You’re Using the Internet Wrong
To get you out of your online rut, we asked three local techies to share the sites and services they think are most useful.
This article is part of Indianapolis Monthly’s February 2016 Tech City package. For more on this window into the city’s tech world, click here.
Eric Tobias – Partner at the venture-capital firm High Alpha
Having successfully built and sold three technology businesses (such as iGoDigital, which ExactTarget bought in 2012), Tobias now invests in new ones.
“Like everybody, I get tons of email and social media,” Tobias says. To manage it all, he uses this email-enabled note-taking app to forward and archive interesting articles so he can catch up on weekends.
Tech email newsletters
Union Square Ventures Newsletter and the First Round Review. Sound boring? “I think they have value for anyone in business, whether you consider it tech or not,” Tobias says. “Marc Andreessen [founder of Netscape] wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled ‘Software is Eating the World,’ in which he suggested every company soon will be a software company, regardless of industry. I think that’s true.”
In Tobias’s scant free time, he’s crazy about music. This app looks at the artists Tobias has on his phone or on Spotify, and notifies him if they’re coming to Indy. Taylor Swift is his guilty pleasure, and he recommends Twin Forks to anyone.
“It’s a phenomenal tool, but you have to curate it,” Tobias says. Don’t expect him to follow you just because. “There was an early rule that if they follow you, you should follow them back, and kumbaya. But the more you narrow your focus, the more valuable your feed can become.”
With three kids growing up in a scary time online, Tobias uses the social media app to follow up on their lives. Call it Parenting 2.0.
Aimee Kandrac – Cofounder of WhatFriendsDo.com
After supporting a friend dying of cancer, Kandrac saw a need for a site that would connect networks of people trying to do the same for their own struggling loved ones. Who’s bringing dinner next Tuesday? What’s still on that person’s wish list. WhatFriendsDo.com answers those questions and provides a forum.
Kandrac uses the plug-in to check grammar and spelling in her emails. It consults more than 250 grammar rules and provides a weekly report of how she’s doing.
The site takes a grocery list you enter online and ships the items to your door within an hour. “I have a limited amount of time,” Kandrac says. “I can either cook for my family or wander the grocery store.”
For those who like to wear something fresh regularly, this site mails rental fashion. “The clothes show up at my door, I wear them once, then I shove them in an envelope and mail them back,” Kandrac says. “I don’t have to shop or wash.”
Among other things, the Amazon.com voice assistant allows you to dictate shopping items, and adds those things to your cart. “Alexa understands everyone in my family a lot better than Siri does,” Kandrac says.
Matt Hunckler – Founder of the tech community group Verge
Hunckler may be the best-connected tech personality in the city.
“My online diet is 99 percent email, and I’m not mad about it,” he says. “It’s where I get to have thousands of conversations with entrepreneurs every year.” When he sends emails to the enormous Verge community, he uses the Indy-based email-delivery software Delivra to target certain members at certain times.
Recently launched by Twitter, this social media app live-streams video. “We often stream videos from our events to the startup community,” Hunckler says. “When we launched our Raleigh-Durham location, more than 1,500 people tuned into my @Hunckler account, commenting, asking questions, and sharing with their friends.”
For a guy who writes as many emails as Hunckler does, TextExpander is pretty essential: The plug-in anticipates common language and phrases you type every day, filling in the rest before you finish typing.
“It’s one of the few solo-author blogs I visit regularly, and I always come away with something new to ponder. Maria Popova’s book reviews and essays are exceptional idea sparks.”
A user-generated site of articles written by tech founders and investors. “Like hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs, I check this pretty regularly,” Hunckler says. “Even if I only read the headlines on the first page, it gives me a good sense of what’s going on in the economy.”