Tech + Gadgets
Between fines from the state PUC and class-action lawsuits by taxi drivers, several of the ride-sharing services we’ve covered here – Lyft, Uber and SideCar – have been under fire lately.
On the surface it appears to be a classic case of technology startups disrupting an industry that has failed to innovate, of using smartphone apps to find rides almost instantly vs. waiting on the street corner wondering whether the cab you ordered the old-fashioned way will actually show up.
Well, Flywheel (formerly Cabulous) is a San Francisco company with a different solution. Since 2009 it has been building digital dispatch apps and forming relationships with the taxi companies to help bring the industry into the 21st century.
“We are trying to do something that's never been pulled off -- to build a platform where it is easy for people to share what they've bought,” says Mine co-founder and CEO Pierre Legrain. “We are about creating a directory of ownership, of people and their recent purchasing history of items they want to share.”
At first glance, this may remind you of the ill-fated startup Blippy, which allowed people to see what their friends were purchasing with credit cards in real-time.
“So it turns out that almost nobody wants people to check out their purchases,” was the memorable way Alexia Tsotsis started off her Blippy obit in TechCrunch in May 2011.
Ordering food for pickup can sometimes be problematic.
First, you have to place the order by speaking to someone over the phone; next you often have to stand in line at the restaurant to pick it up; and then you have to pull out your wallet to pay at the register.
After all of that, it’s not uncommon -- once you get back home or to your office -- to discover that mistakes have been made.
Most people this holiday season will have spent a lot of money shopping in those good old brick and mortar stores in malls, probably with a smartphone in their pocket the entire time.
A few will have taken the effort to locate the best deals and coupons ahead of time, and to clip or print them out, and then actually remember to bring them along on the shopping trip.
The rest of us, however, will have missed out on some pretty good deals.
Shopular wants to fix this.
As I key in these words, so many gift cards are being exchanged across the US that–if you listen closely–you can almost hear them swishing by, rather like reindeer pulling an invisible sleigh.
It’s estimated to be roughly a $110 billion/year market and the average American now gives about five gift cards per year–the vast majority of them right now, during the holiday shopping season.
This holiday season, there is, of course, a vast array of flashy tech gadgets, including many product upgrades, available for you to buy for those on your list.
Beyond all the tablets, e-readers, and HD-TVs, however, are other gifting options, including some that you may not have considered yet.
SF-based Dropcam, which provides HD WiFi Video monitoring and online DVR recording so you can check on your kids, pets, or anything else remotely, manages a massive amont of of video in the cloud.
“We take in more video than YouTube by an order of magnitude,” says company co-founder and CEO Greg Duffy. “And that video is accessible for all devices, laptops, android, iOS, including the iPad from anywhere in the world.”
“It is a scientific fact that giving makes you feel good—it literally raises the endorphins, just like games do,” says Lesley Mansford, a video-game marketing vet who is using her tech savvy to her philanthropic advantage. “If you can mix gaming mechanics with giving, that’s a very powerful elixir,” she says.
As CEO of six-year-old D.C. startup Razoo, which opened its second headquarters in San Francisco this summer, Mansford is looking to help charitable ventures cash in with “crowdfunding,” that buzzword made popular by Kickstarter.
New research from the smart shopping service BuyVia indicates that 40 percent of all shoppers are “showrooming” this holiday season, i.e., taking photos or scanning or examining products in retail stores with mobile apps before deciding where to buy those products at the best price.
Meanwhile, a recent Nielsen survey found that 78 percent of mobile shoppers have used their device to locate a physical store, and 63 percent have checked prices online while shopping.
If you like buying fresh food at the farmers market and supporting local farmers, you’ve got a brand new option as of today in San Francisco, and that is to set up your own localized weekly delivery site and manage it online.
Farmigo is launching this initiative here and in New York, with other cities to follow soon.