The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: PostalPix

Quick Pitch: PostalPix is an iPhone app that lets you order prints of your iPhone photos in a variety of formats.

Genius Idea: After Isaac and Christina Lay had a baby boy, the couple started snapping photos of their new bundle of joy with their iPhones. They soon realized there was no simple way to get those photos off their phones and into the hands of friends and family. Shortly thereafter, Isaac Lay co-founded PostalPix, a service for ordering prints of mobile photos.

PostalPix is as straightforward as it sounds. iPhone owners can use the app to order 4 x 6 and 8 x 10 prints and mouse pads of photos pulled from their phone’s library. It’s as simple as selecting print size, picking photos, specifying quantity and paying for the prints.

Prices appear to be reasonable — a pack of three 4″ x 6″ prints is $0.99, and a single 8″ x 10″ print is $3.47. App users can purchase their prints in-app via PayPal or credit card. Mashable readers can get 25% of their first purchase using the code “mashable” at checkout.

One reason mobile photo sharing services have become so popular is that they present the user with an instantaneous way to publish photos to the web, eliminating the hassle of having to transfer photos to a computer. PostalPix applies the same logic to prints, offering iPhone users a frictionless way to develop their digital photos.

The overall application experience could be improved, and the photo loading and upload process for users with larger image libraries needs work. We’d also like to see a few more supported formats as well as integration with photo apps. But when all is said and done, PostalPix works as advertised.

Having only had a live product for just over month, PostalPix is still very much an early stage venture. The bootstrapped startup caters to a very specific mobile audience and has managed to carve out space in between photo printing services on the web and photo applications for mobile. It’s a tiny space with lucrative potential, which means competition is inevitable.

Founded in August 2010, PostalPix turned out to be more difficult to build than originally anticipated. “It was a pain in the butt to integrate our custom technology with shipping processes,” says co-founder Michael Sarlitt. Sarlitt and Lay brought Joel Vanderhoof on board, and he helped with the tricky supply and print center details — details PostalPix believes gives them an advantage over potential copycats.

PostalPix users can expect new features, formats and products in the months ahead. The team also hopes to build for Android and other mobile operating systems once they perfect the iPhone app.


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, iphone, mobile photos, postalpix, spark-of-genius




The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Bln.kr

Quick Pitch: Bln.kr lets bands share their music to all their social networks from one platform, as well as gauge audience feedback.

Genius Idea: Nowadays, in order for a band to survive, musicians really have to be skilled at marketing and social media, as well as the guitar, drums or uke (unless they’re super famous and they have “people” — “people” tend to do all that stuff for them). That means utilizing Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all the other tools at their disposal to get their music out there.

Still, even though those tools are so easy that a bunch of sugar-addled teens can use them, it can be hard to employ them all in concert — with ease. That’s where Bln.kr comes in.

Bln.kr is kind of like Hootsuite for bands — a platform that allows musicians to share a song across Facebook, Twitter, etc, as well as track how fans are digging their jams.

The service is rather simple to use: Sign up for a Pro account ($10 per month), and connect Bln.kr to social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, YouTube). Upload a track, add a title, cover image, category, tags and download setting (it’s also possible to enable a “Track for a Tweet”-esque feature, which is pretty cool), add a custom message to one’s share and go for it. One click lets a person share the track to all of his or her networks.

Cool bonus: When one shares to YouTube, the service automatically generates a music video with your song and album art on the video-sharing site. Granted, videos that feature only album art are rather boring, but YouTube is still an awesome music discovery tool, so this addition to functionality is pretty handy.

After getting the soon-to-be hit single… let’s call it… “Everyone’s a Winner When Her Heart’s The Prize,” onto the Interwebs, musicians can then track fan feedback using Bln.kr’s “loop,” which displays a real-time stream of plays, downloads, comments, ratings, shares, retweets, etc. It’s also possible to reply directly from Bln.kr — no more toggling between windows.

“Being an independent artist, Bln.kr has proved to be an invaluable resource,” says user Drew Seeley. “Its statistics are easy to read and comprehend. The tweet to listen/download features have been a great way to get the word out to my followers on Twitter and Facebook when I have something going on.”

