Austin Apps to Power Your Personal Economy

mobileTech Tuesday, by Steve Guengerich

thecenteroftheuniverseIn a post on TechCrunch over the holidays, entrepreneur and author Stephen Martin wrote about the premise of his new book, The Enterprise of One. In the post, Martin writes about how we have arrived at a new milestone he calls “the democratization of opportunity.”

He goes on to write a key passage about the potential for individuals:

Today, a person’s professional identity is more important than ever. Individual skills, expertise, reputation and authority have become the personal currencies of our economy. And they are the currencies that will lead us into the future… Who you are as a person, and your expertise and passions, are more important than ever. In fact, they drive your own personal enterprise.

Technology mobility is a key enabler for allowing each of us to realize our own, personal enterprise. This is because technology mobility unbinds us from physical space, allowing one to engage in whatever activity is most important at the moment, from wherever you are.

But with the upsides of mobility and democratization of opportunity there are obviously downsides as well. Among these downsides are the struggle to manage relevance and credibility, both of which are problems that various companies in Austin and beyond have been working to solve.

Examples of solutions for managing relevance range from the value proposition of an OtherInbox – “Save your [email] inbox for real people” – to the confidential network of talent matching websites from StrictlyTalent which promises to “deliver a fast, efficient and relevant process for both talent and recruiters.” Another example is Mass Relevance, recently announced to great interest but not generally available yet, for producing more relevant promotions and higher-value marketing.

For managing credibility, there are a number of companies producing solutions, based on an interesting array of approaches. At Appconomy (where I presently spend a majority of my time), the approach to credibility is based on the power of strong ties and close-knit groups. Other relatively new mobile apps (from teams outside of Austin) with a similar bias for strong ties and groups that have received good download activity are GroupMe and Path.

Whereas Path is focused on photo-sharing and GroupMe is focused on efficient group texting (and on-the-fly conference calls), Appconomy’s first app is focused on providing an effective, single app to manage one’s multiple communications channels, e.g., email, Facebook, and Twitter. All three apps, and others like them, are a nod to the pragmatic reality (which a broader body of research supports) that we all engage with a relatively small number of others, day-in-and-day-out, to get our work done and that we trust for ideas, feedback, and information.

Facebook further endorsed the power of groups through the introduction of Facebook Groups, among its many new features revealed during the fourth quarter of 2010. It will be interesting to see how this capability is increasingly leveraged by Facebook app developers, like Austin-headquartered Dachis Group.

Other approaches to managing credibility range from solutions that trust the power of user-generated content, with big (Bazaarvoice) and little (SocialSmack) players, to solutions that rely more on conventional legal forms of detection and prevention of fraudulent sources, like those from CSIdentity.

No doubt as new mobile technology products and more powerful social apps give rise to the enterprise of one, we’ll see more investment in start-ups that help you confidently power your personal economy. Let us know if you have a favorite example of such a mobile and/or social app, whether it hails from Austin or elsewhere.


  1. Great post. Managing and protecting one's identity profile is important today and likely more important tomorrow – especially when it comes to the bi-directional relationship career process. I'm biased as part of the founding group for confidential career networks but as a recruiter clearly see the foibles with current recruiting processes. The pipes are filled with irrelevant data and are simply too full to work efficiently. The problem is global and hopefully we are presenting a valuable solution.


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