July 15, 2009

Seedcamp winners meet the Geeks


JD LasicaOne of the real highlights of the Traveling Geeks trip to the United Kingdom last week came when we were treated to “speed dating” session with the top start-ups of Seedcamp.

seedcampThis, after all, is one of the chief goals of the Traveling Geeks: to suss out young or little-known start-ups hear their stories, and throw a spotlight on the ones that resonate with us.

So we were thrilled when Sherry Coutu and Reshma Sohoni of London-based Seedcamp (Twitter: @seedcamp) arranged for us to meet their top start-ups, both collectively and one on one. Every one had a compelling consumer-facing service. Here are the ones that particularly struck a chord:


Twitter: @huddle
Email: [email protected]
Site: huddle.net

huddleHuddle.net offers a collaboration, sharing and project tools platform for getting stuff done. Specifically, Huddle provides secure online workspaces where users can share files, collaborate on ideas, manage projects and organize virtual meetings. P&G, Toshiba, Panasonic, Nokia and Unicef are among the customers using Huddle.

In February, Huddle partnered with InterCall, the world’s largest conferencing provider, to provide services to their 1 million-plus customers. And last month BusinessWeek named Huddle one of their “50 most promising startups” around the globe.

Heady stuff for founders Andy McLoughlin and Alistair Mitchell, who gave me a five-minute rundown of the site’s services. While I’ve been impressed by Basecamp‘s recent improvements, I saw enough in my session with Andy and Alistair that persuaded me to try out Huddle in an upcoming project with one of my clients or co-conspirators.


Twitter: @zemanta
Email: [email protected]
Site: zemanta.com

zemantaAndraz Tori (pictured at top), CTO of Slovenia-based Zemanta, sat down and gave the company’s six-word pitch: “Zemanta is an author’s best friend.” Turns out that it’s not just a marketing pitch.

zemanta siderI just started using Zemanta today and can see why it’s so addictive. As a blogger on WordPress who uses the Firefox browser, I’m perfectly suited for Zemanta’s services. I had previously come across Zemanta only on other bloggers’ posts and didn’t pay much attention to the link at the bottom of blog posts that would summon up related posts.

But Zemanta offers a slick and convenient way to spruce up your blog posts.It looks over your shoulder while you’re crafting a post (or even an email) and suggests images, related articles, links and tags to use. A simple click and the image or link now becomes part of your post. Zemanta draws from a large pool of available images, many of them carrying Creative Commons licenses. That’s one of the coolest features — mouse over the image and you’ll see its terms of use (generally free).

“I just love Zemanta,” said fellow Geek Meghan Asha. “It’s just cool to be able to have those images right there, all free and legal to use.”

Well put. I’m a believer now .


Twitter: @spotify
Email: [email protected]
Site: spotify.com

spotifyIn my book “Darknet” I wrote about the ongoing clash between the music companies and music fans who just want easy access to digital music. Spotify is one of the first companies to come along with an answer.

Through its simple-to-use interface and licensing deals with the major music labels, Spotify offers music fans instant access to their favorite music. The service enables on-demand streaming of tons of audio content through a free, ad-supported model and a premium paid model. London-based Lastfm and US-based Pandora are two similar music listening services, and SoundCloud is a great way to share music and audio files (see Robert Scoble’s video interview with One of Europe’s brightest startups: SoundCloud).

Scoble has been a big fan of Spotify, and I can see why.


Twitter: @overheardatmoo
Email: [email protected]
Site: moo.com

mooI’ve been a fan of Moo cards for years — they’re a staple at Silicon Valley events — but didn’t realize, until founder-CEO Richard Moross laid it out for me, just how many kinds of business cards and stickers Moo offers.

A lot: the company prints of cards a month for customers in 180 countries. Their customer base consists of 40 percent North Americans, 30 percent from the UK and 30 percent from the rest of the world, chiefly Europe. The best part: The cards are completely personalized. In the past, I’ve uploaded 50 different images for a stack of 100 business cards at a cost of about $20. Crazy-cheap.

How do they work that magic? Richard called the process “printfinity” — a proprietary system that lets the company print cards of any kind, with any image, in a scalable way. They’ve applied for a patent on the process.

In the depths of the current recession, Moo has seen a 300 percent uptick in consultants buying business cards. In addition, Richard said, “Lots of people are turning their hobby or craft into a shed business.” You can order as few as 50 cards.

Moo has become one of the fastest-growing print businesses in the world, with “extremely high margins,” Richard told me. “We’re trying to make boring business cards a thing of the past.”

I”ll be ordering my next batch of cards from Moo.


Twitter: @stupeflix
Email: [email protected]
Site: stupeflix.com

Stupeflix is a web service aimed at people and companies that want to generate videos automatically from their pictures, music and footage. The company uses technologies allowing faster than real time video rendering, as well as the generation of tens of thousands of videos a day using one server only if you’re running a business. The public API that Stupeflix offers to developers is one of a kind in the flexibility and level of control it allows.

See the Box of Tricks blog for Video podcasting made easy with Stupeflix.com.

Other companies that resonated: Skimlinks (a new way to do affiliate marketing — I have a video with CEO Alicia Navarro that I’ll post soon), uberVU (a real-time conversation search engine — I’ve requested an invitation to their private beta), School of Everything (a training marketplace) and Qype (similar in some ways to Yelp, it’s a crowdsourced reviews site).


Susan Bratton: My impression of UK and Euro entrepreneurs from today’s Seedcamp Speed Dating adventure

Craig Newmark: Seedcamp at NESTA, part of the Traveling Geeks tour

Tom Foremski: UK Diary: Tuesday – Guardian Newspaper Media Panel . . .

Tom Foremski: UK Diary: Tuesday – Back To Soho and Dinner With Agency.comJD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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3 thoughts on “Seedcamp winners meet the Geeks

  1. Huddle is a great way to manage documents. A very good way to keep all things in order and collaborate with other peers on the projects you work on. You will get many features with Huddle that will help you manage your products.

    By the way there is now also a backup feature for Huddle workspaces that enables you to download and manage all your files also off-line.