LaunchBox Unleashes Its First Nine Startups

Over on TechCrunch they have a great overview of the first nine startups to come out of LaunchBox Digital, a local early stage investment firm. One of the founders of ShareMeme, Luc Castera, from the Ruby Users’ Group (and local conferences). I’m excited to dig-in and start using these new services. Here’s a brief overview:

  • BuzzHubb: A Better College Social Network. Next generation group management for colleges and universities (it is similar to Facebook in that regard &emdash only students can join).
  • Heekya: The Wikipedia For Stories. Social story telling using multiple forms of media (text, photos, video).
  • JamLegend: Guitar Hero Goes Social. A free online music gaming experience.
  • Koofers: Crib Notes For Picking College Classes. A tool to help students build their class schedules with insight into the classes, teachers, and styles as reported by other students. It also provides access to study guides, past exams, etc. to assist students.
  • MyGameMug: For Gamers. A personality test for gamers &emdash find others who like the kinds of games that you do.
  • Razume: Resume 2.0. A tool for young (21-35) job seekers. This looks really interesting to me because I had a similar idea several years ago but never executed on it. I’m curious to see how its features overlap with my detailed plan.
  • ShareMeme: Evite Meets Twitter. This service is addressing a real issue that is affecting me: being (inadvertently) spammed by my friends as they sign up for social networks and other services. If it succeeds it can be the go to point for distributing information out to your friends and family through the best channels.
  • Zadby: Web Video Product Placement. Zadby wants to be the market maker for product placement in web video, through its network of independent web video producers.

Hedge Your Fuel Costs Like Southwest Airlines

Autoweek reports that a company called MyGallons allows folks to pre-purchase gallons of gasoline at a predetermined average price for the area where they live. According to the article, the gallons are loaded onto a debit card that the company says is accepted at more than 95% of the nation’s fueling stations. To take part in their service, MyGallons charges an annual fee starting at $29.95.

Miami-based MyGallons counts a membership of more than 4000 and has offices in Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio. It launched a pilot program in April. Verona estimates that the testers paid about $3.10 a gallon for gas, saving roughly a dollar over today’s prices. The debit card system measures consumers’ accounts in gallons of regular unleaded fuel. Pumping premium fuel or diesel debits more gallons, but if you find a station with fuel that’s cheaper than your purchased price, your account is credited with additional gallons. Still, there are some potential pitfalls, including the obvious question: What happens if gasoline prices go back down? MyGallons’ suggestion is to stock up; buy low and use it later if prices increase, though it remains to be seen if consumers would adapt to that kind of purchasing behavior.

It seems like an interesting service to help defray higher energy prices.

iPhone 2.0 Firmware Is Like Getting a Whole New iPhone

After bricking my iPhone this morning by getting caught in the iTunes server onslaught, I was able to complete the upgrade successfully this evening. The upgrade breathes new life into the EDGE iPhone — when I’m on a WiFi network it’s almost equivalent to the iPhone 3G. So far I’ve downloaded twelve free apps from the App Store and paid for one (Bejeweled 2). Even though I balked at paying $9.99 for an iPhone game, my friend Dave convinced me that 1) it’s a reasonable price and 2) it’s a small price to pay for something that I’ll use nearly every day. I can already tell that care must be taken with the lure of the App Store lest I go broke.

In related news, I finally received approval from Apple for my iPhone developer cert, so now I can try out my audio application on my iPhone and potentially sell it via the App Store.

Startup Mashup

If you’re looking for startup companies in your area, there’s a great new resource: Startup Warrior. It’s incredibly useful to drill-down into your region on the map and see all of the amazing work going on nearby.