I’ll be honest – when I looked at the list of companies that were going to demo at last nights WebInno event, I was pretty underwhelmed. There was Virtual Ubiquity, and online word processor; MyDesignIn, a remodeling planning tool; and Cardvio, an online greeting card company. I’d gone to each of their sites before the event and was not expecting much.
One thing that did strike me right off the bat was how much this event has grown over a pretty short time. I attended my first back in July and there were maybe a hundred some odd people (which really impressed me at the time). This time, the event was being held in one of the hotel ballrooms because more than 300 people had registered. By the time the demos started it was standing room only – very cool.
On to the demos . . .
Virtual Ubiquity went first. Their demo was like magic. They have a WYSIWYG word processor built in Flash that looked absolutely awesome. They also promised that it would be support Apollo to provide online and offline capabilities. Several features of the applications – its formatting and comment tools – got spontaneous applause from the audience.
The only think that wasn’t discussed was how the thing was going to actually make money. A small detail, perhaps, but one not to be ignored . . .
Next up was mydesignin. This is a Flash-based home remodeling tool. When I’d gone to the Web site I didn’t think much of the idea, I just didn’t get it. When they began to show it off though, I got it – and I think everyone else in the room did too. They provide really simple tools for accurately creating a sketch of a space and then populating that space with the real details of real products. They currently are able to scrape the relevant data from any Web site – so if you’re looking for a sink, you can get all you need by visiting a manufacturers site, selecting a model and the applications collects the data it needs to add the item to the design.
One of the cool things is that the site maintains a persistent dataset of all of the items users select so that over time more and more items are available without needing to seek them out online. They have plans to work with manufacturers to sell premium product placements on the screens of consumers working on specific kinds of products. I can imagine that being of some interest. . .
The final piece of the puzzle is the ability to collaborate. He wasn’t able to demo this but did discuss a couple of ways it would work. One is that people could find the designs of others who had worked on similar projects in the past – the same shape kitchen, the same appliance outlet layout, etc. Another is that contractors could use it to help homeowners develop their ideas more quickly and accurately. In either case, I could see where there might be some benefit.
People were clearly impressed by the idea and the demo. I think that one of the questions summed it up pretty well: “This idea is going to make you so much money, how are you going to spend it?”
The last presenter was Cardvio. When I’d seen their name I assumed it was going to be some kind of heart thing. Nope. It’s greeting cards. Now I’ll be honest, I can’t remember the last time I sent a card – but maybe that’s the idea of Cardvio: make it easy.
Also built on Flash, Cardvio allows people to create and send custom cards through the mail. You can add photos and images (your own or from a collection offered by the company), your own text and mail them to one or 1,000 people. They also have a fund raising element to the site which allows you to send cause-related cards to benefit specific groups. They’ve also had the ability to send cards added to the homepages of a number of non-profit organizations.
It’s a nice idea I guess but it didn’t really do much for me.
Talking with people after the demos it seemed that people were most impressed by mydesignin, followed by Virtual Ubiquity and then Cardvio. I was talking with Matt Gross, of Ulocate, afterward and he pointed out that perhaps the most interesting this was that all of the companies were built on Flash. A good point.
I didn’t see all of the side dish companies – only Povo – a block-level, location-based, wiki-driven community site – and thenextbigwriter – a community site for aspiring writers. I loved the spirit behind thenextbigwriter and the execution of Povo.
I had a chance to hang out with Dave Evans and Dave Cutler (which resulted in some ideas that need a post of their own when I have a chance) and Rod Begbie as well. All in all it was a good night and I’m looking forward to the next one in May.
You can find Dave Evan’s post on the night’s festivities here.
[tags]WebInno, Virtual Ubiquity, mydesignin, cardvio, Dave Evans, Dave Cutler, Rod Begbie, Matt Gross, ulocate, Povo, thenextbigwriter[/tags]