The Grow Conference is a unique three-day conference that brings together the top minds in business, entrepreneurship, technology, and capital to inspire and engage the next generation of disruptive entrepreneurs. Startups from all over the map have been eagerly awaiting the results of the Launch@GROW Contest: the opportunity for 15 top startups to showoff at the Opening Reception to the 2011 Grow Conference in Vancouver, BC.
61 startups from across Canada entered the Launch@Grow contest and public voting ended July 16. The top 25 leaders who rocked the most votes moved onto the semi-finals where they have been picked a part by Canadian and Silicon Valley judges.
With only 15 days left until The Launch@GROW Launch Party the results are in. The top 15 startups walking down the entrepreneurial red carpet (there’s less botox) are:
ToggleMe with Tradable Bits
Techvibes will be highlighting these companies over the next two weeks with startup profiles. Vancouver’s Unbounce led during public voting, so Techvibes jumped the gun yesterday with the first of their 15 startup profiles.
Congratulations to all of our fellow startups! It’s time to GROW. See you there!
For some of us, nothing beats the atmosphere of energy and learning offered by an early stage start-up. With the recent launch of the iPhone app and many more releases on the way, it’s an exciting time at Summify, so exciting that we almost forgot to introduce ourselves!
Although we’re from entirely different backgrounds, the common thread that brought us all together was the opportunity to join two uber cool founders at ground level as they build an internet company. There’s something about the unknown, the chance to make a difference, or is it just the free lunch? Either way, we’re amped to be apart of a team we believe in. Here we are: the new kids on the block.
Mark Chua - Software Engineer
Joining us back in April, Mark has a degree in Computer Science from SFU and China’s Zhejiang University. Outside of the office he enjoys origami and playing badminton. We had him at “free lunch.”
Nimalan Mahendran - Software Engineer
It was a natural celebration when Nimalan joined us on July 4. We may not be Americans, who doesn’t like fireworks? Previously Nimalan worked at SAP and graduated from UBC with a MSC in Machine Learning, as well as a BMath in Computer Science from Waterloo. You may find him distance running in home-made sandals or planning a trip to Antarctica to visit penguins. We’ll remind him to take a plane.
Robin Campbell - Community Guy
In a room full of hackers, Robin is the odd guy out. Prior to joining the Summify family in June, Robin was building the Canadian breakdance community through Famouscircle.com, organizing international events and managing online content. Graduating with a BCom in Entrepreneurship, he plans to shake things up a little. Office bootcamp, West Coast adventures and salsa lessons are not out of the question. He recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of his breakdance crew, Filthee Feet.
Pictures are great, but Videos are even better. Anytime we introduce new features to the Summify experience, expect to see a blockbuster demo posted in living color. Although we learn fast, it may take us some time to release them in 3D - bear with us ;)
Our First Tutorial: Filters and the Dislike Button
As always, keep letting us know how your Summifying is going. More updates on the way!
The Summify algorithms rely heavily on implicit signals to summarize the most important news for you: which friends shared which stories, how important are they to you, what do you like clicking on, and a dozen more factors.
Most of the time that’s more than enough, but sometimes people tell us that they’d like to explicitly tell us which stories aren’t good for them. We know what you mean - when you only want to read 5 stories, you want all of them to be great! Today, we’re pleased to introduce 2 new features to help with that: Filters and Dislike. Here’s how they work:
Domain filters allow you to hide certain domains (e.g. foxnews.com) from appearing in your summary. Just click the “View this in your browser” button in your email and hover over the domain and you’ll see a small X button:
Sometimes you might not want to hide a domain, but hide a specific person. Previously you had to unfollow/unfriend them, but now you can just hide them by hovering over their avatar and clicking the X button:
Please note that this only affects Summify and it doesn’t actually un-follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Reader.
Finally, you can remove and manage your existing filters at http://summify.com/filter.
Hiding a story or a person is a really strong negative signal, but sometimes you don’t want to be so decisive. For those times, we created a nice Dislike button that appears near the title of the story:
You might be asking, why a dislike button and not a like one? Well, you already tell us that you like a story when you click on it and you spend time reading it, but it’s surprisingly hard for us to figure when you don’t like a story… maybe you’ve already seen it, maybe it’s not interesting, who knows?
A lot of people have told us they love Summify, so we’ve added a button that makes it really easy for you to spread the word. Just click these nice big shiny buttons in your emails or on the web:
That’s it for today, expect some more exciting news in the near future!
The last few months at Summify have been really groundbreaking and we wanted to share some of the exciting updates with you!
