Tough Mudder: Re-run.

(Several months ago I wrote the blog below about our upcoming Tough Mudder event.   Other than our December Toys for Tots donation day, it was my favorite charity event of the year.   We survived the run, the electric shock and raised money for a great cause.   Unfortunately, the Tough Mudder 2018 has been rescheduled.   So, this year we plan on participating in the Warrior Dash – and again sponsoring Promise 686) 

Preparing for a 12-mile run with obstacles is a serious commitment. Imagine doing it with little to no training at all! The average training window ranges from 12 to 20 weeks. First-time marathoners aim to build weekly mileage up to 50 miles over the four months leading up to race day, requiring about three-to-five runs per week. Runners know that, like marathons, goals require intentional effort and determination ahead of the race.

For example:

  • The effort required to execute and present a large project for your organization involves considerable planning and execution weeks ahead of the actual presentation.
  • Losing weight and gaining muscle mass is only possible through considerable lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, and consistent fitness participation.
  • Writing a book includes heavy research, story outlining, and several drafts before release.

Important commitments require preparation and effort to successfully implement from start to finish by a specific date.

What if there isn’t time to prepare?

This is the experience foster children and families undergo without warning. Competing in a 12-mile course without preparation is nothing compared to the fear and challenges new foster children experience each day. The founder of Promise686Andy Cook, is local to Peachtree Corners, Georgia and well-invested in the local foster care system.

“For their safety, children are unexpectedly removed from their home and their world is turned upside down. The next morning, they awaken to a new reality and loss. The road of foster care is not only tough for the child, but it’s tough for foster parents. Would this job description recruit you? ‘No guarantee of any tangible progress, the high likelihood of emotional turmoil in your home…’ Yet when you talk to foster parents, this is exactly what they knowingly sign up to do. They love a child wholeheartedly and then, most the time, they let that child go.”

It’s tough for foster children and parents.

While foster parents intentionally enrolled in the program, they have no real way to fully prepare for the emotions, entry, and exit of the children they will bring into their home and lives.

This is why we signed up for the Tough Mudder “TOUGH Campaign” with Promise686. Being a foster child or parent is a roller coaster of emotions void of preparation. Just like someone running a marathon without training, foster families hit the ground running and need the support of friends and family to help them make it from start to finish.

“We hope, in its own way, that our efforts will highlight the challenging commitment of foster families and raise essential funds to support these families and the children they serve. There are not enough families for Georgia’s more than 13,000 children in foster care,” said Cook. “Promise686’s goal is to plant foster care ministries in individual churches, raising up hundreds of new foster families – over 100 so far! So while Promise has almost 1000 volunteers currently serving via 105 church partners, we require ongoing resources to equip many more churches, families, and volunteers.”

This year’s Tough Mudder course includes 12 miles and 20+ obstacles. The Promise686 team grew from 16 runners in 2014, to 57 runners in 2015, to 100 runners in 2016! Last year the organization received 842 individual donations, were honored to have 34 corporate sponsors, and overall awareness was raised. This energy brings much needed attention to Georgia’s foster care crisis.

It isn’t too late to sign up for the Tough Mudder course!

You’ll see a collection of friendly faces from Relus, including myselfJosiah DeeganSarah EverettBrandon GrindleSeth HesterDavid Norman, and Sam Dobbins. If you can’t make it this year, you’re also able to donate to the cause.

Join us as we invest in our community and the lives being touched here. Like others who lacked time to prepare, I will be relying heavily on my team to help me make it across the finish line!

 

Note:  In 2018 we will be doing the Warrior Dash.   I hope to see you there supporting Relus and Promise 686.

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The search for HQ-R2!

