When you hear Silicon Valley discuss the European startup scene it’s often negatively. Some say that the investors aren’t brave enough, some say the entrepreneurs aren’t bold enough. Whether there’s any truth in these accusations or not, the fact is that there are startups across Europe that are brimming with original ideas and creativity.
Following on from our 10 Exciting European Startups from 2010, here are 10 startups to look out for in 2011.
Visitors to the LeWeb conference last month couldn’t have failed to spot Pearltrees. The French startup had a stand large enough to rival tech heavyweights like Google and Zynga.
Pearltrees makes organising groups of links to content incredibly easy. Each link is a ‘Pearl’ and can be connected to other related content to create ‘trees’. What’s more, it’s easy to explore the trees and pearls created by others, and to drag individual links or whole trees into your own creations.
Recent additions to the service include real-time group collaboration and a touch-screen based interface which will be ported to the iPad soon.
The idea behind Planely is a certainly niche one, but the Danish startup could well be onto something that frequent air travellers will love.
Based around the idea that there may well be interesting people worth meeting on the same flight or at the same airport as you, Planely is a flight-focused networking tool. By entering your flight numbers into the service, you get the see other users who you might want to meet while you’re in transit.
Founder Nick Martin sees his service as part of a “Social flying revolution” and says that Planely’s mission is to allow travellers to factor networking opportunities into the flights they choose to book so that they can get the most out of their travel time.
Geomium adds a real-time, location-based social layer to data from review sites like Yelp and Qype.
The London-based company’s CEO Michael Ferguson describes Geomium as “A platform created to help improve your social life”. The service, which launched in September, lets you see where your friends are on the iPhone app’s map along with information about local attractions, restaurants and the like.
CEO Michael Ferguson tells us that the team is aiming to become the number 2 social app in the UK, behind Facebook, although the service works worldwide. Geomium version 2 is due in a couple of months’ time and the startup is working on commercial partnerships that it hopes to finalize soon.
The idea behind this mobile and Web app is that it helps you find strangers with similar interests when you’re out and about in public. Users can select the type of people they’d like to meet based on categories like ‘Students’, ‘Hobbies’ and ‘Spontaneous date’. A series of tags for each category help narrow down potential matches. A “dual opt-in” system helps ensure that both people are happy to meet.
In 2011, LikeOurselves plans to add future planning options, so users can see who else intends to be at, say, the same bar in three hours’ time. Users will also be able to chat anonymously online before they meet for real, helping participants get to know each other without compromising their privacy.
Aiming to make eating out a less frustrating experience, users of Storific’s mobile app can view the menu of the restaurant they’re in and place orders in their own time without having to wait for staff to be ready to see them. Storific tells us that the app considerably increases the number of orders made by a single table and thus has a direct positive impact on restaurants’ takings.
Currently in private beta testing at a small number of restaurants, the app will be opened up for wider use in early 2011.
Allowing incredibly deep analysis of Twitter and other social media data, this service is most easily thought of a “Yahoo Pipes for Twitter”. While it’s a little complicated to be widely accessible, its potential for creating complex searches such as “People in New York with over 200 followers who have mentioned Barack Obama in a positive way with no swearing in the past day” give it huge potential for the commercial and academic sectors to gain deep insight into who’s saying what, when, where and why.
Currently in private alpha, Datasift is slowly opening up to more users to try so it’s worth applying for an invite if you you want to try getting to grips with it. Among its plans for 2011, look out for a graphical user interface, making it much easier to mine data from all the social chatter out there.
Nothing to do with the love it/hate it yeast-based spread, French startup SuperMarmite‘s name actually translates as “Super Pot” and offers a way for users to sell their home cooking to people nearby.
Aiming to offer a low-cost and potentially more healthy alternative to takeaway food, enthusiastic cooks can offer up their food via the SuperMarmite website. Users can then see what’s on offer near them using a mobile app, including the price, number of portions on offer and the time it will be ready.
It’s a bold idea that caught the eye of the judges at LeWeb’s startup competition last month and we look forward to seeing how it develops this year.
Although now headquartered in Silicon Valley, Viewdle was founded in Ukraine and maintains a significant presence there. Ukraine is a country better known for outsourcing developer talent to US companies than for its own startups, Viewdle is developing face recognition technology for use with Facebook.
The Viewle Desktop software, currently in private beta, instantly tags your friends and uploads all of your photos and videos to Facebook straight from the folders on your desktop. Face recognition is being done by a lot of other companies too of course, with startup Polar Rose having recently been bought by Apple and Facebook doing its own face recognition. Still, with a recent Series B investment of $10 million from a group including big names like Best Buy, BlackBerry Partners Fund and Qualcomm, Viewdle is definitely worth looking out for this year.
While we mentioned this startup in our 2010 round-up list last week, Screach‘s potential should be unleashed in 2011. Based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, Screach is a startup that is looking to transform the way we interact with screens. After downloading the mobile app, any time you see a Screach code on TV, in a cinema, in a bar or on any other screen, you can type the code into the app to activate an interactive ‘Experience’ related to the content on the screen.
So, TV talent shows could let viewers vote for contestants and display the result in real-time in an app, while perhaps a museum could let users control an interactive display using the same app. Reward vouchers are built-in, meaning that developers can use the app for competitions and winners can redeem a prize immediately in some cases.
A second startup to make it both into our end-of-2010 list and our 2011 list, Shutl is here because most of its potential will be realised in the coming 12 months.
This startup looks to bring delivery times for products ordered online down to as low as 90 minutes. Yes, 90 minutes – impressive stuff for impatient internet shoppers. Shutl will offer its service, which aggregates capacity across local courier companies into a single web-service, to retailers. Currently being trailed in the London area, with major UK retailer Argos. The startup’s CEO, Tom Allason tells us that from December Argos started offering Shutl for free for orders over £50 and that orders increased tenfold during Christmas week – proof that a Shutl’s service can be especially useful for late or forgotten present purchases.
For 2011, Shutl will be concentrating on expanding its clientbase, with big announcements promised as the year progresses.