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Get Appy This Winter Season

Appy Holidays!

ABBE’s SPARKS Weekly Blog for RFPalooza

The holidays are a time to help others. The best promotions do the same. As I write today’s blog entry from frozen Chicago where the high is 18 degrees, I can’t help but crave warmth via a burning fire, or hot soup and Chai Tea to fend off a guaranteed cold or illness. Enter a brilliant promotional partnership that uses technology to address my very same craving with a clever helpful offer to boost existing users frequency and attain new users.
Here is one of the best examples of using technology and partnering for a seasonal promotional campaign:

This holiday season, Uber launched an uber-clever promotion.

Uber and Vaccine Finder : The ridesharing service pilot program called UBER HEALTH offered a one-day promotion in select cities to help existing and potential new users from getting the flu this season.

The Promotion — UberHEALTH offered free flu prevention packs and flu shots On Demand. Together with Vaccine Finder, they offered to help consumers stay healthy this season.


Technology to the rescue.


Uber users could request this service within their Uber app. When the Uber car arrives (complete with a registered nurse aboard), users receive a flu prevention pack and have the option to request  flu shots from the nurse for up to 10 people – all at no cost.

Slogan: Stay healthy and Uber on!

The winter season and holidays can be stressful for everyone, particularly your clients. Promoting their brands for a successful and profitable winter doesn’t have to be difficult. The caveat for informed, health-minded consumers — brands can’t just do social good; they have to be good.

With a little extra effort, you can see big results that will let you end the year on a high and healthy note. Have a wonderful Wednesday.


    By Abbe Sparks

    Abbe Silverberg Sparks is the principal of Abbe Sparks Media Group (, a boutique communications firm specializing in media relations, cause and social media marketing, branding and special events planning.


Latest News

Roommate Connect© Cloud-Based Technology Scores Big in College Roommate Matching

Artificial Intelligence and Good Old-Fashioned Psychology Pair Matches Made in Heaven for Co-Eds On and Off Campus

Offered by parent company Compatibility®, LLC, Roommate Connect©, a cloud-based cutting-edge technology option for college roommate matching scores big in pairing matches made in heaven for co-eds on and off-campus. A combination of artificial intelligence (AI), psychology and years of proven research substantiate itself from its competitors as the compatibility breakthrough software universities and commercial student housing companies can use and must have to help students instantly find strong roommate matches.


Roommate Connect is the premiere technology product for college roommate matching on and off-campus
Roommate Connect’s cloud-based cutting-edge technology for optimal college roommate matching offered by parent company Compatibility LLC


In the desperate search for the best college roommate, several tech products have cropped up eager to be the solution to millions of co-eds’ prayers. The latest option is Roommate Connect©, a cloud-based cutting-edge technology that scores big in college roommate matching. Roommate Connect separates itself from its competitors by using a combination of artificial intelligence (AI = machine-run thinking), old-fashioned psychology and years of proven research to substantiate itself as the compatibility breakthrough software universities and commercial student housing companies can use and must have to help students instantly find strong roommate matches made in heaven.The first of four products offered by parent company, Compatibility®, LLC, an early stage start-up co-founded by Chicago business women Andrea Meltzer and Kim Rubenstein, a Doctor of Clinical Psychology.

Matching roommates according to similarities and differences, Roommate Connect promotes social and emotional development, as well as diversity and multi-cultural initiatives — which federally and state-funded schools are held accountable for. Other roommate matching companies match only according to similarities. The predictive technology supports a student’s commitment to early college engagement and success — learning about the student by measuring likes, dislikes, behaviors, personality and interests, as opposed to traditional surface characteristics. The corresponding algorithm accurately suggests matches and provides tailored communication tools for each student.

Matching Compatible Roommates Results in Greater Student Satisfaction and Renewals

“We are excited to be the first company to create a technology that could learn from and about students, in order to help them make the most informed choices available. Different than a Facebook where students tend to create profiles representing their ‘ideal’ rather than ‘true’ selves, our tool explores deeper level characteristics that really matter and are correlated with proven successful roommate outcomes. Simply put, we are the e-Harmony of college roommate non-romantic relationship matching.” — co-founder and Chief Research and Product Officer, Dr. Kim Rubenstein

The Numbers Don’t Lie*

  • 1 in 5 students today leave college before completing their sophomore year.
  • 81% of all students who completed the Roommate Connect program said it made them feel more engaged as an incoming student.
  • 3 out of 4 students who chose a roommate based on Roommate Connect’s recommendations felt like they had made the right choice.
  •  91% of the students using the Roommate Connect Program to help select a roommate reported that it made them feel like their school sincerely cared about them.

· Results based upon an in-depth study of findings of actual university students who were matched with the compatibility platform against those from the same incoming class that used alternative methods.

