The Estonian founders of Gateme have gone for a market they believe to be hitherto untapped, yet crying out for a good management system - nightclubs. Their system manages guestlists, tickets and tables and pays out to promoters.
The guys behind Maily noticed that all messaging systems were design for the 10+ age group, with no good way to train your tots on the most important system they'll come into contact with. Maily, with over 50 thousand users, allows kids to communicate in the way that they understand best - with drawings, photographs and messages of love (we were shown some heart-tugging examples as part of the pitch).
Minubo claim to provide all the Business Information available from a classic system but online and as a service. Their target customers are online shopping businesses.
Planvine have taken a big pain point - manual collection and compilation of event data - and automated some value out of it. They have no competitors in their exact space and they are very cost effective (OK, cheap) compared to traditional event listing companies. I managed to grab an interview with Planvine founder Chris Crossley today and you can hear that on the Tech Talkfest radio show on ZoneOneRadio.com shortly.
Starting their pitch with the downsides of Groupon, Subscrib quickly caught the room's attention. Clients of subscrib get ongoing discounts for subscribing to local businesses, such as coffee shops - several in the Shoreditch area are signed up already.
We heard that Bukit founder Sarah Nadav's middle class background had meant she avoided debt until a serious of personal crises hit her in later life. Forced to default she was horrified by how the process was managed. The most exciting business of the day, Bukit provides a social service by allowing defaulters to deal directly with their creditors, while making themselves a tidy profit in the process by cutting the debt collectors out of the food chain.
The geekiest startup of the day, CrowdProcess is a solution that will delight the true techies out there. They have built a platform to harness the spare computing power on your machine while you simply browse a website, allowing the website owner to sell on this micro-power to industries requiring giant computations. An alternative at last to tedious advertising?
Do you know who your best customers are? Find that oft touted 20% who make up 80% of your revenue with Futurelytics. They provide sales data analysis but as a service - a snip at $450/month.
Nothing is more guaranteed to get investors going than a description of a captive, loose-walleted market such as golf. The Portuguese team's Hole19 Caddy app enhances the keen golfer's performance in many ways, keeping track of your location on the course, alerting you to changes in wind speed and direction and even recommending which club to use.
Knowable provide a social network for makers of things, a "GitHub for the real world". Inventors and creators can record their instruction manuals online, where they can be modified and improved by enthusiastic participants.
Qamine are pleased to offer an automated testing service, which they underlined with a joke that they were rather proud of: "Finding bugs without bugging you". Most innovative is their "pay per bug" pricing structure meaning you only pay if your code improves. Bad news if you want to try them out though - you'll be at the back of a 50 person beta queue.
Github holds your source control and Heroku manages your live environment, but how do you get from one to the other? The answer is probably custom made or, worse, manual. Codeship automates the process for rails, php, python and java projects, along with testing on the way to make sure you're not deploying something that you didn't mean to check in.
Arriving at my evening appointment after Seedcamp, I was told that "augmented reality is all the thing". It's certainly something I've seen in many places over the last few months, including a virtual dressing room at Cisco House for the Olympics. Sayduck's implementation certainly looked to be one of the best out there at a demo by founder Niklas Slotte sporting several handbags - to the great delight of the audience.
tl;dr claim to be "taming the web". A more accurate (and concise?) tagline would be that they are "summarising the web". They achieve this via an army of volunteers in a similar way to other crowd-created information sources such as Wikipedia or Duolingo. Responding well to the audience challenge to their name (it's a well known online acronym meaning "Too Long Don't Read", an excellent summary of their business), tl;dr made a lot of friends today.
The final presentation from Cambridge-based Unifyo showed a lot of us what we are missing in terms of CRM data - Unifyo can link up your business contacts across LinkedIn, Twitter and custom websites *and* across all of your salespeople. Which is just as well, as they have finished their funding round and were pitching for new users.
Microsoft today launches the new version of Office (Office 365) simultaneously in the UK and US.
Sharing a name with a previous cloud based offering, Office 365 contains many of these cloud features – for example the default save location is your online Sky Drive. Other new features include: new visualisations and layout, new graphical options in Word and online picture support.
The UK launch looks to be pretty spectacular. Microsoft have hired a double decker bus, and enlisted live bands, magicians, street performers and bloggers to create a full day event. They are focussing on people who use Office in a home, rather than work, environment, with guests from the worlds of food, cooking, sport and parenting.
Star guests include Tess Daly, Will Greenwood and online celebrities including “mummy bloggers” Sally Whittle and Bridget MacPherson.
And I’m going to be hosting the live stream from the bus all day today! Tune in to http://www.catchthe365.com to catch me or follow on Twitter at #catchthe365.
Last Tuesday TV producers, media startups, channel execs and the general technorati met up at Tech Talkfest to hear the expert panel discuss the hot topic that is "The Future of TV".
The panel was split 50:50 between traditional TV broadcasting and online video startups. On the right we had Channel 5 Digital Media Director, James Tatam, and "Mr iPlayer" - Head of iPlayer and BBC On-Demand, Daniel Danker. Heading up the online challenge we had Industry Manager Daniel Solomons from the original online giant YouTube and Liz Rice, the founder of emerging digital player, TankTop TV.
It was no surprise to see opinions split across the panel, and the session was dominated by intense debate around how quickly digital would take over and how important channel branding would be in the future. Horse & Country TV exec Richard Burdett gave us his opinion on how niche channels are faring in the current environment and questions from the audience ranged from the difficult topic of how to make money from digital video to how to retain the traditional story in new media.
Tickets were limited and the event sold out a few weeks before. If you weren't lucky enough to get a ticket, a full video of the event will be available online in a few weeks' time. If you'd like to sign up for the next Tech Talkfest event, tickets are free and available at http://www.techtalkfest.com/next-event.html.
The absolute best thing about being on Britain's Brightest is how many old friends that have got in touch as a result. I've had people tweet me, text me and email me. My parents are talking about it with my friends' parents. Ex-colleagues, school friends and networking contacts have got in touch to wish me luck.
But my favourite email came from a novelist friend of mine. It was so good that I have (with her kind permission) reproduced it below. If you like it as much as I do, let me know and I'll recommend some of her books for you to read :)
So there I was struggling with a horrid cold bug (arguably the worst in history) convinced that the new book I am just beginning really will be the one I never get to the end of, fed up with the weather, with the builders running all over my property right now and with the world in general when Amanda suggested we watch some new quiz show on TV.
Britain's Brightest was an amazing experience, both taking part and watching it back afterwards. I wanted to share a few thoughts from an insider's point of view, having been on the show.
Are all the challenges are a bit random?
When they were advertising for contestants, the BBC was very clear that they wanted to test all-round intelligence. It's not just a maths quiz, or a word test or a general knowledge contest - the show ambitiously tries to include all types of intelligence such as emotional intelligence and observational intelligence. And it is ambitious, because these aren't always skills that people associate with intelligence. I certainly had a hard time up against the trampoline challenge (performed by the amazing Everything Acrobatic) where I needed to keep track of 4 moving acrobats at once - school didn't prepare me for that!
It looks so easy at home
In the very first episode Clare Balding makes a point about the contestants having to compete against themselves, as well as the other participants, because of the effect that nerves have on you. The Stop the Clock event is the best example of this. If you look at the word grid, not under pressure, it's very easy to find 4 letter words - the grid is overflowing with them. Looking back at the Stop the Clock event on my qualifying round, where I scored a pitiful -1 points and sat for 20 seconds with just the word HELP written above my head (it was the only word I could find in the grid), it seems crazy that I couldn't find more words. The Britain's Brightest games designers (maybe the brightest folks of all) designed the game deliberately to have this effect, as they explain on the BBC site. The same part of your brain is needed to track time and find words. So either you lose track of time, or you can't find any words!
