Tag Archives: startups

Best growing newish services of 2008 (is Louis Gray right?)

I see Louis Gray has posted a list of his 10 top new web services for 2008.

I thought the list was missing a few of the best new services. So, I did two comparisons:

1. I asked Twitter for what services they liked the best that were new.
2. I compared all of Louis’ top services on Compete.com to my favorite new service, FriendFeed, to see how they measured up in traffic.

First, let’s compare in Compete. I included TechMeme in the charts as a baseline since that news service continues to be popular.

1. Twitter Search. Can’t compare here, but Louis is right. This is a service that not only got popular this year but also was acquired by Twitter.
2. SocialMedian. FriendFeed had much more growth this year. But SocialMedian is up and to the right.
3. Backtype. They were up, but only slightly compared to FriendFeed. Jury is still out here.
4. TweetDeck. Guy Kawasaki uses it, so that’s enough evidence. TweetDeck actually grew faster than Backtype or SocialMedian, so they deserve to be higher up on the list.
5. Strands. My friend Francine Hardaway loves Strands, so that’s enough evidence that Louis is right, but they struggled to find an audience this year when compared to the other services on the list.
6. ReadBurner. They struggled more than anyone on this list so far to get growth. Sorry, but in a recession growth is job #1 and no one has come close yet to FriendFeed in growth metric.
7. Feedly. This one is like ReadBurner. Struggling to show growth.
8. Gnip. Flatlined.
9. Toluu. Flatlined.
10. SocialToo. Show a lot of growth in last month. Impressive compared to Feedly, Gnip, Toluu.

What are my favorite new things, written before I started this post?

1. FriendFeed. Growth solid all year long except last month. The best of any of these services mentioned so far.
2. Qik. Good growth earlier this year, then flatlined.
3. TripIt. Nice solid growth all year long, but not fast enough to get VC’s hot and bothered.
4. Evernote. Solid growth this year, but flatlined past few months.

What about Twitterer’s favorite services? How did they compare? My comments in italics.

