Category: startups

Twitterfone launches

Twitterfone

Twitterfone launched last night to a spectacular response. Mike Arrington gave it a glowing report on TechCrunch and the feedback has been very positive.

What does Twitterfone do? Not much! It does one thing and it does it well. It allows you to dial a local number, leave a short message, the message is then transcribed and posted to your Twitter account along with a link to the audio file in case the transcription doesn’t quite come out.

The best use case for this is in your car when you shouldn’t can’t browse!

I have no idea how well it works if you are outside your own country but Pat being the king of roaming, I imagine he is all over that.

Just how good is it? Well I just left a message saying “@patphelan looks like everyone is looking for a twitterfone invite” and got the following Tweet posted:

ask Pat Phelan looks like everyone is lookig for a twitterfone invoice

It obviously had issues with my enunciation (although listening back, the quality of the line left a lot to be desired).

A couple of things Pat will need to add to improve it (and I assume Pat has already thought of these):

  • Support for Twitter commands – @, and d particularly and
  • OpenID support – it still amazes me that people build their own proprietary login systems when they can leverage OpenID and facilitate single sign-on for their users

Well done to Pat and the rest of the team for getting this up. I look forward to watching its evolution.

Startup 2.0 on again this year in Barcelona

This year’s Startup 2.0, a European competition for Web 2.0 startups, was launched the other day.

Submissions are accepted for blogs, wikis, social networks or any other website which makes a high use of Web 2.0 components, such as tags, RSS, collaboration or Ajax. Companies and people from any European country willing to present their projects just have to submit them.

Entries are judged not only the quality of the website but also the business model and the creativity of their video presentation. Internet users and a jury will select 10 projects to be presented in Barcelona on May 21st, where they will compete for online advertising and infrastructure prizes for their project. Last year’s winners won 5 days advertising on the front page of TechCrunch.com as far as I recall amongst other prizes.

The contest is organized by Alianzo and La Caixa bank as a non-profit initiative, supported by Microsoft and Sun Microsystems and sponsored by 22@Barcelona.

I am one of the 10 jury members who will be judging the entries along with Martín Varsavsky, Loic Le Meur, Daniel Waterhouse, Ouriel Ohayon, Nicole Simon, Bernardo Hernández, Luca Conti and Yaron Orenstein.

If you want your startup to be entered for this competition, register on the site before April 30th.

Are you an Irish startup seeking funding?

When I was in Berlin last week I met with Yoav Leitersdorf of YL Ventures. Yoav is looking to invest in interesting Irish startups. In his own words:

YL Ventures (www.YLVentures.com) is a venture capital fund that is focused on ‘exiting’ to strategic acquirers at good bite-size valuaitons of $20m-$50m rather than the typical $500m+ for most VCs. YL Ventures delivers excellent, concept-proven European & Israeli technology companies that it has invested in and helped grow & validate from the Internet, telecom (mostly mobile) and digital media sectors (and occasionally network security and enterprise software).

Recent press is available at http://www.ylventures.com/news.html, note especially the write-ups in Czech Business Weekly and blognation Italy.

If you are an Irish startup and are interested in getting in touch with Yoav, let me know in the comments or directly on tom@tomrafteryit.net and I’ll do an intro.

Cork-based telecoms firm raises â‚¬5m

Pat Phelan’s Cubic Telecom have released details of €5m worth of investment they have received. Cubic Telecom is the parent company of the Roam4free and Yak4ever brands.

From the release Cubic has raised a

EUR3.5M investment from private backers in order to develop a suite of innovative global mobile and home phone products under the Cubic Telecom brand, together with its own international virtual carrier network. A further EUR1.5M has been raised to fund a series of international launches of products and services in the coming six months.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, Cubic Telecom are also the only Irish company to make it to the final 100 of the uber prestigious TechCrunch 20.

Congrats Pat

Pat Phelan’s Cubic Telecom company has been selected to be one of the finalists in TechCrunch 20 for their Roam4free product. What is TechCrunch 20? From the site:

Twenty of the hottest new startups from around the world will announce and demo their products over a two day period at TechCrunch20. And they don’t pay a cent to do this. They will be selected to participate based on merit alone. In fact, we’re even offering a $50,000 cash award and lining up other in-kind services and awards from a generous group of corporate sponsors.

There were over 700 submissions from 26 countries so making it to the last 100 finalists was a considerable achievement. In fact, as far as I know Pat’s is the only Irish company in the final 100. Well done Pat – go for it boy!

I have spoken to Pat at length about their new Roam4free product set due out in the coming weeks and if they deliver half of what Pat is promising, it will set the mobile world on its head.

On the Startup 2.0 jury!

I am honoured to have been selected to be on the jury of the Startup 2.0 . The jury contains people like Martin Varsavsky of Fon, Loic Le Meur (formerly of Six Apart) and Daniel Waterhouse of 3i.

Startup 2.0 is a competition to “promote and reward European startups”. The entries have been whittled down to 15 remaining hopefuls and tomorrow the final 5 will be selected. These last five will be judged by the jury after 15 minute presentations in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. 3 winners will be selected!

This should be a fascinating competition, I’m really looking forward to the presentations.