[qi:010] I recently attended the 14th Web Innovators Group meeting, which had an even better turnout than the last one — so much so that it was held in a bigger room to accommodate this ever-expanding group.
The three main presenters were Frame Media Inc.’s FrameChannel, GoLoco, and Swatchbox Technology Inc.’s DesignMyRoom.
FrameChannel (Jon Finegold and Alan Phillips) is a web services platform that allows users to manage content that’s delivered to a WiFi-enabled picture frame. The user can select a mix of their own content and pre-packaged content to display on the picture frame, setting various options to control what is being displayed and when. This is clearly targeted to the consumer, as the business is ad-supported (ads are displayed at the bottom of the picture frame, although users can opt out of the ads by buying an annual subscription). One question that came from the audience was why a user would want to display their content in the frame with an ad overlaid at the bottom. It is also arguable that this isn’t a particularly good conduit for ads since people don’t look at picture frames as attentively as they look at the television (or computer screens). Finally, even though the ads displayed are trackable, it is much harder (if not impossible) to make a connection between a user and a purchase decision. It’s hard to see how this will fit into the home since it competes with the television for attention.
GoLoco (Robin Chase and Roy Russell) is a Facebook application that allows people to share rides and share costs and, eventually, reduce their carbon footprint. The demo was interesting: users can advertise and look for rides, and the app even works out cost-sharing schemes for riders. The developers said they built GoLoco as a Facebook application because rather than building yet another social networking site from scratch, they wanted to leverage the social networks already defined on it. This makes a lot of sense from a business point of view, but of course this application is entirely dependent on Facebook behaving itself. The demo was marred by slow page refreshes, for example, though in all fairness, it wasn’t clear who or what was responsible for that.
DesignMyRoom (Andy Jenks, Mike Brunzell and Jesse Engle) is a very attractive web-based application that allows you to try out different interior design ideas on a room. It lets you pick floor coverings, rugs, wall colors, window treatments and furniture. The application itself looks well-designed, appears to be very powerful and easy to use, and includes lots of ideas from real interior designers. You can also share the rooms you design with other users on the site. The site plans to make money through exclusive and non-exclusive product placement deals with a variety of sources.
Other startups present were Oncero, FaFaRAZZI, AdMe, Mobleo, SNIF Labs and TheUpDown.
Oncero (Phil Kim and Adnan Malik) is an online referral recruiting service designed to help employers use referral networks to find employees.
FaFaRAZZI (Chris Keller and Todd Galloway) is an online fantasy celebrity league — basically online Fantasy Football applied to celebrities.
AdME (Peter Eggleston, Elio Maggini and Christopher Payne-Taylor) demonstrated music driven mobile entertainment.
Mobleo (Tom Boilard and Ricardo Garcia) provides mobile bookmark management.
SNIF Labs (John Gips, Phil Liang and Noah Paessel) create a wireless collar tag for your dog that collects information about the dog’s daily activities and social encounters with other dogs and reports it to a web site.
TheUpDown (Michael Reich, Phuc Troung, Greog Lodviksson) provides an social network for investors by allowing them to manage a virtual portfolio. The data is then aggregated to provide investment strategies to manage a real fund.
The next meeting will be held on Nov. 6th.