“Bln.kr makes it easy to record tracks, distribute to fans, and get feedback all in the same day,” says Mike Skinner of The Streets. “This has been a revitalizing experience for me in making music and I use it to host all sorts of audio, including demo tracks, podcasts and remix competitions. Bln.kr links up seamlessly with every social network and we are even using it to host the music for The Streets iPhone app, allowing us to get instant, personal feedback and stats on what fans are listening to.”

Bln.kr has also managed to mix business with a little pleasure, awarding well-performing users with “Bln.kr Buttons” (think Foursquare badges), and giving artists the ability to host remix contests, a la Indaba.

Currently, there are no mobile apps for Bln.kr, but the services does work as a mobile site. Apps are in the words.

If you’re an artist, what tools do you use to make share your tunes easier? Would you add Bln.kr to your roster?

Photo courtesy of Flickr, Hygiene Matters


Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark


BizSpark is a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bln.kr, music, social media




The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Wallcast

Quick Pitch: Wallcast is a PC and Mac application that transforms your wallpaper into a dynamic collage of photos from you, your family and your friends.

Genius Idea: Husband and wife Eric Bouchard and Marie Asselin were visiting Paris after Bouchard sold his first company. As expected, the couple was fielding requests from their parents to send photos during their six-month trip. That, along with the observation that their parents’ desktop wallpapers were, more often than not, showcasing poor quality photos, inspired the pair to create a tool to make desktop wallpapers more dynamic, beautiful, personal and collaborative.

The duo worked with a small development shop in their hometown of Quebec to turn their vision into a reality, and in late December 2010, Wallcast was released. Wallcast is PC and Mac software that creates and continuously updates your desktop wallpaper from a pool of photos submitted by you or your friends and family members.

The initial setup process is a bit cumbersome, but once you upload a few photos and install the PC or Mac software, you’ll start to see Wallcast come to life. The wallpaper highlights five photos pulled from the photos you upload, e-mail or add via iPhone app. Your wallpaper will automatically refresh with new photos every 15 minutes, depending on your preferences.

The most powerful aspect to Wallcast is that friends and family members can submit photos to your wallpaper via e-mail or iPhone app. You’ll need to invite them through the website, but once you do, the photos they submit are added to your pool and automatically swapped in and out of your dynamic wallpaper.

An Android Wallcast app is also in the works. The app, like the existing iPhone app, will enable you to quickly capture and share photos with your wallpaper or the wallpapers of others. The Android version will also let you use the dynamic wallpaper on your device, a feature not available to iPhone users.

Desktop wallpaper may seem passé, but Wallcast almost feels like a more realistic implementation of a “private network” than the mobile private photo-sharing experience Path is attempting to engineer. It’s not inherently social in the way that social media denizens expect, but that’s intentional and the end result is something that is still both deeply personal and a shared experience with close friends and family.

Asselin and Bouchard initially planned to support photo integration with Twitter and Facebook, but quickly realized that wallpapers would get cluttered with junk photos. The two are, however, working on features that will allow you to selectively pull photos from social sites into your wallpaper collage. A browser plugin that will let you right click photos on the web and send them to your wallpaper is in the works, for instance.

At the end of the day, Asselin says the couple hopes that Wallcast will bring people closer through the one screen most of us stare at all day long.


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: desktop wallpaper, iphone, mac, pc, spark-of-genius, startup, wallcast




The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Pose

Quick Pitch: Pose is an iPhone app that allows users to share photos while they shop.

Genius Idea: If the recent surge of photo-sharing and object-tagging applications, such as Instagram, picplz and Foodspotting, are anything to go by, iPhone owners love to take photos with their phones, and they love sharing them with friends and strangers alike.

Enter Pose, a Santa Monica-based startup that’s attempting to cut out a niche in the photo-sharing crowd with an iPhone app [iTunes link] (coming soon to Android) targeted directly at fashion and shopping enthusiasts. Pose launched in beta last week, having just raised $1.6 million from True Ventures, GRP Partners and Founder Collective, with participation from angel investors (and Path founders) Dave Morin and Shawn Fanning.

Currently, the features are very limited: Users can snap photos of apparel and accessories while they shop, tag them with their prices and the location of the store in which they were found, and then share them with other Pose users, as well as their personal Facebook and Twitter networks. Users can also explore and bookmark the most recent and most popular finds of other users, and peruse those of Pose’s roster of curators, a.k.a “posers” (including, notably, designer Norma Kamali). And that’s about it.

