Stellar Startups: The center of your Internet universe

Any hi-tech company that is in business and has managed to talk investors into supplying them with cash to develop a project has, it can be assumed, a good idea.

pageonce 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
pageonce 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the world of hi-tech start-ups, there are ideas - and then there are Big Ideas. Or, to put it another way, there are good ideas - and then there are Really Good Ideas. Now, everybody has ideas - and any hi-tech company that is in business and has managed to talk investors into supplying them with cash to develop a project has, it can be assumed, a good idea. Some of them even have Really Good Ideas. But how can you tell? Out of the hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of Israeli hi-tech start-ups funded by VCs, private investors and other bootstrap sources, how do you know what the, say, best 15 or so ideas are? Here's one way: Check out which 15 companies were selected by the California-Israel Chamber of Commerce (http://www.ca-israelchamber.org), which is dedicated to helping promising Israeli start-ups get access to the resources and help available in the Silicon Valley, utilizing its connections to get companies it works with in the front door with investors, the computer press and other key players who can help grow a company. Given all the companies and ideas the CICC can "adopt," it's a given that the group would prefer to marshall its resources for the Really Good Ideas, where possible. That's one way to tell which companies in the start-up galaxy are destined to be stars - and it's a clear sign that Guy Goldstein, CEO of PageOnce, is a company to pay attention to. PageOnce, with business offices in California and R&D done in Israel, bills itself as "the first Personal Internet Assistant Web site" - a single page where you can access the information, data and other things you need from the Internet, he says. "Today, people use the Internet for everything. In a sense, we're 'addicted' to it as a source of information, general and personal," Goldstein says. With the gradual transfer of information from corner file cabinet to electronic filing cabinet, the need for organization has become acute, he says, adding: "People have their e-mail on one site, they pay their bills on another site, check flights and travel plans on a third site, and have credit cards or all sorts of information on other sites as well. In order to access this information, they have to surf to different sites, spending extra time and effort they could be using for something else. PageOnce coordinates all this information for them on one page, allowing users to make sense of their electronic life." If this sounds a lot like a portal - it's not, Goldstein says. "PageOnce is much more than a portal," he says. A portal page, even a personalized one, only provides you with information available at the site. "Your personalized Yahoo page will only provide you with Yahoo mail, or any other service the portal offers," he says. "PageOnce lets you gather the information that's important to you all in one place, giving you total control over the information you use and need." And PageOnce does more than just present data, it helps you manage it. "Let's say you have a bill coming up," Goldstein says. "PageOnce can provide you with alerts in advance, reminding you to pay it on time and avoid late charges." You get all your e-mail from different accounts in one place, ensuring you don't miss important messages, even if a correspondent uses a "non-standard" address. You can hook up with your cellphone company from your PageOnce page and track your minutes, making sure you stay within the plan. You can check your investment portfolio and compare it to the latest information on companies you've invested in without leaving the window. You can even check out the latest doings of friends and associates on their Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Friendster pages, keeping you "in the loop." And, if you find you have a problem with your bank or credit card company, you can call them directly from your PageOnce page. Forget "portal," PageOnce is more like a "butler," Goldstein says. It's a powerful concept, and one that seems long overdue. But in this day and age of Internet paranoia, the question of security comes up. Is it a good idea to have all your personal information accessible from one place? Couldn't theoretically, PageOnce make things easier - and more lucrative - for hackers? Not at all, says Goldstein, who takes the issue very seriously. "First of all, we implement the highest standards of security. All your data is encrypted with a 256-bit encryption level, and all personal data exchanged with PageOnce is encrypted with 128-bit SSL, the highest industry standard." Few Web sites, even sites with sensitive personal information, can boast such levels of security. So, quite possibly, the PageOnce site may be even more secure than your bank's or credit card's! In addition, Goldstein says, another advantage to having everything together on one page is that it allows you to more easily track down problems. "Let's see someone is using your credit card number to make unauthorized Internet purchases," he says. "You might not even realize the problem until you get your credit card bill at the end of the month. But PageOnce will put the information in front of you whenever you use the site, meaning you get to the bottom of the problem more quickly." The PageOnce magic is made in Kfar Saba. The company has about 10 employees, Goldstein says, but they expect to grow quickly, given the positive feedback he says he has received from many beta users. "Having worked in a situation where I lost access to important information because I lost access to important Web sites I used, I realized this was a problem for many people, so I decided to try and end the pain that can come with having information spread all over the Internet," he says. And that - helping people - in the end is the best Really Good Idea anyone can come up with.