Monthly Archives: April 2008

A Startup A Week – Friday

With less than eight hours to go, the team comes together one last time for the conclusion to Episode One of “A Startup A Week”.  The concept of the show is to bring together top developers and designers, pitch them an idea for a startup, and give them just one week to take the idea from concept to reality. 

Today the team prepares for the final presentation to the head of the Seattle chapter of the non-profit Room to Read.  Our team is building out a Facebook application that can use the viral power of the social graph to raise money for a computer lab in Cambodia.

If you’re watching this video right now, chances are that you had access to a computer when you were a child - or your children have access today.  In just five minutes, you can help be a part of a community that will share that gift with real children living in Cambodia right now.  Here’s how:

  1. Click here to view the application 
  2. Dedicate a five dollar brick to a friend or loved one
  3. Share the app with five of your friends

The person at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the project will get to dedicate the school, and everyone who donates will receive updates on the progress of the lab.

Thanks for watching the pilot episode of A Startup A Week, and be sure to check out the first four days of the project on www.astartupaweek.com.

A Startup A Week – Thursday

It’s Thursday and the team has just one day remaining to complete their project for “A Startup A Week”.  The concept of the show is to bring together a few rockstar developers and designers, pitch them an idea for a startup, and give them just one week to take the idea from concept to reality. 

For the initial project of this series, our team is building out a Facebook application that can use the viral power of the social graph to raise money for a computer lab in Cambodia via the non-profit Room to Read.  On this episode, our developer Adam Loving shows how he used LINQ and SQL Server to keep track of donations, our designer Jay Dokken of Design Commission gives us a very quick sneak preview of his awesome design, and Kyle Cressman sits down with our special guest Dominic Canterbury from D/C Strategic

With less than 48 hours remaining, can our team come together and create a startup in a week?  Stay tuned for the finale tomorrow, and be sure to check out the first three days of A Startup A Week – Episode One.

A Startup A Week – Wednesday

It’s Wednesday and the team has reached the halfway point of the project on “A Startup A Week”. The concept of the show is to bring together a few of Seattle’s top developers and designers, pitch them an idea for a startup, and give them just one week to take the idea from concept to reality.

The team has been working on Facebook application that allows users to work together with their social networks on a Room to Read fundraising campaign to build a computer lab in Cambodia. On this episode, our developer Adam Loving sets up the donation system with a great PayPal hack, our designer Jay Dokken of Design Commission gives a 3D preview of the virtual computer lab, and our marketing expert Kyle Cressman calls up the non-profit Room to Read to get their support.

With only three days remaining, can our team come together and create a startup in a week? Stay tuned for new episodes each day this week to find out!

A Startup A Week – Tuesday

We’re back with day two of “A Startup A Week”. The concept of the show is to bring together a few of Seattle’s top developers and designers, pitch them an idea for a startup, and give them just one week to take the idea from concept to reality.

Today the team got started building out the Facebook application. Our developer Adam walks through the basics of setting up a Facebook app using Visual Studio 2008, our designer Jay gives a 3D preview of the virtual computer lab, and our producer Stephen runs into the first setback of the project.

With only four days remaining, can our team come together and create a startup in a week? Stay tuned for new episodes each day this week to find out!

A Startup A Week – Monday

Hi guys!  Now that all the videos are up, I’m going to post them all here.  Please let me know what you think!

Finally – the pilot episode of “A Startup A Week” is live!  The concept of the show is to bring together a few of Seattle’s top developers and designers, pitch them an idea for a startup, and give them just one week to take the idea from concept to reality. We’ll be hosting the videos on a Microsoft blog site (www.visitmix.com) but also putting additional material here (outtakes, code samples, etc..)

Please check it out and let us know what you think!

Introducing “A Startup A Week” – First Episode Now Live!

Apologies for being so behind on posts lately, but good news - the pilot episode of “A Startup A Week” is live! The idea here is to take the basic premise from my blog and go step further by bringing in real developers and designers and giving them just one week to take one of my ideas from concept to reality. We’ll be hosting the videos on a Microsoft blog site (www.visitmix.com) but I’ll be posting a little more behind-the-scenes commentary here.

