“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.
The last time we caught up with Seedcamp, the organization made a record investment in 11 of the 18 teams presenting, the first time it had accepted more people onto the programme than had been rejected.
This time around, there were 20 teams presenting to an audience of 140 or so investors – and in a teasing break from the norm, the winners won’t be announced until next week.
As you tend to find at these events, the teams ran the gamut in terms of their areas of focus – from Bitcoin and digital currency startups to ‘the Netflix for indie films’, to a device that gives bragging rights to skateboarders.
So, without further ado – our favorites from the day, in no particular order.
You can view them all on one page here.
According to the company, two-thirds of people who start a checkout process online don’t actually complete it. This is where Formisimo steps in to track and analyze exactly what visitors do with online forms, and ultimately identify why they fail to complete them. Doing this, obviously, means the businesses can make changes that will make them more likely to complete the purchases and generate more revenue. Easy.
The company says that it has just wrapped up its period of beta testing (running since May last year) and now has around 580 users, which have seen an average increase of 76 percent in conversion rates from a customer starting an online form to checking out.
Formisimo has already attracted the attention of UK household brands like Asda and webuyanycar.com and claims to offer a far more detailed reporting and analytics platform than its rivals as they tend to focus on delivering a whole suite of software, of which online form analytics is only a small part.
The service is available on a free (limited) basis and has paid-for packages ranging from £20 per month up to £400+ per month.
Stockflare is, unsurprisingly, an app aimed at people with an interest in trading shares. However, while there’s no shortage of financial apps available, they’re mostly aimed at people who really know what they’re doing. This is where Stockflare is different – it’s aimed at people who want to perhaps manage a small portfolio, but in a simple and user-friendly way and with real-time suggestions. Did I mention that it looks beautiful too? Ne’er has a plunging stock looked so pretty.
“We’re making investment simple so that anyone who sells can take control of their investments themselves. Investing is extremely complex and biased and it is very noisy… A vast majority of people don’t trust their investment advisor. In the US, 56 percent of people say they don’t trust their investment advisor. There’s now a huge trend in personal investing, the number of people who manage their own portfolios has doubled in the last five years.
“We make it simple, we make it intelligent, we make sense of the data so you can make a better investment decision,” Shane Leonard, co-founder and COO of Intense Limited, the parent company of Stockflare, said.
The app itself is free, and is currently available with a gratis two month premium subscription. After the trial period it costs $4.99 a month in the US, €4.49 in Europe countries and £2.99 in the UK.
It’s not the first time that I’ve said the Internet of Things is a terrible phrase, in fact it’s not even the first time this week, but aside of the awful, ambiguous wording, there’s one big problem – carrying out the vision is often impractical and expensive.
The idea of a fully automated ‘smart home’ might seem like a pipe dream, but Pycno wants to retrofit all your existing devices (lights, heaters, kitchen appliances, garden sensors etc) with its smart plugs to give all your dumb devices a touch more nous.
Simply giving your TV a fancy plug wouldn’t be much use though, so Pycno has also built a cool platform for managing devices remotely via an app. Better still, the company doesn’t want this to be another siloed, proprietary protocol-based ‘Internet of Things’ platform, so it’s using open source protocols in the hope that an ecosystem will build around it.
It’s admittedly early days, and though the company only started work on Pycno in December it’s already on its third hardware revision and is planning to release the first 100 beta units in the next two months. As of now, Pycno plans to sell the hardware at cost and make recurring revenue from the software platform, however, given that it’s still at such a formative state that could change. Funding models are rarely set in stone just a few months after you’ve started a project.
We Are Colony
We Are Colony, or just Colony for short, is a video on-demand (VOD) platform that wants to be “the Netflix of independent film” and alternative content, according to Sarah Tierney, founder of We Are Colony.
For users, it promises exclusive and early access to films (ahead of general release but charged at a premium), and for film makers it’s a potential channel of distribution to get their creations in front of a more mainstream audience. That might actually be a bigger problem than you think. Tierney says that there are around 15,000 films made each year, and that around 94 percent don’t attract mainstream distribution, conversely 6 percent of films that are made account for 80 percent of global revenue, so it’s clearly an uphill challenge for indie filmmakers to find their audiences.
In terms of funding, Colony will have the traditional VOD subscription platform, but also plans to potentially earn extra cash from syndication, affiliate sales and advertising.
Wodd is a Paris-based startup that, essentially, wants to end arguments and give bragging rights to skateboarders – and ultimately anyone who takes part in other forms of extreme sport, like kayaking, snowboarding, etc.
