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Meet five D.C. start-ups that aim to build a business on mobile

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But even as the couple's real-life romance burgeoned, they found no online outlet to effectively chronicle their relationship and share it with others. That's the impetus behind BeCouply, their joint venture that blends the traditions of courtship with mobile technology.

The smartphone app and its companion Web site, which are still being privately tested, allow couples to capture memories with photos, orchestrate double dates with friends or corral outing ideas from others in the same area. The app lets it all happen in the moment.

"With everyone having a smartphone in their pocket, and a camera along with it, it's just a great opportunity to document your life as a couple and connect with people on the go rather than having to plan everything meticulously ahead of time," Uzamere said.

They hope to make money through digital deals tailored to couples or by promoting companies' date offerings for a fee, but those revenue streams also rely on a critical mass of users that the duo will need to rally.

"We really want to understand both the acquisition and retention around how our users are coming and leaving," Uzamere said. "If you want to build a product that millions of people are using, then you have to make your first 1,000 users really happy."

Grocery shopping

Behold the grocery list, a fixture in every household. But for its ubiquity, Jeremy Monat of District-based White Glove Apps thought it should have more value. That's when work on iSpeedShop began.

"There are everyday tasks that we have to do and we now have computers in our pocket, [so] why aren't they helping us do these mundane things? That's kind of the genesis of the idea," Monat said.

Shoppers use the application to build a list of items they intend to buy during their next grocery run. The app then uploads any coupons that the store or a particular brand has to offer. For example, add jelly to the list and you might find a $1 discount on Welch's.

The application also uses the geolocation feature built into most smartphones to reveal any specials available at a specific store while the customer is within its walls. Monat said the application is still under development but the team will soon begin peddling it to mid-size grocery chains.

"What we're thinking of now is we would partner with the retailers and customize the app for them, and charge them some amount for that, and then get some of the coupon revenue through those partnerships," Monat said.

Paperwork

From the plumber's receipt after a house call to the membership form at a health club, James Quigley sees a lot of unnecessary paper. He launched Canvas in late 2008 as a way for businesses to replace paperwork and eliminate data entry with mobile apps.

"We saw a number of very analog tasks that were still left around that needed to be digitized," he said. "Companies who are buying mobile devices in bulk now are wanting to get more out of those devices, so that's absolutely what our whole vision was and we've been growing quickly since we launched the service."


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