Here are 3 new social technology startups you need to know about

The final session for the SXSW Accelerator competition focused on social technology startups, which might seem like old news, but still manages to generate plenty of buzz. Each startup had five minutes to make a presentation before a packed audience.

For this session, the judges were Christine Herron of Intel Capital, Ben Ling of Khosla Ventures and Justin Fishner-Wolfson of 137 Venture.

The startups were the last companies to pitch their business as part of the competition . Here’s are the finalists:


Connect is an app that looks like what would happen if Foursquare used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other geo-locating social media apps to power its platform. It’s basically pulls in data from all your other social media networks to tell you exactly your friends/contacts are at any given point. It could be as wide as a country, or as local as downtown San Francisco. Your contact all reside in one address book, where you can search for them by location, the company they work for, and even job titles.

With millennials not being very choosy about people they add on social media, the app theoretically gives you the chance to always be aware of anyone in your large network who is geographically close. Conversely, this app could be also be complete nightmare for people are paranoid about everyone they know hanging out without them.

Fresh off his recent win at Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH Festival, Connect co-founder and CEO Ryan Allis demoed the app with the story of “Nadia,” a girl who found a boyfriend, got a job, traveled the world and went out dancing, all through the power of Connect. Unfortunately it was an example that Christine Herron, one of the judges, “absolutely hated.” Yikes.

Allis said the app planned to eventually monetize by giving brands the location data of its users so that they could receive targeted offers depending where they were.

Here’s more on how Connect works:

Felt App from Tomer Alpert on Vimeo.

Felt’s founder Tomer Alpert says getting a handwritten card in the mail is a fantastic user experience, but sending one is not. Even though you still have to write out the cards, at least with Felt it’s saving you that trip to the post office, as well as having to go to a store to physically pick out cards.

When asked what inspired him to create this app, Alpert told the story of how his fiancé Gracie had asked him to write and mail out a thank you note after they had both attended a dinner party, and Alpert realized (like most men) how much of a pain it was to do. So he came up with another solution for his fiancé. “It’s a love story,” said Alpert to the cheers and laughter of the audience.


It was only a matter of time before someone came up with a “Snapchat for video,” which is what Samba is, but with a slightly different angle. The Israel-based video messaging app is all about reactions. When you send someone a video message, or a funny clip through Samba, it automatically turns on the camera and records the recipient’s reaction when they view what you sent them. Founder Barak Hachamov said authentic emotion was still something lacking in today’s instant messaging and with Samba, you can presumably capture what your messaging partner is feeling. (Although who’s to say they aren’t just posing for the camera?)

In addition to a pretty simple, nifty looking user interface, the app allows you to delete a video or a response from the sender’s side. Not surprisingly, Hachamov says the company is targeting college students and has already been approached by several brands who want to use it to communicate with customers or potentially use their reactions for their own branded content opportunities.

Here’s what Samba looks like.

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