Edmonton's Democamp11

Posted by Doug van Spronsen

Democamp11 took place last night at the University of Alberta. As always, there was a huge crowd on site to take a look at some of Edmonton's newest startups. Here is a recap of what was demoed:

Beamdog

Beamdog's Trent Oster was on hand to share some new developments. Beam dog is a online and downloadable game player that "transmits games to people". There have been considerable user interface and design improvements since I first saw Beamdog in action at Launch Party. Their focus is on speedy deployment of games. "We are in a digital distribution age. It doesn't make sense to build something in a package, then sell it, then unpackage it" 

Q: Are there any plans for multi-player or matching service?

No, Steam is already pretty good at that. We are coming at a more ease of use strategy and a title strategy.

Q: Are you windows only?

Yes, we are about 18 months away from the Mac version.

Q: Can I buy a Beamdog game as a gift?

Its in development, but we certainly want to have it available.

Q: How friendly are you for game developers?

Our goal is to become a marketplace, but an open game marketplace. You have control over your game, we aren't like Steam where your pricing isn't in your hands. We have real-time price control, real-time feedback on sales, so it gives the developers a lot more

Q: How do people find good games?

Its a problem with the Apple App store. They use Top 10 lists to try to solve it, I have some ideas in the for this and we are coming from a different angle, but that is still under wraps.

Appboy

This was the first time I have seen Appboy, and it did not disappoint. Its solving a definitive problem that any iPhone user has faced - App discovery. In their words Appboy helps you "Find better apps for your mobile and have a little fun too."

There are two sections on the site: Apps and Ideas. The Apps section is filtered by type of mobile (Android, Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, Palm) and gives reviews, recommendations and ratings on Apps. 

The Ideas section is a bit more novel, as it allows the community to post Apps that they wish they could have on their phone. This provides a forum for developers to connect with the user and either point them in the right direction of an existing app or create a new one.

Overall, it is a clean, great looking site. I was really impressed by how polished it looked and its usability. If Appboy can build a large enough community before Apple or the other Mobile developers can solve this problem, they will be in a good spot.

Q: Would you ever create a feature that scans your app library and suggest new ones based on that?

Yes this is in development

Q:How do you make money?

We make  affiliate fees from Apple and the other mobile companies

Q: Is there mobile app?

There is an iPhone App and an optimized site for the other platforms is in the works

Q: When did you start making this?

We started making it late last fall, its been about 6 or 7 months in now.

Fotojournal

Fotojournal was on hand to share some impressive stats since their launch last month.

  • 10,000 photos have been uploaded
  • 2300 comments posted
  • 2000 posts created

What makes Fotojournal different is that it is an instant set up and its super simple to use, compared to the other options of Wordpress or getting an site custom developed. There are a number of great features. The back-end auto-formats all of your images into formatted sizes. All posts are SEO friendly and there are robust Google Analytics, Webmaster tools, and Domain configuration options. 

Theme's are easy edit, featuring live updating, point and click customization and a large library of pre-made themes. Basically, if you are a photographer, there is no reason for you to not be using Fotojournal.

Q: Can you create your own themes?

Its on the list, but we haven't implemented it yet.

Q: If I am making a slideshow, can I choose what size, and whether to crop or shrink?

We pick the optimal sizes depending on themes to make this easy.

Q: Some sites retain all the rights to the photos that are updated. Do you?

We don't retain any rights at all. If you want to use CC you can, its totally up to you.

Q: Can you watermark your images? 

No, you can before you upload however, and we haven't seen this a feature that has a lot of demand.

Q How do you find the speed of S3?

We are utilizing their CDN feature, using Edge features, and it is pretty good. 

Q:What do you have planned to order prints?

I use fotomoto and it makes it easy to add to cart and print. We will be hopefully entering into a partnership with them in the near future.

imgbrew.com

Imagebrew is a sort of image hosting system that is based on ImageMagick's robust tools.

Using different commands, you can make changes to the URL to get different effects on the photo. So if you are a different site, you don't have to worry about regenerating all of the images. Just change the URL and it will make the changes automatically. 

Imgbrew is also developing some robust usage statistics options that will give real time insights into image views and loads.

Q: If the user is creating this, are they able to keep the bucket the create?

Yes, as of right now, you will likely upload to S3, then we do uploads on the s3 bucket, or if you host them yourself then you are okay for that as well.

Q: Can you optimize images?

Not currently, but you can easily create new operations, so there are lots of uses coming

Q:Could you use an existing scripting language for the operations?

