Eleven teams have been chosen as the starting point for the UK expansion from Cambridge to the capital. More than 120 mentors will attend the program over the next three months to get these startups into ship shape.
Jon Bradford, co-founder and managing director of Springboard is enjoying the opening atmosphere of the course:
“The tension has been building during the first week of the programme amongst the teams, both with excitement and fear in equal measure not being entirely sure about what they have let themselves in for.”
Springboard has chosen eleven teams rather than the ten it had planned. With over 350 applications from 23 countries, a 50% increase over the previous program, it is not surprising that there had to be room for one more.
Springboard is an intensive 13-week programme and it was originally based at the ideaSpace, part of Cambridge University’s state-of-the-art Hauser Forum before opening up in London.
The first round of teams working out of the Google Campus are a rich and varied selection with wonderful ideas an eagerness to push forward. The Springboard blog notes today, “Desks are all filled, the room is cheerful with bright smiling faces, and we are quickly getting through that ‘first day of school’ feeling.”
So let’s take a look at the lucky startups about to launch into orbit with Springboard.
Self-described as ‘the easiest way to get from a new URL to a full-blown website in 5 minutes or less’ 5minutes.to is an easy-to-use Web app that helps users create a website from scratch.
Users can get their site going with this service by registering a new URL, customizing the design for their needs and learning how to tweak everything in an impressive 5 minutes or less.
5minutes.to also helps users to create accounts on all social media channels in a snap and get automated website backups and daily security checks right out of the box.
The service, which began in Bucharest, is designed for people who need a premium website but don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on it.
5minutes.to says, “We hide the complexity of the technical process in the back and offer a very clean, easy-to-use interface in the front for our users.”
The site got more than 2,000 subscribers from its teaser page in less than 2 weeks and is ready for closed beta.
Birdback comes from Copenhagen and is designed to turn your existing credit cards into a loyalty cards while giving up to 15% cash back on selected bars and restaurants. The company says, “Go out, cash in”.
It’s an interesting take on the idea of a loyalty program and is created by and for restaurants and bars with no upfront costs.
Birdback drives loyalty with rewards for customers that turns them from ‘randoms to regulars’.
According to the firm, “We’re combining a unique credit card tracking technology with game mechanics to drive up loyalty by giving incentive to customers to come back and spend money.”
All users start out with a flat 10% cash back and as they spend more at Birdback’s community of merchants they earn their way into higher levels of cash back percentages.
Birdback is also sharing its experience of working as a startup in an interesting way. The team’s blog says, “We’re writing a book about building Birdback, the ups and downs, the challenges and all the cool interesting people we’re meeting on the road. We aim to release a chapter every Sunday about what we went through.”
No doubt it will become a good future resource not only for Birdback to monitor growth but for other startups to read and recognise similar events or get advice.
London-based Blottr is a people-powered news service that enables anyone to capture, report & collaborate on news they witness from the scene. As we recently reported, Blottr is taking on social publishing methods as well as newsgathering as it launched it’s Facebook app last week.
Blottr is using mobile & web technology to game change the way news is gathered and reported by leveraging the power of the crowd to report and collaborate on news events they witness.
The company says, “We believe people at the scene are best placed to report news.” With more than 2 billion people using smartphones that’s a huge resource to tap into for finding breaking news details and information.
Engage101 says, “For the past three years we’ve been helping experts at institutions such as MIT, Cambridge University, and Edinburgh University to communicate their research quickly and accurately. We know what works and what does not. We are building a platform that helps academics to create engaging and accessible videos for both academics and the wider public.”
With experience in some of the finest learning institutions on the world, Engage101 looks to be setting standards in the academic video arena.
Hipsnip is a personal shopper. Ask a human-sounding question and get some nice recommendations in return.
HipSnip says, “We’re focused on creating a great mobile and Web application that saves people time and money by helping them buy the right stuff for them.”
The company says, “We believe that urban life has more to offer than daily deals. Our mission is to help life enthusiasts to discover those people and talents and to live memorable moments with friends and like-minded people. We feature dinners, tasting events, art walks, workshops, etc. allowing people to explore, taste or learn something new.”
Kicktable initially launched in Brussels to test the idea and based on the massively enthusiastic feedback from early adopters, it decided to launch in a city with a bigger market and a different startup ecosystem.
The company moved to London in mid-February. Since its launch, it has hosted more than 65 events on the platform with more than 300 guests.
Knodium is based in London and provides an open learning network enabling students to engage with peers and tutors to develop understanding through question-driven discussion.
The platform is targeted specifically at universities and schools. The company says, “While online tools for course management are readily available, great online tools for course engagement are rare. Knodium creates learning networks that drive social collaboration”.
Knodium’s aim is to provide integration with courses as well as analytics on student engagement and tutor performance. With real-time use, lecturers can gain instant insight into problem areas, before the lecture is even over.
With Knodium in universities, it might mean that students not only have to turn up, but that they should also be awake.
Student Reading Lists
Another academically-minded startup, Student Reading Lists aims to make reading requirements transparent. It also hopes to connect students and universities with commercial partners on a central platform.
The service makes compiling, validating and sharing course resources between educators, administrators and students a seamless and cost-effective process.
Student Reading Lists says, “By offering an integrated web solution for university staff, reading lists can be managed and students can access their course material in all media forms from a central location.”
Since launching, Student Reading Lists has secured the University of Cambridge as an early user of the platform and has sold over 800 books in its first month of operation.
Also based in London, Teddle is a local services marketplace that matches trusted providers to customers.
The team describes itself as, “3 peeps shedding corporate life to fulfill our desire to build a successful start up”.
Teddle aims to help local service providers grow and manage their business through a robust platform that allows real time bookings and customer management.
Teddle’s preferred market is any provider that sells services hourly, like dog walkers, tutors and personal trainers. It is currently in the user testing phase of its beta product.
The Backscratchers is an invite-only skills swap and project collaboration website for the creative community.
As you might note from the name, there is no money exchanged on the site. Instead, skills are our currency and members use them to connect, collaborate, inspire and create. As the company says, “It’s simply ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’, or as we see it: you work on my project, I’ll work on yours.”
This startup hopes to target customers who work and/or have hobbies within the creative industries, including advertising, architecture, arts, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, publishing, software, TV and radio.
The site is international in scope with users being able to work together across continents and time zones. The Backscratchers’ prototype is already built and it is currently in “alpha” testing.
According to its site, Tray.io is cooking up a smart way for users to manage their inbox, by turning messages into actions.
Quite rightly the team has identified that for many people, email is a big problem. In order to address that, Tray.io is building a series of tools that helps to turn long indigestible emails into simple actions.
Tray.io says, “No more never-ending email threads or rigid RSVP events, just a neat solution to get more done, faster.”
No doubt everyone online today would benefit from a little help with their email inbox, so Tray.io is certainly looking to launch into a hungry market.
A bright future ahead
Springboard culminates in an ‘Investor Day’ where the teams get to present to venture capitalists and angel investors.
Historically, over 50% of the startups who enter the Springboard programmes have succeeded in raising capital in the next round of funding.
It’s exciting to be starting with a team and even more so to work in an environment alongside others who are in a similar position. No doubt the next 13 weeks will be ones to watch as each business develops and prepares for the next level.
Check back with us as we will be following the course and there’s sure to be updates as Springboard helps to shape these exciting startup ventures.