Prepare Your Eyedrops for a Travel Bidding War

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

A Seattle Startup located in historic Pioneer Square is looking to change the way you compete for the best price in vacationing. Off & Away is a hotel auctioning site that puts a little twist on things and truly promotes staring at the screen and watching the timer count down to zero.

At this auction site, hotel packages are offered and the bidding begins. Every bid made costs $1 to the bidder, and adds 10 cents and 20 seconds to the current bid price and time. If you’re the lucky one to bid last and have the timer run down to zero, you win! Since most people will bid towards the end of the time limit, the price will usually go up during that time. But, the savings are huge if you work for it! And you must work, since every bid adds 20 seconds and only adds $0.10, it really comes down to who can outlast the other at the computer. Their very first auction was 2 nights in the Tata Suite Pierre in New York… listed for $40,000 and finally sold for $938! Can you say, DEAL? That’s typically what you can expect from the website. Classy hotel stays usually worth a few thousand dollars are able to be sold in for only hundreds.

So what if you lose? What happens to all your one-dollar bills? Don’t worry if you lose an auction and just blew $300 trying to lock in your dream vacation, Off & Away makes sure you get your monies worth. Any money you “lose” from bidding is reusable via the site’s Book Now section. Just like other hotel booking sites, you can book at over 100,000 hotels worldwide using your credit. But pay attention to the rules, the credit is only valid 30 days after the auction.

Off & Away has a good strategy and lots of potential. Madrona Venture Group, who also backed Amazon and Farecast, and have an advisory board that includes top executives from Orbitz.com and Alaska Airlines, backs them.

If you’re a developer, you should check out Deploy 2010 on Monday, November 08, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (PT). Deploy 2010 is an all-inclusive conference for technology builders to give you new tools to create the applications of tomorrow. The conference will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.

Seattle IT Pros Should Head to RetroDex

On Tuesday, November 16, 2010 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (PT) in Seattle, WA, local IT pros should come to RetroDex 2010 (and use code “LockerGnome” for 25% off the already-low price of $38.00)! I will be on stage throughout the event as the emcee with Larry Walsh speaking.

IT professionals, service providers, vendors, bloggers, and media come together to hear predictions from leading technology industry thinkers and discuss the present and future with their technology industry peers. During 2010 virtualization and tele-presence made their mark and Comdex returned to a virtual Las Vegas. RetroDex 2010 is the perfect place to meet real live technology people whether or not you are participating virtually in Comdex.

Leading up to the event we will be conducting a One Question survey of IT decision makers where we ask: What one technology product changed your business computing the most in 2010? And what do you think it will be in 2011? We will be presenting the results of this survey at the RetroDex 2010 events. RetroDex 2010 events are being held simultaneously at incredible venues across the country on the evening of November 16th, 2010.

Register for RetroDex 2010 (and remember to use code LockerGnome for 25% off)!

How Much Are You Worth?

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

If you ask most people the question, “Do you get paid enough?” You’ll most certainly always be answered with a NO. Salary is a top concern and there’s always that certain number that will make you a happy worker. Fortunately, there’s a Seattle Startup to let you know what you should be making after all.

PayScale has a service that determines how well you are being paid compared to others who have a similar job. The service is free in a limited fashion, but your scale is determined based on many factors including work environment, education, your professional experience, company size, etc. This is all information you must provide. Some of it is optional, but the more you provide, the more accurate PayScale will be in determining how well you’re being compensated. In the end, you receive a report and graph that shows where you are in relation to other people who’ve reported. The report is anonymous, so don’t worry about your co-worker giving you dirty looks because he found out you’re making much much more than him.

You can also upgrade to their premium service for $19.95. By doing so, you’ll gain insight to a lot more information that you could leverage to get that raise you know you deserve! With the largest online employee salary database according to PayScale, I’m pretty sure you can confident your scale of pay will be compared accurately.

If you’re a developer, you should check out Deploy 2010 on Monday, November 08, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (PT). Deploy 2010 is an all-inclusive conference for technology builders to give you new tools to create the applications of tomorrow. The conference will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.

Smilebox Makes Scrapbooking Easy

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

Are you in to scrapbooking? Do you like to make decorative web cards to celebrate the birth of a baby? Does the thought of making a high school prom collage online to share with your Facebook and Twitter friends excite you? Well, don’t worry about taking out the heavy-duty scissors and craft glue. The online service, Smilebox, was created solely for the purpose of creating fancy photo crafts.

The Redmond-based startup has developed an online platform around the popular homemakers craft of scrapbooking. The website offers hundreds of designs to use to create scrapbooks, collages, greetings cards, or photo albums. The tool itself is not web-based, it’s a native application you must download and install onto your Mac or Windows machine. But the unique service itself is worth trying if this craft is your passion.

Smilebox is still a very small startup, but they are growing a fast pace and recently moved to a new, bigger office this year to accommodate the growth. They are gaining lots of traction even though their product is niche, but the fact that they don’t have too many competitors in their market will help them to expand products and make business quick.

Smilebox will be featured at Deploy 2010 on Monday, November 08, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (PT). Deploy 2010 is an all-inclusive conference for technology builders to give you new tools to create the applications of tomorrow. The conference will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.

Find Your Way Around the Mall with FastMall

If you’re not a power-shopper, then I’m betting you’ve gotten lost in your local mall a time or twelve. All of those twists, turns, stairways and hallways can be daunting to any of us who don’t make mall-walking a daily habit. The mall is a scary place, but FastMall wants to make life much easier for us all. It is the world’s first TRUE turn-by-turn navigation app – even showing you where to find stairways, elevators and bathrooms!

Samuel Feuer, CEO of Fastmall creator MindSmack, is one of those guys you just want to hang out with. He’s full of jokes and laughter, but he’s also very dedicated to the work he’s doing. His enthusiasm is contagious – the service is beyond awesome. It was easy for my assistant Kat to be convinced to download this app herself during her meeting with Samuel last week in New York. Kat is picky and doesn’t download many apps. However, she assures me that this is one she will be using on a regular basis.

The beautiful thing about FastMall is that it’s not only for malls: the service can be used to create navigational apps for pretty much any place you can think of… hospitals, theme parks and even convention centers. Anyone can request a customized app simply by talking with Samuel and his team. The idea originally came from Sam’s wife, Amie, who was completely fed up with static mall directories and the overall lack of restroom guidance when she was pregnant. Sam and his partner Marcelo took a chance and created a startup that I feel is going to become extremely important in the very near future.

Some of the features of the app include:

  • Shake your iPhone for the nearest restroom.
  • Tell FastMall where you parked and it will remember for you. Feel free to use this voice recorder as a shopping list too!
  • Turn-by-turn guidance inside the mall, from store to store, without using GPS!
  • Sync your status on Facebook as well as Twitter.
  • Add reviews of restrooms, restaurants and stores.
  • Make a wish list of things you must have.
  • Find a deal and save money.
  • Add data to FastMall to make it a better experience for everyone.

Think of what this could mean, folks. Let’s say you’re about to attend SXSW – and you know you’re going to be lost as usual. How great would it be if the powers-that-be behind the conference contacted FastMall to create an app you can use to guide you through the experience? The same could happen with any major hospitals… large corporation complexes… and so much more. The possibilities are literally almost endless here. I’m excited to see what the future brings for Sam and his team.