Around the Corner

Bookmark and share places around you

Location bookmarking app Grafetee

The problem: where is that super-nice sushi place again? Don’t we have an art exhibit tomorrow night? That kind of questions comes back a lot. But finding the answer can be long and painful.

The solution: bookmarking real places – not websites – in a mobile app: Grafetee. Once you found back that restaurant, or the adress of this party, you can easily share it with your circle of friends.
Business managers can also offer discounts, or a full map of their stores.

What’s the catch?: why not use Foursquare, Yelp or TripAdvisor instead? Grafetee is a much more private-oriented app, closer to a personal adress book and you can share your good spots in a spread-the-word kind of way.

Visit Grafetee

The aggregation of multiple services (Foursquare and Yelp by default, but you can add more) makes the app more complete.
No need to switch back and forth between apps, you can find it all in one.

The user interface is still very geeky.
Not very attractive nor easy to understand, it makes first steps with the app quite difficult ones.

U.S.E.’s take on it

The local apps market competition is fierce. There is an interesting choice here, even if execution is not up to the stakes yet.

While it can be pretty useful to keep the address of rarely attended spots, it will not work for your favorite bars or restaurants. Which will dramatically reduce tips or popularity measures of those spots.

Still, sharing the good spots with friends can be nice: it’s a good way to promote local shops or dinners, as the business model seems to be mainly based on B2B. And it might be the best way for Grafetee to grow their user base on a market very hard to enter in.

Out final take :

  • No way this will work
  • Not betting on it, but the start is interesting
  • Need a bit fixing, but the path is clearly good
  • Where do we sign to invest ?

Our grade : 6/12

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Start In Paris #19 – Pitches!

After FailCon in Paris this afternoon, we can go on and assist to Start in Paris.

Start in Paris is a monthly event, where startups can pitch their product to an audience of other startuppers, investors, medias, etc. It’s the 19th edition, so kudos to Laurent and Jonathan, who started it two years ago! Startups are selected to pitch by a public vote, and a vote by SMS at the end of the pitches defines a winner (it’s only an honorary title, but still).

We’ll hear 5 startups pitch tonight.

  • Beelink: an app to maintain your phone book up to date
  • FriendCode: a set of tools for developers, to improve collaboration and simplicity
  • Work Bandits: an engine to implement gamification mechanics into digital apps
  • Now app: an app to know what’s happening in your city right now, based on people publishing pictures
  • effiDriver: an app that promotes eco-driving and reward responsible drivers

We’re gonna here the pitches, complete this post along the way, and give our own opinion at the end, just before the beers.

Effidriver

This is a mobile app that helps you reduce your CO2 consumption and improve your security when you drive. They were selected at LeWeb last year and will launch their new app at the next “Mondial de l’Auto” in Paris. This is basically an energy-tracking app. What is at stake? Reduce Pollution, Control Cost, and Improve Safety.

How does it work? You register your car and its characteristics, and then the app register the way you drive, and rewards you with coupons when you drive “smoothly”.

The presentation is nice, but too much bullshit in my view. It’s hard too understand how it works and what it is for. It’s based only on the GPS, so efficiency and precision are questionnable. Probably works best on highways and long distance trips. Probably a nice technology in the end, but not sure there is a real business potential here.

Now

(disclaimer : Ben, the founder, is a very good friend of mine. Therefore I will not give any opinion).

This is a app to know what’s cool right now, when you arrive in a city where you have nothing to do tonight. It’s all based on pictures published on Instagram. They now have 20 000 users, New York being the most active city.

Work Bandits

They sell a software that implements gamification mechanics into any digital activity. We all know that game mechanics are super efficient to improve engagement, they want to use into other universes.

It’s clearly a B2B model. May be profitable, but I have no idea how hard it would be for developers to do it themselves. What is the real technology behind it? Are they “on demand developers”, with a specific expertise? Consultants? I think there is a kind of API that apps use to update their gamification. Not really clear on that point.

In fact, they manage the “rules” of the game, and update the player points and rewards, but that’s it. Do you really need a third-party solution for that? Communication and digital agency are already customers, for their clients or intranets.

Friend Code

Two developers on stage! Developers use complicated, platform-dependant and old tools. They both had problems while working on a former project, and want to solve the collaboration problems they had during this project.

It all ends into FriendCode, an HTML5 platform also available on mobile, where you can edit code and collaborate on it in real-time, with also a social dimension. It also unifies and centralizes common developer tools, like GitHub and StackOverflow on the same UI.

It’s made by developers, for developers. Hard to tell how useful it can be, or if other tools can do about the same thing. They are still in private beta, but the open one should open soon.

Beelink

It’s an app to complete and update your phone book. Statistically, one new contact is wrong (adress, phone number, email) each week, and you have to do it manually.

Not sure if it’s a different phone book, or if it’s integrated with your default phone book (iOS or Android). You need to download a new app to have a phone book? It looks like it’s all in this app : your book, your invitation, and updates (only people using Beelink will automatically update your own phone book).

If you need a new app, and you need everyone to use it to have updated information, I would not bet much on their success…

And the winner is… Beelink!

Get One Free

Collect local shops points on your phone

The problem: how often do you get a stamp on a piece of card a day? One for the morning coffee, one for the lunch snack, maybe one for the dry cleaning or the sushi shop in the evening… But how often do you miss the card? And pay your coffee without any reward, as small as it can be?

