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Five start-up standouts from SXSW 2013

Monday, 11 March 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

A ride-sharing service that uses oversized pink moustaches to distinguish itself has spoken of its success at South by Southwest 2013, having raised $7 million from a number of investors.


Lyft, a Silicon Valley start-up, is an on-demand ride-sharing service. Using the Lyft app, passengers can instantly request a pickup and a safe, friendly driver will arrive in minutes.


The Lyft team selects pre-vetted, trustworthy drivers who swiftly transport passengers to their destinations. To ensure no one accidentally gets into the wrong car, every vehicle is plastered with an enormous pink moustache.


Lyft has raised more than $7 million from investors such as Mayfield, K9 Ventures and Forerunner Ventures.


“Tens of thousands of users are now using the service. It’s really taken hold in San Francisco, and a few weeks ago we launched in Los Angeles,” one of the co-founders told Business Insider.


“The thing that sets Lyft apart is one community, so Lyft is your friend with a car. You hop in the front seat, you get to know someone.


“You meet someone that has something in common with you… and opens you up to a new world, and it’s more affordable than most alternatives out there.”


Unlike its competitors Getaround and Uber, Lyft users aren’t required to pay drivers. Instead, they give a suggested donation amount.


Here are four more standouts from South by Southwest.


Google’s talking shoe


Google has used SXSW to unveil a talking shoe, which is part of a new arts project dubbed Art, Copy, Code. The shoe is described as “a connected sneaker that can share its story on the web”.


In essence, the shoes are designed to motivate the user. They can tell the user what they are doing and can relay that information to the user’s smartphone via a speaker in the shoe’s tongue.


The sneakers also come equipped with a small computer, accelerometer, pressure sensor, a gyroscope and Bluetooth.


Atypical dating apps


Tinder is a simple dating app. Unlike the plethora of dating platforms that demand information be submitted in a resume-type format, Tinder describes itself as “a fun way to break the ice”.


It finds out who likes you nearby, and connects you with them if you’re also interested. It’s all anonymous until someone you like likes you back.


Profiles have been rated more than 1.5 billion times on the app, so it’s no surprise one venture capitalist has described Tinder as “one of the most sought-after deals right now”.


Tinder isn’t the only dating app getting attention at SXSW.


App developer Elissa Shevinsky is the driving force behind MakeOut Labs and JSpot – its “fun, free Jewish dating site”.


“We’ve built a site where women get fewer messages that are lower quality so that the great messages stand out and the great guys stand out,” she told AFP at SXSW.


UMeTime - the preferred location-based app for SXSW 2013


Created by Tim Rothwell and Brett Berman, the UMeTime app was born in response to the disconnect between the current daily deal marketplace and the types of lifestyle offers that users were looking for.


After studying market trends, Rothwell and Berman saw a need for a technology that was relevant to the individual consumer and would allow merchants to connect with customers in a more personal way.


“While consumers have plenty of deal-related apps or subscription-based email offers to choose from, merchants are lacking a way to connect in real time to their core customer base,” Rothwell said on the company’s website.


“It is our goal to help businesses communicate with their customers and build relationships with them that help grow their business.”


Rothwell and Berman are hoping the app will come in handy for conference attendees at SXSW by allowing users to search for deals on things like food and drinks in their immediate area.