‘Tinder’ presents: An app to discover those around you

'Tinder' presents: An app to discover those around youWhile it’s great to make new friends, meeting people can be awkward and uncomfortable. What will you talk about? Do you share similar interests?

Now there’s an app seeking to bridge the gap between “complete stranger” and “BFF”.

Mobile app Tinder displays short profiles (which include picture, name, age, and shared friends and interests) of people near you and allows you to express interest in making a connection or not. In the app, you can set your “preferences” to be matched with males and/or females, within 2 to 100 miles of your current location (location services enabled), between the ages of 18 and 50+.

If there is mutual interest in the parties getting to know each other, then the app allows both parties to connect, while still maintaining much valued user-privacy. Tinder doesn’t reveal your last name, email, or exact location. In fact, the app doesn’t have access to any more information than your current location and what’s available on your Facebook, and it is incredibly selective about the information it pulls from your account so stalkers and trolls won’t find you.

Once both parties agree to connect, Tinder’s chat feature allows users to send messages (text-only) back-and-forth until they are ready to take the relationship offline. Users can also abandon the conversation altogether and “block” people they don’t want as new friends.

But what about fraud?

Other matchmaking programs are littered with fake accounts of Jessica Alba and Joseph Gordon-Levitt lookalikes. Tinder solves that problem by linking to your Facebook account. In a way, this legitimizes the accounts created, presuming users are using their personal Facebook account. Your name and age are taken straight from Facebook, and you choose images for your Tinder profile from your Facebook albums.

In an interview with Issie Lapowsky at Inc. magazine, Tinder’s CEO, Sean Rad, shares how the app gained initial traction and grew, “We had been picking up on college campuses, then everyone went home and told their cousins and older brothers and friends about it, and all of a sudden Tinder started growing like a virus.” 

Although Tinder is used almost exclusively as a dating tool, J.J. Colao at Forbes reports Tinder’s intention to expand into business networking. This is ambitious given Tinder’s stigma as a dating app and, of course, users’ superficial nature. But anything is possible.

Let’s hope the app’s evolution brings new possibilities to mobile users who want to meet someone new, and not just for romantic purposes.

Download Tinder for free in the iTunes Store.

 

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Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – September 3

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features the success of Netflix, office gadgets that make life easier, and NASA’s innovative tech projects. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

New Gadgets Help Make Work Days Less Stressful

Lumoback

Working in an office can be stressful for a number of reasons. Maybe there’s too much work and too little time; or a boss that’s a pain in the neck. Alice Truong of USA Today writes about some new, innovative tools that could make your work day a little easier. Lumoback (pictured above) is worn like a belt and it helps the user track his or her posture by connecting to a smartphone and sending an alert when posture can be improved. Another comfort item for the office is Trigger Point Performance’s Grid Mini, a small foam roller that can be kept in desk drawers. Simply roll it over your muscles and massage away the tension. Other tech items discussed include a clean air device, a drive for extra storage, and a speaker clock to help keep to a schedule.

Redesigned Google Maps Now Available to Public

For two months Google was only allowing a select few to check out their new Maps application via invitation only. However, according to Steven Musil of CNET, the new site is now available to everyone, and it comes with some pretty cool changes. The new Google Maps Web interface offers photo tours of locations and public transportation options. Google has switched from using graphical tiles to vector data, which allows the maps to load faster. Perhaps the most spectacular of the new features is the “zoom out” that now allows users to zoom out as far as outer space.

NASA Funds 12 High-Tech Space Projects

NASA funds 12 high tech space projects

Hoping to come up with some breakthroughs in the area of space exploration and science, NASA has announced the funding of 12 projects that will use technology to create innovative projects related to space. Mike Wall of Mashable writes that the projects were selected under Phase 1 of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. All 12 offer a variety of different possibilities. For example, one will attempt to use a 3D printer to build biomaterials. A second would study how to induce deep-sleep torpor states in astronauts traveling to Mars. Phase 1 awards are in the range of $100,000 and will be used for nine-month initial analysis studies. After that, each of the project’s managers can apply for Phase 2 funding, which would be about $500,000 for two more years of concept development.

