Startup Roundup: Jumblzar and Voice RT

Photo: Christine Curatolo launched Jumblzar recently. Photo Credit: NJTechGals
Christine Curatolo launched Jumblzar recently. | NJTechGals

Jumblzar: NJTechWeekly.com has learned from Jumblzar (Hoboken) founder Christine Curatolo that her e-commerce company had a soft launch this week with mothers belonging to The Mommies Network in the North Carolina communities of Lake Norman, Charlotte, Triad (Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem) and Triangle (Orange County), as well as in Richmond, Va.

Jumblzar is an invitation-only marketplace where local mothers’ groups can buy, sell and trade items such as baby gear and maternity clothing with other moms in their communities who are linked to local mothers’ groups.

“It’s going well,” Curatolo told us. “We have several members who are already posting and buying items,” she added.

Curatolo is known in the N.J. tech community as a founder of the new NJ Tech Gals meetup, which has quickly amassed 175 members in only a few months.

Jumblzar will expand to other mothers’ networks, such as Mommies 247 in Hoboken and two other N.J. communities, said Curatolo. Other partner networks will be located in Princeton and Atlanta. “We’ve collected invitations from many large mommy networks in more than 100 cities nationwide,” she continued.

Scaling isn’t a problem for the new company. The technology can “scale to all the mommy networks we’ve invited to join us in our initial launch,” Curatolo told us. The Mommies Network has about 36,000 members nationwide, while Mommies 247 has about 5,500, she said. “Those are the first two we will launch to, although we have several others pending that I am not ready to announce yet,” she added.

Said Curatolo, “We are really transparent. People are posting on our Facebook page, and we are immediately addressing what they are saying. We’ve been able to quickly respond to recommendations community members have made.”

What are Minds For: NJIT Enterprise Development Center (Newark) company What Are Minds For is introducing its first product, an app that uses voice commands to an iPhone to control the Radio Thermostat CT80. A video demo for the app can be found here. Founder and owner Michael Liguori is calling the app Voice RT, and it is immediately available from the iTunes Store, he told NJTechWeekly.com.

The key to Voice RT is its natural user interface. Users can press the microphone button to say “Raise the temperature,” “Heat my house” or “Make it hotter” to the app on the iPhone, and the temperature in the house will be raised. “You can even say something complex like ‘Set the temperature to 72 degrees on Monday morning at 7:15 a.m.,’ ” Liguori told us. “The technology accommodates phrase independence, so the end user doesn’t have to know anything.”

The app includes many other commands for setting the temperature, using the scheduler for the days of the week, setting modes and more.  What Are Minds For focuses on providing an enhanced user experience by integrating voice interfaces into hardware. It does that by translating spoken sentences to machine-actionable commands. The company has partnered with another N.J. company, iSpeech (Newark), that provides speech recognition and text-to-speech for Voice RT.

Liguori is using his proprietary interface based on object memory management systems, pervasive middleware that lets electronic devices understand the user. He explained his marketing philosophy to us: the Radio Thermostat CT80 has been out for several years, he said, and he wants to reach the people who have already purchased it. Once he can gauge reaction to the app, he expects to seek strategic partnerships with intelligent Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat manufacturers. Liguori said he recently raised a family-and-friends round of funding to support the launch.

Voice RT can be downloaded for free from the app store. With Wi-Fi, the thermostat costs about $250 if purchased directly from the manufacturer.

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