Just like the first edition of The Next Web conference, this year also provided an area for up-and-coming start-ups. The team of the conference selects a group of companies and or people who get to showcase their product during breaks.
Unlike last year, the 2007 edition of the conference was held at the beautiful Tushinski Theater in Amsterdam. While the venue in itself is a great spot for conferences and provided great seating for everyone, the start-up arena had to suffer from one problem: too little space.
In 2006, the venue had multiple stories and all stands had ample room to set up shop and present their products, this year, start-ups had to stand back to back with competitors. Not really a problem for visitors, but probably annoying for the companies that hoped to get a great spot.
Be that as it may, the start-ups I saw had some interesting ideas. All the stands I visited seemed to be doing one thing or another with crowds and that special community feeling.
The first start-up I saw was tipit.to. The site basically provides a way to compensate artists, bloggers, charities and others for the work they do. The idea behind the system is simple: you pledge to donate a certain amount of money and once the pot reaches a certain limit, the person / charity that is eligible for the donation gets it. tipit.to doesn’t charge commission and they hope to get you to sign up by relying on micro-payments. The site most certainly is capable of processing huge payments, but the real idea is that many small contributions also can make a difference. On a sidenote: this site is not a substitute for services like PayPerPost that pay people to blog about a product in a very distinct manner. tipit.to has no affiliation with manufacturers that I know of.
The second start-up I saw was Respectance. If I were to describe it in one sentence I’d say that it’s a mashup between Flickr, YouTube, TypePad and an active community. The idea is simple. Your direct environment will get fed up fairly quick when you “still” have to cope with the death of someone close to you for more than a couple of weeks. Respectance.com provides you with an outlet for your feelings. The site let’s you create a kind of profile for the person (hey, what about pets?) you lost and you want to remember. Sure, you could do the same with YouTube and Flickr, but then again, those sites aren’t really the environment you are looking for when you want to remember someone as good as possible. You don’t want to be looking at a clip of your passed-away grandmother and be greeted with a few childish comments from those who haven’t had a chance at experiencing the sorrow you are going through. While talking about the idea during the The Next Web Dinner party, someone mentioned that the site was like a remix between scientology and Flickr but I’d have to disagree. For what it’s worth, I’d much rather see people upload their videos to a site I won’t accidentally come across when I’m looking for home-made entertainment in the form of short video clips. This way, the users of YouTube won’t disrespect the death of a person and those that have to learn to live with their loss, have a community of supportive voices.
The third and last start-up I went to was Wakoopa, Boris’ newest project. In simple terms, Wakoopa is the last.fm of software tracking. The site provides users with a client that tracks how long you use any given application and lets you view stats about the software habits of your friends too. Too really monetize the content of the site, developers can get a special (for pay) account that lets them track how people use their application, when said application is used, how long it is used. Think of it as Urchin Analytics meets last.fm. Simple concept, good idea and you can even select which applications should or should not be listed on your profile.
All in all, it’s great to see that companies in and around Europe were able to come up with interesting and good ideas over the past year and I wish all of the start-ups best of luck for the future.