“We understand what makes relationships work. We’re also the only company that provides students with the tools and feedback to make informed choices. When a young adult makes their own choices they are more likely to work harder to make a relationship work. They’re also more likely to have a successful relationship with someone who isn’t just like them.” – co-founder and CEO, Andrea Meltzer

Initially beta-tested in 2011 by University of New Haven in Connecticut, the trial was so successful that the school began implementing the software right away as a benefit to its students’ campus life experience.

Currently, Roommate Connect has arrangements with commercial student housing properties’ Chicago-based Scion Group and Campus Suites, headquartered in Winter Garden, Florida. In April, the Scion Group, one of North America’s leading owners, operators and advisers of student housing with nearly 16,000 beds serving 17 campus markets, announced a pilot program to implement Roommate Connect at a portion of its communities. Campus Suites, a leader with over 30 years of experience in the commercial student housing market, is currently in the process of developing more than 13,900 student housing and conventional bedroom suites throughout Canada and the United States. Compatibility has provided a French translation of the software to the company for this market.

Compatibility®, LLC is an early stage start-up technology company headquartered in Chicago that offers four software products geared for the higher education market. The company was co-founded by two business women, Andrea Meltzer and Kim Rubenstein, a Doctor of Clinical Psychology. Roommate Connect©, designed to improve resident satisfaction and reduce attrition by facilitating better roommate matching and enhancing harmonious relationships among roommates, is the first product to roll-out nationwide to universities and commercial student housing properties. Peer Connect©, Mentor Connect© and Social Connect© will begin to rollout later this year. Compatibility’s headquarters is at 8650 N. Keeler Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076, Phone: 877.563.9297, info(at)compatibilityconnect(dot)com

For media inquiries contact: Abbe Sparks for Compatibility,


Links: (@studentconnect)


Latest News

A Tech Startup Kinda’ Town, Chicago Is

Chicago’s Exploding Tech Startup Scene: Second to None

first posted by Rebecca lliff, Huff Postt Tech, January 28, 2013


After having left Chicago for the West Coast nearly six years ago, I recently returned on a technology-related business trip anxious to assuage my FOMO on perhaps the greatest tech opportunity in the U.S.

Within 24 hours of my arrival I was connected to a handful of the city’s startup ringmasters, offered VIP tickets to EE12 (Chicago’s preeminent New Year’s Eve event for entrepreneurs benefitting the H Foundation) and invited to the CEC’s 2013 Startup Forecast event.

I was floored. Why was everyone so nice and helpful? But then I remembered…right, this is the Midwest, this is how it works.

Chicago enjoys a unique quality that neither of the coasts will ever master: it’s perfectly satisfied being perceived as un-tech-sexy, un-cool, and downright value-driven. Bonus: it’s also relatively affordable as far as big cities go.

It’s not that Chicago isn’t cool, or that its arts and culture (home to Lookingglass and Steppenwolf theatre companies), fashion forward thinking, and nightlife scene – much of which is owed to the city’s master social staple Billy Dec and Rockit Ranch Productions – aren’t up to par. Rather, Chicago foregoes building an economy around trends, much of which is perpetuated by media and industry pundits.

That’s right. The same old fashioned, undercover-come-mafioso, diligent qualities that launched a little known Senator squarely into the Oval Office have [recently] had the same effect on the city’s tech startup scene.

But why will this city be an important national contender during the next decade of job growth, education, and investment in tech?

The Groupon effect

Despite its somewhat controversial reputation, or at least in terms of its love-hate relationship with the media, the overnight success of Chicago-based Groupon arguably catapulted the local tech scene into the spotlight. Beyond [somehow] managing to sidestep a Google acquisition and going for the IPO-gusto, the founders have served the local community through the establishment of “Chicago Ideas Week” and have been an integral part of cultivating the local investment pool.

The third and “quieter” Groupon Co-founder, Brad Keywell, is also a Co-founder and Managing Partner atLightbank, an investment firm keen on early stage, disruptive technology companies, many of which have sprouted up from the Midwest.

According to Mr. Keywell: “The pace of startups being founded in Chicago is moving faster than ever, with 195 companies started in 2012 according to data that Built in Chicago shared with me. That’s about double what it was two years ago. We’ve also seen exits (acquisitions, mergers, IPOs) at almost four times the rate they were two years ago. With a new digital startup every 48 hours, we’re in the game and building our own unique global tech hub.”

The media amplification engine

A major leading indicator of an exploding industry or market is the number of media distribution channels near or around a source. While most of the authoritative tech and business-focused media are based in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, given their proximity to news sources (VCs, PR folks, founders, analysts, experts, wack-a-doo celebrities, etc.), Chicago’s recent “on the map” status has given rise to a growing media infrastructure.

