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By now ya’all know that I love public transportation. One of the areas I like in the tech area regarding public transportation is watching all of the map mashups that have been launched over the past couple of years. I’ve written about the BusTime testing in NYC, the live London train map and the real-time Swiss train mashup. Four years ago I wrote about how tourists should consider taking the bus – it’s often overlooked in cities that offer a subway system.
Today I’ve learned about a new Google Maps mashup using bus data from the TFL in London. It’s called the London BusMapper and the developers describe the service as, “Can’t figure out which bus to take in London?Click on 2 points on the map and we’ll tell you!”
It’s really that easy to use the London BusMapper – just click on any two points in London on the map and it will show you all of the routes that get you from point A to point B. What’s really neat is that it shows you routes that start and end near your location so you can make the choice that works best overall.
The London BusMapper was developed by Mattias, Azmat and Ben Dowling. The team is actively encouraging suggestions on what features to build into the London BusMapper. So far the most popular suggestions include: creating a mobile version, time per route option, and to make sure the system takes into account any diversions for construction, etc.
This weekend, I was reconnected with a company that I met during my September Seedcamp visit in London who, as many other companies in the “group communication” space have before, asked to catch up to discuss some of the successes we had experienced at eGroups during our growth phase.
I promised to catch up when he was here in NYC, and we recently sat down with him to discuss some of the issues that I believed are important to a group manager and how to frame the product discussion if they were trying to find their growth.
After the first deep dive, I realized that David (the CEO of GroupSpaces) really had a functional handle on the product. Both he and his co-founder were group organizers back in uni (British for “college”) and were frustrated with Google Groups, Yahoo! Groups and even Facebook event management. So, four years ago – they started building GroupSpaces and started addressing their own needs. Just the two of them – and they began to build out an incredibly robust platform for group managers. So he showed me the product in its current form.
I was honestly blown away.
I am not kidding – after running numerous groups and having to connect and coordinate different platforms and datafeeds between bulk-email providers, my membership roles, event planning tools, creating subgroups with specific permissions (meaning I would have to have special sub groups on the Google or Yahoo platforms) – when I started diving into GroupSpaces, I realized I am moving off of Google and Yahoo! Groups for any of my active groups.
Phil Gainley from FounderSpeak has put together a detailed, in-depth report regarding bootstrapped startups. As an aside, I hope one day we can get to industry accepted definitions for “bootstrapped” and “startup”. Two years ago I provided my definitions for both terms and many CN readers provided their own definitions. For example, can a company started in 2005 really still be considered a startup?
Phil’s analysis provides a lot of data points around bootstrapped startups and is well worth a read. Phil interviewed 107 startups to gather the data for the report. Phil notes, “included is a breakdown of trends in the tech space, what the lifetime and demographics of a startup looks like and where they fail and what their biggest problems are. Also it has my latest research around the tech startup space all put into a process that other tech startups can use that is around 10 pages long. This research will be part of my Aston Business School MBA.”
The survey provides data and charts on the following areas:
- Number of founders
- How do you provide monetary support for your startup
- Monthly hardware costs
- Misc. spending costs per month – marketing, networking, travel, etc.
- What phase is your startup currently in
- How long have you been working on your startup
- When do you expect to reach breakeven
- Why haven’t you reached breakeven yet
- Type of product/service
I think it would be great to be able to refine the data – for example, breakeven data for startups with 2 founders that are in business more than 18 months, etc. I believe most of the startup data in the report comes from startups based in London/UK and note that the monetary figures are in pounds not dollars.
If you are a regular CN reader, you know that I am a railfan and a big fan of public transportation. We’ve covered real-time transit maps from around the world. My favorite up until today was the Swiss train map mashup — the map shows you where all of the trains in Switzerland are in real-time.
We’ve seen other cities including NYC, Boston and Philly get in on the real-time craze. NYC has a bus tracker on the M34 and M16 lines in midtown Manhattan and Philly is running a real-time test of a bus tracker.
Today, some developers in London, my second favorite transit system, launched a real-time transit tracker. The Google Maps mashup shows trains in the London Underground (also known as the Tube) in real-time. I’ve included a screenshot below. Yellow markers are stations and red markers are moving trains. Note that London’s transit system doesn’t run overnight so there won’t be any markers if you look during the overnight hours.
