Category Archives: Startups

ScantogramThere are a lot of different mashups of technology and startups over the past few months and years and it’s definitely the year of the API. It all starts off with an idea and then by leveraging the API of that startup, others can build their own vision of a product. It usually happens with one of the more popular startups and today, one of them happens to be Instagram. Naturally, startups are going to try and “ride their coattails” (in a good way) to find ways to improve the service or come up with a great product. Launching this week, Scan-to-gram just happens to be one of them.

Started from nothing more than a mashup of ideas during a Scan company hackathon event, Scan-to-gram is the outcome of Scan team members mashing up their popular QR code generator and Instagram in order to create a fun new way for companies and others to have a web presence and increase their following on the photo-sharing social network. Not a bad idea from the company that produced one of the top downloaded QR code scanners in the Apple marketplace. According to TechCrunch, Scan is in the business of “creating apps that extend the potential application of QR code tech…” and they’re doing a pretty interesting job of trying to make QR codes less boring and more valuable. For many people, the thought of using a QR codes probably seems a bit far-fetched–some might even speculate that they’re dead. After all, it wasn’ t as if they’re a new thing in the marketplace. The QR code was first invented in 1994 and was designed to enable tracking of vehicles during the manufacturing process. But it’s only been recently since QR codes have hit their stride, somewhat, and have become more mainstream–but there’s a long ways to go. And that’s just what Scan seems to be trying to do, but they have a long way to go.

Recent statistics show that in June 2011, there were 14 million US smartphones that scanned a QR code, but when you compare it to the entire US smartphone population (82.2 million), it’s not that impressive. But now when you look at all the emerging startups making names for themselves and getting acquired, they’re all mobile-based and rely solely on the smartphone. Take Instagram, Path, Highlight, Foursquare, Flipboard, Evernote, etc. for example–these are all mobile-based startups that people with smartphones are rapidly downloading. The camera on the smartphones have become even better too. So the environment is there eagerly awaiting for a really great startup to put it all together. Scan just managed to find the right deal–make it easy for people to find their friends and great photographers on the number one photo-sharing app. That’s what you get with Scan-to-gram.

WeWork LabsThe San Francisco Bay Area is filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of entrepreneurs and fledgling startups who want to make it big. But often what new startups may encounter is trouble finding suitable office space in which they can work at. Sure, you can always go to a nearby Starbucks or a cafe where you sit but one of the troubles of doing that is the endless amount of distractions for the team–loud noises, limited seating time, potential Internet issues, must purchase items periodically, etc. So what can a startup do? You might suppose that working out of a home or an apartment would be good, but that could get a bit tedious and maybe a slight bit uncomfortable after a while–finding a place that can separate work and life might be more suitable. And then you’re working 24 hours a day in the same place without any contact with the outside world? That can’t be healthy.

So what’s there for a young company to do? Maybe take a look at the coworking movement–this global phenomenon that is made up of people who believe in the principles of collaboration, openness, community, accessibility, and sustainability, can be a great opportunity for startups to meet other people and help grow their idea from simply that into a successful concept. Right here in San Francisco, there are numerous places for that to happen. From places like Citizen Space to pariSoma and even others like Rocketspace, Dogpatch Studios, The Hatchery, Sandbox Studios, Founders Den, and more, there’s a lot of different options for companies to go for. But each one has their very own specialty and limitations.

But enough about what’s already here…we’re going to talk about one of the newest additions to the coworking movement and to the San Francisco tech community. It’s called WeWork Labs and it’s set to open its doors this Monday right in the heart of the SoMA district in San Francisco. If the name sounds familiar, then you’re right, because it’s the latest expansion by WeWorks in the United States. It first started in April 2011 in New York City and now houses more than 200 entrepreneurs who work on more than 100 companies. The labs portion of WeWorks is their early-stage arm aimed at fostering the growth of young startups and raised $6.85 million in January. WeWorks has been pretty successful with the companies that have walked through its doors–many of them have gone off to acclaimed success with Y Combinator, TechStars, 500 Startups, and many others. Now, they’re setting their sights on the San Francisco tech scene. 

Facebook buys GlanceeLooks like Facebook is on a tear over the past week. Sure, no one at Facebook can really talk about the stuff that goes on behind the scene at the social network, but over the past few days, they’ve been making some definite waves that seems to be surely affecting the way people view the service and potentially their stock price. First, it was Facebook bolstering its photo capability with a monumental acquisition of leading photo service Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. Then, Facebook announced perhaps a life-saving and historic event–promoting being an organ donor. And now, it’s news that Facebook is moving its check-in feature beyond the traditional sense and making it more about introducing you to new people. Just how does the company plan on making this happen? By acquiring proximity app service Glancee.

Considered one of the latest products that could have been a “star” at this year’s South by Southwest, Glancee emerged onto the scene with some enormous potential, but also within a crowded marketplace. A couple months ago, there were nearly a dozen different of these so-called proximity applications, from market leader Highlight to others like Sonar, Banjo, Intro, EchoEcho, and several others, Glancee is probably the first such application to see an exit. Available for both iPhone and Android devices, Glancee states that it “makes it fun and safe to discover people nearby who share friends and interests with you.” Perhaps it was Glancee’s direct integration with Facebook that caused it to be appealing for an acquisition, since Glancee intended to leverage Facebook data to help you find people of interest instead of just showing you who is around you–it’s giving you some additional relevancy in helping you grow your social network.

ClarityHave you ever had to make a decision about something, but needed to talk it through with someone who could help influence your actions? We all need that “trusted” source in order to help us figure out what we want to do in our lives. In a sense, we need that mentorship to make us feel better about our decisions. But often we’re not able to find that right person who can help guide us to that right decision or maybe have an impromptu office hour session. And this is where Clarity comes into play.

Started by Dan Martell, a serial entrepreneur who recently was a co-founder of Flowtown, Clarity is aimed at helping people connect easily with those who need them the most.  Using the most common device probably found on an individual, Clarity isn’t an application that you can download. No, it’s a true mobile HTML application that enables users to simply look up whoever they want, set up a scheduled meeting, and then dial them to talk about whatever they want. Sure, you might think that Clarity is just a fancy version of your telephone, but it’s so much more and it can help you find the right person you want to chat with. Say you’re having a problem trying to figure out your marketing strategy for your startup, or you’re looking to get advice on going after potential investors, or maybe you’re debating internally about whether you should make that leap of faith and start your own company. These, among others, are things that people most likely want to talk it through with someone else–someone who has been through it all, win or lose, and has the experience to help you make the decision.

LinkedIn buys Slideshare for $119 MillionAnnounced first by TechCrunch just moments ago, professional social network, LinkedIn, has just announced its acquisition of presentation/document-sharing powerhouse SlideShare for $119 million. This deal is something that will certainly benefit the professional community on LinkedIn–161 million members strong–in their attempt to build their social graph on the site. Sure, you could already add the SlideShare application to your profile, but now with SlideShare part of the LinkedIn family, members could theoretically go ahead and not only add their presentations to their profile, thereby making it more portfolio-like, but also implementing it on company pages, groups, etc.

In their press release, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said the following:

Presentations are one of the main ways in which professionals capture and share their experiences and knowledge, which in turn helps shape their professional identity. These presentations also enable professionals to discover new connections and gain the insights they need to become more productive and successful in their careers, aligning perfectly with LinkedIn’s mission and helping us deliver even more value for our members. We’re very excited to welcome the SlideShare team to LinkedIn.