Today in London, incubator programme Seedcamp held one of its day-long events that fuse a pitching competition with startup mentoring from experts. We were there to catch the morning’s twenty pitches.
There were some real gems throughout the morning. Here are details of all the European startups, followed by our thoughts on who excited us the most.
“This event was off the charts”
Gary Vaynerchuk was so impressed with TNW Conference 2016 he paused mid-talk to applaud us.
Ad Avengers is a startup that believes that online advertising stands at only 13% of the overall ad market because it’s currently too complicated, inefficient and fragmented. CEO Farhan Lalji, who formerly worked in digital marketing at Yahoo, says that his company’s aim is to make the process “suck less” by providing a platform that claims to combine the simplicity of Google AdWords with the flexibility that ad agencies can offer.
The service allows advertisers to build briefs and locate creatives who can fulfil them. Ad Avengers makes money from commission on these deals.
Aiming at SMEs and individuals who want to build their own mobile apps, AppShed aims above existing template-based solutions with a browser-based tool that allows non-technical people to build professional-looking apps.
Currently supporting iOS, with other platforms to follow, AppShed provides a step-by-step wizard with options to add features like galleries, Google maps and YouTube videos via a modular approach. Once complete, users pay a fee (starting at under £500) for the app to be compiled and uploaded to the App Store.
The most energetic pitch of the day came from the duo behind Bipsly. This mobile app acts as a loyalty platform for local businesses, helping them reward regular customers with points and special offers.
A QR code on a shop’s receipt is scanned using the Bipsly app, adding the customer to that store’s reward programme. Starting in France, the startup is targeting specific types of retailer, including flower shops and fast food outlets.
Going up against existing big movers in the local rewards sector such as Groupon and Foursquare, Bipsly believes it has the edge thanks to its focus on retaining and rewarding existing customers, rather than trying to attract new ones who may not stick around after attractive temporary offers are gone. For the future, Bipsly is considering adopting NFC technology in addition to QR codes.
The company is initially focusing on the same craft market as Etsy, although without charging any upfront fees. Blomming works to a freemium model and is looking to expand beyond the Italian market and attract designers and stylists to the platform.
Targeting a male audience, Bragbet is aiming at being the “Zynga of gambling”. With the mantra “It’s more fun when you’ve got your mates’ money on it”, the startup is opting for a team betting approach where a different member of a group of friends becomes captain each week, choosing what to bet on.
Rather than handle the bets itself, Bragbet provides an online, social layer for existing bookmakers, with the startup’s main revenue stream being commission paid from bets. Bragbet plans to enter co-marketing deals with bookmakers, sports events and sports clubs, as well as using social media and viral promotion to get the word out.
Founded by three Germans living in London, Eeve is a location-based event search app. It allows users to find nearby events by location and “attractiveness” (which we took to mean relevance). Once at events, Eeve lets users check in to a mini-social network of other people at the event, allowing them to share photos and make connections with others who are there.
Eeve aims to make money by letting event organisers promote special offers within the app, and allowing them to communicate with attendees via push notifications. Although there are plenty of other check-in services around, Eeve reckons it can differentiate itself via its focus on events. Planning to soft-launch its app at the end of January, an open public beta should begin in March.
Inspired by wanting to help independent, “hidden gem” retailers get online, Frooly offers an online shop, marketing tools, a payment platform and integration with Facebook, Google and YouTube in one product.
The pitch to users is that they will be able to find the best independent traders together in one place.
Previously covered here on The Next Web when its iPhone app first launched, Geomium’s revenue model is to earn commission from driving traffic to businesses. Geomium says its app has been downloaded almost 200,000 times since September 2010.
Clients can post projects and job requests, while engineers can share their portfolios using the service. GrabCAD then facilitates the matchmaking between the two parties and manages payment, taking a 10% transaction fee
GrabCAD currently has 20 paying customers, with 50 fulfilled orders to date.
A game developer with a twist, Huikea is focusing on iPad games that users physically get together to play. The startup’s first game, Dust Up pits two players against each other and initial user tests have apparently been positive, with gamers keen to meet up and hold tournaments.
Launching in February, Dust Up will be free to download with virtual goods available to buy. However, in order to help balance out gameplay, upgrade packs will contain random goods. Players will never be certain exactly what power-ups they’re buying. The team behind Huikea includes Teemu Kurppa who previously worked on Jaiku, the messaging platform acquired (and subsequently neglected) by Google.
Another e-commerce play aimed at real-world retail, Khojan aims to let users browse the high streets of the world from their computers. For example, search for “Brick Lane”and the site will display stores on that London street that have signed up to the service so far. Each store has its own virtual presence with the ability to buy directly from the website.