Netflix Earnings Quadruple with Arrested Development Release

Is Netflix the new HBO? Many critics seem to think so, and if the company’s earnings are any indication, things are going quite well. The Huffington Post reports that second quarter earnings for Netflix have quadrupled, and 630,000 new subscribers have been added. One of the main reasons for the success is that Netflix decided to offer exclusive television shows, the most popular being the hit comedy “Arrested Development”, which had been canceled on Network television much to the dismay of hardcore fans. There are also original shows now available on Netflix as well, including “Orange is the New Black,” from the creator of the smash Showtime series “Weeds.” Netflix is a monthly service that streams video to Internet-connected devices.

 

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Top Apps for Back to School 2013

Schoolboy With Digital Tablet Sitting At Desk In Classroom“We are heading towards a paperless classroom,” says Sherry Maysonave, a former educator and author of the children’s e-book series EggMania: Where’s the Egg In Exactly (for the iPad). Maysonave has become an expert in technology in the classroom and emphasizes the benefits for both teachers and students. “Digital media offer children a whole new way to learn. Some people mistakenly think of ebooks as digital pacifiers when, in fact, they’re actually vitamins for the brain and can open up whole new stimulating worlds for children,” she said.

According to Maysonave there are now more educational apps than ever before. Many are for students, but there are also several for teachers and parents. Whether it’s helping to boost a child’s reading skills, make a teacher more organized, or helping parents stay in the loop, digital technology is adding several new tools for education.

Here is a look at some of the best apps for the upcoming school year:

iHomework

Students can manage everything they do inside and outside of the classroom with the iHomework app. Quickly enter homework assignments, course and teacher information, important tasks, and reading in a fun, intuitive, and convenient way. Keep up-to-date with school work, grades, to-dos, teacher’s information (create a contact list of all teachers!), and almost everything else you need during the school year. Set reminders so you never miss assignments or tasks. This ultimate school organizer is available for iPhone/iPod touch, iPad, or Mac ($1.99).

Remind101

Remind101 gives teachers a way to use text messaging to connect with students and parents. The free app, which is used by more than 200,000 teachers, allows teachers to send a message to a single student, group of students, or whole class, without displaying any phone numbers. It’s an easy way to communicate outside of the classroom without risking privacy issues on either side.

gFlash+ Flashcards & Tests

Available for both iOS and Android (free with upgrades available for varying fees), gFlash+ is a handy and innovative learning tool for students of all ages to create digital notecards. Its goal is simple: make studying easy and fun. Its integration with Google Docs allows users to create and share flash cards easily and on the go. gFlash+ allows users to create, download, and edit flashcards in any subject they would like. In-app purchases are also available and allow students to upload flashcards with information on specific tests (SATs for example) and subjects.

TeacherKit

The ultimate app for helping teachers get organized, TeacherKit helps instructors avoid piles of paperwork and combine all notes and grades into one simple digital system. With TeacherKit teachers can take attendance, keep a gradebook, maintain a seating chart, compile notes on student behavior, and even upload student ID photos. It’s truly an all-in-one app for instructors of all grade levels. And best of all, it’s free.

Pencils, Words & Kids

Pencils, Words & Kids (PWK) is a creative writing app that helps teachers and students with the creative writing process — specifically, to make it more fun and get the school year started right. PWK ($4.99) is based on the premise that writing is like weightlifting: every repetition makes you stronger. PWK has 203 inspiring photo prompts and 81 entries of kids writing, original artwork, and inspiring scenes. The photos show what real writing looks like and will fuel brainstorming for stories, essays and poems. Reading is emphasized as part of the PWK creative writing process, so the app includes commentary from authors and writers on the books that inspired them to write.

My Words

This is an app that makes life easier on special-needs children who are non-verbal. Created by the mother of an autistic son, My Words ($9.99) facilitates communication for people with a wide spectrum of special needs by allowing users to simply tap a word in order to play it audibly. Users can create custom word lists in which each word is associated with a sound and a picture. My Words has also been used by people who are trying to learn a new language.

