Startup Monday: Instacanvas

Startup Monday is ABCey’s weekly post that features some of the best and brightest companies in the Bay Area. They are often companies that we have our eye on or have worked with in the past that we would like to share with the friends and followers of ABCey Events

Instagram’s filters and effects can make anyone with a camera look like a talented photographer. And, with the help of Instacanvas, that Instagram of your breakfast could be hanging on the wall of someone’s living room!

Instacanvas is an online service that allows people to buy and sell real-life prints of Instagram pictures. Instagram users can create a profile and choose which photos they want to feature in their gallery. The gallery is then published on the website for consumers to peruse and purchase.

As of now, you can turn an Instagram print into a canvas, framed print, 3D prism, greeting card, or iPhone case! More products are in the works, such as wearable art. Can you imagine people walking around with your art proudly displayed on their phone case?

Instacanvas is a compelling startup because it combines social networking and e-commerce to create a product that benefits both the producer and consumer. The photographer receives around 50% of the profits from the purchase and retains all rights to his or her product. That’s big news for someone who is casually sharing their photos with their Instagram followers!

Do you think your snapshots are gallery worthy? Share your thoughts with us in a comment or on Twitter and Facebook!

5 Creative Ways to use Social Media at your Next Event

People have been using social media to spread the word about their events for a while now, and ABCey thinks it’s time for a make-over! Follow our fun and effective tips that use technology to make your next event the very best it can be! 


1. Facebook Invitations with a Twist | Creating a Facebook event is so blah. Spice it up with a picture of you and the event details and tag your friends! These pictures combine the personal and creative feel of a handmade invitation with the accessibility of social media. 

2. Share What You Want | Using apps like the Scan & Add app from Gift Registry 360 allow you to update your gift registry at any time. If you see something you like, scan the barcode with your phone! The item will automatically appear on your registry and shared with your guests. 

3. Use a Photo Booth that Tweets | Guests will have a blast with Keshot, a photo booth that uses an iPad for guests to sent their photos at your event to their personal social media accounts. You can also customize the photobooth background to your event’s specific needs, like adding a corporate logo. Everyone loves to share their photos online, so make it fun for them!

4. InstaContest | Have guests send their best photos of your live event to your event’s personal Instagram page. Your guests will vote with their “likes,” and the winner can receive a special party favor during the event! This is a great way to keep guests interested in the party and appreciate your beautiful decorations! 

5. Tap a Thank-You | Instead of sending another e-card, use Felt, an iPad app that sends your hand-written cards to all your friends. Use the app to write or draw inside the card template and address the envelope. The card comes from the printer with your personal messages ready for delivery. This app is perfect for large events because it eliminates hand cramping after 500 thank-you notes!

How can you use social media for your next event? Let us know in a comment and on Facebook and Twitter!

Tech Gifts for the Low-Tech Dad

June 16th is fast-approaching! For this Father’s Day, usher dad into the modern age with some gift ideas that are perfect for the one man you know who still doesn’t own a smartphone. ABCey pulled together a list with items of varying price to help drag dad out of his cave and into the technological world!

1. Sony Action Video Camera | $179.99 | Every dad knows how crazy life can get and that no gadget is safe from kids dropping it in the pool or knocking it down the hill on a family hike. Luckily, the Sony Action Video Camera is as tough as they are. It’s weather-proof, shock-proof, and mountable for the dad who has his hands full with sippy cups and dollies. All the while, this little camera is shooting high-quality HD videos. 

2. Insignia LCD Digital Photo Frame |$59.99 | At their core, dads are family men who love to be surrounded by their loved ones. Show him that you’re always there in his office or on the mantle with a digital photo frame like Insignia’s eight-inch LCD screen. Downloading files from the computer to the frame is easy and will let him see all the pictures from the last family reunion at any time. You could even program photos in beforehand so it’s ready to go when he opens it!

3. Hot Rod Heated Travel Mug | $19.99 | When dad’s on the go and needs his morning cup of coffee to properly function, he’ll reach for his Hot Rod mug. During his morning commute, he can plug his thermos into his car’s cigarette lighter to turn the heater on and keep his coffee hot! The thermometer on the side shows the temperature of the drink inside so you don’t drink cold coffee or burn your tongue.

4. Sennheiser RS 160 Headphones | $199.95 | It’s not quite a vintage record machine, but we think dad will like these more. These Sennheiser headphones boast great features that’ll amp up his musical experience, like interference-free wireless sound quality, digital volume control, and resistance to interfering other wireless networks. Set-up is almost too easy: plug it into your audio source and start listening. 

5. Under Armour Armour39 | $149.99 | For all those active daddies out there, we know how much you love to brag about “killing it” at the gym! For you, we suggest Under Armour’s newest fitness-monitoring technology, Armour39. This device goes around your waist to measure all the usual suspects (calories burned, heart rate, and real-time intensity), including a new measurement called WILLpower, which scores your true athletic performance from 0.0-10.0. Do you think your dad can score a perfect 10?

