WebInno29 Preview

We’re just a few days hours away from WebInno29! Yay! It’s gonna be awesome. If you’re free on Monday night you should *definitely* come down to the Royal Sonesta and get your Inno on. I’m planning on being there with my handy dandy camera and I hope you’ll be too. If you are maybe I’ll take your picture. Here are a few faces from past WebInno events – you can see WAY more faces in my 1000faces project if you’re interested.

But enough about faces! This post is all about the companies that are going to be sharing their stuff at WebInno so let me get down to brass tacks and let you know what I think . . .

Followup.cc Stop forgetting! Remember to FollowUp – I’m terrible at remembering things. I’ve tried a ton of organizers, reminders, calendars, apps, etc. but nothing works. The problem is you need to remember to use whatever system you put in place – and what’s supposed to remind you to do that? I kind of think that if you’re an organized person you don’t need organizational tools and if you’re a disorganized person no number of tools is ever going to save you. Maybe I’m being pessimistic? I’m certainly overstating things – even though I’m pretty unorganized I have benefited from tools like this in the past.

I signed up for Followup and then promptly forgot about it. Then I went back to the site to write up my impressions. I clicked the calendar and saw that I was logged in. Staring at the calendar (which was blank) I tried to add something to be reminded of but there was no interface to add anything. Staring at it for a while I decided I’d better check out the demo. That made things much clearer. Basically, Followup lets you send yourself reminder emails. You can send yourself a specific reminder or bcc yourself on an email to someone else to help jog your memory later on.

But wait, you might be saying, how does Followup know when to send you this reminder? Well it’s simple(ish). After registering your email address, you simply send to X@followup.cc (where X is the time or number of days until you want to be reminded. For example you’d address it to 1d@followup.cc to be reminded in one day or 3@followup.cc to be reminded at 3:00.) This system seems to work well but you can’t be too precise with it – you can’t (at least not that I could find with a really precursory search) say you wanted a reminder at 11:35.

I guess this is kind of cool. It seems like a good feature for email applications to include but it doesn’t strike me as the basis for a company. I suppose if you want email providers to be aware of you you need to start somewhere though. The service does integrate with iCal so you can see what your day looks like but if you carry a smartphone you can pretty much see that by looking at your calendar. Color me cool on this one – I need to be convinced that there’s something bigger going on that I missed.

Practically Green Learn to Live Healthier & Greener! – I like this site. At first I was confused. I could see where to log in but not where to register. “Perhaps it’s a closed beta,” I thought feeling slightly frustrated and proceeded to do their five minute quiz just to get a sense of the site. The quiz is pretty good. It asks about buying habits and resource behaviors. It felt a little random at times and while there were icons for things like “water” and “recycling” but with no explanation. As I took the quiz numbers started to appear – still with no details. When I finished the quiz I was given a title and level (and the opportunity to register).

I am apparently “adventurously green” and got a score of 7 out of 10. I guess that’s good? Once I registered I was presented with a thank you screen and encouragement to “get started.” I connected with Facebook but none of my friends are using Practically Green. That’s okay though – it looks like they have people on the site. Once your in it’s set up like any number of social networks – you can find people, see leaders, how different people are doing, the badges they’ve earned, etc. There’s a competitive element to the site in that you can see leaders and how you compare to them (it reminded me of the “compare game” feature on Xbox Live).

The site made me think of Carbon Rally, another company that launched at WebInno several years ago. Carbon Rally is much more narrowly focused than Practically Green. I applaud both for their efforts to make people more conscious of their consumption and to provide tools for people to take action to manage their relationship to resources. The only issue I have with Practically Green is that it felt scattered to me – I found it difficult to get my head around all of the elements of the site. Hopefully this is something they’ll address over time as they get a better sense of their users.

Unbound Commerce Mobile and Facebook Commerce for Retailers – Basically, these guys let you easily build a mobile (or Facebook) commerce site by using connectors to a brands existing ecommerce system. It makes sense to me but I have no real way of judging something like this since I don’t have any sort of commerce site at all.

I did think the site itself looked pretty old school (and not in the fun Will Farrell way) and the photos make to look like drawings are always something that creep me out. All-in-all this looks like a minimalist approach to mobile commerce – especially when you think about some of the very cool things that are happening in the space.

So these are the companies that are going to be getting time on stage. The rest of the companies will be exhibiting only. Here’s details on each of them.

Heretoo – There’s nothing to see folks, move on. Literally – the service is in closed beta. All I can tell you is that the background image is a map of Boston and there’s a cartoon duckbilled platypus (I think) on the page. More than that I cannot say.

