Archive for August, 2007

€280k Up For Grabs By Start-Ups

conor 31st of August 2007 by conor

The annual InterTradeIreland all-island Seedcorn Competition is heading towards its closing date of September 28th and the question many are asking is “should we enter?”. €100k for the winner is nothing to be sniffed at but does your web app stand a chance?

The competition started in 2003 and the winners to date have been Luxcel Biosciences, SmartHomes, Sigmoid Biosciences and EnBio. There is a very clear pattern here which seems to be putting off many in the web space from entering. Looking at the regional winners from the various years, there is a much wider spread of companies with several web ventures. However it does look like the scoring box marked “defensible IP” is highlighted in red given the types of businesses I checked.

Entering a competition like this is not a trivial decision since you are committing yourself to a lot of time and effort to go up against many more mature companies for a shot at €20k as a regional winner and then possibly the big prize. There is also €50k for the best emerging company.

I’m of the opinion that going through the process can be a great way of sanity-checking your business. If you don’t have a good business plan, if your deck stinks, if you can’t convince a panel of the value of your business, then Seedcorn will highlight this to you very quickly. Better to discover these problems in a competition than when you are trying and convince an Angel or VC to invest in your business.

I hope InterTrade avoids giving the 2007 prize to yet another Bio company. They also need to get more people on their evaluation panels who have a deep understanding of the web and content businesses. My experience in one of their master-classes was that this expertise was simply not in the panel I presented to.

Are you entering Seedcorn 2007? Have you considered it and decided against it? Have you entered in previous years? We’d love to hear about your experiences and why you made the decisions you did.

Company Index: InterTradeIreland

Comment posted by Alan O’Rourke
at 9/1/2007 9:01:18 AM

I entered it last year and came away with a “Highly Commended Award”. Not sure if they give those to all entries :)
It took about a week to get my plan ready to enter and over all i found it worth while. They allow you to follow up after the competition to get feedback on your plan and where you can improve it.

Bebo crawls out of its stupor with an API?

conor 29th of August 2007 by conor

Whilst Bebo is far and away the most popular social networking site in Ireland, it has always been a pretty mediocre site based on features compared to the competition. There is a PhD waiting for someone who figures out how it got the initial traction here. Of course, once it hit critical mass it became mandatory for kids of a certain age.

Joe Johnson just tweeted that he saw an RSS icon in the blog feature and I had to check it out. And indeed they do. Of course there is still not even basic text formatting or HTML in the “blog” but it looked like a start.

Bebo Blog Page

I clicked around a bit more and discovered that it is nowhere else (like photos etc) which was disappointing.
Then I went back to the feed and clicked on it.

Bebo RSS Feed URL

Look at the URL. Notice the word “api”? Are we seeing baby step one in a Bebo API? Are they going to beat MySpace to the punch? Are they looking at the success of the Facebook platform and realising this could be the thing to get them beyond bit-player status globally? I’ll be watching them a lot more closely from now on.

Comment posted by Technology News Daily
at 8/31/2007 8:08:03 AM

[…] we confirmed the addition of RSS, Bebo is mute on when we might see the promised Bebo API. Conor O’Neill spotted something interesting, however: the RSS feed URL is of the form […]

Comment posted by Second Life Loser » Blog Archive » Bebo Adds RSS
at 8/30/2007 5:18:01 PM

[…] we confirmed the addition of RSS, Bebo is mute on when we might see the promised Bebo API. Conor O’Neill spotted something interesting, however: the RSS feed URL is of the form […]

Comment posted by Joe’s Blog » Blog Archive » Bebo crawls out of its stupor with an API?
at 8/29/2007 5:57:59 PM

[…] read more | digg story […]

Comment posted by » Bebo Adds RSS Tech Web Daily: Just another Tech News Blog
at 8/29/2007 4:45:19 PM

[…] we confirmed the addition of RSS, Bebo is mute on when we might see the promised Bebo API. Conor O’Neill spotted something interesting, however: the RSS feed URL is of the form […]

Comment posted by Bebo Adds RSS
at 8/29/2007 3:33:42 PM

[…] we confirmed the addition of RSS, Bebo is mute on when we might see the promised Bebo API. Conor O’Neill spotted something interesting, however: the RSS feed URL is of the form […]

Comment posted by Steven Livingstone
at 8/29/2007 7:13:04 AM

You know – in something i am working on i STARTED with the API.

