Today was the first day of the 2nd annual Techcrunch 50 conference. The goal of the conference, dreamed up by entrepreneurs Micahel Arrington and Jason Calacanis, was to promote 50 great start-ups to the “industry’s most influential VCs, corporations, fellow entrepreneurs and press.” They also hoped to eliminate the fee for start-ups to present like other conferences.
Today they announced the 50 finalists where a few companies caught my eye right off the bat.
Fitbit wants to make living a healthy lifestyle easier. The company is developing an “ultra-compact” wearable sensor that transmits various data (like calories burned, quality of sleep, number of steps, and distance) to it’s website for analysis. The wearer can track data and mark their progress as they strive to reach personal goals.
This product resonates with me. I’ve been trying to keep track of my health, like what I eat and how much I weigh, but it becomes tedious. A small, compact device that can do a lot of the tedious recording for me is certainly welcome.
Yammer is like Twitter for companies. Instead of answering “What are you doing?” Yammer wants you to answer “What are you working on?” The service is more secure than public micro-blogging services because you can only join a network if you have an approved e-mail domain. The hope is Yammer will be a central repository which can archived and searched will make everyone more productive.
I would find something like this useful to keep tabs on what projects my co-workers were working on without being a nosy micro-manager. The problem is older people don’t really get Twitter so it would be a tough sell to get everyone on bored. Younger works already update what they’re doing on Twitter and other micro-blogging services albeit a little more obscure.
Out of all the websites of the Techcrunch 50 finalists that I visited, Popego looked the best. The service sounds vague according to the Techcrunch description: “Surfaces the most meaningful information from within your social graph based on your interests and other factors.”
Blah Girls probably had the biggest buzz of the bunch because it is being pitched by Ashton Kutcher. The premise is “a gossip site that features a group of animated teenage girls who provide opinions on what’s going on in the world of entertainment.” I’m curious to see an episode or two to see if it is worthy of joining my video podcast playlist.
Finally, the biggest WTF award goes to Shryk. How is their name pronounced? Shrike? Shreik? I have no idea. The goal of the company is something I can get behind however. They hope to promote financial literacy and good saving habits among teens/tweens with web based software built specifically for that age group.
There are many more companies I didn’t have a chance to get to either for lack of time or because the company just sounded flat out stupid. Like PlaYce, which aims to go head-to-head with the often misunderstood Google Lively. Browser based virtual worlds seem like such a losing proposition.
It will be interesting to see who the Techcrunch50 judges pick as the most interesting startup of the conference.
Crunchbase links for the start-ups mentioned: