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7 Hot Mobile Startups to Watch in 2013

Jeff Vance | Jan. 4, 2013
Mobile startups are all the rage right now, and many venture capitalists are placing their bets and hoping to cash in. Here are seven new mobile ventures to keep an eye on, some of which may change how we think about mobile.

InVenture has created an SMS-based app for low-income entrepreneurs in emerging markets that does two things: First, entrepreneurs with no access to financial services now get a simple and easy-to-use accounting tool to help them manage their businesses via text message.

Second, and more importantly, as entrepreneurs text InVenture their daily spending expenditures, InVenture takes this data, plugs it into their proprietary algorithm and then generates a credit score, which will provide people operating in the informal economy with their first opportunity to access financial services from established banks and micro-finance institutions.

Funding: InVenture has raised an undisclosed amount of early funding and has secured several grants.

3. Tagwhat

Disruption: Pioneering location-based, mobile marketing and social networking. Headquarters: Boulder, Colo. Founded: 2009 CEO: Dave Elchoness, who previously founded and served as CEO for VRWorkplace; before that, he served as an IT director for Qwest.

Why they're on this list: Tagwhat leverages your mobile device's built-in location sensors to deliver Web- and social-networking content about the places around you. The strategy of tying LBS to social networks is a smart one. Most LBS vendors simply try to push advertisements or coupons or other stuff we really don't want at us.

With Tagwhat, smartphone and tablet users can now geo-locate Web content and deliver it to nearby mobile users in seconds. Tagwhat automatically applies algorithms to identify and associate related contextual content including Facebook pages, Foursquare venues, Twitter streams and, of course, commercial offers. The result is a geo-tagged, connected Web that dramatically increases the volume of localized content available to mobile users.

Tagwhat's primary revenue streams are branded channels (subscriptions paid by publishers) and affiliate revenue through third-party services, which are only viewed if selected by users, rather than being pushed at them.

Funding: Friends and family seed funding.

4. FuzeBox

Disruption: Challenging incumbent videoconferencing vendors by delivering videoconferencing from the cloud; unlike competing solutions, this cloud-based videoconferencing platform was designed to work on iOS and Android devices. Headquarters: San Francisco Founded: 2007 CEO: Jeff Cavins; prior to FuzeBox, he served as President and CEO of Loudeye Corporation, which was acquired by Nokia.

Why they're on this list: People hate virtual meetings because they are difficult to access, unreliable, unsophisticated, and so often simply feel unprofessional.

FuzeBox delivers HD-quality (1080p) videoconferencing, with content sharing. The service is accessible from smartphones and tablets, and it integrates with enterprise telepresence solutions, such as Polycom and Tandberg.

According to FuzeBox, the problem with other videoconferencing systems is that they are "screen-share based, not cloud-sharing based." Thus, they can't deliver 1080p HD video. They don't integrate with telepresence systems, and users on smartphones and tablets can't host the conferences.


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