Tag Archives: startups

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.

Let’s cry for the poor fragmented, underreported startups

Daniel Terdiman, over at CNET, is reporting that Demo and TC50 are potentially fragmenting their audiences.

Let’s cry for a moment for all the startups. Boo, hoo, hooo.

Back to reality. Any startup that looks at this as a loss should be refused funding.

First it’s funny that a CNET reporter is saying that. After all, CNET is one of the few organizations around that has the resources to attend both conferences. CNET should LOVE this because it gives them a HUGE advantage over 99.9% of other bloggers.

The way I look at it is that four years ago only 70 companies got paid attention to (I attended Demo that year). Now double that number will. Even if you only try out the top five companies from each conference that number will be double too. So, competition between two conferences is GREAT for startups. Any startup that says otherwise just won’t have credibility with me.

The fight between Arrington and Shipley has helped focus our attention on these two conferences (the LA Times even wrote about it) so now startups are getting even more PR than they’d get if there were only one conference. Keep in mind that each of the 70 startups on this list paid $18,000 to get on stage, so I’m sure not crying for Shipley’s business. Seems to me that it’s better than ever.

OK, now that we have the drama of the morning out of the way, let’s dig into the 70 demonstrators at Demo. TechCrunch will announce its list on Monday morning at 6 a.m.

If Shipley really cared about the startups she would have made each of the URLs in this list linkable. Here, let me do that. Then, let’s take the weekend and see what we can learn about each of these companies. What do you think of this group? Anything here catch your eye?

UPDATE: I just visited every one of these companies. Boy do they almost all suck (at least their Web sites and if their sites suck, I can’t believe their products are going to do much better).

Accordia Group, LLC; New Rochelle, NY;

Adapx, Inc.; Seattle, WA;

Alerts.com, Inc.; Bellvue, WA;

Arsenal Interactive, Inc.; Mountain View, CA;

Asyncast Corp; Campbell, CA;

Awind Inc.; Junghe, Taiwan;

beeTV; Milano, Italy;

Best Buy; Minneapolis, MN;

BizEquity Corp.; Spring House, PA;

Blue Lava Technologies, Inc.; Honolulu, HI;

Cerego; Tokyo, Japan;

Cinergix, Pty Ltd.; Melbourne, Australia;

Clintworld; Boenningstedt, Germany;

CoreTrace Corp.; Austin, TX;

crowdSPRING, LLC; Chicago, IL;

DesignIn, Inc.; Marblehead, MA;

Dial Directions, Inc.; Alameda, CA;

DOCCENTER; Omaha, NE;

Enterprise Informatics, Inc.; San Diego, CA;

Familybuilder; New York, NY;

ffwd.com, Inc.; San Francisco, CA;

Fortressware, Inc.; Mountain View, CA;

Fusion-io; Salt Lake City, UT;

G.ho.st; Ramallah & Modin, Palestine and Israel;

Green Sherpa; Santa Barbara, CA;

Infovell, Inc.; Menlo Park, CA;

Intelius, Inc.; Bellevue, WA;

Invision TV, LLC; Bethesda, MD;

iWidgets, Inc.; San Francisco, CA;

Kadoo Inc.; Washington, DC;

Koollage, Inc.; San Jose, CA;

Mapflow, Ltd.; Cork, Ireland;

Maverick Mobile Solutions, Pvt. Ltd.; Maharashtra, India;

MeDeploy; Hamden, CT;

Message Sling; Worcester, MA;

MeWorks, Inc.; Taipei, Taiwan;

Microstaq, Inc.; Austin, TX;

MixMatchMusic, Ltd.; Burlingame, CA;

Momindum; Paris, France;

OpenACircle.com; Dallas, TX;

Paidinterviews, LLC; McLean, VA;

Paragent, LLC; Muncie, IN;

Photrade, LLC; Cincinnati, OH;

PlanDone, Inc.; Petaluma, CA;

Plastic Logic, Ltd.; Mountain View, CA;

Qtask, Inc.; Burbank, CA;

Quantivo Corp.; San Mateo, CA;

Radiant Logic, Inc.; Novato, CA;

RealNetworks, Inc.; Seattle, WA;

Rebus Technology, Inc.; Cupertino, CA;

RemoTV, Inc.; New Haven, CT;

Rudder, Inc.; Houston, TX;

Semanti Corp.; Alberta, Canada;

Sim Ops Studios, Inc.; San Francisco, CA;

SitScape, Inc.; Vienna, VA;

SkyData Systems, Inc.; San Mateo, CA;

SpinSpotter; Seattle, WA;

Telnic, Ltd.; London, England;

TetraBase, LLC; Boothwyn, PA;

