Five Startups That Are Reshaping The Web Economy
People are always trying to define and explain the different stages of the evolving economy of the Web. It started way back when no one had a clue what the Internet would become and Al Gore was still talking about the ‘Information Superhighway.’ Then, after the web was a bit more mature, technologists started talking about Web 2.0, and all of the user generated platforms and social media. Today, the biggest buzzword might be Internet of Things, and it’s certainly an exciting area of development.
Yet, all of these buzz words seem less important today than they used to be. The Web is a mature and thriving economic powerhouse and no one questions the fact that it is going to continue to grow and evolve at a rapid clip – if not quite as dramatically as it has in the past. Some might see this as a sign that all of the most exciting services have already been developed. With giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook firmly entrenched, what role is there for startups?
In truth, the opportunity for startups is as great as it’s ever been. While there may be less room for $100 billion dollar companies, there is a lot of room between that and zero. A more mature web economy requires an army of smaller companies to keep it humming along. For these companies, there is not only a great opportunity for growth and wealth creation, but also to help content providers, publishers, and other entrepreneurs tap into the incredible energy that drives web businesses.
It can be hard to sift through all the amazing (and not so amazing) web companies in business today, so here are five incredible startups that are helping to reshape the web economy:
Sharewall – Moving Beyond The Paywall
Is there a more beautiful word than ‘free’? For consumers of content, it’s clear that the answer is no, but some of the producers of that content might beg to disagree. This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing the Web economy – how are companies going to monetize the massive amounts of content being produced when so many aren’t willing to pay for it? Ads are always an option, but so far they aren’t generating the huge numbers that some publishers were used to back in the days of print. For some, the answer is to lock content down behind a paywall – you may limit your audience, but you’ll generate more revenue per individual piece of content.
Sharewall is a young startup that believes there is another way. Instead of locking down content behind a paywall, users will be able to access content in exchange for a social share. The site wins because its content is passed on to a wider audience and the reader wins even more free content. Beyond that, the company is looking to build a closer relationship between publishers and readers, which will help content providers find new pathways to monetize.
Mobilizr – Monetizing The Selfie
Every decade has its iconic images, and for this decade that might just be the familiar look of someone with an outstretched arm taking a selfie. Most of these selfies usually go straight up to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter where they don’t provide any additional value – well at least to the people who posted them. One startup is looking to tap into this trend and reward users for the multitude of photos they snap with their smartphones.
Mobilizr created a mobile app that allows users to become “brand ambassadors” and get rewarded for the photos they post online. The idea is simple: a brand posts a campaign idea and Mobilizr users post selfies and other images along the guidelines of the campaign. Users are rewarded (with real money) for every like, share, and tweet their images generate. Others have attempted this form of crowdsourced engagement before, but Mobilizr is banking that the power of smartphones and the mobile revolution will help it take off.
Webydo – Power To The Designers
In every industry there are gatekeepers, key players who dictate the pace of change and control the flow of new ideas into the system. In the current web economy, that role is played by developers who have mastered the coding languages that are the behind the scenes force of the Internet. But, that leaves the creative side of the web – designers – on the sidelines of the industry, dependent on developers to make their designs a reality.
Webydo, is a cloud-platform for designers that allows them to build and manage websites without the need for coding. It automates the development process while providing designers with what the company claims is pixel-perfect accuracy of their designs. While I’m sure this isn’t the right fit for the largest and most complicated sites, it does empower designers to take a more leading position in the creation of sites for small businesses and other entrepreneurs. This seems like an exciting step for the web economy that could inject some much needed creative mojo into the designs of hundreds of thousands of SMB sites.
Wibbitz – News Videos For Everyone
As I writer, I’m naturally a fan of the written word. I’m also an entrepreneur, so I recognize the power and the incredible value of video content for news sites and other content providers. Unfortunately, making high quality video content is often an expensive and daunting task that consumes a lot of time and resources.
Wibbitz is hoping to make that process easier for online publishers by automating the process of video creation. The startup has created technology that automatically creates news summary videos based on the text content of a post. It pulls in photos and relevant video clips from news services and provides a human or computer voice to narrate the story. While some readers may be wary of computer generated content, the incredible demand for video news updates shows that Wibbitz has found one corner of the web with tremendous potential.
Atosho – Read, Click, Buy
The world of online media is a harsh place to do businesses. Publishers are faced with the difficult challenge of competing against a vast sea of other websites, while looking for a way to make money when content is expected to be given away for free. Atosho, a Copenhagen-based startup is betting that publishers can turn sites into ecommerce engines as an additional path to monetization.
The platform lets websites sell products without users ever leaving the site. It enables consumers to buy a product directly out of a publisher’s editorial content – whether that’s an article, a product review, an image, or any other digital content that creates demand – and the user completes the purchase right on the site. We have all come to accept ads as a given in free content – perhaps an easy and transparent path to purchase those same advertised products is the logical next step?
The Web is an exciting place to do business, but it’s also proven to be one of the most challenging. These startups, and many others, are working to make sure that there is a rich and varied array of options for professionals doing business on the web. Do any of these startups provide a solution that you need, or do you think there is still a huge problem out there waiting to be solved?
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