Mashable’s SummerMash San Francisco 2008

16 Jul

SummerMash SF 2008Mashable hosted its annual SummerMash event tonight – it was the third such entrepreneurial hob-knobbing event I have joined since moving back to San Francisco in March.

After receiving a free drink ticket from PubMatic for signing up for their iPod drawing, I set out to meet some other guests.  The first dynamic duo I met were Adam and Braxton from Zannel, the Twitter of mobile phone rich media.  By which I mean, they turn your mobile phone photos and video into micro-blog updates, the same way Twitter and FriendFeed do.  Adam, Zannel’s CEO and a former McKinsey consultant, mentioned that users seemed to take a lot of photos of food, and we got into a conversation about how they might try to monetize that and other types of user content to build a real revenue stream for the micro-blog.

The second person I met was David Koehn of Phlooq, a stealth-mode social technology startup that connects individuals with the events and businesses they are fans of.  Phlooq will enable a publisher like San Francisco’s 7×7 to tap into the social graph of a reader when he or she indicates what events she will be attending.  I got a sneak-peak of the new app on David’s iPhone and from our conversation it sounded like the business was nearing the point of “unveiling.” I would say more, but then I would probably have to kill you…

Finally, I met Brendan Nee and his friend Justin, two young business partners working on an interesting new iPhone app which will help digest the powerful GPS data of local public transportation into a useful form.  Using your phone’s own GPS signal, you could determine the best route from your current location to the destination of your choice using public transit, taking into consideration the current location of the busses, trains, and other vehicles in the network.  The challenges confronting them, they explained, were two-fold:

  • First, getting MUNI and other public transit networks to share their data.  Releasing this data would be potentially embarrasing to the transit authorities, since it could reveal just how often their services fail to arrive on time.  Then again, argued Brendan and Justin, by sharing the data with an application like theirs, users would be better equipped to react and make alternative arrangements.
  • Second, how to monetize the application.  If MUNI doesn’t even want to share the data in the first place, it would be a stretch to think that they would be willing to pay a software developer for delivering it in a user-friendly form to riders.  We discussed alternatives, including helping public transit systems without GPS-enabled networks get online.  The two could serve as a center of excellence in deploying the technology, and deliver the technology to analyze the GPS data on a fee-for-service basis to help the transit authority cut costs and optimize its network.  They could then also push that proprietary data out to riders in the form of a application, perhaps with a small monthly fee.

SummerMash was a great event, even if the organizers didn’t quite manage to get the doors open on time.  It’s nights like these that I will miss most after leaving the SF Bay.

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