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Five hot startups at Demo Fall

Startups each get six minutes to sell their ideas at the Demo conference

By James Niccolai
September 13, 2011 12:08 AM ET

IDG News Service - The economy is still in the doldrums but it's not such a bad time to be a startup. Cloud technologies like Amazon Web Services have made it less costly for new companies to get off the ground, and 70 of them will be at the Demo Fall conference in Silicon Valley this week to launch new products.

Demo gives startups six minutes to present their businesses to an audience of press, analysts and investors. The show had more than 1,000 applicants this year, the most it's had since about 2005, said Neal Silverman, Demo senior vice president and general manager.

That's partly because companies are able to get started with less funding, he said, and also because Demo offered a tiered fee structure this year to accommodate businesses with less cash. (Demo is run by International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service.)

Here's what five startups aiming at business users will be pitching Tuesday.

Whodini -- finding colleagues with the right info


Whodini is announcing a service that helps employees at big companies find colleagues with the expertise that can help them. Instead of workers building their own knowledge profile, Whodini creates it automatically by scanning their work email with a contextual language tool that pulls out 30 to 35 keywords that show the customers, products or business issues they know about. That goes into a database where colleagues can search or click on keywords to find people working in those areas.

Whodini says it addresses the obvious privacy concerns by allowing employees to approve the keywords before they're published and remove what they don't like. It also filters out profanities and other "inappropriate language," said Chief Operating Officer and co-founder Ani Chaudhuri.

Scanning people's email ensures they actually know about a topic, rather than just claiming they do in a rsum or LinkedIn profile. It also helps to uncover "quiet achievers" -- people who are good at their jobs but don't shout about it.

The software works only with Outlook for PCs to begin with. Whodini is working on Outlook for the Mac and will add Lotus Notes and other email clients after that. Because of the linguistic analysis involved, it's currently limited to English-speaking markets.

Chaudhuri claims Whodini beats tools that search content repositories such as SharePoint, because "only a fraction of the knowledge in a company is documented." And social tools for the workplace, such as Yammer, only connect people who know of each other. Whodini can identify a colleague working on the other side of the world.

It consists of a client application for the desktop and a server component that Whodini hosts in the cloud. It's available now and aimed at Fortune 1,000 companies, priced at about $15,000 per month for 1,000 seats, Chaudhuri said.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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