jgsilvestrone @scobleizer top new applications:  Green Home Huddle, Green Directory Montana Sorry, Louis Gray is a better picker. These services aren’t even on Compete.com’s traffic list.
TexasGirlErin @Scobleizer ShareThis and newcomer Modista will be something I use in 2009. Wow, we have a winner! ShareThis.com beats FriendFeed’s growth. Louis, how did you miss this one? Modista? Try again, flatline growth.
nickck @Scobleizer friendfeed, zotero (which is the best notating app for firefox). Sorry, Zotero is flatlined, so Louis Gray is better at picking new companies.
erincollopy @scobleizer -Tweet Deck and Kayak for travel. Infraction! Kayak existed before the year started and was very popular. It grew and now is falling in popularity. Go to jail, do not pass go and do not collect $200.
meaganm @Scobleizer I’d say ShareThis! And you’d beat Louis Gray, but do you have nine more in your pocket?
davidhhendricks @Scobleizer tripit I love it to, so you get points for picking the same thing I did.
KellyJohns @Scobleizer Friendfeed is the best, thanks for recommending Robert, Qik too if it would actually work on my Blackberry or iPhone. Qik works on Blackberry now, iPhone if you jailbreak it.
zaphodd Icon_red_lock @Scobleizer Services: Meebo, iTunes App store, Boxee Hey, I didn’t know about Meebo before this year, but they were already popular. I will give you a point because they grew really nicely this year. Boxee? Definitely cool. Not much growth until late in the year, but still pretty flat.
jblock @Scobleizer Yammer and FriendFeed. Yammer won TC50, so they deserve to be on the list. They grew really fast right after that, but have leveled off since then.
OfficeHax @Scobleizer snackr is the hottest service that I started using in 08. Snackr has too few users to be found by compete.com. No “beat Louis Gray” trophie for you.
sweyn @Scobleizer Laconi.ca is my pick for new service. Oh, let’s just put Plurk in there too. Plurk grew nicely. Louis Gray missed that one. Laconi.ca wasn’t even found by compete. The service identi.ca, which is based on Laconi.ca grew, fell, and now is flatlined. So, Plurk beats it. You’re no Louis Gray!
JimmySky @Scobleizer: Digsby, Evernote. Evernote has already been covered. Digsby grew quite well all year, except for last two months where it went up like crazy and then fell back down. Did Oprah talk about it? Anyway, you beat Louis Gray, so congrats!
teleken @Scobleizer Twitter, FriendFeed, last.fm. Twitter? That started in 2006. So, infraction! Last.fm? Same thing. Although both grew nicely so at least your heart is in right place.
JonathanDeamer @Scobleizer Hottest new service that I wasn’t using in 2007? Spotify. Best music app I’ve ever used, no question. You seen it? I haven’t seen it, invite-only at this point so compete.com doesn’t have any data for it. Gotta check it out!
thatJENgirl @Scobleizer Yahoo Pipes, WidgetBox, Webnode.com. Webnode had pretty flat growth, but better than a few of Louis’ choices, so you win there. WidgetBox? That was popular at the beginning of the year but had nice growth all year long.
dcfemella @Scobleizer FriendFeed, Seesmic, and Twitter. Seesmic saw nice growth this year, except last few months.
GR8CDNPumpkin @Scobleizer Brightkite, Pixelpipe, Friendfeed, Social|Median, Strands … that is most of them I think. Brightkite saw great growth. You are better than Louis Gray! Pixelpipe? Not so much.
alyero @scobleizer hottest new service – Planypus (www.planypus.com). Planypus? Um, no. Sorry. Try again.
sadekhm @Scobleizer Friendfeed, Plurk, Dropbox, Tumblr. Tumblr had bigger growth than FriendFeed, which explains why it just closed $4.5 million in funding. A tiny bit unfair because it started out more popular, though, so really was a hot app of 2007.
dave1meyer @Scobleizer – best new tool for me in 2008 was Things for Mac/iPhone. Great GTD app. Hard to judge this one because it’s an iPhone app but compete.com was not impressed.
lirontocker @Scobleizer Dropbox. Nice growth, but a lot slower than FriendFeed. Better than many of Louis’ picks, though.
jakks @Scobleizer Friendfeed. Socialcast. Blip.fm. Um, Socialcast wasn’t even on the chart, so no. Go back to the Louis Gray school of finding new cool services.
lirontocker @Scobleizer Truphone Another iPhone app, so compete.com probably under ranking this.
Eyebee @Scobleizer Hottest new service here: Friendfeed, Disqus, 12seconds.TV. Oh, Disqus is a major growth winner this year. So is 12seconds.tv. You win the “beat Louis Gray” game.

There are lots of other suggestions on this thread on FriendFeed:

FriendFeed, Otherinbox, Dropbox. – Nir Ben Yona Otherinbox grew a bit, definitely more than some of the stuff Louis recommended, but was pretty flat so won’t get VC’s interested. Dropbox very flat.
FriendFeed – Kenton
I will have to say friendfeed too :o) and ning. :o) – Rob Sellen Ning was popular going into the year, but look at the growth all year long! Makes FriendFeed’s growth look tiny.
FriendFeed, Yammer – Uwe Schwarz
definitely getdrpbox.com and drop.io – Milos Radovic Drop.io had an OK year, doubling traffic, which was better than many of Louis’s picks, but it started out the year with 50k users, so isn’t quite a new service this year.
FriendFeed – Stupid Blogger (aka Tina)
FF, Evernote, GoogleApps, Pandora – Rob Michael
Friendfeed… – Bob Blunk
Mint.com, Remember the Milk, FF – Mark Philpot Mint.com won TC50 in 2007, so doesn’t apply here. It had a lot of growth this year, though. Remember the Milk also started out with 50k users this year, but more than doubled them.
Friendfeed, but in terms of everyday day-to-day usage than ‘iPhone apps’ are far more frequent than Friendfeed (though that probably doesn’t count). – Andrew Leyden
Mark Philpot beat me to RTM — it is really good. – Robert W. Anderson via twhirl
FriendFeed certainly. Qik on iPhone for sure. Digsby has redefined my email/IM/social networking, nothing else beats it. – Nathan Chase
Friendfeed., Lightroom 2.0. – Thomas Hawk
tripit is my favorite as well as Twitter. used twitter back in ’07 but didn’t have a need until I lost my job at Yahoo! in Feb. ’08 – Randy Ksar via twhirl
FriendFeed & Twitter – Atul Arora
Friendfeed, Plurk, Dropbox, Tumblr – Hisham
twitter, friend feed, social median – dan
Friend Feed, Pandora – Victoria/Plautia
AOL j/k… Windows Live has some interesting components. And FriendFeed. – Mark VandenBerg
Netflix on demand, FriendFeed – Brian Roy
FriendFeed Qik Evernote BrightKite – Enrique Gutierrez via twhirl
Friendfeed; Doppler; Blip.FM; Dropbox – Jorge Gobbi via twhirl
Friendfeed. – Katie
Twitter, Qik and shamefully; WordPress – Mauricio Reyes
FriendFeed, Dopplr, Plazes – flapic Plazes didn’t do anything. Dopplr didn’t either. No Louis Gray award for you.
Everything (except for YouTube, Flickr, SU and Digg…the “old” stuff). I went from Blogger to WP in January, had special words for people who used Twitter. – Anika Malone
Liking even though I was already using FF in 2007 and still my fave in 2008 :)Mark Krynsky
Friendfeed. Socialcast. Blip.fm – Jaica Kinsman
FriendFeed, Seesmic, and Twitter – Shevonne Polastre
ping.fm blip.fm dropbox – Mike G
Friendfeed, evernote, twitter – seanb via twhirl
Diigo too. – Jaica Kinsman Diigo saw nice growth this year.
Well, thanks everyone for helping us find the best services of 2008. Based on the results here’s my final list of sites that had fewer than 100,000 users at the beginning of the year and have seen sizeable growth this year:

1. FriendFeed.
2. ShareThis.
3. Brightkite.
4. TweetDeck.
5. Disqus.
6. 12seconds.tv.
7. Qik.
8. Evernote.
9. TripIt.
10. Digsby.
11. Plurk.

So, who has a better list? Me (and a bunch of people on Twitter and FriendFeed) or Louis Gray? To be fair, Louis explained why he thought FriendFeed shouldn’t be used this year, so probably that same reason would keep some other of my favorite newish companies from being considered.

Either way, I learned a lot about what companies have caught people’s attention and it’s interesting to compare growth curves among companies.

Some fun distractions while I put this list together? Look at these companies growth curves:

They grew four Twitters (if you use the December-sized Twitter).
Twitter. Wow, look at that growth! Plus, growth curve is a lot steeper than FriendFeed.
Ning. Growing faster than Twitter.

Anyway, my hat is off to all entrepreneurs that have seen a ton of growth this year. Hope 2009 brings you even more. Did we miss anyone? Leave a comment with a link.

A "juicy" Silicon Valley startup

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For those of you who have moved to Silicon Valley in the past 10 years you might have missed that it is built on a set of former orchards. Which is why this startup (Maverick Brands, aka Sunkist Naturals) caught my eye. I thought that maybe this CEO, Mark Shaw, had missed the memo that we do web sites and design iPhones here now and that we outsourced our food production to the Central Valley over the hill.

OK, I’m being a bit of a smartass because I know that there’s lots of food and drink companies that have started here, or near here, like Odwalla which is now owned by Coca Cola and is served in Google’s lobbies.

Anyway, we did a longer HD video series with Mark that’ll air soon, but here’s a short little one I filmed with my FlipCam.

Some things I learned while talking with Mark yesterday.

They are less than a year old and already got their product onto 5,000 grocery store shelves. How? Hiring people who have great reputations in the industry. Having a brand that doesn’t need a lot of advertising to get noticed. Distribution is key to their strategy. They located their factory along Interstate highways in California that get a lot of trucking traffic and can buy partial loads on those trucks and get to market fast, which keeps their product fresher and lets them be much more nimble because they don’t need to get an order for an entire semi truck trailer load.

Because they are a startup they are able to spend more on ingredients because they don’t have the pressure that other companies have to reduce cost. Also, they have a high-tech factory that has no oxygen. Workers basically have to wear space suits to work inside the packing plant. This lets them ensure quality and also keep the product fresher longer (oxygen ruins fruit and causes rapid spoilage, even if refrigerated).

They spent a lot of time thinking about the packaging, bringing in a designer from Europe, where fresh foods are taken more seriously than here. They worked on a rounded bottle that looks unique but still isn’t likely to fall over.

