Innovation event delivers artisans, fantasy sports and your interests
Three Cambridge startups are among the eight to be featured at Monday’s Web Innovators Group gathering, the 27th such event intended to get tech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists mingling. (It starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Royal Sonesta Hotel Cambridge. It is free, but attendees have to register here.)
The Cambridge startups are:
CustomMade, described as “the first online marketplace to focus on connecting buyers of custom-made furniture, fine décor and other products with the skilled artisans who create them,” launched in its current form last year and already boasts 1,000 “of the highest-caliber artisans in the world.” It has offices at 99 First St. It’s like a cross between the free-for-all craft site Etsy and Cambridge’s curated paint-and-print art startup, turningart.com.
Discov.ir offers users the chance to “Keep up with your interests by following pages on the Internet … If you’re constantly scouring the Web for stuff to read and enjoy, you’re doing it all wrong.” Its offices are at Hampshire Street and Cardinal Medeiros Avenue.
Huddlehub puts a user’s fantasy sports leagues in one place for easy management and gives real-time access to game statistics. So far the year-old site and its smartphone apps include ESPN and Yahoo leagues, but those two are enough for Jimmy Fallon to acknowledge the site on his “Late Night” show, saying it’s called “the perfect solution for someone who’s too lazy to keep track of being too lazy to play actual sports.” While CustomMade takes the unheard-of-for-2010 step of actually posting a telephone number online, Huddlehub takes the more common approach of not even suggesting a location, which is why it is also variously reported as being from “Boston” and Wellesley. (We’re nowhere, man, and we’re everywhere. We’re in cyberspace. We’re on the Information Superhighway!)
Actual sports leagues, including those of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston College, are clients of Athleague, a Boston startup that organizes sports programs’ signups, payments, scheduling and communication.
Also from Boston are the open-source Webiva, which uses a what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface allowing users “to build custom websites that look and operate the way that you want them to”; and Zazu, pitched as “the smartest damn alarm clock.” Now on Google Android phones but on its way to iPhone and other smartphone platforms, Zazu wakes users and essentially reads them what they need to know for the coming day, including calendar items such as meetings and birthdays; the weather forecast; sports scores from the previous night; and key e-mail and tweets.
Episend is a Watertown-based site, accessible through Facebook, Google or Yahoo logons, that offers easy — drag-and-drop — sending of virtually any kind of file, including those too big for most e-mail. Already this year Episend won the MITX Promise Award in the rich-media category.
The final startup featured at the Web Innovation gathering, which puts up three as “main dishes” with individual presentations and mentions the others as “side dishes,” is Brass Monkey, of Jamaica Plain, which connects devices over a Wi-Fi network to allow “one or many devices to be used to control any software which can connect to a network.” So an iPhone, with its sophisticated movement sensors, can be used as controller for a video game such as “Star Wars Trench Run” watched on a larger screen, or, as the business’ home page asks, “how about playing poker with your friends on their mobile device while sharing one large screen for the table view”?
How about that?
The Web Innovation events draw up to 1,200 people and serve as real-time, real-world social networking of the kind that dominated the world before, uh, Friendster and tribe.net. It also generates significant buzz for startups, much of which can be followed on Twitter via the hashtag #webinno27 and at @webinno. Attendees vote via texts on the top startup, as well as offering instant critiques (and sometimes a bit of snark).