Entrepreneurial

Banjo mobile app keeps travelers in touch

A missed opportunity to connect with friends at an airport was the impetus behind a new social discovery service targeted at smartphone users.

The free service, Banjo, is the brainchild of 38-year-old tech entrepreneur Damien Patton. It launched this week and is available for iPhone and Android owners.

“It was started because I missed out on a personal connection,” Patton said. “It brings all the social information together into one convenient place on the mobile device.”

Banjo aggregates information from a variety of sources, including popular social networks like Facebook and Foursquare. It keeps users apprised of social activity in a particular spot, whether that’s where they’re currently standing or some 1,000 miles away, Patton explained.

Users decide whether to connect with others or just browse what’s going on at the chosen location, he added, describing his overlay app as having a “ripple effect.”

New payroll app targets small business

Making payroll has always been a bit of a fraught experience for Shelley O’Sullivan and her husband at their five-employee construction firm located just north of San Francisco. But a simple mobile app has reduced that anxiety.

“The hassle we were always having with the computer issue is that we do payroll on Thursday and so we have to be home and input it by 3 o’clock to get the checks (out) by the next day,” said O’Sullivan, whose husband started using the iPhone app offered by their payroll service provider, ADP, a month ago. “Now that we have an app he’s out in the field and hits a button and boom, it’s done.”

O’Sullivan said the app is especially handy for their construction business, as they normally spend a lot of time outside the office on sites.

Startup pays consumers for old iPhones

Apple CEO Steve Jobs discusses the new iPhone 4 during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California June 7, 2010. REUTERS/Robert GalraithRather than throwing out their old iPhone or recycling it, people wanting to upgrade to Apple’s latest iPhone 4 have another option in Gazelle.

“It’s almost early Christmas at Gazelle with the introduction of a new generation of iPhone,” said Israel Ganot, CEO and founder of the Brookline, Massachusetts-based company.

Gazelle, launched in 2008, buys electronics ranging from camcorders to LCD monitors. Ganot started the company after he tried to recycle some old cell phones, but was told by a store he would have to pay for doing so. He got the idea for Gazelle (its motto is “don’t just sell it, Gazelle it”) after realizing his phones still have value in them.

App is crap

- Mark Suster is a partner at Los Angeles-based venture capital firm GRP Partners and the author of the blog “Both Sides of the Table”. The opinions expressed are his own. -

I recently wrote a blog post entitled App is Crap: Why Apple is bad for your health, in which the thrust of the argument is that the technology ecosystem will be better served by applications on mobile devices that work inside your browser, rather than applications you download onto your device.

The downloaded world is a hugely costly proposition for software developers and also makes it harder for new phone manufacturers to produce products. Neither is good for innovation in the long run.

Twitter-based shopping website seeks retailers

imshoppingBuying something online can be a frustrating process. The shear numbers of websites offering the same product can lead to endless hours of surfing to try to find the right deal. Consumers often become overwhelmed and end up not buying anything at all.

Prashant Nedungadi (see Nedungadi’s personal five-day entrepreneur journal, exclusively for Reuters.com) has been one of those people and decided to use that frustration to launch IMshopping.com, a website that utilizes a combination of software and sales experts to direct buyers to the precise product they’re looking for. What Nedungadi has dubbed “human-assisted shopping” is a network of retail experts, or guides, and the broader community of IMshopping’s more than 30,000 registered users.

IMshopping leverages Twitter to help allow consumers to pose shopping-related questions around the clock.

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