The Echo Nest Corp.; Somerville, MA;

tikitag, an Alcatel-Lucent Venture; Antwerp, Belgium;

Toolgether; San Mateo, CA;

TravelMuse, Inc.; Los Altos, CA;

Trinity Convergence, Inc.; Durham, NC;

TurnTo Networks, Inc.; New York, NY;

UbiEst S.p.A.; Treviso, Italy;

UGA Digital, Inc.; Taipei, Taiwan;

Unity Solutions, LLC; Clearwater, FL;

Usable Security Systems, Inc.; San Francisco, CA;

WebDiet, Inc.; Henderson, NV;

Xumii, Inc.; San Mateo, CA;

Zazengo, Inc.; Santa Cruz, CA;

FastCompanyTV: the three-month report

We started FastCompanyTV the first week of March this year. What a lot has happened in three months.

Here’s a rundown of the videos we’ve done. ScobleizerTV (S)=36 shows. WorkFastTV (WF)=1 show. Global NeighbourhoodsTV (GN)=14 shows. FastCompanyLive (FCL)=44 shows. Total of 95 shows. Yowza, with more on the way.

My favorite ones? The Tesla drive, the IBM moving the Atom, the Yosemite ones with Michael Adams, and the Rackspace ones (they went IPO right after we shot, so we have the last video before their quiet period, plus they were darn cool and their new headquarters are mondo big).

What did we do bad? 1. Didn’t get enough outside of the technology industry and didn’t get short versions done. 2. Also didn’t get transcripts done yet. 3. We had a rough beginning with Shel’s show that got a lot better over time. 4. Also, the cell phone videos aren’t integrated into the site the way they should be (I start those over on Qik, then move them over later, which totally doesn’t take advantage of the “live” ability of cell phone videos).

I’d love to know what you think, good or bad. The next three months are going to be just as wild. Starting next week as we go to Seattle to see lots of startups and more stuff at Microsoft, too.

By the way, thanks to Rocky Barbanica. He edited and produced much of this stuff and has dragged our two HD cameras lots of places. Michael Shick edited Global Neighbourhoods and I’m most grateful for that, too.

Also, thank you to our sponsors: Seagate, who sponsors ScobleizerTV, and SAP, who sponsors WorkFastTV. It’s expensive to buy HD cameras, buy gas for cars, travel around the world, and pay for bandwidth and other stuff. Not to mention our salaries. So, if you like what we do, please think of our sponsors next time you have a chance to choose them or someone else.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has been in front of our cameras. Without you, well, these shows wouldn’t be interesting.

Here’s a list of all of our shows, in the order they come up on the Web site.

JUNE:

Sliderocket. Intro to a very interesting new presentation package. (S)
Threshold. Intro to easiest-to-use wireless home automation system. (S)
Rick Rashid, Microsoft
. He runs Microsoft Research. Enough said. (S)
Roy Levin, Microsoft
. Smart guy who runs Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Research group. (S)
New show launches: WorkFastTV (first one goes up tomorrow) (WF)
New show to launch: PhotoCycle (the trailer/intro is already up — an astute ear will tell that’s Ansel Adams playing piano, the full show starts later in June). (PC)
Eepybird. The folks behind those Diet Coke and Mentos explosions. (GN)
Pamela Skillings. Author of “Escape from Corporate America” talks to my cell phone about your career. (FCL)

MAY:

