SXSW 2014 Accelerator: Social Apps

We’re at the SXSW 2014 Accelerator where companies focused on various different aspects of technology including, social, enterprise/big data, wearable, entertainment, content, and health will pitch their heart’s out in front of a panel of judges with the hope of coming out on top.

The first set of companies pitching are working on social technology.  Each presenter has two minutes to pitch their product, followed by 10 minutes of questions.

Ansa

Ansa is an ephemeral messenger, they want to focus on being a backchannel for text messaging.  They believe since it is person-to-person messaging, that people will find it useful even if a lot of people aren’t using it.

The app just launched yesterday.  It’s big in India and the Middle East and currently has 23,000 monthly active users (for some perspective: WhatsApp has close to 500 million monthly active users) on iOS and Android.

In terms of monetization, they want to be able to license the platform (one country is already interested in potentially licensing) and also build an ephemeral ad platform.

Thoughts: Not too much differentiating Ansa from other messaging apps out there on the market.  It is a mix of WhatsApp and Snapchat, but there’s no reason to think that WhatsApp couldn’t clone the Ansa functionality in a heartbeat.

Connect

Connect keeps track of all your friends and contacts.  It’s beneficial because contact information is all over the place (different social networks, iPhone contacts, Google contacts, etc) and Connect offers a way to keep track of your friends based on geo-location (if it’s provided).  All of your contacts are backed up and stored in the cloud.

If you want to add LinkedIn contacts it costs $3 per month and the company is already generating revenue from premium upgrades (they had 200 people upgrade so far). Connect has 24,000 monthly active users and it is seeing around 3,000 new users added every day.

It also features a way to check-in using Connect and push the check-in to Facebook and foursquare.

Thoughts: I’m more sold on the idea having a way to manage all of your contacts in one place than I am about any of the other features that Connect offers right now (but that may also be due to not having tested the app yet).

Felt

Felt is an app that lets you create handwritten letters straight on your iPad.  The app had 10,000 downloads when they launched, currently have 60,000 downloads with 8,000 cards sent.  Each Felt card is $3.99 (with volume discounts available) and the company is currently working on a subscription-based model.

Opportunities include being able to tie in people’s calendars and remind people things such as when someone’s birthday is coming up.

Thoughts: Interesting idea, the handwritten letter part is definitely the key differentiator here.  The greeting card industry is huge and there are other players in the market tackling it with apps such as Cleverbug.  One thing I’m curious about is how well it works for people who have terrible handwriting in real life.

MobiSocial

Omlet Chat is a messaging app (by MobiSocial) that lets you pick where you store your messaging data (Dropbox, Box, etc).  It includes features that allow for collaboration and other things like the ability to create GIFs.  The company has partnered with ASUS, which is implementing Omlet into its Zen smartphones.

The app also has an app platform that people can use to build more apps on top of, such as games and other utilities.  One example of an app that has been created is a Github app that syncs git commit logs between you and someone else, which could be useful for developers working on a project together.

Omlet currently works on iOS and Android.

Thoughts: I like the idea of having an open platform to develop apps on top of Omlet that can be used to increase functionality and offer more features.  Definitely think it’s worth checking out.

About the author

— Jeff Weisbein

Jeff is the founder & CEO of BestTechie. He has over 10 years of experience working with technology and building businesses. He loves to travel and listen to music.


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