Mark is a great evangelist for his product. He not only is an authority on his marketplace, he keeps versions of his competitor’s products around and can tell you the good and the bad of them. So few CEOs are willing to educate me on the marketplace, which includes their competitors (the good ones do, last week talking to Rackspace employees they could tell you everything that Amazon is doing right, for instance — that made me impressed enough to remember it a week later).

Things that high tech startups would recognize? The crappy low-cost furniture, since most of the employees work on the road he didn’t need lots of nice furniture or overy impressive desks, etc. The wifi router in the corner. The selection of Macs and PCs.

Any other startups in Silicon Valley catch your eye the way this one did?

“But Scoble, is the stuff any good?” It’s passed the Maryam test with flying colors, and I like it. Will I give up Diet Coke for it? Probably, it sure is better for me than the chemical stuff in that or Pepsi.

In startup success blogs don't matter, paradigm shifts do

What’s the most successful new company out there of the past two years?

I’d argue it’s iLike, a music sharing and discovery service that came out on Facebook first, but has moved other places.

When I quit Microsoft they had no users.

Today they have 30 million.

How did THAT happen? It wasn’t because they got bloggers all hot and bothered about them. They didn’t win any contests. I don’t even think they showed up at Demo or TechCrunch or other industry conferences. If they did, they didn’t cause any headlines on blogs about how they were going to be THE next hot thing.

What did they do? They were first out the gate on Facebook’s application platform. That was a real paradigm shift. It was the first application platform I remember where I could see the apps YOU had loaded.

Second datapoint?

Yesterday I ran into the founders of Posimotion. Their company didn’t exist a few months ago, but today they are seeing 50,000 downloads a day of their iPhone apps. I don’t remember THEM being talked about anywhere, or on any famous tech blogs, but they are kicking but and well on their way to being a dominant software firm. How did they do it?

They were first out of the gate on the iPhone.

By the way, talking about the iPhone, Posimotion has some awesome iPhone apps.

Almost all of their apps are NOT free ones, so you can guess how much revenue per day is flowing into this very small company (which isn’t venture funded, by the way). Here’s my favorites from their 12 apps:

A level is a leveler which uses the iPhone to level picture frames and stuff like that. It’s a very cool use of the iPhone’s accelerometer.

Ever forget where you parked your car? If you used G Park you’d never forget again (it uses the GPS to memorize where you parked).

Golf Flyover is for golfers who want to know where to play golf and it uses the GPS in the iPhone to tell them information about the courses they are playing.

Pool is a fun game and well done using iPhone’s touch surface.

Well, since I’m irrelevant, I think I’ll take the rest of the day off! Heheheh.

TechCrunch's startups' web sites suck too

OK, I just visited the companies Web sites of the finalists for TC50. They mostly suck too. But this time I’m going to put the blame on the conference holders. Why do they suck? Because lots of them are like this one, which just has a form up because they can’t reveal anything about themselves before they get on stage.

This makes me realize that it’s the conference organizer’s fault. They should work with the startups to make sure that the startups’ web presence — when the list goes out — is top rate and reflects well on both the startups and the conference itself.

So, in this first competition between Demo and TC50 both get a failing grade. I don’t think this helps any startup to have such a bad foot forward as first impression. Will everyone revisit this list on Wednesday? I don’t think so. We all have ADD and by Wednesday we’ll be waiting in some line at an Apple store for whatever Steve Jobs announces tomorrow.

That said, TC50′s site is better than Demo’s site because they took the time to explain a little bit about what each company will do and also how they’ll fit into the conference. I’m off to go to TC50, see ya from there if I can get Wifi.

TC50 will be live streamed as well
. That’s a win for startups because you can watch along from home. The show starts in a few minutes. Unfortunately Demo’s sessions won’t be live streamed. That’s too bad.

The "gold standard" of recent startups

Well, I’ve taken potshots at the new breed of startups. But let’s go back and look at recent startups that have gotten our attention and use this list as a “gold standard” through which to judge companies that come out this week at one of the two conferences.

I put forth a short list of some of the companies that have gained my trust/attention over the past few years. Things like Zoho. Meebo. Zappos. 37 Signals. Threadless. Evernote. Kongregate. TripIt. Kayak. Viddler. Qik. Kyte. Hypem. Dogster. Get Satisfaction. Instructables. Tesla Motors. Last.fm. iLike. Pandora. Lijit.

