Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The skinny on Twiistup's contestants...

So Twiistup 2009 is Socal's latest and greatest event, and the lineup really looks exciting! They are renting out a hanger by Santa Monica Airport to host everyone, and it's going to be a real great event. Twiistup just posted a list of the Twiistup finalists on their blog, with Andrew Warner from Mixergy giving each one the rundown.

Screencast of the companies showing off at twiistup from Andrew Warner on Vimeo.

Being the brilliant opinionated person that's me, I've decided to post my own rundown on the final contestants, and who I'd love to meet this year. The 10 finalists are: Causecast, Cogi, eHow, Fixya, GoGreenSolar, Meebo, Robodynamics, TheScene,Viewdle and Yammer.

A couple of things before I start a caustic article:

1) I'm tired and I'm having fun. All of these companies are great, and I'll have a bunch of positive energy when I meet them at twiistup.
2) The companies that get me turned are those that have the potential to revolutionize the industry, and have left their competitors behind.
3) Content Companies don't really excite me, unless there's a technology behind it that I actually appreciate the demand for.


Summary: "Causecast, dubbed “a one stop philanthropy shop” by TechCrunch, is a platform where media, philanthropy, social networking, entertainment and education converge to serve a greater purpose."

I don't really appreciate companies that stand for causes online, unless there is really a unique need that they fill. At this point in my life, while I donate to different charities (and often online), I don't really feel motivated to involve myself in the actual issue. Do I care about many of the social issues? Yes! Do I feel that it takes the most priority in my life right now? No. So if someone explains to me what unique need it fills other than being "just another social network, I'm not that interested.


Summary: Cogi set out with a simple goal – give professionals a way to effortlessly recall and track everything in their important conversations through the use of an intuitive, browser-based service that seamlessly transcribes the important parts of conversation – the ‘COGent Ideas’ or Cogi.

I love Cogi! In addition to the fact that I actually do spend time writing down stuff from meetings, I've been dying to have a service that will transcribe phone conversations for me automatically. As a social media marketer, and SEO person, you quickly come to realize that it's extremely important to be creating as much media as possible, and sharing whatever thoughts you can. (Most of them are pretty good, k?)

I've been dreaming of hiring a transcription company to record my phone calls and transcribe them, but this type of pricing really blows that away! I'm genuinely hoping these guys get on Twiistup's showcase, and I'm looking forward to meeting the founders.


Summary: "More than 27 million people visit each month to search more than 300,000 articles that are professionally written with clear and concise directions on how to do things. It also has a rapidly-growing library of articles created by eHow’s members and a large library of professional instructional videos."

While creating a content destination site and making it sticky is a challenge, and any company amassing that amount of visitors truly deserves credit, I don't really think of it as a "web 2.0 startup" that fascinates me. I'd love to learn more about what they do to cultivate and promote community, how they maintain the quality of the site, and what "secret sauces" they've used to make it sticky, it doesn't get me fired up. Sorry.


Summary: "FixYa empowers individuals to repair and improve upon their already-purchased possessions. The company also offers business services to manufacturers and retail businesses through its custom partnership opportunities."

As I said, I'm not that enthused by content sites. The thing that does interest me is the way that they've created a community of paid experts. The company I work for currently has a couple of sites with a similar business model, so I'd love to learn more about what them. Mediocre.


Summary: GoGreenSolar is global group of professionals dedicated to improve the distribution of renewable energy products, services and financing for people everywhere.

Green tech is another thing that doesn't interest me all that much if they aren't a game changer. Take me to Tesla any day! Go Green Solar looks like a typical website that sells atypical products. Whether they are a manufacturer or just a distributor, it doesn't count as a game changing startup. Hey, I still wanna meet them (maybe they'll hire us to do the marketing:) ).


Summary: "Meebo is a new communications and media company that’s re-writing the way people have conversations and communicate on the Web."

Meebo use to really fire me up. In fact, I was running it for a while, and it was one of the first companies in the IM aggregation industry. They have also managed to change it into a destination site, and enter into social media marketing rather quickly. They really are a leader, both in the startup and social media world.

However, I currently use Digsby, and am a happy person (if someone could only get me skype in there...), so it doesn't really fire my interest as a "winner". Sorry.


Summary: "RoboDynamics is built by passionate people who want to use technology to shift the status quo and leverage state-of-the-art technology in robotics to change the way people live and work."

Robodynamics doesn't really seem to fill my own needs. I'd prefer to see my boss on Skype video, and spending the time moving my little video bot to the coffee room so that my employees can talk to me too, and look at the little 4" screen there doesn't sound so appealing. Then again, it's pretty cheap, it's cool looking, and who knows?

Truth is, it's such a fun sounding concept, I want to see them present, just so I can see it roll around Twiistup!


Summary: "The Scene connects individuals to the hottest places, people and events in their area. The Scene’s trendsetting community is on the pulse of nightlife and entertainment in various cities throughout the world."

Being on the marketing team for a startup competitor (not really launched yet) - Your Social Plate, I actually appreciate the needs/potential for the site. So although I generally don't care for content sites (what's special about them anyways?), I'd like to learn more about


Summary: "Viewdle is a facial-recognition powered digital media platform for indexing, searching and monetizing video assets. "

Viewdle is a great idea, and a way to make video's "smarter". Yet, I think the full potential for it hasn't fully been reached. There are privacy issue's, distribution issues, and a clear value proposition that I'm not seeing yet in order for a large change to take place. I'd love to see what they have in mind, how they plan on deploying, but not a high priority. Sorry.


Summary: "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?’"

Arggh, Yammer! First off, I wish I could communicate with my boss and coworkers on twitter. Unfortunately, you will find that most people don't really care to do this yet. So I don't think you'll find wide adoption. How many CEO's are signed up to twitter, let alone looking at the steady stream of creative ideas coming in from the PR and marketing departments.

Second of all, even if they were interested, personally, I wouldn't use a service like Yammer. Why would I let private company data onto a third party site, trusting them to do the "verification". What happens if I have a disgruntled employee, who still has his login, or who started the whole company yammer network. What do I do then? Especially, since it's so easy to build my own private twitter network out of wordpress.

So while it's an awesome concept, and an easy revenue stream (uhh, twitter, why aren't you doing this?) - I wish I would have thought of it... I'm not all that impressed by implementation. Plus, what about integration into third party applications. Start tapping into project management API's such as basecamp, and then I'll start getting excited! Sorry.

This post is brought to you by David Jaeger, a Los Angeles Search Marketer, employed by SARBRO Solutions. You can see other Web 2.0 and Online Marketing Related events at Live Internet Marketing.

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