All posts by Anna Ch

The biggest tech conference in CEE region

Already for the 11th time representatives of startups will be able to participate in the infoShare conference – the largest event for technology industry in Central and Eastern Europe. The event will take place on 17-19 of May in Gdansk, Poland. It will be accompanied by a Startup Contest, one of the biggest startup competitions in the CEE region. It is organized by the infoShare Foundation and Gdansk Business Incubator Starter. The winner will receive EUR 20 000 and will have a chance to win EUR 1 million. Startup struggles will be observed by over 5000 potential customers and business partners. More than 100 VCs and angel investors will attend along with speakers from companies like Google, Netflix, and Slack, and investment firms such as Inventure and Karma VC.

Last year there participated 200 startups from 13 countries. The international jury awarded the first place to Nexbio company, which is working on new methods for detection of crop diseases.

infoShare is an opportunity for young companies to raise funds too. Last year Saas Manager, creator of a platform for developers, won support in the amount of EUR 250 000. Many business representatives got interested in SaaS Manager before the announcement of the competition’s results. By the last day of the conference the company established contacts with companies such as Amazon, Intel, OVH or Startupbootcamp. And most importantly, the company started cooperation with FerberVC fund.

In this year’s competition there will also be provided additional prizes. Two of the best companies, in which there is at least one person from Poland, will receive so called wild cards to participate in the Pitch event in London. They enable innovators to present their offers to the investors in the UK. Microsoft will provide access to data processing in the cloud with a value of up to $ 120 000.

Romania has potential to become tech startup hub

Although Romania is one of the poorest countries in the EU, it has good chances to become the new continental hub for technology startups. Thanks to its unique culture, history, educational system and telecommunications infrastructure, the country has created a generation of entrepreneurs in technology industry who hope that Bucharest will become the new European startup capital.

Romania has been a member of the EU since 2007 and is now the second fastest growing economy in Europe. Well educated in the field of new technology talent base, low wages and operating costs make it an attractive location for international companies planning to use outsourcing. However, Romania also stresses its own technological startups, especially those whose development seems to be relatively cheap. The niche has been growing rapidly for 5 years and currently concentrates already about 170 startups. One of these startups is the company Accelerole, which is a branch of the global co-working platform TechHub. Romanian company gathers already about 100 technological freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Paradoxically, the technological boom has occurred thanks to some communist heritage. The previous system left a strong telecommunications network and the educational system largely focused on new technologies. The major advantage of Romania are also creative people, who are accustomed to working in difficult and demanding conditions. Another important factor that drives the technology boom in the country is high-speed Internet. Bandwidth of best Internet links make Romania the EU leader and the country has the 6th fastest network in the world. For comparison – the US occupies this ranking only on the 17th position. Such strong position of Romania in this field stems from the fact that it disregarded the stage of development of broadband networks and immediately set (like other countries of the Eastern bloc) fiber links. With rapid development of Internet network, Romanian users have had an advantage over their European peers. It is worth recalling that they attended education system which traditionally puts the emphasis on science. This culture of technology extends to women as well. Perhaps the biggest advantage over other EU countries is that Romania has a large percentage of women working in the sector of information and communication technologies. In this category, the country occupies the 3rd place in Europe.

The main obstacle holding the industry back is access to investment capital. However, to stimulate sustained growth, Romania needs more than foreign investment. It needs an internal marketing team. There are still many problems for Bucharest to overcome, yet there is a lot of potential here.

An electronic stethoscope for parents

StethoMe™ is the world’s first electronic, wireless stethoscope that cooperates with a smartphone and has a built-in thermometer and an intelligent analysis system of sounds. The project could arise thanks to cooperation of a group of scientists, physicians, acousticians, computer scientists, designers and business people. The project is very ambitious, because the device is not just another gadget, but a specialized medical device. Thanks to it parents can auscultate baby’s lungs by themselves and then send the recorded sounds to a trusted doctor.

