Here are two new Silicon Valley companies that launched at DEMO. We’re not certain whether they are features or have potential for more, but they are aiming for more:
Buz Interative lets you create voicemail greetings with music — We got a preview of the Palo Alto company’s product, GetaBuz, last week from VP of Marketing, Steve Ehrlich.
You use it to mix together with a voice message, and then — here’s the technology part — leave the vmails at peoples’ message box directly, without bothering them. In some ways, this is like Pinger, but with music (see our piece on Pinger).
Buz is busy licensing music from the major labels. It has reached agreement with one, giving you a few thousand songs to choose from for now. These guys have a tech background. Ehrlich worked at speech recognition company, Nuance for eight years. Co-founder and engineer Eric Sirkin worked at Xerox and Apple. They got the idea when Sirkin called his daughter one day, and heard this awful blaring message on her phone. She’d tried to mix music in manually, but it hadn’t worked very well. Buz gives you an easy-to-use dashboard to search for tunes, and then lets you mix in your voice message (giving you an option to dial your voice and music levels up and down as you like). You can send a Buz to people, or get one yourself (see screenshot below). It will be free for a month, but after that, will cost between $0.99 and $2.99, depending on whether it is a sound effect or whether it is a licensed song clip from a major label. It gives you freebies if you refer people.
Buz believes kids will use this like they do ringtones — and be interested enough to buy four or so of these Buz’s a year. The trick, however, will be to get users to engage with Buz’s Web site. Ringtones require only a cellphone. For now, you can’t upload your own music to Buz’s site for mixing; Buz is trying to avoid copyright problems. Buz has raised a seed round of $750,000 from Opus, and is now raising a first round of venture capital.
Pairup is a new company that wants to assist you in connection people when you travel — For now, anyone can use it, but it is targeting people who attend out-of-town conferences. You can pull in your Outlook contacts. Then, if you tell Pairup that you’re headed to say, Chicago, Pairup pulls out the names of people in Chicago you may want to contact. It also lets you share your travel plans with others. Here’s how it works.
Esteban Sardera, the CEO and founder of the San Francisco start-up, is probably the only one-man show at DEMO. He used outsourced development (Russia), graphic designers he’d never met in person and Skype to communicate with these folks. No VC funding. Right now, clearly more of a feature than a company, but Sardera wants to build it into something larger.
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.