NCTA will host six start-ups in the consumer technology industry as part of our Thought Leaders event with Walt Mossberg on January 17, 2013 at the Umstead Hotel.

We asked Ann Revell-Pechar to interview these companies’ CEOs to whet your appetite about some very cool companies located here in N.C.

The first is with Sqord’s Coleman Greene.

Other companies to be featured include Vallencell, INRFOOD, Spoonflower, Reverb Nation and Gema Touch.

Visit with SQORD at the North Carolina Technology Association’s January 17 Thought Leaders event featuring Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal Columnist at The Umstead Hotel.

Interview: Coleman Greene, Sqord

A striking – and frightening – statistic about kids and play spurred Coleman Greene to kick-start Sqord. He attended a panel on healthcare technology, and was told that nine year olds are engaged in “active play” for about three hours a day. By the time those same kids hit 13 they’re down to only 43 minutes a day.

We all know the statistics about childhood obesity and diabetes, and it scares us. But instead of getting scared, Sqord is out to get kids excited about physical activity again.

“It’s not that active play has suddenly become less fun, but it has been crowded out of the child’s day by other technologies and innovations,” said Mr. Greene. “Sqord is all about making active play more fun for kids. We do that with a hardware/software combination that allows kids to engage with technology … but technology that’s centered on active play.”

The Sqord Powerband — which looks like a wristwatch – is worn all day and tracks activity of every kind using its 3-axis accelerometer (and some other state-of-the-art hardware). At the end of the day, kids swipe their bands over a USB SyncStation where the information is wirelessly uploaded and integrated into the platform. The platform itself allows kids to create their own avatar-like character, and provides a social experience online where kids earn points, get medals and establish challenges with their friends.

“Any activity is good activity,” says Greene. “Sqord is all about social interaction and spurring the competitive streak.”

Sqord is especially exciting to “Tweenagers,” up to age 13. In beta tests, it’s the 8-11 year olds that really love it. They’ve found that it works best where there’s already an offline network, where they know each other and interact every day – at school, practice, whatever. Kids report that it’s fun seeing what their friends are doing.

Sqord’s beta continues to be rolled out to a handful of sites, including the Chapel Hill YMCA, the Premera Blue Cross program in Seattle that’s taking it to organizations and schools, and groups in Miami-Dade County, Colorado and Arlington County, among others. In 2013, you’ll see a more ‘retail’ version open up with a rolling release. The company plans to first add more schools and youth organizations – like Boys and Girls Clubs, for example – and then begin to unveil it to the consumer, so that more kids have access in the home.
Greene expects the product to retail at about $25 for the PowerBand, and $35 for the SyncStation; it should be commercially available by late Q2.

And what’s the advantage of launching Sqord in North Carolina? Great talent and an outstanding community, of course. But also,

Greene has found that it’s just more affordable to have a start-up here than in the big entrepreneurial metropolises.

“We’re able to build our company at more affordable clip than we could have in other big tech markets. Adopting lean methodology is viable here. We’re very cost-sensitive about building this company, and this market allows for that.”