Tuesday night, the Boston Web Innovators Group held their 16th event at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. Like the previous events, a standing-room-only crowd watched brief demonstrations from local startups and stayed to schmooze. (Who says we don't have a vibrant entrepreneurial community in Boston?)
The most popular of the ""main dish" demonstrations was SpotScout - a web and mobile application for finding parking spaces in the city, whether they be in a garage or on the street. One of the more interesting and controversial features of the service is the ability of someone currently occupying an on-street space to sell it to another subscriber. That triggered a comment from the audience that such a transaction would be illegal in New York. SpotScout CEO Andrew Rollert replied that they weren't really selling the space but merely the information about when the current occupant planned to depart. Of course that begs the question about how to prevent some other driver from grabbing the same spot.
The New York City Traffic Rules and Regulations actually prohibits reserving the spot:
4-08(n)(7) Unofficial reserving of parking space. It shall be unlawful for any person to
reserve or attempt to reserve a parking space, or prevent any vehicle from
parking on a public street through his/her presence in the roadway, the use of
hand-signals, or by placing any box, can, crate, hand-cart, dolly or any other
device, including unauthorized pavement, curb or street markings or signs in the
So as long as the seller waited inconspicuously until the buyer showed up, there wouldn't be a problem, except maybe in San Francisco where people have been stabbed for saving a space. In any event, there is no such regulation in Boston, where the mayor tried unsuccessfully to discourage the dubious tradition of placing lawn chairs and other objects in parking spaces once they are shoveled out.
Showing in the back of the room as one of the "side dishes" was MyHappyPlanet which matches up people around the world who want to practice their language skills. Founder Karen Ong, who is finishing up her last semester at the Harvard Business School said they already have 200,000 subscribers. Very impressive.
I also met Greg Boesel of Swaptree. They've been around for about 18 months and have a web site where you can swap stuff. I found I could exchange my copy of Stephen Colbert's recent book for 20,328 other items, such as the Borat DVD or the Beatle's Revolver album. For a site that needs to do that much database processing it's very responsive - apparently written in .NET.
The next WebInno is April 2.