The 5 Most Important New Companies You Need to Know
After a month of burning up airline fossil fuels, I’ve finally landed in a place that I can tell you about some of the hottest new companies to watch. I saw most of them at Summer Camp for Hipsters or as the more civilized call it – South By SouthWest (SXSW).
Anyone that has ever attended SXSW understands that it’s like high school flipped upside down. Where bullies are knocked down, jocks can’t keep up, and the cheerleading is done by the attendees.
Big companies attending seemed to have a form of imposter’s syndrome as if they had expected SXSW to be incongruous with business but it was business that was incongruous with SXSW. And for some strange reason – it all worked.
For me, I didn’t want to like SXSW but it hit me like a sucker punch: hipsters and attractive women with tattoos carrying iPads, CEOs in robes and networking parties with earsplitting music. I’ve almost forgotten about the long searches for taxis and long walks to venues. It was consistently inconsistent and that was a good thing.
I only saw a few presentations because there seemed to be a meeting, a party, a Bryan Kramer dunk tank – or whatever in the path to my destination. I did manage to see Jure Klepic, Debra Kaye and Ekaterina Walter’s ominous, “Secret Dangers of Online Influence Marketing” for which they described a cautionary approach to influence marketing. Apparently not enough Klout scores were sacrificed by Twitter to appease the gods, thus resulting in their decision to make even more unimportant people important.
But I had made the pilgrimage to SXSW for the sites, the sounds, and the startups. And the best place for that is in the Austin Convention Center. Its exhibit hall was unremarkable, just like any other exhibit hall – except that it was utterly remarkable.
The exhibitors delivered themselves to the crowd as entertainers, not the stiff, anonymous booth inhabitants that most of us try to avoid. The hall was covered by WANs, LANs, and MANs (yes apparently there is a Metropolitan Area Network) so accessing the internet actually worked.
And finally, there were some new, innovative startups that seem to rise above the rest. Some that you and I can actually find value in. Here are the important ones:
#1 Higi – Your Score for Life
Higi is like a FICO score for personal health. The closer to 999 the better (mine came in the low 700’s). They’ve gamified it and added a friends and family leaderboard so that you can compete against them which is supposed to motivate you to train harder or eat less. The inputs are gathered from a variety of sources and are combined in one mobile app for a resulting score. I’m not sure I understand the social element to the fitness score, but the rest of it seems like a great idea.
#2 OurCrowd – Crowdsourced Lending
Israeli based OurCrowd is beginning to crowd out other venture models as a better model for startup funding. OurCrowd for investors provides a lower risk alternative to Angel investing while removing the headaches of managing startups and sitting on boards. OurCrowd for entrepreneurs is like the acclaimed TV show hit Shark Tank without the sharks. They get investor connections and capital while getting to deal with a great guy like Jon Medved.
Their web based crowdfunding solutions appear to make the entire process more efficient and Medved claims those savings are passed on to everyone involved.
#3 Collective Bias – Retail Influence
Let’s imagine you’re a retailer with a new product line and you need more awareness to drive traffic through the store. Rather than run an expensive marketing campaign, simply hire Collective Bias to create the content, manage the content social team, and publish it across multiple online venues (most often bloggers). Their goal is to generate a lot of word of mouth business by producing content that influences a retailer’s target customers
For medium to smaller retailers, hiring and managing their own teams can be expensive and time-consuming. So from my perspective, Collective Bias is a very good option.
#4 Nestivity – Fan Pages for Twitter
Nestvity’s tagline is “finally, community with Twitter” and most people’s response is, “it’s about time”. While still in private beta, Nestivity has generated a significant amount of attention from the media, brands and agencies (disclosure: my company helped run their influencer program). Nestivity brings Twitter into a Facebook fan page-like environment while maintaining the esprit de corps of the Twitterverse. If your company is having trouble handling customer service issues, likes to hear ideas from fans, or just likes to have more meaningful Twitter interactions with interested people, then Nestivity is most likely for you.
#5 Mutual Mind – Social Listening as a Service
What struck me most about Mutual Mind was the simplicity and power of the platform. In minutes I was viewing quality data about SXSW. It’s far easier to use than most competitors and in some ways more powerful. They are soon launching their Social Business Command Center (May 1st) and integrating Instagram and Foursquare with their text analytics in the next 90 days.
Here is a small sample of the data collected at SXSW:
Time Period: 3/8 – 3/18 (11 days)
- Around 1.9 MM Mentions, 191K per day
- Interactive sessions only (3/8-3/12) around 1.06 MM mentions, 211K per day
Positive Buzz about Products/Topics and Brands: :
- [Top] Google (glasses 8600+, shoes 4300+, other miscellaneous) = 24000 (Sentiments about Google Glasses were mixed with a ratio of 1:3 of positives to negatives).
- Samsung (4422), Galaxy (2466)
- Makerbot 3503
- Starbucks 6K+
- Grumpy Cat 9866
- @SelenaGomez 14221 (word cloud)
- Elon Musk 8605
- Al Gore 6663
- Nasa 3393
What were people sharing? Pictures/Media:
- 133,000 pictures were shared on Instagram
- 17,000 mentions of Vine (15,842 vine links shared)