We have raised a seed round from a great group of investors and here is the full list is in no particular order:
It wasn’t that long ago that we were back in Romania dreaming of startup ideas and hoping someday we’d get to work with such great industry leaders. It’s truly amazing to us how far we’ve come. While the investment will help Summify accelerate its growth, the experience our investors bring to the table is even more important to us.
By the way, did we mention we’re hiring?
Like just about everybody we know, we’ve been struggling to keep up with the avalanche of updates coming at us in the news, on Facebook, Twitter and RSS. It’s amazing that people have just sort of gotten used to so much noise and so little signal. It’s impossible to keep up and it’s only getting worse!
We first thought the solution was to build a better social news reader, so we did that. After we released it, we realized that we had built the wrong thing. Our users didn’t really want another news reader, another destination site to check every day… they just wanted the serendipity offered by our results!
The nature of social media is such that even the most devoted users miss more than half of what comes at them, so we established the idea that you can’t and shouldn’t read everything - read just the good stuff! It stands to reason that the good stuff is usually what your friends and your sources are talking about the most.
We rebuilt Summify by mixing these two ideas together and we think we have hit on something magical. With Summify, you can know what’s going on by just looking at an intelligent summary of the news, only 5 to 10 stories, every few hours!
Obviously, we had to put a lot effort in making sure it doesn’t become a popularity contest, and we think we’ve struck the right balance of highly relevant and diverse stories. Sign up, check it out and please tell us what you think!
Tech entrepreneurs stuck in immigration limbo -
Mr. Wertz said it was his experience trying to invest in a group of entrepreneurs from Romania that convinced him the system was broken. He describes them as brilliant. They had worked for Google and Facebook and were keen on Vancouver for its proximity to Silicon Valley and its environment and quality of life.
“We had tons of trouble getting them a visa to stay here,” he said. “It has been an ongoing saga. People were spending probably 20 per cent of their time on immigration visa issues while they could have been building a company.”
Remeber those awesome email digests you’re getting? Well, we’re now calling that a Summary (Pretty clever, eh?) and we’re making it a core part of our product.
You might have noticed some of the recent improvements to the email:
When reading a story it’s always useful to have context - as such, we’ve built the Summify Social Bar!
You can see it at the top of any story from Summify. It allows you to see which of your friends shared the story, what did they say about it, how many retweets and likes does the story have and you can also share directly from the bar. (tip: you can share to all networks at once if you’re logged in)
You’ve told us that getting a relevant summary in your inbox is great, but sometimes we want functionality that’s just not possible in an email.
As such, we’ve put the summary on the web and we’re going to use it a a building block for a whole new set of amazing features!
If you received an email summary in the last 16 hours, you probably have a web version as well and it should be available at http://summify.com/summary
We’ve realised that a summary across every platform (email, web, mobile) is the best way to deliver relevant news without the feeling of being overwhelmed. (less is more)
As such, we’re sorry to announce that we’ll be shutting down the “realtime news reader” Summify Web.Effective March 25th 2011, the product will cease to operate. You don’t need to take any action and we apologize for any inconvenience this will cause you!
Thank you for your support and stay tuned for the next update from Summify!
As many people have noticed, we had an outage this morning starting from 07:23 AM PST to 14:05 PM PST (~7 hours). That’s some serious downtime and we’d like to attempt to explain what happened.
So, what happened?
Yesterday, in order to cope with the increased volume of links we added more crawler processes on one of our machines. (more details about our infrastructure)
Unfortunately, on the same machine we had our MySQL instance which stores user data and is required by all our services. At some point this morning the load increased 5x, the machine became unresponsive and eventually hanged, taking down all the other services with it.
We have email alerts for these kind of situations (we’re using Monit, Munin, and BlameStella) but they don’t really help while you’re sleeping. We’ve noticed the issue and started to work on it as soon as we woke up.
We take these problems very seriously and we’re really sorry about the outage! We’ve learned something important today and we’re working hard to prevent further issues.
How are we going to prevent it?
Thank you for your patience! If you have any questions or feedback email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Based on user feedback, we found out that people love the email digests we send! So we decided to take this feature, make it even more awesome, and transform into a standalone product: Summify Digest. But don’t take our word for it, have a look at what’s new…
You can now configure your minimum and maximum number of stories in a digest, as well as the time at which it’s being sent. If you don’t like the default settings, go ahead and change them.
We all love diversity, so it’s never fun when the stories in your digest are dominated by one source. Starting today, we collapse stories from the same domain and only show the most popular story from each one. Don’t worry, you can see still see the titles of the collapsed stories if you really like that domain.
Last time we “talked”, we told you that Summify has crawled, aggregated and processed over 25 million news stories from Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds! We’re pleased to announce that we’re now well over70 million stories and it’s growing strong!
