Plugg 2009 Start-Ups: My Review

First of all, great kudos won by Robin Wauters and Veronique: impressive speaker line-up, great entrepreneurs to meet and the food was the best freaking garb I have ever sampled in an Internet conference. I want more of this for ever!

Sofatutor
For me this was the winner. I have a little hobby that I carry since high shool: Quantum Physics and Quantum Mechanics. I watch endless videos on youTube on the topic. Many are low quality, or the sound is awful, but some are MIT professors teaching a class to students and it is awesome. I also watch make-up classes. Big public confession here, so appreciate it. YouTube is also used by Animators to teach how to shoot animation techniques. Do you really want to keep me going? I have researched the topic for over 18 months now. Sofatutor is on a hot emerging sector and they should jump onto the English language tutoring NOW!.
Potential: who says this is just for A-Levels Maths reviews? I want to know how to plant a vegetable garden, how to fix a flat tire on my bike, know if my dog is beginning to have an ear infection, wrap Xmas presents in a fancy fashion…. Endless possibilities.

Jinni
Well of course Jinni. Who wouldn’t want to know all that there is about a film and if it is good or bad, and all vital statistics from a consumer perspective and a tagged mood – as opposed to genre – classification. All this exists for us film industry professionals but it is scattered around via various websites and podcasts and critic reviews.
Concerns: I have been reading fans reviews on Slashdot for ages. Problem is, most people are “fan boys”. This turns the comments into diatribe and honestly, very few people really know what is good or bad about a film because the average consumer goes for the obvious and what you may think is great – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I may think it’s a pants remake of Forrest Gump. ALso, lately the critics have labelled as “feel-good movies” some films – Slumdog, Gran Torino, that contain very hard violence, so no-When-Harry-Met-Sally feel-good factor nowadays. Still, I will follow the company because this is my sector and hope they really turn the tables.

Bubok
I know several people that have gone the “self-publishing” route in the last 18 months. It is possible but it is expensive because each copy goes for about $5-$7 plus shipping costs. What’s good about Bubok is that it is just €4/copy and full of tutorials, templates and real help as to how to be your own Prentice House.
Potential: Anyone that can grab business in Latin America should be in every VC radar because this is the no-go area for even US startups, who think that translating their websites into JLo’s language – Puerto Rican, is how you get understood in Santiago de Chile. Wrong. Only Spanish companies know how to get into LatAm – say that to Telefonica, Repsol, and others – and really know how to do it.

BeeBole
Indeed there are many freelancers out there in many disciplines. The film industry is full of them, and advertising – yes, many many of them freelance into the Big Ad Houses. Any tools that help you generate and manage invoices, expenses, etc is a great, great vertical to get into.
Handicaps: How to market the service everywhere? This is a marketing win more than anything. Put your “cheeky European hat” and think hard and take a sip of your RedBull ‘cos you’re gonna need to overcome your European politeness and become “Punk’d” Ashton Kutchner. Get the message out!

Silentale
Was I the only one to realise that Laurent FP was doing a fab impersonation of Steve Jobs? He denied it later but the whole speech, asking the audience about “Wouldn’t it be nice if the world could have this or that?” and the uniform – black jersey/washedout jeans, was a classic. Jokes aside, Silentale is a uniquely useful application and like BeeBole it needs all the marketing fairy dust it can get because more people need to know about it! Specially teens who live for the social!!!! It’s not for grownups as such: this is for the oh-so-self-absorbed teenager that only cares if the rest of the world finds him cool and about where the next party is or which gossip or who’s got what. Do you know how many messages/phonecalls/Facebook Pokes a day a teenager gets?

Look forward to next year.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Plugg 2009 Start-Ups: My Review”
  1. Yves says:

    Thank you Inma for the review.

    We simplified the way applications can fit with very different needs but as you point out, marketing will be key.

    My feeling is that the true competitor in that market is the good old spread sheet, or simply, obscurity.

    Thank you again for your presentation which was a real wake up call.

  2. Ramón says:

    Hi Inma,

    One of the high points of the event was your inspirational speech: the best of the morning presentations. A lot of the pitchers should look for your presentation council and not only your investmenting.

  3. alex says:

    Fantastic Plugg keynote! I loved the final skit.

    The pattern you’ve mentioned US -> CA -> AU -> UK -> ETC; is probably a linguistic pattern at first. It’s harder to cross language barriers (something where google may play a huge role in the near future with their translate technology bulking up), than even cultural barriers.

    And while it’s true we market more than anything in the US, we’re also speaking to a huge audience, that likes to buy things. Hence, online advertising pays more in the US than anywhere else.

    Again, great speech.

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