Monday, April 6, 2009

My take on Startup Weekend San Francisco

See my previous posts for a list of the demos and photos from the demos.

Anand Iyer has a great summary of the entire event on his blog.

Here's what I think about the projects I saw at the demos:

  • FounderShack: I think this is a great idea, and definitely something I would use. I've seen how difficult it is finding people on craigslist that want to do the same thing you want to do, let alone connecting by word of mouth. I understand the revenue model - they would offer something valuable, so I can see people paying for it. I can also see VCs wanting to connect with founders, as well as product and service providers (Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, etc). My concern would be how to protect intellectual property - do people have to sign an NDA agreement to get past a certain step?
  • "Digg for Deals": this is a crowded market, but also probably the easiest to monetize. Makes sense for people who are browsing for something and are not picky about the exact model. For me, I would probably looking for a product with very specific criteria most of the time - so good filters would be key. For tech gear, one little difference in technical specs can make a world of difference. Definitely need email alerts too.
  • BigPonzi: I can't believe this kids were born in the 90s.
  • DemoClarity: This is desperately needed. Please don't sell out.
  • Hubb.Me: Awesome to see it live already. Needs to be scaled up so that people can trust using it. I'm not a big fan of iframes though. Maybe the landing page could also show all the links so that I can also right-click to open in new windows/tabs.
  • TwitFitLog: I'm not a fitness maven, so it's not really up my alley. I'm sitting here blogging in my free time, what do you expect. However, when I do exercise I would like to track it - I just bought some weights and haven't used them in a few days (just last night when I got back from Startup Weekend I thought about that, and how I normally would have used them if I hadn't been out). It occurs to me that this service technically doesn't have to be dependent on Twitter - but I guess it's a good platform to build on since people already use it. I definitely would only use this if the tweets were private though. It does make a lot of sense to just send an SMS text message than have to log this info in an iPhone/iPod or have to log in to something like evernote, or even jot it down on paper.
  • SnoozeMail: I can see some people using this all the time, so I think this is a great idea. For me, I'm not so sure. I don't really want the email showing up back in my inbox. I just want a better way to sort through the emails that I have already flagged/categorized. I think the way to go is to get a free personal version out there and gain some traction, and then try to make money from business use.
  • OurBlock: I have mixed feelings about this. I definitely want more crime prevention, especially since I live in the city (San Francisco). I want to see them succeed, however I am concerned about the privacy issues, the voyeuristic feel of it gives me the creeps a little bit, and in the back of my mind it seems all a bit to 1984. I feel totally hypocritical, but I want the cameras on all the time except for when I am in sight! Unless of course, someone is committing a crime against me, in which I want zoom!
  • Great demo! Impressive how much they got working. Not clear what the revenue model is here, but it definitely has value to people. Is the data all going to be stored on S3?
  • LiveCut: I so want to see this happen. Every time I leave a concert I hope I can find pictures people posted on flickr - hoping to ever get an audio recording of the concert is a total pipe dream. How could artists not see this as a great way to generate/retain fan interest and also make money? I thought some other companies were already trying to do this though, I seem to recall Phish putting up all their concerts for sale (I might be wrong).
  • FeedTheChef: I thought there were already lots of RSS readers out there, but probably none of them have as good usability. Put something like this on an iPhone/iPod, Kindle, or the mythical Apple/Mac tablet, and I am so there.
  • MonkeyCalling: Sounds really fun for personal use, and really useful for business use. The demo really showed something new and different. Obviously they can make the survey generation more slick, like integrating address books to pull in phone numbers. I wonder if they would do a text message version? Or is the whole point to always have the real immediacy of phone calls?
  • CheapParking: The tough part is getting the information, keeping it up to date, and making it relevant in real time. I think it is a hard sell getting parking lot operators to cooperate, because I don't see them being very tech savvy. However, the user generated feedback would help a lot. Think "Did this work for you?" like BugMeNot and RetailMeNot.
  • TinyUPC: I thought people were already trying to do something like this? I am misremembering? My concern with this is how many people are willing to enter the UPC information to get some product information, instead of just going to the company web site or googling for it.
  • Indinero: A couple of students from Berkeley doing for business. I can see that businesses have different needs than consumers, so I get it. I think it's a tough area to break into though, so good luck. Go Bears!
  • Yoola: This is so needed, can't wait for it!
  • Spelunkr: Are you kidding me, I totally need this! I just launched this blog and Twitter account to go with it. I need something to track number of followers over time. Save all the data for me and give me some nice graphs, please.
Well, there were lots of great ideas, and I was really impressed. It was inspiring to see so much energy in one room.


  1. Regarding your thoughts on OurBlock. I completely understand and you're not alone in this. Just revisiting the statistics that we actually saved lives with only 1 camera and in 40 days of operation. I think it's worth giving up a little privacy in an effort to actually do some good.

    I understand the pros & cons of each of these but I'm willing to sacrifice me getting caught jaywalking for some security in the event that I'm robbed at gunpoint.

  2. Thanks for the honest feedback about SnoozeMail (our url - ).

    To be honest, I not only don't know if our tool will be for everyone but also, I don't think any of us on the team are going to know how to better refine it until we use it more. We might have to change it a lot, add different features, do something else entirely. But I was sincerely honest about my closing quote from the demo last night: my team is united in trying to help you zero your inbox and keep it that way.

  3. Adam, yeah I agree with you - the benefits outweigh the privacy concerns. Just thinking about how we already have cameras on Bart, Muni, and other public places, I realize that it can be present and unobtrusive and people don't even think about it.

  4. Al, I really like the goal of helping people keep their inbox at zero. This would be great for people on the BlackBerrys and iPhones since there is so much less screen real estate on mobile devices. Another way could be having some auto-archiving mechanism for old messages that have already been replied to. I think Outlook/Exchange can do this, if I remember correctly, but have not heard about that with other clients/services.