About a year ago Web Summit created START, an elite invite-only gathering designed to allow 150 early-stage companies to meet with investors. Waze, Stripe, SmartThings, Coursera and Hailo, to name but a few, went on to define their respective industries. For this year’s Web Summit the team spoke to more than 7,000 start-ups from over 90 countries. Informilo got an early peek at the STARTglobal companies that were chosen to present in Dublin this year and at a group of early-stage companies that will be exhibiting at Web Summit; this group is referred to as ALPHA. The team spoke to 7,000 start-ups for this group and chose 720 to exhibit. To find the most promising within the group Informilo asked some of the most active investors to nominate and evaluate these companies and others expected to attend Web Summit this year. Below find our picks for the Top 25 early-stage start-ups to meet at Web Summit. (All companies are STARTglobal companies unless otherwise indicated.)
START GLOBAL COMPANIES
What it does:Online private shopping experience for men.
Why it’s hot:Outfittery, which launched in early 2012, aims to “liberate men from shopping.” It provides access to style experts who put together individual outfits for customers. In January the portal announced a “mid-seven euro figure” funding round from Mangrove Capital Partners, RI Digital Ventures and the Investitionsbank Berlin. Previous investors Holtzbrinck Ventures and High-Tech Gründerfonds also participated in the round, which is being used for international expansion; as of January, Outfittery had 20,000 users, all in Germany.
What it does:Online payments made easy.
Why it’s hot:PAYMILL offers an easy-to-use international payments solution. Its USPs include a developer-friendly API (including a mobile SDK), rapid on-boarding process, high security standards, support for 120 currencies, transparent pricing, and friendly customer service. Currently supports customers in 38 countries. In February PAYMILL secured additional funding from Blumberg Capital, bringing total capital raised from Blumberg, Sunstone and Holzbrinck to “well over €10 million.”
What it does:Online identity verification using social fingerprinting technology.
Why it’s hot:Trustev’s real-time identity verification system helps e-tailers maximize revenue and minimize loss by providing multi-layered fraud detection.The company claims 27% of all transactions online are referred to contact centers for review, which wastes 200 man-hours ever year. It dramatically reduces the number of transactions requiring manual review by using an extra layer of pre-qualification. Raised $300,000 in angel funding in February. Recently named “Top Technology Startup in Europe” at the European Commission’s Tech All Stars Awards 2013.
New York, NY, U.S.
What it does:Content distribution and monetization platform.
Why it’s hot:Taboola is a leading content distribution and discovery platform, serving three billion daily recommendations to over 300 million monthly visitors on publisher sites that include USA Today, TMZ, Time and The New York Times. Started by “a bunch of geeks [who were in] the Israeli army, passionate about the unique problems that can be solved with advanced mathematics,” in February the company raised another $15 million in funding from Pitango VC, Evergreen Venture Partners, WGI Group, and TheMarker. This rounds brings total funding to $40 million; it will fund more employees and new offices in strategic locations.
Tel Aviv, Israel
What it does:Multi-service privacy protection over all online services.
Why it’s hot:Offers a suite of security tools to protect personal privacy online, including a free mobile app for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire, and a Web browser plugin that gives users real-time alerts whenever a new application connects. MyPermissions gives users control over the data that apps are able to access. Recently launched MyPermissions Trust Certification Program, and a Twitter monitoring tool. Raised $1 million in seed funding in March from lool Ventures, 500 Startups (their first Israeli investment), 2B Angels, Plus Ventures and others.
What it does:Social “edu-gaming.”
Why it’s hot: Founded by entrepreneurs from Google, Amazon, Playfish, EA and academia, Brainbow claims to “turn knowledge into games.” The founders believe games can have a positive impact on society by combining games, health and education into fun and social experiences that will challenge the user’s brain. Seed investors (for a £1 million+ round) include Initial Capital, DN Capital, LVP, Lifeline Ventures, Jaina Capital and prominent angel investors.
Madison, WI, U.S.
What it does:Coupon-oriented digital marketing platform.
Why it’s hot: Launched in May 2013, Hopster uses personalized coupons to drive profitable consumer behaviors online and in-store. It helps consumer brands deliver targeted and personalized promotions, capture household-level buying data and close the redemption loop for coupons. Combatting the decline in newspaper readership by taking the Sunday circular concept to Pinterest with its Coupon Pin Board.
What it does:Collaboration and research management environment.
