Home BizSpark Accelerator Finalists: Our Pick for ‘Most Innovative Web Technology’

BizSpark Accelerator Finalists: Our Pick for ‘Most Innovative Web Technology’

Today at the South By South West festival in Austin, three finalists competed in the Microsoft BizSpark Accellerator finals in the “Innovative Web Technologies” category.

The companies, RecycleMatch, Siri and Skimble argued their positions on stage in front of three judges and tonight the winner will be announced at 6pm CST.

The Accelerator competition is in its second year and started out with a list of 32 finalist companies in three categories. While all three categories have some strong entries, we wanted to check out the innovative technologies to see what was, well, innovative.


First, Chad Farrell, co-founder of RecycleMatch, showed off the web solution that we hope takes off solely so it can help save the world. RecycleMatch, the only of the three that is not an iPhone app, is an online marketplace that helps match up waste materials with recyclers and manufacturers that need those materials.

“There’s really no place to do this now,” said Farrell. “Let’s say I’ve got this piece of polyester fiber waste but I don’t know anyone around who can use it. It’s the perfect use of the internet – to connect people like that.”

We can see this not only having a great impact on the world, but certainly stepping into the ever popular “green” genre and sticking around.


Up next was Dag Kittlaus with the digital, voice-activated personal assistant software Siri. We think Kittlaus’ introduction says it best:

“For decades, Hollywood has been paintinh this picture of machine assistants with Hal 9000 – what Siri is doing is taking some steps to make that a reality,” Kittlaus said.

As our own Frederic Lardinois has written before about the iPhone app, Siri is “one of the most ambitious mobile services we have seen in the last few years.”

You simply hold the phone up, hit a button, and tell it what you need and it translates your speech into text, uses natural language processing algorithms to determine what you need and then launches the appropriate services. Whether you want to schedule a taxi pick-up, make a dinner reservation or remind yourself of that Monday morning appointment, just ask Siri and it will do it.

“What if you could make it easy to ask your phone to do something?” asked Kittlaus. “It’s all about simplification.”

While the app looks to simplify your life, the technology behind it is anything but simple and it makes us feel a little bit like we’ve finally arrived in the future.


The final contestant to take the stage was


and if there’s one thing we can say, it’s that co-founder Maria Ly did it with style, back-flipping and dancing to the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme song before putting both legs behind her head and doing push-ups.

Yes, you heard that right – she did push-ups with both legs behind her head. This woman is living what she’s preaching, that we can attest to.

“We would like to inspire active lifestyles across the board,” she started off in her explanation.

Skimble is a hybrid social network, physical fitness tracking app, that lets you track your physical activities, whether running, doing yoga, or playing kickball and compete with your friends. As you keep track of your activities, you can compare with your friends on a leaderboard and even compete to win real-world prizes. As with Siri, Skimble is primarily an iPhone app, although it has an accompanying website with additional features.

Our Pick

We have to say, Siri takes the cake in this category and we’re going to have to call it early. If the digital personal assistant doesn’t take the prize, then it’s only because it’s too good and just doesn’t need the start-up funding to continue. That almost seemed to be the line of questioning from the judges – why would something as impressive as Siri need to win this competition, with the funding and functionality it’s already showing? All Siri needs to do, in reality, is start a bidding war between Google and Apple and it has it made, the judges half-jokingly but half-seriously said during the on-stage interview.

For the final word on what company will take the top prize, watch live tonight at 6 pm CST or check out the Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator page.

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