Most Memorable of 2008

December 18, 2008

Throughout 2008 I’ve attended many conferences, met many people, and become aware of many great start-ups. As the year dies down I’ve been thinking to myself, out of all the impressive companies I’ve become aware of in 2008, which seem headed for further success in 2009? To answer this question I decided to list the 5 most memorable companies from my 2008 experiences: (In no specific order)

Company: Mimobot
Location: Boston, MA
Website: http://www.mimoco.com
Product: Designer USB Flash Drives
Customers: Hot Topic, Newbury Comics, Urban Outfitters, W Hotels
What I Like About the Company: Mimobot makes creative USB flash drives and has licensing agreements with Star Wars and Halo. I spoke with the founders (they just so happen to be Babson MBAs) who hinted to product expansion in 2009; adding USB cords and other hi-tech designer offerings. Keep an eye on Mimobot as they enter an untapped novelty market.

Company: Boxee
Location: New York, NY
Website: http://www.boxee.tv
Product: Media Center Software
Partners: Netflix, Hulu, MTV, flickr
What I Like About the Company: The perfect solution to marrying my addictions to Hulu and Apple TV. Boxee is still in alpha testing, but once their internet based streaming HD television catches on, it will be a run-away hit. One rumored feature is the ability to instant message with friends from your TV while watching the same show or movie. I can’t wait for the beta.

Company: HubSpot
Location: Boston, MA
Website: http://www.hubspot.com
Product: Inbound Marketing System
Customers: TheLogoFactory.com, Kadient, Vocio
What I Like About the Company: I’ve blogged about HubSpot before, they still don’t hesitate to impress. With a poor economy and high unemployment, many more will be forced to start their own businesses in 2009. The most efficient way to create sales for new entrepreneurs is to have customers come to them. HubSpot’s inbound marketing system provides start-ups with nice websites, SEO expertise, and guidance to make the most of a start-up’s shoestring marketing budget.

Company: Inigral
Location: San Francisco, CA
Website: http://www.inigral.com
Product: Secure Learning Management Facebook Application called “Schools”
Customers: Abilene Christian University
What I Like About the Company: BlackBoard is the 800lb. gorilla of the Learning Management System (LMS) world, but Inigral is leveraging the Facebook platform to put up a fight. Inigral does not have the functionality of BlackBoard, but they do have an audience in Facebook. Inigral’s Schools application organizes individual Facebook accounts by grouping coursemates together, creating a one-stop-community for one’s higher learning needs. Visit their website to watch videos to learn more about Inigral’s impressive functionality.

Company: Igloo Software
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Website: http://www.igloosoftware.com
Product: Social Networking Enterprise Software
Customers: Motorola, Thomson, Canadian Corporate Council Association (CCCA), McGill University
What I Like About the Company: Major corporations’ needs when moving to online collaborative software differ greatly from the general public; they value security, ease of access, and knowledge management as essential. Igloo Software demonstrates the most functional and sexiest solution for enterprise software and has the clientele to back it up. I blogged about Igloo back in June naming them the Enterprise 2.0 Winner.

Please share the companies you think we should keep an eye out for in 2009.


From EmTech08: Ning.com

September 24, 2008

I’m currently at the Emerging Technologies Conference (EmTech08) put on by the MIT Technology Review.  This morning Gina Bianchini, founder of Ning (a platform for creating online social networks) gave an engaging presentation stressing the importants of consumer usability, simplicity, and web 2.0 revenue generation.  Ning was launched a little over a year ago and already has over 500,000 social networks.  Gina is a serial entrepreneur with a MBA from Stanford.  I highly recommend visiting Ning and playing around.  More to come on her specific usability, simplicity, and revenue generation points…


Better Late Then Never: TechCrunch50 Review

September 13, 2008

In anticipation of next week’s EmTech08 conference in Cambridge I’ve been reading blogs about last week’s TechCrunch50 event from California. Many of the participants seem gimmicky, but few stand out as viable businesses. Yammer (the winner), and iamnews (the peoples choice award recipient) deserve recognition as the top two companies at TechCrunch50.

Based out of West Hollywood, California Yammer is Twitter for the business environment. ‘“Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: “What are you working on?”’ – yammer.com/about. Yammer should be used for collaboration, not as a tool to micromanage. If you see it as a tool to spy on employees then you either need to reevaluate your workforce or change your management style. Yammer is a tool for collaboration; allowing users with valid business e-mail addresses to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information over private feeds; it’s instant messaging on steroids. Yammer’s entrance into the complexity filled corporate social networking arena is the first answer to provide a simple solution for business collaboration.

imanews is a simple idea: let people contribute to the news. Their about statement is clear: “iamnews is an open newsroom platform. We empower publishers and reporters by giving them powerful, easy to use tools for co-creation of news in real time.” iamnews targets bloggers and small publishers that don’t have the resources to create news . Web Publishers are used to ensure accurate reporting. If iamnews’ system ensures accurate reporting (and I hope it truly does), then it could be a competitive threat to the traditional reporting of AP and Reuters. iamnews ‘ competitive advantage is providing original and unique video and photography to current events, but I still struggle with their ability to ensure accurate news text. The availability of original and unique photo and video connected to individual news stories is enough for me to see potential for long-term viability.

There are other TechCrunch50 participating and demo companies that have viable products, but I chose to present only the two winners. Again, in my opinion many were gimmicky, but I strongly recommend you take look and share what companies you find interesting.


Social Networking’s Future?

June 26, 2008

As I blogged after attending the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, the social networking boom amazes me. I continuously ask myself questions to better understand the future of social networking. Most of the answers are speculation, but with knowledge of the history of social networking one can formulate educated predictions. Please take a look at these questions and provide your predictions in the comments section.

Questions?

Is there a need for both formal and informal personal profiles? Will social networks provide users the ability to create multiple profile view options for select friends (personal view, professional view, family view)? (ie. A shared picture marked for friend and family view will NOT be available to friends with professional view access)

Will people join niche social networks? Or are niche groups on larger social networks sufficient?

What is the future for applications? What tools exist for application management? What are the wants and needs of people regarding application management? Do applications need social networks?

Will the larger social networks expand beyond their current services and release new products targeting specific customers (ie. Facebook Corporate Edition, LinkedIn HR Solutions, Etc.)? What is the future of corporate social networking and file & knowledge management? Will the established social networks enter corporate social networking and file & knowledge management?

What is the lifecycle of a social network? Why have successful social networks failed? What activities cause users to delete profiles?

The Ultimate Question: Will one social network become the “one-stop-shop?”

Interesting Statistics:

According to Compete.com over the past year the number of visits per month for MySpace is down 27% (buts still over 830M visits) while Facebook is up 36% (with almost 361M visits), LinkedIn is up 749% (with only 20M visits), and Twitter is up 8373% (with almost 15M visits).