Best startups of SXSW 2011 – a very subjective summary

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…

The Startups

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).

Last but not least, I had to mention Filmaster Mobile, which we launched during South by Southwest. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know it’s my movie check-in and recommendation app that suggests you films to watch in theaters nearby that perfectly match your taste thanks to the powerful social recommendation engine. I presented Filmaster on stage as part of the AppCircus mobile apps competition and we got some cool coverage during SXSW including an article in TIME Magazine (http://techland.time.com/2011/03/14/filmaster-app-makes-moviegoing-more-social/) and a blog post on The Newt Web (http://thenextweb.com/apps/2011/03/14/filmasters-iphone-app-is-foursquare-for…. It’s live in AppStore now so try it yourself now!

Summary

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!



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