Amazee: Demo of new project-management online service. (S)
Bill Watkins, Seagate. Bill, Seagate’s CEO talks to me about future of its business and asks “what recession?” (S)
Xerox CTO. Sophie Vandebroek talks to me about PARC and the post-copier world of Xerox research. (S)
TechCrunch Israel. I learn about Israel’s entrepreneurs from TechCrunch’s Roi Carthy. (S)
Plymedia. A cool online video company in Israel shows me their video overlay technology. (S)
Flixwagon. This Israeli company shows me how their technology lets you send live video from cell phones. (S)
Checkpoint. The biggest startup success from Israel. The CEO talks about security business. (S)
Itay Talgam, famous conductor. Part I. Part II. Part III. Gives a seminar showing management styles of orchestral conductors. (S)
IBM Research, Semantic Search. A look at research into semantic search at IBM’s New Almaden Research Center. (S)
HBMG. An Austin, TX, company shows me their security software which uses unique video compression. (S)
Semantinet. Interesting new social networking tool/search engine in Israel. (S)
Neopolitan Networks. San Antonio, TX, based company that supports many companies with their bandwidth needs. (S)
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. The place where the Web was invented, but now they are turning on a new machine designed to discover the properties of Mass. A physicist shows us around and explains what we’re seeing. (S)
Microsoft Research (Translations). See the latest in language translation technology. (FCL)
New York Times. They demo and announce “Times Machine” which lets subscribers look at older issues. (FCL)
Microsoft Research (Surface). Andy Wilson invented many of the concepts behind the Surface computer that you use your hands to control and here he gives us a ton of info about what he’s building. (FCL)
FriendFeed (Designer). The designer behind FriendFeed and many Google products like Gmail and Google Reader, gives his philosophy on design. (FCL)
BluePulse. Social network for cell phones, CEO tells me latest. (FCL)
SlideRocket. PowerPoint competitor announces first version, coming in July. (FCL)
Google. Introduces FriendConnect. (FCL)
eMetrics Conference. Talking to experts about analytics of your Web site. (FCL)
PARC. A tour of the Palo Alto Research Center (subsidiary of Xerox) where the CEO shows me the first ethernet cable, which is still embedded in a wall there. (FCL)
Ansel Adams Gallery. Michael Adams, Ansel Adams son, takes us to Glacier Point in Yosemite where we interview him about Ansel’s famous photos. Another video shows him in front of the family business. (FCL)
Minggl. A new toolbar so you can join your friends from several social networks. (FCL)
Web 2.0 Expo. An afterhours tour through the exhibit hall with the guys from Zude. (FCL)
Moo Cards. The CEO of Moo shows us his latest cool business cards which are a hit with photographers and social media influentials. (FCL)
Good Vision. An interesting company in Israel that focuses on helping companies perform socially responsible processes. (FCL)

APRIL

Newstin. A service, located in Prague, that helps you find the news. (S)
IBM Research, Moving Atoms. This is my favorite experience. We move a single iron atom across a piece of copper. In the video they explain why they are doing this (to make smaller and smaller storage devices). (S) We also have a cell phone video we did in the lab that gives more info. (FCL)
Admob. A new advertising network that’s white hot aimed at getting ads onto mobile phones around the world. (S)
Austin City Limits. One of the best audio engineers in the world explains his work on this famous TV show. (S)
IBM’s New Almaden Research Center. This is where tons of stuff was invented. Hard drives. Blue lasers. And more. (S)
PerfTech. Messaging technology for cable companies in our San Antonio, Texas, visit. (S)
Kulabyte. Making HD video compress faster and better. (S)
Rackspace’s new headquarters. Get an exclusive look at Rackspace’s new headquarters in San Antonio, Texas (they announced an IPO a few weeks after we visited). (S)
Rackspace Radio Station. A look at Rackspace’s radio station in San Antonio, Texas. (S)
Rackspace/Leadership. Fun story about how Rackspace’s Chairman got everyone inside Rackspace to change their minds. (FCL)
Rackspace/office fight. There’s a fight inside Rackspace between dark and light offices. Which one would you pick? (FCL)
MySpace CTO. See the architecture behind this famous social networking site. (S)
Ben Segal. Mentor of Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. (S)
Mahlo. Part I. Part II. Innovative search company that uses humans instead of algoritms to bring better results. (S)
Jim Long. NBC cameraman at of the US President. (GN)
KD Paine. Social Media Measurement guru. (GN)
Dell. Richard Binhammer talks with Shel Israel about social media and measuring results. (GN)
Radian 6. Part I. Part II. Measuring results and talking about Radian 6′s business and how it impacts social media. (GN)
Buzz Logic. Measuring influence in social media. (GN)
Disney. Look at Disney’s new virtual worlds. (GN)
Twitter. A talk with Twitter’s founders about its impact on the social media world. (GN)
GM. A talk with General Motors’ CEO where he admits he doesn’t write his own blog. (GN)
Cemaphor. They show off their new technology that syncs Google Calendars and email with Microsoft’s Outlook and Exchange. (FCL)
ZigTag. Demo of a new bookmarking service. (FCL)
AT&T. Demo of AT&T’s new browser. (FCL)
Shane Finley. Micro-wine innovator. (FCL)
PhotoCrank. CEO of PhotoCrank tells me why he started his company. (FCL)
DeLoach Winery. A bunch of geeks get together at a winery for an interesting conversation about business. (FCL)
FriendFeed. Part I. Part II. The founders of FriendFeed talk about their business (this is one of the first video interviews they gave, since then they’ve gotten much more popular and have been interviewed more often). (FCL)

