Europe's Top 25 Hottest Early-Stage Companies
To identify the most promising European Internet companies Informilo asked Europe’s most active early-stage investors to nominate and vote on companies outside of their own portfolios based everywhere from London to Ljubljana. Some are well known, others are below the radar but unlikely to stay there for long. A number of the companies will be pitching investors and showcasing their products at Dublin Web Summit. Some are B2B, others are focused on financial services and web and mobility. Read on to see our picks for the Top 25:
What it does: Provides a dashboard that monitors competitors’ products, producing metrics on prices, availability and shipping costs, etc. to give the user an up-to-the-minute view.
Why it’s hot: Profitero was founded in the autumn of 2010 by Vol Pigrukh (CEO), Dmitry Vysotski (CTO) and Kanstantsin Chernysh (vice-president, Engineering). The company, which is headquartered in Dublin, is focused on the European and US markets. Prior to setting up the company, the co-founders held a variety of roles in the areas of sales, marketing, retail and development at multinationals Google, IBM and Microsoft in Ireland. Profitero won IBM’s Global Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 and IBM’s Smartcamp competition in 2011. Its clients includes retail giants Tesco and the UK pure-play online grocer Ocado..
What it does: Allows users to make calls, chat, video-chat and send SMS messages from their browsers, via Facebook or an iPhone app, also allowing embedded third-party content such as YouTube, Soundcloud and Instagram.
Why it’s hot: Backed by Seedcamp, vox.io already has one million users. It’s up against competitors such as WhatsApp, but given its ability to connect with more than 200 other services via embed.ly, it looks set to make a significant mark in this space.
What it does: Links licensed cab drivers with would-be passengers via smartphone apps.
Why it’s hot: An app that links licensed cab drivers – starting in London, but now also offering the service in New York, Dublin, Boston, Toronto and Chicago – with passengers via the two main smartphone platforms, iOS and Android, is set to become a must-have for denizens of those cities. With $20m of funding, the business is solidly backed for further development.
What it does: Helps farmers manage their livestock and crops, produces performance analysis.
Why it’s hot: Every business needs detailed analytics and performance data to help it do well, and farms are no exception. After being accepted into Seedcamp, Farmeron attracted investment from Dave McClure’s 500 Start-ups and US venture firms NextView Ventures and SoftTechVC.
What it does: Gidsy, which bills itself as “a marketplace for authentic experiences,” connects people looking for fun and unusual things to do with experts offering those services. It takes a cut of the fees.
Why it’s hot: Although there are competitors in this space Gidsy has raised $1.2 million and is rapidly expanding around the globe. Its backers include Amazon Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels, actor Ashton Kutcher, Sunstone Capital and Index Ventures.
What it does: Social gifting service that allows friends to contribute to digital gift cards via Facebook and mobile apps.
Why it’s hot: Another app that brings together retail and social: connecting via Facebook means retailers get demographics and other analytics, allowing targeted advertising while at the same time tapping into the feel-good vibe of gift-giving. The company’s team includes well-known seasoned entrepreneurs and its board of directors includes Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom and Linked-In co-founder Reid Hoffman.
What it does: Allows smaller merchants to set up interbank transfers for customers via an online tool, the API or partners.
Why it’s hot: Direct debit is still a popular way to send regular payments, and GoCardless’s offers means that small businesses can take advantage of banking tools that previously only the big boys could access. Anything that enables e-commerce for the little guys wins friends – and funding, as the $1.5m raised so far demonstrates.
The Currency Cloud
What it does: Platform as a Service provider that offers access to global currency markets for money-transfer businesses and other services.
Why it’s hot: Created by a team from the City of London, this company, which has attracted $7 million in angel funding, aims to disrupt traditional cross-border currency services. The team’s pedigree is impressive: they’re the guys behind UBS’s online FX platform.
What it does: Peer-to-peer money transfer system that allows users to wire money directly bypassing banks and their commission charges.
Why it’s hot: One of the founders is Taavet Hinrikus, Skype’s first employee. Charging a flat fee of £1 regardless of the value of the transaction, the service attractive both for small and larger customers. Currencies at the moment are Euros and Sterling as well as Polish Zloty, Swiss Francs and Danish, Swedish and Norwegian Krone/Krona/Krone. An appealing service for those who dislike the big banks and their big charges.
What it does: Europe’s answer to Square, it offers small vendors a way to process payments via an iPhone or Android app and a card reader.
Why it’s hot: It’s not cost-effective for small vendors to have full card-processing machines and services so this app-plus-reader makes modern commerce available to the smallest of stores. There is plenty of excitement about iZettle in Europe – the company has raised $31.4 million to date — but Visa Europe has blocked the service in some countries, raising questions about its ability to scale.
What it does: Logentries is “like logs on steroids,” providing system administrators with a cloud-based system to manage and analyze log files, giving them a real-time view of events and the ability to spot trends and problems.
