There were plenty of companies, both old and new, at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that offered creative new ways to enhance the mobile-phone multimedia experience. From semiconductor chips to software applications to new online services, a dozen of the hottest companies at the show had been picked up.
Provides an easy-to-use platform where you’ll find items you typically wouldn’t see for rent and can make money renting out items you use only occasionally. Facilitates the transactions. Provides PayPal deposits to insure your items. A calendar shows when items are available.
Too small a community to be useful right now. The service will stop being free come 2008.
We all have a ton of stuff we barely use that’s just gathering dust in the garage or closet. You could justify your purchase of that cordless drill or ski set by inventing new ways to use them between uses, but why not put them to work making money for you? Zilok.com gives you an online place where you can easily do just that and also easily find items you’ll only need for a short time. The creators hope to make their site the one-stop online shop for locating anything you need on a temporary basis.
The site is like a Craigslist for rentals, showing available items in your area, but it also assists in the rental process, giving you the tools needed to set up terms and facilitate the transaction online. For instance, using Zilok search I found someone in the New York City area offering a Nikon D80 Digital-SLR camera and a 2GB memory card at a daily rate of $12 for 1 to 15 days. If that met my needs and budget, I’d send in a rent request, wait for an acceptance from the lender, and then set up a time and place to meet and pay for the item. It’s that simple.
You can sign up for the service as a business (if you’re a professional rental service) or an individual. As a lender, you can give potential customers peace of mind by becoming a verified member. To do so, you supply Zilok with your cell phone number, and in return, you’ll receive a text message confirming your information. Verification links an account to something concrete, giving potential renters more reason to trust you. Member profiles include ratings and customer feedback, which give you a good feel for who it is you’re renting from.
The stipulations you place on items you’re willing to loan out—the per-day price and length of rental—display online on that item’s page. A Zilok-provided rental agreement template for users to sign covers everything that happens in case of damage or lost of rented items. You can also set up a PayPal deposit as insurance on your goods.
To find items for rent, you search by keyword or category, then look at Zilok’s Google Maps mashup, which shows what’s available in your area. You can click on the image of the item to view the terms of rental and the lender’s profile. The item’s specs, supplied by the lender, appear below the map and the rental terms. A helpful calendar on the items page shows when the item is available. When you find something you like, clicking on the rent item button sends you to the booking page where you propose a start and end date for your rental and how long you’re willing to wait for an acceptance reply from the lender.
Once the rental request is accepted things move from the virtual to the actual. The lender and renter set up a meeting location by e-mail, where they meet and hash out the final details, such asmethod, and complete the transaction. After that, Zilok is no longer part of the process. The site doesn’t handle the actual exchange of the item and payment. The rental agreement, which according to Zilok ensures that “the consequences of an incident are governed by this contract and of course by any legislation that is in effect,” confirms the deal and conditions, helping to safeguard both sides.
As of this writing, the service is free, but that may change in less than two months. Starting January 2008, you might have to pay to put items up for rent. Site reps told me they’ll evaluate the site density, and if there are enough users to support it they’ll implement a charging scheme similar to what newspapers charge for classified ads. If there aren’t enough users, the site will remain free until later in 2008.
You can already find places to rent specific items, like cars, tuxedos, power tools—whatever—on- and off-line. But Zilok will create a marketplace where you’ll find not only those items, but others you don’t typically see—all in one place. The site is still too small to be tremendously useful right now. As of this writing there are only about 180 items up for rent in the U.S. I’m also not sure that imposing fees is the best way to promote growth. I doubt craigslist would’ve achieve such massive popularity if it charged a fee, no matter how minimal, to post ads. Regardless, Zilok sounds like a fantastic idea, and I’ll be interested to see if it will work.