Why it’s hot: colwiz – collective wisdom – was created by leading scientists at Oxford University to give researchers an integrated suite of tools for fast and efficient management of the R&D process. In 2011, colwiz won Oxford’s Challenge Seed Fund and entered the University’s Isis Software Incubator. Moved out of private beta in March; now used by researchers at GlaxoSmithKline; P&G; IBM; Philips; and Disney Research, as well as a number of universities. In May colwiz announced a development partnership and strategic investment from the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
What it does:Car insurance telematics services and products.
Why it’s hot: Develops and distributes products to protect customers and their valuables. Dolphin is focused on GPS tracking devices, security systems and convenience products for cars. Provides CRM, logistics, and surveillance services for enterprises, authorities and insurance companies. Its solutions allow insurers to charge customers based on their actual driving behavior.
What it does:Real-time social media management.
Why it’s hot: Dedicated to helping brands and marketers leverage opportunities and manage the challenges of the open social web. In August the company raised €6 million of new equity finance from Target Partners and NorthCap Partners (which previously invested $1.33 million). The capital will be used to continue investment in its technology platform and to speed up international sales & marketing expansion. In the past year Falcon Social has posted outstanding growth, tripling its headcount and signing major accounts such as Swarovski, Orangina Schweppes, Stena Line, Deutsche Telekom AG, and Warner Music.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
What it does:Lost-and-found recovery system.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2011, FinderCodes is a lost-and-found system that uses QR-encoded smart tags and cloud-based tracking to facilitate a fast and secure return of almost any item, including pets. FinderCodes is a licensed brand partner of AT&T and the only lost and found system to offer Re-Turnit™, a simple return shipping service using FedEx Office. Finder Codes also seeks to protect users’ personal information and to keep user data safe. Offers B2B solutions for different industries based on its database management tools.
What it does:SaaS customer support solutions.
Why it’s hot: Launched in June 2011, Freshdesk offers customizable helpdesk solutions to enable businesses to serve customers by email, phone, and social networks. Initial funding came when the company won a Microsoft BizSpark Startup Challenge; since then it has raised $6 million in two rounds form Accel and Tiger Global. Freshdesk reached 10,000 customers in September; many are SMEs, but it also serves Pearson, Goodreads, and Toshiba. In 2012 it launched a $10 million “Freshdesk Future Fund” to give away its services to 501 startups and early-stage businesses.
London, UK and Madrid, Spain
What it does:An app that ensures candidates don’t miss job opportunities.
Why it’s hot: Launched in 2009, jobandtalent has become an international recruitment platform of choice for over 200 leading European and global companies. In 2012 the company introduced a new job-matching algorithm and set up in the UK. jobandtalent has more than 500,000 registered users works with the likes of Accenture, Morgan Stanley, Ericsson, Booking, L’Oréal, and Deloitte. In July it raised €2.5 million from Spanish investors Kibo Ventures, Félix Ruiz (co-founder of Tuenti.com) and Alfonso Villanueva. It previously raised €1.1 million from angels.
San Francisco, CA, U.S..
What it does:Cloud SMS and text-to-speech APIs.
Why it’s hot: Nexmo’s service finds optimal delivery paths for communications to over 1,000 carriers more than 200 countries. The company handles over 250 million messages a month for some of the world’s fastest-growing applications. This volume is growing 20% every month, with the addition of messaging heavy OTT apps; revenue us growing 15% per month. Customers include seven of the top ten messaging applications such as Line and Viber, as well as consumer apps Airbnb and Hailo. The company received a $3 million Series A funding round from Intel Capital in 2013.
What it does:Online tourist agency.
Why it’s hot: OnlineTours is online tourist agency focused on selling packaged tours. Its service is integrated with 90% of the tour operators in Russia, so it can offer its customers good prices for popular travel destinations. Has so far raised several million dollars of funding from Inventure Partners, and achieved over 100,000 monthly visitors.
What it does:Turning complex data into valuable information.
Why it’s hot: Offers “Big Data Apps” for cost-efficient and scalable analysis of large amounts of data. Its Big Data Appstore contains prebuilt modules designed for common use-cases that enable users to analyze terabytes of unstructured data. The modules run on Hadoop, the de facto standard for Big Data computation, both in local deployment and in the cloud.
Tel Aviv, Israel
What it does:Text-to-video platform that can automatically turn any text-based article, post or feed into a short video.