Would your dad love any of these gifts? Tell us in a comment or on Facebook and Twitter!

The 5 Oddest iPhone Gadgets

Since we always seem to have our iPhones in hand, it was only a matter of time before we started inventing alternate uses for them. At ABCey, we’ve scoured our Pinterest for the most outrageous and downright absurd uses for iPhones out there. These just go to show that in the tech world, no idea is too far fetched!  

1. Fan | The Doc Fan for iPhone is technically the “coolest” accessory available! Simply plug the fan into the charger inlet of your iPhone and switch it on for a nice breeze during your rush hour commute. Although a fan would be nice sometimes, it must be a serious battery drain!

2. Ultrasound | Who needs a doctor when you own an iPhone? The MobiUS SP1 Ultrasound System is designed to bring affordable and available ultrasound imaging to anyone, anywhere. You can even use this device to take and send pictures to your doctor or relatives but, please, don’t make your unborn child a Facebook page. 

3. Bottle Opener | Since we never put down our iPhones anyway, we might as well put them to good use! Next time you’re having brews with your friends, why not use your Intoxicase iPhone case’s bottle opener to help you out? Nothing screams “iPhone replacement” like bending your phone repeatedly over carbonated liquids!

4. The Anti-Lonliness Ramen Bowl | No, we aren’t being sassy. There is really a product with this outrageous name! If you’ve ever had to make the crippling decision between using your hands to eat or to prop up your iPhone, help has finally arrived. Uses include using the bowl’s speaker function to listen to music, video chat with friends, or podcast the morning news over a bowl of cereal. 

5. Toilet Paper Holder | Imagine installing this in your bathroom! This iPod speaker system and toilet paper holder combo is for the special consumer who spends a considerable amount of time singing in the shower and requires back-up music. Just try to keep it from falling in, please!

Are these gadgets too bizarre, or would you like to own one? Tell us your thoughts in a comment or on Facebook and Twitter!

Upgrading the Invitation

At ABCey, we’re obsessed with all things tech and digital. Yet few things compare to opening up your mailbox and seeing a little envelope with your hand-written name on it. Sending prospective guests a non-digital invitation sets your event apart from the rest in our digital world. Our advice for invitations is to make them thematic, bold, and personal. Try out these creative twists on the traditional invitation to amp up the buzz for your next event!

1. Make it Yummy | Channel Willy Wonka and give your guests a golden ticket to remember! Everyone loves to get a little something sweet, so try printing the event details on the wrapper of a candy bar or over a tin of cookies. Whatever goodies you choose, make sure they can stand the trip without damage. 

2. Make it Useful | If you want people to remember your event far beyond its end, make an invitation that’s sure to stick around. This is a perfect idea for corporate or launch events to ensure your business, literally, becomes a household name! Think outside the pen and try a kitchen towel, candle, a mug, or a chip clip. Imagine any item you use daily and make it happen! 

3. Make it Pop | Reading in 2D is so overrated. Make your invitees work a little with invitations you decode with 3D glasses! Using 3D is a fun way to amp up a traditional paper and envelope in the mail. 

4. Make it Go | Make your next event a first-class affair with invitations for your favorite jet-setters. Even if your party isn’t a destination getaway, the same exotic feel can be achieved with luggage tags, tickets, hot air balloons, or train-themed cards and invitations. 

5. Make it Open | This is one instance where thinking inside the box can be fun and surprising. Although giving away boxes full of goodies can get pretty pricy, there are ways to keep your invitations inexpensive and chic. Boxes in all shapes, sizes, and colors are easy to find for around a dollar a piece and can be stuffed with confetti or a little balloon. Using a box makes your invite seem like a special gift to your guests, and who doesn’t love receiving packages?

Do you have a creative twist on the paper invitation? Tell us in a comment below or on Facebook and Twitter!

Startup Monday: Wanderable

Unique and new experiences can often be a more valuable gift than any new cookware or furniture. This is why Wanderable, a site for honeymoon registries, is such a great tool for wedding couples. Not only that, Wanderable also makes the tedious task of sending out thank you cards a breeze! At ABCey, we think that it’s a wonderful idea and would recommend this to any couple about to tie the knot!

One of the best aspects of Wanderable is that it will also help you plan your honeymoon by suggesting destinations and activities based on your travel style. Wanderable also gives you the control to customize your registry and make it beautiful with designer themes and various layouts. You can even choose your own custom link!

Wanderable makes it equally easy for you share your new and exciting experiences with the very people that helped pay for it. With the iPhone app, you can make a real or virtual postcard with the snap of your camera phone and a personal message to your guests. Wanderable will save you a trip (or more) to the post office by stamping and mailing your postcards. Finally, it keeps track of you who you’ve sent a thank-you card to and who you have yet to thank. Super!

