Twiistup 3

I had the chance to attend the Twiistup 3 event last Wednesday, which took place in Venice, CA at “Air Conditioned.” For those who are unfamiliar with Twiistup, it’s a quarterly event thrown at a nightclub to showcase prominent tech start-ups in southern California. The hip venue, dim lights and flowing drinks establish Twiistup as a step removed from shirt-and-tie networking events thrown at your local Marriott (see pics below). The feel on Wednesday night was more “Hollywood” than “board room,” which is what makes Twiistup unique. And just like a true Hollywood style event, this one wouldn’t have been complete without celebrity blogger Perez Hilton (perezhilton.com) in attendance.

Here are the nine companies that were showcased:

Askmenow - Mobile and desktop search platform, creators of askwiki
Docstoc - Professional document sharing community (disclosure: I’m interning at Docstoc)
• Magento - eCommerce platform
OfficeZilla - Create and manage your own private intranet
PeopleJam - Social community focused on personal goals and empowerment
Rubicon - Connects websites with over 300 advertising networks
SpeedDate - Web-cam speed dating
ThemBid - Allows businesses to bid for local jobs
• Yellowbot - Local reviews and recommendations

Since I spent most of my time at the Docstoc booth, I didn’t get a chance to look at every single company. Although out of the ones I did check out, I liked SpeedDate a lot. Once you login and click ready, you are instantly matched with another SpeedDate user and thrown into a video chat. The initial chat only lasts 30 seconds, after which you can click ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If you both click yes, then the conversation continues for 3 minutes. After your time’s up, you are both matched up with new people and the process starts again. By the way, if anyone is still skeptical about online dating, don’t be. Take a look at these statistics from Mark Penn’s 2007 book Microtrends:

  • 61% of online Americans do not consider online dating “desperate”
  • 1 in 4 single Americans who are looking for a romantic partner (about 16 million people) use an online dating site
  • In 2004, online dating sites netted roughly $470 million, up from $40 million in 2001
  • 92% of married couples who met online describe their marriage as “happy”

Of the two people that were presenting at the SpeedDate booth, the woman I spoke to was a promoter contracted to do publicity by the company. I’m not sure about the other guy, but it would have been more informative if the actual owners or members from the development team showed up. Regardless, the product looked cool and they were giving away free webcams at their booth. Score.

Webcams weren’t all that were being given away at the event. Perez helped give away three Rock Band videogame packages, which I desperately tried to win. Those couldn’t compare to the grand prize, though. Each attendee to Twiistup 3 was given a token to hand to their favorite showcase company, and whichever company had the most tokens at the end of the night was presented with free web hosting from Media Temple, a $5000 search campaign from Yahoo! Search Marketing, and a 1 on 1 consultation from Clearstone Venture Partners. The winner? Rubicon. Coincidentally, the company won’t have much use for the Clearstone consultation, as the VC firm were the ones who funded Rubicon for $4 million in a Series A round in October ‘07.

All in all the event was a success and lots of fun. I’m looking forward to Twiistup 4 and will be sure to make a post here for our SoCal readers as soon as the next event’s details become available.



Web 2.0 Companies Throw Contests for the Holidays

Christmas is finally rolling around, and we’ve noticed Web 2.0 companies are getting in on the holiday spirit. Remember though folks, even though America is the land of opportunity, in good American fashion you gotta work for it. Here are three contests you can enter to take a shot at having a little extra under the tree this year. After reading these, you won’t find it strange if a guy who looks like a reject from the Blue Man Group comes up to you in the mall and asks you to take his picture. If you’ve heard of any other holiday giveaways or contests being put on by companies in the Web 2.0 sphere, leave them in the comments!

Logo

What you can win:
$50 Amazon gift cards (yes, plural)
What you gotta do: Upload some good docs.
Web 2.0 Company:
docstoc
Contest description (from company):
We want you to upload your professional documents and share them with the world. So, we’re giving away $50 holiday gift certificates to Amazon.com until December 23rd. The contest starts Wednesday, December 5th, 2007, and goes through Sunday December 23rd. Winners will be notified daily by email and announced each week on the Docstoc Blog. Winning users and documents will also be featured on docstoc.
Where to enter:
Click here.


Gizmodo-1

What you can win:
A Playstation 3
What you gotta do:
Paint yourself blue(!)
Web 2.0 Company: Gizmodo
Contest description (from company):
This is going to be a photo contest, so here’s what you do. First step: paint yourself blue. Second step: go to a public place and take a picture of yourself. Points will be awarded both for being more blue and being more embarrassing in public than other contestants. The more blue/embarrassing you are, the more likely you are to win. It’s up to you to decide how blue and how embarrassing you want to be. Dressing up like a Smurf may or may not get you more points (it probably will).
Where to enter:
Click here.

Logo-1

What you can win:
Cash/trip to Google’s Mountain View HQ
What you gotta do:
Create kick ass open source code*
Web 2.0 Company: Google
Contest description (from company):
Google is holding a contest for pre-university students (e.g., high school and secondary school students) with the aim of encouraging young people to participate in open source. We will work with ten open source organizations for this pilot effort, each of whom will provide a list of tasks to be completed by student contestants. Tasks can be anything a project needs help with, from bug fixes to writing documentation to user experience research.
Where to enter: Click here.

