Zemoga’s Top 5: A Salute to Silicon Valley

By Kimberly Reyes (@CommDuCoeur)

Northern California’s Silicon Valley is the beating heart of our industry.  Ever since Stanford University planted its high-tech seeds in the San Francisco Bay area at the beginning of the last century, we saw a fast and furious growth in technological innovation that forever changed the way we live.

And while innovation has since spread its roots to other parts of the country and even the world, the spirit of Silicon Valley carries on, with the passion and ambition that only comes from dedicated computer nerds and friends with deep pockets.  Here are our top five Silicon Valley ones to watch.

1. Bump

Smacking smartphones together hardly seems impressive, and to some, a little reckless.  But what if that simple action transferred one owner’s contact information into another owner’s phone?  Tapping phones might eventually become the new handshake.  That’s the idea behind Bump, developed by David Lieb, Andy Huibers, and Jake Mintz.

2. Dropbox

Dropbox uses cloud computing to make file sharing, storage, and synchronization easy across multiple platforms.  MIT graduates Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi founded the company in 2007 and has received acclaim from The New York Times and PC Magazine.  Fans of the service are most impressed by its mobile functionality and user-friendly interface.

3. Kickstarter

Kickstarter recognizes that there are good ideas out there that just need a little help taking off.  The online fund-raising site uses crowdsourcing to fund creative projects and entrepreneurial ventures.  Kickstarters maintain a project profile containing their mission, financial goal, deadline, and offer to gratitude to their sponsors.  Donors keep a portfolio of investments, receive updates on progress, and can even monitor other projects.  Founder and CEO Perry Chen sponsors several Kickstarter projects.

4. Second Market

Bear with me as I try to explain this one.  So, as we all know, liquid assets are money.  Cash.  Things that can easily be converted into money.  Conversely, illiquid assets are things like bankruptcy claims, debts, and loans. Founder and CEO Barry Silbert is a business-wise thirty-something who manages the strategic operations of SecondMarket, a web-based marketplace that auctions illiquid assets.  The platform’s 10,000 participants collectively manage $1 trillion assets.

5. Trooval

If anybody offers you the vacation of your dreams at little to no cost, it’s gotta be a scam – unless it’s Trooval, which connects travelers with unknown deals and offers from Timeshare companies in exchange for just a little bit of your time.  Here’s how it works: Trooval pre-screens resorts and destinations to ensure legitimacy and transparency.  They offer only the best on their site for you to sift through and select the vacation of your choice.  You get to kick back and relax on your dream vacation – as long as you attend a low-pressure sales presentation as part of your trip.

Got your own list favorite startups?  Share them with us!

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