Color is the a iPhone app that allows you to share pictures with your friends. Sounds pretty innovative, doesn’t it? Bill Nguyen, who grabbed 41m USD from Silicon Valley’s most hyped investors for the project explains that we got it all wrong in a Business Insider’s article (link below). What seemed to me much more interesting, though, was the business model Nguyen chose for his project. The highlights are mine.
Business Insider: The app is free, so what’s your business model?
Bill Nguyen (founder of Color, the $41 million iPhone app): Advertising through the app. We’re going to build a intelligent system that allows businesses to participate with their customers. So when you walk into a restaurant and you use Color, and they’re also customers through a self-service Web interface — or actually a self-service iPad interface — every time you walk into the restaurant, your [first] name will show up with your picture. The maitre d’ or receptionist will know who you are, they’ll be able to welcome you, they’ll know the last time you were here, they’ll be able to see pictures if you took them here. They’ll be able to provide you better service than they’ve ever before, that’s going to drive up their revenue by increasing repeat business because we always want to go back where we feel welcome.
Now, are you sure you want to share all this data with a… waiter?
I’ve just arrived home from South by Southwest Interactive. Warsaw seems even more gray and cold after spending 4 days in Austin, Texas…
Instead of a regular coverage (“I was there I did that”), I’m going to write about the cool people I met in Austin and their awesome ideas that might soon turn into world’s most desired startup companies. So here come…
in random order!
Let’s start with a little company from Helsinki, Finland, set up by Rami Korhonen (@playmysongapp) and his friend Timo Kari. Those guys came up with a brilliant and crazy idea: they want all the bars in the world to allow their customers to choose the music they play using a virtual iPod-powered jukebox controlled by a mobile client application. This is how it works. If you own a bar, you install an iPod app from PlayMySong.net, sign up to create a new “location”, choose the songs or albums you want to expose and make it available to your visitors and… voila – now anyone visiting your bar can add their favorite tracks to the public playlist using a client app. I really hope the bars and clubs of the world are gonna adopt it and that the idea is gonna take off as it’s just too awesome and innovative to be wasted, so, if you own a bar or have a small radio station or just want to throw a party where your guests can freely play their favorite music, this app is definitely for you!
I met Sebastian Trepca (@trepca) on a TechCrunch party sponsored by Peel. It quickly turned out we were neighbors only half a year ago when I lived in Shorditch, London. He’s also a django programmer and is curently working on a fashion startup, Ly.st. I don’t know much about fashion but I can tell that his card looks pretty fashionable and the idea for a service that integrates people interested in latest trends of London and New York seems feasible. Ly.st is not live, yet,@ but you can sign up for beta testing using the invite code “lyst-beta-s”. I hope Sebastian is not going to kill me for exposing it here on my blog 🙂
Another startup that is certainly going to rock is Min.us. It’s a Dropbox for human beings. Simply drag any file from your desktop to the browser window and it automatically uploads it generating an obscure URL to access it so that only the people you want to share the file with can see it. Min.us is a brililant idea well executed so I’ve got no doubts it’s going to be the next big thing in file sharing. John Xie, the co-founder, showed me that you can even use it as a tumblr-like blog. The registration is not required but if you do, all the stuff you upload goes under your account and other people can follow you to see what you’re sharing. Try it out now, it went live only recently after some half year of internal testing.
Michiel Verberg knows how to make people curious about his startup. He walked into Curcus Mashimus, where he presented Whatser, in a green silikon costume, resembling comic book superheroes. His app is a geo-location based social network for people who want to discover interesting locations wherever they are. He’s gonna have a really hard time fighting against Foursquare and Gowalla who already have a huge traction, but there are many startups in this area or places discovery and recommendation (like Bizzy or Google Hotpot or Nuji and others) that Whatser might well fit in this competitive space. I wish Michiel good luck as he’s passionate about his idea and also because he’s just a cool guy who invited me to Amsterdam to have a few drinks in one of the best bars, preferably pointed by Whatser!
Who says you can’t make a great looking interactive site using HTML5? Mobilewalla is an exaple it’s possible. They created a very cool interface to discover mobile apps. Apple AppStore, Android and Blackberry are supported. You can search for your app and see its public statistics, browse through apps in certain category, compare day-by-day traction and soon they’ll also gonna have analytics for app creators which seems to be the business model of the company. But I really wrote about them because they were giving away cool looking stickers for you mobile that helped me holding my iPhone in our hand without it landing on the floor all the time (I totally hate holding iPhone4 in one hand, it’s like holding brick, compared to iPhone3 or Samsung Galaxy S).
