WebInno Serves Main Dishes, Sides and Now Nibbles
Last night marked the 15th Web Innovators Group gathering. In honor of the occasion, host David Beisel noted that 85 companies have presented so far at these events. Eight have been acquired or have secured VC funding. Impressive!
Per the usual format, three companies were selected to present as Main Dishes, meriting a coveted six minutes to demo their wares. Six Side Dishes did brief intros to their firms without demos. In keeping with the theme, David introduced a new segment: Nibbles. Chris Jackson had the honor of cooking up the historic first Nibble, noting he's looking for passionate developers to work on a great concept he's got. (Most Nibbles were used in this manner to announce a job opening.)
The Hearty Entrées
At most of the WebInno events, one company wins my heart. Last time it was DesignMyRoom. This time it was Lemonade, which sports the tagline, "e-commerce for everyone." I failed to catch the name of the founder who presented, but he made us all smile with his opener: "David limits us to six minutes, and as an incentive, he promises us a term sheet at the end of this."
Lemonade is based on the concept of a lemonade stand - the vehicle that introduced most of us to entrepreneurship. You can set up a virtual stand at lemonade.com and stock it with items you recommend to your pals. (Or, if you prefer, you can attach your stand to your Facebook page.)
Here's where life gets interesting. Lemonade works with more than 250 retailers, so your pals can actually buy the stuff. Even better, you get a commission if they do. The New York Times does a great job of explaining this here.
FlipKey, currently in beta, was another noteworthy Main Dish. It's centralizing reputation management for the vacation home rental market in a trusted, transparent environment. A few summers ago, my brother-in-law was considering a Cape rental that allowed dogs. Luckily, we were in the 'hood before he sealed the deal, and we drove by the rental property. Based on the shabby exterior, we gave it two thumbs down, and he was spared what I believe would have been an unhappy vacation experience. FlipKey has set out to present properties based on reputation analysis and verified guest reviews. Cool!
Last but far from least: Investment Instruments Corporation, which is geared for real estate managers and their tenants. Small owners control a shocking 90% of the inventory in the residential real estate market. IIC offers iiProperty, with tools for self-managing properties -- advertising properties, sending tenant notices, etc. A related site, Rentometer, lets renters determine if they're paying a fair price for a unit at their address. IIC offered a sneak peek at a brand new site, Rentomatic. (Sorry - not yet generally available.) This new site, slated for a December launch, will reveal where the happy renters are.
Six Sides to Savor
Winning my eco-friendly heart in this category: Carbon Challenge. The site publishes periodic challenges that describe small CO2-reducing actions members can take. It tracks members accepting the challenges and displays the total impact on a national map. Members can form teams at schools, companies, etc. and compete for the highest CO2 reduction! Cool.
Other notable sides included:
Untravel Media -- Developing immersive travel narratives on mobile devices.
MixandMeet -- Brings together unacquainted folks by coordinating spontaneous, same-day, small group mixers.
360Gadget -- A tool for personalizing your Facebook page with news/RSS feeds, Google map searches, notes, etc.
StudentConcourse -- Another first! Presented by a high school student, it's a Web-based organizer for students in middle or high school
Panospin Studios -- Creating 360 degree virtual tours, useful for schools, museums, rental properties, stores, etc. Beautiful and useful.
Next WebInno: January 29, 2008. Mark your calendar.