I could, but I don't think it is safe for users, and for me, its important to keep control over this.

Q: How do you handle proxy or changes to the cache image

Basically if you serve up good cache control settings, you will be able to control when your image updates.

Mobizou.com

Mobizou is a company from Calgary that is focused on making mobile marketing. Addressing a large market (coupons is a $7 billion industry), Mobizou is focused on making it easy for companies to create mobile coupons. Users can create Ads or Coupons on the site, both include a self managed interface, previews, geotargeting, and realtime stats.
There is also a Air Miles-esque points rewards system for users who are active in using the coupons.

There is no doubt that there is a market for mobile coupons. Mobizou needs to focus on their a user experience however, as it seemed to me that on the mobile there was a restrictive amount of steps to get the coupon.

If you want to check it out, use the promo code "Edmonton"

Q: What kind of usage stats do you give?

You can see by campaign or by individual ads- you can see redemption per month etc

Q: How do merchants pay?

There is a monthly subscription fee of $15, $35, $75 per month

Q: Are you planning to add location aware features?

Yes, we are. Right now it is only on the mobile web. We are in the works to create a iPhone app that will search for coupons where you are

Q: How many members (ballpark) are using this service?

We are just at a few dozen right now, we just launched last week.

Empire Avenue

Empire avenue is an influence stock-market. What does that mean? In Tom's words "As a blogger, Twitter user or Facebook you creating value when you are give meaningful interactions to other people. Empire Avenue wants to give users a way to get rewarded for that and make it easy for other people to find your content."

Users can buy stocks in individuals, using the virtual currency to purchase shares. As you gain more of the virtual currency, you can use it to purchase advertising on the site as well. Eventually you will be able to target your ads only to certain people. The rates are currently $.20 in virtual currency per page views, but eventually the ad rates may be higher depending on what target.

Empire Avenue also features an achievement framework, akin to Foursquare's badge system."We are all gaming people, so we wanted to make sure that this was actually a fun site to use. So we created a pretty dynamic achievement environment.

As of right now, Empire Avenue's API is available. You can access it at htt://apidocs.empireavenue.com

Q: I noticed that the market closes for a few hours a day. Is that to make it seem more stock markety?

A little bit, but we also use that time to do maintenance etc.

Q: Does the stock price fluctuate only with raw data?

Right now the market makers take in what you are posting, also how many comments you are receiving. Each platform will have its own parameters. Its more about influence than popularity contests. We are constantly tinkering with this, and it will continue to evolve.

Q Is there a revenue model in mind?

We want to take an entirely new approach to advertising. We let you negotiate ad campaigns with preferred advertisers if you have a good stock rating. It will be your choice on who you want to have as advertisers. We are also looking at branded achievements as well.

Company:
Mobizou
Website:
http://www.mobizou.com
Location:
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Mobizou offers a Location Based Mobile Loyalty Platform targeting Premium Retail. Branded apps designed for your business Fully branded iOS and Android apps built for you. We build, publish, and manage your apps, allowing you to focus on your business. Let us worry about OS updates, policy changes, and all the other headaches that come with mobile apps. Latest location technologies Deliver location aware content... more

Company:
Empire Avenue
Website:
http://www.empireavenue.com
Location:
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Empire Avenue is a revolutionary online influence stock exchange combined with an advertising platform that allows individuals and organizations to convert their online influence and reach into revenue. To this end we will be connecting advertisers, consumers and influencers in a manner not as yet undertaken in the online space. Through the Empire Avenue influence stock exchange and its tracking features we will... more

Company:
FotoJournal
Website:
http://myfotojournal.com
Location:
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Fotojournal is a blogging platform for professional photographers. It lets you start a blog, customize your design (without having to know HTML), upload and publish photos, and get comments. It also provides a growing social network that allows photographers to connect with others in their industry and showcase work to clients. more

Company:
Beamdog
Website:
http://www.Beamdog.com
Location:
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beamdog is video game developer and an innovative digital distribution portal for video games under on roof. After years of video game development experience, it became obvious to us the experience outside of the video game was not up to the same standards as the in-game experience. Our response was to re-invent the process of finding, acquiring and using software on the PC. more


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Doug van Spronsen

Doug van Spronsen

Doug van Spronsen works/plays for DDB Canada as a Digital Strategist. Previously he worked at Domain7, a web agency, and co-founded WaterDrop, a non-profit organization that raises awareness of the global water crisis. You can find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. He also writes for Techvibes, Canada's leading technology blog. more



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