Archive for the 'innovation' Category

DEMOfall09: Six Picks

The other day I blogged about some of the really passionate entrepreneurs I met at DEMOfall09 and I referenced the products that caught my eye. While I did not get to dig into all 70 or so companies while I was there, here are a few that I found worth noting:

Waze – This is a way cool, and I think much-needed, application that brings real-time traffic intelligence/information to the masses via the masses (crowd sourcing). The app works on GPS-enabled Smartphones and sends back GPS points as you drive.  The idea is that through the Waze community, traffic, road changes and other information is collected automatically and anonymously. Drivers can also take a more active role by reporting on new situations from their mobile device.   I need this for my suddenly hellish morning commutes and can’t wait to find out when it will work on my Windows Smartphone (they’ve promised Symbian and Win support as of this week). It also supports iPhone and Android.

WhoDoYouKnowAt, LLC – Think of this enterprise app as LinkedIn on Steroids or perhaps more aptly, LinkedIn With Security Layer.  It is a free and private (note: NOT social networking) networking application that allows you to leverage relationships for personal, business or civic gain in a confidential and tiered manner. CEO Lee Blaylock is a guy I’d bet on or want with me in a foxhole.  He developed the application after years working at Oracle, and I think he’s onto something. After all, how many introductions have you ever made or been asked to make via LinkedIn? What makes this app different is a “Levels of Trust” system that allows your online relationships to more accurately reflect those in the real world. With each connection, you can set their “Level of Trust” to reflect your real-life relationship. For example, when sharing a contact’s information with certain contacts, you can choose to remain anonymous. With your more trusted relationships, however, you can choose to share all of your network information.

Traackr – This is a Web 2.0 application for brand marketers, PR and marketing firms and in-house communications professionals. It allows users to harness the gold mine of information in social networks, blogs and Twitter. The application is called “A-list” or “Authority List,” and it helps you identify the people with the most clout so that you can target and track them. The company claims it can provide you a list of the most influential people online for any given subject as measured by the three “Rs” – reach, relevance and resonance. I plan to check it out in more detail soon.

MoLo Rewards, Inc. – This company has developed a wireless coupon application that allows users – via a cell phone – to scan items at the point of sale to instantly redeem coupons or loyalty rewards using either Near Field Communication (NFC) or RFID. MoLo Rewards also will allow consumers to link and join participating retail loyalty programs and earn points for every purchase by simply waving their cell phone in front of the cash register at the time of purchase.  These guys need to lock up some of the top pharmacy chains and then try to tackle the grocery giants. If they succeed, the coupon book goes the way of the daily paper or weekly shopper. CEO Robert Sprogis brought his “A” game to the DEMO stage, which further impressed me.

 

Enthusem – Can direct mail make a comeback? Enthusem is betting it can with a little Web 2.0 assistance. The company has set up an elegant approach to sending very high quality, personalized post cards through an online greeting card site that lets users send personal printed greeting cards that include a URL and a pickup code, which the recipient can type in online to see a custom video, read an extended note, or listen to an mp3 that you uploaded. This is CEO Steve Tingiris’ third company and maybe it will be the charm.

POWR – Believe it or not, these guys are bringing a new hardware solution to market. POWR (Point of Wealth Register) is a kiosk with an ATM-like interface that helps “unbanked” or hourly employees like bartenders, waiters, blackjack dealers, etc. make fast and easy deposits to personal accounts (think 401K or 529)or to make money transfers, pay bills, etc. These guys had a lot of spunk. CEO Doug Lindstrom is a veteran bartender so you know what his “light bulb” moment for his company must have been – many a morning waking up wondering where all of his tips went.  If POWR doesn’t end up getting bought by CoinStar or Western Union, I think they just might succeed on their own.

DotSyntax’s Digsby – If you have not tried it out (I have been using it for about a year), Digsby is an easy-to-use desktop application that helps people save time by managing their IM, email and social network accounts all from one location. DotSyntax unveiled the latest version of its social-media management tool at DEMO, and the new version is geared specifically towards helping solve the Twitter clutter and chaos problem. One of the key new features is a reversal from the Twitter client standard, in which tweet streams are displayed newest first. Digsby shows the oldest first with the logic being that it is easier to read threads from the beginning. I am not sure I agree, and I have yet to check out the new features yet. That’s what weekends are for …

— Posted by Tim Hurley

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Innovate, Communicate, Collaborate… Don’t Hibernate

Scott Kirsner would make a heckuva marketer or PR person (or history teacher too but that is another matter) if he ever gives up his current gig as a freelance journalist and writer.  For the past several years – both before he relocated to California and upon his return to Boston – he has written blogged and spoken passionately about two things, among many others:

1)      the role the Boston area has played in serving as the “minor leagues” to Silicon Valley by cultivating and growing young talent as well as great small and medium sized technology and Internet companies only to see them get gobbled up by the Big Boys from Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, San Jose, etc.

2)      and the need for New England, Boston and more specifically, Route 128’s academic, technology and venture capital communities to dig deep to try to restore some of the luster we’ve lost to Silicon Valley and other tech hot spots over the years.

Scott’s latest big idea was offered up in his most recent Sunday Boston Globe Innovation Economy column in which he designates June as Innovation Month in New England.  He writes, “We can do a better job of connecting executives who’ve built big, influential businesses with entrepreneurs who are just starting out. We can do a better job helping shaky start-ups find the funding they need to succeed. We can do a better job ensuring that every student who comes to New England to earn a degree has at least some exposure to some of the innovative companies based here, whether through an internship, a company visit, or a classroom presentation from the founder.”

Scott is onto something and he is starting with some really attainable goals. He’s passionately encouraging people to start small – converse, connect, communicate and collaborate.  He’s pushing events, conferences and tweetups as the vehicles for driving more innovation, more idea sharing and more energy around innovation. He is also encouraging people to post their ideas (or links to innovation-related initiatives more people should know about) on the Innovation Economy blog at www.innoeco.com/neinno.

As Massachusetts entrepreneurs, business owners, investors, residents, etc. we all have a vested interest in fostering more innovation. Enough with the complacency fear and uncertainty that goes with the current down economy. As Scott and others quoted in that column, get out, get over the “depressions” and do your part to improve our chances at recovery.  Let’s just keep this party going into July, the rest of the summer and the rest of the year.

— Posted by Tim Hurley


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