Ode to the IT Pro

With this infographic, Mozy offers an appreciative “Ode to the IT Pro”. We celebrate those hard working individuals who tackle our BIOS issues and listen sympathetically while we tell them how we forgot our password or can’t remember what we need to do to get our office email on our cell phone.

One way to look at IT pros is to compare them to a car mechanic. If your engine is broken, you can somtimes still roll down the windows or listen to the radio, but you’re not going to get anywhere, and you’re going to need a lot of help to get things right. The IT team in your company has the knowledge they need to take care of all of your tech problems, big or small. The IT role has become increasingly complicated with policies like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), laptops (taking a computer to and from work and on the road can be tough on the hardware), and employees using all sorts of backup and file sharing tools to collaborate, potentially exposing sensitive company data.

Without these hardworking individuals, much of the work that we’re able to do on a daily basis would grind to a halt, slowed by error messages, malware, email issues, and a WiFi password that nobody knows. IT professions often work in the shadows, climbing under your desk to figure out why your mouse isn’t working, or taking a flashlight to the server room to see if they can find that file you need from four years ago. They don’t often get the recognition and praise that a position like theirs deserves. That changes today – IT pros, this one’s for you!

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Two services and tools to keep up with the growing photo sharing economy

Web and mobile usage trends are moving fast. Really fast.

Consumers are quick to adopt today’s hottest trend, yet are just as undiscerning in abandoning it. Chatroulette anyone?

Now it’s a retro-filtered image of your best friend’s dinner, a cute puppy image, and a LOL-worthy pose.

Yet taking and sharing pictures is anything but a fleeting trend. Remember the big bulky photo albums mom and dad used to pull out to thoroughly embarrass us in front of our friends and relatives? Photos have always been a cherished way of capturing those important moments in our lives.

A presentation by analyst Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers estimates more than 500 million photos are uploaded and shared every day. Her predictions also suggest that number will double year on year.

What does this mean for businesses?

The first takeaway is that funny cat pictures will almost certainly take over the world. But more importantly, companies should look towards photos to further engage with customers and grow.

Brands that have a connected and enthusiastic audience can leverage user-generated photos with services like Pixlee. Brands that also publish photos can make better pictures using Snapseed.

Pixlee

Pixlee Logo

Pixlee, a web-based service, makes it easy for companies to collect fan photos from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media platforms, curate and display them, then measure engagement and drive more traffic and sales.

On Crunchbase, the company says, “Our advanced photo intelligence recommends the best photos to promote and provides valuable market insights into passionate customers.”

After aggregating the photos users have generated related to your brand, Pixlee helps you discover the best ones to share, while measuring social metrics that matter such as “engagements, impressions and ROI.”

To request an invite, sign up on Pixlee’s website.

Snapseed

Snapseed Logo

Snapseed, a mobile app provided by Nik Software, “is one of the most powerful iPhone photo editors out there, with a clever interface to match its power,” according to PC Mag. It’s also available for the iPad and Android smartphones.

Snapseed is tool for everyone. No need to learn advanced Photoshop skills. Instead, use the app to magically transform and share your digital pictures from your mobile devices.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs can forget about the cost and time-lag of working with professionals to shoot and tidy up their photos. Finally, you can publish pictures that might even make a Nikon DSLR camera applaud.

With Snapseed, you can make minor edits such as brightening, contrasting, cropping, sharpening, and straightening any image to making localized adjustments and adding filters such as Vintage, Drama and Grunge that you can layer on top of each other. You may keep the original and save the edited copy of your photos.

To download Snapseed for free, visit the iTunes Store or Google Play Store.

 

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Phantom Charges: Small Ways that Tech Savvy SMBs Can Rack Up Big Savings

Phantom Charges: Small Ways that Tech Savvy SMBs Can Rack Up Big SavingsFor small-business owners, every square foot of office space and every piece of equipment is part of how money is made. But it’s also how business dollars get spent.

Overhead is a daily reality for small businesses. In fact, when it comes to utilities and human resources — it’s an hourly reality. And any way to trim that overhead is key to driving success.

One strategy, when it comes to controlling overhead, is to tackle the “phantom charge”. These are the incremental, often small, expenses — and also the missed savings —  that add up every year.

