WebInnoMobile

Astaire and Rogers, chocolate and peanut butter, Pebbles and Bam Bam. Sometimes things come together in ways that are awesome – and that’s certainly the case for tonight’s combination of WebInno and MobileMonday, which will go under the moniker WebInnoMobile. It’s happening at the Royal Sonnesta in Kendall. You can still register here and if you’re at all interested in innovation, mobile and what’s happening in the Boston tech scene you probably should sign up right away!

To help prepare you for the awesomeness that will be WebInnoMobile, I’ve put together my preview of the participating companies. There are some very cool ones this time around and I’m really looking forward to checking them out in person.

Main Dish Presentations

directr – Your Life. The Movie – Not sure why there’s a period after “Your Life” but not after “The Movie.” It’s probably a design thing and it’s probably neither here nor there. Either way, directr is cool. It’s an iPhone app (I didn’t come across any evidence of an Android version) that makes creating and sharing clean little movies from your phone a breeze. I fiddled with it a bit and checked out plenty of movies other people posted. I love the idea. A lot. It really does encourage people to think about what they’re shooting and it provides a framework for organizing and presenting ideas through video. So far, so good.

At the beginning of a project, directr presents you either with a blank project or a pre-created storyboard. The storyboards offer video ideas (party, six things, public places check ins, etc.) and then suggest shots to create it. I selected “Six Things on My Desk” and got a storyboard outlining six shots that would run 24 seconds. The suggested shots included “reading anything good,” “personal effects” and “anything pretty.”

Here’s a link to my movie. It took just a couple of minutes to make.

There are a couple of areas that were less than fantastic. The apparent lack of audio is a biggie. There is audio, but it’s not the audio from what you’ve shot. It’s generally pleasant, well produced and innocuous but that’s it. I couldn’t figure out if there was any way to control transitions or select the music. It would be nice if there were.

The bottom line is directr is a fun little app that has promise but that could be a whole lot cooler.

Fancred – Your life as a sports fan. – This is a site designed to make the sports experience all it can be. It isn’t publically available yet (though if you follow the company on Twitter you may get an early invite). The fact that it’s still tucked away means I don’t have much to say. I like sports but I’m not sure I want or need another social destination focused on sports. I already follow teams and athletes I like on Twitter and use TeamStream, Eurosport and team apps as well.

Maybe when I see it in action I’ll feel differently but right now this is a big, “meh” for me.

Mobee – Rewarding You for Reviewing Businesses – Mobee confuses me. It seems to be trying to fit a lot into a single app. There are “missions” that encourage you to visit certain business: the “ask” is that you check in and write reviews and the promise is that you’ll get points and prizes as a result. Is this the merging of Yelp, Foursquare and deal sites? Is it an opportunity for businesses to employ the masses as secret shoppers? It could be any of these things – and probably more to boot.

I played with it a bit and some of the missions are pretty interesting. For example, if I visit the Dunkin’ Donuts up the street from my office and report on the speed of service I’ll get 100 points. The points can be collected and then spent on rewards. Here are a few examples of the point totals and rewards: 200 points gets a $2 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card, 5000 points gets a $50 iTunes gift card and 100,000 points gets two Green Monster seats.

It’s an interesting idea and they seem to have some solid partnerships in place. At the moment they’re limited to Boston but have plans to expand. I think the biggest issue here is how clearly Mobee is able to explain their value to both brands and consumers. It doesn’t really come across at the moment.

Side Dish Presenters

Bare Tree Media – Engaging fan-based communities through branded interactive entertainment – Bare Tree offers a publishing platform that allows the creation of branded games, apps, etc. This doesn’t seem like a new or novel idea at this point and the site is pretty bare bones. It didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in me, that’s for sure.

iJukebox – What’s your request? – This is kind of a cool idea. iJukebox allows customers to select the music playing at a bar or restaurant. The pitch is to businesses, encouraging them to sign up for the service and then offer it to their customers. It does seem like a lot of places have jukeboxes now that stream millions of songs so clearly there’s proof that the concept works. This seems to make it easier for people to select a song without having to walk all the way to the jukebox to put on music. It does depend on their having the app – but that’s not a big deal. It seems like a novel way to get patrons to engage around music. We’ll see.

Spogo – Don’t just watch. – For me, the name is a big turn off. I don’t know why but it is. The idea is simple (and, at the moment, very narrow): predict plays in football games and get rewards. According to a handy video on the site, some of the things you might predict could include “How many times will Gronk spike the ball today?” (Unfortunately, at the moment I say zero). The more you get right, the more points you get; points can then be used for food and drinks at places like the Pour House, Remy’s, Game On, etc. It seems OK, like gambling but for food and stuff. The guys on the site sure look like they’re having fun.

Thumbs Up – Social TV Platform. – Get more live viewers. Thumbs Up is a platform for polling viewers during live television programs. It can be integrated into an existing app to provide new, real-time insights into audience interest and attitudes. Seems cool and looks good.

PhysicalApps – Active fun with mobile apps. – This appears to be associated with TheO, a soft foam ball that holds a smartphone. PhyscialApps is a platform for building apps that encourage physical fun. The ball might be one element but there could also be others. I need to see it to understand.

Well, that’s the wrap. I’m looking forward to seeing all the companies tonight – as well as my WebInno pals one last time before the end of the world. I mean year, the end of the year.

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!