WebInno continues to be a must-attend event here in Boston and this month’s installment (and the last of the year) shows no sign of disappointing.
So let’s see what’s on deck, shall we?
FlipKey– these guys are all about helping find great vacation rentals. Now you may be saying to yourself, “how hard can it be?” and to a certain extent, you’d be right. But their point is that most people find it much easier to simply book a hotel room rather than looking for a place to rent. They’re also saying that there are tons of vacation properties around that are vacant most of the time so their owners are missing out on some economic upside. FlipKey wants to make finding and renting a vacation property simple. Maybe it’s not a cure for cancer but sounds pretty cool to me.
Expectation that I’ll be wowed – not super high. The idea makes sense and all but I’m not sure it’s going to be a big show-stopper demo.
Chances that I’m way off base – pretty low. I get the idea and am looking forward to seeing it but don’t expect it’s far from my expectations.
Lemonade – billed as ecommerce for everyone, I’m a little confused by Lemonade. It’s not like you have to own the products you sell on your stand, you only “recommend” them. You can put your stand on Facebook and other social networks which is good since who’s going to go to Lemonade to find my stand? Seems odd but what the hell, I signed up. That process was pretty smooth (the section for selecting your date of birth didn’t really work) and parts of it were really slick (the tool for choosing your stand color comes to mind). The range of products you can include on your stand is pretty extensive – almost a million – and they run the gambit from pretty cool to pretty crappy. One thing that I wasn’t clear on – and it might just because I didn’t read everything as carefully as I should have – was how you (and Lemonade) actually make money. I guess they’ll explain all that on Tuesday.
Expectation that I’ll be wowed – I really, really want to be wowed by this. If it’s a way for me to make a little cash I’m all over it.
Chances that I’m way off base – very high. This sounds too good to be true so it probably is.
iiProperty – I guess if one “i” in front of a word is good, two “i”s must be twice as good. Either that or this is targeting aspiring sailors. Joking aside, this is an online property management tool for owners, builders, realtors, etc. who need to manage property as a commercial asset. This is the second property related demo at the event and it will be interesting to see if there is any connection between the way they each talk about themselves and their market. It’s also the second company I’ve seen in the past few days that seeks to automate a business process to make it easier and more palatable. (The other is FreshBooks http://www.freshbooks.com/ – which is seeking to provide billing systems.) Not being in their target market (although I do like boats) I didn’t register for this one to check it out. The idea makes sense though, and I will say, I was a building manager at one point and there were lots of parts of the job that would have been easier with a computer or something but it was the 80s so what can you do?
Expectations that I’ll be wowed – moderate. I don’t really know all the ins and outs and intricacies of property management so I may be pretty easy to impress.
Chances that I’m way off base – equally moderate. Who knows . . .
Carbon Rally – now this is cool. It uses competition to get people to make little changes in their lives to deal with environmental issues. The site issues challenges – things like giving up bottled water for a week – and calculates the carbon impact this will have. It encourages people to create teams of friends and colleagues to compete with others to see who can eliminate the most carbon from their day-to-day activities. As someone who recently gave up his parking space in Kendall Square in favor of the train, I’m all for what they’re doing.
Expectations that I’ll be wowed – pretty high. I like what these guys are doing, I like the approach they are taking and want it to work.
Chances that I’m way off base – pretty low. What I’ve seen of the site looks good.
Mixandmeet – kind of like flashmobs meet online dating – but not quite, Mix&meet lets you create social situations with random people on the fly. Hmmmm. So you feel like grabbing a drink after work but all your co-workers are losers? Just tell Mix&meet where you are and what you want to do and you’ll get a note telling you who you’re meeting, where and when. It sounds pretty cool to me. I actually met the founder, Bruce Franco, the other night at the xconomy launch party and he sure made it sound appealing. I signed up for the service but it’s not quite ready just yet so I guess I’m going to have to wait.
