Seedcamp, '08: In a pack of copycats, two start-ups shine

UpdatedSeedcamp is a European tech event that picks 20 promising European companies then gives a handful of winners £50,000 euro and three months in London to get their products ready for the next round. Last year, the judges chose five companies, one of which, Zemanta — a blog plug-in that helps you find content relevant to your post — recently raised capital from American investors. This year, the judges chose seven. While most of them were not incredibly innovative, a couple stood out.

Here they are, from worst to best:

In case the world is looking for another mini-blogging site, it now has one in Soup.io. With Soup.io, you can write quick thoughts, post videos, images or files (see: Tumblr), send emails to the service to do the same (a.k.a. Posterous) and make a lifestream of the content you create around the web (à la FriendFeed). Yeah, sorry. Not impressed.

Before they became mass propagators of Facebook applications, RockYou and Slide got their start as slide-show widgets that let you share photos around the web in flashy ways. Stupeflix, whose name may in fact say it all, lets you use some attractive-looking touches to take this concept to a whole new degree of marginal utility. Mostly, these touches mean you can pan and zoom around the photos and use fancy transitions for slight cinematic effect. Next!

Toksta gives social sites the ability to add instant messaging, voice or video chat with a line of code. There’s a company called MangoSpring that’s been doing plug-and-play IM for a few months, but I’m not sure there are tons of sites that want this. I was lukewarm about MangoSpring’s prospects when I saw it, and despite Toksta stepping it up with voice and video chat, I am equally lukewarm now. It really doesn’t help that Meebo is going to offer this same feature very soon.

If I were an iPhone app developer, I’d strongly consider Mobclix, an analytics and advertising service that launched at TechCrunch50. Its consumer-facing side gives the world current and historical data about the usage of all the available apps. For developers that integrate Mobclix, it details how apps are being used, when they crash, which features are being the used the most (or least), and so on. Advertisers, on the other hand, can target ads based on a iPhone’s location, the type of application being used and even (allegedly) behavior. There’s one catch: Pinch Media is already doing most of this, and has been for a while.

BaseKit takes the do-it-yourself website building concept and injects a few doses of superjuice. While market leaders Weebly and Synthasite offer some pre-built applications, they mostly focus on website layout and design. BaseKit does the design thing but also lets you create your own web applications using nothing but drag and drop. Take for example, if you want to create a real estate search site: In the demo, the user takes a Google Maps widget, ties it to a real estate data set, adds a search box and then has the app display results, with property photos and descriptions, in a neat column down the side. Before BaseKit, this would involve writing code to plug the data into Google Maps and then a bunch of more-than-basic HTML. With BaseKit, the process requires knowing which commands to drag and drop onto each other but can be done in under eight minutes once you know how. I’ve seen a bunch of site creators in my day, and BaseKit is the most impressive I’ve come across.

uberVU stands out like a million-dollar diamond. The company has built a one-stop shop for dealing with all of the online content you create. It is simultaneously an aggregator that pulls together everything you’ve uploaded to various services, a content management system that lets you organize it all and a powerful publishing platform that lets you create new content, upload it once and then push it to multiple outlets at once. It also brings anything that’s said about your content to one place and lets you comment right back to the source. This sounds like it would be totally unwieldy, but uberVU’s excellently designed interface makes the whole thing look easy.

[Updated: The original post listed Babuki as one of the winners. Babuki has actually re-branded as Kyko, which will focus on multi-player social games. It remains in stealth mode and will be reviewed when it launches.]

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