If you do a search for “AngelList” in the Apple App Store, you’ll only get four results – and one is an app featuring quotes from entrepreneurs. In other words, there’s not a lot of selection despite AngelList’s readily available API. That being said, in the past an app called AngelList Wings has served as a useful resource for browsing, searching and following early-stage startups, founders and investors. Today, however, it has some new competition from a mobile app called Simplr.
As AngelList becomes an increasingly important startup community – and now, investment platform, too – the need for more services to better manage and guide your involvement on the site is also becoming more essential for those in the industry. Last month, Wittlebee CEO Sean Percival launched angel5, which he described as something of a “WeFollow for founders,” referring of course to the Twitter user directory created by Digg’s Kevin Rose back in Twitter’s early days.
But angel5 is an editorially curated site of user suggestions, something that Simplr co-founder Lothar Chan-Sew says will be hard to scale the more AngelList grows. Simplr, meanwhile, will make its own recommendations through an automated means.
To be clear, Simplr isn’t only a user directory to compete with angel5, it’s about offering an alternative view into AngelList’s feeds, and soon, more networks, too. “The app learns your browsing habits and adjusts delivery to allow important topics to come to the forefront,” explains Chan-Sew. The app is starting with AngelList this month, and is working on adding Facebook and Twitter in the near future.
Had the app only focused on these broader, public social networks, I’ll admit that it probably wouldn’t have caught my attention – there are already so many of these news filtration apps out there, including those that look just at social media, as well as those that track news trends across the web. (See for example: Prismatic, Thirst, undrip, Circa, Summify, Wavii, etc.). But as an AngelList stalker myself, the idea that someone was building smart algorithms to learn my preferences specifically for that community has some appeal.
Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of Simplr’s user interface, with its black-and-orange color scheme, and still very rough UX. AngelList Wings is definitely the better-looking of the two usable iOS apps for browsing AngelList.
That being said, as a basic utility, Simplr has some advantages. You can jump into the bigger sections like Updates, Investments, People, Startups, etc., and you can drill down into specific locations (e.g. San Francisco, New York) and markets (big data, consumer web, social media, etc.). You can also switch to a view of Status Updates, or you can view your Activity Feed as a whole.
In addition, if you’re focused on tracking activities surrounding specific people (investors or founders) or companies, you can bookmark them using the app’s “SimplrMarks,” which have their own section. This lets you view a feed dedicated to your favorites. In the Settings, you can also switch on or off the “SimplrSort” feature, if you don’t want to see Simplr’s recommended, prioritized stream of updates, in order to view things as they would appear on the AngelList website.
The app did give me some troubles – an error message here and a crash there – so if you’re looking for a complete, near-perfect mobile experience, this is not it. The app feels very beta, but it’s aimed at startup folks right now, and they can handle a little beta-ness, right?
Fremont-based Simplr was co-created by Chan-Sew and CEO Devang Patel, who had both struggled with keeping up with the ever-increasing amount of information available across social networks. They decided to self-fund the app they wanted to use themselves, and are now committed to keeping it ad-free by making it a paid download. For $2.99, if you’re thinking about using it for managing social networks in the future, then be aware that it’s pricier than its more attractive, and typically free, competitors. But thanks to its inclusion of AngelList, the app is something of a rarity right now in the App Store.