle (which has no website yet) is an online platform that connects students to local teachers.

According to founder Katrina Naidas, the terms “student” and “teacher” aren’t solely defined in the way people normally think. Linked Noodle isn’t just an education platform for scholarly initiatives. At its core, it’s a place for individuals to learn more about a particular hobby they’re interested in.

At college, Naidas was the type of individual who simply went to school, did her classwork, and then came home to work on a few of her hobbies. The hobbies she’s still interested in are drawing, writing, sewing, dancing, piano and much more. So when Naidas was trying to get better at some of her favorite hobbies, she wanted to find a way not only to learn from other people, but to also teach other people what she knew.

With social platforms like Instagram, YouTube and even Facebook, learning is one-dimensional, but Naidas said that Linked Noodle takes away all of the formalities and barriers that come with these platforms.

Naidas pitched for the first time at last month’s Waterfront Ventures conference, where she won third prize. The app is still in development, as she’s currently refining the prototype, but she hopes to be fully funded by this fall.

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