MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--The month of September was jam-packed with the launch of more than 100 new start-ups and services at high-profile conferences like Demo Fall and TechCrunch50. In a much smaller gathering Tuesday night at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus, just 10 companies--all in the seed stage--got to pitch as part of Vator.tv's Juice Pitcher event.
Some were new, while many were already launched and looking to pick up investments to get off the ground. These range from a new service that helps you rent out your car to strangers when you're not using it, to a mobile app that lets you haggle with local retailers on prices for goods and services. Here's a rundown of the presenters:
Viralogy (which actually launched back in May) calls itself an "Alexa for people." It lets you pit people and blogs against one another to determine who has the higher online social rank. Its "Vscore" system figures out those rankings using a mix of things like Google Pagerank, how much traffic your blog gets, how many people are linking to your blog, and your popularity on services like Twitter.
All these factors are rolled into a person or blog's Vscore, which can be compared with others and tracked over time.
In Viralogy's pitch, CEO Yu-kai Chou said that the Vscore system will eventually incorporate other social services like Facebook, YouTube, Digg, LinkedIn and FriendFeed.
IDNTITI is a social-rating tool that's trying to get rid of a standardized rating system in place of having users etch in the merits of a particular business or product using one of the rating systems it provides.
What's really odd about the system is that IDNTITI is not making these ratings a public affair. If you rate a business or product, others cannot see that you left that rating unless you decide to make it visible, either through a widget, or if a user goes out of their way to request to see who left that rating. That's a very different approach to something like Yelp, where a users' reviews define them.
RelayRides is a peer-to-peer car sharing network. Car owners can put their car up for rent so that they can make money when it's not in use. RelayRides then provides insurance and keeps a records that cars, and all the times it's rented out to others.
The company installs an unlocking and starting mechanism similar to something like ZipCar, so that the owner doesn't have to worry about being around to swap off the keys. Owners also get to pick how much they charge, where they're going, and when they're available. In turn, the company picks up a 15 percent transaction fee for each rental.
The service is launching in Baltimore in the next few months and plans to roll it out to other markets if successful.
TribeVibe lets users track how content is seen shared and linked around the Web, basically providing a dashboard to see all the places it goes once it's up. It measures its reach across the Web, then turns that into a "drumbeat." This number can then be stuck into any particular piece of content's to show users how popular it is--kind of like the retweet or Digg button but more passive.
The company is currently in stealth mode and going into private beta later this month, and plans to go mainly after bloggers who want to know a little more about their audience. Along with its core analytics tools, TribeVibe will also have a way for users to plug the system into their own analytics tracking tools for $20 a month.
Related: JS-Kit's EchoQless lets people use their cell phones to get in line instead of physically standing there, or using a sign-up sheet at something like a restaurant or retailer. Just like those vibrating pucks you get at restaurants that tell you when your table is ready, its mobile site can also ping you when your time is up, or to alert you of any changes in your reservation.
Qless charges retailers per person who uses the system, meaning that high volume clients like restaurants can bring the company big business.
On Tuesday it launched GetTheSwineFluShot.com, which will alert people when a swine flu vaccine is available and where they can get it.
Echtman said that the company is working on getting it ready for other mobile platforms, as well as bringing in paid placements, sponsorships, and branded content.
Thumbtack (not to be confused with Microsoft Live Labs' currently defunct Thumbtack product) helps users find local services. It competes with services like the recently launched RedBeacon as well as Hourville, and picked up the event's audience choice award with the most votes.
Local service providers can use Thumbtack's system to let customers book appointments and jobs, as well as see their schedule. Customers can then leave feedback, which is seen by others.
As a service to potential customers, Thumbtack will soon be vetting service providers by verifying their personal information, including whether or not they have a criminal background, and if the information on their social networking or business profiles is real.
Cloudmach actually made its debut at last month's TechCrunch50, although as a booth in the conference's demo pit, and not an on-stage pitch. The service is a 3D virtual world that runs inside of Facebook without any kind of software plug-in.
Users can adorn not only their avatar but their virtual rooms as well. Like Google Maps, users can zoom in and out and simply drag around the map along with switching to full 3D mode.
The company is planning to make money by selling virtual goods within its world, like more things to wear or decorate the virtual space. Here's the pitch video:
Spreezio, which came in as a runner-up in the event's audience choice awards, is location-based shopping tool. Users can look up things they want to buy from local retailers then say what they want to pay for the item. The system then offers that price to the retailer who can accept, or do a counter offer.
Here's what the iPhone app will look like:
The service is going into open beta in 30 days with "over 100" U.S. retailers, and will be available as both an iPhone and Android app. The company is also trying to get wireless providers on board to offer the app pre-installed on new phones.
RentCycle is an inventory-management system for rental businesses. Business owners can put their available inventory into RentCycle's online management tool so that it can be viewed and rented out by customers who would otherwise have to call or visit the store in person.
The company is offering it as a subscription service for business owners that ramps up in price depending on how many items that business intends to rent. In return, those rental listings can go into RentCycle's central site so that users can browse through that inventory when users go hunting for local rental deals.
The service, which formally launched this evening, is starting out with tool and equipment rental businesses, an area RentCycle founder Tim Hire cited as one of the largest parts of the rental industry.
You'll soon be able to view all of the show pitches over on Vator.tv