Amazon’s HQ2 search is narrowing, while the search for HQ-R2 now begins

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, recently narrowed his search for their second headquarters to 20 cities, one of which is Atlanta. “HQ2” as it is being called will bring thousands of high-paying jobs to the winning city, and the high-profile process has encouraged the finalists to roll out the red carpet with billions in incentives to Amazon. Other contenders include New York, Austin, Miami, Chicago, and Toronto to name just a few. These cities all have large populations, and the ability to attract technical talent – a key for Amazon’s continued growth.

atlanta.PNG

But, with only 1 winner, there will be 19 losers in the process. But have no fear, if your city is not selected, there is still a chance to earn the coveted HQ-R2. Yes, I am of course talking about the second headquarters for AWS Premier Partner, Relus Cloud. Hosting HQ-R2 could mean big things for your city, and it won’t cause you to go through an extensive (and expensive) bidding process to be a contender. Currently headquartered in Peachtree Corners, GA, Relus will outgrow its current facilities in the next two years and could be coming to your city soon.

In fact, in only 21 years, Relus will be larger than our partner AWS (Amazon Web Services). How is this possible? Well, this statement of course assumes that we continue at our current 100% annual growth rate, and that AWS continues to grow at “only” 40% per year. If current projections remain true, in 20 years we will be a $10 Trillion company and AWS will be at $12 Trillion. The following year, 2039, we will surpass them and become the world’s first $20 Trillion company (like I said, contingent on these current growth patterns). This is the power of exponential growth! All of that being said, if you believe in Relus (like I do), the value presented in winning the ability to host HQ-R2 is evident. So don’t worry if your city has been kicked out of the running to win the coveted AWS HQ2, you can still become the host city of Relus HQ-R2 and bring your city the pride (and job growth) associated with hosting such a large and successful company!

Please contact my assistant, Alexa, if you want your city to be considered for this highly coveted 2nd Relus headquarters! P.S. If you want to change your iconic building colors to Cloud Blue (like New York did to try and woo Amazon) we would not object! Or changing a name like Pittsburgh to Relusburgh might also help.

In the first two years, the winning city could expect 10’s of jobs created! Though we have yet to be contacted, or gotten any official bids, we would certainly accept applications from all the same cities on the Amazon list, and many others which might include:

  • Auburn, Alabama – home of the Tigers, and greatest little city on the plains, and home to Mike and Ed’s Barbecue.
  • Panama City Beach, FL – Airbrush specialists make great coders, and close to 30-A, best beach in the South.
  • Lafayette,  Louisiana – a college town with great commutes to the office.
  • Charleston SC – Old Southern charm, and great food

All jokes aside, we actually are planning to grow at over 100% in 2018 – it will be an exciting year for Relus Cloud. To continue at this pace, we are rapidly hiring superstars that fit our company values, and have a sense of humor.

Relus Cloud is currently hiring in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Nashville, and Texas.

Positions Include:

  • Senior Cloud Architect (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, NYC)
  • Senior Cloud Data Architect (Atlanta)
  • Senior Cloud Executive (Austin, Nashville, NYC)
  • Senior Solutions Architect (Chicago, NYC)
  • Director of Marketing
  • Sales Development Representative
  • Cloud Sales Manager
  • Cloud Project Manager

**View all job opportunities here***

 

Forget IoT, join the latest megatrend of IoB!

Maybe compared to IoT, the Internet of Things, the new trend IoB hasn’t quite hit Mega-trend status yet, but it is super-cool nonetheless.   Yes, I am talking about the IoB – The Internet of Bicycles.  Over the last year I have been riding the Expresso Bike at the YMCA.  Does anyone remember those bikes with a pedal-controlled fan?  They looked like a bicycle attached to a caged ceiling fan. Pedaling faster not only added  resistance but cooled  you off in the process.   Well – the Expresso bike is about a million times cooler.

   Vintage Schwinn Airdyne Ergometer Gold Exercise Bike LOCAL PICK UP ONLY

Yes, this is an independent assessment – I don’t work for Expresso Bikes.    But, through riding it, I have realized that technology has the power to disrupt every business in the world,  from Healthcare, Finance, Retail, Manufacturing, and even the not-so-huge industry of “stationary bike riding”.   So, let me tell you about the Expresso bike – and give you my vision of the next generation of bicycles.    My opinion: these bikes are awesome, but with the confluence of cloud, big data, and mobile technologies, there are lots of possibilities for a next generation of stationary cycling.   I am guessing Expresso is working on some of these ideas already – if not, one of their competitors certainly will.

