All Square Featured in the Irish Times

Life’s a pitch for start-ups dreaming of the big time

Patrick Rahme, All Square, Luxembourg

“Our product is called All Square, a social network meets Trip Advisor,” says Rahme. At the web summit, that’s hardly a unique pitch, but Rahme has a hook. “It’s for golfers.”

Rahme claims it’s the first international site of its kind. Every user has his or her own profile and home page, and can search for courses all over the world, mark the ones they have played, and with which friends, and when.

The business model is refreshingly straightforward – Rahme and his partner are trying to gather the sort of data that is interesting for travel agencies and golf courses.

He is hoping to meet investors. “It’s my first time at such a conference,” he says, “so it’s more networking and meeting people than a specific goal.”

Liat Mordechay, 24Me, Tel Aviv

Mordechay is one of a number of young entrepreneurs at the web summit from Tel Aviv.

The company she co-founded, 24Me, has developed a digital personal assistant, which is a rather crowded field at the moment, what with Siri offering helpful advice on the iPhone and Google Now leading the way on Android. The advantage of 24Me, according to Mordechay, is that the app can gather information from your social networks as well as your email and calendars, and can even go so far as to communicate with your online bank account, paying bills if so permitted.

Robert Hanley, English Bubble, Galway

One of the small legion of Irish entrepreneurs at the event, Hanley is utilising his years of experience as a language teacher to “gamify” the language-learning experience. His firm has two Android games already,Word Bubble and Category Conquest, that bring an element of gameplay to the frequently tedious process of vocabulary learning.

“The likes of Angry Birds and so on show how good gaming can be on the platform,” says Hanley, “but with these games, you’re gaining much more than just a few minutes of fun.”

Murat Bicak, Sounds of Urban Life, New York

“What we’re trying to do is capture the essence of urban life for travellers who visit a city, and get a feel for the soul of it,” says Bicak of his travel app.

The film-maker has brought his story-telling skills to bear on an ambitious project to bring well-crafted, “cinematic” city tours to the smartphone.

“We prototyped it in Istanbul where I’m originally from. The app offers a local perspective – shortlists of things locals would do. We have cinematic walks, sound content with local characters – they are audioguides but not like in a museum.”

They have a Kickstarter campaign to develop an app for New York, followed by London and Paris, and then to open it to other content developers.

Brian McCormick, Adtruism

Adtruism is taking a different approach from the rest of the start-ups thronging the web summit floor; it’s not actually out to make money. Instead it is aiming to make it easier for people with websites and blogs to raise money for a cause they care about.

“We built it for free, we run it for free, it’s a hobby for everyone. One hundred per cent of the money goes to the causes,” McCormick says. “The potential for it is huge.”

The company has partnered with Google to serve the ads and potentially market the service, helping to cut its costs considerably. McCormick is hoping to use the web summit to forge some ties; next on the target list is integration with WordPress.

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