The Next Web is about the future of the web, so it is obvious that startups play a significant role during the Conference. 24 startups will do a 5 minute presentation on main stage. During breaks all attendees and press can visit the startups at their booth in the Company Arena (same area as where the coffee and lunch is). This way startups can present themselves in the best way and get the most traction out of the conference.
Barend van den Brande from Big Bang Ventures moderated the second round. These start-ups got a chance to pitch:
One of the fastest growing European social networks. I’ve written some stories about them, my favorite one is about their Turkish adventure. The guys from Netlog said they’re doing ‘pretty well’. Talking about understatements. They have more than 30 million users, 4 billion page views, 15 languages and 20 nationalities. Moreover, they’ve been awarded several times – the Red Herring European 100 for example. In the near future they’ll work on hypertargeted advertising, cross language support, open social integration, group pages and social entertainment.
Webnode is an easy tool for creating complex websites. Just like fav.or.it they’re focusing on the ‘normal people’. Like the founder himself said: “Of course you guys can create a web site, but what about your mother?”. Well, mothers all over the world will now be able to create a web site with the easy drag and drop technology of Webnode. It’s also easy to integrate widgets from Google, Paypal, and many others. This start-up might be THE new way for people to express themselves, since you have more freedom than on networks like Myspace and Netlog.
Lookery wants to be the answer for all the monetization questions. It’s an ad network for social networks and provides demographic marketing services. They’re working to fix the the basic economic problem that social networks face: great user profiling but unpredictable ad inventory. It helps that the founder is the very successful and experienced Internet entrepreneur Scott Rafer. I could tell a bit more here, but I prefer to refer by an article written by a guy who sits 10 meters away from me: mr. Mike Butcher from TechCrunch.
Did you know that the average drill is only used for 12 minutes during its lifetime? Well, the guys from Zilok sure did since they’ve created a business around it. According to them, renting is expected to become a major way of consumption. So they offer a way to rent anything in his neighborhood in a few minutes. Revolutionary! The Next eBay! But what about trust? Zilok has thought about that as well! When closing a renting deal, Zilok offers an auto-generated contract, id card verification and an insurance system. After reading all this, you won’t be surprised to hear that Zilok won the Plugg European start-up rally.
Yves Baudechon started his presentation by stating that his company might revolutionize radio like YouTube revolutionized video. You can’t say he’s insecure. His plans sound good though, not necessarily revolutionary, but good enough to get me a excited bit. Radionomy makes it possible to set up a personal radio station for free. They offer a vast amount of jingles and other radio-related stuff in other to create a ‘real media’ experience. So Radionomy wants to be more than just a service that allows you to share music tracks. Yet who will listen to the shows? I mean, nobody is waiting for another thousand amateur radio shows. And although 33 million Americans listen to webradio every week and Radionomy has a strong sense of a community, I doubt whether radio makers might find a crowd that is large enough to satisfy them.
So when you were searching for software in the early days, you had to go to a store. And you know the deal about stores, they suck and their personnel is generally disinterested and rude (at least in Holland they are). But now there’s Wakoopa. They just ask their users one question: “What do you use?”. As TechCrunch said, they’re sort of the Last.fm for desktop applications. So far, they’ve tracked 150 million hours of software usage, collected details from 100,000 programs and have 25,000 users. I like their ambitions, as they want to track web applications and give the users recommendations. If you want to know more about these guys, read the interview I had with co-founder Robert Gaal (Who, by the way, is an office pal).