From the Chicago Tribune’s expanded coverage of the technology sector, to the recent launch of Technori(Chicago’s very own “TechCrunch with a soul” if you will) spearheaded by Seth Kravitz, the windy city isn’t blowing any smoke – this is serious business.

Captial, capital, capital

Kevin Willer, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) working out of the city’s premier incubator 1871, puts it aptly:

“In order for the startup ecosystem to thrive, three types of capital are required: human, financial, and social.

“In terms of human capital we have two of the top five business schools, five renowned design schools, and access to several universities with leading computer sciences programs. Its not that the talent isn’t here, it’s that we are tasked with keeping them here.”

Beyond human capital, financial capital is likewise required to support an entrepreneurial environment where risk is high.

“Capital follows great opportunity and we’ve been seeing this over the past two years. Local VC firms are keeping investments local and national VC firms are starting to come here looking for deals. We’re talking about rather sizeable investments ranging from 10M to 40M. Additionally, Chicago has an extremely supportive ‘Angel’ community, which provides ample support to our seed stage companies.”

While governments are typically discouraged from interfering with the private sector, the engagement of the Mayor’s office (Rahm Emanuel) and the Illinois state government has been well received. Chicago has created a “tech friendly” environment through its quest to make the city more “wired”, and a government-backed early stage venture fund has been instrumental for growth.

This kind of social capital does not preclude the influence of Chicago-based Fortune 500 companies and their interest in supporting the startup scene. From Walgreens and Allstate to United Airlines and JPMorgan Chase, big opportunities are attracting big businesses.

Community builders
It’s easy to undermine the importance of the less obvious aspects of what makes an emerging economy tick. Beyond just the capital requirements, the media engine, and the super-star standouts, community support mechanisms must also exist.

Entrepreneurs need a place to work that inspires collaboration and sharing of ideas; to this end Chicago has reinvigorated River North’s Merchandise Mart with 1871. The Coop, TechNexus, Enerspace and Catapult Chicago also provide startups with options for shared space and networking. Next generation talent and “mature” workforce participants also need guidance and support. Through The Starter League, individuals can learn the basics of what is required for the swiftly shifting job market.

And what of entertainment, fun, and rewards for a job well done? Chicago has this too. From professional sports to a slew of award-winning restaurants and nightclubs, which makes for the city’s very own celebrity scene of sorts, local ‘treps have plenty of choices when it comes to unwinding from the daily stress of running a startup.

History in the making
Chicago’s speedy rise through the ranks of a tech-epicenter has been years, if not decades, in the making. While it’s easy to become enamored by startup darlings such as GrubHubBraintreeSproutSocial, andBelly, and emerging tech companies like FoodGenius and Narrative Science, the importance of the city’s solid technology roots should not be overlooked.

Starting with Motorola in 1928, then known as Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, Chicago slowly but surely built an ecosystem ripe for technology innovation. Remember Feedburner? How about Orbitz? Before Angels and VC firms afforded startup founders the luxury of business and monetization model exploration, WyzAnt bootstrapped their way to profitability as the leading, online matchmaking service for tutors and students across the U.S.

The next decade and Chicago’s big bang

Despite the vast challenges and opportunities that surely lie ahead, my hope and desire for Chicago is as solid as my Midwest roots: that the city not lose its soulful approach to building and sustaining an innovation economy. What has always made Chicago great is its ability to foresee the future without the distraction of fantastical pies in the sky.

What the technology industry needs over the next decade is self-effacing, total innovation devoid of sexed up, useless solutions to problems our over-techy culture have created. We need solid solutions to systemic, industry-wide problems driven by technological advancement.

Could Chicago lead this charge?

In the words of Al Capone: “This American system of ours, call it Americanism, call it capitalism, call it what you will, gives each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.”


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Facebook Adds COO Sandberg To Board, Naming First Woman Director

Facebook Adds COO Sandberg To Board, Naming First Woman Director

By Brian Womack – Jun 25, 2012 8:01 PM CT

Facebook Inc. (FB), facing criticism for a lack of diversity on its board, appointed Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg as its first female director.

“Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement yesterday. “Her understanding of our mission and long-term opportunity, and her experience both at Facebook and on public company boards makes her a natural fit for our board.”Facebook has been seeking to add directors, including at least one woman, who can make its board more inclusive, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

Causes Clients Latest News Nonprofit Events Philanthropically Speaking

5 Startups Changing the World With Tech

Mashable interviews the faces behind the startups and projects that are working to make a global impact. Blackbaud, Green Spaces, Givey, The Adventure Project and FairShareMusic.

These companies provide technological solutions for non-profits, give fledgling startups a place to work and donate to charity every time a song is downloaded. While the companies are diverse, they are all on a mission to change our lives for the better and improve society…