MARCH

Google Docs. They announce offline docs. (S)
Newtek. The Tricaster is mondo cool way to do video production. Leo Laporte is using one on his new show.
Microsoft Research/Redmond. An exclusive tour around Microsoft’s new research building. (S)
MySpace. An interview with the VP of product development at this famous social network. Also got a separate interview with MySpace’s CEO. (S)
Scribd. A startup in San Francisco that makes sharing presentations and docs fun. (S)
John Kao. Longtime business professor and innovation guru plays some music and talks about innovation. (S) I also did a separate interview with him on my cell phone, which is here. (FCL)
Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope. We got the first video of Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope (it got 10 million unique visits in first week). (S)
Amazon. Web services evangelist gives us an update on the state of Amazon’s popular Web services. (S)
Seaworld. Shel gets wet in the name of finding out how Seaworld is using social media. (GN)
Intel. How the world’s biggest processor manufacturer is using social media to get the word out. (GN)
Sun Microsystems. How Sun is using social media to better use its internal knowledge. (GN)
Forrester. Jeremiah Owyang, Forrester’s analyst on social media, talks with Shel Israel. (GN)
Hugh Macleod. Famous artist that puts his drawings on backs of business cards up on his blog. (GN)
Microsoft. New Internet Explorer gets talked about in the hallways with executives from Microsoft. (FCL)
Monster. Cool new headphones get demoed. (FCL)
Lijit. Useful new search engine for bloggers demoed. (FCL)
Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes questions from an audience at SXSW. (FCL)
AMD and ATI. A look into the merger of these two companies with executives from each. (FCL)
Make Magazine. Meet the guy behind Make Magazine, a popular magazine for people who like building their own things. (FCL)
Intel Chip History. A look back at San Antonio’s tech history and part in designing Intel’s famous 8008 processor that kicked off a whole industry. (FCL)
Ear Bender. After an REM concert we met a music promoter who let us into his world. (FCL)
Hatchery. How does a company get started when it’s trying to disrupt something as big as the credit card industry? (FCL)
iLike. The founder of iLike told me at the SXSW conference that they had made a deal with R.E.M. (FCL)
Adaptive Blue. A useful toolbar for adding on search features gets demoed to me. (FCL)
Tesla. First ride in the production tesla with Elon Musk, chairman of the board. (FCL)
Annie Leibovitz. Famous photographer of famous people shows us around her exhibit. (FCL)
NASDAQ. Shows off its new technology which lets stock traders go back and check the price at a specific time. (FCL)
MFG.COM. Shows off a very cool app for tracking shipments. (FCL)
Larry Lessig. Gives his last talk on Free Culture at Stanford University. He’s a law professor there and is quite famous for starting up Creative Commons, among other things. (FCL)
Joi Ito. CEO of Creative Commons talks with us on the way to a meeting. (FCL)
Tim O’Reilly. Future of Advertising conversation after Davos’ World Economic Forum panel discussion. There was a second part of this conversation too. (FCL)
Rick Warren, Part I
. Part II. Author of hugely popular “A Purpose Driven Life” and head of largest single church in USA has a fun chat with me at the World Economic Forum. (FCL)

A five company day

Yesterday I visited five companies to get you the latest that’s happening in the tech industry.

Here’s the five companies I visited (now you know why my email isn’t getting answered):

1. Xobni. This is a cool add-on for Outlook. Tim O’Reilly has been raving about it on his blog. I’ve been using it for about a week and it lets me see patterns in my email that I wasn’t able to see before. I spent a lot of time with the founders talking about their business and the industry. Sorry for splitting the video up into three pieces, but if the cell phone connection disappears for some reason it ends the stream and I have to restart it. I’m trying to get Qik (the service I use to stream these videos live) to address this and make it possible to join videos together. Part I; Part II; Part III.

2. LifeSize. HD videoconferencing. Pretty affordable compared to other HD systems I’ve seen (starts at about $5,000). Awesome quality and a good demo of state-of-the-art of what videoconferencing systems can do.

3. Vusion. HD streaming. Oh, my, is this cool for cable companies and others who want to bring you HD video to your computer. You need to download a small plugin, but once you do this brings the highest-quality video to your browser I’ve ever seen. This one too is in three parts, sorry for the cell phone troubles. Part I; Part II; Demo.

4. Equals. This is a startup that hasn’t shown anyone its main product yet, I get an exclusive first-look at what they are doing. Wow, what a new way to work using Twitter, social networks, phones, and more. If you only watch one, I’d watch this one. The CEO is a bit wordy, but the demos he shows me are interesting. Part I; Demo; Demo of separate product called Party Line.

5. Google. I filmed a few videos at the Google Friend Connect “Camp Fire One” (aka press/blogger conference). Short video of people standing around, including my former boss, Vic Gundotra. Short video of Mike Arrington and friends (goofy). Long video of entire press conference along with a few interviews at the very end.

Bonus video? Check out the video I did of Kevin Fox, famous interaction designer (used to work at Google, now works at FriendFeed). We talk about “Googly” design.

Today? I’m going to slow things down just a bit and visit Longjump. Gotta run, see ya later on my Qik.com account.