Hello ,

Forrest Gump would have been an awesome startup founder.

He never struck me as a tech co-founder or a business co-founder, but he did something else that I think most founders could learn from. Everyday he found the time to work on just one thing. And more than once, he made the trip from novice to guru. Here are some thoughts on why this matters.

[Startup Candidate] Exybox - jet engines and construction equipment are constantly reporting data to manufacturers to enable their operation and maintenance to be optimized. Exybox is bringing this efficiency to HVAC.  

[Startup Candidate] CRC - Walkscore has come to shape our understanding of desirable urban living. Could a “Floodscore” (HT Andrew Frey) come to shape our understanding climate risks in coastal cities? CRC has created a tool to explore that question and potentially redefine real estate risk.

Growing Data About Private Companies -  An explosion in private company public data is being organized by teams like CBInsights, Mattermark and Pitchbook. It means more interesting observations. For example, we can see that corporate VC activity is going up, but also new players continue to enter the market (166 firms in 2014 vs 96 in 2005), as this Pitchbook data shows.  Smart building IOT? Cleantech? Greentech? Whatever you call it - startups helping to reduce energy use and/or footprint, are attracting cash again. Techcrunch has the numbers.

The Private IPO Market - on the theme of converging public and private markets, great perspective on the growing number of late stage private IPO rounds from Bill Gurley, who has seen this movie before.

Tech To Solve City Problems - Public Stuff is surveying cities to understand where they would like to use technology to solve their key challenges. Top of the list is infrastructure (traffic and road issues). More details.

Hardware Is Still Hard - this is not news to those of you shipping products, but it’s interesting to see some themes emerge. Why is my smart home so fucking dumb gives some sense of how Gizmodo is feeling about connecting multiple devices together. It speaks more generally to an experience that feels like buying an early PC versus a modern smartphone. Even devices that set out to make the experience simple are not launching to the kind of success we’d hoped to see. In an acknowledgement of unique hardware challenges, Y-Combinator is doing one of their first partnerships to ensure that they can better serve hardware startups.

[Opportunities] Prizes, Hackathons & Cisco EIR Program - the J.M.K Innovation Prize is a new prize focused on areas such as the human rights and the built environment. More at J.M.K. Innovation Prize (HT Carol Coletta). IBM & Intel’s global urban datafest is looking for participants as well as APIs’ related to urban problems. City of London is looking for smart wayfinding solutions. And Cisco is accepting applications to their EIR program in the US and EU.

[Smart City Startups] Science Fiction Sessions - While we have lots of practical sessions and demos, we’ve been working to add a few sessions to challenge our thinking on how the next few decades might play out. It’ hard to get the science right, while telling good stories, but we think we found a good person to take this on -  Ramez Naam. He will speak at the festival and join us for the summit, too.

We’re huge fans of both his award-winning Sci-fi writing which Wired has described as “Scary Good”. And of his most recent book, The Infinite Resource, Steven Pinker said “This book contains a plan - probably the only plan - to save the world.” We know you’d heard from lots of smart, thoughtful folks, but we still think Ramez will blow our minds. More on Mez.

 - Shaun & Stonly

P.S. Shaun will be at Launch Festival. Please let us know if you’re going.

P.S.S Need more Urban.Us? Find Us on Angel.co and Twitter.