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Juice Pitcher finalists - 2nd half presenters

RentCycle, Thumbtack launch at event, QLess, HearPlanet, Spreezio, Cloudmach are second to present

Technology trends and news by Chris Caceres
October 6, 2009
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/b08

Straight from the Juice Pitcher event in San Francisco, Ca., hosted by Vator.tv and The Funded, here's the list of the next five winning presenters. Two of the presenting companies also launched their services at tonight's Juice Pitcher. They are RentCycle and Thumbtack.

These companies were chosen mainly based on peer voting held on the Juice Pitcher competition where more than 130 companies participated and more than 3,000 votes were cast.  

RentCyle, which launched tonight at Juice Pitcher calls itself the "OpenTable for rentals."  Instead of focusing solely on restaurants though, RentCycle would like to be used a system to track inventory, manage reservations and increase distribution of goods. Unlike Zilok, which is a P2P rental service, RentCycle wants to focus on being the software platform for large rental companies, like Home Depot. The startup wants to be the central marketplace for renting anything online.  Some potential items that could be rented on Rentcycle include tools and equipment for construction, parties and events materials, consumer rentals like electronics and sporting goods and even video rentals.   It offers its services free for consumers and a subscription model and commission fees for the rental business. RentCycle was the top vote-getter on the Juice Pitcher competition, with more than 300 votes.  

Thumbtack, which officially launched this evening at Juice Pitcher, is an online marketplace for local services. Users can find anybody from handymen and cleaners to tutors and errand-runners. Right now, people can find these sort of services on sites like Yelp, CitySearch, InsiderPages, or Craigslist.  Thumbtack wants to improve or iterate upon these listing and review services by enabling the transactions for the service provider. Thumbtack states the local service market is greater than $500 billion, according to the Department of Labor Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Want to take a guided audio tour of places around you? You can do so with HearPlanet, a popular iPhone application that's available at the Apple app store for free or for $4.99.

 HearPlanet, which has been downloaded half a million times, allows consumers to hear guided tours on a quarter million places around the globe. For instance, if you're at the Berkeley Pier, you can hear a guided tour of its origins. Much of HearPlanet's content is taken from Wikipeida, and original scripts, which are then converted into audio with voice artists as well as text-to-speech technology used to convert the text. Soon, it will have articles on 2.5 million places through its partnerships with various content providers. HearPlanet is getting a lot of buzz from Apple as well. In its app Ad, Apple says: “Imagine a guidebook that speaks to you. With iPhone as your audio guide you’ll get the scoop on landmarks, historic sites and more – in countless cities worldwide – without taking your eyes off the sights.” 

 

With all the new technology out today, you figure physically waiting in line to pay for something would be an idea of the past.  Well it isn't, and QLess is trying to solve this problem.  It's tagline, "Waiting in line sucks."  The startup is a virtual line management system that allows guests to hold their spot in line using cell phones.  Guests enter the virtual line from their cell phones and get called when it is their turn.  According to QLess, the average American spends 2 years of his/her life waiting in lines.  QLess believes its solutions will increase business revenues by allowing users to shop more while they are virtually waiting in line. It's currently getting traction at DMV offices, restaurants, doctor's offices and theme parks.

 What if you could make your own coupons to your favorite restaurants and retail stores? Well Spreezio has built a platform for this sort of far-fetched idea. The company focuses on driving consumers to local merchants, service providers and retail sales reps. In many ways, it's trying to help you discover what's around, much like HearPlanet. It's also similar to Aloqa, Loopt and Siri. Joining is free  for all, but Spreezio also offers a monthly subscription fee for merchants looking for greater visibility.  When a potential customer looking to get a deal uses Spreezio, that merchant gets a request and can decide whether or not to accept that user's offer.   Let's hear it for 15% coupons to our favorite restaurants from now on!

Cloudmach is the developer of a 3D world technology.  While competitors like Second Life and IMVU require users to download software in order to run their virtual world applications, Cloudmach differentiates itself by providing its world completely in the cloud.  So users need not install or download any software in order to have a immersive 3D experiences, everything runs in the browser.  Right now, Cloudmach has a Facebook application called CloudCards, which allows its users to create animated 3D postcards and send them to their friends. The startup argues that 3D versions of virtual gifts can be much more engaging than a 2D gifts like others seen across Facebook.  Cloudmach is similar to Vivaty, which is creating virtual communities on top of Facebook. It's raised $9.4 million from blue-chip venture firms, like Kleiner Perkins.

 

 


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