Click here to see the first video

This has been a really fun project and I can’t wait for you guys to see it!  Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Startup #118 – 30 Second Music Clip Service

Here’s a quick exercise for you to try at home.  Invite 100 people with Web 2.0 startup ideas to come over to your house.  Ask everyone who is building a social network to walk out your front door.  Then ask everyone who is building a widget for a social network to walk out the back door.  Of the 10 people who are remaining, ask them what type of startup they are building.  I’ll bet $20 that it has something to do with music.

Of course I’m exaggerating, but there are a ton of music-centric sites out there today – which means there is a big opportunity to provide value-add services to these good.  A good example of this is a service that use with Windows Media Player that allows me to rip a CD to my computer, and then matches these files against an online database that automatically tags the ripped music with the name of the album, the artist, genre, etc… 

My idea is to create a service that takes this concept one step further – the ability to break a song down into its core components such as verse, chorus, bridge, etc..  The components could also be tagged to identify the “hook”, or the 30 second clip that is the most popular section of the song

Scenario #1 – Imagine a company that was building an app that pulled together pictures and music into a 30 second slideshow.  If a user uploaded their favorite song to use as the background, instead of pulling the first 30 seconds of the song, the app could automagically pick out the 30 second snippet that is the most interesting part of the song.  Or better yet, for a 2 minute slideshow, the user could choose to have 4 30-second clips of the most recognizable parts of the songs, as opposed to having one song used as the background for the full 2 minutes.  

Another use case might be for a service that allows users to send mixes of their favorite music for their friends.  Let’s say I create a mix with 10 songs – instead of sending my friend a 30-minute music file (OMG!  No way, I’m like totally ADD!), I can send them a 5 minute mix consisting of their favorite parts of the songs.  Users could also use this service as an add-on to iTunes (or iZunes) to create a fun dance mix for their next party.  That way, you can play songs like ‘American Pie’, get everyone to sing through the chorus, and then move on to the next song instead of making everyone stand around for the next 7 minutes trying to decide what to do during that not-fast-enough-to-really-dance-but-too-fast-for-slow-dancing section towards the end.

Last point – I’d argue to create a back-end service instead of a single application because A) there are so many players in this space – better to sell the pick-axes than go after the gold and B) lots of the big guys (especially the major record labels) are looking to buy their way into this space, and this service could make for a very appealing acquisition target.

Startup #117 – ListIntel

venicepoolIt’s been a while, how does this thing work again?  Oh yeah, I ramble on about something pointless, then I continue to ramble on about a startup idea, and follow up with rambling written in italics for no apparent reason. 

Today’s idea spawns from a realization I had last week about the incredible wealth of information that I get out of the Email list I subscribed to from the Seattle Tech Startups group.  Local entrepreneurs post questions about typical startup stuff, and the community then throws back all kinds of valuable information and ideas. Over time the collective wisdom of the group has created a lot of value that is lost in the depths of countless Email inboxes.  Multiply that across all of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of public Email lists that are out there on every niche topic imaginable.  There’s so much untapped, unindexed, undervalued information out there – why not unlock it?

My idea is a site that takes the best information from public Email lists and organizes it by topic, location, and relevance.  Users could submit their favorite lists and tag it by topic and location, and the site would take the Emails from the list and convert them into a web-ready (and SEO-friendly) format.  Other users looking for information could either browse the content from the lists, or search for a specific topic. 

Additionally, users could rate the Emails and correlate rankings back to the authors of the mails.  This could then be used to build up an “authority ranking” for each author.  Over time, the site could incorporate semantic-web style natural language processing to pull all of the free-form data from the highest authority authors to create a structured site full of high-quality content.

If you’re in the area, come check out the Seattle Facebook Developers Garage on Monday May 5th.  My “A Startup A Week” team and I got chosen to present our little Facebook app we put together for the pilot episode!  Should be a great event.