Wikio – A European user-managed news search engine on course to become the continent’s next high-tech blockbusterNovember 19, 2007
By Sarah Wachter
Wikio is the latest internet start-up from Frenchman Pierre Chappaz, who is best known for selling Kelkoo, a European online price comparison service, to Yahoo! for €475m. Wikio is a user-managed news search engine that allows people to create their own pages of news, blogs and podcasts subdivided into a dozen categories, from health to fine arts. Users can vote for favourite items, or default to the most-accessed news and blogs provided by other subscribers. Wikinauts also have access to the site’s shopping search engine; to buy a camera, for example, a user can call up product reviews for comparable brands and find the lowest prices from a list of stores closest to home.
While custom news services abound in the US, Europe is an open playing field. Wikio covers more than 10,000 reliable sources for France, for example, while Google News covers only around 500. “There is nothing comparable on a European level, aside from a few small sites,” Chappaz notes.
Wikio launched in mid-2006 after Chappaz conducted the largest “beta” test in Europe, which involved 28,000 users registering their feedback online. Today, the site draws 2.3 million visitors a month, half in France and half outside. In its first year, the company aims to build its user base to three million, but Chappaz, who is the executive chairman, says the site has the potential to attract an audience of more than 10 million.
The company aims to turn a profit by using the “cost per click” business model of Google, where Wikio will receive 10 cents per click for every user who visits a vendor’s site. The shopping service is currently available in France, Italy and Spain, and will begin soon in Germany. “We’re not obsessed by sales,” says Chappaz, who put €1m of his own funds as seed money into the venture. Traffic has grown solely by word of mouth, and some analysts claim Wikio is the most interesting European start-up since Skype.
Unlike the Skype founders, though, Chappaz is no computer geek. Equipped with just a general studies degree, he stumbled into the high-tech arena when he was hired to create the permanent computer exhibit for Cité des Sciences, located inside Paris’s Parc de la Villette. He then spent a decade in various marketing posts for high-tech firms, including as marketing director, western Europe for IBM, and later struck out on his own with a communications boutique.
The company is truly a “2.0”-style undertaking: its technical staff of 30 hails from various parts of France and Switzerland (Chappaz resides in Geneva, where the company is headquartered). There is no office space, and staff members “meet” once or twice a week in cyberspace. CEO Bertrand Peretra is the former managing director of French shareware outfit Planète Soft.
Many users of Chappaz’s service may be surprised to learn that Wikio has absolutely no connection to the creators of Wikipedia, the free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by contributors around the world. Chappaz insists he chose the five-letter word because it is short, simple and conveys the meaning “tell me quickly”. Actually, Wikio doesn’t stray too far from the original meaning of wiki – the Hawaiian word for “fast”.
First month of trading June 2006
2007 predicted sales €100,000
Start-up money €1m in seed money; €4m in venture capital
Product range Customised online news, blogs, podcasts, videos and shopping
Marketing spend Nothing yet
Source:CNBC European Business
Sports Events 365 Ltd. is a start up company, and the owner of www.sportsevents365.com, a unique Internet search engine for upcoming sports events, worldwide. Our web site enables the users to search for major sports events by location. It is a powerful tool for tourists and travelers who wish to add watching live sports to their trip. After choosing a sports event to his (or her) liking, the traveler can book a hotel or a flight and even purchase tickets for every match on our database. It is a one-stop tour-planning device that a growing number of people find useful to their needs.
They offer information on approx. 20,000 sports events worldwide (on annual basis), that will take place in 700 cities in 100 countries. The site display:
1: Football – first division football matches in 16 European countries, Champions
League, UEFA Cup and EURO 2008 qualifications – all over Europe.
2: Tennis – Grand Slam, Masters, ATP, WTA Davis and Federation cup.
3: Motor Sports – Formula 1, Nascar, MotoGP.
4: American Sports – Football, Baseball and Hockey.
5: Cricket – World cup, Ashes and more.
6: Rugby – World cup, Heineken cup, Tri Nations, Six Nations and more.
7: Basketball – NBA and first division matches in 6 European countries, Euroleague,
ULEB Cup– all over Europe.
