Anyone who follows web 2.0 magazines (like TechCrunch, Go2Web20, etc) and observes the emergence of latest web startups, cannot help but feel that most of them follow similar patters and structures. While different in technology, market and target audience, when striped from all the bells and whistles, often they look and feel very similar.
So, I took it upon myself identify the basic models, most of them follow. The models I identified are cross-industry and cross-technology. I tried not to include niche models (that have to do specifically with music, movies, etc).
I have given each model a (hopefully intuitive) name, provided brief explanation and a couple of familiar examples.
The obvious models emerged immediately:
Service that brings various sources of information into one place, and allows mashing, labeling and sharing.
examples: Google Reader(aggregate your feeds), FoxytunesPlanet(music mash-up)
Service that supplements useful tool, like uploading photos, with social aspects (friends, comments, messages, groups).
examples: YouTube(comment on videos), Last.Fm(comment on music), Flickr(comment on photos)
Service that connects people, and brings them together, around some subject.
examples: Facebook(connect with your friends), LinkedIn(connect with your colleagues), FootBo(connect with football fans)
Service that distributes single source of information into predefined channels.
examples: FriendFeed(distribute your actions in popular sites), Triond(distribute your writing/poetry), Tarpipe(distribute your content)
Service that allows user to manage several similar services in unified fashion, and often provides friendlier interface than the original services (with dashboard, graphs, charts and recommendations).
examples: Contextured(manage your search-engine advertising), Scrobbld(manage ebay and PayPal accounts), NutshellMail(manage your social networks and multiple email accounts in one inbox)
Service that substitutes traditional desktop applications with web app that aside from performing the same job, also often allows to upload, host and synchronize data and content.
examples: Picnik(edit photos), Google Bookmarks(bookmark web-pages), Zoho(edit documents)
The less obvious ones took some time to identify:
Service that transforms silos of mundane information into actionable knowledge
examples: BriefCam(extract crucial minutes of video data from days of surveillance camera recording), Xoopit(extract photos, videos from your Gmail inbox)
Adds monitoring, tracking, recording and analyzing capabilities to existing service.
examples: FeedBurner(track your feeds usage), ClickTale(track your web-site usage), EyeView Digital(track your online video usage)
Wraps existing service with level of abstraction that allows filtering, sorting, archiving and searching.
examples: Google Voice(screen your phone calls), E(screen your online friends)
Service that transforms relatively complex task into simple, wizard-like, customizable experience
examples: Blogger(create a blog), SundaySky(create a video from your web-site), Conduit(create a toolbar), PrintFection(set-up your own online merchandise shop), Ning(create social network)
Service that repackages existing service, content or information in new format, and allows enjoying it in unexpected ways. It removes barriers for end-users, and shortens the distance to target content.
examples: Snap(repackage link as small pop-up window), Boxee(repackage web for TV experience), DocStoc(repackage documents as embedded widgets)
Now, let’s play a bit. Let’s apply some of those models to existing technology and create a bunch of new web startups. Let’s take Twitter as our base technology. It is a good subject, since its relatively young, but growing very fast, and may attract entrepreneurs, trying to ride the wave of its success. So here is a generated list of “new startups”:
1. TwitterExtractor – service that extracts useful information, like brands mention, musical tastes, feedback about products, from tweets around the web
2.TwitterMonitor – service that tracks users that subscribe to your twitter feed, and offers analysis and optimizations
3. TwitterAggregator – service that aggregates tweeter feeds around the web, and offers advanced ways to mash, label and sort them
4. TwitterRepackager – service that repackages twitter, and offers it as mobile application / Firefox extension / iGoogle widget.
5. TwitterManager – service that manages numerous Twitter accounts.
Most of these don’t make much sense, but applying models in such way can be useful in finding new ideas. If you stumble upon anything worthy using this method, or find models I have missed, please let me know (and send me a check 🙂 )