Why it’s hot:More than 20,000 sites have generated videos using Wibbitz, which also allows publishers to monetize their videos through pre-roll advertising. In 2012 the company raised a $2.3 million Series A round headed up by Horizons Ventures, Li Ka-shing‘s investment fund; previous investors Initial Capitaland lool Venturesalso participated. Currently creating 10,000 videos a day.
What it does:Gives website visitors the ability to purchase products directly at the website.
Why it’s hot: Combining e-commerce and online marketing, Atosho (short for atomized shopping) is a marketplace where retailers can offer products through a wide range of channel partner websites; Atosho is also an advertising network that pushes relevant products to visitors of thousand of websites. In December 2012 the company raised another €2 million to support expansion. Supremum Capital led the round. This follows a €1.3 million A Round funded by business executives and family offices across Europe.
What it does:System for monitoring mentions in Russian social media.
Why it’s hot: YouScan provides social media monitoring and analytics in Russia and Ukraine. It helps companies to stay on top of consumer opinions and complaints posted in social media, so they can react quickly to improve customer satisfaction. Clients are major consumer brands (P&G, Unilever, Nikon), as well as dozens of Russian and international marketing agencies. Since October 2012 the company has been based at the Skolkovo IT cluster innovation center.
What it does:Data extraction specialist.
Why it’s hot: In 2009 import•io’s founders launched their first start-up, Kusiri, which provides a forensic investigation platform used by KPMG, PWC, Citigroup and the UK police. The import•io browser was built on the underlying technology from Kusiri, with the goal of democratizing access to data. The service went into public beta in September. import•iois used by the British Red Cross and netbiscuits, among others. Raised a £600,000 round at the end of March 2013.
What it does:Web radio broadcasting platform.
Why it’s hot: Radiojar aims to help web stations and DJs around the world “reach their full potential” by “virtualizing” all the complex hardware and software involved in creating a web radio station and integrating all relevant services into a single web app. The first alpha version came out in 2012 and started with 10 radio stations. Formal launch was in July 2013. Radiojar currently hosts 75 radio stations serving 300,000 listeners per month. Received funding in 2013 from the PJ tech catalyst fund, which invests in seed-stage start-ups in Greece.
What it does:Online personal shopping.
Why it’s hot: Modizy uses collective intelligence algorithms to give women a personalized shopping experience, and to discover clothing and fashion accessories in their own style. It initially raised $275,000 in seed funding; in July is finalized a second round, which included business angels in the European fashion industry. The new funding will enable Modizy to perfect its technical developments, create strong partnerships with brands and media, and release mobile apps by the end of the year. Also offers a white-label service to other fashion websites that would like to use its underlying technologies.
Other Early-Stage Companies Attending Web Summit
What it does: Enterprise relationship management.
Why it’s hot: Datahug’s mission is to automatically unlock the hidden network that exists within every company; it uses communication data coming in and out of the business daily to build a dynamic database of company-wide connections and uses an analytics engine to show who knows whom. In May 2013 it added €2.5 million in Series A financing led by VC DFJ Esprit. But it’s now adding to that pot. And in October, Salesforce joined the round, bringing the total raised to $5.5 million in two rounds. Datahug has three of the Big Six global accounting and advisory firms as customers, as well as multiple global banks and a large number of financial services, investment banking and venture capital firms.
Tel Aviv, Israel
What it does:Web measurement and competitive intelligence.
Why it’s hot:Parent company SimilarGroup helps Internet users find and interpret web content. In January 2013 it launched SimilarWeb, which helps businesses, publishers, marketers and analysts benchmark performance against competitors, increase web traffic, and discover new opportunities to broaden their audiences. SimilarWeb estimates website rankings for over 30 million sites and draws competitive insights from a proprietary panel that measures the clickstream activity of tens of millions of Internet users around the world. In September the company announced an additional $3.5 million in funding, bring the total raised to date to $7 million.
What it does:Enables creation of professional video ads online, in minutes.
Why it’s hot: Calls itself the world’s first fully-automated online ad creation tool. The service offers more than 10 million videos and images (the “largest collection of online video/ images globally”) from partners that include Getty, Fotolia, and Wavebreak. Viddayd focuses on the B2B market, providing a model to license its software to large advertising companies and online directories. Investors include angels from Silicon Valley; the founder of RoviCorp; and Enterprise Ireland. The company is a finalist in the top 30 Hottest start-ups at the Spark of Genius Award in Web Summit.