WebInno37 Preview

Some people mark the passage of time by an annual rite of award ceremonies, others by the coming and going of sports or television seasons. Me? I measure by WebInno events and it’s hard to believe that it’s already time for another one! Hard to believe but true nevertheless. Tonight is WebInno37 and if you’re in Kendall Square you might want to stop by. You can register here.

As always, the event will feature a mix of ‘main dish’ companies, which will have five or seven minutes to present to the gathered masses and ‘side dish’ companies that will join the ‘main dish’ presenters in demoing before and after the presentations.

One of the things that stands out for me about WebInno37 is the inclusion of Timbre as a main dish company. They were a side dish back in September for WebInno35/Rocket and are the first company (that I can think of at least) that has appeared as both so quickly. Given how awesome they are, it makes sense. But here I am getting ahead of myself! Let’s get a little more organized, shall we?

Here’s my take on the companies that will be participating in WebInno37, starting with the main.

Timbre – The Band Discovery App That Lets Music Find You – Like I said above, these guys were at WebInno a few months ago. I thought they were the coolest company at the event. There’s no reason to think they’re any less cool now. What do they do and what makes them cool, you ask? They let you know what’s happening in terms of music around you. It’s an app (iOS only at the moment) that uses geolocation and a content feed (from SeatGeek) to let you know what shows are happening around you.

You can specify a radius (from one to fifty miles) and it shows you band names in a really clean interface. If you touch a band name it brings up a new screen with album art if available (or a grey weave if not). This screen tells you where the band is playing. Touching it allows you to purchase tickets, share the show with friends and listen to/download a track from iTunes. It’s all very clean, clear and intuitive.

When I spoke to these guys at WebInno Rocket I asked about the ability to filter by venue and they explained it wasn’t something they were doing. Their rationale is that people should start with the music and go from there. I totally agree. If you’re into going out and finding new bands close by Timbre is for you. It’s awesome.

ThriveHive – Small Business Marketing Made Simple – A really good friend of mine recently started a kitchen design business, Discount Cabinets in Framingham. It’s been almost two years and things are really starting to pick up. He and I have talked about marketing a few times and it’s a big challenge. The most effective approach for him is to establish relationships with builders and contractors. This can lead to more sales but also has a longer sales cycle. Working directly with homeowners is faster but it’s hard to generate leads. Almost all his business is word-of-mouth at this point and it’s not something that can scale very easily.

ThriveHive looks pretty good. It looks like it’s designed for someone just like my friend. He works day and night and doesn’t know where to start when it comes to marketing. Taking this aspect out of the small businessperson’s set of responsibilities seems like a great idea.

I can only base my opinion on what I saw on the site but to me it all makes sense. I’m sending my friend a link to ThriveHive and will see what he thinks.

Ditto – Here’s everything I know about Ditto:

  • Ditto is a Facebook app
  • Ditto joined Facebook on February 6th
  • 40 people Like Ditto
  • I initiated the app on Facebook
  • I was unable to figure out how to engage with the app
  • It seems to have something to do with associating actions with images

They did get a nice (and very informative) write up by Scott Kirsner on Boston.com. His article makes what they’re doing sound very cool. I haven’t seen that coolness in action just yet but am hoping I will soon and that I’ll get a much better sense of what they’re up to when they present.

Aside from the main dish companies, there are a whole bunch of side dishes:

ChatterMob – Want Free Stuff? Join the Mob – Survey Monkey moves to Facebook. At least it kinda looks that way to me. What I found confusing about ChatterMob is that when you go to the homepage you see messaging about getting free stuff AND the service’s ability to “ask your target demographic anything.” I get it but it feels kind of muddled to me. It also requires connecting with Facebook and maybe it’s that I’m getting older but I’m just less interested in connecting everything through Facebook than I used to be.

JunkDrawer – Where your stuff goes – Finally, a new use for barcode scanning. I use them to add books to Goodreads but that’s about it. With JunkDrawer I can use them to collect info about all the junk I have. Sitting here in my office I was able to scan the bar codes from a small pack of Chips Ahoy cookies and a Mead 3 Subject College Ruled Notebook. Great.

