Startup Leftovers: What To Keep And What To Throw

By Phil Butler

cat-sitepointTesting new web apps can be akin to dining on an exquisite feast … but then there are “the leftovers”.

This week’s diet of developmental porridge has left a few morsels awaiting their fate in the cooler. As anyone knows, leftovers basically fall into three categories — anticipated delights, possibly consumable, and only fit for the neighbor’s cat. Here are four early startups, which either left a bad taste, might be tastier later or should be mixed with some Friskies.


syndy is a “not so cute” feed aggregation/notification widget for the desktop. Ostensibly designed as a personal assistant to keep the user (or boyfriend, I am still not sure) up to date on over 100 news feeds, syndy is simply primitive by comparison to a host of better applications (I like Alert Bear myself).

The widget does do the job, but chances are that the folks you’re notifying have already been notified directly by their own favorite destination or by a better app.

Decision: syndy smelled fishy from the start, and old Felix next door is meowing.

syndy as I write this.

syndy as I write this.


fachak is billed as “the one stop platform”. This invitation-only alpha acts as a social aggregator, allowing users to pull in their Flickr, YouTube and other various online contributions, all managed using a fairly nice interface.

Unfortunately, discoverability and navigation are pretty bad right now, as the home and profile pages look just like a YouTube menu. However deeper features appear to be much more highly developed, as illustrated in the screenshot below. From docs to video, images and more, the developers are obviously building this from the back end of features forward.

All-in-one developments like fachak have been a pet project of mine for some time. The obvious weakness of fachak’s version can already be seen in that no “perfect” interface has ever been designed to allow users to organize, access, share and manipulate massive and diverse content collections. This development is one to watch however, as the designers may have a perfect solution dashboard in mind — it is only an alpha after all.

Decision: A tasty morsel for later on, but may not keep long.

UI and Nav for Docs and other media is versatile.

UI and Nav for Docs and other media is versatile.


twopular is a transparent alpha in process, billed as a “Twitter trends aggregator.” Aside from having a very cute mascot and being the hurried work of a midnight coder, even the creator admits this development is a “what if” proposition (and I quote, “Please consider enjoying what you see right now and don’t miss to come back occasionally to check if we have found out what this is for.”)

I was ready to throw this one directly out the window hoping to hit ole’ Felix between the eyes, until curiosity got the best of me. Anything Twitter-related tends to make me ill these days, but on investigating other apps by this developer (you will love playing with this), Martin Dudek, it became obvious that the fellow is quite brilliant.

I came to learn after Twitter first launched that just because I saw no value doesn’t mean that others won’t — in fact, the crowd often shows a never ending capacity to consume the ridiculous. So, given this paradox, twopular will likely evolve to become the leading trend analysis tool of the sales and marketing world … or not.

Decision: Possibly consumable, store behind mayonnaise jar, never discount talent and creativity.

Early trend development - Australian Open

Early trend development - Australian Open


smirk is an alpha development that allows users to generate animated avatars reflecting their mood. The concept is actually pretty cool, and some of the samples quite funny. I did actually try to test this app, only every step I followed — from signup to visiting a supportive site called Crusher — was circuitous and full of dead ends. I assume that embedded JavaScript some kind of player interface form part of the service, but believe me the road map to understanding this application is written in “Geek Greek”, for sure.

Decision: Immediate appetizer for kitty next door if any casual visitor chomps down on this frustrating little varmint.

I am annoyed too!

I am annoyed too!

Gone Shopping

Now that the ice box is reorganized and at least one stale leftover is tossed, I’m off to shop for more startup treats. For a heads up, I saw an interesting item in the deli section called Twitblogs yesterday. I’ll be talking with these developers on Monday for new developments on this startup.

As for these latest leftovers, we’ll revisit them as merit and progress warrant. As for smirk, if they are lucky the cat will be finicky and maybe they can correct their discoverability issues.

  • php_penguin

    Whilst it’s great to hear about some new webapps, what is wrong with a rating like “Yes” or “No”.

    Having to figure out what your strange metaphors actually mean is a bit weird and seems like you are quoting a tv show or something… maybe I’m just tired or retarded but please!! stick with a rating system that people can understand.