* Oh, and be in high school.



Five incredibly cool and useful blogging tools

1. Cool: Bookr

Bookr is a tool that lets you create really neat embeddable photo flip-books from images on Flickr. If your blog frequently covers events, this is one of the best ways I’ve seen to include a group of photos in your post without overwhelming the user with a bunch of images or sending them away from your site with a Flickr album link. These things are incredibly easy to create. Check out the example below.

2. Useful: Docstoc [see our previous coverage of Docstoc, a Beverly Hills startup]

Docstoc describes itself as a Youtube for documents. The site has thousands of user-uploaded legal and business docs that can be searched, browsed and downloaded free of charge. What makes Docstoc such a useful tool for blogs is that all the documents are embeddable, allowing you to display pdfs, Word docs and Excel files in an intuitive flash reader from within your posts. Find a cool doc while browsing around Docstoc that your readers would be interested in? Maybe you run a blog about entrepreneurship and run across a great business template. Don’t link to it, embed it. On the flip side, if you have a doc that is relevant to one of your posts, upload it to docstoc and throw it on. Click here for Docstoc’s quick and easy embedding instructions. Here’s an example of a doc embedded with Docstoc:

3. Useful: Show Me Widget

ShowmeWhen it comes to blogging, the importance of staying connected with the community cannot be understated. “Show Me” is a widget that displays links to all of your profiles on social networks around the web, providing a quick-and-easy way for your audience to connect with you and follow your content on multiple networks. This widget that won’t work quite as well for blogs with multiple authors (such as this one), but for personal blogs this is a great tool. Click the thumbnail to the left to see what “Show Me” looks like.

4. Cool: ClustrMaps

Clustr22For a tool that has some of the most instant “wow” appeal out of all the widgets out there, check out ClustrMaps. After submitting your URL, ClustrMaps gives you embeddable code that will display who is currently viewing your blog by geographic location. By now, most of you have probably seen these around the blogosphere, and for good reason: the experience of having a truly global view of where your readers are coming from is awesome. Sure, we all know that the web is international, but being able to actually see where your visitors are coming from around the planet is a different story. The widget is free for sites that have less than 2,500 visitors daily.

5. Useful: Google Webmaster tools

If you at all serious about your blog, or even if you’re mildly interested in your audience/traffic, you need to be taking advantage of Google’s awesome webmaster tools. When beginning to utilize these tools, you should first go to web crawl diagnostics to make sure Google has indexed your site and doesn’t have any problems crawling your pages. Second, take a look at the top search queries page. It tells you which keywords people have been using to find your site. With this information in hand you can make an effort to tailor content around what your readers are interested in. Another tool that doesn’t fall in the same category of these but is a must-have is Google Analytics, a free, simple and powerful tool that gives you heaps of information about who is visiting your site and what they are doing on it. It’s a great way to get to know your audience. Combine all of Google’s tools and you’re on your way to becoming a very informed blogger.

Query Stats-1



Slifter - Find products on the go, but why?

Corner LogoNew York-based GPShopper announced on Nov. 8th that they have received an undisclosed amount of Series A funding. The round was led by Allen & Company LLC and Affiliates. The company is an aggregator of real-time product inventory data from national and local retailers.

SlifterGPSHopper’s primary product is Slifter, a mobile-app which allows people to search stores near their area to find out if a product they want is in-stock. The user’s location is either determined automatically on GPS-enabled phones or by manually inputting a zip code. The mobile version of the service, which is also available on their website, costs $1.99/mo.

Am I the only one that doesn’t recognize under exactly what circumstances this product will be useful? Here’s one out of only two scenarios I can imagine when I would use Slifter: while I’m driving, I suddenly remember that a new video game/console was released that morning, so I boot up Slifter to see if any Best Buys or Gamestops aren’t sold out of it yet. That’s it. And the chances of that happening are slim-to-none. This highlights an important requirement in order for Slifter to be useful — the product you’re searching for needs to have a high chance of being sold out. Otherwise, you wouldn’t consider searching, you’d just go to the nearest store and pick it up.

That’s why Slifter doesn’t make sense to me. Generally, consumers must have high awareness about the release of a product in order for that product to be at risk of selling out. It then follows that if a consumer is aware of the release date for something he or she really wants, they will do all their in-stock searching on their computer before they leave the house. This makes a lot more sense then driving around waiting for Slifter to ping you. Unless you’re caught off guard like in my above scenario, I don’t see any reason to utilize this, especially for a monthly charge (even though it’s only $2).

The other scenario I can envision that Slifter would come in handy is if you’re a parent on the look-out for a sold out toy around Christmas season (think Tickle Me Elmo), so you do a daily search on Slifter while you’re out running errands. There is some value here. But how many times per year does your average consumer experience this scenario? Maybe once? Again, the monthly fee doesn’t make sense here.

However, maybe I’m wrongSlifter claims that over one million people use the service every month. If you’re one of them, please comment below and tell me when/why.

Slifterpic



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