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Technology Earns Startups Time On Stage

By Jenny Callison, posted Apr 15, 2014
Two Wilmington startups are among eight new ventures selected by the N.C. Technology Association to participate in its new Mobile Startup Showcase. The event will be part of NCTA’s annual State of Technology conference May 15-16 in Durham.

Next Glass and Social Pathway Solutions - which is changing its name to Hugo Network Inc. - have developed proprietary technology to solve very human problems. Each company will have six minutes in the spotlight to introduce and demonstrate their technology.

A third showcase participant, SnapYeti, has close ties to Wilmington. Its founder, Justin Beard, is a 2005 graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is a frequent visitor to the Port City. SnapYeti is a website that allows companies and organizations to create “Snapfests” and photo contests to promote their brand, product or cause.

According to NCTA’s announcement on its website, the eight North Carolina-based companies were chosen because they are developing “standout mobile technology.”

Next Glass, using patent-pending technology, analyzes the chemical makeup of wine and beer so that people, looking at a menu containing unfamiliar vintages or brews, can choose a beverage that tastes like one they already know and like. The company refers to its growing database as “the world’s first Genome Cellar.” Subscribers to Next Glass will be able to search that database on their mobile phone or tablet before making their selection.

This is the second time Next Glass has been recognized by NCTA. In November, the venture was the winner, in the Emerging Company category, of an NCTA 21 Award. The awards are given to companies and individuals who “demonstrate excellence, innovation and leadership,” according to the NCTA website.

Hugo Network's new name is derived from its product: h.u.go (short for “here you go”), a social network platform that allows educators to discover and share lesson-relevant apps with their pupils. According to the company’s website, a teacher can create a private group for each class, with controlled access to information shared within the group so that the students can find and download apps that have been endorsed by a trusted source: their teacher.

Educators can also join public groups with other educators to share app recommendations and suggestions, the website stated.

Alex Vidor, CEO and co-founder of Hugo Network, said that, most importantly, his participation in Startup Showcase will provide "validation and visibility" for his venture.

"We're about to undergo our first fund raising round, and we'd like to reach an audience of investors that's larger than what we'd reach in Wilmington," he said.

The company's work with several independent schools is bearing fruit, he said, noting that Hugo Network has gotten a letter of endorsement from the N.C. Association of Independent Schools and he will present to a conference of school headmasters in June.

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