Expectations that I’ll be wowed – as someone who loves going out to drink and meeting new people, I expect I’ll think this is pretty cool.
Chances that I’m way off base – pretty good. I’m 41 and I’m willing to bet that this is going to be popular with a slightly younger set and I’ll be seen as kind of an outlier.
Panospin – haven’t I seen this somewhere before? Panospin provides360 degree panoramas and to be honest, I know these have been around for years – years and years and years. So I’m honestly curious about what makes this different, new or better than previous incarnations. The language on the site seems a little bizarre to me – “Although still photography is good for detailed views, it doesn’t simulate a real life experience the way a 360 degree panorama can.” Huh. By this logic, video would be even better for “simulating” real life, so why not just grab a camcorder and go nuts. Color me skeptical.
Expectations that I’ll be wowed – hovering at or below the Mendoza line.
Chances that I’m way off base – fair I suppose – it’s possible that I’m missing some wonderful and essential fact about Panospin that will totally blow me away . . . but I doubt it.
360gadget – when I first saw this company’s name I thought, “is it really possible that there are TWO 360 degree panorama companies coming to WebInno?” Not surprisingly, the answer is “no.” So what does 360gadget do? The apparently provide a customized Facebook page that can contain all sorts of terrific stuff – Google search, RSS, YouTube, etc. I say apparently because every link I tried on the page gave me a slightly different error message. I’ll try it again at some point but I didn’t really do that much for me.
Expectations that I’ll be wowed – gimmie a Z, “Z”, gimme an E, “E”, gimme an R, “R”, gimmie an O, “O”, what’s that spell? “Zero!” What’s that spell, “Zero!!”
Chances that I’m way off base – very high. Look, the thing wasn’t working when I went to check it out and so it might be beyond fantastic. Having a broken site isn’t good though so I’ll have to wait till Tuesday to see for sure I guess.
Student Concourse – ah for those halcyon days of carefree youth! But it looks like youth isn’t as carefree as it used to be (or at least as carefree as I remember it). Student Concourse vows to help though and they’ve created what looks like a pretty slick application. Not only does the application itself look pretty cool, the site is nice as well. Being that I’m not a student in the most technical sense of the word, there’s plenty about this application that’s probably Greek to me but I’m still looking forward to checking it out.
Expectations that I’ll be wowed – very high. From the little I’ve seen I want to see more so I am hopeful.
Chances that I’m way off base – pretty low. I think this looks cool – of course there are a ton of questions and I’m only talking about this from an application/technology perspective – who knows about the business model . . .
Untravel Media – so just because of the order they’re listed on the WebInno page (kinda sorta alphabetical) this is the last company I checked out. It also happens to be the one that I think is the most interesting. It combines a bunch of stuff that I really like – mobility, travel, media, etc. So what is this all about? It’s about portable content on places produced by the people who live there and telling interesting stories. There are a few examples up on the site now – “Creeping through Boston” – that has to do with Salem (for Halloween and all). The concept, content, site, etc. are all very polished. The process for creating the content is pretty complicated and I hope that it isn’t always going to be (you have to apply to product content, go through a review and training process, attend regular meetings, etc.). It would be great is people were able to do these films in a faster and more flexible process. I can imagine people seeing this content and deciding they can do it without all of the process and overhead. Either way though, this is cool.
Expectations that I’ll be wowed – super high. I like this one very much.
Chances that I’m way off base – tiny; it’s possible that it’s going to seem way less cool when I see it in person but I don’t think so.
So that about wraps things up for my WebInno15 preview. I think the companies look pretty good this month. I’m bummed it’s the last one of the year but it looks like it’s going to end on a high note. Keep your eyes peeled for my scorecard after the event to see how close my preview was to reality.
[tags]WebInno, FlipKey, Lemonade, iiProperty, Carbon Rally, MixandMeet, Panospin, 360gadget, student concourse, untravel media[/tags]