Cabulous gives you Cabs on a Map

Posted in Cabulous by jwolpert on May 3, 2010

On the Best Places to be an Entrepreneur

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on October 9, 2009

The most ideal place to be an entrepreneur is where you can find lots of people who can help you do things.

The key is to find a place with a lot of talent and capital, a place where there are lots of people who can help, BUT not yet a lot of other people asking for help.  (That’s the problem with big established cities…lots of talent, but only to be had by the masses of users there willing to pay top $$.)

Davis is such a place.  Close to capital wells like Silicon Valley, lots of developers and creative talent near major markets like San Francisco, but yet a bit undiscovered.  Still inexpensive.  Still more talent than consumers-of-talent.

oops…I’ve let the cat out of the bag now.

Cabulous featured on CBS

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on October 8, 2009

Press Release for Cabulous – a Best Buy project now a Tech Startup

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on October 2, 2009

Contact: John Wolpert                                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UpStart Mobile


UpStart Mobile Set to Launch San Francisco Closed Beta “Cabulous” Phone App

San Francisco, CA, September 23, 2009—In a move that will change the way taxi drivers and passengers find each other, UpStart Mobile is launching the San Francisco closed beta of its newest Application, Cabulous, in November 2009, starting with the iPhone.

The App helps passengers and drivers find each other and converge on a meeting place.  It allows passengers to see the exact location of actual drivers available nearby and then to hail them.  John Wolpert, CEO of UpStart Mobile, says, “It’s like having a gigantic taxi whistle and a bird’s eye view of all those out-of-sight, out-of-mind cabs.”  The driver, in turn, is able to see exactly where the passenger is at all times – even if that passenger decides to walk down the block or around the corner.  And because the system works on the driver’s personal smartphone, the passenger is hailing a specific driver who can be added to a favorites list and spotted the next time he is driving nearby, a plus for drivers who want to build customer loyalty.

The App was borne of frustration at waiting for a cab and not knowing whether it was a block away, ten blocks away or not coming at all.  But the real problem isn’t about the passenger, says Wolpert.  “It is about drivers not knowing whether the passenger will be there when they arrive.  No-shows and downtime cost cab drivers over $5 billion a year.”

Elijah Windsor, lead developer for UpStart Mobile, explains, “If Cabulous can reduce the anxiety of finding and waiting for a ride, then maybe more people will use cabs. And maybe when someone has had too many drinks at a party – especially out in the suburbs or away from known taxi stands – they might think to use a taxi, because now they can see on their map how close a cab might be.”

Cabulous will be available in the iTunes store for the iPhone and iPod Touch during the 2009 holiday season.  A demo of the App is at, where you can also sign up to be a part of the beta launch or learn when Cabulous is available in your area.

The App will be a free download for both riders and drivers.

About Upstart Mobile

UpStart Mobile develops location-based mobile solutions for business–to–consumer applications.  Cabulous was conceived and developed in a Best Buy entrepreneurship program in 2008 and spun-out in 2009 to UpStart Mobile.  UpStart Mobile’s leadership team has personal experience driving cabs for a living, a long history of working with governments in the US, Asia and Europe, and 20 years experience leading startups and creative development teams.

Don’t be Creepy: Location-based Services #1

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on September 22, 2009

When it comes to the exciting, emerging, exploding, area of location-based services (LBS), there really should be a sort of universal prime directive.

Here it is:

Don’t Be Creepy

I mean really.  Spying on your kids with AT&T’s new family map?  Yikes!  (Admittedly, about 1/2 of the parents I polled on this said that their kids don’t get privacy until they are 18 and out of the house, while the other 1/2 said that they would rather rely on trust and continuous “where are you going” queries.)  Regardless, I’m sorry – it’s just plain creepy, and thus it violates the LBS prime directive…if I do say so myself.

Loopt and Latitude are more complicated.  From an engineer’s perspective: not creepy. After all, both give the user a lot of “dials and nobs” to control who sees you as you walk around broadcasting your position to the internet.  But from a regular person perspective:  way creepy.  It’s just too easy to not get those settings right and accidentally reveal to your girlfriend that you are not, in fact, out with the guys but have somehow wandered over to your ex-girlfriend’s house.  (Emergency lines for such incidents:  “Probably just a bug in the GPS.  It wasn’t me.  Someone stole my phone!  Really, I only love you, baby!”)