With the current generation of Expresso bike, I can log on and track my progress.   I can ride 40 virtual courses, some relatively flat, and some are full of hills.  And, like those video games where you sit in a car and race those around you, this has the same concept, allowing me to race others on the same network.   However, Expresso took it one step further.   They keep track of my best rides on every single course – so I am always shooting for my personal best time.   When I ride a particular course, I see a virtual “ghost” from my previous best ride.   So, I can not only race friends, or people across the world, I can race my past self.  Awesome.   And I hate losing to a younger me!

Furthermore, Expresso keeps an online leader-board, similar to many multi-player online games.   They have a leader-board by age category on every single course that resets each riding season.    For example, on my best course – the 1 mile sprint called  “Expresso Speedway”,  approximately 5000 riders have completed the course.   I currently have the 13th fastest time at 2:12, which is 2nd in my age group.   I am much further down the leader-board in the longer rides.   For example in the 12.2-mile hilly “Grapestomper” I am 57th, 14th in my age bracket.   I guess I need to work on my endurance.   Leader-boards and postings of past results is much more motivating than seeing how fast you could make that fan spin on the old stationary bikes.  And for the 12 people ahead of me, congrats and I hope to see you “virtually” on the track.

  1. Luke Charles – Club Aquarius
  2. Michael Young – Wheatridge Recreation Center
  3. Shane Uhler –  Central Stark County YMCA
  4. Carl Stewart – YMCA of Greater Houston
  5. Richard Hull – YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties
  6. Brian Colwell – YMCA Greater Rochester-Maplewood
  7. Cedric Chanez – Fit Budget Fribourg
  8. Michel Line – Abbeville France
  9. Andy Anderson – Health Unlimited
  10. Eric Babule – Fashion Fitness, La Norville France
  11. David Alador – Fitness Park, Melun France
  12. M. Burns – YMCA Metro Atlanta, Cobb

Check out the Expresso Speedway leader-board  here:

 