    • Hi Penguin! Wow, I did not mean to offend anyone except perhaps the “asleep at the wheel” would be startup developer. I used to write for Mashable and obviously know about Digg’isms and sound bits as well. Metaphors are nice if taken the right way, but your point is well taken. They are not for everyone. I know that the average programmer only has beer and bologna in the fridge any way, but expected that many would identify with those unsightly things they see growing on them sometimes. :) Seriously, I am tried of over simplicity and mathematical explanations, for the ethereal. Mutually exclusive perhaps? I hope you will forgive me a few metaphors, they teach us that stuff in the liberal arts.


  • Kristen Nicole

    Hilarious take on the startup economy! Now I HAVE to go check out each and every one of these sites!

    • @ Kristen and Don,

      LOL, There goes the neighborhood! I try and empty the fridge and developers come to tell me to use binary code to express the universe, one cutting edge developer comes and tells me he is investigating stuff that is light years behind his own, and one of the most prolific tech bloggers ever is headed over to steal the Friskies from old Felix’s bowl. LOL: I love the Internet. Thanks guys, a couple of these are actually interesting.

  • Don

    Hey I guess we gotta give these guys credit for trying… I’m waiting for some real innovation, and I think that the current technology stack (LAMP anyone) is about tapped out as far as (really useful) innovative products and features go. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. Willing to check these guys out anyway :)

  • Dan Kaplan

    In concept, a brilliant Twitter trend-aggregator has huge “what-if” potential.

    Despite receiving the occasional great link, I’ve concluded that the value in Twitter comes less from my usage or that of the people I follow, but in the mining of its aggregate data.

    Now if only someone could build an algorithm smart enough to crack this problem.

    • Hi Dan, I agree. Data mining such fast and furious action is one way to monetize a startup. I expect this is one underlying vision of this development. I am actually scheduled to test another Twitter enhanced startup later next week. The preliminary talk was interesting to say the least.


  • Ketira

    php_penguin is obviously not a cat owner and perhaps lives in an apartment. I knew exactly what you meant, but then, I’m owned by a cat. ;)

    I doubt that I’d use any of the apps, but it’s nice to hear about them in a way I can understand. Got any more in your “grocery bags” over there? ;> I doubt my Sakura would eat them (Siamese are fussy eaters), but she might play with them awhile before abandoning them. ;>

    • Yes Ketira, I had almost forgotten about the feline habbit of batting things around and either eating them or leaving them in a corner (or worse in your shoe). I should do one entitled “Look what the cat dragged in”, and then equate the potentiality to what happens next. The startups mentioned did have some merit, and this is the why of it. As for others in the big chill, you are very perceptive, there are dozens. :)

      Thanks Always,

  • Jawad Shuaib

    Thanks for this exposure Phil! I almost regret all the startups and mini projects the tech community misses out on. Many of the top bloggers decide the fate of tech startups depending on how much spotlight they expose to them. This brings up an interesting point; communication and marketing is key to success. For instance, I love the concept behind twopular – yet, I hadn’t heard of it until just now. Twopular could be taken a step further by discovering Twitter trends amongst nth-degree of relationships. I, for one, would love to gather real time information on what’s currently hot in my closed looped 2nd-degree twitter neighborhood. Thanks again for the article!

    – Jawad Shuaib

    • Jawad, You are so right, of the statups in this batch, the one I thought of as most likely to catch was Twopular, though I cannot say why. I think it was the elephant. Seriously, your sense about this one is correct in that it look like a tool that could be powerful. This is assuming the developers did not have to go back to work after Summer vacation or something. You discovered my hidden agenda in this one my old friend. I am about “what ifs” as you know. The potential of something should not just be a factor of how much money is involved, or even if Mr. Big Blogger want it to be so, it should be about the art.

      These startups are just a few of many that likely would never be covered. Fro my part, and that of Sitepoint as the most respected development site, there needs to be an outlet of some kind for experts like yourself to evaluate these things. My tongue in cheek jabs at these guys and metaphoric meowing are just adding flavor to a technical soup. You guys tell me if it is tasty or fit for Felix, the point is the as you say, to see as much of development as we can. So, 4 or 5 here and there that no one knows about will not hurt anything. We might just find a rare jewel.

      Thanks Always,

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