What it’s missing, primarily, is all of the features that make other truly social apps addictive: mainly, the ability to follow others and be followed, to view the activity of one’s personal network in a newsfeed and to add comments in-line. Following would appeal to both tastemakers and the countless number of Internet users who already follow style blogs, whilst commenting would allow users to solicit feedback on their finds from both their personal networks and the Pose community, thus rendering apps like Fashism and Go Try It On obsolete.

Pose could also use a few bonus features to persuade consumers to use it over other photo-sharing apps when shopping, such as photo filters that reflect current trends in fashion photography, or, say, the ability to purchase and/or put on hold items found within the app, a la Lucky at Your Service.

Although it has a long way to go, Pose has an inviting, user-friendly (and thus promising) interface and set of advisors, including Jon Callaghan of True Ventures and Mark Suster of GRP, which is why it’s on our to-watch list.

What do you think of the app? What other features could be added to to make the app more compelling?


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: fashion, iphone app, pose, spark-of-genius




The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: GoldRun

Quick Pitch: Using augmented reality app GoldRun, advertisers create scavenger hunts for virtual goods in physical locations.

Genius Idea: Buzz has been big around augmented reality, but few companies have figured out a way to turn it into an effective marketing tool. We’ve seen brands invoke everything from Iron Man masks to musical cheese snacks in efforts to incorporate augmented reality into their marketing plans. But none of these ideas exactly created the AdWords of augmented reality.

GoldRun, which launched in November with a campaign for H&M, comes closer to creating a marketing platform that will be useful across multiple industries. The app allows brands to create virtual scavenger hunts. When consumers download the free GoldRun app and sign up to follow a campaign or “run,” they can collect virtual goods from physical locations using their phone’s camera. During the H&M campaign, for instance, users could collect a different virtual item from the brand’s fall/winter collection by snapping a photo of it in front of each of its 10 Manhattan locations. Doing so resulted in an instant 10% discount on any H&M purchase.

The platform’s agility is its greatest strength. AirWalk used the platform to build virtual pop-up stores in locations in Washington Square Park and Venice Beach at which app users could purchase a special edition shoe from its website (VP of Business Development Shailesh Rao calls it “V-Commerce”). The NBC’s Today Show ran a scavenger hunt for virtual items in Rockefeller Plaza. Esquire Magazine is planning a campaign that will virtually place its February cover model, Brooklyn Decker, in more than 700 Barnes and Noble stores. Other planned campaigns range from the Sundance Film Festival to Gwen Stefani’s perfume line.

GoldRun provides a more interactive and customizable approach to location-based advertising than check-in games like Foursquare and Gowalla. Campaigns, in addition to distributing special offers, include an option for users to create interesting photos (items in the H&M campaign, for instance, were positioned in a way in which they could be virtually “tried on”). Users share these photos through their Facebook profiles, which is more valuable for the brand than shared check-in information.

Given how eager brands have been to adopt location-based marketing through check-in apps, it’s not a surprise that many are eager to run campaigns on the GoldRun app. Rao says that more than 40 companies from various industries have approached the as of now self-funded startup about running a campaign. It will be interesting to see if consumers respond with equivalent enthusiasm.


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: Augmented Reality, esquire, GoldRun, MARKETING, mobile app




This post is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark as a new part of the Spark of Genius series that focuses on a new and innovative startup each day. Every Thursday, the program focuses on startups within the BizSpark program and what they’re doing to grow.

No matter what your religious persuasions are, it’s hard to name a book that has had more influence than the Bible. Literature, wars, customs and geography have all been inspired by its content, and there’s good reason for scholars of just about every liberal arts topic to have a copy on their bookshelves.

But what most people don’t see when they look at the Bible is an opportunity for high tech entrepreneurship. Nelson Saba, the CEO of Immersion Digital, is an exception. In 2002, he led the development of a digital interactive Bible that was purchased by about 600,000 people. In 2008, the company raised $7 million in angel funding to launch a new version, which aims to not only supplement — but replace — the paper version of the Bible.

Saba recently spoke with Mashable about creating a platform that not only enhances an ancient text, but also has the potential to revolutionize educational texts across every topic.


Beyond Scholars


CES

Immersion Digital was not the first company to create a Bible software, but most Bible software that came before it targeted scholars rather than families. The first product, Illumina, was designed for families to use as a Bible. And Glo, the version the company released in 2009, is even more so.

