KillerStartups Killed?

*Please note the important update at the end of this post

One way that a new blogger can get story ideas and make a name for themselves is to report on new and interesting startups, the problem has been how do you find out about a startup early enough to get the scoop? The main service that I was aware of was KillerStartups.com, they saw the need, the niche, and acted with great success.  The problem that appeared was the sheer amount of new startups interested in the publicity made it impossible for detailed coverage of any of them.  The cookiecutter information that became the standard fare on KillerStartups, while still useful, left open a door for competition that could do a better job providing coverage.

TechCrunch’s Crunchbase has been steadily gaining users in this arena and with the recent addition of an API and KillerStartups’ decline, has taken the lead according to Google Trends (it’s recent integration into Zemanta means you’ll see more of it from me):

Google Trends Data for Startup Info

Google Trends Data for Startup Info

Still, it’s hard to scoop TechCrunch with their own database, so other startups have entered the field, two that I’ve used and think are notable are TradeVibes and YouNoodle.  If you check out the Alexa data you can see that YouNoodle is enjoying a spike in traffic among Alexa users.  And while Alexa data is generally considered less than ideal, in this case it might be a better indicator of where web-savy users are getting their information:

Page Views by Alexa Users

Page Views by Alexa Users

The Alexa data also seems to show some hope for KillerStartups, but the Google Trends data is showing a clear flatline.   So, we get back to the title of this post, does the way KillerStartups delivers information still have a place?  Can they bounce back or has KillerStartups been killed?

*Update! – Please be sure to take a look at the comments and note that the Quantcast directly measured results back up what the Alexa results show, a significant bounce back up in traffic and a hefty lead in readership over Crunchbase.

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iTunes + Toluu = Podcast Love

Toluu, the RSS sharing and suggestion site, can also be used for podcasts! A little known feature of iTunes will allow you to export a list of all the Podcasts you listen to into a format that Toluu can read and import. Here’s how:

- Right click the Podcast list in iTunes and select Export Song List to get a list of your podcasts:

Itunes Podcast Export

- To export your podcast list in OPML be sure to select that file type from the drop down list:

Save podcast export as an OPML file

- Import into to Toluu just as you would any other OPML file.

The more people do this the better chance you’ll get podcast recommendations so spread the word and import your own today! If you use an alternate program to manage podcasts try to find a way to export the list in an OPML format, Google is your friend here if you need help. Right now there isn’t anything in Toluu to label a feed as a podcast unless it’s already in the name. If items uploaded from iTunes were specifically labeled or if Toluu implements a tagging scheme, this could get easier.

PS – I have Toluu invites, leave a comment if you need one.  For more on Toluu check out my interview with Caleb Elston, the founder.

Interview: Toluu Founder, Caleb Elston

toluu logo I recently wrote a little about Toluu when I released a Toluu badge widget, since that time I have really grown to enjoy the RSS sharing and suggestion service and to respect it’s creator, Caleb Elston. His ability to listen and focus on the user’s needs is driving Toluu, a side project for Elston, to grow and earn attention with a speed that would make many full time startups jealous. Between working full time and building Toluu, he was kind enough to answer a few questions:

  • First off, can you tell us a little about yourself?
  • I have always been interested in computers and the internet, my Mom and Dad are both programmers, so I was surrounded with technology from an early age. I was going to school for a business degree, but in my spare time I was always working on some internet project or another; doing the design, planning the interaction, thinking about what would actually be useful, or how to present data and ideas in a new way that was simpler than had been done before. I was recruited by a startup before I finished school and that is where I currently work.

  • Is Toluu a project or a full time job?
  • Toluu is a side project for me. I have always enjoyed working on more than one project at a time. It helps keep things fresh and allows my brain to work on different types of problems at the same time. It is also great having to learn new skills for a particular project that then see those new learnings trickle into your other work. Instead of watching a lot of TV or just bumming around the house at night or on the weekends I work on Toluu.

  • Many recent startups have taken on unconventional names to have something short and pronounceable. What led you pick Toluu?
  • I think that shorter names are better than longer names. I also think it is better to find a name that has little to no meaning, so that meaning can grow into the name based on the reputation and thoughts people have about the project or company. Starbucks is a great example of a name that is part of the lexicon now, but had little meaning before Howard Schultz grew the company into the Starbucks we know today. Toluu sounds playful to me and it was a name that my friends and family actually remembered a few days after I mentioned it to them as a possibility; needless to say it stuck.

