Essential Web from Library House

Last week, Library House – a research organisation which tracks early stage companies from birth to their liquidation event – held another of its excellent conferences at BFI’s IMAX theatre in …

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2nd July 2007 at 8:41 am

Last week, Library House – a research organisation which tracks early stage companies from birth to their liquidation event – held another of its excellent conferences at BFI’s IMAX theatre in Waterloo.

This time, the theme was ‘Essential Web’ and the event was packed with venture capitalists, support organisations, journalists and bloggers. They were all there to hear pitches from some 40-odd young companies and listen to the panel sessions.

If you ever want a glimpse of the way the web world is thinking, then an event such as this gives it to you in one highly energetic and compressed day.

Here are a few of my main take-aways from the event:

Doug Richard, the boss of Library House and the main compere noted that in this world he used to hear companies admit “we’re pre-revenue”. In what is looking suspiciously like another bubble, some are now saying “we’re pre-revenue model.” In other words they think they have a smart idea, they want v.c. money but, apart from vague dreams of being acquired by Google, have no idea what their business model is.

A lot of companies pointed out the weaknesses in the Google approach to search and brought out their own twist. Spain-based Migoa will go for vertical searches – cars, jobs and so on. UK-based Extate is taking an easier, cheaper (for estate agents) and more helpful approach than giants of the property business like RightMove. Quintura has an interesting search which throws up a cloud of related terms to the left of the results. You can refine by clicking on items in the cloud. Its punch line: “Help us beat Google.” Oh dear.

Close to search are directories. WeLoveLocal is a local directory written by people you trust. Think TripAdvisor for a parallel. Opportunities for focused advertising too if your business serves the local community.

Personal identity will become a big deal when companies start talking about it in ways that the rest of us understand. One company that’s trying is Garlik. Its Data Patrol software rummages the web for everything that’s known about you and reports back. It needs a partnership with a company that can then help you resolve any issues and protect you in future. The Todeka Project offers to help, by certifying that you are, in fact, you. Paoga, whose Graham Sadd was a panellist, wants to give you the equivalent of a safety deposit box for all your personal information, letting out only that which is relevant for any transaction or enquiry.

Quite a few companies saw advertisements as the way to subsidise their services. A couple, Spotify and we7 were doing it with web radio and music downloads respectively. Apparently, only a third of music downloads are paid for. I’d rather pay for a track than put up with the same ten-second ad’ every time I played it.

Some companies showed how you can make money out of stuff you have. Seatwave is a ticket exchange. It currently holds 384,000 tickets. ParkatmyHouse.com offers a way of earning money from your unused parking space(s). Great if you live near a football ground and you’re not using your drive during a match. Zubka rewards you for recommending people to jobs. Get a few thousand quid for what you used to do for nothing.

A lot of companies are eyeing the mobile market and wishing that the operators would open up a bit more. Right now, users are rightly nervous of high data charges. Even the ‘unlimited’ bandwidth offers usually have some kind of cap on them. The answer has been, certainly in the short term to move to snappy, short, messages. Jaiku offers micro-blogging and MakeMyShow provides the technology for exchanging messages and capturing RSS feeds. MoBank is online banking through your mobile phone (I think it’s USA only at the moment). And Anywr keeps all your calendar and contact information where you can still get at it if your phone is stolen or broken.

One final company worth a mention is Yuuguu. It offers screen-sharing between remote users. There’s a slight delay and you can’t see the mouse cursor or some popups, but it’s free, easy to use, and each participant can request control of the mouse and keyboard. You can all dial in to a local number to hold a concurrent conference call.

I hope this gives you a quick flavour of what’s going on. There was more, much more, but these are the companies that I thought might interest you and give you a sense of the developments that are taking place on the web.

With a bit of luck, the editor will be so astonished at the size of this post that he’ll let me off writing one next week.

How about it Alex? (I’m moving house.)

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David Tebbutt is an award-winning columnist and feature writer who specialises on the subject of using software and technology to increase business productivity. He's an analyst with Freeform Dynamics but, in previous lives, wrote for Director magazine, Real Business and was also editor of Personal Computer World. http://freeformdynamics.com

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  1. What can I say? Great summary that made me wish I’d been there too! Read much more quickly than its actual length, which can’t be bad. I’d never force a man to blog in the middle of a house move 🙂 Monday’s yours and good luck!

  2. […] Small Biz Pod Argolon Four Starters Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

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