I had the opportunity to get up in front of a barroom full of entrepreneurs and investors at the San Francisco Stirr mixer Wednesday night and present six Web start-ups. The Stirr events have an intense format: each company CEO gets just 60 seconds to make their case. Since that's barely enough time to get an audience to realize you're standing in front of them, I asked each presenting CEO to come up with an even shorter "Hollywood pitch" to get their listeners' attention. Here they are, with my comments following:
30 Boxes: "It's a way to get organized that is nothing like Microsoft Outlook." 30 Boxes is a very slick Web-based calendar. It's clean and easy to use (you can enter events in plain text, such as, "Lunch tomorrow with Mom"), and you can feed a lot of information into the standard calendar view: other users' public calendars, RSS feeds, MySpace updates, your Flickr photos, and so on. A lot of these data types won't necessarily help you plan your life, but they give you an interesting look at its past. If you haven't yet adopted an online calendar but are thinking of it, definitely check out 30 Boxes.
ClickFacts: CEO Michael Caruso threw paper money into a wastebasket to illustrate how advertisers throw their money out due to click fraud. His company's service evaluates the source of clicks that come into a site from advertising and determines the likelihood that each click is from a legitimate user. As the methods of fraud evolve, the ClickFacts service learns from them and applies new rules to its engine. Auditing incoming links for fraud can make a big difference to companies that are paying for pay-per-click advertising but that aren't seeing the expected follow-through from the traffic.
DevjaVu: "If SourceForge and 37signals had a child, you'd get DevjaVu." This is a product for helping software developers build apps or Web sites. I'm not a developer and can't comment on how good this service is, but anything that makes developers more productive is good--it means more new apps for all of us.
ZapTix: "It's TicketMaster for the little guy." ZapTix is a service anybody can use to sell tickets. It will run the online box office for you and send you your funds after the event. ZapTix makes its money by charging its own small service fee on each ticket sold. Cool idea. It'd be really interesting if it could also automatically put your event in one of the new online directories, such as Eventful, Upcoming.org, and Zvents. See also competitor MollyguardSpyMedia: "Remember the TechCrunch streaker? That was us." What CEO Bryan Quinn was referring to was the $200 bounty one man put on photographing a streaker at a TechCrunch party. The bounty was posted on Bryan's site, a job board for spot photography. You can put in an order for a photo of anything--a particular photographic composition, a news event, a celebrity, or even your ex-girlfriend in a bikini. So on the one hand this site is as innocuous as the work-for-hire eLance service, and on the other it's even creepier than MySpace stalking. But the future for the service is potentially very interesting. Think camera phones. With GPS. Now think about newsrooms hungry for photos of current events.
NetVibes: No one-liner pitch from NetVibes CEO Tariq Krim, just a reminder that he's aiming to make his start page service even easier to use and more customizable. If you haven't experimented with it, it's worth a try. While you can also create a passably good custom start page on My Yahoo, as many more people have done, NetVibes gives you better control over your page's layout. See also PageFlakes, WebWag, Microsoft's Live.com, and Google's customizable home page.