Last weekend, I attended Myojo-Waraku 2011 [JP] in Fukuoka/Southern Japan, a three-day tech and creative festival highly inspired by SXSW. Much like the event in the US, the idea for the counterpart in Japan (the first ever) is to bring together people from different fields, namely movies, music, games and interactive. More information about Myojo-Waraku 2011 can be found here.
In the interactive part, a few hours of the program were reserved for the so-called Startup Showcase, which gave a total of eight startups from Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore the chance to demo their services on-stage.
Here are thumbnail sketches of all the startups that presented at Myojo-Waraku 2011:
Gluecast is a simple video communication tool that lets users video chat through the browser (no download or registration required). The idea is to make it as hassle-free as possible to communicate with friends via video for a limited amount of time, for example during a sports match that’s shown on TV or a livestream on the web. Users can create “one-time chat rooms” and invite others to join via Facebook in seconds.
Oooi is a yet to be released smartphone application that was voted best product at the Startup Weekend Matsuri Taikai (Fukuoka chapter) in Japan a few weeks ago. With the app, a group of friends can share items like locations, pictures, or text and voice messages in a specific time window. Users form a group with Bump and can then start sharing information with other members as long as required, for example during a short trip or an event.
Switcheroo is an iPhone app that’s available in 17 languages (including English). Users can exchange “items and services” with others in their network in three ways: by offering something to trade with another item or service, by requesting something, or by suggesting a trade between two items or services.
This translation management platform from Hong Kong promises “painless translation” for site and app owners. OneSky customers can choose between different sources after feeding their text or string files into the system, for example simple machine translation, professional agencies and/or crowd-sourced translation (files can be uploaded to OneSky or handled by the platform’s API). OneSky “dynamically” detects new or modified strings for translation and updates the site or app in question automatically. The startup currently counts Skype alternative Viber (12 languages, crowd-based network of 1,000 translators) and Chinese game developer Lakoo among its customers.
Singaporean startup Sageby wants to give smartphone users a way to monetize the 45 minutes or so every person spends per day waiting for something (according to the presenter). The idea is to let users complete mobile surveys to redeem rewards while they are being idle in a queue or driving in a cab, for example. Clients like merchants or market research companies can use Sageby to collect data directly from end customers: all that users need to do is to scan a QR code, fill out the survey on their phone, send the results to Sageby, and redeem the reward instantly (a discount in the cab they are currently driving in, for example). Sageby is run by a team of students at Singapore Management University and eyes a soft release next month.
Rick Tan, currently a student at Singapore Management University, presented a mobile anti-loss solution specifically geared towards travelers. When two items, for example a bag and a passport, are sufficiently separated from one another, the owner’s smartphone will emit a warning sound so they can take action. Tan says his company’s Bluetooth-based solution is scheduled to launch in December or January and will support Android and Blackberry devices first (iOS is to follow a few months later). The app will be offered for free, while the hardware will cost money (Tan is currently looking for distributors outside Singapore).
Crowsnest is a powerful Twitter-based social news reader that’s available in English and Japanese. The service ranks content based on the number of corresponding links on Twitter and can be personalized in a number of ways. For example, it’s possible to let Crowsnest only crawl tweets from friends (instead of Twitter as a whole) for interesting URLs or add tabs to the menu (on the screenshot below, you can see the TechCrunch tab I added to my reader). Maker Kaisei Hamamoto says his service can generate personalized news feeds (in real-time) by indexing and analyzing over 10 million tweeted URLs per day.
Zusaar is a social event platform that lets users register via Twitter, Facebook or Japanese social network Mixi. The service makes it possible to create, search, sign up for, and pay for events in minutes. Users can also request specific events or suggest new event ideas.