In the last week I've had the chance to play with a few new services that have begun to appear:

  1. Pixoh: an on-line photo editor
  2. YouOS: a web operating system
  3. Wufoo: a web-based form builder and data collection/reporting service

All three were born out of the desire to solve existing real-world problems. And they've all been brought from idea to working prototype in the last few months by very small teams of people (4 or less). They're working under the guidance and funding of Y Combinator, the Paul Graham, Trevor Blackwell, and Robert Morris created startup incubator in Mountain View.

Each of those services manages to offer something easy to use that's also groundbreaking in one or more ways. However, this isn't inatended to be a detailed review of any. I'll save that for later.

Last night I had the opportunity to spend a few hours at their office meeting with the founders, watching product demos, and exchanging ideas about how they could expand and improve their services. I also spent a bit of time watching Trevor's latest robot creations, including the self-balancing robotic Segway. Cool stuff. ;-)

I had a great time and was impressed by the drive, energy, and creativity of the young entrepreneurs present. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we end up hearing a lot more about them in the coming months as their products become more public and further refined.

Thanks to Paul and others for the chance to drop by and hang out!

Posted by jzawodn at March 17, 2006 07:29 AM

Reader Comments
# grumpY! said:

pixoh - somewhat neat, but vastly inferior to readily available desktop tools that almost everyone working in graphics has access to (presuming therse are the people who would tend to pay for such a service or even use it heavily enough to justify ads)

youos - a technology demonstrator, but thats it. who is this marketed at? why? what is the business? what is the goal?

wufoo - a mechanical buggy whip. instead of just automating forms, why wouldn't i prefer to automate the entire app the form is part of, like with jotspot or dabbledb? nothing monetizable here.

ycombinator's only real success, reddit, is likewise going to be very hard to monetize.

of course there' always acquisition, but my prediction is that the major players have bought all of the "web2" assets that were worth buying, and are now getting prepared for a long season of cost controls as margins shrink and share prices dive.

on March 17, 2006 08:54 AM
# notgrumpY said:

A couple other yCombinator startups that seem to have more feasible business models: : prediction markets - i actually signed up for this thing and use it pretty regularly - cool wisdom of crowds stuff that can be sold to businesses for use internally. : physical location bookmarking. other people doing this as well but they've come really far in the 11 weeks they've been in business which speaks to their development prowess.

on March 17, 2006 09:34 AM
# Serge Lescouarnec said:

Not being a Techie like GrumpY, I did like Wufoo when I tried the demo, I will see if the released product pleases me.
I do not enjoy designing forms.


on March 17, 2006 09:50 AM
# Tony Wright said:

Focusing on monetization isn't always the best idea. Google, as you might recall, started at a time where the main source of revenue for search engines (banner ads) were in the crapper...

If you can make a great product that some group of people really love, you'll find a way to make money.

All of these Ycomb startups are in a place where their goal is to tune what they have to make it really great.

-Tony (Venture Capital for Technology Startups)

on March 17, 2006 12:48 PM
# grumpY! said:

>> Focusing on monetization isn't always the best idea. Google, as you might recall, started at a time where the main source of revenue for search engines (banner ads) were in the crapper...

this is a completely flawed analogy

the benefits of google's key advance - link analysis - were instantly and directly conferred upon mass-market users. you did not need to know any more about using a search engine than you did just got better results.

as it stands, since search has always been a mass market product, google always had something easily monetizable, even at the ad rates of the day. by the way, they fixed that problem too with adsense and adwords.

on March 17, 2006 02:09 PM
# Jeff Mellen said:


Thanks to you and everyone else at Y! for stopping by and looking at what we've all been working on at YC. We'll be working to make your prediction true.


on March 17, 2006 03:11 PM
# Norman said:

Small Mid Businesses (SMB) have not been well served by the IT community in terms of " true killer" apps. While hosted services are out there such as the 800lb gorilla, (SFDC), SFDC serves only it's larger customers. If you are a SOHO or small business, "foggedabout it" - you will get zero, zilch support. Yes - you have AppExchange - but to use AppExchange services, an end user needs to fork out $125 per user per month (PUPM) - not exactly chump change for a small business. Plus add AppExchange development costs - runs @ $25K a pop for any custom development.
Here are some web services that any SMB would die for:
1. Email integrated into back end apps (CRM for ex)
2. Contact management - upload to a hosted service for sync to handheld, cellphone, blackberry
3. Calendaring: Upload/Sync local calendars to the hosted service
4. Real time alerts from the back office app - using IM, SMS and email combos
5. Website integration - when a new lead is posted, it should appear in the CRM app with an alert
6.e-Commerce: When a customer places an order, the inside/field sales rep should get an alert
7.Storage: Backup of enterprise data

Now - to accomplish this at the SMB level will cost gargantuan $$$$ for integration using traditional J2EE, Dot Net or other app servers. Any PUPM of $50 or more is not viable to an SMB as a back end app. Here is where Yahoo! comes in.
My pitch to Yahoo! to roll out web services to SMB apps developers:
Yahoo has all of the above five services for SMB. For an additional small fee, if these Webservices are opened out to developers like us

1. Yahoo! email: Have an API where email received/sent from Yahoo! Email is linked to the CRM app (Contact to Email linkages) - solves SOX requirements as well.
2. Yahoo! Contact management: Upload filtered contacts to Yahoo! so that these can be synced to handheld/cell phones
3. Yahoo! calendar: Upload private and public calendars to Yahoo! - solves major problems of calendaring for public services such as dental clinics, event management, et al
4. Real time alerts: Great to have - especially using the cellphone in IM mode - Yahoo! IM is ideal for this.
5. From the Yahoo! Website - this is easy - post http to the back end CRM app
6. Yahoo! Merchant - Ditto - when an order is placed, the info is sent to the back end app for instant order follow-up and fulfillment
7. Stotage - Easy - backup data online everyday

Now - if all of the above is available from Yahoo! for a single, easy payment of say $25 to $50 for the webservices component alone (the website, email, e-Commerce and storage costs are extra) - we cam visualize a SMB killer app revolutution - the promise of integrated apps for the SMB community.

All of the above can be achieved at merginal cost to the app developer - but the benefits are huge to the SMB. I can convert a lot of my prospects to instant customers if I can show some or all of the above integrated CRM services.

This is what I would term a "killer app" for SMB - where everyone wins.

Comments are welcome -

on March 19, 2006 09:26 AM
# rv said:

looks like all these companies are made to flip.. inklingmarkets is opinion polls on steroids...

on March 20, 2006 07:53 AM
# Integrated said:

Pixoh is a fantastic editor, I have to say thanks...

on November 13, 2008 03:25 AM
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