What happens when we get unstuck


January 20, 2012
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A small group (okay, two of us) went to the Women Entrepreneurs Festival on Wednesday. We were inspired by the determination and creativity of our fellow attendees, who are carving out niches in the digital realm. Every business plan we heard was a stuck moment come unstuck—and flourishing. Here are a few favorites:

When one of Joanne Lang’s son fell critically ill, she found herself at the hospital without access to vital health records. This super-stressful stuck moment prompted her to leave her executive-level job and create AboutOne.com, a way to organize and access your personal information whenever and wherever you need it.

Barbara Pantuso wanted to sell her couch, and Craigslist.org was the best tool she could find. After her fair share of spam and no-shows, she felt there had to be a better way. As Barbara helped the eventual buyer haul the couch to the elevator, a neighbor she had never met poked her head out and said she had been looking for a couch just like that. Epiphany!  Hey, Neighbor! is a digital community that connects you to your neighbors for sharing, selling, trading, and other neighborly activities. And soon it will bring in feeds from collaborative consumption sites like taskrabbit.com so you can add the local filter to your search. 

If you’re at all style-conscious, New York City is an intimidating place. For Elena Silenok, who moved to the Big Apple from jeans-and-T-shirt California, it was baffling how Manhattan women were so well put-together—but she knew she wanted to be one. Her answer: Clothia.com, where you can grab an image of a clothing item or accessory from an online retail store and (virtually) try it on—all you need is a webcam on your computer. If this site (currently in invitation beta mode) delivers on the very lifelike demo we saw, we may never go to a brick-and-mortar store again.