With the help of Wanderable, you are able cut down one more stressful component of planning your wedding. Would you try Wanderable for your upcoming nuptuals? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter!

Top 5 Valentine’s Day Apps

Every year, we spend a whopping $17.6 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day. How lucky for Hallmark! ABCey has compiled a list of the most useful V-Day related apps, whether you’re celebrating or single. We hope you  them!

1. Helpful Romantic: Maybe you’re finding yourself a little unprepared, and maybe this app can (definitely) help you. It has last-minute date ideas and suggestions based on your significant others personality. You can even store highlights of your relationship so you never forget! 

2. Valentine’s Day Special: This app is chalk-full of V-Day poems, ways to say I love you, love poems, and even the best love making songs (not so sure about this one).

3. Red Stamp: Skip those lame cards this year and send a personalized e-card to your loved one via e-mail or text! You can even go for the snail-mail route for a small charge.

4. Crowded Room: Single this Valentine’s Day? This app is perfect to help you find a special someone. Check in where you are, and where you’re headed that night, and the app will help you meet people with similar interests! Good thing it works for the other 364 days of the year, too!

5. OpenTable: Haven’t made a reservation yet? Fear not, this app will allow you to see what is still available in their database of over 15,000 restaurants across the US, Canada and UK! Keep using the app and earn dining cheques: good at any OpenTable restaurant.

6. Love Scan: Try this super corny app with your loved one for a love match percentage and a laugh (all based on a fingerprint scan).

Let us know which apps you like best and what your plans are for this Valentine’s Day. Leave us a comment below or find us on Facebook & Twitter.


Startup Monday: Swish

ABCey Events is always on the hunt for the latest gadgets or tools that will serve as unique event gifts or help us to better plan an event. This just got a whole lot easier with Swish!  Swish, which only launched this past Friday, offers VERY new (not-yet-made) products from creators and inventors across the world. Each product gets a 30-day pre-order campaign giving all Swish users the chance to be one of the first people to own a new product.

If you’re hosting a tech event maybe you want to include a Card Ninja in your gift bag? I just finished baking an absurd amount of brownies for a Super Bowl party and could actually use the Ultimate Spatula. There are tons of innovative items that would be very helpful for event planners (and everyone) on this site.  Furthermore, never before has your order for something been so meaningful. 

Swish co-founder Heather Brundage tells us, “We want to give consumers a voice like the App Store or Reddit, where you get to go and say ‘Hey, I want that!’ and not be limited by what only big retailers think you will like.” When you order a product, you signify to everyone else and the public that the product is worthy and has value – moving it up on the Crowd Favorite list.  Your order invariably helps inventors determine a demand for their creation which gives them the go-ahead to ramp up production.

If Fab and Kickstarter had a startup baby, Swish would be their child. It is creative, fun gadgets and products for sale with a little crowdfunding thrown in the mix. It might take them a few months (or up to a year) to get these brand-new products to you, however, you will have the ultimate satisfaction that you’ll be one of the first people to get your hands on an awesome new product that you helped become a reality!

What’s your favorite product on their site? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter.

ABCey’s Top Gadgets from CES 2013

For those who don’t know about CES (The Consumer Electronics Show), it’s the gargantuan annual gathering of the gadget industry. CES takes place each winter in the Las Vegas Convention Center, a complex so massive that it spans a highway. It was reported that this year, many of the best products came out of startups, and even Kickstarter!

We also saw that CES 2013 featured more innovation from the digital health and fitness world than ever, including everything from health monitoring devices to mobile fitness apps. Also,  there was a star studded guest appearance by President Clinton, who discussed the importance of mobile technology to help people around the world.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite products that we hope you enjoy!

1. Interaxon’s Mind Controlled Headset | Interaxon designed Muse, a four-sensor brainwave headband to work with brain health, fitness, stress management, and other applications. Sensors in the headset read electrical frequencies emitting from the brain’s neurons (electroencephalography or EEG). Though this is old technology, Interaxon’s adaptation resulted in a lightweight headset that syncs what you’re thinking with an iOS or Android device- potentially very convenient.

2. Nano Nails touch screen styliiFor a woman with long nails and a touch screen smart phone, it can be a little difficult to get a lot done. Fortunately Sri Vellanki of Tech Tips created an over-the-fingetip stylus- but it then became a challenge to make it fashionable. Nano Nails uses the same design, but places it underneath the fingernail. In May, they will be available in a full press-on nail, or nail tip for around $10 per pack (4 or 6).

3. Moneual Smart TableThis Touch Table PC is going to revolutionize the restaurant industry. The idea of going to a restaurant, looking over the menu, ordering and paying, all without the waiter (and tempermental attitude) sounds beyond appealing. It can also be used for surfing the web, reading newspapers and magazines, and even playing music. We don’t know yet when it will be released, but hopefully soon!