Where will the next innovations come in IoB – the internet of bikes.   I have a six thoughts:
1.  Currently, the Expresso bike allows me to enter a user name and password.   While this is how it keeps up with my rides, I currently have nearly 50 other logins and passwords for everything from my bank account to my Pokeman Go login.   It is impossible to keep up with all this.  The next generation of bike has a handlebar sensor that reads my fingerprint and instantly says “Hey Mark – lets ride!” the minute a jump on the bike.
2.  The Expresso bikes have 40 virtual courses, some even have virtual billboards, just like you might see on a real road ride – but all the billboards are advertising bogus products.  Bikes could easily be connected to regional advertisers who buy virtual signs on the courses.      I would love to see a sign for Relus Technologies  appear on the Expresso Speedway course whenever a US rider is taking a spin around the track. A local pizza chain could advertise for all bikes connected within our immediate geography.   My message to Expresso marketing management- please give me a free billboard on Expresso Speedway for giving you this idea.
3.  Today, the Expresso bikes monitor heart rate, and keep track of your average and max rate for each ride.    But, the bike doesn’t currently give you feedback as you ride on how your heart rate compared to past rides at the same part of the course.   Using your heart history, and big data analytics of all heart rate data, the bikes could potentially sense dangers, or tell you to pick up the pace.   We had someone pass out on a bike at our YMCA – probably of dehydration.   In the future, the perfect IoB workout will monitor your heart, blood pressure, hydration and warn the rider of any immediate risks.
4. Bicycles, treadmills, and other cardio machines break down frequently.   Although the Expresso is fairly reliable, it is frustrating to get to the YMCA and find out that the bike is not functioning properly.   The next generation of IoB will fix this issue.   Sensors in the bicycle should notify the owner (our YMCA staff) and the factory of any issues.   The bike should know when it is broken and notify management, and order parts  on its own via the internet.    Why cant the bike send out an email and a voice message:  “Hey Val, this is Expresso Bike #4, my gearbox is sticking.   I scheduled a service call for later in the afternoon, and updated the display on the bike to say that I will be taking a break until 10:00 tomorrow.   I ordered the required parts on Amazon, and they will be arriving in the morning”.    Furthermore, sensors should know before something breaks by picking up on unusual vibration,  computer anomalies, etc in order to schedule preventive maintenance. Downtime on the next generation of IoB will be nearly zero.
5.  We only have two Expresso bikes at our YMCA- bummer.   What stinks is getting to the Y with the intent of riding, and seeing that both are occupied.   The next generation of IoB fixes this problem too.   Using mobile technology, my Expresso app should allow me to see the status of both bikes before I head over to the YMCA.   And, why not allow me to reserve a time-slot to insure availability.   And, I want the bike to send me a friendly reminder every once in a while.   “Hey slacker, you usually ride every Saturday afternoon – would you like me to put you down for bike #2 at 2:00 today?”.   That would be cool!
6.  Exercise equipment often comes with connectors to hook up your iPod – but who actually does this?   When Apple changes their connectors every year, usually we don’t have a device that fits so everyone brings their own device and headphones.   Or, the bike allows you to listen to some list of songs or maybe watch TV.   But, I am not good at keeping my iPhone charged and hate it when it dies mid-ride.  The next generation of IoB knows who I am and is connected to my streaming music source – which,  for me is Spotify.   Why cant my bicycle immediately log me onto Spotify and also give me song recommendations based on my music taste and the course I selected.   My bike should know to cue up  The Cure: She Sells Sanctuary  when I am doing a sprint.  That would also be cool!
Expresso people – if you read this, I hope you like my ideas.
My company, Relus Technologies, helps companies like Expresso to leverage cloud computing and big data technologies.    Drop by the Y on Saturday and lets talk cloud computing, and we can both ride the Grapestomper.

CIO’s Need to Catch Pikachu

Pokémon Go is all over the news. Millions have downloaded the online game, making it the fastest growing application ever. But, it hasn’t been without problems. People have walked over cliffs, crashed cars, and found dead bodies while playing. To top it all off, servers have continued to crash due to the onslaught of players and a few dedicated hacker’s intent on causing chaos. I am not sure of their motives of denying us the fun of catching Pikachu, but they have attacked nonetheless.

When I first heard of the game, I thought it sounded a little silly. But the constant news reports have intensified the craze, and I recently became sucked into the augmented reality of Pokémon Go while on a trip this past weekend. After playing, I would encourage every CIO to download the game and cancel your weekly staff meeting. Instead, take the team outside and see who can catch Turtwig, Charizard or Dragonite. I am guessing you will learn more in an hour of this than going over your TCP reports or compliance reviews.

Lessons from Pokémon Go are pretty evident:

  1. It has been said that the best technology is so simple that it seems like magic. Pokémon Go is no exception. There is cutting edge technology behind this game, but to the user it is incredibly easy to navigate. One doesn’t need a manual or user guide to figure out how to find and catch a Pokémon. All applications should be this simple
  2. Augmented Reality is an awesome new technology. It has actually been around for about 10 years, but it is now popping up everywhere. And the use cases extend way beyond gaming. This weekend I watched the trajectory of a golf ball hit in the British Open, augmented by the line tracing the path of the shot.  This evening I was teaching my 16-year old daughter to drive and wondering what AR technology could be used to actually make this safer and less stressful.   Teaching her to drive from the comfort of my La-Z-Boy would be a breakthrough.
  3. Disruption will continue. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that a Pikachu could disrupt the world of advertising, but it could be the catalyst for massive change. Using location based marketing, the makers of Pokémon Go can now charge retailers to have these virtual creatures running through their stores. If successful, retailers could shift marketing funds from other campaigns like coupons or print ads
  4. Security is still a top priority. For three days in a row, DDoS attacks have reportedly brought down the servers running Pokémon Go. Having a strong defense, a scalable load-balanced infrastructure, and a proper mitigation strategy is crucial.
  5. Architect for elasticity and scale. Cloud computing platforms like Amazon Web Services are perfect for viral applications that have unexpected spikes in traffic. The public cloud can be configured to automatically scale up its processing with an almost unlimited number of virtual servers to meet demands. And, unlike traditional IT, you can also scale back down if and when traffic subsides.
  6. Technology (and the CIO) can have a profound impact on revenue and the bottom line, but only if you move away from the role of keeping the lights on and the internet up and running.   Nintendo’s stock price jumped 70%, adding nearly $7 billion of market value due to the launch of Pokémon Go, and may have thrust Nintendo into a position to compete for billions in online marketing revenues. Mobile apps, augmented reality, proximity based marketing, and cloud computing could all have an impact on many other industries as well.

My company, Relus Technologies, helps companies architect highly scalable, innovative solutions like Pokémon Go. Good luck catching Pikachu.

 

$100K Investment in AgVoice, a 22TechPark Startup

AgVoice service selected by The Yield Lab to participate in selective nine-month ag technology accelerator program

Innovative voice recognition service to receive $100,000 in funding, plus networking, mentorship and ag-specific curriculum for duration of program

 

ATLANTA, Georgia (January 29, 2016) – AgVoice, an innovative voice interaction service created by Atlanta, Ga.-based technology startup TekWear LLC, was selected by agriculture technology business accelerator The Yield Lab to participate in a nine-month program designed to support emerging ag tech companies. AgVoice was selected as one of seven out 120 applicants from 26 countries to participate in the program.

AgVoice is a hands-free workflow management service that helps ag professionals capture insights while on the move. The platform can be utilized seamlessly by producers in the field, allowing them to record and process raw data files for use in analytics and note-taking, while also providing such necessary features as time stamps and location tracking to improve productivity and workflow management.

“We’re honored to be selected by The Yield Lab to participate in the program as one of its portfolio companies, and we’re ready to take full advantage of the tremendous business development resources they offer,” says Bruce Rasa, CEO at TekWear LLC. “It was important for our team to find a partner with ag tech as their top priority, and we feel that we’ve found an excellent match to further enhance AgVoice, which is projected to launch later this year.”

The insights and data that AgVoice provides to producers helps them meet an increasing array of government reporting mandates and answers food retailer questions on food traceability, as well as consumer questions regarding where and how their food was safely grown. The service is perfect for agriculture professionals in a wide variety of roles, including agronomists, plant scientists, veterinarians and machinery repair specialists, among others.

Based in St. Louis, Mo., The Yield Lab is the nation’s first and largest agriculture technology business accelerator, maintaining its focus entirely on investing in early-stage development of ag tech companies that offer creative and innovative solutions in the agriculture industry. The Yield Lab provides mentorship, networking and funding to hand-selected companies during a nine-month period, all while in the heart of the country’s ag tech industry.

“AgVoice is a service that we see contributing a great deal to the agriculture industry, making it a perfect fit as one of our seven portfolio selections in 2016,” says Matt Plummer, principal at The Yield Lab. “The hands-free, voice-interactive technology that the platform offers has the potential to fundamentally shift the way food and agriculture professionals capture usable insights and data.”

The Yield Lab’s program began on January 26 at the Helix Center in St. Louis. For more information on AgVoice, visit http://www.agvoiceglobal.com/.

 

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Based in Atlanta, Georgia, AgVoice is an agricultural technology company focused on developing voice-interactive technology solutions that provide value to agriculture professionals and their trusted partners around the world. These solutions encompass a variety of business sectors across the food and agriculture ecosystem, including livestock and crop production, agronomy, animal health and wellness, and machinery repair.

