Today at 19:00 CET I’ll be speaking at a local web meet-up about the web of data. There’ll be a live feed of the talk available and since I’ll be speaking in English you can tune it. This is a quick translation of the abstract posted on Slovenian sites:
Numerous services are emerging on the web that provide data in a computer friendly form through APIs, microformats, feeds,… Even your blog is actually a database as it syndicates its content via feeds and new posts trigger a ping you can subscribe to.
This fact opens new ways of collaboration – so called mash-ups, but this isn’t really a new concept. What’s new about it is the fact that we don’t use this word anymore as all the new services are some sort of a mash-up leveraging existing services. But accessing data is not the only way to leveraging these services – it’s becoming increasingly easy to create an application that lives in other applications without their approval through browser extensions and bookmarklets.
Marko Mrdjenovič from Zemanta will talk about what you can do to make your site more mash-up friendly and why that’s becoming increasingly important. As a developer I’ll also present what options you have and give a few tips on what to do and what to avoid when developing these kind of apps.
It’s happening. Slovenia is being put on the map of the internet.
The company is based in Slovenia and was funded through relationships it made at seedcamp. I am very interested in what’s going on with seed stage web startups in europe right now. I’ll be over there next month and will spend some time trying to get a sense of things. One stop is likely to be Slovenia to meet the Zemanta team.A VC, Jun 2008
I was fascinated when I read this post, not just because as most of you know I now work for Zemanta but also as somebody who has been trying hard to get people to think about seed funding Slovenian companies and organized two Start-up nights at Spletne urice for the same reason.
Unfortunately VCs in Slovenia still aren’t up to the task. And after all the great local companies get funded by foreign capital the local press will most probably say how we sold out everything of value.
A start–up that started as a service for booking tables in restaurants and figured out that Slovenian market isn’t ready for this yet. The problem aren’t the users but the suppliers — the dining industry seems to be governed by older owners and internet and computers are a rarity. This means they need to “relocate” to bookings in other areas.
What fascinated me the most was that they think that ideas are cheap and you need to share them as much as you can — you’ll be getting valuable comments from everybody you share the idea with. I completely agree with this but I don’t entirely agree with another point they made — that you need to have a business plan done to start. I agree that it’s important to think about all this but would put the passion in front of making a well styled document.
All in all an interesting talk about how to start a web service with some really refreshing comments.
The passion for investing in stock, funds and other financial instruments in the Balkan is the basis for this start–up. The team consists of two people that are passionate about this topic and also passionate about web 2.0 services. They spent approximately 16 person–months working until now and expect to invest 8 more until launch in a few months — they’re looking for developers!
The reasons to start a new financial portal seems pretty straight forward — there is no good alternative and all the competition is from web 1.0 or older. It’s a great thing when you find out that you’re passionate about something that is not really present on the market.
When asked whether they ever had problems with gift buying almost everybody in the room said yes. A much smaller number bought a gift coupon. This start–up thinks the number is big enough and they started a web service that sells gift coupons for different stores. When looking back they now know that they spent way too much time on stuff that isn’t really all that important — business cards, legal issues, marketing materials,… I’m not saying these aren’t important and neither are they — but they need to be done as quickly as possible so they don’t come between you and the goal. And the goal is building and growing a successful business.
Another problem they mentioned is the huge number of ideas that lead to scope creep. This is usually also my problem but I think I rooted it out successfully — what I do is talk about ideas and write them all down. This means I don’t need to think about them anymore. I heard something similar in an Indiana Jones movie the other day.
The most famous start–up today with press coverage on the main Slovenian TV and radio stations. The team consists of two people — one responsible for the technical side and the other for PR. The final design was set on the 8th March 2007 and the page was launched a week later. A lesson they learned the hard way was that you need to buy the domains early on — as Murphy goes you’ll lose it the day you want to buy it.
Communication is key — you can actually get free stuff if you ask. You’ve got nothing to loose anyway. Because they went for a charitable cause they got a lot of free PR. And now people are passing the link on to those that want to give something away which is probably the ultimate goal of every web service. Having a fan club can be very good for your business…
You also need to think about how to handle the peaks that will come when you succeed. If you don’t your service will die when you have the link on the front page of TechCrunch. Or in the case of local service on the local TV station.
Web Typography is one of the topics I really care about and I think it’s an issue that is a bit overlooked in our local community. After my talk last year about fonts and possible ways to use / embed them I am happy that we got Richard to come to Slovenia to talk about this — who could be better than the author of The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web.
All in all it was great having Richard here and I guess he liked it too. I hope he’ll put in a good word for us and we’ll get even more foreign speakers to come to Ljubljana and share their in–depth knowledge of specific areas of webdesign and development3.
I would also like to thank our silent sponsor Parsek Interactive that took care of the air fare and the hotel bill and also Zemanta that shared their work space with Richard today4.
Technically Daniel P. Fischer was the first, but he gave his talk as part of the HAIP festival and his stay and talk was organized by the Cyberpipe crew. So what I’m trying to say is that Richard was the first speaker I organized by myself. back
Image from WikipediaMobile advertising redone with users getting mobile content for free and advertisers being able to target their customers more priceisely. I think they have a huge obstacle in the fact that people are afraid of receiving content on their mobile phone – almost everything here is payable and you can easily empty your prepaid account with messages you accidentally turn on. They have a strategic partner, a local newspaper Dnevnik. Since it’s free I suggest you try the service. You can always turn it off if you don’t like it.
A search engine for opening times of stores – on a small local market that is Slovenia, having a where is less important then the when. So search is not geo based but only keyword based, they are planning geo search too but cannot afford the database yet (18kEUR). They use scrapers to get fresh content, having your data in the search engine is free but it has to be fresh – stale entries are thrown oue. The revenue feed will be advertising, geo based. The application is made with Ruby and has some interesting backend features. It also provides an XML representation of data that is useful for reusing the content. A mobile version is also available.
Working on a stage full of formidable competitors avtocenter.si tries to add value to the process of buying a used car by adding more information on the page, incorporating user feedback and other similar features. They will provide TCO calculations for specific models, graphs of prices. Going mobile is also a priority since when you’re buying a car you can check the competition on the spot with your mobile phone. Getting the sellers is another issue – they’re offering tools to improve the publishing experience for return sellers for a small fee. Additional feed of revenue is advertising.
To sum up…
All of these start-ups have these features (already deployed or in the pipeline):
Zemanta, a Slovenian start-up that got into seedcamp, moved to London for a few months and came back a few months ago launched their service at Spletne urice yesterday. The service that bares the name of the company helps you enrich the blog posts you’re writing. What you need to do is download their browser extension (only Firefox currently supported) and a box will appear in your favorite blogging tool (WordPress, Blogger, Typepad currently supported) that makes adding relevant images, links and related articles to the post a one-click operation.
I like the technology and I think it will make the life of an ordinary blogger a whole lot easier. What I don’t like that much is the HTML they produce in the blogposts. I understand the dilemmas they have with all the themes and platforms they need to support but adding that much style attributes is really not nice.
Disclaimer: I’ve cleaned up the HTML in this post, to see the output check the demo.