With 42 stores signed up so far, Khojan is focusing on the shops that are performing well before expanding beyond London to the UK and then the rest of the world. The startup takes a 4% commission on sales, while a premium service is available offering additional support at a 25% commission rate.
In future, the service will add Facebook and Google Product Search integration, as well as a marketing push within the real-world stores and Twitter-based feeds of items that are available for sale. In the face of competitors such as Shopify and Payvment, Khojan says that its focus on end-user experience makes it stand out.
MinuteBox helps individuals monetize their expertise via an “eBay for micro consultancy”. Working two ways, the service allows experts to offer up their time in consultancy slots, with users bidding for each available slot. Users can also publish requests for help, with experts then bidding to offer advice.
Consultancy takes place online via a video chat, with a fee that increases the longer the call lasts. Users can terminate their call whenever they like if they’re not happy with advice they’re receiving. Minutebox earns 25% of the final fee from each session and sees particular potential in markets such as technology, healthcare, e-learning and parenting. Having opened in alpha last summer, it is now gearing up for an official launch.
Founded by two academics, MyRec (link unavailable) wants to help users overcome information overload on the Web by getting the information they need. The technology behind the startup uses complex algorithms based around research into proximity networks and neural networks.
Having tested to the product with clients including the European Space Agency, the Portuguese team is looking to transfer it to bring it to the mass market.
Finding recommendations for good quality childcare can be challenging and stressful. Parcura aims to solve this problem by being “LinkedIn for parents”. For example, imagine you’re looking for babysitter within five miles of home, who is police checked and has three years’ experience. The service leverages your existing social graphs like Facebook and LinkedIn to show connections with childcare providers. Perhaps a friend of a friend could be the perfect referee for a local nanny?
Parcura offers highly granular advanced search capabilities with options to search for providers with experience in, for example, specific special needs. Working to a freemium model, the startup will offer Basic, Plus and Premium packages, while also receiving revenue from featured listings and advertising.
Psykosoft produces Psykopaint, a browser-based tool designed to easily express your artistic side. Users can select an existing photograph and edit it with colour sampling technology that results in something more akin to a painting than a photo.
While the broswer-based version is free, a paid-for desktop app is available and the company also offers a print-to-canvas service. Android and iOS apps offering a mobile version of Psykopaint are in the works. The company says that the current site receives 15,000 visitors per day and its next product will be Psykodio, a tool allowing to easily create music.
Users can fill out an online shopping list and get told the cheapest place to buy the goods they want in their local area. The website is free to use, with ads, coupons and an analytics product for retailers providing revenue.
Risparmio Super’s closest European competitor is MySupermarket.co.uk and the company is looking to grow further within the Italian market before extending to other countries.
Designed to be easy to use hands free while driving, the app costs $12 per month to use and Sylpheo already has partnerships with companies including Vodafone and Salesforce. Its first fully paid-up customer is financial services provider Swisslife.
This browser-based VoIP solution was profiled here on The Next Web earlier just a few days ago. With no download required, the service allows users to make free web-based calls as well as connecting to real phone numbers throughout the world. Targeting the growing consumer VoIP market, Vox.io sees itself as offering a “drugdealer model”, offering a service for free, getting users hooked so that they are happy to pay in the future. That’s certainly an interesting way of putting it!
Featuring public profiles, users can make themselves available for phonecalls without ever exposing their actual phone number. Vox.io currently has around 2000 users and plans to move into the mobile market in future.
This startup is building OhMyGame, an online game development suite capable of exporting to a wide range of platforms, including Windows and OSX.
The service offers easy, drag-and-drop game creation, with assets and code fully reusable across multiple projects. Strongman has focused on making it easy for developers to start with small projects, building them up as user number increase. In addition to developing OhMyGame further, the startup plans to create its own games as demonstrations of the tool’s potential.
Aiming at mobile app developers, Mob1serv offers seven modules that allow easy addition of server-side features to existing apps. These include GeoPos (to allow users to see each other on a Google Map), a CMS module that allows clients to update content within their apps themselves and a user chat module.
Amazon Web Services are used to power Mob1serv’s modules, with the option to choose between shared and dedicated accounts. Shared accounts harness developers’ existing AWS accounts, reducing costs. Rather than promote directly to developers, the startup is selling its service via digital agencies. It currently has two agencies signed up, several developers beta testing the product and four business customers within the gaming, medical and education sectors.
Of the twenty startups that pitched today, the idea that stood out most was MinuteBox. Creating a market around expertise, and providing a platform on which to share that expertise, is impressively bold. We can imagine freelance specialists in a wide range of fields jumping at the chance to easily sell their know-how online.
Elsewhere, Bipsly’s “Groupon for existing customers” idea may well have legs, and the events-focused takes on geolocation from Geomium and Eeve were interesting. Special note goes to Psykosoft too, for managing to work human beatboxing into a startup pitch!