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Car Insurance Calculator: Free Customized Auto Insurance Quotes (and Then Some)

A few months ago, with a heavy heart, I got rid of my old vehicle.  It was very emotional.  The tow truck driver came by and hauled it off to a local junkyard and I kept singing the Neil Young song “Long May You Run” in my head (it’s about his car.)  The decision was based on cold, hard cash: my newer vehicle was more fuel efficient, and, I assumed, cheaper when it came to insurance because is was newer and nicer.  Imagine my surprise when my insurance rates went up.  So much for being a responsible, “green”-minded consumer!

Of course, the insurance hike wouldn’t have kept me from buying a new car, but it underscored the bizarre complexity of the auto insurance world.  There doesn’t seem to be any logic behind it.  And the word “insurance,” after all, is a loaded one: drivers have to worry about collision, liability, comprehensive insurance – the list goes on.  And if you weren’t confused enough, all of this stuff varies state-by-state (remember that lecture on “federalism” from civics class?)

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one site that compiled all this information – insurance rates, quotes, legal requirements, and then some – across all 50-states?  Well (you probably have a hunch by now) there is.  It’s called  It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s our featured start-up on this fine day. provides three key services.  One, it provides a car insurance calculator to get instant auto insurance quotes online from trusted carriers in your area.  Two, it lets drivers learn about car insurance companies and their ratings in the info center and discover how to calculate car insurance rates by reading trough the different factors used to determine premiums.  And three, it lets drivers get the latest auto insurance news on’s blog.

So let’s cut to the chase; namely, how the calculator lets drivers shop around for the best rates possible.  On the home page, in the upper-left hand corner, I typed in my zip code and was taken to a page where I could enter my vehicle details: vehicle year, make, model; leased or owned; primary use, daily mileage, and annual mileage.  Then I entered the type of coverage wanted, deductible, etc., as well as driver information, including credit rating, occupation, and past history of accidents.  Lastly, I enter my contact information.  Upon hitting enter, I was taken to a page which provided instant quotes from various insurance companies based in my state.  Easy!  I was able to shop around, tweak my requirements, and find the best deal available.

Now one thing we like to do here at Slapstart is address the elephant(s) in the room as they apply to any given start-up.  So we know what you’re thinking: “Don’t other sites, like, say, Progressive, allow you to ‘shop around’ for auto insurance quotes too?”  And our answer is, “Yes, but not all of these sites are the same” for the simple reason of good ol’ fashioned incentives.  Call us cynical, but we find it hard to believe that an insurance company would voluntarily and happily send you and your hard earned dollars to a competitor.  (Or to look at it another way, when you go to the check-out aisle at Wal-Mart, do they say, “Actually, thanks and everything but you should go to Target instead.”)  We’re not saying it doesn’t happen, but wouldn’t it be easier to put your faith in an objective third-party with no direct financial incentive?  Like, say, Form

That’s what provides: objective calculations whereby it acts like your own personal broker.  Throw in the fact that you can learn about how to reduce your premiums by studying different types of insurance or by checking out their info center, and we’re talking some serious money saved.  (For example, as a fan of astrology, I learned that auto insurance premiums, contrary to what I thought, were not influenced by the the outer extremes of Mercury’s path cross the orbits of both Saturn and Neptune.)

Oh, and did we mention it’s free?

So that’s what can do.  What it can’t do, unfortunately, is help you deal with the emotional trauma of getting rid of your old vehicle.  It can’t stop the tormented dreams, the emptiness, and the occasional tears.  So that’s our recommendation for version 2.0: some functionality to let you chat with an online therapist.  Lord knows I could have used it.

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FlexBooker: Online Gym/Studio Scheduling Platform that Gives Customers One Less Excuse to Exercise

Did you know that if you write down “exercise on Monday” in your datebook you’re 45% more likely to actually exercise?  Unfortunately I can’t “source” the data per se, but I did hear it once on some self-help radio talk show.  So naturally, it must be true.  In other words, the more people consciously plan to exercise, the more likely they are to actually do it.

But what about the gym or studios themselves?  That is, if you’re a gym owner, do you often ask yourself, “How organized and well-planned are we?”  And “are we doing everything in our power to make it shockingly easy for our customers to exercise?”  Regardless of your answer to this question, we highly encourage you to take a good, long, hard look at FlexBooker.  It’s a new and simple widget that allows you to easily create and manage your class schedules while allowing customers to instantly sign up.

FlexBooker Home

Now, when we here at Slapstart first take a look at a start-up we inevitably ask ourselves one critical question: what problem does this new start-up solve?  If the start-up doesn’t exactly solve a problem, our enthusiasm dims quite a bit.  If the start-up takes an existing problem and actually makes it worse, we existentially fret for the future of the human race.  But when the start-up takes an all-too-common dilemma provides an elegant solution, well, we leap up from our desk chairs, click our heels, and quickly whistle a tune from “The Sound of Music.”

And the problem that FlexBooker solves should resonate with anyone who goes to the gym or longs to: it helps busy, over-worked, smart phone-reliant people easily schedule classes.  I hate to ask you to conjure the thought of, say, a stressed out banker racing out of his office at 9 pm or a “super-mom” hauling kids around in a mini-van, but this is the world we live in.  And these people want to exercise but it’s difficult for them to easily fit it into their 15-hour days.  Flexbooker lets them do this – and here’s how.

