BRILLIANT! JUMBO entrepreneurs AND THEIR BIG IDEAS
BIG IDEA: A Yelp-like online resource for people who want to know how LGBT-friendly different businesses are. Customers of the businesses review and rate them, and visitors to the site can call up a local map showing the average rating for each business as a colored dot: reddest for the most homophobic to greenest for the most welcoming.
STATUS: Originally known as the Rainbow Chronicle, OutGrade operates out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and got its start in 2010, inspired by the gay activist Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign. Lowry told the Tufts Daily that he and his cofounder, Conor Clary, realized they “could use the Internet to make it better now.” The two relaunched their site as OutGrade in early 2013. They’re focused on Boston for the moment, but eventually hope to go nationwide and even worldwide. outgrade.com
BIG IDEA: Using state-of-the-art analytical tools to help companies gauge the effectiveness of their video advertising. With today’s media, it’s possible to amass mountains of information about what people are watching and how they are reacting to it. The result is “big data”—data sets that are so complex and unwieldy they can only be understood with specialized analysis like that provided by Visible Measures. Such analysis can reveal market nuances and developing trends that otherwise would remain invisible, Shin observes.
STATUS: Shin, who founded Visible Measures in 2005, says success “has taken longer than I thought, but we’ve gotten farther than I anticipated,” according to Xconomy, a news website for high-tech business. The firm has secured $66.5 million in investments, opening offices in Boston, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London. Clients include Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Goldman Sachs, Ford, and Unilever. visiblemeasures.com
BIG IDEA: A “personal research assistant” that sends you email briefings on the people with whom you’ll be meeting in the course of your workday. PrepWork operates in concert with your calendar (Google Calendar, iCal, or Outlook), zeroing in on names and email addresses and combing through LinkedIn, Twitter, blog posts, and other sources of information to get the skinny on each individual. Then it sends you a concise, easy-to-digest summary, so that even when time is tight, you can “walk into the room knowing who everyone is and what’s important to them,” says Wolchonok.
STATUS: Wolchonok, who graduated from Yale’s School of Management in May, developed PrepWork in the summer of 2012 at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. So far, loyal users of the service have included Matthew Bellows, the CEO of Yesware, who praised it in Forbes magazine this past January. prepwork.com