Informilo’s list of the Top 25 start-ups to meet at LeWeb 2013 includes the sixteen semi-finalists of LeWeb’s annual start-up competition. These companies will pitch in Plenary 2 on December 10th. The jury will choose the winners on December 12th. We then asked some of the most active investors in the sector to nominate and evaluate companies attending LeWeb for the other nine spots.The Top 25 list includes eight companies from France as well as start-ups from Tokyo, Riga, Warsaw, Madrid, Athens, Budapest and Stockholm.
LEWEB 2013 STARTUP COMPETITION SEMI-FINALISTS
What it does:First mobile money remittance service with a cash-to-goods model.
Why it’s hot: Launched in June, Afrimarket cuts out money transfer agents and other middlemen to enable money transfer directly via mobile phones for users in French-speaking countries in West Africa. The Afrimarket platform transfers money from the sender’s Afrimarket digital account in the form of credit (rather than cash), which can only be redeemed at designated points-of-sale, and used for specific purposes, such as buying medicine, paying school fees, etc. Kima Ventures and OCP Finance put $1 million into the company earlier this year.
What it does:Matches local private teachers with students.
Why it’s hot: Apprentus is a social marketplace to list, discover and book unique classes and private teachers around the world. The company helps users find the best private classes nearby and helps teachers earn more money. Launched in October 2012, Apprentus now offers more than 200 classes in five European countries. At LeWeb, Apprentus will introduce “blended learning,” a mix between online content and face-to-face time with Apprentus’s thousands of private teachers to boost student achievement at reduced cost. Winner of Best Business Idea award at Alumni Business Camp in Brussels in October 2013.
What it does:Secure private photo-sharing service for families.
Why it’s hot: KiDDY enables users to store and share photos and private information such as kids’ diaries and personal health records. KiDDY also helps to make memory tangible through the creation of postcards and photo albums. Founded in February 2012, KiDDY was a showcased start-up at Tech Cocktail’s SXSW StartupLife Celebration 2012; participated in the LeWeb’11 Startup Competition; and was a finalist for Asia’s top 50 apps.
Technology Improves the World(Droid Translator)
Prague, Czech Republic
What it does:Simultaneous translator of voice and video calls.
Why it’s hot: Technology Improves the World develops products in the fields of communications, gaming, health and personal safety. Its Droid Translator provides automatic simultaneous translator of voice and video calls for Skype and other VoIP services. The program supports 29 languages, and formally launched in October 2013.
What it does:Creates trust profiles for the sharing economy.
Why it’s hot: Fidbacks enables Internet users to create a single, portable profile from the reputation they acquire (through comments, ratings, etc.) on online peer-to-peer marketplaces such as Airbnb, eBay or BlaBlaCar. Their Fidbacks profile then functions as a portable résumé to leverage their past online good behavior and demonstrate their trustworthiness for future transactions. Fidbacks profiles are now embedded in a number of European sharing websites, enabling them to transact more quickly. Closed its first funding round (€200,000) with French business angels in June 2013.
San Francisco, CA, U.S.
What it does:Marketplace to connect students with freelance work.
Why it’s hot: Flinja calls itself “the Uber for Work.” Flinja (or “freelance ninja”) provides a platform where students can gain skills and build relevant work experience by completing paid projects while in school. Employers have quick, easy access to talent they can test out before hiring. In September Flinja had more than 100,000 students signed up and more than 3,500 employers offering jobs. In the previous six months, Flinja had placed 2,200 jobs, typical job hours went from 10 hours to 20, and job fulfillment time went down from two weeks to two days.
What it does:Builds communities of readers around books.
Why it’s hot: Glose is a reading and social annotation platform for ebooks; readers can share their annotations with other readers. The company wants to make reading on the Web and mobile easier and more interesting.
What it does:Infographic creator.
Why it’s hot: Infogram claims to be the world’s most popular infographic creator. The company provides a simple web app that enables anyone to create interactive infographics and data visualizations in a few minutes. Infogr.am has a global community of 800,000 journalists, bloggers, students and professionals who have created 1.5 million infographics. Infogr.am received funding from HackFwd and went through the Startup Sauna accelerator.
