StartupCamp Melbourne: The review

StartupCamp Melbourne looks to have produced just as interesting ideas as the Sydney event which immediately preceded it, but the Victorian start-ups appear to have stumbled during execution. Sydney 1, Melbourne 0.
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor

The StartupCamp phenomenon has struck again: three new Australian start-ups — marketbeagle, bitofpluck and iSportster — were quickly conceived and created in Melbourne over the weekend.


(Credit: marketbeagle)

Like previous Sydney-based StartupCamps, the effort saw 20-odd people with various sets of skills congregate, this time in the Fitzroy offices of kisla interactive, to take several start-ups from "whoa to go" in just a couple of days.

Several other local companies, such as Tjoos, UnFuddle.com, CarSales.com.au and Michael Specht's Inspect, supported the effort with various resources; for example beer, champagne, and web hosting.

The Melbourne event was attended by several Australian web 2.0 luminaries; such as former TechCrunch writer and current Inquisitr founder Duncan Riley, in addition to consultant Specht.

"It's really cool to see the energy and resourcefulness of all the teams. This is a great example of what's possible when you take a bunch of talented people and give them a real challenge," said StartupCamp chief instigator Bart Jellema in a statement about the results of the weekend.

The three start-ups launched were:

  • marketbeagle: tracks success in marketing campaigns through what it describes as easy to use data capture and analysis tools, basically giving businesses a better understanding of just where their marketing budget is going.
  • bitofpluck: claims to use "sophisticated matching technology" to connect people in the same location for an interesting conversation or a moment of inspiration.
  • iSportster: an online social network and information centre for Australians who play indoor sports.

When I tried to visit their sites this morning, I was surprised to find that neither bitofpluck nor iSportster had working services. So much for launching a start-up over the weekend! When I reviewed the previous Sydney StartupCamp, the three start-ups had all launched their services by the time Monday morning came around.


(Credit: iSportster)

iSportser's website looks quite professionally designed and has a great photo of some soccer chums on the front ... but it only says the service is "coming soon". Bitofpluck's site is at least taking email addresses from interested parties, although it just states the start-up is working towards a public beta release.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that I consider both iSportster and bitofpluck's services to be so far little more than vapour-ware. When and if they finalise their offerings (if they can get the founders to continue to commit more time to the start-ups), I'll check them out again.

In contrast, marketbeagle's site actually allows users to test its services. I clicked "app demo", and created a "Renai is great" campaign. I listed $10,000 worth of marketing services with Google, $200,000 worth of "shouting at people in the street" and $300,000 worth of "Sleeping with Duncan Riley".

Unfortunately, when I clicked "Save" in my Google Chrome browser, the site crashed, giving me a bunch of random errors. After a while I managed to get past that screen, but couldn't manage to do anything else with the site. When I clicked on other options such as the "media", "leads" or "demographics" buttons I ran into more errors. I had similar experiences with Firefox.

To sum up, although the Melbourne StartupCamp looks to have produced just as many interesting experiences, training and ideas as the Sydney event, which immediately preceded it (there have also been others in the past), the Victorian start-ups appear to have stumbled during execution.

Bootstrappr verdict: Sydney 1, Melbourne 0. Any other states keen to take up the challenge?

More information, including videos, can be found at the StartupCamp Melbourne site.

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