“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.
Based in Newcastle, the Ignite100 initiative promised to invest up to £100k each in ten startups, and sought to build on the success of its predecessor, The Difference Engine, through a 13-week acceleration programme. Initially, up to £15,000 investment capital was to be made available at the start of the programme, with the remaining £100,000 balance invested upon completion, and assuming other pre-agreed criteria was met.
Paul Smith is the Programme Manager of ignite100, and he was ‘compere’ at the programme’s investors’ demo day in London yesterday, where nine startups pitched their products to the assembled masses.
“We are a generation with the potential to change the world,” said Paul. “But it takes more than ideas and tools, it takes self-belief, determination, vision and guile. Qualities I hope you see from the teams today.”
Whilst you’d think that UK startup programmes would naturally gravitate towards London, as we’ve been seeing in recent times, there’s hotspots of activity springing up around the country, with the likes of Cambridge’s Springboard and Birmingham’s Oxygen Accelerator launching some cool new startups. And with Ignite100 this trend is continuing.
“These are exciting times for Newcastle and the Northeast, we have a thriving startup community in the north of the country,” said Paul. “Testament to this is the fact that of all the teams going with the UKTI to SXSW in Texas, more than a fifth of them are from the Northeast of England.”
Givey: A social giving platform
You’ve heard of JustGiving, right? Well, Givey is kind of like that, except it doesn’t focus solely on ‘Challenge’ fundraising. Givey wants to focus on the broader donation space, and make raising money as much fun for the donors as the fundraisers.
According to founder David Erasmus, over £10bn is donated each year in the UK, but only 20% of those donations have the tax incentive Gift Aid attached, a problem Givey promises to circumvent by automating the process.
So, Givey is a social giving platform – you connect through your social networks, and you can even ‘tweet’ a donation. It currently lets users donate to over 6,000 UK charities instantly through SMS and Twitter, and we’re told that there are over 20,000 US non-profits ready to jump on board, with a further 20,000 unregistered CFN-vetted charities waiting in the wings to be included this year.
“We are aiming to be the world’s largest donation platform by January 2014,” says Erasmus. “We believe that through making giving fun with mobile, social donations and real-time feedback, Givey will provide the platform to explosively drive much needed innovation in the archaic Third Sector. With £750 million currently being lost in unclaimed Gift Aid, this problem alone requires an immediate solution and Givey is ready to provide it.”
Crowd IPR: Crowdsourcing intellectual property experts
“In the past twenty years, the issue of intellectual property has gone from being a gentleman’s game to a battlefield,” says Taavi Raidma, CEO and founder of CrowdIPR. “We see these massive tech companies such as Microsoft, Google and Apple going after each other and suing each other for patent infringements. There is true value for individuals and companies in whatever they create to protect it. With a change in the market there’s a growing need for new and innovative ways for gathering and analyzing IP data. This is what CrowdIPR does.”
CrowdIPR crowdsources experts in particular fields of industry. It’s an online network of technology and intellectual property specialists that utilizes the collective knowledge of its members, to provide accessible IP services. The platform enables crowdsourced patent and technology searches as well as trademark and design searches.
It’s a similar proposition to the peer-to-patent pilot scheme that was rolled out in the UK last year, and the CrowdIPR team brings together experience from the fields of intellectual property, marketing, business development and software engineering
“Our vision is to improve the effectiveness of the intellectual property system by introducing crowdsourced IP services to the mainstream market,” says Raidma.
Blink Collective: An online marketplace for experiences
“Blink Collective is an online marketplace for experiences,” says Blink Collective founder Pete Kindness. “It’s for anyone to offer their skills, knowledge, assets and services to form part of an authentic non-guidebook experience.”
So, Blink Collective is a Gidsy-esque (see here) platform aimed at consumers who would rather ‘do’ than ‘have’. Listings are curated and user-generated, and bookings are managed by hosts via the website. “We solve a marketing problem for small businesses and offer a unique platform for individuals to monetize their passions,” says Kindness.
According to Blink Collective, UK residents spent £44 billion on day trips and niche sectors last year. By way of example, eagle-watching in Scotland generated £8 million. Who would’ve thought?
RentMama: A platform for smaller car rental companies
RentMama provoked some debate about whether it actually dealt in something a little more salubrious than car rentals, but alas it doesn’t. At least, certainly not if co-founder Gunars Grundstoks’ pitch is anything to go by.
“There are more than 25,000 independent small and medium car rental businesses in the EU alone,” he says. “They’re all competing with a small handful of international car rental companies that control 70% of the entire car rental market.”
That’s where RentMama comes in, with Gunars asserting that smaller, independent car rental firms can significantly improve their online presence. It promises to revolutionize the car rental market by uniting small and medium-sized independent car rental businesses and giving them a platform for renters to discover flexible personalised deals.
Blooie: A random chat platform for online content publishers
Blooie was certainly an interesting one, and Director Mark Ryan gave a confident and considered pitch based around the concept that “90% of people don’t engage with content-rich websites beyond reading an article or watching a video.”
Indeed, whilst many people may discuss content they’ve consumed elsewhere on the Internet, in forums and via their social graph, the problem Blooie is striving to solve is how this can all be brought back to the original content creators.
Using the example of an online article which had been ‘Liked’ thousands of times, Ryan noted that only a fraction of the conversation surrounding the piece took place on the article itself, with much of the debate and interaction taking place on Facebook, Twitter and such like. And that’s what Blooie aims to do – it brings the conversation back to the content provider’s website.
“Blooie is a random chat platform that works with the publishers of content-rich websites and converts passive consumers into actively engaged users, with content acting as a prompt to the discussion. The data generated allows content providers to monitor real-time trends in conversation and content.”
Odimax: Social media intelligence suite
Odimax is a social media intelligence suite that lets marketing and PR agencies access and manage all their social media activity from a single platform, “leading them to actionable strategies.”
Whilst there are many similar propositions out there, Odimax had a nice interface from the brief demo we were shown, and CEO and CTO Atal Malviya says that Odimax is “the first to provide industry benchmarking metrics such as brand health score and brand equity as well as offering key functionalities like crisis management. This makes Odimax not only progressive in the field of social media intelligence but also unique.”
PinorPeg: Amazon meets Quora
“PinorPeg started from the idea of curating the tremendous number of products that are available online,” goes the official pitch from Alexandru Rada, co-founder of Vibetrace. “Today I’m presenting you with PinorPeg, our first product.”
The people behind PinorPeg believe that online shopping should be personalized for each user, and products should be recommended by consumers.
PinorPeg is a tool that promises to deliver the best clothing suggestions for its users. “It’s like Amazon meets Quora, where you have the strength of ecommerce recommendations combined with the power of social curation by a community,” says the co-founder.
In short, users create their own profile and then refine it by adding products they like, and follow users with similar interests. PinorPeg then creates shopping profiles for users to deliver the best suggestions.
If you’re a sucker for online project manage tools, Usable is worth a look-in, as it’s setting out to “change the way people think about projects, stop projects failing, and save companies time and money.”
Usable’s first product to hit the market is Usable Requirements, which it calls “a powerful yet easy-to-use tool that makes teams focus on what their project really is.”
Requirements is an application that lets everyone involved in a project communicate and collaborate around a set of requirements, and it’s built to keep goals at the centre of the project.
It started life as a simple iPhone app, but an Android version is due out this week. Users can not only see what’s going on near them, but also add to the map as they discover new spaces and art.