Users of http://www.sportsevents365.com can search for sports events at a specific destination (search by country, search by city) and receive a full list of sports events for that destination as well as for nearby cities, up to a distance of 150Km. our database contain additional information such as the exact date and time and the exact location of the event including means of transportation, maps and venue charts.
Sports Events 365 has now two fully operative search engines for upcoming sports events. The sites are used regularly by thousands of people as part of their tour planning process. Work on turning www.sportsevents365.com into a multi-lingual site is in progress and a few White Label agreements were signed with leading bodies in the tourism industry, from several countries, all over the world.
By Erica Naone
There are dozens of online tools for organizing information: wikis, social-bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us, and RSS feed readers, among other things. Researchers at Microsoft’s Live Labs, an incubator for new Internet-related technologies founded in 2006, hope that a tool called Listas will distinguish itself by being more general than all the others. Listas launched at the recent Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco and is available for preview online.
Listas is, put simply, about making lists. Users can make their own lists, by either typing in original content or taking clippings from Web pages, or they can read or edit public lists. The lists can include almost any type of content, including images and videos. They can be designated either public or private, and they can be tagged to make them easier to search.
Like other social-networking sites, Listas also allows users to acknowledge each other as “friends.” A user’s lists, lists made by his or her friends, and public lists that the user has linked to are all collected on a single page on the Listas site. Downloading and installing the optional Listas toolbar, which is built to work with Internet Explorer, makes it easy to grab items from other Web pages and add them to lists. Those items might include short bits of text, URLs, or blog posts or product listings with their original structure intact.
“Lists are a fundamental data type across the Web,” says Live Labs product manager Alex Daley. “Whether you look at task managers, blogs, RSS, shopping lists, or wish lists, they share a simple, linear list structure. A great deal of the information we produce and consume across the Web is in this structure.” Similarly, says Daley, the virtue of Listas is its generality: it allows users to organize data in whatever way they want and begin to tease out trends.
Gary Flake, founder and director of Live Labs, says that Listas was born from his sense that his information online was no longer under his control. “There was just an awareness I had that my data was spread out everywhere,” he says, noting that the more involved a person is with online communities, the more severe this problem can be. By using the Listas toolbar, a person can aggregate all of his or her contributions to online communities in a single dashboard, annotate them, and share them with others. Although a similar effect could be achieved without the toolbar, Flake says that he thinks the system will feel incomplete without the ease that the toolbar contributes to the process.
Other companies have tried to address the problem of organizing data with more specific tools. ZingLists, for example, shares some features with Listas, including the ability to make lists private or public. It is intended, however, as a productivity tool, according to its developer, Steve Madsen. The lists on ZingLists take the more traditional form of to-do lists, while Listas’s lists can behave like to-do lists, blogs, or RSS feeds, depending on how users construct them.
IBM’s Lotus Connections, a business product, includes a bookmarking system called Dogear that organizes information with the participation of a networked community. When a user bookmarks a site, up pop tags that other users have added to it, says product manager Suzanne Minassian. Dogear also shows how many others have bookmarked the same site and provides links that can lead users to those people. The result, Minassian says, is that users can find people with shared interests and connect to those people through the system.
Listas’s developers are still working on increasing community involvement with the site, Flake says. “With all community sites, there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg dilemma,” he says, noting that a strong community attracts more community activity. Live Labs’ technology previews are meant to be even more raw than most products’ early releases, Daley says, and are very much works in progress. “We try to release early and release often,” he says. As a result, many changes to Listas are on the way.
Some of those changes will be aimed at increasing the usability of the interface. For instance, using the toolbar to clip information could be a more streamlined process. Other changes will advance the philosophy of the service, such as Flake’s plan to change the way comments are structured. With most of today’s blogs, Flake says, if you post a comment, that information no longer belongs to you: you often can’t edit it or delete it, and it’s hosted on someone else’s page. Flake says that he plans to give Listas a system that structures comments as simply another list–one belonging to the person posting the comments.