10Stamps app screenshotThe solution: a phone app collecting all your local shops cards.
You pick the right one, you flash the QR Code your barista is presenting you, and you’ve got one more stamp.
What you get when you reach 10 stamps remains up to the shop though…

Why talking about it?: ultra local apps are a growing trend, and the check-in/local deals apps are probably not the only relevant approach.
Local shops want to be up-to-date (at least some of them), and consumers are crying for it.
Getting shops to sign up is of course the big challenge, as they have to be won one by one. But the need for such a simple and neat app is clearly there.

Visit 10 Stamps

Using QR Codes to get a stamp, renew your card, or collect your bonus, is a great way to keep the shop manager in control of what happens.
No need for a complicated (and/or expensive) device, it’s almost as simple as real stamps cards, and can provide much more data on its consumer habits.

The possibility for shop owners to implement the system seems a bit tricky.We know that a local sales force is obviously required to grow the users base, but a clean process to try it on your own is probably missing.
Geeky and curious managers should feel free to create an account and start testing it, it would grow the users base more quickly.

U.S.E.’s take on it

A great mix, a click-and-mortar based app. It’s a great factor of success if the users base grows quickly.

The cost and time required to expand the number of partner shop is of course a limitant factor, but look how Groupon did it! Still, the business model for 10Stamps is still unclear, and in a low-margin, low-investment industry, it could blurry their potential future.

Out final take :

  • No way this will work
  • Not betting on it, but the start is interesting
  • Need a bit fixing, but the path is clearly good
  • Where do we sign to invest ?

Our grade : 9/12

Enlarge your Body

Track your training with Sportlyzer

The situation: Summer is here, and you want to look good on the beach. Or you just would like to feel better and work out a little more. But you don’t know how much, when, and you easily lose track of what you’ve already done last week.

The solution: Sportlyzer is a web app that lets you register your sport sessions, and gives you a plan of what you should do, depending of your own goal.
Every sport can be included, and after each jogging or football match, you just have to log the duration and hardness of it, to track your progresses.

Their unfair advantage: No need for an electronic device. You just enter the time you worked out, your sport and how hard it was. You can add your heart rate if you have it, but it’s not required to update your training plan. After all, you’re not preparing for the Olympics!

Visit Sportlyzer

The science behind the app calculates what’s your training plan, based on several parameters.
Your goal (be fit, run a marathon), your muscle pain and sleep quality are taken into account.
Not rocket science, but a very nice way to use algorithms to define an quite adapted plan to your own body, without any expensive electronic device.

Some actions are not self-evident. Modifying your plan, updating a workout, etc.
Not broken, but it could be better and simpler to use.
Overall, a bit more explanations or tours might help newbies to see the power of the app, instead of rejecting it as “too complicated for me”.

Time to Play

Sport management games come to smartphones and Facebook

What is it : it’s a game, with simple principles : rule your football team, and make it win its league. Choose the players, train them, trade them, build your stadium, manage your sponsors… Everything a football club manager has to do!

What’s new? : it’s social and mobile. It means you can compete with your friends in the same league, brag about your last win, and do all of that while riding the subway.

Why talking about it : to show that startups can beat gaming mahamots like EA or Ubisoft to their own games. Wildly acclaimed as one of the best game of its kind, it’s like Top Eleven just won the Champions League twice in a row!

Visit Top Eleven

Playing a championship season with your friends is just a lot more fun than playing against an AI or a bot.
Only a few will accede to the upper league, one more way to spice the challenge.

The game is hard, as it includes all the parameters a real manager has to play with!
If you’re not a football fan, you may find it complicated and sometimes boring, but football fans are pretty common in Europe!

Rent Your Code

Port a software in any web browser with the Roozz plugin

The problem: you developed a great game or a powerful application that you’d like to see running on the web. But you’re lacking the right language skills or the ressources to make it web compliant, in any environment.

The solution: the Roozz platform makes any app running in a web browser. How does it work? Developers send their app, and Roozz makes it available to any user who installed their plug-in.

The bonus: Roozz also manages revenues, subscriptions and free trials. It’s a full new platform (and sales channel) for developers.

Their unfair advantage: once the audience has reached a threshold, it could become a cross-platform app store, appealing for developers and customers alike. That’s what big names are just trying to do right now!

Visit Roozz

It works for 3D games, or any high resources consuming apps, which opens a bigger market.
Maybe one day we won’t have to worry anymore about our computer speed before playing a recent game!

The website and the interface are lacking a piece of fun and color! The graphic codes coming from the technology world are not very engaging for users.
For ideas, see Apple, they opened an app store not long ago…

Give your TV a companion

The experience of Social TV is finally coming to you with Zeebox

The problem: everyone is talking about Social TV, but except on Twitter, it’s hard to find a good app where you can chat with your friends and strangers about the show going live on your big screen.

The solution: an iPad app (also available in your browser) where you start with the programs guide, and where you find news, live tweets, chats and your connected friends. That’s all you need for your TV night.

The bonus: Zeetags. Zeebox picks up what’s going on the show and give you links and information on it live, while you watch the 312th episode of CSI.

Why we talk about it: it already got praises from everywhere, but it’s the more advanced and mature Social TV app we’ve seen (and believe us, we’ve seen a lot of them), beating US’s GetGlue or Miso to their own game (in our view at least).

Visit Zeebox

You can check the trends on “popularity” of any program, and be sure you won’t miss the one everyone will talk about tomorrow morning. And as you can use Zeebox as a remote, you’ll never have to drop your iPad (except for “biological” breaks).

It’s only available in the UK… for now: a launch in the US and (some) European countries is planned in the coming months.
It should remove the frustration of all of us on the continent.