It’s going to be SO important but seems to appear bitpart all over the place and can be very hard to follow!

Pitch Training during Web2Ireland Week

conor 28th of August 2007 by conor

We are genuinely thrilled that Enterprise Ireland has agreed to run a pitch training session in advance of DemoBar on Thursday September 13th. It is aimed at those doing a DemoBar presentation that evening and also as the first training session for those attending the Paddy’s Valley trip who intend pitching in Silicon Valley.

The format has not been finalised yet, it depends to some degree on the numbers who sign up. However it will involve pitching to an expert panel and/or the other attendees in addition to guidance and training.

If you have applied for DemoBar, you really shouldn’t miss this. I have taken part in similar sessions and they are absolute gold. It could be the difference between getting your idea on the map or disappearing without a trace.

Sign up now for Pitch Training by emailing your details to web2ireland DOT editor AT gmail DOT com

We will confirm date and time asap.

New BES limits OKed by EU

conor 28th of August 2007 by conor

I’ve just heard (via Joe Drumgoole’s blog) that the new BES limits annnounced last November have finally been passed by the EU. This is fantastic news. Start applying now.

This is the official EU newsletter announcement:

N 287 / 2007 – Business Expansion Scheme (BES), incorporating the Seed Capital Scheme (SCS).
Member State: Ireland
Primary Objective: Risk capital
Aid instrument: Provision of risk capital
Tax allowance
Case Type: Scheme
Duration: from 01.07.2007 to 31.12.2013

Notification or Registration Date: 23.05.2007
DG Responsible: Competition DG
Related Procedures: N 311 / 2004

Decision on 23.08.2007: Article 4§3 – decision not to raise objections

mobiseer is ma.gnolia for mobiles

conor 28th of August 2007 by conor

The Nubiq guys in Waterford have been building applications for the mobile lifestyle for quite a while now. The mobiseer site (mobiseer.mobi from your phone) has just gone into public beta and is all about managing bookmarks of your favourite web-sites.

Mobiseer Front Page

The site enables you to organise, tag, share and manage your favourite .mobi websites either via the site itself or your phone. I use the comparison to Ma.gnolia rather than the more obvious del.icio.us simply because the feature set is more closely aligned, particularly with groups and ratings. The .mobi version of the site is very fast to load on my N70 which is a critical requirement.

Mobiseer on N70

The core of the service is tagged bookmarking which alone is highly useful when optimised for a mobile device. The bookmarking features of Opera and Opera Mini on an N70 leave a lot to be desired. Whilst there are a few ways of accessing del.icio.us on a mobile device, they seem hacky. Ma.gnolia seems to have nothing for mobile and their design-heavy (and slow) site is probably not a good match for your phone.

As with any site like this, the first focus should be on the individual’s needs and then on community. You can just use it as a personal store and ignore everything else. However the tag browsing, groups and ratings add useful social aspects to the site. In fact, given the slow uptake of the .mobi domain, this may be the best way of getting good mobile sites visible to a wider audience. The availability of RSS for most areas of the site is always key – I subscribe to tags of interest so that new bookmarks from users with similar tastes will bring me back to the site.

Mobiseer Bookmark page

Note that the sites you bookmark do not have to be .mobi ones, but it would make sense that they are usable on a mobile (e.g. m.twitter.com). On that point, when I tried to load the .mobi on an N770, they obviously detected that I was not on a mobile and gave me the full site. However I was unable to logon. I actually use the “m” versions of many sites on the N770 for speed reasons. If I request the mobi version of a site, I wish it would give me what I asked for.

I particularly like the “My Mobile” feature which allows you to drag n drop your favourite bookmarks into the order you’d like to see them displayed by default when your phone connects to the site. Something which might be nice for the future would be bookmark import from IE, FF, del.icio.us and ma.gnolia. They could even go one better and recommend mobile variations of bookmarks as they are imported.

Whilst the site is in beta, I’ve noticed no major problems. Most issues are just normal fine-tuning ones like “this user has not added any bookmarks” when this user = you. They should also add some filtering on the landing-page featured bookmarks to remove the naughty ones!

