Featured Startup Pitch: Dashbook wants to take the customized web to a new level with its auto-personalized intelligent platform
Elevator Pitch: Dashbook is an intelligent platform that leverages the expected to deliver the unexpected. Our platform provides unbounded and effortless access to every piece of connected information, allowing you to bring all of the information you care about to one screen.
People want unbounded and effortless access to all of the information they care about, and they want it in an adaptive and auto-personalizing way. This information occurs in two different forms: expected information—the information we know we care about that comes from sources we regularly access; and unexpected information—the information we don’t know we care about until it reaches us.
Dashbook is an intelligent platform that leverages the expected to deliver the unexpected. Our platform provides unbounded and effortless access to every piece of connected data, allowing you to bring all of the information you care about to one screen.
Think of it this way: platforms are merely a collection of the data they provide. This effectively makes Instagram a collection of photos, Twitter a collection of text snippets, and will make Dashbook a collection of any piece of connected data. The first incarnation of the Dashbook platform is the iOS app.
The iOS app allows a user to create their own custom Dashbook. A Dashbook is comprised of a series of dashes, each dash acting as a window to a piece of relevant, real-time information pertaining to the user. Users can add and remove dashes in their Dashbook using the Dash library. The Dash library is totally open. We built the Dashbook platform with a web interface that allows third party developers to create custom dashes that can be uploaded and shared with the Dashbook community via the library, thus allowing developers to connect end users with important real-time data. This is all made possible because of YARN, a domain specific language that removes all of the heavy lifting from the developer and makes it possible to create a custom dash with only 15 lines of code. If you’re an end user, Dashbook makes the access and delivery of relevant information as simple as one tap on your mobile phone. If you’re a developer, it’s as simple as 15 lines of code.
We all come from pretty diverse backgrounds, ranging from startups, to indie development, to big corporate consulting, but the one commonality is we are passionate about building a great product. We had worked together on past mobile development projects, but we banded together one cold weekend in February to see if Dashbook had legs.
We decided to take this idea to Startup Weekend in Montreal and see what we could accomplish in 54 hours. This would be the perfect forum to validate our idea and determine if Dashbook had what it took to become a full-time project. By the end of the weekend, we were in a position to give one kick-ass presentation to a panel of seasoned investors and entrepreneurs. We finished as finalists, received some invaluable feedback and attracted a large amount of interest. We were approached by FounderFuel, a local accelerator well known across North America and were accepted into their Summer 2013 cohort.
Our time at FounderFuel was intense and extremely valuable, requiring us to grow as people and as entrepreneurs. We were challenged to think about our business on a larger scale and were inspired to pose three exciting questions: If you could see the entire Internet, all the time—of all that information, what would you choose to display on one screen? What would it really take to provide each and every person with their own personal view of the Internet? One that had been automatically and effortlessly curated just for them?
The Dashbook community has two types of members: end users and developers. Our marketing strategy is to target different personas of end users based on the information that is relevant to them. We will be marketing certain suites of dashes to these personas. These are groups of end users that would get the most value out of Dashbook in its early stages (developers, designers, social media marketers). We target them through various channels like forums, blogs, social media and direct marketing. For developers, we are using similar channels but also leveraging on-site events called dash-a-thons. We will use this event as a means to educate developers on the features of our open platform, and to give them a chance to build custom dashes with the most original and useful dash being awarded a prize.
How We Differentiate From the Competition
Technologies like Flipboard (an aggregated RSS stream) are currently leading the way in bridging some of the gaps in our information experience. By providing a single list of content merged from multiple sources in a consistent format, users are no longer required to go to each source of information to browse content. Instead, a new streamlined process brings all the information to them on a single screen.
Google Now is trying to provide users with a similar streamlined process. However, unlike services like Flipboard, Google Now takes into account recent searches, calendar events and any other relevant Google services that apply to the end user right in that moment. Suddenly, your mobile device is warning you to catch an earlier bus due to delays, or informing you of an updated flight departure time.
Although both of these services are pioneering the next generation of user information experience, they are not without flaws and limitations. Flipboard is a very static service in terms of personalization—you can customize the sources of your content, but the content is never personalized to you; that is to say, it doesn’t learn from the posts you’ve chosen to read and not read. Google Now, on the other hand, provides no customization, but has scarily intuitive personalization that only improves over time—under the caveat that the information you care about exists within the confines of a Google service.
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Headquarters: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Founders: Brandon Chatreau, Mo Mozaffarian
Year Founded: 2013