Community Spotlight: MotivDeals Lands Partnership with LakePoint Sports

What is MotivDeals Fundraising?

MotivDeals fundraising is the digital version of those plastic fundraising deal cards and booklets that organizations sell to local residents in order to raise money. The old way was to sell a physical deal card or booklet with deals on them, requiring the customer to physically keep the card on them in order to redeem. But now, MotivDeals introduces the sales of memberships to local residents that allows people to receive local deals through their smart phone.

Recently, MotivDeals Fundraising has developed a great partnership with LakePoint Sports!

What is LakePoint Sports?

LakePoint Sports is well on its way to becoming one of the world’s largest and most exceptional destinations for travel sports. With over 1,400 acres of land nestled near the beautiful North Georgia Mountains, LakePoint will offer state-of-the-art sports venues. With nearly five million square feet of special amenities including themed retail, onsite hotels, restaurants, ziplines, water parks and many more attractions, there’s sure to be enough fun for the entire family.

LakePoint Pic

MotivDeals and LakePoint Collaborate

The LakePoint Deals Applications have successfully been accepted into the iOS & Android stores and are currently in beta testing. What next, you ask? MotivDeals and LakePoint plan to roll out their deal platform in early 2016.  This platform will be 100% free for the millions of LakePoint guests each year, and the Atlanta businesses will have a great opportunity to partner with LakePoint to gain some premium advertisement space targeting out of town visitors!

This collaboration will also open the doors for MotivDeals and give exposure to millions of sports teams from across the country, allowing them too, to #FundraiseAnywhere!

Keep Up with Motivdeals

On the Web

Facebook

Twitter

 

Kyle Head ShotMotivDeals founder, Kyle Valencia, is a dynamic, high-energy leader who strives to excel in innovation specializing in marketing, sales, product, and management, and aims to amplify business development. Valencia was a key factor in all negotiations with LakePoint Deals.

 

 

Community Spotlight: Moxie Sports | Going, Going, Launched

Welcome to the first Community Spotlight blog regarding the awesome companies we are helping launch at 22TechPark. Highlighted this week is Moxie Sports.   With Moxie Sports, 22TechPark has helped get needed funding to launch their application, provided space to collaborate and made some very strategic introductions.

The Pitch

Sports + Technology: It’s not an obsession, it’s a passion.

The confusion and disconnect among organizers of events, coaches, parents, and players has been consistently growing- until now! Moxie Sports is solving these growing problems through innovative software solutions in the form of web apps and native mobile development. Their solutions allow users to create, search, and follow as many teams as they choose and have all the team calendars, rosters and information sync in real-time across any native calendar platform. There are numerous existing calendars that allow communication in a linear path, but none compare to Moxie Sport’s new developed process for omni-directional communication.

How does it Work?

Sports Managing Made Easy

MS1     ms3ms5ms2      ms4

What’s Happening Now?

“With the support of 22TechPark, we have been able to enter our market with a great first generation of our iPhone app. We’re already onboarding many teams and organizations (to the app) and look forward to continued growth.” – Roman Grimaldi, Co-Founder and CEO of Moxie Sports

After a successful seed round led by 22TechPark, Moxie Sports has released its first app to the Apple App Store. iOS launched October 15th, and in just 18 days, they acquired nearly 1,000 active users. Join the movement- make Moxie Sports your #1-desired application for sports team management and group communication, and get this FREE app today!

Follow Moxie Sports
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MoxieSportsInc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/moxiesports/
Instagram: @moxiesports

Roman

CO-Founder & CEO Roman Grimaldi is a serial entrepreneur, an award-winning designer, former Division I athlete, and extremely passionate about sports and technology. He made a name for himself over the years through innovative and daring design, having work displayed at TEDx events, showcased in art galleries, and has been chosen by leading design magazines as a top 30 designer under 30 and a top 30 Under 30 in Atlanta Technology.