Devin Coldewey is a Seattle-based writer and photographer. He has written for the TechCrunch network since 2007.
Some posts he’d like you to read:
The Dangers of Externalizing Knowledge | Generation i | Surveillant Society | Choose Two | Frame Wars | The User’s Manifesto | Our Great Sin
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Monday, May 24th, 2010
The judges have returned from their deliberations, and the winner is… three of the following five companies, all of which gave excellent demos and answered questions with poise and confidence.
The entire session is in one monster video for now, along with deliberation and second round business plan discussion, so I’m providing times in case you want to skip directly to one presentation or another. If you just want to see Sacca crooning, go here.
Here they are, in chronological order:
A web-based toolset for generating music based on a theme, highly customizable by the user. They certainly got the audience choice award, and even persuaded one of the judges to sing a little ditty. They’re planning on doing a freemium model in which the basic tools are free but a more robust version will be for sale.
Off & Away (21:00)
These guys work with hotels to put expensive, rarely-rented suites and such on the auction block. Off & Away has a pay-per-bid model that differs from other pay-bid sites like Swoopo by essentially giving auction losers their money back to spend on a hotel room, which was probably where the money was going anyway. If you travel a lot, checking this might be a nice habit to develop, but you shouldn’t gamble with company money, or so I’m told.
A more technical entry, FluidDB (FluidInfo is the company’s name) is a versatile data storage service that is completely open to writing, and the data comprising the DB will open to querying by pretty much anybody. You can tag data as private, of course, but the idea is a a “flat” database where you can collect and manipulate only the data you need and use or share it easily. I don’t really do it justice, not being a developer, so if it sounds interesting, go read the post.
This very fluid and pretty presentation showed off a utility these guys have created that monitors your PC, analyzes when you are “frustrated,” and offers solutions. The cool bit is that the solutions are created by monitoring expert users’ PCs, and when a similar problem comes up, their response is added to a database — kill process, change startup settings, lower process priority, that kind of thing. The UI is very impressive, the best I’ve seen in a while. They’d have the “manual” version free and the “automatic” version (in development) for money (or get fees for pre-installs with vendors).
It’s a replacement for your bank account, basically. They want to provide a simple (but robust) way of taking a sum of money, putting into something, and getting a return. You can easily split your investment between stocks and bonds, see what others in your age/income bracket are doing, and easily access the exact specifications of your portfolio. As the judges noted, this is a huge market and to capture only a fraction of a percentage of it would be a huge victory.
The winners of this round? Soluto, UJAM, and Betterment! Congratulations to all.
And here’s the marathon video of the first session. The second part of the session (brief business plans and commentary from the top three) starts at about 1 hour, 20 minutes in.