“We started to realize that there were now several generations that were digital, and now it’s not just a matter of creating a powerful way of communicating the Bible,” Saba says. “We thought it was necessary to have something that could be literally a digital alternative to the paper. Something that you, as someone who belongs to that digital generation, would favor over paper.”

The current version has a beautiful zoomable user interface that allows users to “dive into the content,” and it’s easy to browse the Bible from a variety of angles. You could, for instance, search for everything about marriage. You just as easily search for everything that happened in Jerusalem or everything that happened in a specific time period. Every topic also has interactive components like an atlas, videos, time lines and photos.


Beyond Software


In 2010, Glo won the Superbowl trophy of Bible publishing: The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association‘s Bible of the Year award. It was the first digital product to win.

“It was kind of a validation for us, that digital is not seen anymore as a software,” Saba says. “Digital is really seen as a media that can be used to deliver books, in this case the Bible…we don’t even use the word software that much, because… we really don’t want to be perceived as anything other than a Bible in a digital form.”


Beyond Desktops


CES

Much of Glo’s strategy for becoming more of a book replacement rather than a desktop program relies on breaking out of the browser.

“This new product was released for both desktops and laptops at first, which we knew was not our target, but that’s what we had so we launched with what we had aiming at where we are getting at…which is really the mobile platforms,” Saba says.

Microsoft highlighted Glo’s app for a Windows 7 tablet at CES, and the freemium model app will be released along with a similar iPad app later this month.


Beyond Bibles


CES

What Immersion Digital has created in Glo is not only a Bible, but a platform that highlights the potential of digital books to be more than electronic copies of their paper counterparts. The ability to have context and visualization of concepts at your fingertips is something that nearly any textbook could benefit from.

“This product is an educational product focused on teaching people about the Bible, that’s what our vocation is as a product,” Saba says. “The combination of the experience and exploration that you can have with interactive media, with the text itself, it lends it naturally to this very engaging and active learning experience — you are navigating, you’re leading it, and as you do so you’re learning.”

Immersion Digital’s plan is to apply the platform to other topics. It is planning a prototype for subjects like history or geography that it will market to publishers of textbooks.


Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark


BizSpark is a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bible, bizspark, e-books, Glo, religion, spark-of-genius

This post is part of Mashable’s Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark.. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.Name: PagelimeQuick Pitch: PageLime is a hosted CMS for designers. It allows you to manage assets on your site by logging in to a web app that’s hosted on its servers.Genius Idea: Pagelime is a simple CMS with a graphical interface that can easily hook into websites created with PHP, Java, Ruby, ASP or just straight XHTML/CSS. The system makes it easy for designers to create sites, while making content regions editable by clients. The new iPhone app lets designers and clients access many of the Pagelime backend features on the go.As we’ve noted in the past, a lightweight CMS can be a great fit for small business users who want a simple website, without necessarily needing the hassle or complexity of a more extensive content management tool.This is exactly the market segment that Pagelime is targeting. To be more specific, Pagelime targets the website designers who are asked to build these more simple client sites. Pagelime is a hosted CMS and it works by connecting to an existing domain and web server. By adding in CSS classes to designated elements of your site’s pages, you can make those blocks editable in a WYSIWYG editor hosted on Pagelime. Likewise, you can also enable features like image galleries, manage the SEO settings on a page and add server-side includes.

This ends up being a very nice tool for web designers who want to deliver a solution to a customer, without having to worry about either customizing or building a CMS. Pagelime has a variety of pricing options — starting with a free plan that lets you create three different sites. For $19 per month, users can create up to 50 sites and use Pagelime more as a white label service, with their own logo, colors, domain and various reselling tools. For $69 per month, a user can create unlimited sites and designate an unlimited number of administrators.Pagelime recently released its first mobile app, Pagelime CMS for iPhone [iTunes link]. Pagelime’s iPhone app isn’t intended as a replacement for the web app, but it does allow designers and their clients to extend the Pagelime platform. Users can add and edit pages or templates, make changes to editable areas, preview and publish changes, all from the app.
We think Pagelime has an interesting approach to content management, especially for smaller sites and for designers who don’t want to spend too much time dealing with backend code. If you’re looking at an alternative solution for maintaining or creating smaller websites, Pagelime is worth a try.What are your favorite lightweight content management tools? Let us know.


Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark


BizSpark is a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.


Reviews: PHP

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