Hot Koehls

The more you know, the more you don’t know

This content is a little crusty, having been with me through 3 separate platform changes. Formatting may be rough, and I am slightly less stupid today than when I wrote it.
07 Nov 2009

BusinessWeek's most promising startups. Seriously?

Came across this BusinessWeek article (published on Yahoo!) today discussing companies that “embody the creativity and resiliency common among today’s entrepreneurs.” They do make it clear that it’s a new recurring segment, so maybe they’re still getting their feet under them. That’s what I’m hoping anyway, because I see nothing but a bunch of me-toos and also-rans in this list. Read the article, and see if my summary (and accompanying snarky comments) jive with what you read:

  • Name: Batter Blaster No-BS Summary: Late-night infomercial I can see the demonstration of the “old alternative” now, where they make some doofus have a spasm while pouring Bisquik on a skillet.
  • Name: InterShelter No-BS Summary: Portable dome housing This never-ending dome idea needs to be dragged out back and shot.
  • Name: ParkingCarma No-BS Summary: Website for parking spots I see “Website for [insert handy information].” Handy, but nothing special here.
  • Name: Mota Motors No-BS Summary: Sell cars online. Another “Website for [insert handy information].” A competitor to, eBay motors, and Edmunds, touting extra middleman-ness. Who doesn’t want more middleman in their lives?
  • Name: Greenmaker Supply No-BS Summary: A “green” Home Depot Similar to the last two, I see “Sustainable/green [insert physical product].” The green movement in general drives me nuts. There’s no proof any of it makes a difference on the planet (for or against), and some products actually create more waste and cost more to make than their “ungreen” counterparts.
  • Name: Wedding Payment Plan No-BS Summary: Financing Service They specialize in weddings, but how is this loan any different from any other loan? If you’re looking to finance a wedding, the economist in me says you need to dial the event back a bit.
  • Name: ExpoTV No-BS Summary: Video consumer reviews Yet another “Website for [insert handy information].” I would imagine that video-based reviews presents something of a hurdle for most consumers. I’ve known many a non-techie who could barely manage email, and you want them to shoot, possibly edit, and upload a review to the web?
  • Name: Freeline Skates No-BS Summary: New way to break your neck Come on, the guy isn’t even wearing a helmet! The clincher for me is this line: Farrelly says he has turned down Wal-Mart Stores as a retail outlet. Why? Bad for Freeline’s street cred. Yeah, and saying “no” is horrendous for your bottom line. Or do you like bumming on your friends’ couches at, what, 30?
  • Name: HomeMade Pizza No-BS Summary: Bake at home pizza At this point I’m convinced the researchers were just looking to round out the list at an even…umm…nine. Good choice too, because where else can we go for make-at-home pizza besides Little Ceasars, DiGiorno, Red Baron, my grocer’s entire frozen food section and a limitless number of fundraiser catalogs?

Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t bad ideas — except for the sneaker wheels, how much more hazardous can we make our free time? — but I certainly wouldn’t put them in the “most promising” category. They’ve all been done before, and/or being done right now! Where are the game changers, the ones doing things that improve daily lives on a fundamental level? I don’t think Fwd:Vault is going to shatter our world-foundation, but at least it’s a fresh approach for tackling a known problem. Who finds pancake batter to be a real blight on their lives?

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