Nobody knows what we’re going to write about within the confines of each eagerly anticipated issue of the Round Up, least of all me. This week was especially mysterious because I’d spent so much time being out on the road that I barely had time to casually sit back, take a deep breath and take in what I’d experienced over the last two weeks! From Park City to San Diego, Phoenix, San Francisco and New York I’ve racked up miles like an airline pilot, but thankfully there were lots of content and networking-heavy conferences with informational chit chat that led me to discover a number of new and interesting companies to share with you!
Of course we can’t talk about a Round Up of the last two weeks unless we talk about the big, stinky elephant in the room. The economy. The last two weeks have been tumultuous and things probably won’t get better before it gets a little bit worse. The ripple effects of what’s going on as a result of the mortgage crisis and the new restrictions on lending are clearly going to reach the start-up business in the coming months. It’s already becoming more difficult to raise money and belts are tightening now that the venture capitalists have returned from their summer vacations. This doesn’t mean that people won’t still fund great ideas, but you’d better do your homework and dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” if you hope to be successful! The angel route can be easier for gathering together the initial funding you need but don’t forget the term “bootstrapping”. Many of the companies we see and many of the ideas we hear about are capable of being bootstrapped for growth if only those in charge are thrifty and economical with their time. From my perspective, a successful start-up requires a scrappy, do-it-right-at-all-costs attitude. Those are the kinds of people that I would invest with and those are the kinds of people that are destined to be successful, especially in an economic environment such as this.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive right into it, shall we? Some of the best ideas that we’ve seen the last couple of weeks:
The TechCrunch 50 last week was an amazing source of new companies and funky ideas, but one of the best that we saw was GO PLAN IT (http://www.goplanit.com). The site is definitely in beta and needs to be populated with far more cities than it currently covers, but the idea is simple and the execution is elegant. If you’re going on vacation and you don’t know how to plan the activities of your trip, Go Plan It will take care of it for you! Go there and type in “San Francisco” as your vacation destination, enter the dates you’ll be there and let Go Plan It spit out your activity itinerary including all the recommended places to go and things to see, laid out in a schedule with times and directions. It’s one step planning for people like me who have a tendency to lose interest in the research required to get the most out of your trip. It’s like a knowledgeable travel agent without all the up sell!
Another company that stood out from that conference was FITBIT (http://www.fitbit.com). FitBit is a small device that you clip onto your body and it tracks your vitals and calorie burning activity through the course of the day, allowing you to log it in and focus on a healthy means of losing weight. The idea is not new, but once again the execution is elegant! Since the device is wireless, it automatically uploads the data as soon as you’re in close proximity to the base station, taking all the work out of your hands. People fall off diets because they get lazy, but now laziness is not an excuse!
One more from TechCrunch was BOJAM (http://www.bojam.com). BoJam is a tool that allows musicians to collaborate online without any restrictions such as location or time. It is a fully collaborative environment where you upload your music, mix it remotely with the music of other people and locate additional musicians to fill in the holes. If you ever heard “The Postal Service” (a spin-off of Death Cab For Cutie) you know that good music can be created regardless of boundaries. Now BoJam makes it even easier and more cost effective (no need to pay for stamps with this model).
Last week we mentioned a couple of our favorite iPhone Applications and this week we wanted to continue the trend. The first one to highlight is REQALL. ReQall is made for people like me who can’t remember anything without writing it down. I used to have a habit of sending myself emails with notes to remind me, but ReQall keeps a running track of my little reminders while also copying me with an email, getting that urgency into my inbox. If you’re on the go and you’re juggling too many balls, this is a great application.
SEARCHME mobile may not yet be an application, per se, but if you add it to your homepage you get a very functional image-based search engine. The format is clean and for those of us who like to see where we’re going, it’s a nifty way to search.
And of course, since it’s football season, don’t forget SPORTACULAR. Sportacular is a great interface for viewing sports scores and news but it’s also the only iPhone app that I’ve come across where you can keep track of your customized fantasy team! I actually keep my wife’s fantasy team in the phone so we can keep tabs on Sunday afternoon (Yes – my wife has a fantasy football team - those of you men who read that line are definitely jealous)!
Well. That’s enough for now. Thanks for reading this issue of The Round Up. Don’t forget to sign up for Facebook Group by requesting to join “The Digital Influentials” group.