WebInno 15 – Scorecard

I’m a bit tardy in getting up my scorecard from last week’s event – I had to travel, got real busy, etc., etc., etc. OK, so it’s lame that it’s taken a week; but better late than never, right?

So let’s see how I did calling the companies:


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.

I was definitely impressed by what these guys had to say. There was one point in their demo when they showed a search for property on VRBO. It was a totally confusing mess. Then they showed the same search on Flipkey. Let me just say that the results were way, way different. And different in a good way – no, a great way. The site is slick, the content strong and they’ve really seemed to think through the business details.

I missed the boat in terms of being wowed by the demo – the night and day difference between Flipkey and what’s out there now was pretty dramatic.


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.

So I saw the demo and heard the story but I still wasn’t that blown away but Lemonade. I get the idea, but I’m not a big impulse shopper and that’s kind of critical for this to work. I mean, if I’m looking for something, I’m more likely to go to a company Web site or Amazon or Google rather than a friend’s Facebook page. But that’s just me.

I will say that they have a good looking site and that they’ve considered how they’re going to make money – both good things; but I just don’t see how it’s going gain any traction. Of course their job got a whole lot harder when Facebook announced a new, friendly approach to advertising . . .


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 . . .

So it turns out that the “ii” has nothing to do with sailors – which is kind of disappointing. What wasn’t disappointing was their demo. Now I’m not going to say that EVERYTHING about it was cool or impressive but there was certainly some stuff in there that was. They are going after “casual” landlords – people with a few properties but who aren’t living the landlord dream.

They showed a pretty slick dashboard for managing properties, contacting tenants, etc. It looked pretty nice. But that wasn’t all. They also showed a version that’s intended for renters. It allows them to put in repair requests, correspond with their landlord and even, in the future, pay rent online. There was another slick little think they showed – the rentometer – that showed all of the current rents for specific kinds of properties. It looked nice and all but I don’t think it’s going to help anyone argue for a rent reduction . . .

Side Dishes:

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.

I had a chance to talk to these guys a little before things got rolling and was impressed. It’s clean and simple site, it’s not trying to do too many things and I could see how it might get people engaged. What I don’t see is any way from these guys to make money.


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.

I didn’t have a chance to talk with Bruce but saw his short description of the site. It does sound good and he’s pretty passionate about it. I can’t really say much beyond that.


Haven’t I seen this somewhere before? Panospin provides 360 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.

OK, so I checked this out. Still doesn’t do much for me but I do understand it better. These guys didn’t develop the technology or anything, they’re basically a production company that can make products, sites, etc. look good in 3D. I wasn’t wowed, not by a long shot, but I guess I can understand why people might use them. How many places have this capability themselves? Let alone the skill and eye to do it well?


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.

So I didn’t really check this one out. Things came up, what can I say? I have to say though that I just don’t think this is very interesting at all.

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 . . .

OK, so I didn’t really check this one out either. But what was cool about it is that it was developed by a kid in high school. I’m betting he has a pretty good handle on what’s needed to be a successful student these days so I’m willing to guess that this is probably a pretty solid offering. A pity that I won’t have the occasion to attend high school again, that would rock on so many levels.

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.

I went in expecting to be impressed and I wasn’t disappointed. Having worked at Alcatraz (I was a park ranger) I understand how much people love location-based rich content (I’m referring to the audio tour of the prison). Untravel is making that kind of content – even richer with the addition of images and video – available for anywhere someone wants to produce it.

The types of content and kinds of devices they support was good and will only get better as they add GPS support in the future. I also love it that anyone can create content for the platform. I like being able to share and hear stories about places (I liked SpotStory and am bummed that it folded) and can imagine all sorts of tours that I’d like to create. The tools for doing them looked good and I am hoping to try my hand before too long.

So that was it in terms of the companies last week. Beyond the companies though there was the whole social scene that is WebInno. That continues to grow and improve. No more WebInnos now until the end of January. That stinks.

Hope you enjoyed this little recap. Let me know what you think – if you agree, disagree, etc.

[tags]WebInno, FlipKey, Lemonade, iiProperty, Carbon Rally, MixandMeet, Panospin, 360gadget, student concourse, untravel media[/tags]


5 thoughts on “WebInno 15 – Scorecard

  1. Hey Greg,

    We appreciate the nice words you had to say about Untravel. As you may know we have posted a link to your blog on http://www.untravelmedia.com. I love that you were a ranger at Alcatraz. That tour was one of my original inspirations for starting the company. I actually featured the audio from “solitary confinement” in several papers I wrote at MIT. I’d love to chat with you at some point about what we’re up to and show you the latest developments here. Drop me a line any time.

    CEO, Untravel Media

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