It's tough making money online when everyone else is also trying to, and it takes Web start-ups with fresh angles and useful products to actually get on the scoreboard, let alone win.
We're not sure if these four online applications for deal hounds and daily shoppers will become the next Travelocity or Amazon.com, but they stood out at the half-day Plug and Play Expo in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Voyij is an alpha-stage travel deal finder. Unlike Kayak, Orbitz, and Travelocity, Voyij doesn't collect real-time inventory. Instead, it seeks distressed and discounted fares, and it serves you what you want based not just on your destination, but on the experience you want.
Sesh's main concern is to give shopping sites a shot of personality--the kind of information and human touch that bring questing customers into brick-and-mortar stores. A customer and a store representative use collaboration software with drawing and chat tools to discuss a site's products. If Sesh is successful in marketing this technology to online stores, it's a feature that could convert a lot of those late-blooming e-shoppers who resist impersonal experiences.
Apprema's premise is to deliver real gifts to your real friends via e-mail or social-networking sites. You can place an Apprema Gift Box widget on your blog or profile, where you'll be able to receive gifts that are typically less than $10 apiece--a Starbucks drink, for instance. If you give a gift through the widget, others can see your generosity. It sure beats getting or giving five of Facebook's virtual cartoons for your birthday.
SmartShopIt is essentially a site that evaluates the items on your shopping list. It compares and contrasts the prices at various stores to try to find you the best deals, as well as the overall cheapest place to shop that day.