This is a genuinely useful site both for desktop and mobile use and I would strongly consider setting it as my browser home on both N70 and N770.

Company Index: Nubiq

Comment posted by MobiSeer
at 8/29/2007 3:20:13 PM

[…] mobiseer is ma.gnolia for mobiles […]

Comment posted by Conor O’Neill
at 8/28/2007 1:04:14 PM

That worked a treat Patsy, thanks!

Comment posted by Patsy Phelan
at 8/28/2007 10:51:00 AM

Hi Conor,
Thanks for the feedback and review. It is nice to finally be out there in BETA release. So keep the feedback coming :)

At present we do device detection upon access to either our .mobi or .com domains. While this is not always perfect, it does work most of the time. As we currently support a multiple of device formats (HTML, XHTML-MP, WML etc.) we attempt to detect the device and render as appropriate. As mobile devices are getting better and better all the time we default to HTML if we cannot detect the device.

You can add the following flag to the URL to bypass the detection routines and simply force XHTML for your N770. See the following link, this flag will work on both the .mobi and .com domains.

http://www.mobiseer.mobi/?output=xhtml

Thanks again,

~Patsy

Irish SME usage of Google Apps for your Domain?

conor 27th of August 2007 by conor

I’m interested in getting some feedback on small business usage of GAFYD (as I like to call Google Apps for Your Domain) in Ireland (and Europe generally). Until this year I was very dubious of Steve Gillmor’s “Office is dead” mantra but as the year has progressed I have found myself using more and more online applications and fewer installed ones.

The standard Google Applications from GMail to Calendar and Docs/Spreadsheets are solid useful usable tools. It got to the point a few months back where I was happy to try out the free Google Apps for your domain. This entails some DNS changes on your side so that Google becomes the provider for your company email. You then get your own custom versions of GMail, GTalk, Calendar, Docs/Spreadsheets and a Personalised home page.

Initial impressions were good, particularly given that it is free but very quickly I found myself running into a variety of limitations and problems. It is quite clear that the “For Your Domain” development is done is total isolation from all the other online Google apps.

The single biggest limitation is that the login you are given for the Domain Applications does not work on any other Google application outside of the ones I have listed. In particular there is no Notebook, Google Groups or Google Reader. For a company so intent on being an integral part of every aspect of your online life, this just seems bizarre. There are a bunch of other problems like

  • The Personalised Home page is very rough compared to iGoogle
  • The Calendar Widget on that page is totally broken
  • Many third party widgets do not work with that page
  • GTalk for your domain is completely flaky with third party applications like Pidgin

The overall experience really is is less than slick. If I had a full SSO Google Apps experience, I would happily pay quite a lot per year for them taking all that administration effort off my hands.

What have your experiences been of Google Apps, GAFYD and the competition?

  • Using and happy
  • Using but not happy
  • Used but reverted
  • Considering
  • Never heard of it

I hear only good things about Zoho and our limited usage of it so far has been positive. Any other recommendations?

Company Index: Zoho

Comment posted by Michele
at 8/31/2007 5:22:15 AM

James

Gmail, which Google Apps uses with a custom frontend, does not follow best practices. The source IP is not put into the email headers. This means that companies filtering mail end up filtering the Google SMTP completely or blocking certain netblocks when there is abuse. It’s been a topic of discussion on a lot of the anti-spam mailing lists over the last couple of years.

Regards

Michele

Comment posted by James
at 8/31/2007 5:04:22 AM

Michele – it did occur to me that the potential was there, but have there been actual instances of Google mishandling email?

Comment posted by Michele
at 8/31/2007 4:34:13 AM

We’re seeing quite a few people trying it out. Whether they will stay with it permanently or not remains to be seen.
I can see the attraction of the apps, but I would be very concerned about Google’s (mis)handling of email.

Comment posted by James
at 8/28/2007 3:56:12 PM

I set this up last year for over 1,000 people and was happy with it. When dealing with so many users, there were some problems with the bulk import (unable to assign aliases as part of the bulk import, for example), and really poor support from Google.

