All too often, the technology industry is examined from its opposing ends. A spotlight is given to the latest batch of promising startups, as well as powerhouse brands such as Twitter, Facebook and Google. By and large, what happens in between is forgotten about or ignored.
The Next Web, in partnership with Adyen, created Tech5 to give growth-stage companies the limelight. To showcase teams in Europe that have not only vision and ideas, but a business that is thriving every day. The competition encompasses seven European countries and last night, the national finalists for France were unveiled at the bustling Numa co-working space in Paris.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
It’s worth noting that to be eligible, all of the entrants had to meet the initial Tech5 criteria. To summarise, this meant they were launched no earlier than 2009, earned more than €500,000 in revenue last year, and had built a scalable (technology driven) product on their own.
Introducing the France Tech5
Creads is an online marketplace for advertising and creative professionals. The Parisian startup stands out from sites such as Behance and Dribbble, however, by marketing itself as a crowdsourced creative agency. That means its in-house team acts as an intermediary for larger clients, managing the initial pitch and submissions from its community of more than 50,000 designers.
Depending on the company, Creads is able to tweak the submission process. Oftentimes, startups want a large number of ideas to choose from, while larger companies expect just a few, well-crafted options.
Logos, web design, print adverts, brochures and mascots. Creads can handle all of these project types and, if needed, set up ‘Solo’ briefs for individual designers and ‘Elite’ briefs for a small group.
Uplike is a social iOS and Android app that lets you share photos, images, websites and videos. The design and target audience is similar to Pinterest, although the experience thrives on user-generated content, instead of curated photos and snippets pulled passively from the Web.
Founded in 2012, users are able to post a new ‘Uplike’ by shooting a photograph with the in-app camera, or simply uploading any picture saved to their gallery or camera roll. There are stickers, frames and effects to choose from afterwards, before it’s published on the platform with a hash-tag.
Webpages can be shared too, although it doesn’t take long to realize many members are drifting away from this feature. While it looks similar to Pinterest and Tumblr, the focus on smartphone photos gives it a distinct, different feel. Despite the two column layout, exploring the app feels closer to Instagram or Vine – two services with fantastic engagement on mobile.
To understand the demand for Lima, look no further than its Kickstarter page. When the crowdfunding campaign ended on September 8, its creators had raised more than $1.2 million, making it one of the highest-funded technology projects on the site. That’s higher than the Memoto lifelogging camera, GameStick console and Virtuix Omni virtual reality treadmill.
Originally called Plug, the adapter connects to any number of USB drives and a nearby router. With a separate piece of software (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android) all of the user’s files are then routed through these external drives, creating an entirely new filesystem which multiple devices can access.
Lima is competing with cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive, but stands out because it’s a product, rather than a service – that means no monthly fees. When the user requires more storage, they simply attach another USB drive – otherwise, there are no costs aside from each Lima device.
KelBillet is an all-in-one travel search engine. The ticketing site boasts over 900,000 members and covers all modes of public transport, including trains, planes and buses. There are ridesharing options too and, in the event you no longer need a ticket, KelBillet connect you with other travellers for reselling.
Second-hand tickets is an unusual proposition, but KelBillet doesn’t take an active role in the transaction. Similar to other online notice boards, the site simply acts as an intermediary between the two parties. Once a connection has been made, the buyer can contact the ticket holder by email or telephone. KelBillet has a checklist to ensure the original ticket is transferable, but payment and the physical exchange is handed off-site.
KelBillet is partnered with a wide range of operators to ensure that its site is always offering the best prices and travel options. Regardless of your budget and where you’re headed to in France, at the moment this is one of the premier sites for finding and reselling tickets online.
Collecting money for group gifts and events can be a nightmare. Picture the scene: You’ve been invited to a wedding and all of your childhood friends agree to pitch in for a present. It seems like a fantastic idea, although choosing a gift and getting everyone to pay up in advance proves difficult, to say the least.
Everyone lives in different places, it’s difficult to keep track of your bank transfers and work out who, if anyone, still needs to pay. Leetchi is a mobile app and social payments site that tackles this problem with online “money pots”. Once the target amount has been set, the page can be shared over email, Facebook, Twitter or text message.
Once the total has been reached, the money can be collected as a direct bank transfer, converted into a gift card or spent on a present through one of Leetchi’s partner sites. It’s an effortless solution for organizing birthday parties, farewell gifts, road trips, stag and hen parties – almost anything that requires a group of people to pool money together.
What happens next?
The fastest-growing startup for each nation will be revealed on April 11. These candidates will then be invited to present at the TNW Europe Conference, where the final Tech5 for Europe will be set up. You can also cast your vote to make sure your favorite companies are represented in Amsterdam!
Image Credit: PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images