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Contextly has been well-received by Singel's peers; journalists appreciate the platform because it was created by one of their own. The support has been strong, but when asking certain supporters to implement his platform on their sites, the dynamic changes; there's a fee attached to the plug-in. It's not a bad thing, it's just business. He takes solace in the fact that most writers and publishers who have demo'd Contextly celebrate its function. Whether they decide to use it or not is a different matter, but their positive reactions give Singel validation that his concept is a sound one.
One thing he hopes his platform can bring more of is what he calls that "Wikipedia moment." It's when readers find their initial subject and dive down the rabbit hole of related information within their query. "Any good publication should let you do that too," he says. All stories have a starting point and readers should be able to navigate that content, following a common thread to unexpected places.
Many sites use services like Taboola to populate their related-contents links. The problem is they are automated and often have nothing to do with the subject matter of the story. They home in on keywords within the story and try to give the reader similar content. Except it's hardly ever relevant. A mention of brown hair in a crime story can lead to five easy steps to dye hair brown. The unrelated links hurt retention. Contextly aims to keep readers on the page, offering up content they may actually want to read.
Over a croissant and latte, Singel gets animated when talking about his past at Wired.com. He notes the great pedigree of his former comrades and what they have gone on to do since leaving their posts. He's proud of where he cut his teeth. Now he's into new territory, and Singel knows that come Monday it's time to do some hustling.
In the weeks leading up to SXSW, Singel has been working with a coach to hone his timing and message. "I would love to win, but I will be disappointed if we don't make it to the second stage," he says. The bar is set high and rightly so. He believes in Contextly and in a mere few hours he'll be telling a room full of people about his brainchild. Because he, too, has a party to throw.
Upstairs at the Old School Bar & Grill, members of the Koozoo team are having a few Lone Stars. At the top of the stairs, greeters hand out Koozoo kazoos and other swag. People who download the app can get free Lone Stars by showing the bartender their phones. There are enough cases in here to give every conference attendee a beer.
Sechrist is outside chatting up a couple of locals. He says last night he stayed in to work on his Accelerator pitch. Other members of the team are either going to get some sleep before investors' parties later in the evening or going out to get a bite. Sechrist and Sullivan, however, are taking it all in. Sechrist is making plans with an old colleague from his days at Salesforce.com to go to a party later on. He's happy.
As Sullivan surveys the crowd, it hits him. "The beauty of South by Southwest is the coincidence and chance meetings," he says. "You really can't overplan or else you might miss out on some unseen opportunity." The party, though small, brims with excitement. It's their first company party in Austin. It's not Monday yet. They will all drink to that.
Meanwhile, a couple of blocks away from the Austin Convention Center, The Palm Door is packed. It's 6:36 p.m. at "The Awesomest Journalism Party. Ever. III" and is has already run out of white wine. Plates are loaded with brisket sliders, veggies, and salad. Drink tickets are being redeemed for Shiner Bocks and Amstel Lights. People who saved room for dessert are eating mint chip waffles with marshmallow sauce. The supply is rapidly dwindling though.
The photo booth in the center of the room is generating some traffic while the various other news-oriented tech start-ups have installations of their own. At a cocktail table sit those T-shirts Singel had been trying to figure out how to hand out. Now, he's surrounded. One person after another approaches. Handshakes, hugs, and business cards all coming at him. Wonder how many new Twitter followers Contextly has gained?
People are thrilled for Singel and his platform. They ask questions about Contextly and get answers which sound like what he might say during his two minutes onstage at Accelerator on Monday -- when the tech beauty pageant begins, and after which a quarter of the contestants will take the Nerd Bird back to the Bay Area, win or lose, with game-changing opportunities or a return to the drawing board. Right now, for Singel, the beer-bottle presentation is working. Even to the inebriated, Singel is able to field a drunken line of questioning with grace.
His journalistic background has given him credibility in this room. His platform is geared to the profession he left behind. To have legacy media switch over to Contextly would be a dream. Their rich archives are a gold mine of information. If it could only be harnessed, society would be a better place — where one can easily find relevant stories, available apartments, or an eatery without a damn wait.
As the party winds down, Singel has handed out almost all his shirts. Now grazers are coming by to snatch up any free swag they can get their hands on. Before closing up shop, though, he gets another person asking about his platform. She's from The Wall Street Journal.