Start-Up Previews: A New Crop to Consider.

Author DEREK GORDON is a marketing and sales exec with more than 20 years success in integrated marketing and sales strategy and management.He is the Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Pathbrite.

At last week’s LIFE 3.0 event in San Francisco, early-stage start-ups competed to earn audience votes so the top three vote-getters could pitch a group of investors from the event’s stage.  Of the 30 or so start-ups in the room, there were a handful that stood out. Most notably, there were several that are using game mechanics to incent behaviors that lead to better human performance.

Probably the most interesting company in this vein is called Springshot, which has built an awards-based productivity platform that leverages game mechanics. Aimed at industries with large “blue collar” workforces, it consists of a combination of hardware and online tracking that rewards workers for increases in productivity or meeting set goals.  Workers wear an Android smartphone on their arm (which is tethered to a Velcro strap by a retractable spring) and each time they create a rote task, they report it with a quick tap to the screen. The software keeps track of tasks completed, the time it took to complete them, and performance versus the employee’s cohort. The new platform is launching with a number of airlines that will use the system with ground personnel (think people who clean planes between flights.)

Another company leveraging game mechanics and rewards is focused on parents and their kids – and parents should love this one. Called ChoreMonster, it’s a rewards platform that incents kids to do their chores by offering points and rewards. It’s the modern-day version of a weekly allowance for doing things like mowing the lawn, taking out the trash or cleaning your room. Both a browser and smartphone app, ChoreMonster enables parents to set the chores, the milestones and the rewards, and kids to record and monitor their progress. Oh, and to collect their rewards when they’ve exceeded their goals.

And yet a third company,, is also using game mechanics, but this time to reward news consumption and knowledge. Think Flipboard meets “Jeopardy”. NewsUp enables its users to identify the sources and types of news that they like, and as they consume the news they’re fed, they amass points. There is also “Jeopardy”-like quizzes along the way that enable you to show off your current-affairs knowledge by playing against friends. As you rack up points and wins, you can see how you’re performing relative to everyone you know. The founders are big believers in the Fourth Estate and hope this will not only be a profitable way to deliver the news to citizens, but to increase interest in and awareness of important issues of the day.

Shifting track, a cool little company that caught my eye is Swapidy. It’s an online swap meet without any of the risks associated with fraud. The platform enables you to offer something to swap for something else you want; when you find that someone who has your mirror desire, you seal the deal online. Then, both parties send the items into Swapidy, which verifies that each item is exactly as described in the transaction, and then sends the swapped items on to their new owners.  Though it could be tough to scale, for folks who love to do this swapping stuff – and they are legion – Swapidy could be just what the doctor orders.

Soniqplay is something brand managers should pay attention to. Soniqplay enables brands and media owners to engage their audience through interactive audio applications that are very easy to use and have a built-in social sharing layer that allows for viral sharing, tracking and reporting. Brands are able to interact with customers and generate brand loyalty through the audio and music their audiences love. Media owners can create new digital revenue streams with interactive audio apps tailored to the brand. And content developers can generate new revenue streams from existing digital assets by making content available through Soniqplay’s interactive apps. Check it out.

Finally, Yalldo is a new app for hobbyists looking for folks who share their passions. Love to fly planes? Find your fellow enthusiasts on Yalldo. Looking for someone to golf with? Yalldo can help you find that person—eventually. The app was born out of the founders’ passion for restoring and flying vintage planes, and the difficulty they found in connecting with others who shared their passion. So, for now, that’s the connections they’re facilitating. Still, I’ve found the best apps are the ones that solve a real problem for the people who build them, and this one has promise.

Author DEREK GORDON is a marketing and sales exec with more than 20 years success in integrated marketing and sales strategy and management. He is the Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Pathbrite. You can also check out his blog, Daily Casserole.

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