The TechCrunch50 conference kicks off today, with two days of startup launches and demos in San Francisco. While the focus of the event is on the 50 start-ups selected by the blog to pitch investors and the public with their ideas, runner-ups show off their concepts in the DemoPit. Since TechCrunch says it rejects 950 out of the 1,000 applications it receives, some decent ideas are bound to end up in the pit. (The audience favorite ends up giving a pitch on stage at the end of the event.) This is by no means an exhaustive list and we’ll be reporting more from the conference today.
Israeli startup Meaningo is a semantic search engine, aimed at refining results and vague queries from users. For example, if you search for shoes, Meaningo will come up with a number of photos plus it will suggest terms that are related (i.e. “work & safety” or “athletic & outdoor).
Tucoola is an education-focused startup aimed at children from two to eight. It provides educational games to children that their parents can participate in and monitor through progress reports. It’s also a platform, which will let other game developers integrate their projects into Tucoola.
Rolotrak is a smarter Rolodex for this era – it’s a networking tool that sends you reminders to keep in touch with your professional contacts. It lets you keep notes on different acquaintances to help you remember their jobs or personal information. The project is self-funded.
San Francisco-based Motally provides analytics for mobile web sites and apps. It’s trying to be the Google analytics of mobile phones by giving quantitative feedback on how customers use apps and letting advertising managers study the return on investment for their campaigns. Customers can try and track their users’ demographics or watch whether users complete certain actions within the app. The company supports iPhone, Blackberry and Android apps and is backed by angel investor Ron Conway and Blue Run Ventures.
ShoutEm lets users create their own microblogging network — it’s meant for businesses that want a Twitter-like community but with their own branding on top. Custom networks supported by ShoutEm have microblogging, photo-sharing and location-sharing. The company says it’s hosting more than 7,000 such networks.
Another Israeli-based startup, Virtual Web, is demoing a project called the SociaLAVA platform that lets publishers create a social networking layer over their Web sites. It lets them show personalized content that will keep users on their site for longer.
360desktop has a free Windows program that allows people to use their favorite Web applications as if they were native to the desktop. You can grab and share videos or web widgets use them on your desktop. The idea would also be to encourage content providers to create widgets or projects that users have constant access to outside the browser.