When Google shut down their iGoogle service in November 2013, millions of users around the world had to start looking for an alternative start page. With a user-friendly interface and over 100,000 registrations in just over couple of months start.me is on the right way to fill this gap. Their mission is to deliver a personalized start page service that offers users minimal distractions and maximum control. Check out how it works below!
To launch the service with the aim of filling the void left by one of Google’s products has never been easy. That is why we got in touch with one person at start.me who makes sure that day-to-day operations run smoothly. Make sure to read what Michiel de Wit, the CTO of Start.ME, has to say in the interview for .ME blog.
Although millions of people had a Google start page, the iGoogle service was discontinued almost nine months ago. Why do you think there is still demand for personal start pages?
We think people still want to be able to organize their most important websites and feeds in a way that is easily accessible. And with people using more connected devices, a personal start page stored in the cloud and accessible from anywhere will become more useful than ever.
Can you make a comparison between the two? What makes start.me different?
The products are actually very different. Firstly, start.me has been built with a “mobile first” in mind and it works very well across a wide set of browsers and devices, including tablets and cellphones. This enables people to access their start page on any device, browser, wherever they are. Secondly, we believe that our user interface is a lot cleaner and comes with a lot less clutter. We want to keep things as simple as possible, so everyone is able to use it. Lastly, start.me is an independent company and platform. We are entirely focused on helping people achieve the best start page experience and don’t want to include other services (like mail, search, social) as companies like Google and Yahoo do.
How is start.me different from the browser start pages?
A start.me page is a lot more powerful than a standard browser start page. It is easy to organize all the bookmarks and feeds, and aggregate all your mail, social feeds, stocks, weather info and other information in one place. Also, start.me is a cross-browser start page, so you can access your same start page on any browser. For example, I use Chrome at work, Firefox at home and Safari on my iPhone. Because the page is stored in the cloud, there is no need to sync data between multiple devices and browsers. Finally, browsers change their start pages all the time. For example, Google has recently made some drastic changes to their Chrome New Tab page. With start.me users own and control their start page, and can change it whenever they want to.
Who is using the service at the moment? Where do you see start.me in two years?
Well, start.me is a truly versatile tool. Let me mention just a few of the examples of usage:
- Parents use start.me to create a start page with links to websites that they consider safe for their kids.
- Senior citizens can easily navigate on the web with a personal start.me page that shows clear icons for all the sites they regularly visit.
- Musicians can access their favorite online tablature and sheet music directly through a custom start page.
- Teachers are using start.me to share knowledge and online resources with their students.
- Libraries are using start.me to create a centrally managed start portal for their public computers.
We’ve just launched, but in two years we expect to help millions of people and organizations to get started.
Running online business now days is quite expensive. What do you see as potential revenue models for monetization of start.me?
We will keep the basic start.me service free forever. Currently, we are experimenting with an advertising model that is not going to be intrusive and so far, the results are encouraging (from the users’ as well as from the advertisers’ side). In the next few months we will also roll out a PRO service with additional functionality and we will charge a small fee for this. Later this year, we are planning to roll out dedicated plans for organizations and businesses, as start.me is a great tool to share knowledge and online resources.
What is your favorite feature of the product?
I really like the extensions that we’ve developed for Chrome and Firefox. They allow you to easily add a bookmark or RSS feed to your start page with 1 single click and this really helps to embed start.me in your browsing life.