We know that reading is an inherently mobile activity (read on the bus, while waiting at the doctor’s, etc.), so we’ve started working on Summify Mobile! It’s still in development, but you will soon be able to read your Top News on the go!
You can add your email address if you want to be the first to be notified when we launch!
Happy Holidays from Team Summify!
Today we’re happy to announce the new Summify design! You should see significant changes to the user interface, beginning with a completely refreshed story navigation and a more visually pleasing woody style. :-) Here’s a screenshot:
Navigation between stories was one of the biggest problems we discovered in our private beta, so we made a substantial investment in fixing it with this new design. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on this change, just login to check it out.
As we get ready for prime time, we wanted to share one interesting number with you: over the past 3 months, Summify has crawled, aggregated and processed over 25 million news stories from Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds!
We’re very grateful to all of our early adopters for helping us reach this milestone and we look forward to see this number grow at an accelerated pace!
Part-time / Freelancers / Limited Hires welcome
Here at Summify we love great design and we understand it’s essential for the success of a web app. We’re looking for a talented UI designer that can create beautiful and enjoyable user interfaces!
You’ll be in charge with defining the user experience at Summify.
We’re an early stage startup based in Vancouver, BC, backed by Bootup Labs and W Media Ventures. We’re team of two hacker entrepreneurs from Romania, passionate about online software and Internet startups. We’ve interned at Google and Microsoft and we’ve kicked ass in programming contests like IOI and TopCoder. We turned down some cozy job offers and moved half-way across the world for an incredible opportunity.
We’re building a next generation news-reader that has a unique approach to solving information overload. Summify ranks and curates all the news that’s coming to you via Twitter and Google Reader feeds using data and signals it gathers from your social network. The important stuff bubbles up at the top, so you can read it first.
Curation and personalization are the cornerstones of a new age of web applications. Just recently Gmail launched the Priority Inbox, Facebook is pushing for instant personalization. More than ever, people are getting overwhelmed by information. This is an incredible opportunity and we’re excited to take part in it.
We want a world-class designer, so we’re flexible with how we’re going to work together. We’re OK with part-time, limited time, or project based. Nevertheless we do require that you come by our nice office at least a few hours a week. (163 W Hastings, Vancouver, BC)
Send us an email (email@example.com), or ping us on twitter. Make sure to include a link to your awesome portfolio.
A lot of people have been asking us what have we been up to here in Vancouver in the past couple of months. Well, we’ve been really busy building our new product - a Social News Reader - and we’re finally ready to share it with the world!
As of today we’re starting to send out invites to people who have subscribed on our invite list (it’s on the home page). We’re going to roll them out in small batches so that we can test our system, so it’s probably going to take a couple of weeks for us to go through all of them. If you signed up for an invite you will receive one soon, just have patience.
People are increasingly getting their news from the social networks they’re part of (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), but this is rapidly getting overwhelming. If you’re connected with a few hundred people and companies, it’s hard to stay on top of the news they share. There’s currently no way to get the important stuff without going through all your news.
Summify gives you a river of news in a way that you can consume it in minutes, rather than hours. The important stuff bubbles up at the top so, however much time you have at your disposal, you always know you’re reading the important stuff first.
It’s a HTML5 web app (only modern browsers supported, sorry!). It aggregates all your incoming news from your Twitter and Google Reader account (Facebook and Google Buzz support on the way!). It then curates your news feed by using the social reactions gathered from your networks. The important news makes it to the Top News section. There’s also a Recent News section that allows you to see everything in chronological order.
I tell you, it’s awesome! (for a product in private beta)
While RSS has been declared dead and the news industry is slowly dying, that doesn’t mean that people have stopped reading their news. On the contrary, people are getting more and more news and they can’t really keep up with it. We know the road to solving personalized news is paved with dead startups, but we believe that by capitalizing on some new trends in the industry (people are using their social network to curate their news, mobile smartphones and touchpads enable you to read stuff anywhere) we have a really good chance of solving this problem!
Some of you might remember that we started out at Bootup Labs in January with a very different product. One of the benefits of being in an incubator is that you can quickly get feedback, learn from it and iterate - and that’s just what we did. We realized our product wasn’t differentiated enough and it wasn’t what the publisher market wanted - we had a really good solution for the wrong problem. :)
Thanks to good mentorship and advice we looked at what we’re passionate (hint: we’re huge news junkies!) and we took all the lessons we learned from the previous product and applied them here. Only time will tell if this was the right move, but we’re much more confident about this new product!
I guess you can call this change a “pivot”, apparently it’s all the rage right now in the startup world!
We love feedback! Give Summify a try once you receive your invite and let us know what you think!