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Comedy.com and Curse: Two Startups "Under the Radar"

At today's Under The Radar conference, 32 of what the organizers call the "bleeding edge" startups that have launched in the past year in social media and entertainment are getting their chance to strut their stuff before an audience of VCs, bloggers, and other webophiles.

So, in case you are missing the event, in person or online, here are two of the more interesting morning presentations I attended. These companies are pursuing dramatically different business strategies.

1. Comedy.com, which according to CEO Dean Valentine has "semi-launched" at this point, aims to become a premier online comedy brand. While they build up an enormous database of jokes and stand-up performances, they are pursuing a brand strategy of placing their widgets on the front pages of various major media sites.

(This, to me, is one key of partnership deals. Don't settle for your brand presence to be buried inside a media site. Most of them see a major drop in traffic once users leave the home page, often into the search field. In other words, newspaper and television sites are still wedded to replicating their newspaper or broadcast offerings, not in optimizing for the web.)
Comedy.com has a great URL, and a known quantity as CEO. Valentine is the former CEO of United Paramount Network, and President of Walt Disney Television and Animation.

2. Curse.com. This brash startup's CEO, Hubert Thieblot, is all of 22 years old, and until recently seems to have spent much of his time playing online games like World Of Warcraft. But, then he spotted an opening in the MMO gaming market, so he went for it. Gamers need additional resources in order to succeed in these online, interactive activities.

Curse is a gaming portal with a subscription model. Fully 95 percent of the content is user-generated. The site offers social networking opportunities along with a knowledge database for players to strengthen their characters, including tips on how to defeat other characters, etc. The result is traffic of over five million unique monthly visitors -- and the likelihood that a major media company will come calling someday soon.

Check back. I'll post reports on other companies over the coming days.

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