What it does:Interprets and optimizes sleep patterns.
Why it’s hot: Intelclinic claims to help users gain more time in their days by lowering the amount of sleep they need to be refreshed and regenerated. It has created a brainwave-monitoring sleep mask that allows individuals to “sleep less and more efficiently.” The mask uses a combination of sensors and artificial intelligence software on a smartphone app. The company has raised $65,000 from local angels, and hopes to raise $100,000 through crowdfunding to start shipping.
What it does:Mobile magazine publishing tool.
Why it’s hot: Issue Stand helps publishers turn static PDFs into mobile magazine apps with a real “tablet experience.” The company also builds advanced reader analytics to enable publishers to see how users consume their content. Issue Stand also helps publishers optimize their sales. Clients include Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Playboy. Users can pay a one-off fee or take a monthly subscription to Issue Stand’s services.
What it does:Optimizes the media-buying process for mobile display advertising.
Why it’s hot: mediasmart is a mobile ad network whose proprietary optimization platform, bsmart, measures post-click events and creates unique user profiles that it continuously enriches with behavioral information. This information is then used by bsmart´s optimization algorithm to buy traffic in real time from ad exchanges. It offers access to more than two billion impressions per month in Spain. The company has raised €1 million from angels, Kibo Ventures, and KOMM Investment.
What it does:Helping people learn music through emotions.
Why it’s hot: Meludia is an online game that provides a unique way to learn music. The company’s freemium services are based on music theory taught by one of the founders, grounded in emotional cognitive processes, developed and tested over 25 years and 3,000 students. The company raised $130,000 in seed funding in June, on top of €150,000 invested by its founders.
What it does:Typography app that enhances written communications.
Why it’s hot: Notegraphy is a web and mobile application that aims to rethink the way people write and share text online. The company has collaborated with some of the world’s best graphic designers to create exclusive pre-formatted collections, then share automatically to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram. The company was spun out of HerraizSoto&Co, an independent digital shop that has received awards from Cannes Lions Festival, OneShow, Clios, New York Festival, Art Directors Club, Webby Awards, among others. It closed its first round of funding with Kibo Ventures in 2013.
What it does:Anonymous social-network app for exchanging short videos.
Why it’s hot: PeekInToo allows users to virtually experience and witness events happening elsewhere in the world, almost in real time, upon request, anonymously. Users can request real-time “Peeks” (12-second videos), view “Past Peeks” (videos uploaded up to two hours ago), and contribute “PeekShouts” (voluntary Peeks capturing interesting incidents or events) from any desired location in the world using their mobile devices.
What it does:Social media back-up and organizer.
Why it’s hot: SocialSafe is a PC and Mac application that enables users to download their online social lives and unite their social networks. Users can back up their Facebook Timeline, Twitter, Instagram, etc., to create a searchable, digital journal. Users’ data is stored privately in their own local personal data stores, making it fully compliant with the major social networks’ Terms of Service regarding data storage by third parties. Received $1 million in Series B funding in October, bringing the total raised to $1.855 million since it was founded in 2009. The company expects to have 100,000 users by the end of 2013.
What it does:Secure cloud storage.
Why it’s hot: Tresorit is an encrypted cloud storage tool, designed to enable users to share and sync confidential data. The company’s key differentiator is its patented cryptographic security protocols; it bills itself as a more-secure Dropbox. Tresorit raised $1.7 million in funding in 2012 from Euroventures and nine private investors after it was spun out of Hungarian security company CrySys Lab. The company runs regular hacking challenges, offering a $10,000 reward to any hacker that breaks its cryptography. So far, none has.
Informilo’s Early-Stage Picks
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: Mobile product discovery and coupon app.
Why it’s hot: Shopmium helps consumers discover new products, find those products in a store, and then receive a discount coupon if they buy. The company has run more than 150 campaigns for well-known brands such as l’Oréal, Nestlé, Pepsi, and Innocent Drinks, and positions itself as “the mobile enabler for 360-degree marketing plans.” Shopmium claims to have more than 550,000 app users in France. In June it announced $5.6 million in Series B funding from Ventech as well as previous investors Accel Partners & ISAI. The company previously raised $2.1 million from Accel & ISAI.
Informilo’s Late-Stage Picks
New York, NY, U.S.
What it does:Content discovery platform.
Why it’s hot:“Content marketing” — creating and sharing content to engage current and potential consumer bases — is gaining traction. Outbrain is well-positioned for a shift to a greater emphasis on content; it’s installed on more than 100,000 blogs and websites, and serves more than 14 billion page views a month, all pointing to quality content on its network of publishers. American Express, Proctor & Gamble, GE and General Mills use it as part of their marketing strategy to reach target audiences.
Palo Alto, CA, U.S.
What it does:Offers online businesses social infrastructure to integrate social network functionality throughout their web properties.
Why it’s hot:Works with more than 650 enterprises, including 44 of the top 100 websites. Gigya reaches 1.5 billion unique users per month — nearly two-thirds of the global internet population. At yearend 2012 the company nearly tripled its sales growth from 2011 and recorded its largest quarter ever, with 33% quarter-over-quarter growth in Q4. In September Gigya raised a $25 million funding round, bringing the total raised to $70 million in venture funding. Social infrastructure has become a requirement for online businesses; Gigya’s approach of offering everything a site needs to be social puts it in a good position for future growth.
What it does:Social network for professionals.
Why it’s hot: Founded in France in 2004, Viadeo is the world’s second largest professional social network, with a total membership base of over 55 million professionals. Its brands include Viadeo, ApnaCircle (India) and Tianji (China, with 17 million members). In 2012 the company raised €24 million in new financing; investors included a fund set up by the French government to buy strategic stakes in French companies. Viadeo is expanding rapidly in India, Africa and other developing economies. It currently has 400 employees in 11 countries.
Issy les Moulineaux, France
What it does:Designs, develops, and industrializes connected objects.
Why it’s hot: Withings creates smart products and apps to help people across the world easily take care of their health and well-being, starting with its Wi-Fi Body Scale in 2009; it also provides a Smart Blood Pressure Monitor and the Smart Baby Monitor. Withings has opened its platform to the well-being ecosystem, so users can take advantage of 100+ partner apps and services compatible with its products. In July 2013 the company received $30 million investment from Bpifrance, Idinvest Partners, 360 CapitalPartners, and Ventech.
What it does: A trusted community marketplace that connects drivers with empty seats to passengers looking for a ride.
Why it’s hot: BlaBlaCar, which helped pioneer this space, has 5 million members across 10 countries and transports more than 700,000 people every month, creating an entirely new, people-powered transport network. The company claims over 24.3 million seats have been offered since January 2009, and over 1.8 billion miles shared. In 2012 BlaBlaCar raised $10 million from Accel Partners and existing investors ISAI and Cabiedes & Partners, bringing total funding to €12.5 million. Its business is proving far more successful than those of copycats in the U.S.
What it does: Streaming music service with social media interactivity and mobile apps.
Why it’s hot: Allows users to stream more than 20 million songs from the big music players and smaller independent labels using either a free, ad-supported service or a premium ad-free service. Has more than 24 million active subscribers, of which six million pay. Spotify is now available in 28 countries; one billion playlists have been created so far. In late November Spotify secured a $250 million investment round led by Technology Crossover Ventures which valued the company at more than $4 billion. Last year it lost over $77 million.
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 15 other cities – with passengers via the two main smartphone platforms, iOS and Android, is set to become a must-have for denizens of those cities. Hailo has carried eight and a half million passengers and grown to annualized sales of well over $100 million. The company has raised a total of $50+ million in funding; its last round valued the company at $140 million. The business is solidly backed for further development as it moves to take on Uber in the U.S.