Set aside your normal business model skepticism and proof-of-efficacy needs for a moment. Wait for it...that done, here are five themes of problem-solving that were recurrent at TechCrunch40 on Monday:
1. Telcos and wireless carriers are maintaining too-high prices within walled gardens.
- Cubic Telecom severely cuts (and in theory, does so profitably) the price of international roam wireless calls.
- Ceedo gives users access to their mobile phone applications from their desktop computer.
2. It's hard to keep track of loosely associated data.
- TripIt organizes all of your travel itinerary information (airline, hotel, meetings, events, directions, etc.) into one place, which you can then share with others.
- Cake Financial brings together your disparate financial data, then supplies comparisons to other individual investor performance in order to give you context for your activity.
- Docstoc hosts professional document uploading, sharing, and searching.
3. Search engines still don’t cull video and other rich media like a human would.
- Cast.TV uses associated data (e.g., the HTML and associated text on the page embedding the video) in order to provide better video search results.
- Viewdle performs image recognition within video files, finding the exact moment when the search item appears in the stream.
- Flock uses social networking to improve the rich media browsing experience.
4. People are too lazy to type and/or click buttons.
- Yap creates text messages from your spoken words.
- Cognitive Code is applying speech recognition to software application control.
- Loudtalks creates instant messages from your spoken words (note that the message is sent as audio, not text.)
5. Individuals are seeking new, profitable forms of self-expression.
- Ponoko provides personal manufacturing services - design jewelry, furniture, etc. and the company will actually produce and help you to promote the physical product.
- CrowdSpirit provides crowd feedback and facilitates vendor licensing for electronics design (a la Threadless).
- MusicShake is an online tool for mixing your own songs from scratch, for both fun and profit. (Like a Color Me Mine for music, all of the bits you need are on the site.)
- StoryBlender lets amateur videographers edit collaboratively.