People on Twitter sent these in:

@dpiv says: drop.io.
@seven24 says: Freshbooks.
@taaviuudam says: vimeo. Blip.tv.
@andrewtc04 says: Moo. Seesmic. Qype.
@mind_booster says: Reverbnation. Sellaband.
@maniar says Zooomr. FriendFeed. Posterous.
@marilynpratt says: Veodia.
@DeirdreS says: passpack.com.
@DarJon says: Skribit.
@brendachrist says: GoldMine.
@JohnAtkinson says: Disqus. ZipScene. ShareThis. PimpMyNews.
@thetylerhays says: Pleasedressme. (another Gary Vee project).
@tinkugallery says: Recycline.
@nitinbadjatia says: Jott.
@Earth911 says: Twitter.
@mathys says: Mobypicture. and Startpix.
@jhurtado says: Tumblr. Scribd.
@Discpl says: Shelfari. Squidoo.
@4davidmartin says: Accuradio.
Chris Brogan, on FriendFeed says: Viewzi. Linden Labs.
Dave Martin, on FriendFeed, says Artfulhome.
Alan Le, on FriendFeed, says Mint.
Zee, on FriendFeed, says WordPress (er, Automattic).
Erhan Erdogan on FriendFeed, says: Apture. SocialMedian. Brightkite. Entrecard. Animoto. Magnify.net. Speeddate. Sevenload. Fon. Flixwagon. G.ho.st. PicLens. Shareaholic. Etsy.
Susan Beebe, on FriendFeed, says: FFtogo (FriendFeed mobile client). RSSMeme. Sliderocket. Blist. Identi.ca. TweetDeck. Mento. Revision3.

Wow, what a lot of interesting companies. But here’s the problem: how many of these have you even tried? I bet that if I averaged out all my readers it would come up to somewhere between five and seven. And you are the smartest, most passionate, and most early adopter tech users in the world. For most people? I bet they might have tried one and have no clue about the rest of this list.

And THAT is why I’m getting to be much more harsh on startups. New startups are coming into this marketspace where even good existing companies (most of these companies are very good and are executing well) aren’t getting much attention. So if you don’t measure up to the current market standard bearers, you probably won’t have a possibility to succeed.

Lots of people think I should just go “rah rah” for new startups. I’m sorry, I’m not going to do that anymore. You want to get on this list? You’ve got to earn your way on here. Out of the more than 100 companies we’ll see this week, it’ll be interesting to see who will do just that.

How about you? What’s your “gold standard” in startups? Let’s build a good list which we’ll then use to compare new services and apps to this week.

Which ones of these have the potential of breaking out? Which ones do you love?

The Superbowl of Startups

When I attended Demo I remember being in awe of what I thought of as the Superbowl of Startups.

Here were these companies that prepared months to spend six minutes on stage.

Later I talked with “DemoGods Coaches” like Shel Israel or Nathan Gold. They told me just how much hard work went in behind the scenes. Some teams spent literally months preparing their demos and getting their companies ready for the big day. This year the big day is on Monday.

Each company has spent $18,500 just to get on stage. That part you all know about because of the famous fight that Demo has had with its competitor, TechCrunch 50.

But the Demo Coaches tell me there’s a lot more that goes into it. Many of these companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in time preparing (and hiring coaches like Nathan Gold, who has a few companies in the running down at Demo). They also often bring their entire teams down to both host the booth in the expo hall as well as host meetings in hotel room suites for press and VCs. Lots of deals are done in the back rooms.

This is why I was so harsh to all those sites this morning. This is the Super Bowl. It’s not a little high school recess game. Thousands of people have visited the list already in the past few hours since I posted. It’s at the top of TechMeme. There’s a lot of attention on the list.

Pointing out that these sights suck has gotten me quite a few harsh words in the past few hours. None harsher than Chris Shipley’s post in reply.

My response to her? Because this is the “Superbowl of Startups” Shipley needs to step up the game here.

Here’s a few replies to her post.