Why it’s hot: The company already has several thousand paying customers, helping it raise $1.1 million this summer in a round that included US venture firms Polaris Venture Partners and RRE Ventures plus Dublin's Frontline Ventures and Enterprise Ireland.
What it does: Offers a platform that allows content creators to build sites and publish their work web-wide, and helps users to find that content.
Why it’s hot: Content is king, but there’s simply so much of it out there that it’s hard to find what you’re seeking. Silk leverages what’s known as the semantic web so users can sift data meaningfully. So far the three-year-old group has raised just over $2 million from investors that include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom.
What it does:Connects retailers such as Argos and Karen Millen with local courier companies, enabling online and in-store customers to receive their shopping within as little as 90 minutes or within a one-hour window.
Why it’s hot:The company just raised $2 million from the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund and existing investors Hummingbird Ventures and GeoPost. It will use the new investment to expand the team, acquire new retail partners, and prepare to launch its service in the US.
What it does: The website combines social media with shopping, allowing participants to build dream outfits and spend fantasy money on virtual outfits or real money in real shops, both online and offline.
Why it’s hot: Pulling together social and shopping in an attractive way is a bit of a holy grail for retailers, and this UK-based start-up, which has so far raised $3.56 million in funding, seems to have hit a sweet spot since its launch a year ago. It looks a bit like Pinterest and links out to Facebook. Once it’s out of beta, this site could well catch fire.
What it does: Web site and YouTube channel that features performances of up and coming acts performing on balconies.
Why it’s hot: The web loves a quirky upstart. So, too, do some investors, who to date have contributed $850,000 to this Dublin company, which in 2006 decided to start a daily broadcast from an apartment balcony in Dublin. Since then the company has expanded to 30 locations around the world from Auckland to New York.
What it does: Aggregates users’ purchase information from loyalty schemes with data from users’ Facebook profiles.
Why it’s hot: Metrics are power: when a purchaser buys something from an online retailer using Bonusbox, they’re asked if they want to join the loyalty scheme, which they do with their Facebook log-in. In return, they get closely-targeted offers. The company has so far attracted $1 million in funding.
What it does: Helps game developers focus on how their users interact with their products and fine-tune the mechanics.
Why it’s hot:Detailed metrics about how users interact with their products will help developers tweak games for the best returns.
What it does: Nuji describes itself as “Pinterest with rewards”: it’s a social shopping site that plugs into Facebook, allowing users to share images of things they want to buy.
Why it’s hot: Those two key things again: social plus shopping. The aim is to discover via your social graph what you actually like rather than stuff your friends are pushing, though of course the things you’re tagging (liking) get pushed out to your friends as well. Reward points plus an elegant interface makes this one to watch.
What it does: Tracks real-time web statistics and provides analytics that permit a quick response from a web site’s owner.
Why it’s hot: GoSquared provides a real-time dashboard that shows you where traffic is coming from, what items are hot and even how fast your pages are loading so that you can respond accordingly. What sets it apart is its intuitive dashboard.
What it does: Helps guitarists develop their skills by generating a chord display from any mp3 file.
Why it’s hot: One step up from air guitar, this app smartly isolates and displays the guitar part in any music file for the musician. The team behind this service won the recent TWiST Ireland event, picked as the best start-up by the judges. Spun out from DiT’s Audio Research group, it has already scooped 2.2 million euros in funding. A Windows app is out there; Mac and iOS apps are in development.
What it does: The aim is to get people enthusiastic about learning how to play the guitar via two iPad apps: Wildchords and GuitarTuna.
Why it’s hot: Ovelin takes the idea of Guitar Hero – making playing an instrument fun – and turns it into a teaching tool. With $1.4 million in funding and the award for Best European Learning Game of 2011, this app looks set to appeal to teachers and music students alike.
What it does: An iOS and web app that allows users to voice strong opinions.
Why it’s hot: A free app is always a good way to get users on board, and the aim is to create conversations – tricky when there are a myriad of forums and social spaces already. However, investors, including actor Aston Kutcher, have backed the idea of an opinion graph – rather than a social graph – to the tune of $3 million, so they may well be on to something.
What it does: Intercom provides a CRM dashboard for web apps with Google Analytics-like integration.
Why it’s hot: Housed in Polaris Venture Partners’ Dogpatch Lab in Dublin, the company has raised seed funding of $1 million from web heavyweights like Twitter’s Biz Stone, Huddle’s Andy McLoughlin and 500 Start-ups.
What it does:Smartphone app that picks three hotels per city, per day, and lists rooms for last-minute booking at a deep discount.
Why it’s hot: Originally launched in Germany, the app came to the UK earlier this year and is gaining traction. Backers include Dailydeal founders Ferry and Fabian Heilemann. Standing out in the crowded space of discount hotel bookings is a tall order, and the simple approach – just three hotels a day, under four simple categories (luxury, upscale, design, comfort) – makes this unique among complicated last-minute apps and websites.