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Brain Food: 5 Interesting Startups and Web Services

Monday, November 08, 2010
FunOnline MarketingTechnologyWeb Design

Web design and development is a dynamic and unpredictable industry. To stay up-to-date, meet interesting business folks, and get inspired, I go to a bunch of tech and marketing events and conferences every year.

Recently, I ran across some cool startups and web services, so I thought I’d share some that you might find interesting. These companies caught my eye for some technical, design-related, user interface or (honestly) arbitrary reason – this isn’t a “you should use ‘em” list so much as a “huh, that’s pretty cool” list – they’re services that can provoke you to think about your business in new ways, or come up with something completely new of your own (I think of them as “brain food”). I met the founders of all and, naturally, they were all passionate about their ideas – which is infectious and inspirational, too.

my-next-customerMy Next Customer

My Next Customer’s service lets you track data from all your marketing channels in one place: SEO, Social, Offline, Paid Search (including calls, etc.). They’re just out of the gate, their founders are great guys (George Revutsky, Dustin Kittelson) and they won 2nd place at Failcon2010’s “Most Likely to Succeed” contest. If you’ve ever run reporting for large campaigns and multiple channels, you will instantly see the value. And if it works well, marketers will love it and it could disrupt this growing industry. Oh, and it’s priced to move.


Here’s what Jesse Spaulding, the founder, says: “LunchTree is a fun way to automatically schedule lunches with colleagues or people who share your interests. You simply indicate when you’re free for lunch and the site will find you a match in the same area.”

I scheduled a lunch with Jesse recently (through LunchTree, of course). The system sent notifications via SMS. Worked like a charm. Like many social mashup/startups, it will be fascinating to see how this service morphs, how users will perceive it and how, ultimately, it might make money. It’s very, very early days for this service, and only available in San Francisco for now.


Clients ask for advice and consultants give advice on this website. Here’s how it works: Clients post questions/issues. Consultants post answers/advice. If the client likes a consultant’s online advice, they can set up a one-hour consultation. If the client is satisfied, they pay $50. Consultants must pay $50 per posted answer/advice after their first one. Ultimately, this could be a lead-gen service for consultants. Joju Michael Mangalam is very smart and a great guy. I’m very interested to see if this idea can work, how they refine it and how they generate users – showing its value and differentiating itself from a service like Quora.

O.K., you can already bookmark and categorize websites, so what’s the big deal? SurfMark lets you track your online research path, add notes to the sites you save, share searches and categories and other groovy stuff. This is a great tool for people who do serious online research. Vivek Agarwal is another one of those smart, passionate folks you meet when you work with new ventures. He’s launched a pretty nifty service.


Personally, I love this service. Here’s the situation: my wife emails me a link to a restaurant review. I read the review, we talk about it and say “hey, let’s check the restaurant out.” A week later, we are walking in our neighborhood, looking for a place to eat and I say, “Wasn’t there some restaurant we wanted to check out?” We’re baffled. But with Near2there, when you get within a certain distance of the restaurant, you get a message on your phone that tells you you’re “near to there!”

You can set the near to there distance, notification distance can change based on your speed, it can be event-driven, work with any type of business … well, it’s pretty cool. Only available on Android so far. Co-founder Peter Olfe assures me they’re working on the other platforms. Coming to Yelp soon?

Check ‘em out and let me know what you think!

Cheers, Eric