What follow are five such “phantoms”, ones that you can tackle right away with some advice from the experts at LivingPlug.

1. Stop Phantom Electrical Costs: Your printers, copiers, and other devices and appliances still draw energy, even when they’re not in use. For example, a desktop computer in sleep mode costs nearly $22 per year. Printers run at least $6 annually. Multiplied by the number of devices in your shop, storefront, or offices, this can really add up. The good news is that you can control it by simply unplugging, powering down, or implementing “smart” outlet devices that limit that passive draw.

2. Utilize Automatic Cloud Storage: The data that small businesses generate demands attention. Safe, secure, and frequent backups are key to ensuring your future — but staying on top of the tasks associated with that kind of rigorous backup takes time. And time is money. So, automate your backup to the cloud with a service that automatically grabs all user-generated content and stores it.

3. Benefit from Mileage Tax Deduction: Don’t let the money you stand to save by deducting business-related travel from your taxes pass you by. A device like CarCheckup helps business owners track mileage. Simply plug it into the onboard diagnostic port.

4. Stop Wasting Billable Staff Hours: Small businesses are often plagued by wasted time on phone calls to vendors and providers. Systems that feature endless wait times and phone trees eat up the hours you’re paying for as an owner. Implement an app such as FastCustomer. This helps eliminate that time-suck by navigating those phone trees and ringing your employee back when customer service is actually on the line.

5. Replace Store-Bought with In-House Treats: It is widely known that free food and drinks make for happy employees. But, forgo soda purchases at the grocery store and make your own lower-cost, high-quality in-house treats with a gadget like the SodaStream. The results are not only tasty and typically better for you, but your office will save about about $720 per year for a staff of four (and another feel-good benefit is that your office will also produce less waste).

Time and money, and missed savings. From the way we power our printers to the care we take when tracking business expenses, make this the year you eliminate the phantom charge — in all its incarnations.

 

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5 NFL Injuries Leave Fans Wishing They Could Restore From a Backup

One of the great things about restoring from a backup is that, in a way, you’re travelling back in time. You’re going back to that special place in time before your two-year-old dumped your laptop in the tub, or before your hard drive finally decided it’d had enough of your 24 hour gaming sessions.

With the NFL preseason in full swing, the fact that 300 pound men are now crashing into each other at full speed has hastened the return of everyone’s least favorite event in sports – the injury. The loss of a player due to a unforeseen injury can alter the outcomes of games, success of teams, and in some cases, the careers of coaches or front office types. Even though we’re only a few weeks into the preseason, there are already quite a few players who’s season is already done due to injury.

NFL Backups and injuries

Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

Here are five players fans wish they could restore to a previous, uninjured version:

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles – Torn ACL

Chip Kelly’s arrival as Eagles’ head coach signaled a changing of the guard in Philly. Kelly’s up tempo offense is not without it’s doubters, but with players like Maclin (and fellow receiver Arrelious Benn, also injured) hopes were high in the City of Brotherly Love that Kelly’s fast paced style of play would restore the Eagles to the top of the standings. With Maclin out for the season, Philly fans are hoping they can simply hit the restore button next season, and won’t need to reset everything after a year or two of the Chip Kelly experiment.

Most likely backup: Riley Cooper

Brian Bulaga, OT, Green Bay Packers – Torn ACL

Yes, we’re not excited about talking about an offensive lineman either, but Bulaga has been a mainstay in the Packers’ trenches for the last three years, serving as the critical “blindside” protector to all-everything quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Some pundits had picked the Packers to finish first in their division, and while Rodgers and the cheeseheads are used to playing (and winning) in the face of adversity, Bulaga’s absence will be a blow (perhaps literally) to the Packers and their star QB. One can only hope Bulaga’s backup (rookie David Bakhtiari) will be up to the challenge.

Most likely backup: David Bakhtiari

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks – Hip injury (labrum)

Harvin’s arrival in Seattle was a source of excitement for the fans of the beleaguered Seahawks, who made their first visit to the playoffs in two years with rookie QB Russell Wilson calling the shots. Harvin was to be the featured weapon for an already powerful offense, but hip problems sidelined him before the season really got started. While the Seahawks’ receiving core certainly isn’t lacking in talent this year, fans are anxiously hoping the rumors about Harvin being “restored” to the team in late November or early December come true.

Most likely backup: Doug Baldwin

Dustin Keller, TE, Miami Dolphins – Torn ACL, PCL, MCL, and dislocated kneecap (Essentially his entire leg was blown up)

While Dolphins fans may be hoping to restore Keller to his previous consistency at tight end, Keller himself is pushing for a quick recovery. After spurning the New York Jets to sign a one-year deal with the Dolphins, Keller was banking on his status as young quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s check down option to produce a monster year and a correspondingly large contract. Now out for the season and rehabbing a gruesomely shredded knee, Keller and Dolphin fans are left to wonder “what if”. There are even a few questions as to whether Keller will see the field again in Dolphins teal and white, or in any other uniform for that matter.

Most likely backup: Charles Clay

Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens – Fractured and dislocated hip

Technically Pitta suffered his hip injury (which drew some similarities to Bo Jackson’s career-altering hip injury in 1991) earlier in the year, but it still casts a shadow over the Ravens’ efforts to defend their Super Bowl title. Pitta had his best reason as a professional in 2012, and his 61 catches and 7 touchdowns were a result of his chemistry with gun-slinger QB Joe Flacco. 13% of Pitta’s catches were for more than 20 yards, so Ravens fans are hoping someone is there to pick up the slack.

Most likely backup: Ed Dickson.

Of course, as the season continues, NFL fans will continue to find their team’s outlook changed due to injuries across the league. Owners, players, and fans alike know that in a game as rough and aggressive as football, a backup plan is key.

The Small-Business Report Card: Mid-Year 2013

Small Business Report CardFor small-business owners, the key issue this mid-year is economic growth. Everything else remains a secondary consideration in mid 2013, and some of the numbers are surprising.

Even as Congressional Republicans met during the dog days of July to consider immigration reform, only 3% of owners polled in a new Rocket Lawyer survey said that the matter was a top priority for the country. And, surprisingly, a mere 10% tagged healthcare and the still-evolving reality of healthcare exchanges to be a major factor for them in the past six months.

Economic and small-business growth, however, remained at the top of the list.

Nearly half (43%) of the owners polled said it was the main concern they held for the remainder of 2013, and more than half (55%) said that their small business had grown — or even boomed — during the first part of the year.

Let’s look a little closer at some of these numbers, especially at those surrounding issues that one might have expected to be higher up among owner’s concerns.

Health Care and Immigration: Where SMBs Stand

The healthcare stats tell us that there are two things going on among the more than 1,000 owners who participated in the poll: (1) awareness versus non-awareness of the issues is about evenly split (2) a surprising number of owners who are aware aren’t especially concerned about the outcomes of these matters.

  • Just more than 50% said they are aware of the new healthcare exchanges geared toward small businesses.
  • When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, 59% who are paying attention to it say they believe the legislation will increase employee healthcare costs. However, 29% said it will have no effect.

Immigration issues seem to be more squarely in the radar, but there’s still a remarkable suggestion of ambivalence about the outcome — at least according to the numbers that came back.

  • Some 64% of respondents said they are aware of the immigration reform plan.
  • 23% of respondents said they support reform.
  • 28% claimed they do not support the reform proposal.
  • Nearly 50% said they do not know how they feel about the issue.

The Mobile Equation

What owners did seem sure about: mobile tech is become firmly entrenched in the way that they do business. Close to half (47%) said they use mobile apps every day for business purposes. Within those respondents, the answers break out further along demographics of age.

  • Gen Y (ages 18-30) and Gen X (ages 31-47) reported the highest rates of mobile use: 62% and 58%, respectively, say they use mobile apps every day for business.
  • Only 27% of those ages 67+ say they use mobile daily.

Finally, optimism about what respondents maintain is the main issue this year — growth — seems to be on the rise. That is, 74% of the respondents said they were hopeful for an even better second half of 2013.

