WebInno 28 impressions and observations

You can tell there’s more money in the industry now from the increase in pretty women.

That was a seasoned tech start-up entrepreneur’s assessment as he scanned the ballroom at Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambrdige where Boston WebInno‘s 28th meeting and also five-year anniversary took place last Monday night. WebInno is place where founders, funders, talent and media connect, where businesses chase ideas and ideas chase businesses.

There was definitely a sense optimism in the air. A marketing director at a growing Hub-based start-up company told me they are looking to hire a front-end developer and a search-engine marketing specialist, which made us both chuckle knowingly as it has already become difficult to staff such positions, in spite of lingering high unemployment rates in Massachusetts and nationally.

The main event at a WebInno is the session with extended presentations of start-up businesses, followed by a vote-by-texting to determine which start-up appeals the most to the audience.

The winner on Monday was Moontoast, a Nashville-based company that seeks to bring branding, commerce and analytics to social media platforms. The company got off the ground serving its native city’s powerful music industry but is working hard at branching out to other industries and claims to have done work for retailer giant Target.

Runner up was How About We, an online dating company that works out of an “excessively large” loft office space in Brooklyn in New York City according to one of its young females workers. How About We simplifies the online dating process by getting rid of compatibility and matching charts and instead focuses on the actual act of dating. Users suggest dates – for example “…attack the Sunday crossword puzzle” – that members of the target sex can choose from. The small but growing company currently has ten employess and is spending this week in holding events in Boston to build its user base here. The dating service charges a subscription fee in New York but Bostonians can still join for free. Those who sign up now will never be charged a membership fee, according to one of the employees. Any business model that caters to the boy-wants-to-meet-girl market has a fair shot at success and I think How About We’s is even better than that.

Smashion is a Boston-based commerce, content and community company that specializes in fashion. Sellers can list any number of items for free (no listing fee, no transaction fee). The site also hosts user-generated content and original blog posts. The web site makes money from advertising. Smashion is hiring. You can email Daniel who works at smashion. You can probably figure it out.

Ginger Software is a text-correction tool that corrects multiple spelling and grammar errors. It looked pretty interesting even though the demonstration of it was hampered by a spotty Internet connection. Ginger’s biggest obstacle is likely the steep price tag: $100. You can 10% off the price with this code: GINGER10.

SocialSci is a survey company that aims to serve university researchers. It’s currently in private beta while expanding its pool of survey respondents. One of their reps said they 3,000, another 1,000.

Penmia is an online notebook with simple features and a clean design. It does allow for image uploads but mostly allows users to tap into their FaceBook, Flickr or other media storage accounts.

WebInno is a very popular and busy event and I didn’t get to speak to the reps from promoboxx before I had to leave. Promoboxx aims to turn traffic into leads through promotions like sweepstakes, coupons, product giveaway and other engagement tools.

Another take on the event: