Archive for the ‘launch’ Category

Hottest Web 2.0 Start-Ups So Far in 2007

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Here is MY list of the hottest web 2.0 start-ups we’ve seen so far in 2007. Keep in mind that this is my opinion only. Factors that were taken into account include user base growth, buzz and hype generated, as well as awareness within the blogosphere and tech community.

Though a start-up may have launched prior to 2007, widespread brand awareness and growth must have come since the start of this year. Having said that, let’s see the list…

10. Clicky - This gem is web analytics 2.0 at its best. Clicky combines a clean interface and a user-friendly experience to revolutionize web analytics. These guys are not re-inventing the wheel, but rather filling a void. Growth of the service has been phenomenal thus far, with many high profile sites implementing the tool.

9. Spock - Dubbed the ‘people search engine’, Spock promises to change the way we search for people in the future. Search result pages are specifically designed to provide personal information and details. Much buzz was generated around this darling when it landed an abnormally large ‘A’ round of financing.

8. Mahalo - “Thank you” in Hawaiian or Jason Calcanis’ human-powered search engine. Mahalo only launched in the past couple weeks, but the human-edited search results are accumulating. Many questions the use of a non-algorithm-based engine. In any case, J-Cal and Sequoia always attract a crowd regardless of the endeavour.

7. Jaxtr - Call me from my social network profile. This is the basis for Jaxtr. The company has combined buzz words, such as VOIP, widget, and social media, with a stellar executive team to form a potentially ground-breaking product. The idea is interesting. We will have to wait and see whether it goes mainstream. 

6. Babelgum - This Joost competitor is very new to the scene. Babelgum’s ranking is based mostly on the hype and buzz to date. Lots of people are talking about the company. But will they be able to compete with Joost?

5. Virb - Hype, hype, hype… I’ve been hearing about this project for quite some time. I’m not sure what’s so ingenious or revolutionary about it. Virb provides a place to put all your stuff (i.e. photos, videos, blogs) in one place. Sounds like a spin on a social network. Maybe I’m missing something. The interface is cool though. In any case, it has grown quickly and I’ve heard nothing but good things.

4. iLike - This social music discovery network has grown in leaps and bounds. A majority of iLike’s success must be attributed to the opening of the Facebook platform. It reminds me of Pandora, but with a social network aspect latched on. The company has experienced explosive growth very recently.

3. MyBlogLog - This little widget helped pave the way for one of the quickest exit strategies I have ever seen. Quickly snapped up by Yahoo, MyBlogLog (or the blog social network, as it has come to be known) continues to grow by way of its viral nature. I think the founders should thank TechCrunch (most notably) for prominently displaying the widget, therefore inducing a viral spread. Everybody copies the trend-setter.

2. Joost - Not much needs to be said about Joost. The KaZaa/Skype boys are back at it, in yet another attempt to disrupt the communication industry with an online medium. The first two wild successes have fueled huge amounts of buzz and press for this third offering, and so far it hasn’t disappointed.

1. Twitter - Twitter is HOT. Hell, Twitter is the definition of hot. Everyone and their dog seems to be “twittering” nowadays. The concept is so simple, but more importantly, the execution was flawless. Now everyone is either trying to integrate or copy the company. Congratulations to those Twits. Because of them, I now know what EVERYBODY is doing right now.


  • Powerset - natural-language search engine (yet to launch).
  • - real-time site stat reporting.

Older NOTABLE web 2.0 contenders who have made a real run in 2007:

Remember… the list is only my opinion. I encourage you to add your thoughts and companies below. If you feel my list is completely out of whack, blog your own top 10 list.

“Getting Real” with 37signals

Monday, June 11th, 2007

37signals logo37signals has solified itself among the elite providers of simple, clean, web-based apps on the Internet. I have spoken very highly of the company in the past and many have expressed the same views. Not only is the firm popular for its products, but also many other things including:

In addition, many may also be aware that 37signals has launched a popular book about how to build a successful web-based application. This book is $19 for the PDF version, $29 for the paperback edition, or best of all - FREE if you want to read the online version.

If you are currently working on a web-based start-up or plan on doing so in the near future, this read is a MUST. I cannot recommend it enough. The outline, as well as the principles and concepts, are easy-to-understand and simple to implement, although many fail to do so. By carefully reading this wonderful bit of text, you will no doubt better position yourself (and company) for success.

