European Freelancers

Meeting missions and skills

Explanations are gonna be quick : Twago is a market place for freelancers or agencies on one side, and clients on the other side.

If you’re looking for a designer, a developper, a translator or an AdWords expert, there is a pretty good chance you can find it on Twago.

As a freelancer or an agency, whether located next door or on the other side of the world, you can bid on a project and create a profile describing your skills, your portfolio and past projects, etc.

Twago home page

To sum up, Twago offers everything you can expect from that kind of platform, with a freemium model that let you test the efficiency of the service.

Why talking about it?: there is a lot of competition on this market, but Twago is the first platform to really reach for a european scale, and considers the whole Europe as its native market.
This is not that common, so this is a fact United Startups of Europe could obviously not miss!

Visit Twago

You can use Twago as a neutral third-party for your payments. It’s a simple way to get sure the project comes to an end at some point for clients, and a good assurance to be paid in time for providers.

The site confuses “pure” freelancers and small agencies from eastern Europe or India (for example), even if both can be useful, depending on your project.

Around the Corner

Bookmark and share places around you

Location bookmarking app Grafetee

The problem: where is that super-nice sushi place again? Don’t we have an art exhibit tomorrow night? That kind of questions comes back a lot. But finding the answer can be long and painful.

The solution: bookmarking real places – not websites – in a mobile app: Grafetee. Once you found back that restaurant, or the adress of this party, you can easily share it with your circle of friends.
Business managers can also offer discounts, or a full map of their stores.

What’s the catch?: why not use Foursquare, Yelp or TripAdvisor instead? Grafetee is a much more private-oriented app, closer to a personal adress book and you can share your good spots in a spread-the-word kind of way.

Visit Grafetee

The aggregation of multiple services (Foursquare and Yelp by default, but you can add more) makes the app more complete.
No need to switch back and forth between apps, you can find it all in one.

The user interface is still very geeky.
Not very attractive nor easy to understand, it makes first steps with the app quite difficult ones.

U.S.E.’s take on it

The local apps market competition is fierce. There is an interesting choice here, even if execution is not up to the stakes yet.

While it can be pretty useful to keep the address of rarely attended spots, it will not work for your favorite bars or restaurants. Which will dramatically reduce tips or popularity measures of those spots.

Still, sharing the good spots with friends can be nice: it’s a good way to promote local shops or dinners, as the business model seems to be mainly based on B2B. And it might be the best way for Grafetee to grow their user base on a market very hard to enter in.

Out final take :

  • No way this will work
  • Not betting on it, but the start is interesting
  • Need a bit fixing, but the path is clearly good
  • Where do we sign to invest ?

Our grade : 6/12

Start In Paris #19 – Pitches!

After FailCon in Paris this afternoon, we can go on and assist to Start in Paris.

Start in Paris is a monthly event, where startups can pitch their product to an audience of other startuppers, investors, medias, etc. It’s the 19th edition, so kudos to Laurent and Jonathan, who started it two years ago! Startups are selected to pitch by a public vote, and a vote by SMS at the end of the pitches defines a winner (it’s only an honorary title, but still).

We’ll hear 5 startups pitch tonight.

  • Beelink: an app to maintain your phone book up to date
  • FriendCode: a set of tools for developers, to improve collaboration and simplicity
  • Work Bandits: an engine to implement gamification mechanics into digital apps
  • Now app: an app to know what’s happening in your city right now, based on people publishing pictures
  • effiDriver: an app that promotes eco-driving and reward responsible drivers

We’re gonna here the pitches, complete this post along the way, and give our own opinion at the end, just before the beers.

Effidriver

This is a mobile app that helps you reduce your CO2 consumption and improve your security when you drive. They were selected at LeWeb last year and will launch their new app at the next “Mondial de l’Auto” in Paris. This is basically an energy-tracking app. What is at stake? Reduce Pollution, Control Cost, and Improve Safety.