If Listas does well, Microsoft may integrate it with products or develop it as a product, but for now, the researchers say, there is no effort to make it profitable. “Listas is at the beginning of the experiment,” Daley says.
by Margaret A. Starvish
The three largest search engines, Google, Yahoo and msn, account for the vast majority of U.S. searches, but that hasn’t stopped dozens of startups from trying to stake out their own claim to the market.
Venture capitalists also don’t appear daunted by the odds. In the first quarter of this year, they’ve poured nearly $135 million into vertical and social search startups alone, according to Dow Jones VentureOne.
Why? One reason investors are bullish on vertical search firms is that they fill needs not being met by any of the other major search engines. And there appear to be some pretty curious needs out there.
Consider some of the new niche search engines:
Reva Health Network bills itself as “a database for the medical tourism sector” and lets users comparison shop for things like heart transplants and breast reductions on several continents.
Then there’s Gloomedia, which is working to create a database, glootv.com, of products from every new episode of the top 60 TV shows. Those products are available for purchase, which means users can dress themselves head to toe in the clothes Oprah wears, and watch her while sitting on the same chair she uses on TV.
For people who spend more time with their Xbox than with their remote control, there’s Wazap.com, a games search engine with 84,000 different sources for gaming information that got its start in Japan (where it’s the 144th most popular site, according to Alexa) and recently landed $11.9 million in funding.
Social search startups are also clamoring for investor dollars.
Lijit.com, a Colorado-based startup, secured nearly a million dollars in funding from a pool of investors, including a personal investment made by Mobius Capital’s Brad Feld. The site, posits “What if searching on the Web worked the way it did in real life?” – essentially through a complex network of personal information gathered from people you trust. Lijit translates this into a technology that “connects the dots” between personal information available on sites like Blogger, MySpace, and del.icio.us.
Baynote bills itself as a pioneer in bringing social search to business. The company’s chief technology officer has a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction from Stanford, it got Series B funding from Disney, and customers include eBay. Baynote’s technology tracks how users get to a site like Macy’s and looks at where they go once they’re there – eventually aggregating that data so that when a consumer goes to search for a T-shirt, the search engine automatically knows if he wants one from Hanes or from Calvin Klein. According to marketing and product management director Mike Svatek, this approach has increased sales from 30 percent to 50 percent for their clients. “Our growth rate is extreme,” he adds.
Then there are the search engines that are neither vertical nor social. Mahalo, which was launched in late spring by entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, uses actual people instead of algorithms to provide results. “Maholo combines human touch and technology in a way that reduces the search term to an intelligent framework,” says former Excite CEO George Bell.
Bell’s also a fan of Powerset, the natural language search startup headed by an enthusiastic Barney Pell, who likens searching to breathing and says his technology will help people breathe easier. Powerset is still in development, though Pell hopes to launch soon, and while he’s not saying he’s looking to compete with Google directly, he did note that “people are afraid to say that their technology could scale that big. We’re not afraid to say that.”
While Pell remains one of the few people willing to make such a sweeping statement, most believe there’s money to be made in the tiny space not occupied by the big engines.
What will the market will look like a year from now? It depends on who you ask.
“I think we’ll see the emergence of some very successful vertical search engines,” says Indeed.com CEO and co-founder Paul Forster. “There are still a lot of categories of specialized information that people have barely begun to think about indexing and making searchable.” Forster also feels all this activity will result in a greater number of viable avenues for search marketing.
Tom Wilde, industry veteran and CEO of EveryZing (formerly PodZinger), a multimedia search engine that can find keywords in videos, is less certain: “Very few [of the new search engines] have a great insight into discovering [and] processing content, making it more usable in a really unique way.” Perhaps the most realistic view is that of Spark Capital’s Todd Dagres. When asked who he thought would succeed from the multitudes, he responded, “Whoever does a better job building a better algorithm.”