Verge Bloomington July 11, SproutBox

I was out of town for the June Verge Bloomington meetup, so I was definitely looking forward to last week’s July event. As always, we heard from two startups, one early-stage and one late(ish)-stage, and had a nice Fireside Chat (sans fire) with Kevin and Amy Makice about the Geek Camp they organized for local kids. SproutBox was a fun venue, as always.

Up first was early-stage Trekkable, presented by Benedict Jones. Trekkable is a web-based tool the helps travelers with physical limitations identify and communicate with service providers who cater to their needs. I was surprised to hear that no one has cornered the market on accessible travel accommodations, given the size of the market. Benedict also mentioned that the Americans with Disabilities Act has recently been updated, and hoteliers and others in the industry are now looking for ways to quickly adhere to the new guidelines. Benedict and his partners have spent the past several weeks traveling, speaking with hotel representatives, and examining hotels and rooms for their accessibility. He said the hotels have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction; Trekkable will provide ratings and reviews for users to peruse as they make travel decisions, so hotels have been eager to accommodate and participate. One thing I thought was interesting is that Trekkable won’t have user reviews, like Yelp or TripAdvisor, but will instead provide all its own reviews. That helps ensure that the reviews are good quality, and also lessens the burden on users. It definitely means lots of travel for Benedict and the team, though! Trekkable is a RunUp Labs graduate, so I was familiar with their concept but loved hearing about what they’ve been up to and how they are continuing to build their product.

Next we heard from Tim Skaggs, a former SproutBoxer who moved out to San Francisco to work for Kloudless. Kloudless has been making waves in all sorts of circles, from Time to TechCrunch, for the way it makes your various cloud storage account “play nicely with each other.” Kloudless allows you to share files of any size, located on any storage app (Box, Dropbox, GoogleDrive, etc) over email. This eliminates those annoying “This attachment is too large” issue, and also streamlines your workflow. Instead of actually sending a file over email, Kloudless sends a link, which allows the recipient to access the file in his own Box/Dropbox/GoogleDrive. Kloudless doesn’t see your email, doesn’t keep your email, and doesn’t ever actually touch your files, so it keeps everything secure. Kloudless is backed by a number of high-profile Silicon Valley investors and is growing quickly, so I’m excited to see how it develops in the next few months.

Kevin and Amy Makice stopped by with their kids to talk about the Geek Camp they organized and ran June 24-28, for a group of Bloomington youth. Kevin writes for GeekDad and chronicled the experience there. Though his first post of the week lays out a tidy schedule, he admits they stuck to that for approximately the first half hour of the week. After that, Kevin and Amy decided to let the kids follow their passions and interests, allowing them to make all sorts of serendipitous discoveries about technology, games, and being geeky. One casualty was web development time, where they had planned to use Squad, but in the end I’m glad the kids got to deeply explore something that interested them, even if that wasn’t coding (this time!). As a number of Verge attendees stated, I wish something like this had been around when I was in elementary and middle school. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Makices continue to expand and improve Geek Camp in the coming years!

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