“This is good news,” said Charley Moore, founder and executive chairman of Rocket Lawyer. “Main Street businesses are increasingly optimistic and focused on growth.”

 

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Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – August 19

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features some futuristic hologram projects and a music poster that does more than just hang on the wall. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

New Disney Creation Allows People to Feel Objects Made of Nothing but Air

AI Real Vortex

Disney has once again managed to create something so spectacular it boggles the mind. The company has found a way to use air cannons to project hologram-like objects into the air, reports Kyle Vanhemert of Wired. Disney Research in Pittsburgh has created Aireal, a device that lets users feel ghostly objects created purely with puffs of air. With these new cannons, the projected images can not only be touched, but they feel like the actual objects they are representing. The creators of Aireal are exploring a variety of ways for which it might be used. These include incorporating it into large-scale augmented environments, baking it into telepresence gizmos, and even distributing units around living rooms. The ultimate goal, however is to “tear down the boundaries between the physical and digital altogether and to make the entire world interactive.”

Could We Soon Have Full-Sized Holograms in Our Living Rooms?

It may soon be possible to have a conversation with a life size hologram in your very own home. David Szondy of Gizmag writes that the company Provision has created a life-size holographic projector called Holovision. The projector could be unveiled as soon as next year of Provision is successful with its current $950,000 Kickstarter Campaign to fund the development of new technology for the device. The Holovision projector uses what is called aerial imaging to produce 3D images without special glasses. It also has a digital LCD screen and a concave mirror to produce the illusion of a 3D image floating outside the projector. Creepy or cool? You be the judge.

Play the Drums on This Interactive Music Poster

Beat Poster

It looks like any ordinary music poster. A flat piece of paper with photos of some drums and “It’s the Beat” written across it. But there’s a catch. With this poster, users can actually create music. According to Mashable the company Novalia has created interactive posters with the hopes of preserving the print medium by turning formerly static objects into usable interfaces. The posters are able to produce up to seven sounds, and owners can either play along to their favorite songs or create their own beats. The key component of the poster is touch sensors that are printed with electrically conductive ink and attached to a circuit board, allowing it to recognize when the drum graphic is touched. There are two versions of the poster: one that connects to the iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth, and a standalone version that transforms the poster’s surface into a speaker.

Make your (or somebody else’s) side projects happen via Sideprojectors

SideProjectorsIf you’re a creative type, you may have an endless list of world-changing projects that you have brainstormed, blueprinted and prototyped.

If you’re a businessperson, you are probably capable of executing and growing great projects, but are short on things-to-build.

If you fit into either category, you’re soon-to-be in luck.

SideProjectors, formerly a tiny community of creatives and moonlighters who showcased things they were working on or had worked on, is developing a marketplace to buy and sell side projects.

The revamped site is to-be-launched, and promises to be a dead-simple solution for finding “someone who can potentially take over your projects. Alternatively, if you are looking for interesting projects that others have paused on, SideProjectors would be a great place to discover them.”

Keeping side projects alive

Instead of quitting a languishing side project entirely — it’s always difficult to let go — put it up for sale so you can live vicariously through its success or watch it burn in flames knowing at least someone tried.

The entrepreneurial-minded no longer have to start from scratch and can move on from the wannabe stage, ridding themselves of the excuse, “If only I had a great idea…”

Of course, not every side project will become a full-blown business that will launch you into the Wall Street Journal. Many are destined to fail. Some will evolve into completely new ideas.

Side projects are good, but startups are better

Side projects allow creators and developers to build things for fun and feed their entrepreneurial spirits. But there is a caveat: turning a side project into a successful business requires a committed entrepreneur.

David Hauser, founder of Grasshopper writes, “The biggest problem with side projects is that the lack of commitment dilutes the startup talent pool, hurts the side project or startup, and in turn kills great startups from succeeding. If you’re looking to start a business, take some time to consider whether or not you’re ready to be all in.”

That’s where the SideProjectors marketplace intends to help. Not only can it help vet ideas, it can also find that committed entrepreneur that good projects need.

Sign up for an early invitation into the SideProjectors community at its website.

 

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