In the future StethoMe™ will be integrated with artificial intelligence algorithms, so that the device itself will be able to assess whether the sounds in the lungs mean only cold sickness or a more serious disease. For now, however, the startup only has a fully functional prototype of the device and is preparing for its production. Later this year the company intends to gain CE certificate (Conformité Européenne) and, in the first quarter of 2018, to debut on the market. There are already talks with potential partners from Germany and the Netherlands. The startup hopes that the project development and market entry will accelerate thanks to participation in the accelerator program organized by HighTech XL and Philips in Eindhoven. The company is now focusing on attracting investors who will support production process, as well as cooperation with telemedical companies and acquiring a strategic partner to be able to sell the device to customers. The product will be offered in a subscription model in addition to medical care package and should get to patients’ hands directly. Eventually the device will be sold in pharmacies or electronics stores. The buyer will be able to choose one of many telemedical partners and decide whether to pay a one-time larger amount, or use the subscription option.The project has been invested by: SpeedUp Group and the company Programa.pl, through which the company has been conducting it vision since January 2016. Since January 2017 the project has been co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The startup has scored a number of achievements:

  • Polish Intelligent Development Award, nomination, 2017
  • Bringing tech&science closer to people, finalists, 2017
  • Philips Innovation Challenge – Champion Award, 2016
  • MIT Enterprise Forum Acceleration Program – Certificate, 2016
  • Nokia Innovation Challenge – semi-finalists, 2016

Google Launchpad Accelerator expands to Europe and Africa

If you are trying to develop innovative business in the field of IT and telecommunications, your corporate sponsor can now be Google itself. Launched in 2015 Launchpad Accelerator, initially addressed to the countries of Asia and Latin America, is opening up to new territories to include startups from Certain European and African countries. Now, entrepreneurs from these regions can join the 47 graduates and 31 currently participating startups.

There are very few companies that could match the reach and resources of Google, and now these resources can be made available for free to all those who want, through science, to solve real problems of their city, region or country. The program is organized by a global team of Google Developers for startups with a proven history of success in the marketplace, who want to reach the next million users.

The program begins with a two-week training in San Francisco, whose main feature are mentoring sessions with engineers and product managers from 20 Google teams and an international team of external mentors. Participants will receive financial support of $ 50.000, free access to paid Google services and help of local Google teams for six months.

For the new training cycle now there can sign up startups from Central and Eastern Europe – Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Africa – Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Of course, Google does not guarantee that it will accept all. On the contrary, the competition may be intense. In the program there also participate startups from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Applications will be accepted until April 24. Training will begin on 17 July. More information can be found on the Launchpad Accelerator website.

Booksy raised $4.2M

Polish application for booking visits, for example hairdressers and beauty salons, has closed another round of financing. This time Booksy received more than $ 4 million. It will be allocated in further development of several functions, such as allowing in-app payments, enabling larger merchants to handle personnel through the software, and development of better reporting systems.

Many of the beauty service providers do not have time to pick up calls and make appointments after their work hours. Customers, on the other hand, want to book a visit twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Booksy helps both clients and owners of premises in solving this problem. Customers – because they have access to the platform at any time, and entrepreneurs – because it happens without them, so that they can do other things at that time. Adoption of the app has been shown to improve customer loyalty and frequency of bookings. It is partly because by using Booksy, businesses are able to accept bookings outside of working hours for the first time. In addition to scheduling, Booksy helps entrepreneurs with several other features meant to support and boost their processes, such as a CRM, marketing automation, inventory management, point-of-sales, reports, management of commission for employees, and (soon) in-app payments.

In contrast to its competitors, Booksy does not act as a marketplace or even does not charge for reservations. It operates in a SaaS model with a monthly subscription. The application has competitors in every market, for example: Treatwell from the UK, LadyTime from Poland, StyleSeat from the U.S., Vaniday from Brazil. Each of them acts as a marketplace and charges for reservations. Entrepreneurs are not content with that.

This round of financing led the Open Ocean fund with participation of the Australian company and investor Investible, as well as Polish Nomad Fund, Kai Hansen (ex-Lieferando), Apostolos Apostolakis, as well as the head of the Google Campus in Warsaw – Rafal Plutecki. In 2015 Booksy already received EUR 700 thousand, which was invested in the project. Among others, the investor was Inovo vc fund.