I was happy enough with the experience that I decided to use Google Apps for Your Domain for my company’s email this year. I upgraded to Premier just because I had experienced the lack of support in the standard edition. I agree that it is annoying that the login doesn’t carry through to other Google services, and it is also annoying that very few of the external applications which have ‘Gmail support’ have ‘Google Mail for your domain’ support, even though it is probably only a couple of lines of extra code. I use iCal for calendar, and BaseCamp, but I keep coming back to Google Apps for collaboration on spreadsheets and word processor (BaseCamp’s Writeboards are very poor).

I had a quick look at Zoho and it seemed decent – will have to test it out some more though.

Comment posted by Conor O’Neill
at 8/28/2007 1:01:17 PM

Yeah, I do the “add every widget known to man-kind” followed by scorched earth on a regular basis.

Comment posted by Joe Drumgoole
at 8/28/2007 12:00:11 PM

Using it and happy. Not crazy about the seperate SSO for the rest of Google, but its worth living with for the convenience of a maintainance free mail and calendar service.

We also use gtalk quite a bit and we have a start page with a bunch of useless widgets on it that I blow hot and cold on.

Comment posted by Conor O’Neill
at 8/28/2007 4:38:06 AM

We use it for similar reasons Conn. It also helps a lot when travelling.

I love the idea of GAFYD, it just feels like they need a Google SVP or EVP somewhere to crack a few heads together and get _all_ the apps working under Single Sign On.

I also like the Zoho freemium model and have heard they are getting lots of traction despite “not being Google”.

Comment posted by Conn O Muineachain
at 8/28/2007 3:50:15 AM

You and I have twittered before Conor, about the risks of my total reliance on Gmail. I feel happier about it now that I’ve backed it up locally with POP. I’m not using GAFYD yet, but I’m increasingly building my operation around Google apps. I passed my first scalability hurdle last week, setting up a second workstation in my office for occasional contributors. It’s a PC running Ubuntu and it doesn’t need Office – neither MS nor Open. It doesn’t need backing up either, or user configuration. As my operation grows I can clone as many of them as I want.

It’s all about scalability. At this critical stage in my business I don’t have money for servers, backup systems or expensive software. I certainly have no time to manage and maintain these systems. Right now Google does that for me. The challenge for them is to build a system which can grow with me, so that when I can afford to invest in my own infrastructure, I may not feel the need to. If they can do that, then Office really is dead – and so too perhaps is Exchange, SQL Server, Oracle …

Comment posted by Jan Blanchard
at 8/27/2007 11:30:43 AM

I implemented Google Aps last February – At first, I thought I was going to use it a lot: Spreadsheets, docs, calendars… But I experienced the same hiccups you mentioned. I ended up using it as a mail service only (easy to add users and same benefits as gmail) and use Basecamp to manage the rest of our activity.

Comment posted by dc crowley
at 8/27/2007 8:49:52 AM

Excellent sticking the finger in where it hurts. Lot’s of good question. Google is doing lots of clever stuff. But in the apps and office space they have made a start but it has quite a way to go still. Same with gdrive, where is it? Is Google stalling? Lacking a vision on a way forward? I wonder about that an awful lot lately

Demo Booths for DemoBar – deadline: 31/08/07

admin 26th of August 2007 by admin

Deadline for submissions – Friday 31st August, 2007.

For more details check DemoBar details and Web2Ireland 2007 Week

Update: Web2Ireland DemoBar – Microsoft sponsoring.

admin 24th of August 2007 by admin

Update on event

- Microsoft are lead sponsor for the Web2Ireland DemoBar event

Microsoft

- Other sponsors welcome – please contact us

- Signup for event via facebook

- Interested in demo booth – send on details

MashupCamp Europe postponed to November.

admin 24th of August 2007 by admin

MashupCamp Europe – to be hosted in Dublin – is postponed until November – see note from David Berlind

All Irish developers should be attending this event in November

Social Networking For Foodies

conor 23rd of August 2007 by conor

Innovation by food related sites has always been lacking, possibly because most of them are built by experts in food rather than technology. So I was excited to hear at the start of the week about a new Irish site called iFoods.tv which launches today and promises quite a bit more than a discussion board and the odd recipe.

iFoods.tv

The business is run by Chef Niall Harbison who started his career in some the most highly regarded and controversial restaurants in Ireland. He has spent the past few years working as a personal chef to a many celebrities so it is interesting to see him moving into this space.