Promising to be “the ultimate hardware for skateboarders”, Wodd is a small device that attaches to the bottom of your skateboard to track everything that you do and everywhere that you go.
Alongside the hardware, Wodd also plans to launch an app that will record all the details of your skating sessions, like where you went, how long you skated for, how many times you fell, which tricks you landed perfectly – all the things you’d want to pore over later if you’re a skater that love data. To get to this stage, Wodd has been working with 50 different skateboarders to ensure that all the tricks have been learnt by the device .
The company said it also plans to introduce a range of social features and other gaming elements into the app.
At present, the founders Kevin Straszburger and Tristan Nicolas say that the plan is to monetize through the hardware and deliver an ever improving user experience through the software to generate further hardware sales for future generations of the device. It might seem like a bit of a niche, but the company says that 85 percent of the market is below the age of 20, 75 percent of that figure are boys and 50 percent of it is based in the US, so the company is targeting “the typical 16-year old American teenager; he has an Xbox, a PlayStation, an iPod, a smartphone and he already spends $100 per month in a skate shop.”
Apparently, there are about 20 million people within that demographic alone worldwide, so perhaps it’s not so much of a niche.
Swipes, as we’ve already told you, is one beautiful to-do list app and although it’s already live following a beta launch last year, the company is still hopeful on getting a spot in Seedcamp’s roster in order to take its business to the next level.
To-do list apps might be ten-a-penny (or a dime-a-dozen, if you prefer) but finding one that’s functional and easy on the eye is more of a challenge. Considered by some to be the ‘Mailbox for to-do lists’, its key differentiator from the competition is that it’s not really trying to build a platform of its own, it’s just trying to integrate your to-do list with every single service you use already, whether that’s email, notes, cloud storage or other project management systems.
“We fundamentally change the way task managers work today… We still use the same techniques for getting things done [as 300 years ago] even though we live in a so much more complex world. We’re making a tool that knows your tasks, from notes, calendars, wherever it comes from and integrates into the workflow of your every day life. We’ve studied hundreds of hours of the psychology of getting things done, we’re not building the perfect tool, we’re making a system that encourages you into the habits of being more productive,” Kasper Tornoe, co-founder of Swipes, said.
Concept Inbox is not, as its name might suggest, another email tool. Instead, it’s an all-in-one tool for designers and other creatives that’s aiming to take the pain out of the design process for clients and designers. Or as Oscar del Rio, CEO of Concept Inbox and 10-year veteran of the design industry put it, “dealing with clients is a pain in the ass”.
“It’s hard to get customers and collaborators to give productive feedback. You can have meetings all the time, emails, Dropbox and phone calls for tracking progress – and many are using Basecamp because it sucks less than the other ones, but it’s not a real solution for this particular problem because design projects are highly visual. The feedback should be visual, and not just text.”
As such, Concept Inbox provides the ability for designers to create interactive prototypes and get that feedback in real-time in a visual way – which should make it easier on clients too.
There are already more than 10,000 users on the platform and this number is growing 40 percent each month. Creating the first project is free, but after that there are plans ranging from between $14 – $100 per month.
It’s hard to pick favorites, the teams on stage had sound ideas and could mostly demonstrate some sort of early signs of interest or traction with either customers, users or investors. Below are a few notable mentions that didn’t quite make it into the list above.
- Cryptopay – A London-based startup that acts as a payment gateway for Bitcoin transactions. Headed by enthusiasts for the digital currency, the system allows merchants to accept Bitcoins via their websites or in-store. For its role in the transaction, Cryptopay gets one percent of each transaction and has already signed up seven partners in three countries. It’s a crowded space though, with rivals like Coinbase, Bitpay, Coinjar and others, but Cryptopay says it’s the only Bitcoin processing company that’s fully compliant within Europe.
- GoWorkABit – This Estonian startup specializes in providing a way for employers to find short-term at employees at very short notice. Conversely, job hunters can find temporary work with ease. Kei Karlson, founder of GoWorkABit, said that the quickest success to date was filling a vacancy for six people required the following day. It took just three minutes. Again though, recruitment is a crowded and incredibly competitive market, so GWAB will need to scale quickly in order to claim a slice.
- Interact.io – This German startup sits directly at the intersection of enterprise telephony and CRM systems. Essentially, it wants to turn any phone into a sales tool by linking it to its cloud-based real-time analytics platform that provides contextual data around the call by linking to existing CRM systems. Interact.io says it can connect smartphones and office phones alike, and earns revenue by charging subscription fees for different service tiers.
We’ll find out next week exactly how many and which of the 20 teams made it in to Seedcamp London this time around.