After finding success revolutionizing restaurant reservations, OpenTable founder Chuck Templeton has taken up a new challenge: to bring neighbors closer together through hyperlocal sharing. Templeton’s new startup, OhSoWe , quietly launched earlier this month. At its core, it’s an online community platform for neighborhoods to network and communicate online. Instead of providing local news (like AOL’s Patch), OhSoWe provides a website for posting items to share or starting a local discussion. Templeton told Mashable that a big part of the problem he sees is with the unused hammer, lawnmower or shovel simply collecting dust in the shed. Most tools only get used for a few minutes per year; why not make it easier to share or lend those items to neighbors? Why aren’t neighbors sharing and lending their stuff more often? OhSoWe is an attempt to solve that problem. It has three key sections for connecting with the people who live closest: Neighbors, Communication and Shareables. Neighbors is simply a list of people who live near you. OhSoWe takes verifying a person’s address seriously; you have to either use a credit card or a postcard to verify your address. Communication is a public message board for your “Neighborstead” (OhSoWe’s term for its hyperlocal groups). Shareables is like a local Craigslist where you can offer items to lend or sell
Guess who’s back, back again? Mashable has wrapped another week jam-packed with tools and resources for your digital life. This week we have stories walking you through the startup investment process, Lady Gaga’s social media spectacle, a history of advertising on Twitter, and even some cool decals for your iPad. Looking for even more social media resources? This guide appears every weekend, and you can check out all the lists-gone-by here any time. Editors’ Picks How Lady Gaga Created a Web Marketing Spectacle for Born This Way [PICS] Lady Gaga has paved a path for stars and brands to get inventive with the ways they use digital and social media to promote themselves and connect with fans. Here’s how she did it with her new album, Born This Way. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer Conundrum Should Ballmer get the boot? Does Microsoft need a fresh, new face to guide it into a post-PC world? Let’s crunch the numbers. Hacking for Good: Three Ways for Devs to Get Involved Want to use your dev powers for the greater good
The newly launched SavingStar web, iPhone and Android apps reward consumers with cash back when they redeem paperless coupons, and the startup believes it can cut through the mobile coupon clutter with a product that mirrors how consumers purchase groceries on a regular basis. Here’s how it works: A SavingStar user signs up and enters his or her grocery and drugstore loyalty cards. He can then browse ecoupons from more than 100 merchants and click on them to link them to loyalty cards. Then, when the customer buys the items in questions, the savings are posted to the SavingStar account. The user can choose to deposit accrued funds to a bank account, transfer the money to PayPal or Amazon gift cards, or donate the savings to charity. The SavingStar experience works via web or mobile, and it’s an approach that appears to be resonating with consumers. Just three weeks after releasing its mobile apps and website in late April, SavingStar crossed the 100,000-user-registration mark, the company told Mashable . It’s now also signing on upward of 10,000 new users per day. Investors First Round Capital and Flybridge also see the value — perhaps less in ecoupons and more in the startup’s growing collection of UPC data — and have participated in both of SavingStar funding rounds. SavingStar has raised $10 million to date. The startup sees it relationships with national retailers as the magic ingredient that sets it apart from the myriad of mobile coupling applications. “Couponing is one of those ubiquitous American activities,” says CEO David Rochon. “SavingStar is the first and only national fully digital way to save at grocery stores and drugstores.” Shopkick , an application that rewards users with points for walking into stores and scanning barcodes, just doesn’t work in the real-life grocery shopping experience, Rochon says. “I don’t know anybody, in my family at least, that’s going to do that,” he says. “I do know my brother, my sister, my mother, has downloaded my iPhone app and are in stores saving money because they know how to do that.” Soon SavingStar will introduce additional redemption options.
As president of Geben Communication , Heather Whaling provides public relations and social media services to small- and mid-size businesses. She’s also a public relations blogger , speaker and co-moderator of #pr20chat on Twitter. Quora — the community-driven Q&A repository — is certainly getting a lot of buzz right now
Formspring , the popular, social and addictive Q&A site, has just secured a $25 million round of funding. This Series B was led by Redpoint Ventures, which reportedly values the company at $45 million. The San Francisco-based startup got its $2.5 million Series A earlier this spring; that money came from such Silicon Valley luminaries as Chris Sacca, former Facebooker and current Path founder Dave Morin, and Digg founder Kevin Rose. We’ve been following Formspring’s progress closely since the company moved out to the West Coast earlier this year. The app’s growth has been significant; in fact, the service saw its one billionth question answered just two months ago. According to a company rep, the site has more than 16.5 million users and sees about 5 million questions answered each day with a daily peak of about 9,000 answers per minute. That’s a lot of users and a lot of content.
