Trendspotting: The Variegated Social Web
The social Web is gradually taking over the Internet. From search to shopping, everything is getting social these days. Time for an overview of what we see in the 1M/1M portfolio from all corners of the social web.
Ali Ahmed, who used to be an entrepreneur-in-residence at Groupon, co-founded Lutebox, a Walkie-Talkie shopping venture that allows users to turn shopping online or in stores into a social experience. Normally, sharing product images is a slow process. People either have to e-mail links of the products or post the photos on social networks. Based in London, Lutebox offers a rich-media communication and collaboration platform where users can quickly share the shopping experience in real time with their friends and family and save conversation threads around products they want to buy.
The social shopping industry has seen immense innovation of late. But no service provides options to communicate in real time while shopping. Lutebox fills this gap. According to Ali, this is the only shopping app that allows people to share products with specific groups and chat at the same time while looking at images and videos of the product. The technology is quite complex.
In just a couple of months after launching, Lutebox has had 45,000 visitors. There are over 5 million products from nearly 200 top retailers including brands like Macy’s, M&S, Adidas, Gap, Urban Outfitters, and Miss Selfridge in their catalog. They have raised £270,000 (about $430,000) in investment so far.
CrowdEngineering is a venture-backed, private company with growing operations in the U.S. and Europe. It allows companies to connect with the crowd and leverage its power to socialize their businesses. Gioacchino LaVecchia and Massimo Picconi founded CrowdEngineering as they felt the growing potential for crowdsourcing of business processes while working together for several years in telecommunications and consulting companies like H3G and Accenture. The company’s roots are in Pisa, Italy, although these days, Sunnyvale, CA, is where Gio spends the bulk of his time.
CrowdEngineering delivers crowdsourcing solutions for Social CRM, customer service, sales and marketing engagement, collaborative innovation, knowledge sharing, social media, and online community management. They offer different modular and robust software products for all these operational processes.
The company closed a $4M Series A Venture Capital Round in May 2011. It also secured a strong patent for a “smart crowdsourcing system” from the U.S. Patent Office in January 2012 and appointed a CEO, Ron Guerriero, in September 2012.
The bulk of the company’s revenues of over $1 million have come from offering crowdsourced customer support solutions for large enterprises. Expert customers answer questions, cutting down customer support costs tangibly.
VOZIQ is a B2B platform working in the social Web domain. It allows businesses to collect the voices of their customers by accumulating and analyzing social media data. In short, VOZIQ is an actionable, SaaS-based social media analytics solution. It works with massive amounts of social media data and eliminates noise so that users can focus on the actionable opportunities. Existing solutions in this realm tend to be quite expensive. With 15 years of experience in delivering data driven solutions, the founders have come up with an application that mines and summarizes data without breaking the bank.
This very early stage company has quickly gathered 250+ business users even while the product is in pre-release status. The product will be in beta till the end of 2012, and then the price will range from $100-$500/user/month based on different packages, volume, and categories. Prices for social media analytics reports and services will range from $1,000/month to $3,000/month.
Sanjeev Arora founded Tabillo to build a next-generation Web-based business collaboration tool for small and medium enterprises. Tabillo allows users to improve productivity by consolidating Web apps and information such as data, files and communications from various sources. The tool allows sharing of information across multiple folders, desktops, and Web applications and helps users manage content in an easy way.
Sanjeev’s team is working on advancing the capabilities of existing solutions like DropBox, SharePoint, etc. They bring deep domain knowledge to the table, always helpful when tinkering with highly technical problems. The current market exhibits point solution tendencies, a gap that offers opportunities for further innovation.
Then there is SociaLasso. It offers a solution for mapping the social graph of target segments, segment influencers, customers, relevant organizations, etc. While presenting the product at one of the 1M/1M Roundtables, co-founder Nir Cohen pointed out that the market for social media marketing is expected to grow to $3.1 billion by 2014. Nir, along with other co-founders Gideon Cohen, Dr. Guy Yogev, and Nimrod Shaulski, started SociaLasso and came up with a unique methodology for designing campaigns such that this immense expenditure is focused precisely.
So you see, I have introduced you to entrepreneurs and their ventures focused on various aspects of the social Web from collaboration to shopping to marketing to analytics. In each domain, gaps exist, and entrepreneurship is all about identifying gaps and plugging them.
Now tell me, which gap are you working to fill?