Yesterday Techhub opened its doors to the public where seven start-ups presented their work in a social and friendly setting. VirginMedia, who were the main sponsors of the event showcasing their 1.5 Gbps broadband internet connection, were definitely a catalyst for the startup development at TechHub and in the “Silicon Roundabout” area. There was quite a buzz about the place and it was great to see a two way communication process. It wasn’t like a typical “expo” where the stall keepers try to sell you their business; they were genuinely keen on finding out about what I do and my thoughts on their work.
So my thoughts on the seven startups, in no particular order, were:
Growington is an early startup all about sharing information on growing produce and at present it’s limited to listing what fruit, veg and herbs you grow and where your “patch” is located. You can browse around and see what others are growing near you (no “weed” jokes please!). What did strike me is that having spent my early childhood in rural areas we took this sharing of produce for granted. Sure enough that was back in the USSR days (I was born in Kyrgyzstan) but still, it’s astonishing to see how the lifestyle around me has changed in under 20 years. What I see Growington doing is using the social Web 2.0 movement to get back to how we used to do things and is a great example of how technology is bringing us together, after seemingly pulling us apart. Speaking to Darren the Growington team has a lot of ideas on how to take the company forward, from letting people trade their seeds and produce to acting as a user knowledge-base for growing plants at home. Now where are those free seeds I got earlier…?
A concept I was looking into a few weeks back on the android app market. In one sentence it’s social car pooling* for the masses. Basically if you need to go to say Oxford, you put the journey in and see if anyone is going on the dates you are going and maybe get/offer a lift and maybe share the cost. It also has a dedicated section for festivals and events which is a great feature. Back when I was looking for an android app that does car pooling I found only a German one which unfortunately had very few users in the UK so it’s great to see someone pushing the concept here!
* “social car pooling” – For those that follow my tweets no doubt saw me embarrass myself by missing out the last letter “L”
YReceipts enables retailers to empower their POS(Point of Sale) terminals to email you the receipt instead of (or alongside) giving you a hardcopy. Made easier by the fact that you can use your phone to present the retailer with your own personalised barcode. I’d personally use it given the option. Not only for the green credentials but also because it makes expenses easier to manage. And also remember those times you couldn’t get a warranty because you couldn’t find the receipt?
Ever had a bad quality call because of the signal and started to try and move about the room/street to try and get a better signal? Well chances are this app from staircase3 will help point you in the right direction, quite literally! Although the majority of the user-base are technophiles like me, the data that the opensignalmaps android app gathers can be used to make a better decision on what network to go to by showing you reception areas for different mobile phone operators in a given area. Its big benefit, however, is in areas where the cell network density is much smaller than here in the UK and carriers need to make careful decisions where to put the transceiver towers.
This is a simple but great idea; essentially a service whereby you can buy home cooked food from local chefs, the web 2.0 way! You get to leave your reviews of the food and as the chefs have to have a food standards hygiene certificate it’s likely to be safe. I know quite a few South Asian and Chinese chefs sell their food this way already so I can easily see them benefiting from more clientèle!
In their own words “Pora Ora is a free online 3D virtual world, where children in the primary school age range can learn, interact and play games”. It did strike me as the most polished and complex of the offerings I saw yesterday. It’s great to see developments in the education space as I see kids less and less interested in the world around them. You’d think this area would get more investment but alas that’s not the case it seems, which is crazy really. I think even Sir Allan hinted in the Apprentice final that there is little money in schools, especially so with the budget cuts. I’m personally going to see if I can get my speaking nephews and nieces abroad to use it, could be great as an English language learning tool I think!
TubeTap is an iPhone application that helps you get refunds from TFL when the trains are more than 15 minutes late. It’s quite simple to use: tell it where to and from you are going, tap in at the start and tap out at the end, it matches this to how long the journey is supposed to take according to TFL and helps you apply for the refund. Very niche, but a useful app for those that have to use the Jubilee line! Back when I used to work in Canary Wharf my colleague used to have a pile of refund slips for all the times he was delayed; he’d have benefited from the app greatly. Too bad his main phone was a corporate blackberry with app restrictions on it. I’ll definitely give it a go if and when it comes out on the android platform!