Seven Innovative Startups
The savvy new companies set to change the way we live .
Spend time walking the streets of San Francisco, and soon you will discover that they are chock-a-block with startups aspiring and pitching themselves as the next Airbnb or Snapchat. Ask a local what they do – it’s likely they’ll say they’re working on the next big thing. Press them about what flavour of next big thing, and the answers will vary, from another dating app to “a ride-sharing service for pets that have gastrointestinal challenges”.
It is no surprise, then, that for every 100 startups, 95 of those will quietly flail their way to abandonment. But amid all this high-tech silt, the occasional gem exists: a promising venture that adds a new wrinkle to an already existing idea or reinvents a market altogether. From an Uber-like furniture removal service to some smart interview-simulation software, we’ve picked out seven new businesses and ideas that are set to succeed (and make your life a whole lot easier).
“One-click video editing”
Many extreme sports enthusiasts who like to film their moves have to pore over hours of footage and trim it into a highlights reel – a process that can be tedious and time-consuming, to say the least. That’s where Shred Video comes in handy. All you have to do is pick a clip and a track from your iTunes collection, and let the app do the rest. Reading the movement of your camera, Shred Video figures out the highlights in your footage and matches the clip’s climax with the beat-drop of your chosen song. The result: hours of iPhone, GoPro or drone video footage automatically edited into cool montages in mere seconds.
“On-demand moving and delivery with the push of a button”
No one enjoys moving furniture around. So to ask the most popular question in Silicon Valley: “what if someone else just did it for you?” Think of Lugg as Uber for furniture. To use the app, enter the item’s location, the destination, and simply snap a photo of what you want moved. Lugg then connects you with an available mover immediately, who shows up within 15 to 45 minutes to haul and deliver the item. Lugg is currently charging a $35 base fare, plus $2.50 per mile and $0.50 per minute of travel time, which averages out at $40 to $60 per move. The company also makes cargo insurance standard, in case things go awry. Now, time to put your feet up.
“Identify your best job candidates quickly and accurately”
Hiring is always something of a crapshoot. You may do your due diligence – from lengthy interviews to calling up references – but even then, the person to whom you offer the job may not be an appropriate fit. Interviewed takes some guesswork out of the process by providing job simulations to candidates in fields such as sales, customer service or administrative positions, giving them an opportunity to experience a day in the life of the role they’re applying for. Using Interviewed’s software, an employer can then see how capable a candidate is by monitoring, for example, how they use Microsoft Excel to evaluate a data set. Gone are the days when you could get by with an expensive suit and a firm handshake.
“Get money back when prices drop, effortlessly”
Many retailers offer a partial refund if the price of an item you have purchased drops within 14 days. But it can be difficult to collect the difference. Even if you find out that the price has reduced, each company has different terms and conditions for getting your money back. And it can often be time-consuming to fill out an online form, or engage in endless rounds of emails. And even then, not every company will grant you a refund without a fight.
Paribus is connected to your mailbox, so when it finds a receipt it monitors the price of the purchased item. If the price drops, Paribus automatically negotiates a refund for you. If it is successful, it keeps about 25 per cent of the cut. It’s a small price to pay for a bit of retail justice.
“Your own personal mobile gas station”
Why stop for gas when the gas can come to you? Uber co-founder Mr Oscar Salazar has put his dollars behind Purple, an app that lets you order fuel straight to your location in one to three hours, for slightly more than you would normally pay. Simply open up the app, pick your location on a map, leave your gas tank door unlocked (or open), and a Purple courier will come over to fill it up. Purple also offers overnight delivery, so you can have gas delivered while you doze. At present, there is no delivery charge and orders can be cancelled at any time without incurring a cost.
“We bring home-based therapy from the best licensed therapists”
As enlightened as we are in 2015, therapy still has a level of stigma surrounding it. To help make the process of seeking help easier, a startup called Mindly figures out your therapeutic needs by asking you to fill in a brief online form. It then works out a time that is best for you, and matches you with a practitioner in its network who will visit you at home. You can buy à la carte sessions, from $170 a time, or purchase them discounted in bulk, with payment handled online. Not only is the whole service more convenient, there is an argument to suggest that therapy sessions are markedly more effective in a home environment.
“The world’s smallest wireless earphones that charge through your phone”
There’s a rule when it comes to technology: the fewer wires, more often than not, the better. Never is that more true than with headphones. The trade-off being that once the battery dies, the music does, too.
This November, the inelegantly named Pugz debuts one of the sleekest wireless earbuds ever marketed. While they are lightweight and sweat resistant, the biggest selling point is that you can still listen to music while they charge, with a cable that plugs into your phone’s power port. It takes only 40 minutes to get 4.5 hours’ worth of battery, and each time it charges it uses only three per cent of your smartphone’s energy.
Mr J P Manganlindan is a tech expert based in San Francisco. He has worked at GQ, Fortune Magazine and Mashable, and has written for Entertainment Weekly, Details and New York Magazine.
Illustrations by Mr Giordano Poloni