This post is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark as a new part of the Spark of Genius series that focuses on a new and innovative startup each day. Once a week the program focuses on startups within the BizSpark program and what they’re doing to grow. A little more than three years ago, Seesmic launched as a Twitter -for-video service, but by mid-2009 the startup had completely shifted gears to focus on consumer software for the social web. Today, Seesmic is shuffling once more, this time to refocus on the enterprise. “We are moving from an end consumer-focused company to a business- and enterprise-focused one,” says Seesmic founder Loic Le Meur. “We found out that most of our users are business users, community managers and enterprise [professionals]. That’s why I started this strategic partnership with Salesforce, which is helping us go enterprise full-speed.” Le Meur is referencing the recent collaboration between Salesforce and Seesmic to bring Saleforce’s enterprise social application Chatter inside the Seesmic platform. He believes this to be a huge first step in tailoring the application experience around enterprise professionals, an audience the startup hopes to monetize against. Seesmic the Platform Seesmic has long been available for web, desktop and mobile, but with the release of Seesmic Desktop 2 , the company made the transition from social media software to social media platform.
This post is part of Mashable’s Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark . If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here . Name: Qwiki Quick Pitch: Qwiki is a platform that uses proprietary technology to consolidate multiple data sources on search topics into an immersive information experience. Genius Idea: Information is easy to come by, especially on the web
Just launched ad network RadiumOne is said to analyze online users’ social interactions — think links shared via URL shorteners, photos, status updates, blog posts and videos — to create relationship and interest-based groups that it can use to serve up highly targeted brand advertisements. The ad network hails from serial entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chanal, a proven veteran in the ad space. Most recently, Chanal sold ad network BlueLithium for $300 million to Yahoo in cash in 2007. At the time, BlueLithium was the fifth largest ad network in the U.S. and the second largest in the U.K. RadiumOne’s approach to better targeted advertising is through social data, using a process it calls, “social retargeting.” So, RadiumOne will analyze social interactions to create segments of people — called “social clusters” — who know each other and have interests in common. These groups will help the company serve ads based on whether an individual shares similar qualities and interests with a brand’s existing customer base. Essentially, it’s word of mouth marketing as applied to advertisements. RadiumOne is so confident in its approach that it promises to refund the full cost of campaigns should it not outperform its competitors. Online advertising is a thriving business on the rise in the U.S — $12.1 billion was spent on online ads in the first six months of 2010. Layering social data over ad displays is likely something marketers and brands will salivate over, especially if the technology yields its promised higher conversion rates. Image courtesy of timsnell , Flickr More About: display advertising , MARKETING , online advertising , radiumone For more Business coverage: Follow Mashable Business on Twitter Become a Fan on Facebook Subscribe to the Business channel Download our free apps for iPhone and iPad
At YCombinator’s Startup School event at Stanford University, Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason revealed his six tips for creating as successful startup, or in his words, “polishing your turds and getting super rich.” Groupon among the hottest startups on the planet. In just two years, the company has made group-buying a worldwide phenomenon, grown to 1,600 employees and increased its valuation to over $1 billion . It almost feels like Groupon and its team were always destined for greatness. In reality though, Groupon’s road to prosperity was filled with a lot of struggles and big misses
The venture capital industry is facing real competition for the first time in decades. Not only that, but the growing battle between venture capital firms and “super angels” presents an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs trying to build the next big thing. All of this is according to Paul Graham, co-founder of the early-stage investment fund Ycombinator . During a presentation at Startup School at Stanford University earlier today, the prolific investor discussed the state of startup funding with a packed auditorium of students and entrepreneurs. Specifically, he said the funding world has been turned upside-down. So what’s causing this fundamental shift? The answer is the rise of super angels, Graham said. He explained that startup funding used to consist of relatively small angel investments ($20,000 to $50,000) from individuals or multi-million dollar investments from venture capital firms. In the middle of that was a gaping hole. That’s no longer true, thanks to a new class of investors known as the super angels. These investors usually raise a smaller fund and make investments into startups that range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because they offer competitive investment terms and don’t usually demand a board seat, super angels have become major power players in the startup scene