Here is a break-down of the book:

  • 16 chapters
  • 91 essays
  • Under 200 pages

The book walks you step-by-step through pre-launch, launch, promotion, support, and even post-launch, ensuring successful progression along the way. It is available in numerous languages and is a very easy read. I will leave you with Seth Godin comments about the book:

“Every once in a while, a book comes out of left field that changes just about everything. This is one of those books. Ignore it at your peril.”

Say Aloha to Mahalo

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Mahalo logoLast week, Jason Calcanis launched his pet project, a human-powered search called Mahalo. The engine provides company-edited results, as well as user-submitted results.

A typical search results page is comprised of several new areas:

  • The Mahalo Top 7 - seven hand-picked results from the editors
  • Guide Note - additional information and other relevant search queries
  • Fast Facts - self-explanatory

A given SERP also gives users the ability to add relevant links and results for that given query. Finally, a discussion area is available for every query. This allows users to provide further thoughts, above and beyond the search results.

Some quick facts about Mahalo:

  • 40 full-time editors
  • 4,000 results pages created thus far
  • 10,000 pages predicted by the end of 2007
  • 25,000 pages predicted by the end of 2008
  • 4 years - how long Calcanis says he can run the business without revenues

Once again, the scenario of ‘human vs. computer’ arises. Will Mahalo be able to provide better, more relevant results on an ongoing, frequent basis? My guess is no. I do not believe that a small team of editors can keep up to the constantly-expanding, dynamic nature of the web.

I am eager to see the offering put forth by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. He is working on a human-powered search engine of his own. Apparently, these tech industry veterans believe that they can overcome the speed and power of the algorithm-based engines. I am full of doubts. And until they can provide me wrong, I think I will favour the algorithm-based players (especially for long tail queries ;) ). Brings Vertical Search to the Tutor Industry

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007 hopes to simplify the process of finding a tutor. The service is tailored for both students and parents. The site claims to have a directory of over 9,000 tutors, who pay nothing to post their profile. For this reason, I believe that the revenue model can be summed up in two words: Google Adwords.

Each search query comprises two elements - the subject and region. Examples include:

  • Math - Phoenix, Arizona
  • Biology - Dallas
  • Literature - 08647

The interface and layout are fairly clean, intuitive, and easy-to-use. The company logo could use some work, but the concept is strong.

Setting Tutorz aside for a second, the notions of ‘local’ and ‘vertical search’ work together in a very relevant, pertinent manner. I expect to see more of this in the near future. ZipLocal is a very good Canadian example of this.

Vertical search is extremely similar to specialized directories, if you can imagine that for a second. The only difference is the method of discovery for the user. In one case, the user browses for a particular product or service. In the other case, a search is performed. In other words, vertical search isn’t entirely re-inventing the wheel, but perhaps making it easier and saving time for the user. 

Everyone’s Web 2.0 Revenue Model

Monday, May 28th, 2007

The buzz and hype of the new web landscape has subsided considerably. Yet, to my surprise, more and more ‘web 2.0′ start-ups continue to operate with the cheesiest, most over-used strategies.

  • “We’re currently in stealth mode.”
  • “Our AJAX widget will VOIP the RSS while podcasting to bloggers in a wiki-like fashion.”
  • Our target market is anyone who uses the Internet.”

These crack me up. Like… give us all a break. My favourite though… is one that is not as apparent, or even stated anywhere. It pertains to the revenue models of these ventures. Contrary to what many may think (especially the companies themselves), a revenue model was never part of the initial strategy.

To some, this may come as surprising. To others, it’s common knowledge. Many of these start-ups launch a FREE product with the intention of exploding onto the market, harnessing viral growth, and eventually selling to a larger, more established player. WOW, there is it. The revenue model is actually an exit strategy. I think that is a web 2.0 trend in itself.

Web 2.0 revenue model = Exit strategy

This makes sense for naive Internet entrepreneurs because:

  • It eliminates that monetary barrier to entry for users (as mentioned above)
  • They have no idea how to monetize a product in the first place AND/OR they find comfort in the the phrase, “We’ll build traffic, then figure out how to monetize later”.
  • The company realizes that if they do eventually implement a revenue model (advertising, subscription, etc…), they will piss off users and many will defect from the site or service.

So, as you can see, companies resort to the FREE model with the intention of ’slapping on’ a revenue model somewhere down the road. There never was a revenue model to begin with.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I love free products and don’t want to pay for anything if I don’t have to. But from a business perspective, that is not a sustainable or savvy model.