Last week Josh and I "launched" Northology at the very friendly Social Media Cafe. Friendly until I mentioned that we weren't really going to be covering web design and social media companies but concentrating on Technology Startups. The crowd turned against us and I only just escaped with my life!
Tonight I'm at Manchester MadLab for the Boot Strap Business Club "Show and Tell" event which is all about tech companies who are making new products and services which are able to pay for them selves from day one. Here's the "live" blog. Please comment below or email me firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or corrections I need to make.
Tekin (@tekin) is opening the event then presenting Crowd.fm - Still in beta with MadLab as one of the testers. A all in one solution for venues and event promoters to advertise the event across their many social media sites all in one go then track how effective the the links are. Lessons from the founders: Charge your Beta Testers, they'll be more likely to give you honest feedback if they are paying for the service.
Next up Ric Roberts from Publish My Data service where people can upload any type of data who can then licence that data to anyone who wants to pay for it. Aimed at the public sector. Ric was working on Publish My Data part time but has recently gone full time on the project. It is now turning over tens of thousands a quarter and is aiming to productize and grow the service to scale by using SaaS SPARQL as an end point service.
Third up is John Ratcliffe @johnratcliffe with Club Together. Really great idea! A suit of online apps helping people joint own properties deal with issues around their holiday homes, cabins, caravans, narrow boats, etc. Avoid booking clashes, online diary, track and share financial transactions. Rails Web app plus mobile apps coming soon. Risks? John isn't sure the market is there for it yet and the need may be met by Google Docs and Facebook Groups. We'll see.
Lukas White (@lukaswhite) is trying to turn messaging on it's head with Notefire.com by allowing group menders to choose the way they receive messages from lecturers, managers, team leaders, etc. They chose if they want to be pinged on email, text message, voice message, twitter. Audience member suggests they should offer the product to National Rail! Funded by the people sending the message. Apps coming soon.
Just a note to add here: Each bloke is given 5 mins to present and answer any questions. I say bloke because there is a serious lack of females in the room. None? Maybe one?
Giglr.com! A gig listing site which isn't based on ticket sales. A central web location where any one can put up small to medium sized gig listing and then the venues or bands can check and change the details. Embed the code on the venue website and it keeps their events page up to date with no extra work. Very early days yet so clients so far. One to follow.
Stewart Dyson from Bodybook.com is having some problems getting his PC connected to the projector, all Macs so far. Bodybook is trying to keep people who have started exercising to keep exercising past the natural drop off point. "It's not a starting problem it's a continuing problem!" Keep exercise fun and focus based around challenges such as tying your progress to a charitable donation and using casual game dynamics to keep you on track. Charities can put up a page, consumers can use the app and heath clubs can pay for the white label version. This is one of the most advanced products so far tonight and will be launching a test product in the next few weeks.
Back to a Mac now with The Agile Planner by lone developer Graham Ashton (@agileplanner). What's the problem with agile now? There doesn't seem to be any tools out there which gives enough room to write out the problem in real natural english then process it down into the steps needed to be worked on. Wikis and paper cards are still used extensively… The solution i hear you ask? The Agile Planner has a great UI based on each story on each "card." Cards can be moved around, flipped over to see the details, etc. Graham is looking for local people to test this self hosting app. Looks beautiful but as i'm not a programmer I can't judge how useful it would be. Please give your comments below.
Andy Threlfall presents his time consuming side project Malinko, a job allocation service for companies such as builders, delivery services, contractors, etc. Web app and mobile apps to keep track of everything. Can also send jobs and info out to teams using TOMTOM gps devices. A team of three working on this product and it has been in development for the last two years. Paying Clients though not quite breaking even. Lessons learnt: Too many features in the first versions so clients couldn't grasp what it could do so Andy stripped it back to bare bones and firmed up his sales pitch. Now people are using it.
Break time! Discussions had about the size of the crowd that's turned up tonight. Five or six guys meeting in the pub has suddenly turned into 30 guys sharing their startups.
Philip from CapsuleCRM presenting a CRM which is a widget that turns emails into contacts with loads off added info stored on the Capsule website. Add tasks, checklists, lead details and track all your contacts with the person until you either convert the contact into a client or loose them. Once you have closed the deal all that info can be very easily passed onto a colleague, contractor or directly put it up on Free Agent
I've just announced Northology. Got two laughs in the Q and A section. The idea also got a good reaction.
Andrew from Need www.needhq.com tells us the problem he found with people asking him to work or recommend others to work. He solves this by providing a form where people can submit their "need" and see who can fill it. Freelancers then receive an email but can only respond with a yes or a now! Freelancers have a profile with daily rates, experience and approach filled out. This speeds up the process and reduce the friction for everyone involved and can all happen within an hour. People creating the "need" will pay for it. Questions: Can clients give feedback? Freelancers are invite only to keep quality high but Need may have a feedback feature in the future.
Kennelboard.com is a booking system for kennels and catteries! His dad owns some kennels but says all the existing soft wear is shit so as a developer he decided to build a better product. Lessons learnt: I built a custom product for my dad then had to strip it right back to make it fit the rest of the industry. Also it a very low tech client base with people crying out for better tools. Not sexy but loads of small businesses have needs that developers can meet and monitize.
Raj from Edocr (the worse name yet?) the "youtube for documents" or so he hopes. I think this seems to be a slightly less well made version of Docstoc though they seem to integrate with just about every social network ever invented. Integration with Zendesk and a couple of other services. I also don't see how it's boot strapped. No mention of business model mentioned yet. Oh I see that it's a subscription model starting from free up to $40 monthly.
Michael @mheap from Tweetdig.com did some command line wizardry to sort out his display and get's a chuckle. Tweetdig is an automatic email foldering filtering app for twitter. Looks like it will appeal to this event's audience but the first version Michael is showing is way too techy and complicated. They then designed a button pushing input system that creates the filtering rules which then can then tweaked afterwards. Paid for mobile apps will bring in some
Paul Stacy from Fatsoma has yet another gig service provider which enables venues and event organisers to create a network of resellers who earn commission on the tickets they sell. Started in 2007 and now shifts 500,000 tickets a year! Success! Nice inspirational story!
Shaff @hashpointfive (smartest dressed guy yet!) with twotial.com, a sentiment analyst system! How to turn it into a product? Route 1: Tells users what other people think about stuff. Meh. Route 2: Compare the Market based on service not price. Good. Route 2: Sentiment analysis overlaid over political debate. Yay. Shaff is basically outsourcing his product development process to the event. We're aiming for "Klout but not shit!"
Great event! I can't hang around tonight at the pub as I'm travelling down to London tonight to live stream the Amir Khan vs Lamont Peterson press conference tomorrow.