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Tiinker

The third participant is Tiinker.

Tiinker is the name of the service, owned by Deep Grey Labs Pty Ltd, It is an intelligent news aggregator which uses A.I.-like technology to determine your interests and then adapts to show you the news stories you will find most interesting. In laymen's terms, it gathers stories from news sites and blogs around the world and learns what you like reading about. It filters and explores to bring you just the interesting stories. It was founded by Alex North and Oleg Sushkov, both young Sydneysiders who met at UNSW.

Let us now learn more about Tiinker from Alex, one of the founders, on various facets of their startup:

Q. How long it took before it was up and running?
A. We made our first public release a year after starting

Q. What stage of your start-up is, stealth mode, beta mode or fully functional.
A. It's live, although still in very active development

Q. What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
A. To bring AI research out of the labs to where it can improve people's lives.

Q. What is unique about your venture?
A. It's not a social news service. It's all about personalisation.
In simple terms, a lot of sites out there right now leverage the social network to perform their service, e.g. recommending books or movies based on what your friends are doing. Tiinker focuses on the individual - we work out what you want to read and choose content based on that. We pay little attention to what's popular at the time, but most of what we do is about personalising content for each individual.

Q. What market segment verticals you are targeting?
A. Tiinker is a consumer web product.

Q. What type of customers you are targeting?
A. tinker targets every-day Net Surfers, not just the technically elite. There's limited setup or configurability - it just learns what you like and serves it straight up.

Q. What age group of people will benefit most?
A. 18-55. Anyone who uses the web for reading news.

Q. How many users are using your services?
A. A month after launching we have a few thousand subscribers.

Q. What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
A. Word of mouth is working okay for us now.

Q. How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are there any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
A. Tracking website usage, nothing out of the ordinary.

Q. What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there any new model, which is being tried?
A. Advertising. Since we're targeting content to users we'll target ads
similarly.

Q. Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
A. There's not much in the way of personalised news: hoof and spotback
being perhaps the most prominent. News aggregation in general has some
big players like Google, Newsvine and Digg.

Q. What are the main technologies used behind this start-up?
A. The recipe is secret, but it's developed with C++, Python, MySQL and Javascript.

Q. What has been the easiest to use, out of the box and most helpful technology?
A. Cherrypy web server.

Q. Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
A. Yep, Python, Cherrypy, MySQL, and Apache are all open source

Q. What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using?
A. Linux, MySQL.

Q. How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up. Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
A. Sydney has a few entrepreneurial groups. I'm a regular at Sydney OpenCoffee and Sydney's Data Miners meetup groups. There's also the BarCamp conference.

Q. How much money is needed upfront to start a venture?
A. Very little, so long as you can stay alive. Web hosting is cheap. It can be expensive if you need to employ developers though.

Q. What are the main barriers in general for people to start their venture in Australia?
A. Lack of awareness that it's possible and that other people in Sydney are doing it too and can help you.

Q. What are your thoughts on the future trends of your service and the market segment you are in?
A. Personalisation is the future, no doubt about it.

Q. Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
A. Do it. It's easier than you think. (Succeeding is hard though, but you don't need to succeed to have fun :-).

Thanks, Alex for sharing your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you in future on the progress of Tiinker. All the best for Tiinker and the competition in this carnival.

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