Ten local Edmonton companies launched their products last night at Launch Party held at the Matrix Hotel. Hosted by Startup Edmonton, the inaugural event was attended by a large crowd of curious entrepreneurs, creatives, and investors all on hand to take a sneak peak at Edmonton's next big thing.
The format of Launch Party is simple and unique. Each company has a small table and a laptop off of which to showcase their product, while the crowd gets a hands-on demo and gets to talk to the entrepreneur directly.
Hats off to Startup Edmonton for hosting the event, the atmosphere was energetic and exciting, and the large crowd gave a great platform for the ten companies to share their passion.
Beamdog's gaming platform was co-founded by two veterans from Bioware, and with fourteen years of experience in the gaming industry, it is safe to say they know their market. The core focus of Beamdog is to make gaming easier through simpler distribution. Trent Oster gave me a demo of the service, and I have to say that the platform is quick and easy to use. After signing up online and downloading the client (PC only), games are basically a click away. With over fifty indie game titles at launch and another 100+ on the way, Beamdog is looking to be the standard for game distribution in the future.
Connect 13 is another venture that was born out of an established company, led by the a team from Nexopia, the local-based social network. Seeing a need for a better system to attract large-scale advertisers to the Canadian teen demographic, Connect13 "rolled-up the vertical" and signed partnerships with Hi5, Myyearbook, Friendster and other platforms to create an audience of over 3.5 million Canadian teens. Modeled after successful US based vertical-centric platforms, Glam for example, the Edmonton company is looking to attract large corporations and agencies who need to reach teens.
Reg Cheramy, founder of Edistorm explains his product in one sentence "You know those brainstorming sessions where everyone writes sticky notes on a wall? This is like that, only with unlimited users, and at the end of the day you don't have to take a picture and email it everybody" Well put. Edistorm is a real-time online brainstorming product that makes it easy for individuals or groups to consolidate their ideas, and after seeing a live demo of the product, I was very impressed with the functionality and the usability of the app.
Billing itself as an "influence stock market", Empire Avenue is looking to be the standard for measuring online influence. After bringing your personal Twitter, Facebook and blog (more to come) into your Empire Avenue account, users of the site are able to buy into your personal stock, giving you an accurate idea of you online value. The key component is the ad platform that will eventually allow users to turn the value of their online contributions into real revenue, leveraging their audience in a more personal way that a traditional advertising platform. Empire Avenue is getting a lot of buzz, so be sure to sign-up for the beta to be ahead of the curve.
FotoJournal is a blogging platform for professional photographers that makes it easy to create a effective and visual blog. Addressing a huge personal photography market, FotoJournal has created an alternative to Wordpress or other platforms which are full of cumbersome templates and often require an high level technical expertise. FotoJournal lets you easily add photos and customize your blog without knowing having any CSS or HTML experience. I was most impressed by their demo, as the product is remarkably polished and incredibly user friendly. Adding photos is a snap and the blogging platform was elegant and easy to use. Fotojournal is free to use with a paid model if you want to have an vanity URL, more storage, or have the ability to customize the CSS elements of the site. Fotojournal's design and layout are excellent features and if you are a photography hobbyist or professional, you have to check it out.
Mailout Interactive is another Edmonton success story, sending over 10 million e-mails per month through it's network. Marketers use their email tools to create, send and track mailouts and to manage mailing iists. Their team takes a hands on approach, and takes the hastle of managing a mail server off of the company.
Syncamatic is a must have application for Blackberry users, especially if you are on a Mac, that allows you to wirelessly sync to Outlook from your Blackberry on the go. Bypassing having to plug-in your device every time to sync is a big value add, and the demo showed how painless the experience should be. Mobile consumers can have real-time access to their Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and Memo Notes on any device from anywhere. Syncamatic is available at the Blackberry App store.
By know I am sure you have heard of Seek Your Own Proof, the Edmonton company that just signed a massive distribution partnership with Discovery Kids to leverage their platform. Seek Your Own Proof is an online games where kids are challenged to investigate history as agents of the fictional spy agency, the Central Institute for Exploration. Expect big things from this company, as they are set to take off.
SnowSeekers is the product of Jim Barr, a former writer for one of the major Alberta dailies. After looking to create a guidebook for all snow sports (skiing, snowmobiling, etc) he soon realized that books were no longer the right platform. With over 350+ pages of content, guides and information on Western Canada's snow destinations, Snow Seekers has a wealth of information on winter activities. Active in both the production of videos and mobile iPhone Apps, SnowSeekers has formed key partnerships with resorts to provide provide a bridge between consumers and destinations.
Yardstick is in it's fifth year of providing over 400,000 users with online testing and web-based training. The goal of the process is to make it easy to design, create, and measure online tests. I had a chance to see the company's software in action at DemoCamp, and the focus on usability and user experience is part of every process, making the product very intuitive and easy to use.
The veterans at Yardstick also know how to win over a crowd. Just bring in two margarita machines.