4. Fitness Sensor EarphonesThe Iriver, by Valencell, has taken a little longer than expected, but will be available in March of this year. The best thing about the Iriver On is that it’s integrated with a device you already wear while exercising: earphones. There are no annoying clip on’s; you just monitor your heart rate, distance, cadence, speed, and calories burned while you rock out to your favorite songs. There is an app that will process all of the information it collects, as well.

5. Soft Headphones for SleepingSleepPhones “pajamas for your ears” were invented for those who want to lie down while listening to music with a pair of headphones. Regular headphones or earphones tend to feel uncomfortable and cause an slight annoyance, especially while you rest on your side. It can even be used on a flight as an eye-mask…that plays your music. How rad!

6. Cloud-based computerDell Wyse, the cloud computing subsidiary of the American Dell electronics company quietly revealed its latest product- Orphelia. This cloud-based computer on a USB-like device is going to be your best friend. It easily converts any TV or computer monitor into a functioning computer. This small device boasts an Internet accessible capability, keyboard and mouse support. Long gone is lugging your computer around on business trips or family vacations. Orphelia is all you’ll need.

Which of these products are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook & Twitter.

Gift Card Swap

It’s been several days since Christmas and I’m sure you’ve done all your returns and exchanges that come along with the holiday season. I am also sure you received a few gift cards to places where you will never shop at and aren’t sure what to do with. Don’t worry! There are plenty of sites that will help you sell or exchange your gift cards to places that you will actually shop at. Check out these five sites that ABCey recommends and see which one works out the best for you!

1. GiftCardRescue – This site allows you to sell gift cards you don’t want and get up to 90% cash. You are mailed check within 48 hours of receiving your gift card. Also with GiftCardRescue, you can swap gift cards for an Gift Card and get an additional 5%. Your exchange gift card code will be emailed to you within 48 hours of receiving your gift card. You can purchase discount gift cards from 4% up to 30% off and get free shipping. All discount gift card transactions are backed by a 100% money back guarantee. They offer gift cards to over 250 major brands.  They, however, will only buy plastic cards and not electronic codes. 

2. Plastic Jungle – When you sell gift cards to Plastic Jungle you decide how you want to exchange your cards. You can select an instant payment option and get up to 92% of the face value of the gift card paid out via PayPal or You can also swap gift cards for cash. When you choose Plastic Jungle for your gift card exchange, the postage to mail your gift cards to Plastic Jungle is covered. You also have the option to sell gift cards to Plastic Jungle and turn them into a donation to a nonprofit or another charitable organization of your choice. When you make a donation of cash for gift cards that would normally be unused, you are able to make a difference in your community and around the globe. Plastic Jungle offers over 400 retailers and brands of gift cards to buy or sell.

3. Carpool – A very easy gift card site to navigate, Cardpool’s name describes them both precisely and in a fun way. With its amazing inventory, Cardpool really is a pool full of gift cards. Like other sites, Carpool’s Gift Card Exchange section lets you buy gift cards for up to 35% off or sell gift cards for up to 92% cash back. When you sell a gift card to them, you get a choice of either cash in the form of a check or an gift card. If you choose the gift card route, your offer will be 5% more. All orders and transactions include FREE SHIPPING and are covered by their extensive Purchase Guarantee Program. When issues do arise, however, you do not have the option of contacting Cardpool customer service by phone.

4. CardCash – CardCash lets you buy discount gift cards for up to 35% off and sell them for up to 92% of the face value. If you don’t want to sell your gift card to CardCash, you are also able to trade it straight across for an gift card of the same exact balance. However, you will pay a transaction fee to trade. CardCash is slightly different than other gift card merchants in that they will purchase any remaining balance on a gift card. You can sell gift cards to CardCash with no minimum or maximum limit.  CardCash doesn’t offer as many categories as other gift card exchange services do but they are also one of the few gift card exchange services to offer sports leagues gift cards, such as cards to the NBA Store.

5. SwapaGift – SwapaGift offers the most unique way to get cash for your gift card out of all these sites. If you’re looking for cash immediately you can stop into one of their Certified Partner locations throughout the U.S. You can locate a store near you that will buy your gift card today for cash by simply selecting the state you are in from the map on their website. Gift card merchants and redemption rates may vary per store, and may be less than the mail-in rates but you can call ahead to obtain the redemption rate. Note that you can’t actual swap any gift cards online through this site!

These sites are great! Gift cards, in the past, have been go-to gifts for event gift packages so now, as the gift card giver, one never has to stress out too much about where to purchase your gift cards from.  Now you can rest assure that the people you’re giving a gift card to, have options on what they can do with your gift! Have you used any of these sites to get cash or a more suitable gift card? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook & Twitter.