The code for the mashup is available as open source on GitHub. Here’s the overview of how the system works, “Live departure data is fetched from the TfL API, and then it does a bit of maths and magic. It’s surprisingly okay given this was done in only a few hours at Science Hackday and the many naming/location issues encountered, some unresolved. A small number of stations are misplaced or missing; occasional trains behave oddly; some H&C stations are missing in the TfL feed.”
It’s awesome to see so many transit systems embracing new technology and encouraging developers and entrepreneurs to get involved. Many of the world’s top transit systems seemed to move so slowly for decades but in the last 12-18 months, there has been a rapid pace to involve the local communities. This new London Underground real-time map is now my favorite Google Maps mashup – I hope one day we will see NYC host something similar.
Last week London-based Skimlinks launched the SkimKit, a tool that helps publishers find products that have affiliate opportunities attached. Martin Bryant from Next Web has a good overview from the launch of the SkimKit service.
This morning I met with Skimlinks founder and CEO Alicia Navarro in NYC to learn more about her service and the new SkimKit launch. It was a great conversation because it combined a product demo/pitch with a good industry discussion.
Alicia noted that one of the benefits (actually the main benefit) of using Skimlinks over signing up for affiliate programs yourself is that you will generally make more money because Skimlinks typically receives the highest commission levels while most affiliates will generally stay in the lowest bucket. Skimlinks takes a cut of the earned revenue (25%) but even with the split, you will most likely still earn more. You also only need to signup once with Skimlinks and then you can participate in all of the programs that Skimlinks supports – over 7,500 of them.
The SkimKit is an Adobe Air application that helps publishers find products for the stories they are writing. If you are familiar with how Zemanta helps you find links for your stories, the SkimKit does the same thing for products except that the SkimKit only shows products where there is an affiliate relationship.
The idea behind the SkimKit is to make it super easy for writers (especially teams of writers) to find product links to include in their blog posts and articles. The SkimKit also provides short URLs for sharing links in emails along with direct share links for Twitter and Facebook.
Also checkout Alicia’s guest post about building a startup in the UK.
When you ride the subway, have you ever thought, “boy I’d like to get her on my Twitter”. Or what about, “his tush belongs on my Facebook”. Perhaps, “She would be a great friend for my feed”. But the problem is that it’s hard to go up to someone and tell them about your interests and desires on a train.
There’s a new service that will help you reveal your interests in a man or a woman named SubwayCrush. The service currently serves NYC, London, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago. The idea is simple…find someone on the train you are interested in, write up the person’s specs on SubwayCrush and then the person might just answer. Naturally the more people who know about, and use, SubwayCrush, the better chance you have for a match.
You can view all “crushes” by city or by type (e.g m4w, m4m, w4m, w4w). You must enter the rail line you were on when you found your crush — this helps narrow down who it might be. I hear stories all the time about people finding love on the subway. I did a search for “hot male entrepreneur who also runs a tech blog” on a few of the subway lines in NYC but I came up empty.
I am guessing at some point they will add the ability to post photos – which might be a bit creepy. They should also add the ability to signup for alerts based on location and/or subway line.
The service was created by NY-based Lolz.
Musician ecommerce widget service TheBizmo has announced their public U.S. launch today. Previously TheBizmo has been operating in private beta here in the U.S. and in full operations mode in the U.K.
TheBizmo has a NYC presence as well – David Hazan heads up their U.S. operations. You should see TheBizmo around NYC this summer as they are sponsoring a number of music conferences.
TheBizmo is described as offering, “a new embeddable e-commerce widget that enables artists to sell MP3s, videos, merchandise and more, straight to fans, from any social networking page, website, or blog.” The service is free to setup and both the musician and TheBizmo share in the revenues. The musician earns the following:
- Music – 70% of retail
- Tickets – 100% of the face value of all tickets
- T-shirts – musician decides on the share
- All other offerings (ringtones, e-books, sheet music, etc.) - 70% of retail
After the musician creates their store, they can push it to Facebook, Ning, MySpace and other social networks. And since it’s a widget, it can be embedded anywhere. The service could be a good way for musicians to gain more visibility and new fans.