The Village View

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The July NY Tech Meetup

I went to my first NY Tech Meetup last night. Had tried to RSVP for the last two, but the list seems to max out at 500 "yes"s pretty quickly. Not that it mattered as nobody was checking names against a list and at any rate the estimated attendence was only 317.

6 startups presented, here's a bit on each with a thought or two:

Axioma
Allows you to take Google, MSN or Yahoo search results and filter and sort them locally on your hard drive. For instance, you can search on "Tuscan vacation house" and then refine the search, locally, for just those with a pool, or just those sites in English, or with a .com suffix etc. etc. Seems useful to a degree, but I'm not sure I'd pay for it. There is a free version, so I don't have to anyway. One comment I heard after the presentation was that it would be fairly simple for Google to block Axioma's abililty to function. Got very few to no votes from the audience as "best of show."

Weebly
Tool for quickly making AJAX websites. Descrbied by the presenters as something your mother would use to make a site about her interests e.g., knitting. The UI was pretty slick and it did indeed seem pretty easy to make cool looking sites that included pictures, video etc. Not sure what the big differentiator is or how hard it would be to duplicate. Presenters claimed only competion so far is Google. Also, they spoke a good bit about folks using this tool to "build communities" which didn't really resonate with me. Still the two guys were 21 year old Penn State seniors who held there own in the post-presentation questioning and got a fair number of "best of show" votes.

IONdb.com
Essentially a tool to capture and play streaming video. You can drag and drop videos in any number of formats into the IONdb player and then tag and categorize them. The thing I thought was cool was that a user can make playlists of videos (and I think audio tracks). You can then make these available to your friends who can subscribe to your playlist as a podcast (thru for example iTunes). That seems pretty viral and would be a reason to use their service as opposed to just making favorites on Youtube. These guys are based out in Brooklyn, had a successful startup before which they sold to Palm, and were tied for "best of show." They got my vote for what it's worth.

FreshNotes

A search engine for (famous) people that allows you to see how they are linked to other people or organizations. The product searches the content of web pages to see how often Jennifer Lopez is connected to other folks or to a company such as Miramax. It doesn't seem to have any logic to decide on context though. For example, in the demo, the presenter searched on "Hollywood" to show all the stars that would pop up. They did, but so did "Jerry Falwell" whom I assume is only associated with Hollywood in the context of having consistently criticized it. Overall, this seems like a feature to me and not a company. Still they have evidently received enough angel funding to have 8 staffers working full time. About 4th in overall "best of show" voting and probably the most polished presenter.

Nowpublic.com

Didn't quite get everything on this one, but the word "citizen journalism" was thrown around a lot. Looked kind of like an aggregator of news and blogs. Evidently, they are or will be compensating writers for their content. Someone after the presentation described the model as similar to AP in which they would have "stringers" out and about writing articles. They did show a Firefox blogging plugin that I'm going to check out later. Heard them described as an American version of the Korean Ohmy News. Got a fair number of vots.

Electric Sheep
These guys develop apps and add-ons for the online multiplayer game Second Life. Not being a gamer myself, this was pretty new to me. Essentially these guys will develop anything you'd like inside the game including presentations, advertising, building etc. Claim to be the largest independent Second Life developers. Gave an example of how they worked with Major League Baseball to put the home run derby in SL; folks could virtually show up and watch the a graphical representation of the homers and interact with others there. Even buy hot dogs and souvenirs. Presentation was cool in that he basically stayed in SL the whole time. Co-winner if I recall correctly of "best in show."

Next NY Tech Meetup is August 1.



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