Category Archives: Misc

French startups to look out for

For several years France has been trying to become one of the most important startup basins in the world. The country offers Europe’s largest tax discount for research and development. There are 71 innovative clusters combining universities, private enterprises and research centers.

France already has several success stories. Among the most spectacular ones are BlaBlaCar, a service linking drivers having free seats in their vehicles with people looking for transportation, streaming service Deezer or manufacturer of thermostats Nest, bought by Google for an impressive sum of $3.2 billion. The below list presents these small French companies which are still not well known but deserve special attention for their innovation:

Happn – An application which uses current location of your phone to find and show you persons with whom your paths have crossed and potentially liked us. Of course, to be in the timeline presenting the people we passed, both persons have to use Happn. This is to be the solution for situations when our attention is drawn to the person sitting opposite us on the bus, but before we get the courage to speak to her, she gets off. Or when we liked someone we passed on the street. The idea appealed to the investors – in December 2014 the company managed to raise $8 million in the first round of financing.

Cookening – An American Airbnb-like platform which connects residents of a given city with tourists who would like to taste real local food. These “host” users create their own profiles on the site, where they publish photos of meals they have prepared to encourage potential visitors. Importantly, Cookening offers not only unique culinary experiences but also the possibility to engage in social interaction.

StarOfService – The platform connects local service providers with customers and allows them to adapt to their needs – price range, location or preferred time. After submitting an inquiry, the customer gets an email and he chooses which offer he wants to use. The service is available to users looking for local services tailored to their specific needs – from wedding photographers, plumbers, language teachers, DJs, to Pokemon Go trainers to hire. Last year, the startup raised $10 million from investors for further development.

Mention – The image of our company is built, among others, by the type of relationships we have with our clients. The faster we are able to react to consumer feedback, the better. The tool created by Mention startup not only informs users in real time about their company being mentioned on the internet, but also allows an immediate response to an article or post in social media. This ultra-fast media monitoring is already used by companies such as: Microsoft, Spotify and GitHub.

Russia may slow down internet to punish foreign Internet giants

Many foreign Internet firms avoid decisions of Russian courts and state bodies, bringing up the fact that they work under the laws of the countries in which they are registered. Russia came up with how to terminate this problem. Internet firms found guilty of breaking Russian law could soon see the speeds at which their websites load cut by the Russian authorities.

The idea was arose during discussion of the FAS case against Google. In February 2015, the FAS started an investigation against Google for the complaint from Yandex, which accused Google of performing anti-competitive practices. Russia acknowledged Google guilty of violating the law. Google was fined $7.4 million.

The new restrictions would target corporations which are able to avoid judgments from Russian courts because they are formally registered abroad. The initiative of the new law is in the final stages of approval and is being tested in the presidential administration.

But while mobile operators already have equipment in place to slow Internet speeds, other companies do not. Technically, it is much more complicated to realize than banning, especially for fixed-line operators who have a huge decentralized network. Mobile operators are easier to do this because they already have deep-packet inspection systems: they let consumers to access a part of the site by blocking or slowing down access to others. In case of companies, who don’t have such systems, its installation will need investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars. These complex and costly efforts would go to waste because users could use tools for avoiding such limitations. Operators are not enthusiastic about the initiative. They report negative impact of introduction of such legislative restrictions: subscribers would blame the crporations for slowing down access to Youtube or Facebook.

Enterprise EMEA conference in London

Enterprise EMEA 2017 will take place on May 23 in London. It is hosted by Widebridge Group, a boutique investment bank focused on M&A and capital raising for technology companies. Among the speakers and attendees there will be representatives from companies like: Microsoft, Gemalto, and SAP as well as investors from firms such as Atomico, Lakestar, Index Ventures, Dawn Capital, KKR, and Blackstone.

Enterprise EMEA is an invite-only conference focused on enterprise software. It is meant for leaders in enterprise technology to connect, show their ideas and talk about industry trends. Attendees include the top EMEA region enterprise technology firms from growth to later stage, decision makers of top EMEA enterprises, top VC and private equity investors, and M&A managers of the world’s biggest technology firms.

According to the organizers, there is a lack of enterprise software events which enclose the whole enterprise. Therefore the event will be focused on enterprise technology – for startups, investors, and the ultimate buyers of these companies to all meet to raise more investments, more knowledge exchange and more contracts.

Many firms which participated in the conference last year have raised large rounds of funding or exited with big acquisitions over the last 12 months, such as London’s Weaveworks, which raised $15 million last May from Google Ventures and Accel, or PNMsoft, which was acquired by Genpact.

Piwik Pro from Poland raises $2M

Polish product Piwik Pro has recently raised capital from the Warsaw Equity Group to promote a new marketing technology suite which will offer data-sensitive companies with 100% control of their data and compliance with privacy regulations.

Piwik PRO offers solutions in the field of web analytics based on Piwik – leading analytics platform of open-source type that c
an be downloaded and used for free. Unlike other solutions such as Google Analytics, Piwik provides its users complete control over their data and meets requirements of the strictest regulations on privacy protection in the Internet. For this reason, the project gains popularity in Germany and other countries where such regulations are strictly enforced. Piwik is used by 1.3% of all websites in the world and has been fully translated into more than 50 languages. The list of previous clients includes among others: HP, the European Commission, government agencies in Canada and New Zealand, international financial institutions, Accenture, Government of Netherlands.

Piwik PRO is the answer to demand for services for businesses and government institutions related to Piwik platform to analyze data on open-source license. The fundamental services are Piwik Cloud and Piwik Enterprise, which provide first-class services in hosting and consulting. Piwik Cloud is cloud hosting for those customers who want to retain full control over data brought by Piwik, while utilizing the possibility of keeping these data on secure servers of Piwik PRO. Piwik Enterprise is a service for users of Piwik, providing consultancy, support and adaptation of software to the needs of users who store data on their own servers.

This is one of the largest investments in the region to date. Funding is hard in Central Europe and it points to a way forward for tech-savvy and privacy-leaning startups in Poland and all Middle Europe.

Africa Ride will compete with Uber in South Africa

Uber may be prevailing in almost each country in the world, but it currently faces some big problems occurring worldwide with drivers feeling consistently short changed by the company.

Africa Ride is available on iOS and Android platforms and enables users to order private drivers, while proceeding the process of that driver in-app. In terms of operation it is very similar to Uber and its online finding drivers via an app. The crucial difference lies in real driver involvement in the business. Africa Ride empowers each and every driver by giving them ownership of a percentage stake in the business unlike the transportation giant.

Africa Ride app offers corporate accounts with weekly and monthly payment terms with the option to pay by wallet, and passengers can choose drivers according to the area they are in. It also offers personal customer care services disrupting the standard of speaking to an app that promotes trust between the firm and its clients.

Africa Ride operates in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Rustenburg. It is going to spread in the next few months to markets which have never used this type of service before.

Local firms fighting back and succeeding is not something we see often. International powerhouse brands permanently spread into African territories, conquering the market and truly putting solid stress on local companies. Africa Ride is looking for funding to hit new markets, but already has over 500 drivers in its system.