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Biz Model Showcase: Kimono Labs

Biz Model Showcase: Kimono Labs

Breeding a new generation of data analysts

Every day, there are more than two exabytes of raw data being added to the World Wide Web. That's 1,073,741,824 GBs of data, multiplied by 2! As digital natives realize their own power over this new media, they will seek to acquire higher skills to build their personal knowledge libraries and information bases to create software and apps at whim, if they like.

But they all don't need to become programmers or complete a Computer Science degree to be able to achieve this. Maybe they need to understand a few basic things about data structure on the web — that most of this content is not yet standardized, that you need APIs to give content structure, and that you need a smart tool to do that.

What's an API, you ask? Before we get to that, let us introduce you to this week's Business Model Showcase — Kimono Labs. Despite still being in beta state, it has acquired some 15,000 users [Wired] and allows people to do for themselves what Google does on a regular basis.

Simply put, an API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of technical protocols that allow third-party software programs to interact with an application. So an API is a program that can be automated to do repetitive and mundane task as specified via code.

This is where Kimono Labs comes in — to help us 'scrape' the web without understanding APIs or writing a single line of code. And it only takes minutes, if not seconds. It allows us to focus our energies on how to make use of the data we wish to collect - instead of worrying if our data source has an API available or collecting and tracking data on spreadsheets maintained manually.

Now, it's no secret that Kimono Labs is focusing its efforts on engaging the developer user base for now, perhaps to improve their service, but they will shift their focus to make their service friendlier for non-technical users, ultimately. They know the main driver of the digital economy will be ability to build APIs, and to even out the playing field in terms of app development, including non-technical users is a high priority. Already there has been a surge in the app market with revenues for app stores shooting for the moon every quarter, which is a good indication of where all the digital natives are heading.

So you can use Kimono to build mobile web apps, to set up email alerts, and to embed feeds directly into your website, but you can also create nifty data visualizations that can come in handy when making design decisions for a website, or for data analysis.

Gone are the days when most of the hard-work started with collecting data manually, which was a painful process — extracting it according to a schedule, cleaning it up before being able to use it, and then updating it periodically. It was a time-consuming process that shifted the focus from the real task at hand, and might have been the reason why many startups failed right at the beginning. And then there was the issue of websites that required authentication.

When it comes to collecting data from email, social media or subscription news, the extra layer of encryption still proves to be a major pain for web scrapers. Earlier this month, Kimono Labs came through with 'Auth APIs' that now allow users to get data from websites that require authentication. As if all its other features weren't enough, this latest innovation makes Kimono Labs the best web scraper available to us today.

In The New World Order of Marketing, we talked about Zapier at great length, which allows users to upload their own APIs to create 'zaps'. While there may be some similarities between the offerings of Kimono Labs and Zapier, it is easy to visualize how Zapier's magic could work really well if you have your data sets available to you via APIs made by Kimono's smart tools.

The #BuiltWithKimono site features a collection of projects that use APIs created with Kimono Labs, mostly featuring World Cup related apps and visualizations, to showcase some of the incredible things that can be done using their service. There are a few more examples here as well. If you have a knack for creating apps for smart wearable devices, you can use this simple guide to build an app for the Pebble smart watch in under 10 minutes.

Kimono Labs is still offering its services for free with unlimited public APIs and a limit of 20,000,000 pages fetched. But they will be introducing paid plans soon that will also allow users to create unlimited private APIs for $400 a month.

In this era of information overload, Kimono Labs is making it possible for us to tame exabytes of data.

Business Model Showcase: Percolate

Business Model Showcase: Percolate

Content brewing: smart, real-time, filtered, curated and creative

The production and distribution cycle of branded content has gone from 21 weeks (TVCs) to 21 minutes (tweets) in the past five years. Meanwhile, consumers are uploading 300 million photographs on Facebook every day (40 million on Instagram). Brands are being compelled to create new content at an alarmingly fast pace (given the rate of its consumption), and that poses a massive challenge for even the most talented content creators working at your typical digital agency today. 

Enter, a fully comprehensive content marketing platform that allows brands to turn idea seeds into full-form content, ready to be posted onto their Facebook page, for example. Now, how is that any different from the content marketing solutions a digital agency provides as part of their retainer package? Let's take a look.

Social media is a very visual medium. Digital agencies typically employ a team of graphic designers and illustrators, some photographers and a Shutterstock account to aid production of visually appealing content. Some of these team members have a better understanding of the brand and what it stands for, compared to others. 

Percolate also sources images from various sources, such as Getty Images, Shutterstock, Scripted, and, but before they do that, their platform incorporates the brand DNA into their algorithm so that most of the suggestions displayed are on-brand, helping cut through the clutter. As a value addition, their partnership with Aviary allows users to edit content without the need for advanced Photoshop skills using their interface. 

Both digital agencies and Percolate try to make full use of user-generated content, however, Percolate offers FanBranded, a user-generated content procurement application created to simplify and streamline the curation process.

Digital agencies always claim full knowledge on every platform available out there but typically their strengths lie in some, not all. For example, most agencies understand Facebook and Twitter very well, and then they just duplicate the same content onto other sites. Percolate also covers Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, websites, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Google Plus, giving users publishing tools that allow brands to tie elements of their digital marketing content together based on the varying dynamics of each medium. Perhaps their unique advantage over digital agencies is how they are able to offer one place that ties everything together to create an actionable framework for managing content production cycles. 

Content creation is mostly a human process that takes time. In addition, brands need to vet through every piece of content that goes out so concept-makers and copywriters at digital agencies struggle with short deadlines to deliver sheets of content way before they would be posted. But digital media occurs in real-time, so despite a content bank full of approved content, agencies get stuck in the vicious cycle of last-minute content creation, chasing approvals minutes before a piece of content needs to be posted. Again, it seems that Percolate's ability to allow teams to build concepts together in one (virtual) space allows for a much better publishing workflow. 

Social media challenges brands who had previously become accustomed to not paying any attention to anyone but mentions of themselves. But we are now part of a digital world where production requires consumption. With digital agencies to act on their behalf, it has been the agencies' prerogative to analyse consumer trends and behaviour through content consumption, in order to suggest appropriate content strategies (to bring home more of those mentions). This has often resulted in one-off campaigns that may or may not even be culturally relevant. 

To tackle this problem, Percolate asks brands to identify their brand's interests and to pay close attention to culture in real-time using their interface to allow for more sustained communications that are not only apt for global audiences but also relevant. They've also thrown in features such as data visualisations that draw patterns out of content to help brands understand what works best and why. 

With ongoing campaigns, competitions, promotions, new offerings and what not, real-time, on-brand content creation that is inspired from latest trends, both from the real world as well as the virtual world is the challenge for every brand today. With Percolate, it seems that brands can now directly engage themselves with their consumers without the need to rely on their digital agency for everything.

Business Model Showcase:

Business Model Showcase: brings the car to you

Reimagining the car-buying experience

Buying a new car is one activity fraught with a lot of stress where high-pressure sales tactics, slogs between dealers, and haggling over prices do nothing but add more disgruntlement to the experience. Our business showcase for the week,, guarantees you “the best car-buying experience you’ve ever had, and the lowest car prices,” and they claim it will take no more than 60-90 minutes of your time, all done from the comfort of your home.

Backed by Rick Wagoner, the ex-GM CEO, offers fee-based test drives to give car shoppers a behind-the-wheel experience for up to two cars at a time, delivered by Tred Experts. These car experts are purposefully incentivized to ensure customers have a great experience – not to sell cars, since Tred does not collect a percentage of car sales, but to help customers make informed decisions based on their unbiased opinions.

Car dealers are also incentivized to partner with Tred, so they are able to offer customers the lowest possible no-haggle price – a service Tred is so sure of that they will mail customers a check for $500 if they find a lower price elsewhere.

One of the more nifty features of Tred’s service is the “deal screen”, which is an innovative way to connect prospective car-buyers with car dealerships anonymously through Tred Talk – their online portal, to discuss options such as financing, trade-ins or a lease. This part of the service eliminates the need for car shoppers to visit dealerships, giving them the freedom to shop for cars from the convenience of their homes or offices.

As we write this, Tred is only operational in Seattle, and charges customers $19 for each test drive delivered. The service is free for electric and hybrid cars, though, if you wish to Tred Lightly.

Tred is also delving into the business of picking and dropping cars for anyone who would like to save a trip to the workshop and provides a loaner car of their choice that they can use in the meantime, all for a small fee, also delivered by Tred.

Business Model Showcase: TutorUniverse

Business Model Showcase: TutorUniverse


Everyone's a tutor

As a seven-trillion dollar industry, it is surprising that the Internet has not yet managed to disrupt the field of education. But the digital education landscape is changing fast - from a one-size-fits-all model to more technology-enabled solutions, such as TutorUniverse.

TutorUniverse offers a free service that allows students to ask study-related questions from qualified tutors and get them answered almost immediately. They can also use this service to find skilled tutors who are available to assist students with a specific hourly rate for study sessions conducted through the website interface. 

To turn this into a financial transaction, tutors must decide how much they would like to charge their students and mention it on their profiles. In turn, students must set their budget and then load 'TutorBucks' in their account to hire the tutor they need (1 TutorBuck = 1 USD). 

Students are given a 100% satisfaction guarantee by TutorUniverse for their first study session, so the pressure is on the tutors to deliver what they promise their prospective students in the Virtual Study Room.

GotIt! is a free app by TutorUniverse that has been launched on both iOS and Android platforms to provide the same free service that TutorUniverse offers on its website, only on mobile; allowing students to get help with their studies instantly. Just as on the website, this app also allows tutors the opportunity to impress prospective students by answering questions and getting noticed.

Tutors must pay 15% to 25% commission to TutorUniverse as service charges, depending on how often they use the platform to teach. As they tutor more, the service charge gets smaller and the tutors save more money. 

Business Model Showcase: EatWith

Business Model Showcase: EatWith

Earn for hosting a lunch or dinner at your house

Like Airbnb but for meals

Peer-to-peer marketplaces are having a pretty solid growth trajectory in the last few years. The building blocks are now cheaper, the barriers to entry smaller. One example of an upcoming platform we like is EatWith. They are like AirBnB but for meals with locals. Search a destination, check the menu and book a lunch or dinner experience directly with the host. The interface could improve a bit, and there are many destinations that are yet to be covered (like Venice!), but we're a firm believer in this type of platform.

Business Model Showcase: The Pop Up Agency

Business Model Showcase: The Pop Up Agency

The Pop Up Agency: a new paradigm in creative collaboration

Mobile agency (and successful Kickstarters)

We've been following up with guys at The Pop Up Agency for a while now, ever since we came across their story as they were gearing up to cross the world and solve multiple business problems while at it. We tried finding a company host for them in Dubai, but the market wasn't ready for the novelty of the proposition just yet. The ideas was to fly in to a location, attack a brief in 48h, present and be out the door as quickly as they came in. The host's only duties were to find accommodation and pay for travel expenses.

After a brilliant start, they are now settled in London and working on a crowd funded documentary (which we also donated to). But I think nomadism is still in their blog, and business model.

Business Model Showcase: ooomf

Business Model Showcase: ooomf

Ooomf is a marketplace for mobile/interface design

A marketplace for mobile design/development

ooomf allows you to find and hire prescreened mobile developers and designers. They are what we would love to be when we grow up (and have enough developers ourselves to start creating that kind of marketplace). Wannabe collaborators have to create a profile and upload work samples to be eligible. Clients commissioning work also have access to a neat project cost calculator tool. Their business model is based on taking a cut of the project's cost, once the right team has been found and assigned.

Business Model Showcase: HackMatch

Business Model Showcase: HackMatch

Today's Business model showcase: HackMatch

Company speed dating for hackers

We recently spotted HackMatch company profile while browsing on AngelList. It was featured in the Trending with Customers section so we dove right into it. HackMatch is a very basic marketplace idea, where developers/hackers/programmers are shown a carousel of potential startup companies that might be a good fit for work/collaboration. They aptly describe themselves as "Tinder for Hackers". Some of the startups featured in the site's "scrolling browsing" were (3D printing), Layer (like Twillio but for video and chat) and MakerBot (3D printing). After the user has found a startup, they can click on the "Hell Yeah" button to start a direct connection with the startup. I'd assume only startups with open positions are listed. Simple yet useful.

Idea: On fashion meets do-it-yourself revolution

Idea: On fashion meets do-it-yourself revolution

I know you’ve faced this problem too. You’ve worn out your favorite pair of jeans, or finally had to let go of that special shirt, and you wish that you could go back to the same store and buy the same exact item. Yet the fashion business model dictates that you shouldn’t be able to do something as simple as that.

So what if one of the major fashion players out there started sharing the refabrication instructions (material choices, layouts, designs, cutting instructions, assembly) into a free online repository?

It could initially apply only for past collections but maybe based on the goodwill and popularity of the platform, could even include the current season designs. Possibly this would evolve into a whole ecology of companies that would be able to fulfill deliveries on top of these instructions, of users hacking and upgrading the designs, of online stores selling raw materials (all viable startup ideas for these major fashion conglomerates).

Who will take the first step?