SXSW Startups on a Bus: Miami

Part five in the series on SXSW’s Buspreneurs, featuring the Miami teams.

38 teams on a bus from around the country hacking away and pitching their startups. Fifteen finalists, weeded down to two winners. Mashable neglected to even list the companies, let alone what they all did.

I went one further and listed the companies, whether they won and a PR suggestion, yours free for liking…reading my blog. Suggestions are for digital or PR strategists how they could use the apps for a client.


Note: Miami teams seemed to think ad-revenue is still a viable model. They missed other potential revenue opportunities, which I tried to highlight for you.

Concept: Lets you bookmark tv as you watch it.
PR Application They already have a beautiful advertising model for this. They want to use the realtime consumer data to individually target people based on what’s in the show. For example: A couch or a piece of closing. This idea has been used by companies liked Diesel and Agent Provacateur, but in the opposite way. They actually created short digital videos on their sites which you can scroll over and pause, then click on the items in the movie, taking you straight to purchase. Bookmarks model would allow you to “bookmark”, so you can continue watching. You could actually eliminate commercials, or have a commercial box which the items would appear in as your watch, eliminating program interruption and “storing” what the consumer liked. This is a much better model for advertisers than repeating the same 30 second spot over and over to make the consumer remember.
Concept: Like 43 Things, it’s about goal setting. By writing down and publicly sharing goals, it forces accountability. The integration with existing networks and organization are what separate it from existing platforms.
PR Application This reminds me of a project I worked on for Takeda (pharma) which was about creating a goal-setting platform for salespeople. The platform needed to incorporate their work goals along with personal goals such as weightloss. Fulfilld wants to add gamification, but the idiots (sorry…not) still want to use targeted ads as a revenue model. Gamification implies rewards and probably brand sponsorship, plus the micro-steps towards a goal with mobile imply check-ins, which means on the spot deals and offers. There are apps such as this which magazines have done, like for women to work out, or for food brands, tying it with changing eating habits. C’mon guys, think big!

One good point he had: “It’s not a like or an interest, it’s an intention.” Rather than reaching your “market demographic”, you’re reaching the actual market, people who will be purchasing or engaging in a market. The goal becomes to alert the consumer to a new or better solution, or simply convince them your client’s product is superior.

Concept: Aggregates photos from different platforms to create a “wiki”-style platform for viewing.
PR Application This would be an EXCELLENT idea for what’s going on with Path, Color, SCVNGR, Yfrog, and the hundred different campaigns going on which ask users to snap photos of something in return for a reward. Having an aggregated real-time channel, like Youtube does for videos would be great for PR people to bring together their campaigns. Could you just do this on the brands website using keywords/hashtags? Yes. The difference is users can have their own channels and follow your campaign through their own channel, or their friends who might be participating while they aren’t. See more on Social Media Optimization.
Concept: Scan the barcode & app will tell you what nutrition label means. A premium subscription would allow you to enter your profile information to see how the product applied to you.
PR Application Like other food apps, the app can suggest pairings or other ingredients based on your selection. Something they didn’t mention, it could do recipes, like Betty Crocker’s mobile app. Their strategy is unique because it’s based on insurance and HMOs, meaning it’s more about what’s good for the consumer. I see it as a datasource for companies to see what consumers consider, how they make purchase decisions and what health benefits they value. In real time. (Buzzz word!) The idea it would alert about allergies and special diets makes it very possible concerned parents would pay for a subscription.

Bonus Here: Use it the Food Pyramid as a guide. It’s been newly redone, so a Mobile App, in 2011 the year of mobile, would be a nice promotion.

Concept: A social gaming network with virtual products.
PR Application Why in Job’s name did this make it to the final round? The concept of “screwing” with random strangers on the internet I’d be hard to believe belonged to more than a small subset of the pop. Within that pop though you have the usual opportunities for branded virtual products. The prank joke idea means you could take it IRL, which actually makes a good tie to the Smirnoff Ice Game, a supposedly organic game. The Ice Game took place all offline, in actual disruptive interactions, which makes it one of the best non-digital PR campaigns, which a PR firm didn’t even create. Take the model into a digital realm in a SCVNGR/Facebook like social network, and you have fantastic potential for disruptive marketing.

Online Supply List
Concept: Teachers post supply lists online and earn credits based on parents who order these supplies.
PR Application Beautiful idea in its simplicity and real world application. (I believe), brands are still doing “box-top” promotions for cereal and other products which families send it to gain extra funding for their schools. At a time when states are in near bankruptcy and school funding is a top issue for governments and families, this would be a great way to ensure product loyalty with clever PR campaigns that could directly target families. Brands would also be able to know based on grade level, whether these were “young” families or with older children. Being able to target households and create “lifetime” customers is the dream of companies like Kraft, P&G, grocery stores, clothing chains, insurance companies, travel companies…the list is nearly endless.

Story Set Go
Concept: Gives you story lines for you to make movies.
PR Application This is a great idea for marketing along the lines of the Coke and Mentos videos where users shot crazy scenes. Having a story line decreases the creativity needed for UGC videos. I’m also thinking something along the lines of the augmented reality product which allowed users to insert themselves in their favorite movie scene and play it out. It have the same appeal as those band video games. The challenge for brands will be to create interesting story lines which appeal to users. Story Set Go also is functioning on a subscription model for users, but I’d tell them to keep it free- free is fun-and have sponsored channels for brands. Maybe subscription would work for “private accounts” where you could host the personal family shots they were suggesting. It’d be like a family album hosted on a cloud. (Super geeky idea here: Have digital photo frames on your wall which scroll through your accounts “home movies”, ala a Harry Potter moving portrait.)

New York teams here.
San Francisco teams here.
Silicon Valley teams here.
Chicago teams here.


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