This article was published on July 5, 2012

Startup Wise Guys and Springboard bring their startups to the investor table

Startup Wise Guys and Springboard bring their startups to the investor table
Jamillah Knowles
Story by

Jamillah Knowles

Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemi Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemimah_knight or drop a line to [email protected]

Today in Shoreditch, London, two accelerators got together to combine the pitching process for their startups. All round it was a pretty impressive gathering of talent from many different countries, working hard to make a success of a small business they believe in.

The morning was made up of a selection of pitches from Estonian accelerator, Startup Wiseguys which has been working with Inskilled, Pondera, Monlith, WappZapp, Monday52, Epic List, Like a Local, and Vital Fields over the past ten weeks.

There has clearly been a lot of work done on business direction and making a clear pitch. Each one was polished, clear and confident.

So who are the companies working with Startup Wiseguys? Let’s take a closer look.

This company describes itself as ‘Runkeeper for informal online learning’. It provides a way to track and collate the materials a lot of us use to learn about tech. This includes things like TED videos, articles from media publications and YouTube material.

You might not have thought about tracking all of this, but the amount that we consume is surprising. The service is social so that people can swap information and provide encouragement and more interestingly it is working on machine learning processes to spot gaps in learning and provide links to new materials that might help.

Pondera is working in the area of personal development. So if you need encouragement to think about how you go to the gym or maybe want to make a few lifestyle changes, this might be of interest.
The social aspect provides encouragement and support and affiliates supply book suggestions or items of interest. The company feels that there is little in the way of centralised places to find different methods of self-improvement and so its site corrals all of the things that people might find useful.

Watching the viewers, Monolith a device that tracks what people are watching on TV or billboards. The company is working to fix the things that are wrong with offline advertising by providing solutions that can make things a bit more interactive, as well as provide measurement and targeting.

It’s frankly impressive. Monolith creates software for these purposes as well as an intriguing device that collects what is required as well as sending upgrades over the air. Interestingly, Monolith ran a few units with ads at the event to track the ones that gained the most attention. It’s hardly surprising that the Victoria’s secret ads drew the most eyeballs, but it’s pretty impressive that Monolith was able to identify that live while people gathered over coffee.

No doubt this service is something that those of use who have left the idea of TV schedules far behind. If you are more likely to be found watching media on demand, then WappApp is probably going to be a requirement.

There is a scattering of media available to us on the Internet and well, no TV guide across all of them and no easy way to schedule an evening’s viewing. Using a mobile as a remote control seems to be finally breaking through as a form and function.

The company is up and running in Dutch and is looking for funds to take the service to other countries and of course in other languages.

Epic List
Epiclist is a site to turn dreamers into ‘doers’. The company has identified that most people are not even sure what their grandest dreams may be, let alone how to get there.

Epic list provides a few suggestions as well as a social element that means there is encouragement and a way to find out how to achieve goals.

The general selection of ideas is broad; skydiving, travel, writing a novel. Users can also create a scrap-book relating to their achievements and share it with the community online.

Like a Local
This is a travel service that hopes to allow travellers to feel like a local wherever they go. The firm has identified that tourists might have a good time looking at the big old attractions, but that some of the best experiences for travellers are the ones that are not in the guidebooks, known more often by local citizens.

The company has done its research to find out that many travellers are not after the opinion of their friends for tips in destinations, but would prefer a little insider knowledge. It makes sense if there is a chance to see something that most tourists would miss.

Vital Fields
Taking on harder problems relating to farming, Vital Fields is not shy when it comes to hard work and science. The company is working on weather and crop prediction technologies that should help farmers around the world.

The service bridges the gap between a tool that needs to be stuck in the ground in a field (apparently these are expensive and get stolen often) and a way to track and monitor climate on a micro level.

It’s a tough task given many weather reports for regular people are not always accurate and there’s a lot more at stake when it comes to farming. But the company is looking to bring on a plant pathologist to go with its core science team to bring more power to its prediction through knowledge and research.

This is a place where developers are loved. It considers the possible work available and matches the community to the work.

The company notes that it is not just money that will attract a developer but a sense that they are working on something meaningful. We’re sure there are exceptions to that rule, but a system of making life better for the folk who create our online environments is bound to be appealing as a network.

Spring for funding

The afternoon was a pitch session for the companies working with the Springboard accelerator. We took a look at its like up earlier this year. You may already be following their trials and tribulations via our video series too – Tears, Tantrums and Tech.

The difference between the initial observations of the startups as they entered the twelve-week system is clear. More confidence, a better idea of the problems they want to solve and how to present this. There could be a little more in the way of international ambition, but it certainly shows that some guidance from the Springboard mentors has gone a long way.

Jon Bradford of Springboard is naturally very proud of the work that has been done through the accelerator and grateful to the mentors who have committed to making the startups develop.

“The teams are much clearer now on what they want to achieve and where their customers are,” says Bradford. “It’s hard to define a difference between the cycles of teams at Springboard. It’s like choosing between your children.”

“Being at the Google Campus has really made a difference,” he notes. “We usually do this in one room with ten teams. To do this in a building with many other companies means that when you look out of the window and see people outside who are employees, you think that they are the strange ones, not people like you who are founders.”

Many companies are looking to create their own accelerators to join the few that are leading the way in startup development at the moment. One thing that today’s event has shown is that it is a good way to expose small companies to big investors as well as enabling those investors to identify where innovation may be headed in the next few years. Let’s hope they decide to put their hands in those deep pockets while they’re at it.

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