WebInno 35/WebInno Rocket

We are hours away from ignition for the latest WebInno event – WebInno Rocket. I’m not sure if this counts as WebInno35 or if it should be seen as a completely separate and distinct event. Either way, I’m writing about it! While WebInno has always been focused on startups, Rocket is taking things in a slightly different direction. The event is going to feature three founders talking about their companies – and the companies in question are among the fastest growing here in the Boston area.

Bill Simmons of DataXu, Matt Lauzon of Gemvara and Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot will take to the stage to talk about their companies, their technologies and their experiences in creating successful and growing companies. Since this isn’t about which technology is the most gee-whiz, I’m not going to handicap them the way I usually do with the main dish companies. I have done a little cheat sheet though in case you’re (somehow) not familiar with them.

DataXu is all about making marketing more effective through the application of data. Working on the demand side, DataXu helps marketers improve advertising-driven customer acquisition program around the world. I’ve seen Bill at ad tech events in the past and am looking forward to hearing him at WebInno.

I’ll be honest: Gemvara isn’t a company I was familiar with. Maybe that’s because I don’t often find myself looking for custom jewelry. Clearly a lot of people are or Gemvara wouldn’t be doing as great as they are.

Now, while I’m not often in the market doesn’t mean I don’t deal with jewelers – and let me tell you they can be a frustrating lot to deal with. A while ago I bought my wonderful wife a ring from a company that I won’t name but whose color is iconic. The ring was a beauty – rubies and diamonds in a channel setting. When one of the diamonds became loose, the repair was going to cost essentially as much as the ring did in the first place. Maybe I should have checked with Gemvara before I bought . . .

Who doesn’t know HubSpot? These guys have written the book on inbound marketing – and they keep editing it to meet the needs of a changing market. They’ve also managed to attract some of the top, top talent in social marketing and are a real resource for the industry. Like Bill, I’ve seen Dharmesh here, there and everywhere and am looking forward to what he’ll show and tell this time.

So those are the three main stage companies and if that were all that was planned for the event it would be awesome; as late night announcers are fond of saying – but wait, there’s more!

In keeping with the tradition of bringing some of the newest companies and technologies to light, WebInno Rocket will feature six startups for our collective enjoyment. Here’s my take on each.

BRIGHTdriver – Just this morning I was thinking of my commute. Sitting in traffic sucks. It’s one of the biggest wastes of time ever. Ever. Thankfully I’m easily amused and have (thanks to Spotify) as much music as I want. BRIGHTdriver is hoping to help as well. They’re goal is to make “driving fun again!” through competitions and interactive games. I don’t know how much more competitive we need to make Boston-area drivers but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ve signed up for early access (the company is still in beta) so can’t say much more than that I’m looking forward to seeing their stuff.

Go Pro Workouts – Professional Strength & Fitness Training Programs – This is a cool idea. It offers aspiring athletes the ability to train for their sport using a program created by a top athlete in that sport. It’s not just a list of exercises though; there’s a tracker, advice and tips. It sounds really great. Unfortunately, when I looked through the list of sports and athletes I didn’t see any that fit my easy-like-Sunday-morning lifestyle. Come on Go Pro, I want some tips on improving my LZ (lazy quotient), there’s gotta be someone who can help!

Handybook – This is all about finding and booking handy and helpful people to deal with all those things that need to get done but that you’re too lazy to do (see above). Do I try to do all these things myself? About 60 percent of the time. Am I successful in completing the tasks I set out to do? About 40 percent of the time. Do I enjoy these kinds of household tasks? About 10 percent of the time. I think you can see why something like Handybook would appeal to someone like me. It’s not that I can’t do these things, or even that I don’t want to do them. I just get overwhelmed sometimes and having someone tackle the ones I can’t deal with would be a real treat.

MarketMeSuite – Inbox for Social – MarketMeSuite (the name is way too long and two internal caps – yikes!) dreams of being an “end-to-end social marketing solution.” The target is small businesses, likely the ones currently using Constant Contact. Unlike Constant Contact though, they don’t have millions of customers (yet). It’s possible that people will want either an alternative to Constant Contact or will like the fact that MarketMeSuite was created from the ground up with social in mind. It’s going to be a tough path.

