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10 Hot Social Media Startups to Watch

Jeff Vance | April 18, 2013
Social media startups aren't typically as well-funded as cloud or mobile startups, but they can have just as much impact and potential in how a business functions and succeeds. After evaluating more than 40 social media startups and then turning to crowdsourcing for input, here are the 10 hot social media startups to watch.

According to Fabbri, "Influence scoring is an inept way of measuring how qualified a person is on social media. It's easy to game and usually gives undue attention to celebrities, rather than people with true talent."

Prollie's goal is to uncover qualified people to friend or follow on social networks based on your specific interests. Prollie's algorithm evaluates users based on skill, efficiency, and usage of each social network and assigns a letter grade to represent quality and talent on social media, not influence or reach.

Prollie also provides a user-focused search platform that lets people search by interest, network, grade level, and location.

Market Potential and Competitive Landscape: The most direct competitors are Klout and Kred. The main reservation about this space is the fact that no one has figured out a surefire way to monetize businesses like this.

9. Shiftgig

What they do: Shiftgig enables better connections between employers and job candidates in the restaurant, hotel, nightlife, and retail verticals.

Headquarters: Chicago, Ill.

CEO: Eddie Lou, who was previously a general partner with OCA Ventures.

Founded: August 2011

Funding: Shiftgig raised $3 million in its Series A funding in October 2012 from I2A Fund, FireStarter Fund, and Red Barn Investments, as well as prominent angels such as Sam Yagan, CEO of Match.com; Brian Spaly, CEO of Trunk Club; and Ken Pelletier, CTO of Groupon.

Why they're on this list: The verticals Shiftgig targets tend to have very high turnover. A social media tool like this could certainly reduce turnover and, perhaps, also reduce the costs associated with a high-turnover labor force.

We like Shiftgig's model and its target market. After all, most bartenders don't tend to find work on Monster.com. What seems to be missing, though--at least on first glance--is the kind of review/recommendation engine that benefits consumers of services like Yelp and even Amazon. Part of why there is high turnover in these sectors is that employees are often poorly paid and even exploited (and employers have plenty of legitimate gripes about unreliable employees too). If Shiftgig can shine a light on those problems, and then deliver that info back to employers and employees alike so they can improve, it could really have an impact.

We were initially skeptical about including Shiftgig in a roundup intended for a CIO and IT audience. However, it does serve as an example of just how disruptive social media promises to be in coming years.

Market Potential and Competitive Landscape: We don't know of any direct competitors. Heck, many restaurants still mainly advertise openings with a sign in the window.

Since its launch in January 2012, Shiftgig claims it has attracted more than 6,000 businesses and 200,000 job candidates. Businesses include high-end restaurants such as Graham Elliott in Chicago and Morimoto in New York, as well as casual restaurants like Chipotle. Other named users include Holiday Inn, Hyatt and the Hard Rock Hotel.

 

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