Top 3 Technologies from DEMO Day 1, Plus the Irony of Twitter’s Timing

The first day of DEMO Fall 2010 featured a lot of products that were just derivative rather than groundbreaking. There were a few entertaining presentations like BitBop‘s that featured a surprise visit by a Jack Black impersonator, really their VP of Marketing Reid Genauer who brought energy, a guitar and pot references that while funny failed to make clear their value proposition on stage. Or companies like Particle Code whose presentation featured a sort of digital shark hunt screensaver, and whose technology can currently port an app from one mobile OS to another seamlessly which is admittedly sexy; but Particle Code doesn’t seem to have a longer term business model.

The day featured a heavy focus on mobile with 19 companies presenting in that vertical. It also featured a new template for DEMO with “alpha” presentations which were short 90 second idea pitches by start-ups in the alpha phase.

The following three companies are my picks for the most interesting technology presented during the first day of DEMO Fall 2010:

Zappli

It takes a brave or brilliant marketer to wear tight magenta colored pants while trying to drum up funding. Zappli CEO Philippe Suchet did just that channeling a little more John Travolta a la staying alive than I think Silicon Valley is used to. But since Zappli powers social shopping advice and recommendations, Suchet’s quip that he’d never make the mistake of buying such pants again now that Zappli’s myShopanion has been launched, was perfectly timed.

The app allows you to scan a barcode (function powered by RedLaser) or take photos of a product, get details on the item including pricing even if you are not in a store, and get feedback from friends and family on Facebook or Twitter prior to purchase. I see them as a more robust app version of ThisNext.

Publicly released for Demo 2010, myShopanion’s current functionality is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential since data points on how people shop with digital social interaction are sure to be of  interest to merchants. Considering Suchet’s background with behavioral targeting company Kefta, sold to Acxiom in 2007, such functionality is likely to be in the future mix.

For merchants with large product SKUs, being able to put real time information in consumer’s hands and potentially having access to data behind what the consumers are doing socially as they shop is definitely interesting.  The app is available for free on Apple’s App Store.

Apsalar

As companies invest more in apps and the apps themselves increasingly drive commerce, smart marketers will want analytics to understand how users are interacting with the apps. After all, both the experience and the mindset of how you shop on a computer is different than how you shop via a mobile device with such things as UI, environment, and personal habits all coming into play. Apsalar is attempting to address that need with its ApScience mobile analytics.

ApScience provides a lot of the same functionality users are used to in web based analytics. Including features like: user centric conversion funnel analysis, data points that can be created on any user interaction within an app, visual path analysis that provides greater insight into abandonment rates, and cross app tracking.

A lot of traditional analytics companies are moving, with the flow of commerce, to track mobile including Google’s AdMob. But ApScience, particularly with their visual path analysis, should be able to carve out a presence in what will soon be a very crowded field.

ApScience is in beta and is available as a free trail for limited time with subscription rates starting $49 once it rolls out of beta.

ExpertMaker

As Apsalar CEO Michael Oiknine said during our discussion, “Companies talk about the conversion funnel as if it was a one size fits all. It’s not. A useful funnel should be specific to the user.”

Analytics, data points, smart social product searches are interesting and can help provide relevant recommendations but often what they are missing is nuance.  This is why companies like Pandora and Netflix can make “relevant” recommendations or even “accurate” recommendations but they can rarely capture the nuance of why someone likes a band like Perfect Circle over their counterpart Tool or likes the movie Aliens over Alien.

Which is why when ExpertMaker came on stage and started talking about how you would describe the differences in different types of roses they caught my attention. They used this example because often a consumer would ask a professional gardener what the differences are, that gardener would then try to relate those differences based on their experience in a way that makes sense to the layperson. The issue is that sometimes those distinctions are not simple to define, especially when you attach those parameters to a database with thousands of SKUs.

Let’s take shopping for example. Say instead of simply shopping for computers by brand affinity, price, or reviews, you wanted to make your choice based on the components inside like: are they green, are they local, is the manufacturer that makes the chip socially conscious? Few product feeds provide that level of detail. Few searches can learn from a person’s preference in such a way that doesn’t simply turn into a popularity contest when combined with a larger data set of preferences.

All this is a lengthy way of saying ExpertMaker appears to have created an interesting AI model around search, mobile search, and database search including ecommerce. The tools they’ve created do not require programming skills instead relying on a in depth level of questions and toggles to fine tune results. The idea is to build subject specific search engines based on a company’s focus or expertise.

With the ability to handle a level of complexity and scale as simple as the fun Pasta Explorer app made with their AI on Apple’s App Store and Android, to data sets with millions of iterations; the smarts behind the AI ExpertMaker has built was easily the most innovative presented during the first day of DEMO.

Ironically Twitter

Jack Dorsey, Co-founder and Chairman of Twitter and CEO & Co-founder of Square, was the highest profile guest on the opening day. DEMO producer and MC, Matt Marshall interviewed Jack on his belief in transparency, the way he cultivated creative ideas, and lessons he learned growing Twitter. There was also, of course, buzz about the Twitter’s Big Night announcement that was schedule to occur later in the day.

Interestingly Twitter had frequency capped searches for DEMO’s hashtag #democon. Whether this was out of an effort to avoid the “fail whale”, concern about an information leak, or some other worry was not apparent or transparent for that matter. What was clear was that if you searched for #democon, either via clicking the tag or in the search box, more than a few times in an hour you were frequency capped.

I find the fact this was happening during the same day Jack Dorsey was on stage to be deliciously ironic.

Look for more coverage of DEMO Fall 2010 Day 2 coming soon.

About Angel Djambazov

Born in Bulgaria, Angel Djambazov has spent his professional career in the fields of journalism and online marketing. In his journalistic career he worked as an editor on several newspapers and was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Wyoming Homes and Living Magazine. Later his career path led to online marketing where while working at OnlineShoes he earned the Affiliate Manager of the Year (2006) award at the Affiliate Summit, and In-house Manager of the Year (2006) award by ABestWeb.

For four years Angel served as OPM for Jones Soda for which he won his second Affiliate Manger of the Year (2009) award at Affiliate Summit.

Currently Angel serves as OPM for KEEN Footwear and MedicalRecords.com. His former clients include: Dell, Real Networks, Jones Soda, Intelius, Graphicly, Chrome Bags, Onlineshoes.com, Vitamin Angels, The Safecig, and Bag Borrow or Steal.

Angel is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher for ReveNews.com and ReveNews.org.

Angel lives north of Seattle, spending his free time reading up on obscure scientific references made by his wife MGX, while keeping up with a horde of cats and a library of books.

You can find Angel on Twitter @djambazov.

2 Responses to Top 3 Technologies from DEMO Day 1, Plus the Irony of Twitter’s Timing

  1. Steph says:

    Thanks much for your review of Zappli's new product myShopanion. You can follow us at http://twitter.com/myshopanion

    Best regards.