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 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.
Also 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.
If 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.