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Summary:

I’m not biased towards Toronto, despite calling it home, but it seems like a lot of good web things are brewing in this city. There’s FreshBooks, one of the leading online invoicing services for freelancers and businesses, and now there’s Sprouter, a new web app that’s […]

logo_sprouterI’m not biased towards Toronto, despite calling it home, but it seems like a lot of good web things are brewing in this city. There’s FreshBooks, one of the leading online invoicing services for freelancers and businesses, and now there’s Sprouter, a new web app that’s still in private beta.

Sprouter, like many web apps these days, takes some significant cues from Twitter. In fact, at first glance, it appears to be pretty much Twitter designed for a specific target audience: entrepreneurs.

Unlike Twitter, at Sprouter you have a dedicated profile page. It still keeps things short and sweet, rather than presenting a wealth of info like you might find on Facebook or LinkedIn, but you have enough space to let other entrepreneurs know a bit about you. You also get access to a follower/following count, just like you have with Twitter.

Picture 1Also borrowed from Twitter is the 140-character limit for your posts, for which Sprouter provides the slightly more business-oriented prompt “What are you working on?” You can use hashmarks to flag posts with specific tags, and this is where Sprouter really starts blooming. Hashtagged terms automatically appear as tags at the bottom of your post composer, and they form the basis for two things: topics and events.

Clicking on any hashtag will automatically return a page for that term, which will tell you what it signifies, who its owner or creator is, and whether it’s an event or just a general topic. You’ll also see a list of posts containing that hashtag, and have the option to follow the tag itself, right from within the app, which is something you definitely can’t do from the basic Twitter app.

Picture 2If you’re a fan of tweet-ups, industry-specific chats and online conferences, Sprouter is for you. It also has great promise for people looking for real-time collaboration and feedback from other entrepreneurs and web workers, without the static, background noise and spam that comes along with Twitter.

While Sprouter is in private beta for the time being, its creators are aiming for a launch in the fall, and the service seems to be pretty solid in its current state, so I wouldn’t anticipate a long wait before it goes public. The people behind Sprouter are also planning on integrating the service with desktop applications and outside services, so it stands to become even more useful down the road.

Have you tried Sprouter? Let us know how you think it compares to Twitter in the comments.

  1. Great write up Darrell!

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  2. Seems to be interesting. However, most – let’s call them Twitter alternatives – don’t really make sense at least for me.

    Similar to Sprouter – even though not nearly that good looking – should be blellow.com for example. I signed up there a while ago and have to admit that I didn’t have any advantages or additional value.

    Lately many projects in various niches try to rival Twitter but in the end the reason why Twitter works that well (or sometimes rather bad) actually is that so many people are using it already.

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    1. I agree — Twitter’s where the action is. Sprouter looks really nice, but will it get the traction it needs? I doubt it.

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  3. sprouter like any good weed that grows in the highway (internet) has its challenges – but one thing weeds have over pampered plants is they know how to survive and thrive on very little – if sprouter can find little niches here and there and stay focused and sensitive to its audience and provide a degree of integrity while filtering through the noise of twitter it might just be the type of customizable service passionate self interest groups resonate with – the future is here – we just can’t see it and maybe sprouter can – it remains to be seen – if anybody can pull it off sarah prevette can food for thought

    geo
    the art of living is making your life an art

    p.s. in full disclosure i have met sarah prevette at podcamp boston 09

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  4. Sprouter appeals to me because I hesitate to talk business on Twitter–my clients follow me. I could set up another, more anonymous Twitter ID just for business questions & issues but I’d still have the problem of way too much noise. If Sprouter can keep people focused on business and business only, I’ll be interested.

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    1. Why are you afraid to talk business in front of your clients? Are you concerned they might discover you’re not super-humanly smart? I bet they’d understand that you’re human, after all.

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      1. Because I don’t necessarily want them to know, for example, that I’m thinking of ditching them and changing the structure of my business.

        Also, my clients don’t WANT to know every detail of my business operations. They want the practical info I tweet about that helps them with *their* businesses. For example, my concerns about shopping carts has nothing to do with them; they don’t need or use shopping carts.

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  5. I am biased, regardless the Sprouter Team are awesome peeps! They work right upstairs from me and I see their beautiful hard working faces everyday.

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  6. I like Sprouter. Unlike twitter, it doesn’t need media attention or a mass audience. Entrepreneurs and real assets to the service will find their way eventually and organically.

    I think there is a lot of room for features, file sharing would be one that can bring more substance to the service. maybe the team can borrow some from the failed Kevin Roses’ Pownce?

    I’m definitely impressed so far, Toronto is a hotbed for creativity!

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  7. The thing that I find puzzling is the fact that Sprouter is a walled garden. Twitter beat facebook because they allowed their data to escape from their hands. I’m a sprouter member, and I’m looking forward to seeing what exactly comes out of this experiment. We’ll have to see what kind of control they’re willing to give up, and if not, how much control their audience is willing to sacrifice for the time it takes to update their feeds.

    Best of luck to them, they’ve picked a tough route to follow. Charging entrepreneurs for a social network is like selling ice-cubes to Alaskans.

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  8. Interesting, quite niche but if we can get valuable information, or share valuable information, then I would frequent the site.

    Fact is, I don’t use linked-in. I’ll try this out, hope it grows on me.

    How can I get a similar write-up on this blog? I think my product Pay4Bugs http://www.pay4bugs.com is pretty interesting too.

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  9. Yeah, those kids rock. I’m REALLY looking forward to more folks getting on board and kicking the whole working together part up a notch!

    Thanks also for the FreshBooks nod : )

    Rayanne Langdon — Queen of Hearts, FreshBooks.com

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  10. [...] detailed review of Sprouter is available at webworkerdaily in a post titled “Sprouter: Good things growing for Entrepreneurs” and I couldn’t have explained the workings of the web app better than [...]

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