As every good tech conference, NEXT Berlin hosted a startup competition. The 12 finalists (selected among 800) presented Tuesday afternoon to a mixed jury panel componed of investors like Charlie O’Donnell, Patrick Meisberger or TechCrunch Europe editor Mike Butcher.
Flakka is a startup developing a P2P (peer-2-peer) technology to synchronize functionalities across devices (rather than data). Flakka first product is a free photo sharing application and hope to make some money out of subscription-based premium feature (like editing). Questionable is if P2P is really needed for photo sharing, but founder Till Haunschild seems confident about it regarding his experience (launched a previous tool reaching 4 mios users in 2 weeks, picscatter).
MarkTheGlobe is trying to solve SEO tools problem, that is, enabling multilingual andinternational campaigns. Value proposition seems huge and on a growing and rentable business. Unfortunately, founder failed to really explain why its company is better than existing tools and slides were a bit poor (nobody reviewed them?!?). Anyway, company seems to be proficient in its domain and provides a free search engine report on its website (pay them a visit, at least to gain some knowledge on your SEO performance!).
Meine-SpielzeugKiste(or Mytoybox) is an online rental service for educational toys. Based on a monthly subscription model, you’ll receive new toys for your kids, and can send back the old ones. Founder Florian Spathelf responded that current rate of broken returned toys is really low and that customers can keep the toys if they want (but pay an additional amount for this). Dad myself, I can just confirm they’ve found a great opportunity there, as parents just exchange toys and clothes, especially when your kids are less than 3-4 years old. Not especially innovative, but a great e-commerce opportunity if executed well!
is a mobile customer loyalty solution, trying to leverage the collection of data at Point of Sales with help of scanning QR codes. They’d like to allow the local merchant to reactivate its customers in one click process. Arash, one of the founder, told they already signed around 100 customers, from really local ones to international brands like Nordsee. Questionable is if people are really kind of using QR codes. Quick poll in the assembly shown that it was not especially the case. Founder seems convincing enough to bring his venture to an interesting level, even with such a basic innovation.
Slidemotion is a simple tool to automate video creation, leveraging your facebook pics. Goal is to reduce the pain of editing the video (75% of the time is spent to create the video while just one quarter to select and organize photos). Following a freemium model (free for album videos with <15 pics), it seems easy to use… but real differentiation is difficult to catch (facebook app is a clever thinking, but sufficient?).
fileee is an application assisting you to manage all of your documents and retrieve them with automatic text recognition and classification. Question is how to automate documents scanning in order to gain time, which seem to remain unexplained.
Kjero, officially launched during the pitch, is a new kind of market testing tool, combining the willingness of consumer to try the product they want and brands to get some real usage data from targeted consumers. Founders invented a clever word to explain their USP: tryvertise. Value proposition seems sexy for consumers, who don’t pay to get real quality product in exchange of their feedback. Not sure if big brands don’t already push forward their proper similar method.
BeeFM is a new social music experience turning the music links posted by your friends on Facebook in a playlist. Original idea, but hard to understand their business model… or did I missed something?
Refinder is a searching and collecting tool to find the data and activities of your team across cloud and various applications (Dropbox, Google Docs). Seems technically interesting and addressing a real problem: dissemination of your data across multiple applications.
Squadmail is a solution to share email folders, rather than sending the same message to multiple people. It’s tackling the “reply all” mailbox polluting (and pointless storage) problem. Concept of taking the conversation all in the same place seems easy, but integration on top of your email application is probably tricky (no download or software.
BoxCryptor, only prestenting company run by a female entrepreneur, proposes a secure cloud storage service taking care about privacy. It’s a real alternative to Dropbox and should ease the adoption of cloud storage services for sensitive data thanks to an encryption process. Not sure how they can guarantee safety (everything can be hacked, isn’t it?).
eyeQuest tries to build a worldwide network of mobile cameras, which will allows everyone to get access to location based pictures or videos, wherever they are, whenever they want. Seems different, but pitch or vision could be refined to better convince people.
The winner of the 2012 NEXT startup competition was awarded to Squadmail, the email folder sharing application. Alongside press coverage, they’ve received a prize money of EUR 10’000.- services equivalent from hub:raum, the new acceleration program launched by Deutsche Telekom at NEXT12. I think a cash prize would be more helpful for early stage companies… Support services should be added to the prize, not replacing cash. Even if coaching (or desks!) have a real value. EUR 10’000.- in cash could help a 3-people startup like this year winner bootstrapping during 2-3 months.
If this competition was a good overview on the best German startups, I think that swiss founders don’t have to be shy: we have similar promising companies in Switzerland! But certainly, we do not have the numbers (800 applications)…