First impressions are excellent with videos and recipes on the front page. They have designed the site to be utterly non-threatening to those who think Social Networks are for teenagers. If all you want to do is look for content and chat in the obligatory phpBB forums then this site will suit you fine.

In fact, I initially wondered if their press release tag line of “Facebook for Foodies” was accurate. But they have done the sensible thing for launch and placed all that functionality on your profile page. Sign-up asks a LOT of questions but many of them are light-hearted like star-sign, favourite ingredient, favourite TV chef etc. The profile page shows a lot of this and provides the key social networking features of friends and your wall (to steal an FB term).

iFoods.tv Profile Page

Where I see big potential for the site is in the ability to upload your own video recipes and food photos. If your activity is visible to your friends as per the News Feed on FB, then I can see this becoming a real hang-out site for the ever growing foodie community in both Ireland and internationally. Their revenue model looks like mainly Freemium with partnering via competitions. However they do need to explain the benefits of the “Gold” account better.

There are lots of feature they could (and probably will) add. Flickr/Photobox integration, YouTube/Kyte integration, RSS feeds, Events, aggregation of member blog posts etc but they have started with a very solid core and I expect it to take off quickly.

Company Index: iFoods

Comment posted by Ian
at 11/14/2007 5:58:55 PM

I have used Kyte for a while now and i see a great potential for “foodies.” Kyte could prove to be a very powerful platform for chefs online since they could create shows once and instantly appear everywhere the channel is embedded. Kyte has tools that will allow chefs to post videos of them cooking as well as links to online recipes, etc. The possibilities are endless

Comment posted by Sheesh. Day Late, Dollar Short
at 11/10/2007 6:26:14 PM

Day late, dollar short. Unless, of course, some GREAT features are released? Alas, none of that on iFoods.tv.

Video-based cooking “social network” sites up long before iFoods.tv:

IPTVRecipes.com
GroupRecipes.com
iFood.tv

Plus others who have launched recently.

(I’m a chef/marketing geek and take an interest :)

Of the above, IPTVRecipes.com and GroupRecipes.com get a big thumbs up, with IPTVRecipes.com getting 2 thumbs up for their recent “beat YouTube” feature of allowis us cooks and chefs to upload multiple files for 1 recipe (their system “sews” all video files together, for those of us who use Digital Cameras and Videos Phones [stop and go makes multiple videos]) and allowing up to 1Gb of space *per recipe* (allowing cooks to educate their audience, and walk you through the process, like TV cooking shows). They’re ahead of these other sites in what “we” need.

Someone asked about iFood.tv versus iFoods.tv and whether it was a network, this is the kicker, LOL. The answer is no, they are not a network. iFoods.tv are 2 chefs in Ireland while iFood.tv was made by a couple of techies from India. The kicker? iFood.tv didn’t buy the domain iFoods.tv when they bought their domain/opened for business – . Lord, InternetBusiness101 gang, if a “like” domain exists which people can easily (and mistakingly) type in their browser exists AND it’s available to purchase, BUY IT. On the flip side, iFoods.tv came in the market 1.5 years after iFood.tv so they reap the benefit of typos from people going to iFood.tv. But, if they do well, reverse the scenario.

Next article, please! :)

Comment posted by Claude Gelinas
at 11/9/2007 11:24:30 PM

Although I haven’t signed up to become an iFoods TV member, I just went through half a dozen of their smart, upbeat and no non-sense food preparation videos.

I’m feeling much more confident about preparing the next few meals for my wife and kids. I’ll probably spend more “quality time” in the kitchen too!

Comment posted by haydn
at 9/5/2007 1:42:20 AM

I mistakenl went to ifood.tv but came up with a food site anyway that’s not unlike ifood.tv. Is it a network?

Comment posted by Steve E
at 8/23/2007 2:54:13 PM

I love it! Any site which shows you how to cook a chicken with a beer can up it’s arse gets the thumbs up from me ;-)

More seriously, social networking has been ready made for food and recipes, this looks like it could go far!