3 Tools for Finding What You’re Looking For

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Each weekend, Mashable selects startups we think are building interesting, unique or niche products.

This week we’ve focused on three new services that help you find things you might be looking for — whether they be eco-friendly adventures, jobs or apartments, or designers and developers.

Much Better Adventures

Quick Pitch: Connects adventure-seekers to recommended local guides, accommodation and tour operators, while supporting local business and rewarding ethical practice.

Genius Idea: Individuals can find sports travel adventures far from the well-beaten tourist path, while experiencing a new place in a sustainable way.

Mashable’s Take: For people looking for adrenaline-pumping eco-tourism destinations, Much Better Adventures would be a good place to start. The site offers responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.

“From trekking with Mongolian nomads to sailing round the Greek islands, many Much Better Adventures directly contribute to conservation, sustainable development and research projects. Others ‘just’ involve staying with friendly people who live locally, share your passion for an activity, and are working toward a more sustainable future,” says the site.

The homepage for Much Better Adventures asks you two fairly simple questions: What do you want to do, and where do you want to go? You choose what kind of activity — for instance, snow, hike or water-related — and then get more specific within each category. For example, I chose walk or hike, then narrowed it down with a multi-day trek/expedition. Next, I chose a continent, then country.

The results for Thailand turn up a 23-day trek that includes rock climbing, kayaking, swimming in waterfalls and mountain biking. The package costs about $2,600 USD per person and includes accommodations, taxes, guide and all transportation during the trip. That’s not too bad for nearly a month of travel — and travel that you can feel good about both physically and ethically.

The Guardian named Much Better Adventures one of the “best travel websites ever.” It’s based in the UK and was founded by Alex Narracot and Ed White.


Quick Pitch: Find apartments, jobs, and stuff from people you trust — your friends and their friends.

Genius Idea: Help your friends, and let your friends help you, by knowing what your friends need or have available through social listings.

Mashable’s Take: How many times have you seen friends on Facebook look for roommates or subletters? How many times have you sent emails to former colleagues enquiring about jobs? Socialisting tries to consolidate all of these searches socially, through Facebook. It lets you see your friends and friends of friends’ listings for apartments, jobs, items for sale, services, workspaces, community activities and more.

“Instead of everything coming from strangers with the potential of scams – or worse – Socialisting keeps everything within two degrees of separation,” says the site. “Everything you see is from someone you know or someone who knows someone you know.”

Socialisting is able to do that by leveraging Facebook’s API. After granting the app access to your Facebook information, you can see which of your Facebook friends are already using the app, and you can send them a request to connect on Socialisting. (In my case, only one person was already a member.) You can also invite your Facebook friends to join. You can go on to personalize your profile with interests, activities, work and education information, or post and search for listings.

Lawrence Lewitinn launched Socialisting in May. He was inspired by the social trend that followed the recession: friends were turning to Facebook looking for jobs. To better connect the job seekers with potential employers, he created a Facebook group, and from that grew Socialisting.

The idea behind the service seems smart to us, and far less sketchy than interacting with strangers on Craigslist. But right now the downside to Socialisting is there’s simply no one to interact with at all. The service is only effective if your friends are also using it. If it can overcome that hurdle, Socialisting could be a promising source for finding many things you or your friends might be looking for.


Quick Pitch: A curated network of developers and designers who help on each others’ projects by trading skills.

Genius Idea: WeekendHacker is a way to find designers or developers for very small projects — that would take no longer than a weekend to complete.

Mashable’s Take: WeekendHacker, which began as a newsletter, was created as a network for developers and designers to find each other when they needed help with small tasks — not something that would take long to complete and not something that you should probably pay to have done.

The newsletter has now morphed into a web interface to WeekendHacker’s curated mailing list, and its creator plans to create an online community, as well as new features, such as finding partners for co-studying. The service is free (though a premium offering is in the works) and work can be paid for with money, fame, fun or by trading skills.

“My hope is that weekendhacker.net will become a place where cool projects are published, people meet potential cofounders and the network becomes strong enough to build a launch pad for the projects,” the site says.

Thomas Petersen launched WeekendHacker in May. Since then, more than 7,500 designers and developers have signed up and more than 200 projects have been posted with 700 pledges to help.

WeekendHacker fits nicely into the spirit of open source and the camaraderie common among developers on GitHub, Forrst and Hacker News. And it could certainly be the newest addition to developers’ toolkits.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Gerlos

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, Much Better Adventures, Socialisting, Startup Weekend Roundup, travel, WeekendHacker

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