By GREGORY ZELLER //
An East Islip startup on the edge of financial ruin – and the brink of mobile-tech greatness – has taken a big step forward.
Science Mobility LLC, the app-maker with a heart launched in 2014 by former Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory science librarian and grant writer Judy Wieber, has earned its first utility patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, covering Wieber’s Automated Text Response System.
The now-patented system, which powers the inventor’s flagship Communicavi and Beacly products, earned a provisional patent in 2014. Now, with it exclusivity guaranteed, Wieber can enjoy “a little more leverage to be able to approach investors with my ideas,” she told Innovate LI.
Her big ideas include Communicavi, which crunches data to automate routine texting requirements (“on my way” when map apps tell it you’re moving, “happy birthdays” as dictated by social media), and Beacly, a real-time registry of personal, business and organizational beacons with a host of potential benefits.
But the biggest idea, for now, is helping the flagships set sail. Science Mobility has other products in its pipeline – including DNAshare and Colleagueshare, two collaborative programs focused on scientific research – but its best commercial hopes rest with its automated-texting tools.
Noting a lack of working capital, Wieber lamented that both products are stuck in development hell – minimum viable products that are mere shells of what they can become. For now, only a Communicavi prototype is available for download from the Apple Store; a Beacly beta for Android was available in the Google Store, but citing third-party hosting fees, Wieber was forced to pull the plug.
The financials figure to improve with the issuance of the new U.S. patent, and Weiber’s growing familiarity with the venture-capital scene.
The inventor, who has unofficially set her sights on a $60,000 funding round, was among the presenters when the new LaunchPad Westbury cut its ribbon with an inaugural Pitch Night. That September presentation did not lead to any actual investments, she noted, but it did generate some informative follow-up conversations.
“I’m definitely looking for an angel investor,” Wieber said. “These two apps really need to be developed into more full-fledged products before they go to market.”
The entrepreneur, who uses third-party developers to create her app visions, has several ideas for upgrading the Communicavi and Beacly MVPs, including giving Communicavi its own set of beacon-response functions.
“So, if you had a beacon in your car, when you get in your phone would automatically send text messages to your closest contacts saying ‘I’m driving now, don’t text me,’” Wieber said. “And when you get out, it would trigger a message like, ‘OK, you can text me now.’”
The inventor will upgrade her lifestyle-focused apps “as soon as I get the money,” she noted, and what may be her best shot at that is still waiting in the wings.
Wieber remains a finalist to appear on the first season of “Planet of the Apps,” Apple’s unscripted reality-TV take on innovative app-makers. Wieber threw Communivaci into the ring early on and has already survived several cuts, and while its website says the show is still on course to film Season 1 in Los Angeles “from late 2016 to early 2017,” she still hasn’t heard whether she’s made the roster.
With a slot on the show promising “hands-on guidance from some of the most influential experts in the tech community, featured placement on the App Store and funding from top-tier VCs,” according to the “Planet” site, making the cut would be enormous for Wieber and her newly patented automated-text tech – so, while she does have other irons in the fire here on Long Island, the entrepreneur is ready to pack for Hollywood, if the call comes.
“The last I heard from the casting director, I was still in the mix,” Wieber said. “It would disrupt my entire situation, but that would be a good problem to have.”