You don’t have to be an experienced businessman to start a company. Indeed, even college students with little “real-world” experience can come up with the next industry-changing idea (Mark Zuckerberg, anyone?). Check out the latest student-led companies who showed off their ideas today at the DEMO Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.
Many recent college graduates know the joy of having a diploma in their hands — and the pain of student loans on their backs. MyBillRegistry (whose founder is pictured above) hopes to help alleviate some of that post-graduate debt, by letting students post their financial needs online while they’re still students. A student goes the MyBillRegistry website and lists bills, textbook fees, and other burdens. These are then pushed out to individuals who “want to support higher education.” Those individuals can then go on and pay those bills directly to the vendor, as opposed to giving a grant to the student himself. The company hopes this will one day help students study more, increase their GPAs, and help make education more accessible.
The Square Foot
The Square Foot wants to help tenants find commercial real estate more easily. The founders have created a website where anyone can go, look at workspaces up for rent or sale, and find pricing and availability. Landlords can also access the website to create and manage listings. The company is far from alone, however. 42Floors, a current Y Combinator company, is also doing this and it seems almost exactly the same idea.
Terms of service agreements suck. They’re long, no one reads them, but they’re full of, quite simply, really important information. Tosigram founder Andrew Chen used file sharing company Box’s TOS as an example. It was nine pages long and according to Chen, “no one wants to read that.” Tosigram instead provides outlines of terms of server agreements, and creates a simpler way to view how your privacy is going to be protected.
Google’s Project Glass made news recently, suggesting that one day soon we would have glasses that allow us to overlay digital information onto our everyday sight. That is, if you are looking at a building that is actually a historical landmark, a popup could automatically feed you information without you even needing to know what you’re looking at. Vergence is working on its own virtual reality glasses, that will be both functional and stylist, according to its founders. The company would also like to “turn reality into an app platform,” where developers can create applications for the glasses to “intermingle with physical reality.”
When you start a project, people generally first turn to Google for answers. But Beam says, “don’t bother, you’re not going to get anything.” For example, if you want to raise funding, the most relevant information is probably going to come from real-time tweets, blog posts, and other types of up-to-the-moment content. Beam has created a website that allows you to input feeds from around the web that are relevant to your goal. The company’s algorithm then looks at all the content generated by those feeds and determines how relevant the content is to your goal. If so, it is pushed to a feed that is supposed to be totally curated just for you.
You’re playing a game and you’ve slain the hydra, defeated the forest of doom, but somehow you just can’t get over the rope wall. This is where many free-to-play games lose their players, but Metrify wants to be your knight in shining armor. The company’s technology looks through your gaming app and finds users who are stuck. It then alerts the company and helps then create a campaign that can be pushed to the user before they lose interest. Thus far the company is working with EA, Disney, and Rovio and only has three employees.
Collaborative consumption is the idea that we should cut down on all the new items being made, when really we can just share. RentStuff.com makes renting that much easier by aggregating all the different rental stores in your area, and shows you their inventory online. It also helps a not-digital-friendly industry break into the online, e-commerce world. RentStuff, however, is extremely similar to Getable (formerly RentCycle), an Andreessen-Horowitz backed company that provides renters with a SaaS-based inventory management tool, that allows then to populate the Getable website with for-rent items. RentStuff, however, also lets individuals upload items, roping those who just want to make a buck into the business.
Your news feed moves fast and Hypemarks is afraid you’re not going to see their hilarious link. So, the company has created a social layer for Facebook and Twitter, where people can create collections of friends whose content they enjoy. Then when they’re looking for a particular topic, such as “cool music sites,” they can search their friends and find sites specific to their needs. Currently Hypemarks has 1,100 users.