  • With some of the large feed reading services offering feed suggestions already, what advantages does Toluu have that should draw people to upload their data instead of just using what’s already at hand?
  • Toluu aims to make finding new and interesting feeds easier and more rewarding. We think that connecting with your friends and those who have similar tastes to you is the best way to find interesting feeds. We are completely focused on creating the best experience for discovering these feeds. Many feed readers are integrating suggestions of one form or another, but the problem is they treat it as a minor feature. They all have so many other functionalities they need to focus on that suggestions are just an afterthought, they are tacked on. The other problem is that feed readers are quite isolated. You are isolated from your friends and you are isolated to your particular feed reader. Toluu is feed reader agnostic so you don’t have to get people to switch feed readers to use Toluu, and we match users against everyone else on Toluu so you are very quickly brought into the community and finding new people and feeds.

  • Have you had to explain Toluu to a parent/grandparent or older relative, how did that go?
  • I have explained Toluu to all sorts of people, and it has gone pretty well. When you frame it as, “You can see what your friends actually read and it helps you discover new things to read” people get it. Terms like RSS, ATOM, OPML, hCard, and OpenID tend to confuse people outside of blogosphere. These are our jargon. I think as more mainstream sites adopt these technologies it makes it easier for people to use the underlying technology in a casual way without even understanding how it works. I hope that Toluu can help in some small way to make these things easier for people to understand and use on a day to day basis.

  • Toluu is taking off, I know you’ve already had to upgrade your server to handle the load. Can you share a few insights into what it’s been like and what you’ve learned?
  • We just launched our private beta about 2 weeks ago and the response has been absolutely tremendous. I did not expect people to latch on so quickly or feel so passionate about the service in just a few weeks, but people have, and I am so grateful to them. We have upgraded our servers twice since launch to deal with the growth in users, feeds, and the exponential growth in the number of calculations we compute that power our recommendation and matching algorithms. I think the most important thing for anyone launching a new webapp is to be available to your users as much as possible. Answer emails as quickly as you can and be where the conversation is happening. I read every blog post anyone writes about Toluu and answer any questions or address concerns they may have brought up. Remembering that the service would just be a pile of code in a datacenter somewhere if it weren’t for the community is a humbling thing to remember everyday.

  • Is there anything else you’re working on or that’s coming up you want to plug?
  • We are still ironing out the bugs that users are finding with the site and we are totally grateful to our users for working through the kinks and driving the service to where it is today. As we continue to grow and let more users into the beta we will have to continue to scale our infrastructure to handle the demand. Regarding new shiny things, we have many new features and improvements already in development and we will be sure to let you know when they launch!

    If anyone would like to signup for the beta leave a comment below and we will coordinate with David to get you an invite.

Thanks again to Caleb for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions. If you already use the service we would love to have your impressions, and as Caleb said – if you want to try the service out, then please leave a comment and we’ll see if we can’t get an invite to you.

Voyager Service Menu

10K-1I’ll get some more Voyager hacking info up soon, but one thing that you’ll need to know for sure is how to access the service menu:

First, open the phone. Then type in ‘##PROGRAM10000′ and press Send. The code is ’000000′, all zeros.

One very interesting piece of news coming from HowardForums is that you can steam audio and video via Orb. That means if you have a tuner card in your computer and install orb, you can stream your TV to the Voyager!

Pics of Field Test vx10000 Unit “The X”

Exciting new information is coming from HowardForums about the LG vx10000, including the name! The 9800 was the V, the 9900 was the enV, the 10000 will be the X. I’ll go ahead and predict the VX11000 as the Xtreme. While I’m not giving up on a December 07 release date, it’s looking more and more like we won’t see it until 2008, possibly as late as Spring. Enough conjecture lets take a look at what we do know, make sure to drop by the forums and give users POS_User and industryspy a big thank you for the information.

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Slimmer than the enV with the same clamshell design, but a full frontal touchscreen except for the send and end buttons:

vx10k-710K-8

You don’t have to open the phone for any standard functions unless you want access to the keyboard, both screens are 2.8 inches and the external touchscreen has vibration feedback, here are a few shots of messaging and e-mail:

10K-510k-6

Themes and UI are going to be similar to the latest high-end verizon phones and bluetooth profiles, camera, and battery life are all expected to be like the enV, the camera does sit flush with the back of the phone, making it easier to operate when it’s sitting on a hard surface.

The music features are similar to the Chocolate and you can carry out other functions and still have music playing, speakers have been improved over the enV as has general phone loudness.

The X will also be a MediaFlo phone allowing you to watch TV on either screen and easily move between them with out losing your show.

Now the biggest improvement and one that everyone is hoping will make it to the production version is a full HTML browser! A non-brew browser on this thing is going to sell a ton of phones:

10K-210K-110K-3

Does this phone come close to rivaling the iPhone… NO (there’s no such thing as an iPhone Killer). It does give Verizon customers a chance to own a phone with some of the same important features and a full keyboard. As long as the HTML browser sticks around and the data plans for it aren’t expensive this phone might be enough to lure those who aren’t interested in a smart phone or hassles associated with the iPhone and AT&T.

Make sure to see Pics of Field Test vx8800 Unit “The 88″

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