Top 10 start-ups to emerge from SXSW

If you’re keen to find out the next start-up to emerge from nowhere to threaten global domination, the South by Southwest festival is a good place to start.


The interactive festival at the Austin, Texas showpiece has acted as the public debut for several now-ubiquitous businesses. Obscure micro blogging site Twitter rocked up to the 2007 event and unknown location-based app Foursquare made an appearance in 2009.


This year’s SXSW showcased a clutch of start-ups aiming to build upon the social success of the likes of Twitter and Facebook and, potentially, take it to the next level. Gaming and, perhaps surprisingly, group messaging were reoccurring themes at the 2011 shindig, which concluded on Sunday.


Elias Bizannes, founder of the Startup Bus project that rolled into Austin with 38 teams of tech entrepreneurs, says: “I have noticed that group messaging is the new hot trend in technology, which has come out of nowhere.”


So, which 2011 SXSW start-ups are we likely to be hearing more of in the future? Gazing into our crystal ball, we unveil 10 of the leading contenders.


1. Scvngr


Taking its lead from Foursquare, Scvngr is an app that requires users to complete challenges when they check into a location.


The challenges, usually in the form of a riddle or question,  are presented by the businesses to users who check into their locations. Correct answers provide users with points, with product discounts or giveaways handed out as rewards.


The business was founded late last year by 22-year-old Seth Priebatsch, who has given himself the quintessentially tech job title of ‘chief ninja’.


2. Hashable


There are several apps that attempt to do away with physical business cards, but Hashable staked its claim at SXSW to be the leader of the pack.


Launched in October last year, Hashable is based on the hash tags used in Twitter. When a user of the service meets a new contact, the email address of the Twitter username of that person is stored with a hash tag as a reminder of where the meeting took place – such as #mydadshouse, #cheersbar or #SXSW.


Michael Yavonditte, Hashable CEO, claims the service is adding nearly 1,000 new users a day.



3. Artsicle


A classic SXSW start-up, Artiscle was founded on March 4, on the eve of the festival. The site was inspired by the experience of co-founder Alexis Tryon, who attempted in vain to view a painting she wanted to buy in a New York gallery.


Artsicle works by charging subscribers $50 a month to rent a work from the site’s portfolio. If they love the picture, they pay the full price, otherwise they can swap the rental agreement for a new piece of art.


4. Chomp


Apple’s App Store features copious amounts of reviews, but they are often tainted by comments from self-serving developers.


Chomp, which launched in January this year, aims to overcome this by providing an independent search engine for apps. Users ‘heart’ or ‘unheart’ apps they use, with the results displayed in real time to give a picture of an app’s popularity.


Despite being barely three months old, Chomp has 300,000 users, along with a handy $2.5 million in venture funding.


5. Instagram


Have you ever wanted to take photos on your iPhone and immediately share them with friends via a Twitter-esque feed? If so, Instagram has answered your prayers.


The service allows people to get instant feedback on photos after they’ve posted them. Only five months old, the Californian company already has 2.5 million users.


Co-founder Michael Krieger says that the company was inspired by the introduction of instant cameras in the 1950s, which allowed people to immediately see and share their photos.


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