Europe, Middle East and Africa startup blog

SEEMEA.com will start again on 01/12/2016

SEEMEA regionHi everyone, sorry for being silent for a too long time. We were busy with some other things but now decided to get back to SEEMEA project and make it even better that it was. SEEMEA will continue to cover business and technology news from the region of Southern and Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa (SEEMEA). We want to be the central hub for all people interested to do business in this, most likely one of the most exciting regions in the world. We are always open to get in touch with people who wants advice, who want to give us advice, with whom we can do some great things together…Also, if you want to write for SEEEMA or you have a company and want to make sure we don’t miss your important news, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to cover all interesting companies.

We suggest that you like our FB page on www.facebook.com/seemeadotcom and to follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/seemeadotcom in order not to miss new posts and all the relevent news from the SEEMEA region.

To your success in SEEMEA!

Taxi booking app in Europe

Taxify expands to Serbia

Taxify, the leading taxi booking application in Northern and Eastern Europe is launching in Belgrade. Taxify is an Estonian based fast-growing mobile app, which allows to book a licensed taxi at the push of a button. Since late 2013 Taxify has grown to 10 countries around the world and attracted funding from multiple international investors (AdCash, RubyLight, TMT Investment, Pipedrive etc).

Taxi appThe new app helps people avoid long waiting times and “pirate” taxis by connecting passengers directly to verified drivers in their area. After confirming your order you can see the taxi moving on the map and you will receive a notification on its arrival. At the end of the trip you can give feedback about the driver to improve the quality of taxis available in the app.

In Serbia service is launching with 100 licenced taxi drivers and according to Dejan Bizinger, the Country Manager of Taxify in Serbia, it is looking to double the coverage in September. Dejan Bizinger comments:

“Considering the size of the market and the smartphone penetration, we see huge growth potential and demand from customers’ side. Moreover, we see that Belgrade has the same problems in the taxi market as we have seen in the Baltics – the quality of cars is unpredictable and there are a lot of inefficiencies which cause long queues on peak hours. By enforcing strict quality standards to our drivers, we are able to tackle these inefficiencies and provide best quality service to Belgrade taxi customers.”

Taxify Beograd

For drivers and taxi companies, Taxify is a great way to find new customers at a very low price. It is not just additional marketing platform, but also fully featured dispatcher software which will bring taxi services to a different and better level. Taxify also aims to help traditional taxi companies and taxi drivers fight the growing threat on their business from independent driver service offered by Uber and the like.

Besides Serbia, Taxify currently operates in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Georgia, Mexico, the Netherlands and has recently launched the service in Czech Republic.

Taxify was recently nominated for The Best Smartphone App 2015 in the contest organized by Mobile Summit Estonia.

Available for Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices, Taxify is free to download from Google Play, AppStore or Windows Phone Store.

DISCLAIMER: Dejan Bizinger, CM of Taxify is also part of the SEEMEA team.

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Google will open a start-up campus in Warsaw

Warsaw Google campus will be designed for developers of technology start-ups. It is scheduled at the end of this year. The Campus is a perfect place for work and meetings for entrepreneurs. Headquarters will be located in the old factory of vodka. The history of the factory is very interesting, a lot of red brick buildings survived the World War II and were built in the nineteenth century. The future Campus is as equally interesting. Construction crews will work on renovation of the complex, including residential buildings, shops and offices.

Launching the Google Campus in Warsaw is one of the Google activities as part of the program to support innovation and entrepreneurship in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. Last year, Google started in Krakow the program “Google for Entrepreneurs” and also teamed up with the University of Warsaw, giving the university one million US dollars grant to launch the Digital Economy Lab (DELab) – an interdisciplinary centre, which is intended to support conductions of new technologies in society and the economy. Google hopes that the Warsaw Campus will help in the development of technology businesses, strengthen the ecosystem of start-ups and encourage innovation development in Poland.

Google has been present in Poland since 2006. It currently has three offices, employing nearly 500 people. The Warsaw office employs staff primarily engaged in sales of services, marketing and communications, as well as engineering research and development centre. The office in Wroclaw is one of the largest offices for customer service support in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Krakow office employs nearly 200 engineers, who are complicit in the global technology projects.

Similar campuses Google has already opened in London, Tel Aviv and Seoul. Till the end of the current year, there will also be launched start-up campuses in Madrid and Sao Paulo.

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Google search algorithm update

Tomorrow on Tuesday, April 21, once again there will be updated the Google search algorithm. This time changes relate to how to display on mobile devices and the quality of search results on mobile devices. According to Zineb Ait Bahaji, a member of the Google Webmaster Trends team, changes that will come into force on 21.04 will be more significant for the results than the previous updates of the most popular browser – Panda and Penguin.

Mobile-friendly update refers only to search results on mobile devices. The change is intended to eliminate presented in the search engine results pages unsuitable for display on the used devices. Google will most likely not eliminate completely the websites unadjusted for viewing on mobile devices. Google tends to indicate the most important sites in terms of a searcher, yet the position of the websites built in accordance with the Google recommendations can get improved. Lack of a mobile version should not affect in any way the search results on desktops and laptops.

To check whether a website is ready for an update algorithm, you need to perform a test on the website:
google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly by entering the website’s address which should be audited. If a test result indicates that the website does not comply with Google, the following steps should be implemented in order to temporarily adjust the site to the new standards:

a) Allowing access of Google’s robots to CSS, JS and graphics in the robots.txt file;
b) Declining outdated technologies, such as Adobe Flash;
c) Avoiding small fonts, small buttons, illegible components;

It is recommended to build websites in the RWD technology (Responsive Web Design), enabling serving the same source code for all the equipment and adequate rendering of the layout in order to adjust it to the size of the display.

BlaBlaCar

BlaBlaCar acquired Autohop ridesharing platform

The world’s biggest ridesharing platform  BlaBlaCar has announced they acquired a Hungarian startup Autohop and, therefore, now they are present also in Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Croatia.

BlaBlaCar is present in 16 countries according to their main page country selection and based on Crunchbase data so far raised 110m usd in 2 rounds, from some of the the world A-list investors like Index Ventures, Accel Partners among others.

BlaBlaCar is headquarted in Paris and in July 2014 got the biggest investment that one French startup ever got – 100m usd. It enabled to fast open new markets or to acquire existing market leaders.

Markets like above mentioned are great because GDP is significant lower than the average EU GDP but the transportation costs are pretty much the same so we can expect further growing a ridesharing community. However, question is how much they will be able to monetize platform in those markets comparing to some wealthier markets.

We will see if some new ridesharing platforms will evolve in this market but anyway, having the biggest player in this industry present in this market can most likely mean only better conditions to travelers as community will grow more and big and safe environment is the most important factors in ridesharing platform.