First, it provides tools for the gym or studio to easily create and manage a class schedule.  This is important because gyms or studios will generally fall into two camps.  The first camp: those with no online class schedule or booking system whatsoever; and secondly, those who do have one.  If you’re in the former category – and at the expense of sounding a bit harsh – it’s time to get with the regimen.  (Just imagine a jacked-up trainer screaming in your ear.)  A lack of an online class scheduling system is costing you business.  And if you do have a system in place, you need to ask yourself: how easy is it, really?  Am I still taking reservations over the phone?  Can people register on their smart phones?  Are changes easy and instant or does some IT guy/gal have to do it?

FlexBooker gets you closer to doing sit-ups

Our point is that even if you do have a system in place, FlexBooker is worth a look because it simplifies the entire process.  Which brings us to the fact that when rolled out in the real world, FlexBooker provides a widget that gym or studio owners can drop into their existing website, enabling customers to book classes from anywhere, including, of course, smart phones.  Better yet, FlexBooker includes an automated class reminder.  So when an overworked soccer mom is yelling at the referee for not calling a foul on little Johnny’s third-grade nemesis Todd, she won’t resort to physical violence because she’ll get an e-mail or text message reminding her she has yoga class in 2 hours (and, by extension, to breathe deeply).  This reminder system keeps customers happy and preserves your business by cutting down on no-shows.  And it’s worth noting that FlexBooker offers a 30-day free trial, so you really have nothing to lose (except more business).

Making excuses for not exercising goes way back to our prehistoric ancestors, when a caveman named Gog (aren’t they always named Gog?) opted to chill in his cave, blankly staring at a fire rather than rolling a stone wheel up a hill to train for that summer’s Woolly Mammoth hunt.  Fortunately, with FlexBooker’s easy-to-install widget, there’s one less excuse for your customers to exercise and one fantastic new tool for gym and studio owners to grow their business.

eBounties Home Startup

eBounties: Want Something? Just Ask the Crowd

If you were to go back and read science fiction at the dawn of the computer era, the optimism was staggering.  Technologists predicted flying cars, the end of disease and famine, and even teleportation.

Fast-forward to 2013 and the Internet age, and what do we have to show for it?  Websites of streaming videos of kittens.

Mind you, that’s a harsh assessment: the Internet, of course, is extremely valuable and has improved lives (and OMG those cats are adorable).  But many contrarians argue that a lot of the brainpower and effort that goes into making the next site about men who look like Kenny Rogers could best be directed at creating sites that can y’know, help people.  Which is why we’re so excited about  eBounties.

eBounties Home

eBounties is a crowdsourcing platform that lets users post what they want, and get it.  Better yet, by providing whatever a user wants you the provider can reap financial rewards.  These rewards, or bounties, are all pre-approved through PayPal to confirm that the money is available.  As you can imagine, this model is tremendously flexible and promising.  Bounties can be awarded for the personal (e.g. “I’m looking for a male 30-something tennis coach in Boston for my teenage son”) to the business-oriented. For example a company seeking the right employee. In this case they could choose to pay the bounty only after a successful hire.

To get started, you need to register.  The site is free, and once registration is out of the way, you can naturally post what you’re looking for or respond to a need.  Users browsing the site can claim a bounty in two ways: by providing the exact knowledge, service, item or connection that a buyer is looking for; or by connecting the buyer with someone who has it.  It’s that simple.

We specifically like eBounties for two reasons.  One, the level of precision it brings to the searching process.  The Internet makes looking for things pretty easy, but as we all know, search engines can only do so so much.  Or, as eBounties Luke Chao notes, “You can’t just go to Google and type in ‘hypnotherapists in Toronto who are looking for part-time contract work’ or ‘a nine-foot tall mirror that could be mounted like a door for under $100’ and get useful results.”  With eBounties, you can.

Second, we like how eBounties’ model differentiates it from the competition.  Their FAQ page makes no bones about it: if you want to sell your old sofa, eBay or Craigslist is probably a better bet.  They have no designs on infringing on that turf.  Rather, eBounties is all about relationships, matching well-connected sellers who provide a valuable service to buyers.  eBounties can help both parties do away with the middleman – headhunters, matchmakers, or other service providers – while also acknowledging that sometimes providing a connection is just as valuable as providing a tangible product.  It also doesn’t hurt that the site navigation is clean, simple, and easy to use.

Which brings us back to the less-than-useful nature of many elements of the Internet.  We won’t dwell on it, lest we inadvertently slander the hard work of many intelligent people out there (like the person who created SpamRadio.  Stunning work, really.)  So instead we’ll say this.  Since our ancestors first crawled out of a festering, putrid swamp many millennia ago, we as humans have been searching– for shelter, for the meaning of life, or maybe just a good burrito.  It’s part of our DNA.  This existential quest may never end, but with its flair for the precise and a seller-centric model, eBounties can make searching (and life) a lot easier.

So check it out.  And while you’re at it, maybe drop a line to Bono’s publicist.  Apparently during a recent concert in Berlin he still hadn’t found what he was looking for.  As tech-savvy as he probably is, he could still probably use a head’s up.