TechCrunch40 conference is underway with the first of the final four start up sessions. Session 5 focuses on productivity and web applications. Below are my thoughts about each of the startups that presented.The second and final day of the
Xobni ("inbox" spelled backwards), makes the Insight plugin for Microsoft Outlook that adds social networking features to your email. The plugin extracts a social graph from your email conversations. Xobni says that email is already used as a file manager, contact manager, todo list and social network and their software just ties those functions together. For example, the plugin can reveal connections between people who have emailed you and create a historical view of your contact with an individual.
Xobni's other features include fast search and categorization. The company plans plugins for other clients, as well.
Orgoo merges your email accounts into what they call a "cockpit," along with chat, SMS, and instant messaging, allowing you to organize all your social interactions in one simple location. With Orgoo you can search all of your Internet communication in one place, and even reply to emails via instant messenger.
Orgoo's user interface is very similar to new Yahoo! Mail and it is available for mobile devices, as well. They are planning to launch in Q4 of this year.
App2You is a custom application creator for non-programmers (or, as they say, anyone who can use Excel). Their pitch is aimed at people overwhelmed with by emails, phone calls, and other communications, but their database app builder can be used for more than organizing email. One of their pre-built app templates, for example, is an event manager.
App2You is not just about data collection, but about creating full workflows to manage the flow of your information.
Mint has been my favorite startup at TechCrunch40 so far. Mint is a financial application that hooks into your bank account and helps you keep track of your finances. You can see where your money goes (gas, food) via visually rich charts and graphs. The site also offers mobile access and can alert you whenever you start spending too much or when you need to pay a bill.
Mint, which goes live today, tries to save you money by recommending credit cards that suit your spending habits. For example, if you spend too much on gas, it recommends cards that give you cash back on gas.
Kerpoof's mission is to change the way kids interact with the computer and become a top destination for children. They want kids to not just read stories but also to write them. They don't want kids to just watch movies but also make them. Kerpoof provides a great example of participatory culture. They seem to be after the big market of kid-centric social networks like NeoPets and Club Penguin. Their marketing message, however, is about teaching basic object oriented programming to kids (to attract parents maybe?).
Working inside the browser, users can pick pre-created scenes, place objects in the scenes, change perspectives, and add music & text to create their own stories.
I'm definitely far from their target market, but I can't help but wonder if this isn't just a bit too complex for children. Or if they are targeting older kids, isn't it too childish?
Edited by Josh Catone.