In “Startup Products I Use” I will regularly update you on the products of startups which I use… regularly. The rules are quite simple:
1. The organization behind the product has to be a startup.
2. I need to actually use the product regularly.
“Former startups” do not count and neither do products which I would like to use, some time, when I can afford them etc.. Therefore, it will be a rather short list, every time, which I will update every now and then. Quite different from most of the “10 products to do X”-posts you see on many blogs, I have actual experience as a customer or user, often over a longer term. So, let’s get started!
I just continued my 10-day streaks of learning Spanish and Dutch on Duolingo. The longest streak I maintained so far was over 30 days (also when learning Spanish). I reached level 10 in Spanish, 8 in French, 6 in Portugese, 5 in Dutch… Basically, it’s safe to say that I use Duolingo a lot, since quite a while. They recently changed their system for learning a new lesson, so that it’s basically impossible to fail now – and this way you do not “get stuck” on anything anymore. (Previously, I got stuck in Spanish and French.) The site is free, it’s fun, I gave some alternatives like Memrise a chance (which helped me learn the letters of the Arabic alphabet, for example), but since Duolingo has a good mobile app, keeps adding new lessons and other languages, I think I will keep spending time on there. Probably a lot of time.
Do I buy or use the products I find on Product Hunt? Do I think that products that are popular on there are always particularily good? Usually not. However, you do find some good new things on there. Product Hunt reminded me to finally get a height-adjustable table (from IKEA), so it has done something important – for my health – and got me to try out one startups product (which I will talk about next). However, that’s not the importance of Product Hunt. The importance of it is basically to know what is (or will become) popular with (or through) the SF-Valley-Y Combinator-crowd, that places a high importance on product. Because, like it or not, this is the opinion many things in tech follow right now. (At least in consumer tech.) That’s why I check it out quite often, either through the site itself, or the (inofficial) app hunter2.
Sand Hill Exchange
Sand Hill Exchange (which I discovered through Product Hunt) needs a bit more of an explanation. Bascially, it’s a prediction market game and so far, you had to guess the size of the next funding rounds of startups. Soon, however, the “SHX” will change to trading on valuation of startups instead. That means the “prediction contracts” will be settled to a real value far less often in the future. I’m not sure if that will turn out so well, because that means there will not be a frequent “reality check” for the prices on the market – and hype can continue unchecked for quite a while. Therefore, Sand Hill Exchange might be on the way out of my SPIU-list soon.
Airbnb, a.k.a. Couchsurfing‘s more greedy twin, is on the list because I used them twice last year (when staying in Chile) and strongly consider using them again, when I travel this year, because I had a pretty good experience. (Things that went beyond what I would expect and what I experienced in hotels so far.) 1, 2, or 3 times a year might not be super-frequent use, but I spend a real chunk of money on there and for some products, this is the normal frequency.
If you want to get some more info about a startup, or an investor, it usually helps to look them up on Angellist. At least if they are US-based. Currently, I just use Angellist out of curiosity – and therefore not all that frequently.
Even though Meetup has been around for a long time (since 2002), it is still a private company relying on external investment. There’s meetup-groups for just about anything, so even if I at some point decide to not go to tech-related meetups anymore, I think I will keep using it for a long time to come. The good and at the same time bad thing about Meetup.com is that it does not change a whole lot. As long as it continues to serve it’s purpose well, it’s all fine though, I think.
… and that’s it for now, I think. Just 6 startups. I finished most of what I needed to on General Assembly’s Dash for freeCodeCamp today, so it did not make the list, because I will not continue using it much (as there’s not much content to do left). If I already had done this last year, Codecademy would have been on it. Possibly, maybe, it could make a return in the future. SHX might disappear soon. ADAC Postbus, my favorite long-distance bus company in the German market, did not make the list, because I do not consider it a startup, as it is fully financed by Deutsche Post (the former state-monopolist for mail in Germany).