Why should we care about intelligence anyway?
Britain's Brightest was a lot of fun, but although it did measure intelligence to a certain degree it couldn't assess it in the context of all the life skills that help us to succeed. Focusing on intelligence as an attribute that you are born with is particularly unhelpful (this is called having a fixed mindset, rather than a growth mindset). Instead, learning is the key to developing and getting better: the people who are good at maths are likely good because they were encouraged when they were younger, rather than having an inbuilt "mathematical mind". Britain's Brightest is a great show to help people to aspire to get better and I hope that one day we'll see a BBC show about learning, as well as just intelligence.
Lots of people have got in touch with me since I appeared on Britain's Brightest. Some are old friends, which is amazing (my favourite email was from a novelist friend, and it was good enough to publish) and some are new, which is good but has to be done in the right way.
Speaking as someone who does accept invites from people I don't know, but only if they are sent in the right way, here are my top 5 rules for approaching someone you don't know on LinkedIn.
1. If I don't know you, never just send me an invitation to connect with the standard LinkedIn message. If you do that I have no idea who you are or what you want (and in those circs people usually assume the worst!). I never accept those invites, although if you're lucky I will send you an email asking whether I do in fact know you after all, and you get to have a second go :)
2. Say why you got in contact. It may seem like a silly reason to get in touch but I much prefer a message saying "I got in touch because I saw you on Britain's Brightest" than no explanation at all.
3. Say what it is that we have in common or how we can help each other. Best of all is a message saying "I saw that you have a technology event and I'm interested in that" or even "I see you have really bright software developers, are you interested in interviewing for some more?".
4. Be humorous and sound normal. Cold contacting people is completely usual in the business world. If you sound like that's your view, you'll look more professional to someone reading your message.
5. Never ever lie. I think this is a great rule to live your life by, but it's doubly important when you first meet someone. If you'll lie to me when you first talk to me - can I ever trust you???
Back in May I posted about how I was extremely excited to have had my Duolingo account enabled. Duolingo is a great language learning tool that teaches you for free while you translate language specific pages on the web as a by-product of your learning.
I'm sorry to have to report that after the initial excitement wore off, the difficulty of having to log into a PC won out over the greatness of the app itself and my Spanish learning halted.
So you imagine how excited I am that Duolingo have just released an iPhone app! I was, in fact, so excited that I was slightly wary of first opening the app, worried that I'd be disappointed. So many sites rush out a mobile app that is vastly inferior to the website version. I needn't have worried as the Duolingo iPhone app is in fact better than the web version with new exercises specifically designed to be easy to use on a mobile.
No more excuses to not keep learning, although it will probably still be another few months until I'm good enough to post in Spanish....
Duolingo are working on an Android app, due out in 2013.
I can, somewhat sweepingly, divide novels into two classes. There are those novels that talk about people. There is story and perhaps some twists and turns, but the book is mostly concerned with human emotion and, especially, interaction. Most classic literature is in this category and for more recent examples I’d include the oeuvres of Jonathan Franzen and Zadie Smith.
Into the other bracket I put “theme” novels. Novels that are most definitely about something or based around a writing technique. I would include historical fiction, Beyond Black (a modern day ghost story), Notes on a Scandal (inappropriate teacher-student relationships) and Cloud Atlas (interlocking stories).
Room is firmly in this second camp. Room is a book that makes you think “that’s a neat idea”. The concept behind Room is that of a child born to a kidnapped and imprisoned young woman (clearly based upon the case of Austrian Natascha Kampusch). The book is well done and the characters well drawn. The best moments are ones where the child, to whom Room is his home as he has known no other, conflicts with his mother, to whom the room is a prison cell. The book also deals well with readjustment of the pair on escape from their cell and the difficulties that the child faces in the outside world.
Perhaps not a book to set the world alight, but worth adding to the holiday reading list.
This post was first published on ByteTheBook.com.
Managing Director of Softwire, technology and backgammon presenter. Plus a little bit of new music radio.