For entrepreneurs building Web applications for the consumer market, investor funding is still there, although not as abundant as, say, two years ago, and mostly reserved to companies that have proven themselves, he said. In addition, as online ad revenue contracts, providers of consumer Web apps are experimenting with other models, like subscription fees, he said.
"Web applications have the force of inevitability now," Sterling said.
In fact, two developers in Tel Aviv, Israel, lacking the money to make the expensive trip to Miami, took that as an opportunity, instead of as a roadblock, and months ago launched a fund-raising site called Gotta Get To FOWA.
The cleverly designed site offered visitors a variety of ways to help Naor Suky and Adam Tal, co-founders of InternetLife travel to Miami. In addition to sponsoring them with direct donations, people could download a song they wrote about FOWA for $1.99 a pop or link to some third-party special offers for which they got referral commissions.
While Suky and Tal didn't raise the necessary funds in time to make it to FOWA in Miami, the site led to business opportunities.
"This is one of the first projects we made for ourselves -- not for a client -- so we had the freedom to be as creative as we like, both in terms of concept and business model. The first thing we learned was that being creative pays off. We got lots of job offers and two projects from people who liked the idea and the way we executed it," they said via e-mail this past weekend.
"The attention we got, the connections we made, and business lessons we learned were priceless, and I'm sure our next adventure will benefit much from what we learned. We're now looking in to ways of making the site helpful for other people wanting to attend FOWA events, which we believe are very important for young designers and developers," they added.
While disappointed they couldn't come to the conference's Miami edition, Suky and Tal are still raising travel funds and hoping they'll be able to go to the next FOWA conference, happening in London on April 30 and May 1st.
In Miami, Monday will be devoted in its entirety to workshops, including "How to build a Web app from A-Z" by Mike McDerment, co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks and "Implementing the Social Web with OpenID, OAuth and All That Jazz" by David Recordon, Six Apart's Open Platforms tech lead.
On Tuesday, conference presentations will include discussions about the future of the Web browser, how to build a tech team and best practices for branding. Speakers will include Ben Galbraith, co-director of developer tools at Mozilla, Dave Morin, senior platform manager at Facebook and Jason Fried, co-founder and president of 37Signals.
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