Media Armor – I’ve met Elizabeth Zalman of Media Armor a couple of times. Once at WebInno28 and then at the AdMeld Partner Forum in New York. Media Armor does analytics for mobile display advertising. It’s not simple stuff but it’s very cool and it’s the kind of thing that is going to be increasingly important to the growth of mobile commerce. If you’re even remotely interested in the future of display advertising be sure to stop by and hear what these guys have to say.

MobiFlex Create Mobile Apps in Hours – First of all, “hours” doesn’t seem that fast to me – but I understand that app development takes time. I’ve seen a number of sites that promise easy app development but my impression is that most of those are really just letting you do drag-and-drop HTLM that can be displayed on an iPhone or Android. MobiFlex seems a cut above – but to get traction and attention they’re going to need a site/video/messages with a little more pizazz. Everything on the site screams 1997 – and smartphones didn’t really even exist at that point!

Newsle news about your people – The site’s in private beta at the moment so I can only say what I learned from the site and their video. First you give it access to your Facebook friends and choose other people (celebrities, politicians, athletes, etc.) that you’d be interested in seeing news about. Then Newsle starts a news feed for you. The feed is drawn from news outlets and sources rather than from peoples status’ (or is it stati?). I’ll be curious to see how this works.

PostPost – So I can search Twitter AND Flickr AND RSS? Hmmmm. I kind of feel like I can do these things today. Not only in the apps themselves but through a bunch of browser plug-ins. Maybe I’m missing something but this feels like something I’ve seen before (I will say I like the interface very much). I’ll be interested in hearing what they have to say.

Synchronize.tv – This is a really interesting idea that isn’t explained well either by the site or their videos. In some ways this is like Shazam for video content – capture a bit and the system knows what you’re watching and where you are in the content. Then the system can synchronize the content you’re seeing on your phone/pad/computer with what you’re watching. They mention a few ways this can be used – checking in to say what program you’re watching (oddly though it only posts the update after the show has ended so it’s too late for friends to watch with you), presenting advertising based on the products in the content and limiting the tweets and wall posts you see to prevent spoilers. None of them (with the exception of the advertising) seem that compelling to me but there’s more potential here than the company gives itself credit for.

TapCity – Some say the world will end in fire. Some say it will end in ice. I think it’s going to end when someone manages to combine Foursquare and Farmville. That’s basically what Tapcity promises. Time to pack up the kids and head to the hills . . .

Well that’s the run down. I can’t wait to actually SEE these companies in action rather than just reading and writing about them. I’ll try to do a post-event assessment to see how near or far from the mark I was. Until then, let me know what YOU think.

7 thoughts on “WebInno29 Preview

  1. Brad says:

    Thanks for including PostPost in your writeup. Quick clarification on the product: PostPost brings back results from the people you follow. None of the noise of real-time search.

    We’re previewing v2 at WebInno, and launching it shortly thereafter.

    Hope to meet you there.

  2. Hey Greg, thanks for the write up, and good point on staring at the blank calendar, we should have a Gmail like “Why don’t you go do X since your inbox is empty” type message on the Calendar.

    As for the granularity, it’s certainly there. In your example, you could do 1135pm@ or 2335@ (for those 24 hour folks), and obviously you can combine it with other dates such as monday-9am@, mar7-705pm@. You can read about the syntax here: http://www.followup.cc/faq.php

    Lastly, just wanted to clear up that FollowUp is designed to keep you in your inbox as much as possible while still providing a web UI to manage things if you like. You will be able to create reminders on the website at some point in the future, but for now, it’s all about making sure you stay on top of emails, tasks and appointments that you set via email.

    Since you mentioned the iCal feed, how would you set a reminder to remember an email? It’s really inefficient to enter into your calendar, email so & so if they don’t respond by friday…it’s also useless when tying it to email because the reminder comes in and you have to go searching for the email. FollowUp brings the thread up in your inbox and you’re good to go. (you can also ping emails from our iCal feed).

    Hopefully you enjoy the full demo, thanks.


  3. Erik Schwartz says:

    Re: Synchronize.TV: The site is vague, somewhat intentionally so.

    The reason the clip in the demo does not post until the end of the show is comedy central does not make the clips available until the end of the show. It could easily post that you’re watching to your wall as soon you share, however it cannot post the clip until the clip is available.

    All that said, at the end of the day, we’re in the API business, not the end user app business.

    -Erik (founder Synchronize.TV)

    I look forward to meeting you in person.

    • That’s interesting about Comedy Central. It makes me think that they don’t really get the whole social thing. (It’s the same as bands that prohibit cameras so end up with a ton of really crappy cell-phone captured content.) I’m looking forward to meeting with you as well. The future of the advertising space is interesting to me and I think what you’re doing is pretty cool.

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