WASHINGTON, July 25, 2013 – Jon Fisher is one of the cofounders of CrowdOptic, an amazingly disruptive startup that promises to bring about one of the biggest shifts in our relationship to technology since the birth of social media.
CrowdOptic analyzes where people point their smartphones to identify activity hot spots, engage users with contextual applications, and curate social media content.
“I like to be referred to as an inventor” says the 20-year serial entrepreneur. “I build businesses from ground zero. Society calls that entrepreneurship; I call it invention.”
“The vast majority of startup successes are strategic acquisitions by a handful of companies”, he said during a recent interview. Before co-founding CrowdOptic, he was a co-founder of Bharosa, a leading provider of fraud prevention and authentication security solutions. Bharosa was acquired by the technology giant Oracle in 2007.
Jon is a well-sought after lecturer on the subject of entrepreneurship. One of the things he is most known for is his bullishness on the importance of protecting the intellectual property of startups to better facilitate the incubation of success. “In order to get close to companies like Oracle”, says Jon, “we [entrepreneurs] need some mechanism so that the larger company doesn’t steal the idea.”
“Very few startups ever grow to become large or even have enough of a window of time to grow large”, he continued. “Patents are critical during the incubation process. In fact, I think they are the most important ingredient to a startup’s success because they make its business concept defensible.”
Jon’s former company Bharosa was awarded a key contextual authentication patent—number 7908645. It ultimately received five issued patents with 12 patents pending. His current company CrowdOptic has just been awarded a US patent allowance for its new and innovative solution. Fisher explains: “We recently received a patent allowance on the technology behind triangulating 2 or more electronic devices focused in the same direction at the same time. For instance, consider two phones at a common event triangulated to come up with a location of where the phones are looking.”
CrowdOptic’s website asks its viewers to consider the following potential scenarios using its technology:
- Find Facebook friends of yours that are present at an event such as a concert or sporting event.
- Use an electronic news gathering app to find the location of breaking news to which multiple mobile phones are pointed.
- Auto tag uploaded phone images and find similarly tagged images taken by others on their phones.
- View a virtual art gallery via your smart phone.
- Gather real-time marketing analytics for your retail business based on where cell phones are being pointed in places like Times Square.
As cool as these scenarios are, however, Jon feels that CrowdOptic’s technology has much farther reaching implications. “We see this technology as a building block to larger shifts, even without mobile”, he said. “Even by serendipity you are going to end up focusing on something at the same time in an instant as someone else. Imagine how this might influence the experience of a product such as Google Glass.”
One of Jon’s biggest concerns, however, is the ominous cloud of lobbying and possible legislation aimed at either retarding or eliminating patents. “In this age of e-business there is a lot of discussion about the patent process. There is a rationalization that patents slow us down and there is some powerful lobbying taking place right now to deemphasize them. Patents are tough to get for good reason. Awarding deserving entrepreneurs protection of their ideas is critical to investing in capitalism and fostering innovation.”
“There is simply no reason that nine out of ten businesses should be failing,” he continued. “The problem is that there is no mechanism for budding entrepreneurism; there is no structure that supports success. A thorough knowledge of patents could help to change all of that.”
Jon and the rest of the leadership team behind CrowdOptic and Bharosa have built 4 very successful startups over a period of 15-20 years together. “We’ve done this over and over again,” he says. “We’re a context team.
“CrowdOptic is a context idea as well,” Jon asserts. “Its technology helps us to uncover the subjects of mutual, simultaneous focus within the context of small groups and/or large populations. While location is ubiquitous, we think focus is going to be the next ‘big thing’ that disrupts the way we live and interact. To have the US government grant us a position at the table for this shift is a huge honor both for me and my engineering team.”
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