Cabulous is a new service from UpStart Mobile (disclaimer, I work there), and UpStart’s mantra is – wait for it – yeah: “Don’t Be Creepy!”  (It’s kinda like Google’s “don’t be evil”.)

Cabulous lets you see nearby taxis on your smartphone map – the exact location of actual drivers.  But it does not let anyone see you.  You reveal your position only when you hail a specific driver and choose to let him – and only him – see where you are.  (Presumably at that point you want the driver to know where you are.)  If you do nothing else, your position disappears after a few minutes, and not even we at UpStart Mobile can tell where you are.

Ruling from the prime directive judges:  Not so creepy.
(Just kidding…there aren’t really any prime directive judges, though we are talking to Leonard Nimoy and Shatner about it.)

Wise Money

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on August 17, 2009

When you are looking for investors, they say you should find the smart money.

That is certainly true, but if you are very fortunate, you will also find the wise money.  New companies are usually run by smart people.  But most companies need all the sources of wisdom they can get.

I found a particularly good source of wisdom here in the Bay Area.

Who are your picks for wisest investors?

Intuit CEO Brad Smith on their Most Unlikely Partner

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on July 3, 2009

BusinessWeek‘s Reena Jana interviewed Intuit‘s CEO, Brad Smith in June.  Here’s the full interview.

Reena posed the question:  “What is the most unlikely external organization you’ve ever worked with.”

His answer started out with the old standards:  customers, partners, best practices…

But then he lit up and talked about a terrific new service solving a big problem for students that Intuit started as a result of Brad meeting with Marshall University.  Check out what they came up with at 4 minutes, 20 seconds into the interview.

I’m going to start asking this question to more leaders:  “What is the most unlikely external organization you’ve ever worked with.”  And I hope more and more answers involve finding those external connections not only from personal relationships of executives but through third-party relationships of people throughout their organization.

The Hidden Business Model

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on June 29, 2009

One of the most exciting things about business models arising out of Web 2.0 and social networking is how contributors sometimes get a never-ending return on their investment.

Amazon is a good example of this.  I published a middle-grade fiction book last year, and yesterday someone pointed me to a review that I didn’t know was there.  And I also noticed a jump in sales after that review hit.  It costs me nothing to keep my book for sale on Amazon.  It could sit there for 50 years, and it really doesn’t matter if it only sells one copy a year…that’s 50 people who will know the world of The Hidden Stage and its characters.  I’d be satisfied with that.

Print-on-demand, Kindle, Scribd, Web 2.0 – and just the internet itself…   Some days like today I’m reminded of how cool it is to live in this time where creative people can put their lines in the water of a global pool, kick back, enjoy the day, and not worry about how long it takes for the fish to swim by.

Thank you, Al Gore, for the Internet.  ;)

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Wall Street Journal on Innovation and Catering to Entrepreneurship

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on June 22, 2009

Today’s WSJ has a long article by three European professors (Drs. Bessant, Möslein, and von Stamm) about approaches to corporate innovation.  Most of it is a survey of the usual suspects:  do scenario-based brainstorming, use stuff like (I love innocentive, but if I see them referenced blithely in one more article I’m going to quit the innovation business and start a McDonalds franchise), and enlist ‘lead users’ (a nod to MIT’s Eric von Hippel).  And then, of course, there is the annoying call to “get everyone involved” in innovation.  And to that I say once again –

If you are interested in Improvement (even radical improvement), sure – get everyone doing it.  But if you are interested in Innovation (paradigm shift), empower your entrepreneurs.  And true entrepreneurs occur in any given population in very small numbers.

So at this point I was about to exit out of my iPhone copy of the WSJ when the article took a turn into promoting entrepreneurship.  They stick to the old stand-bys on this (20% “try your own ideas” time at 3M and Google), and they don’t mention some of the newer approaches for this – Y Combinator, TechStars, and UpStart, but they do talk about BMW’s “Uboat” approach to employee-created programs, which is less-often referenced.

In the past few years, the call for supporting corporate entrepreneurs has been notably absent from most of these kinds of innovation articles.  And while we need a lot more on this – after all, the entrepreneur is the one that takes an inert “idea” and makes it happen (often disrupting the status-quo) – it is nice to see the topic show up in a mainstream innovation article.

UpStart Meets the Mouse

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on June 12, 2009


This poster greeted me when I arrived at Disney today to deliver a talk about ways to build programs that support corporate entrepreneurs.

I’ll post from the slideshow I used in the coming days.

Disney really knows how to treat their guests. Thanks everyone!


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