First, she didn’t call me before posting her post. So, let’s say she’s right about the fact that I post posts without getting her point of view then she just lowered herself to my level to make a point, which now is weakened significantly because she didn’t practice the higher ethics she says she wants us all to aspire to. More on that in a little while, though, because that really doesn’t have much to do with the Superbowl of Startups, er, Demo.

She wrote: “But seriously, if I cared about startups, I’d be sure there were links in my stories for the convenience of Robert and other bloggers?”

No, that’s not why I said that. Yes, I’m an egotistical baaahhhsssstttaaarrddd, and a lazy one too, but this shows you have contempt for the startups you are trying to help. A link is VERY IMPORTANT. Why? It gets Google juice. For a startup Google juice is probably more important than anything else the conference can do for you. Why? Because until someone links to your site you won’t be found very high on Google, which is where 99% of your customers will come from (not from tech blogs like this one, Shipley’s, or TechCrunch). Having a site like Demo link to you can mean the difference between being on the first page of results vs. being far lower.

Also, a link makes it easier for readers to do. When sites don’t link the things they talk about will see 100x less traffic than if they do link. Yes, readers (and bloggers and journalists even) are lazy. So, throw them a bone. Finally, by not linking you’ll force your readers to manually enter the URLs, which keeps Web sites from getting a good referral (server logs keep track of where visitors come from) so you won’t get as much credit as you’re due.

Anyway, back to what Shipley wrote. Here’s another passage: “When misinformation is propagated out of laziness and inconsideration, that’s hardly informative. It’s not “new school;” it’s No School.”

Um, OK, but did she point out something that I got factually wrong? No. Did she add new information? No. Did she just make it sound like I had gotten something wrong? Yes. Did she succumb to the same sins that she attacked me and Sarah Lacy for? Yes.

So, what did we learn here? Well, we learned that Shipley is disappointed with the coverage she’s getting. That much is clear. But did she take the time, after she had berated us for that coverage, to correct it? No.

And that makes me very sad. Because it’s like Shipley (and her commenters) are stuck in the past where words were printed on dead trees and you can’t argue with them.

This is not a one-way shipment of words. It’s a conversation.

If I say something wrong, or do something you don’t like, you get involved and slap me around for a while and then YOU CORRECT IT. Notice that I’ve linked to Shipley here twice tonight. Over on FriendFeed I passed her post to all of my friends. Same on Twitter. I’ll do the same on Facebook too. That’s a lot of attention that she had, but she didn’t take the time to get her point of view across.

Which brings me back to the “blogging is reporting” meme that she’s trying to get across.

Blogging is NOT reporting. It’s the single voice of a person. When you read me here you are reading me the way I’d talk to you at a cocktail party. You’re hearing my opinions. If I’m doing “reporting” then you’ll know, because of how I source it.

Sorry, I’m not going to call you every time I have an opinion. If you think I should, then you are crazy and don’t understand blogging.

I used to be like Shipley (Tim O’Reilly has voiced the same opinions too). I used to think that you should call me when you write something about me. That’s why I put my phone number on my blog (it’s +1-425-205-1921 — I do answer my phone and that is actually my cell phone that I use every day).

But I was wrong. See, this is a two-way conversation. You write crap about me. Then I can decide to answer you back.

This is unlike any other communication method ever devised by humans. Talk radio? Give me a break. I waited on hold for an hour last night to make a two-minute contribution to KGO Radio. Newspapers? Have you ever gotten a letter to the editor printed? How many weeks did it take? Magazines? I write for one of those and it takes months to get anything into it. TV? When was the last time a normal human being was on TV holding a conversation with someone on demand for as long as it takes? Never. Try getting on CNN sometime and see how easy it is.

But here? You can leave a comment. You can head over to FriendFeed. You can blog. You can Seesmic. YouTube. etc. etc.

Oh, and Shipley says I’m living in the “rarefied air of the echo chamber.” I love that diss. It might have held weight if she had called me and proven that she’s better than me. But, now that she’s shoved the cream pie in my face I’ll point out that none of the hundreds of startups on my show had to pay to get onto my video show. Ever.