SXSW was a great 4-days long party. I met hundreds of great people, I even had the chance to talk to Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) who came to AppCircus to make a few video interviews for his blog. We had a great time partying with Chris Kowalczyk (@kkowalcz), Jarek Sygitowicz (@smartupz) and others. I also own a lot to Janusz Zebrowski who saved my life by allowing me to sleep in his hotel apartment – ordering tickets 2 days before arriving did not leave me a lot of choice as far as the hotels are concerned. Actually I’ve heard they were all booked out months before the event. I’m sure gonna do my best to appear in Austin next year as well, this time both or SXSW Interactive and Film. It’s a one in its kind event and you just want to be part of it! Expect some more coverage of SXSW on my blog soon. Now I need to have a sleep to overcome the jetleg. Cheers!
I’ve got some amazing news! Filmaster, the startup I founded and I spent the last half year of my life for, will be on stage at South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the most interesting IT conferences this year! We’ve been selected to pitch our application in the AppCircus contest where world’s best new mobile apps will be presented.
Filmaster is a movie check-in and recommendation service that connects film buffs both locally and around the globe. Every day it provides you with top movie suggestions in your area that fit your personal taste thanks to the powerful social recommendation engine.
The SXSW invitation is extremely timely as we’ve just finished working on our iPhone app which we’ve submitted to AppStore this week. We planned to soft launch it but it looks like the launch will be rather loud. Nothing bad about it (unless some nast but ruins everything)!
The VISA story (“funeral mode”)
I got the news from Claudio Cossio from dotOpen last Thursday and same day I filled up the US VISA application (yes, I live in Poland, we still need visas to get to the land of free). I actually was informed by the nice lady in the embassy in Warsaw that my chances for getting a visa on time are almost zero. Frustrated I recorded this video to inform the world about the fact that Filmaster will be pitching but I won’t be there:
But the video is outdated, as it looks like I’ll eventually make it!!!
I brought all my documents to the embassy today and I got a confirmatiion from the council that they’re gonna do anything possible (that means: “funeral mode” apparently applied only in rare situations like deaths of close members of family) to get me the VISA by Friday. Which means I can catch the Saturday plane (and spend millions for it) and get to Austin (who knows where I’m gonna sleep as all the hotels are booked) before my Filmaster presentation!
Mobile apps contest @ SXSW
The takes place on Monday, March 14th between 2 and 4 PM in Circus Mashimus Tent, located in Room #3, on the first level near the popular Screenburn Arcade.
If you are coming to SXSW, you have to see the mobile competition! Here is the list of amazing apps (including Filmaster) and here is the jury which has a guy from Foursquare, Angry Birds and the co-founder of Jaiku. Check in with Plancastnow so that you don’t forget it!
Facebook introduced their new external comments plugin. So what – you ask? Well, quite frankly – it’s a revolution!
It’s competing with IntenseDebate, Disqus and Echo. But it has the advantage none of the competitors have – the Facebook community. Whenever you comment, it goes to your Facebook stream. Whenever your friend answers, it… goes back to your site! It’s totally easy to participate – if you’re logged into Facebook
Bad news for the giants…
With no comment karma or other means of emphasizing the important content, the new Facebook comments plugin is going to totally kill commenting on popular websites like TechCrunch (which, amazingly, is testing it right now. The first post got >1000 comments. With such amounts it’s just a lot of noise. If you are big, do it like they do it on Slashdot or don’t do it at all!
…but fantastic news for small blogs! On the other hand, it can be a real killer feature for small sites that normally would have zero or very few comments, with all interactions moving to Facebooks and Twitters or the world. Now with Facebook Comments, it can stay on Facebook and you don’t care as you’re still getting your comments back on your blog and the more people share it and comment on it, the bigger chance you get to attract new readers. Amazing opportunity!
This is why I predict Facebook Comments won’t touch the ID/Echo/Disqus market share on dominant websites and popular blogs, but it will totally take over the long tail
So, am I going to use it?
I’d love to use it on this Posterous blog. I can imainge it getting many many more comments if Facebook Comments was applied here. I’m really hoping Posterous does that. Otherwise I might just switch to Thumblr or some other blogging site that does that first.
And what about…, you ask? It’s a more complex issue. Our goal is not exactly as many comments as possible but rather as many users as possible who rate films and get recommendations, and come back for more and eventually engage in commenting. Facebook Comments generates a lot of buzz around your posts and gets you new readers but may not be the best choice for a social network. But I’ll be certainly looking into ways of using it there in some way as well.