SuperNova start-ups: Not all is at it appears

Twelve start-ups and a red herring

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
3 min read

I'm in the Connected Innovators session of the SuperNova conference. This is where thirteen start-ups are going to pitch to the audience. I hear that one of these companies is a fake, and that conference organizer Kevin Werbach is going to announce that fact after the last presentation. I'm going to liveblog the presentations as they happen. Let's see if we can spot the faux one.

These are the 13 companies. More as they come on stage.

Adap.tv. I just covered these guys yesterday. It's a video-advertising company. Not fake.

AdaptiveBlue is a semantic Web company. It makes a very interesting and useful plug-in, "BlueOrganizer," that makes browser pages personalized with special shortcuts based on the content. A new service, "SmartLinks," lets site publishers and bloggers insert smart links in their own content. I've talked to the CEO several times.

Aggregate Knowledge. This company launched at Demo six months ago, so not fake (too easy). It makes a service that site managers can use to insert relevant, customized links on pages. Useful for online retail and also for news sites.

CastTV makes video search. Just met with them a few minutes ago. Looks very promising, but I don't have access to the site yet so can't evaluate. Not fake, but not live either, so fake-ish.

Critical Metrics. This one is new to me. It's a site where people recommend music. Like we need another music discovery system. But the site is live and quite functional, so not fake, even if it is.

Jangl. A very interesting company that assigns phone numbers to relationships, not people. We've covered Jangl before. News: Company is launching Facebook integration very shortly.

Pando Networks makes a personal file transfer system. Good for sending your videos to your mum. We have covered Pando before. Real. CEO is talking about a new technology that uses BitTorrent-like distributed transfer technology to make sending popular files much less expensive.

SodaHead. New to me. Maybe the fakester? I don't think so. It's a "social voting" service (since when is voting not social?). It lets you create polls and insert them as widgets on your own site. Looks pretty useful, actually. You know how much Webware loves voting. SodaHead does a bit more, by allowing users who vote to see other polls that they might also like to participate in.

Spock. Previously covered. A very interesting people search engine that competes with Wink.

Wize is a reviews aggregator (review). It parses Web content that evaluates products, and assigns a numerical score to the reviews it reads, so it can present to the user a single score for products that may have been reviewed hundreds of times. Real, but this quote from the CEO makes it sound fake: "Commerce is where the money is."

ZapMeals. A service that delivers home-cooked meals from people and restaurants with excess capacity. Almost plausible. But fake. The Powerpoint (on the site) is worth checking out, though--it's a textbook example of a Web 2.0 pitch. Your business 101 exercise: find the flaws.

ZenZui makes a cool iPhone-like user interface for mobile phones. We covered ZenZui in March.

Zing makes technology behind Wi-Fi-enabled music players. Not new. Latest news is that the company powers Sirius Radio's Stiletto player.

And that's it. Nice lineup of start-ups. I would have liked to see more new companies. It would have made the spot-the-fakester challenge more fun. Here's the SuperNova voting page.