The “gold standard” of recent startups

Well, I’ve taken potshots at the new breed of startups. But let’s go back and look at recent startups that have gotten our attention and use this list as a “gold standard” through which to judge companies that come out this week at one of the two conferences.

I put forth a short list of some of the companies that have gained my trust/attention over the past few years. Things like Zoho. Meebo. Zappos. 37 Signals. Threadless. Evernote. Kongregate. TripIt. Kayak. Viddler. Qik. Kyte. Hypem. Dogster. Get Satisfaction. Instructables. Tesla Motors. Last.fm. iLike. Pandora. Lijit.

People on Twitter sent these in:

@dpiv says: drop.io.
@seven24 says: Freshbooks.
@taaviuudam says: vimeo. Blip.tv.
@andrewtc04 says: Moo. Seesmic. Qype.
@mind_booster says: Reverbnation. Sellaband.
@maniar says Zooomr. FriendFeed. Posterous.
@marilynpratt says: Veodia.
@DeirdreS says: passpack.com.
@DarJon says: Skribit.
@brendachrist says: GoldMine.
@JohnAtkinson says: Disqus. ZipScene. ShareThis. PimpMyNews.
@thetylerhays says: Pleasedressme. (another Gary Vee project).
@tinkugallery says: Recycline.
@nitinbadjatia says: Jott.
@Earth911 says: Twitter.
@mathys says: Mobypicture. and Startpix.
@jhurtado says: Tumblr. Scribd.
@Discpl says: Shelfari. Squidoo.
@4davidmartin says: Accuradio.
Chris Brogan, on FriendFeed says: Viewzi. Linden Labs.
Dave Martin, on FriendFeed, says Artfulhome.
Alan Le, on FriendFeed, says Mint.
Zee, on FriendFeed, says WordPress (er, Automattic).
Erhan Erdogan on FriendFeed, says: Apture. SocialMedian. Brightkite. Entrecard. Animoto. Magnify.net. Speeddate. Sevenload. Fon. Flixwagon. G.ho.st. PicLens. Shareaholic. Etsy.
Susan Beebe, on FriendFeed, says: FFtogo (FriendFeed mobile client). RSSMeme. Sliderocket. Blist. Identi.ca. TweetDeck. Mento. Revision3.

Wow, what a lot of interesting companies. But here’s the problem: how many of these have you even tried? I bet that if I averaged out all my readers it would come up to somewhere between five and seven. And you are the smartest, most passionate, and most early adopter tech users in the world. For most people? I bet they might have tried one and have no clue about the rest of this list.

And THAT is why I’m getting to be much more harsh on startups. New startups are coming into this marketspace where even good existing companies (most of these companies are very good and are executing well) aren’t getting much attention. So if you don’t measure up to the current market standard bearers, you probably won’t have a possibility to succeed.

Lots of people think I should just go “rah rah” for new startups. I’m sorry, I’m not going to do that anymore. You want to get on this list? You’ve got to earn your way on here. Out of the more than 100 companies we’ll see this week, it’ll be interesting to see who will do just that.

How about you? What’s your “gold standard” in startups? Let’s build a good list which we’ll then use to compare new services and apps to this week.

Which ones of these have the potential of breaking out? Which ones do you love?

How to be a stealth site

Let’s say you want to introduce your product on a certain date. Say on Monday because you are demonstrating your product at Demo or TC50. Well, you aren’t allowed to show off the product, right? So, what do you do?

Well, look at Causecast’s site.

This is done pretty darn well.

What did they do?

1. It’s an attractive page.
2. It explains a bit about what’s coming. Compare to Usable.com, which is launching at Demo.
3. It asks you to join and makes an implicit promise to keep you connected.
4. It gives a way for potential business partners (and others like press) to get more info.

Clean, leaves a good first impression, and promises more info to come soon.

Anyone have a better example?