Innotech Austin 2010

I went to the local Austin annual IT convention, Innotech, a while back.   No, it’s not a coincidence that it sounds like the company from Office Space.

It was pretty good, at least for a couple hour visit.  It’s somewhat disappointing that more of the Austin-based tech companies don’t show up to recruit if nothing else… All the show floor is little consulting companies and printer vendors, no Zenoss/BazaarVoice/HomeAway/etc.  Although there were an interestingly large number of booths around “helping startups” in general –

I went to two sessions.  The first was the Beta Summit, where you get 10 minute pitches from some of the hot new Austin startups about what they’re doing.

First up was Matt Curtain of Socialsmack. Yelp/fb/five star ratings are pointless for brands, so they’ve come up with a “props/drops” rating system people can do for them as well as ask questions and rate answers. It’s kinda stack exchangey if there was a “Random Consumer Brands Stack Exchange.” You can think of it as “Bazaarvoice lite.” They did one for Kona Grill in the Domain that got onto the news. Seems like a fine concept, the question is “why would I want to go use it.”  Seems not quite focused enough.  Like Stack Exchange, maybe a “cars Socialsmack” et al. would have enough focus to bring people?

Chad Ferrell of Recyclematch talked about their site, which matches up things people have and want to recycle with people that want them.  It’s “Homeaway for trash.” Or more so than Craigslist, anyway.  Seems like a good play into the green space.

Next up was Ricochet Labs! Who hasn’t played Qrank on the iPhone, it’s a sweet game.  Fascinatingly, they are not a game company.  Rodney Gibbs says they are developing a location based social platform to target verticals and Qrank was just like a demo proof of concept.
They expect that the OS will own “location checkin” eventually, instead of it being something 200 apps all provide. They are a cloud-based SaaS model using a distributed SOA deployment. Next on their plate is Yelp integration, and then they want to add:

  • Content channels
  • Offers/redemptions
  • Platforms

I have to say I love Qrank and these guys seem like they know what they’re doing.

Eric Katerman introduced Hurricane Party, another iPhone app that lets people define ongoing parties for people to come to, it makes little hurricane icons on the map that show magnitude of the party.  They hope to parlay it into locations providing group deals.  So it’s like a flash mob for partyin’. I put the app on my phone but haven’t gone to a party yet – they only really happen in Austin (I was bored in Houston one day but no luck).

Next up was Workstreamer. They collect/analyze/deliver info on businesses off social media and whatnot to perform “many to many brand analysis.” Seems like there’s a metric assload of all these “evaluate your brand by grepping twitter” plays, we’ll see which ones excel and survive.

Finally we had the HBMG Vector. I am torn on this.  It’s supposed to be a private cloud-in-a-box.  The presentation was very 1980s though and it seemed like an old school consulting company that has some frankly not very aligned products.

Then I went to a presentation on “IBM Smart Planet,” as it seems relevant to what we do at NI. The premise is that the world is becoming “Instrumented, interconnected, intelligent.” He talked about partners like Johnson Controls, Eaton, and Siemens in doing this, and noted that just the average building nowadays is kicking out a lot of data.  I agree with all this but there weren’t many good takeaways or new insights.

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