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How Tech-Shy Sectors Are Shedding Their Luddite Ways

A quick look at a handful of tech-related innovations in building, education and animal farming.
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Industry: Home improvement

Player: DiggersList, an online peer-to-peer marketplace that launched nationwide in March.

Innovation: A hybrid of Craigslist and eBay Stores, with a geo-location feature that points visitors to local transactions. Sellers can post single listings or set up storefronts for materials like lumber, fixtures
and flooring.

How they're doing: Since launch, user growth is up 75 percent. Monthly visitors now total 150,000. Next up: a mobile app and a sitewide "follow deals" feature to help sellers target interested customers without giving up huge margins.

Disruption: Putting a dent in the 160 million tons of building waste that ends up in landfills every year, and letting everyone and his retired father get a slice of the $300 billion home improvement pie.

Industry: Education

Player: MyCollegei, a Los Angeles-based digital interview tools company founded in late 2009.

Innovation: Lets students make and post video interviews of themselves to spruce up their college applications and gives admissions staff an easy way to view them.

How they're doing: About two dozen schools have used the service, including the University of Southern California and Georgetown University. During the last two admissions cycles, students posted more than 8,000 videos. The company expects that number to triple for the 2012-2013 school year.

Disruption: Making the case for video as a standard part of the application process, and preventing resource-strapped colleges from overlooking great applicants who don't come across as well on paper.

Industry: Meat

Player: U.S. Wellness Meats, a family-owned farm in Missouri that in 2000 became a grass-fed meat producer employing sustainable farming.

Innovation: A killer social media presence: YouTube vids of chefs at work, a gorgeous blog and a recipe-laden Twitter feed with more than 2,000 followers. Also: a Facebook fan page, StumbleUpon and Delicious widgets and an extensive online store.

How they're doing: U.S. Wellness Meats has grown 35 percent annually since 2001, and--after joining up with other family farms--has expanded offerings to include everything from free-range poultry to honey to organic pet food.

Disruption: Proving that any industry can be made more awesome through good marketing, e-commerce and new media. 

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