On Thursday I had the pleasure of sitting with Yaron and Yami from the co.ils and most of the 10 companies selected to present at Tuesday's TWS 2007 event. TWS has now grown into a major industry event, with several hundred entrepreneurs, investors, and other internet afficionados are expected to show up.
Thursday's meeting was a kind of prep session to see the presentations and to provide the companies with some constructive advice to make them better. So, who are the lucky companies? In no particular order:
- Hingi (http://www.4144.co.il) - Hingi is the "Hear It 'n' Get It" music service. They allow you to find out what is playing on the radio or MTV at any given moment and download a ringtone/truetone/callback tone/MP3 of it to your cellphone. Their trick is enabling all this in two clicks, rather than seven or eight like you would expect. In other words, Hingi enables true impulse buying for music over cellular. Although I'm probably a bit older than the target demographic, I can see the value of a service like this in a multi-billion dollar ringtone market. They are definitely playing in the right playground.
- Telecut (http://telecut.co.il) - Telecut provides a SAAS that helps reduce communications costs for individuals and small businesses. Telecut analyzes your cellphone bills, checks for errors, and makes suggestions about other plans that might suit your needs better and more cheaply. While Telecut is not the "sexiest" presenter at TWS, the service looks useful and is probably relevant to the broadest swath of users.
- The Weebz Family (http://www.weebz.com) - Created by a company called Intuition, Weebz lets you set up online sites for family events such as weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, lets you edit these sites online easily, and allows family and friends to contribute their comments, photos, etc. Their branding revolves around a family of cute animated creatures called the Weebz family, which emphasizes their focus. I have to give props to the guys from Intuition for showing up wearing matching Weebz neckties. Nice to see a company that knows how to stay focused on its marketing message.
- iGiza (http://www.igiza.com) - iGiza creates tools and an online platform to help people in the Multilevel Marketing (MLM) industry manage their businesses online. (MLM for those unfamiliar with the term, is a business where products are sold by independent distributors. Think Herbalife or Tupperware). Again, this is not the sexiest Internet company you'll see this week. However, I am a big fan of offline-to-online business migration. And I think there is a lot of potential here. Also, with a name like iGiza, how could I not like them?
- Urban Seeder (http://www.urbanseeder.com) - This actually does qualify as one of the sexiest Internet companies you'll see. With Urban Seeder you can leverage the Web to "grow" a relationship whether for romance, business, or other purposes. You can go from sending anonymous notes to building up a connection. The process is much more involved than this, and I fear I am not doing it justice by trying to explain it in a few sentences. But the concept is intriguing and the design of the site is great.
- Match My Pet (http://www.matchmypet.com) - Two young entrepreneurs who have developed a combination social network/breeding site for pets. The social network aspect allows you to post pictures and videos of your pet, participate in forums, and get other information. The breeding service allows you to find potential mates for your pet in your area. While I'm not sure I'd currently invest in another vertical social network, people have a real emotional attachment to their pets so I can see the potential for something like this. After all, ask the guys from Dogster.
- G.ho.st (http://g.ho.st) - G.ho.st is the Global Hosted Operating SysTem, a web-based virtual desktop which allows you to collect all your online files (web mail, Flickr photos, Google spreadsheets and docs, etc) in one place. In addition, you can share local files on the desktop as well, and have them available on any browser. All in one seamless and nicely designed package. For my money, this is one of the most interesting and exciting of the local Internet companies, both for the product as well as for the company itself (a joint Israeli-Palestinian venture based in Jerusalem and Ramallah). Definitely one to watch.
- The Flat Planet Phone Company (http://www.flatplanetphone.com) - I have to apologize to Flat Planet Phone Company, since I was called away when they were presenting and so cannot vouch firsthand about them. The company allows small companies to become VoIP resellers, in effect letting them run their own virtual phone companies.
In addition to the eight aforementioned, there are two other companies participating who did not participate the other day:
- ClickTale (http://www.clicktale.com) - ClickTale has developed a suite of tools for website usability testing and diagnostics. The ClickTale application records every move a user makes on your site and presents diagnostic reports that can help you maximize usability on the site.
- Double Trump (http://www.doubletrump.com) - Double Trump have developed PlayOn, an encapsulation technology for software that enables a variety of new business models for usage. The company's first target market is casual games. Under the standard casual gaming model, you can play a game free for an hour (or a few levels) and then you have to pay $20 or so for the full version. With PlayOn, you can choose to play for 1 cent a minute and if you play $20 worth of any game, you get to keep it. The company operates a casual gaming site of its own (http://www.playonarcade.com) which demonstrates the technology. And is also responsible for me wasting hours playing Diner Dash and Mah Jongg. In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that Double Trump is a Giza portfolio company that I am involved with, and that the entrepreneurs are a pair of really great guys.
And so we go. Ten very different companies attacking different markets with different approaches. I'm not sure if the goal of TWS was to get a seriously wide variety of companies, but if it was then mission accomplished.
Hope to see you all Tuesday night in Gan Oranim.