So.

Yeah, I was able to scan the bar codes of those cookies. And some Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.

The things I used it for are silly since I don’t have that much with bar codes right on my desk, but I can see utility here. As they suggest, you can get alerts related to the products you’ve scanned. I can imagine that having utility for recalls. You can connect this with Facebook if you want but I just signed up with the app itself. While I recognize the benefit it also feels like something else to remember to do and I don’t foresee myself scanning the codes for everything I own or buy.

Good Benefits – Workplace Giving is Now a Perk – This is a site that allows you to make corporate giving a more engaging program. I am all for it. I signed up but was only given the option to share it with my employer. Apparently, if I successfully refer Good Benefits to my company’s giving program administrator I will get $50 I can give to my favorite charity.

Within seconds of signing up I did get a nice email from Ryan Selkis, the founder of Good Benefits, with additional details. Basically, Good Benefits is a charitable savings account that can increase the amount contributed to a cause or charity by allowing small recurring contributions to be made – with employers matching dollar for dollar. I’m looking forward to talking to them because I am curious. It would be good to know what size organizations they’re targeting, for example.

Kuratur – Easily curate, customized, automated content magazines. In minutes. For free. – That is one confusing run of words. I think it’s the part “automated content” that makes me stumble. Or maybe it’s “content magazines.” Aren’t magazines content by their very nature? Why use both terms? Or are these magazines that feature automated content? It’s all very unclear based on that set of words.

Things didn’t get much clearer when I signed up. When you do (which can be done using Facebook, Twitter or email) you’re presented with a screen that gives you the option of adding a title and selecting an update frequency. You can also paste in Google Analytics or Chartbeat tracking codes. There’s a video to help “get up to speed fast.”

I watched the three-minute video that was pretty helpful. Of course it was a little more confusing since it refers to the output as Web pages. Which is it? Web pages, content or magazines?

Having played with it for a little while I like Kuratur. It’s pretty cool. The way it is being described needs to be improved a bit, as does the performance. I tried setting up a page/content/magazine and found it took several minutes to process and then populate the Web page/content/magazine. I’m going to chalk that up to it being early days. Here’s the one I made, based on my 1000faces project and on the hashtag 1000faces. It’s totally rudimentary but I can imagine all different ways Kuratur could be used. Very cool.

Nyopoly – Every time there’s a fashion/style-related company at WebInno I joke about being a pretty style-neutral person. That’s true to a degree; but I do actually really like shopping. I also like trying to get deals. Whenever I shop I ask for a discount. Never a big one, but offering $120 for a pair of shoes they want $130 for, things like that. Shockingly, no one ever agrees to my suggested pricing. Nyopoly seems to offer its members the opportunity to negotiate a “personal price on the most fabulous finds in fashion.” Alas, it looks like most of these finds are not for me. Such is life.

Splitzee – Splitzee is the fastest and most secure way to collect money online – When I heard the name I thought Splitzee was a way to split up a bill and get your friends to pay their portion. It turns out it’s more for collecting money for a cause or project. Say your kid’s third grade teacher did a really awesome job and when May rolls around everyone wants to pitch in to buy him tickets to a Red Sox game. Splitzee replaces emails, phone calls and those awkward knocks on the door. It’s all pretty simple and a solid idea.

TradeGrouper – Trade with People you Trust – First there was eBay, which allowed anyone to sell anything to anybody. eBay is awesome for a lot of people in a lot of situations. But for many people it seemed rife with scams and rip-offs. So people started turning to Craigslist, which replaced the mercantilism of eBay with a kinder, gentler, community-based approach to buying and selling. Now, for those among us for whom even Craigslist is too large a pool we have TradeGrouper. It limits buying and selling to specific groups or communities. Just friends for example, or colleagues. You have to be willing to accept a much smaller pool of potential purchasers. If you’re cool with that then TradeGrouper might make sense for you.

Well, there you have it, my preview of WebInno37. I’ll be there to see what I got right and what I got wrong. Hope you’ll be there too.

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