Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TechCrunch 50 - Session 1: Youth & Culture

TC50 (September 8-10, 2008) is turning out to be the event to watch out in the Web 2.0/Startup space. The event is being streamed live and the videos are also archived on

Here's my take on the startups featured in the Youth & Culture segment of the event. I'd recommend all readers to check the pitch video first, then to check the individual sites and then post their feedback in the comments section of this post.

BlahGirls (Katalyst Media): Click to watch their Demo Video at TC50
What's it about: Interactive Online Episodes from Katalyst Media (Blah Girls is their first show - Celebrity Gossip News using Animations)
What's cool: Ashton Kutcher & the animations
What's the model: Production house for the Internet. This is all about the content. Katalyst Media has understood its audience well and going by the first episode, seem to be good at the content. Revenue model is proven. They make money through advertisers - product placements in the episodes and traditional advertising on the site.
What's the challenge: The same challenges that a production house faces i.e. Scalability.
Hot or Not: HOT

Click to watch their Demo Video at TC50
What's it about: Online Destination/Social Network for Kids
What's cool: A kid-friendly UI. Proprietary 'Word Up!' safety.
What's the model:
I really don't know if they can make money out of this except for advertising kids' wear/chocolates/games/toys. even that I doubt. I do not buy the 'we got the kids hooked and can then port them to other products when they grow up' pitch.
What's the challenge: Lack of a revenue model. No real WOW tech.
Hot or Not: NOT

Shryk: Click to watch their Demo Video at TC50
What's it about: Educational Money Management App called iThryv for Kids.
What's cool: Shyrk has smartly decided to ally with schools to educate kids rather than trying to reach the kids directly.
What's the model: They want to catch 'em young and build "customers for life" for partner banks.
What's the challenge: I have my doubts about the need for such an app. Assuming there is, I don't think its simple enough to make it useful enough. Adoption is going to be a major challenge. Even, if it's useful enough and is adopted, I don't see banks treating this as a starting point for customer acquisition. It could at best be a CSR initiative for the bank rather than a business in itself.
Hot or Not:NOT

Hangout Industries
: Click to watch their Demo Video at TC50
What's it about: Facebook/MySpace + Second Life for Kids & Young Adults
What's cool: Awesome 3D Immersive Experience. Especially, the posters & pictures on the walls.
What's the model: Revenue sharing arrangements with partners such as and apparel/clothing companies. I guess similar transactional layers would come in for music/games/videos.
What's the challenge: Lack of depth in the revenue model. Commissions would never amount to significant revenue. They seem to have a WOW technology though and probably could sell-out to an offline brand wishing to establish a connect in the Young Adults segment or to one of the larger Internet companies.
Hot or Not: NOT

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