Back to the “Superbowl of Startups.” I will relook at each site this week. Unfortunately Demo, for the first time in years, isn’t putting up videos of the demonstrators, so I’ll just be forced to link to other bloggers who are writing about Demo down there and then I’ll have to compare those companies to ones I’ll see face-to-face at TC50. That will probably introduce some bias, but I’ll link to all my work product and other sites and, anyway, if you don’t like what I say you can easily do a Google Blogsearch and find someone else you like better. Luckily there are lots of areas that don’t overlap between Demo and TC50, but where there are overlaps it’ll be interesting to compare the two approaches. I’m sure some will like the Demo approach. Others will like the TC50 approach.

It’s going to be a fun week in the Superbowl of Startups. Let me know by posting a URL here if you’re writing from either of the two conferences.

Startups: your web site sucks

I visited each website from the list of Demo finalists.

Boy, do they suck. Really, really suck.

Does no one understand how to market themselves?

It’s amazing to me that not a single Demo website has learned from the lessons of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Winelibrary.tv. Now THAT is a Website that knows how to market! (Interesting that Gary runs a wine store that sells $50 million a year, yet no one looks at his style as a great way to market your service/product yet).

Almost no company on this list is using video. Amazing that in this age of YouTube that statups aren’t understanding how to use video, or are even trying to use it.

But some are far worse. Mapflow’s company’s site only has a password protect up for it. Amazingly bad, especially since there are probably thousands of people who will get that as their first experience with this company.

Some other mistakes?

1. Lots of companies have Demo badges, but don’t welcome Demo visitors. Who cares that you’re going to show off at Demo? We do care about what the news will be. So, include something like “on Tuesday you’ll learn how we’ll solve xxxx problem.”
2. Photrade’s website gave me an error.
3. Some, like Plastic Electronics, just have a lame Demo logo and a sign that says “world leader in plastic electronics.” Who cares? What do you do? What is plastic electronics? Or, worse, look at Semantifind. Can’t they at least put up a few words about what problem they will solve and collect an email address? Remember, this is my first impression of these companies. Lame, lame, lame, lame, lame and, no, I won’t be back. Sorry. Usable says “come see us at Demo.” Um, out of all the visitors to your Web site this weekend how many are going to Demo? I’d guess almost none. After all, if you were going to Demo you’d be drinking beer in the bar right now, not checking out the list of startups.
4. Some, like Open a Circle, seem to aim at a problem that doesn’t exist or seem to be too early. They could really help their case by explaining the pain point that they solve.
5. Too many words, like this site at Radiant Logic. I fell asleep as soon as I saw the site. Oh, and lame stock photo too.
6. We’re a “me too” company, like Wild Pockets which looks to me like a copy of Kongregate but Wild Pocket’s doesn’t explain differentiating factor.
7. ToolTogether just gave me a form without explaining a thing about their company. That’s ultra lame. I can’t believe how bad these companies are.
8. Visit this website for Trinity Convergence for 10 seconds. Click close. Now tell me what they do. Buzzwords!!! Convergence? Multimedia? Embedded devices? Mushy marketing and I still don’t know what they do, the value they bring, the pain they solve.
9. Solves problems that don’t exist. This site, TurnTo, wants you to use your friends to solve problems, or find products. Um, Twitter already solved that. Facebook has all my friends. And I’m not going to get them all to join a new service, sorry. Especially one that uses lame stock photography.
10. I don’t know what this service does, but I know that it won some prize from some conference that doesn’t matter. The site isn’t even in English. Sigh.
11. UGA Digital has probably the worst example of marketing I’ve ever seen. It’s the antithesis of what Gary Vaynerchuk does. Who cares whether your team is in multiple countries? I love companies that claim they have “boundless imagination.” Certainly isn’t demonstrated on their Web site.
12. “Download Unity Solutions info sheet.” Ugh, FAIL!
13. Wait a second, this company wants to make a difference in the world? Why the hell are they spending $18,000 to go to Demo? They could have just donated that much money to some interesting charity and gotten more PR.

Ones that caught my eye?

1. Quantivo. Nice design, gets to the point. Uses video. Makes me want to click into the site.

Um, I visited every single company on the Demo list. Amazingly lame companies. Amazingly lame web sites. Is this it? Am I missing something? How did these companies get $18,000 to go to Demo?

Would you write about any of these companies? Did any of them solve a problem you have? Would any of you fund any of these companies?

My answer? No. No. No. Sorry Demo.