Saverr – Grocery Price Comparison – Showrooming comes to Stop & Shop! The site content for Saverr is pretty light, but it suggests consumers “scan a receipt, compare its price, save money . . . do good!” That’s pretty much it. I wondered, how does scanning a receipt after I’ve made a purchase help me save money? How does it help me do good? It would have been great to see answers on the site. Maybe they’ll be able to shed some light on things tonight.

Timbre – As someone who totally loves music, I’m constantly wondering who’s playing around and whether I’ll like the show. The fact is I have kids and don’t live in Allston or Somerville anymore so going out takes planning. My wife or I end up going to club sites to see what’s going on but it’s not ideal. Timbre looks like it solves the problem. I already downloaded the app and love that I can see what’s happening around me for the next few days, listen to the bands to find ones I like and buy music or tickets. How cool is that? Of the companies exhibiting tonight they’re the one I can see myself using on an ongoing basis. Color me happy.

So that’s the scoop from my perspective for WebInno Rocket. To help you get in the mood yourself, here’s a playlist of rocket-inspired songs.

Rock out, have fun and I’ll see you there!

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Daily Dozen – Boston-area Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Here in Boston we have an event called WebInno. It’s been going on for years and attracts a great crowd. The idea is to have local innovators and entrepreneurs talk about the companies they’re starting and demo the technology to the community. I went to my first one five or six years ago and was impressed to see 75 people at the event. Now, there are more than one thousand people attending the events. The next one is on Monday, March 5th and if you’re in the Boston-area you should definitely stop by. You can register on Eventbrite.

This is actually the first of two posts I’ll be doing on WebInno this week. This one is a set of faces of people who have been at the event over the years with their ideas and companies. I’ve added some details on each of the companies in case you’d like to learn more. The second post will be a preview of the companies that will be participating at Monday’s event. I’ve been writing these previews for a few years now. Sometimes I hit the nail on the head and sometimes I miss by a mile. Such is life. Here are links to some past previews: WebInno32, WebInno31, WebInno29, WebInno28 and WebInno23.

In the spirit of transparency, I want to say that I’ve recently started working more formally with WebInno, mostly helping generate content for their blog and social channels. It hasn’t really changed anything since I was already generating the same kind of content on my own (and will continue to). Anyway, here are 12 faces of people with bright ideas.

Face - man with glasses holding iPhone
This is Matt Cutler, co-founder of Kibits. Kibits is a nice social connection and collaboration app/platform.

Face
This is Andreas Randow of TourSphere. TourSphere really impressed me when I saw it, basically it’s a platform that allows the creation of museum or city tours. As someone who once was a ranger at Alcatraz, I appreciate a good tour.

Faces
This is Liz Zalman of MediaArmor. MediaArmor is in the mobile advertising space and basically helps advertisers port all of the things they currently do with traditional display to mobile.

Face - @sethwlieberman - CEO of Pangea Media
This is Seth Lieberman, the CEO of snapapp. It’s a really simple self-service site for creating branded polls, survey, questionnaires, etc. They have some awesome customers and it looks great.

Face - @j_peden, CEO of Crave Labs
This is Jeffrey Penden of Crave Labs. They do a platform to help local businesses – mostly restaurants – market more easily using social and mobile channels. It’s pretty cool.

Face - @royrod - cofounder of SocMetrics
This is Roy Rodenstein, the cofounder and CEO of SocMetrics. SocMetrics is a service to help you ID influencers in a ton of different categories – you name it and it’s likely they’ll be able to tell you who blogs, tweets or posts about it the most (and which of those people actually matters the most). As a PR guy it seemed like a cool tool.

Faces
This is Jennifer Fremont-Smith of Smarterer. They’ve created a platform to understand and evaluate people’s skills in all kinds of technical, social and digital skill. There’s an update on how they’re doing on the WebInno blog.

Faces 31
This is Jon Radoff. He presented his company GamerDNA at the second WebInno I attended and he’s incredibly active in the world of gaming. His current startup is Disruptor Beam. They’re still in beta.

Faces
This is Amram Shapiro, founder of Book of Odds. This is a site to help you understand the odds of things in everyday life. It’s neat.

Susan Hunt Stevens of Practically Green
Susan Hunt Stevens, founder of Practically Green, presenting at WebInno29. It’s a very cool company that helps you find ways to live a cleaner, more sustainable life. Check it out, take the quiz, register and explore.

Face - smiling man with beard
This is Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and CTO of HubSpot. They’re an Internet marketing company over in Kendall Square that’s doing very well.