How does it work? You register your car and its characteristics, and then the app register the way you drive, and rewards you with coupons when you drive “smoothly”.

The presentation is nice, but too much bullshit in my view. It’s hard too understand how it works and what it is for. It’s based only on the GPS, so efficiency and precision are questionnable. Probably works best on highways and long distance trips. Probably a nice technology in the end, but not sure there is a real business potential here.

Now

(disclaimer : Ben, the founder, is a very good friend of mine. Therefore I will not give any opinion).

This is a app to know what’s cool right now, when you arrive in a city where you have nothing to do tonight. It’s all based on pictures published on Instagram. They now have 20 000 users, New York being the most active city.

Work Bandits

They sell a software that implements gamification mechanics into any digital activity. We all know that game mechanics are super efficient to improve engagement, they want to use into other universes.

It’s clearly a B2B model. May be profitable, but I have no idea how hard it would be for developers to do it themselves. What is the real technology behind it? Are they “on demand developers”, with a specific expertise? Consultants? I think there is a kind of API that apps use to update their gamification. Not really clear on that point.

In fact, they manage the “rules” of the game, and update the player points and rewards, but that’s it. Do you really need a third-party solution for that? Communication and digital agency are already customers, for their clients or intranets.

Friend Code

Two developers on stage! Developers use complicated, platform-dependant and old tools. They both had problems while working on a former project, and want to solve the collaboration problems they had during this project.

It all ends into FriendCode, an HTML5 platform also available on mobile, where you can edit code and collaborate on it in real-time, with also a social dimension. It also unifies and centralizes common developer tools, like GitHub and StackOverflow on the same UI.

It’s made by developers, for developers. Hard to tell how useful it can be, or if other tools can do about the same thing. They are still in private beta, but the open one should open soon.

Beelink

It’s an app to complete and update your phone book. Statistically, one new contact is wrong (adress, phone number, email) each week, and you have to do it manually.

Not sure if it’s a different phone book, or if it’s integrated with your default phone book (iOS or Android). You need to download a new app to have a phone book? It looks like it’s all in this app : your book, your invitation, and updates (only people using Beelink will automatically update your own phone book).

If you need a new app, and you need everyone to use it to have updated information, I would not bet much on their success…

And the winner is… Beelink!

Startup Pirates Bratislava – Final jury live blogging


This is our first try of live blogging an event. So we’ll see how it goes.

14h – For now, the scene is in place. The event should start soon.

Here are a few pictures I took yesterday of the great space the event is happening in. And an other one of the speech of Pedro Janela.

14h15 : The full jury is almost in place.

The candidates look ready to pitch, but a little stressed…

14h17 : The audience is gathering.

14h45 : we are about to start!

The rule is 8mn of pitch, then 8 minutes for questions (I think we gonna overshoot that).

14h50 : time for a small introductory speech, and pep talk for the pitchers. The spirit : be brave, be crazy, be a Pirate!

A few figures about the event. No chairs and no tables at the beginning. 76 bottles of rum are still to drink!

Andrea is telling the story of all this happened. Great connections between Portugal and Slovakia actually. 16 participants came in, and formed 5 teams, then developed a full vision and transformed it into the beginning of a business plan.

15h: introduction and presentation of the jury. That’s us!

Then the main sponsors, like Venvivis, an early-stage investor based in Bratislava.

First team : I teach, I learn, I work.

It’s a website platform to bring all these 3 communities – teaching, learning and working – together. For companies to find the rightly skilled project member, and students to learn from great teachers.

The presentation is very well sketched, the presenter a little bit stressed though. He manages to answer well.

Second team : Touch 2 Go !

They even have a Prezi presentation, great ! They’re looking for solutions to get cabs to the 2000 people that don’t every week. Great story about how the idea came to them, and great speaker.

Third : Snabb

They are trying to solve the “email problem”. That’s ambitious but ambition is great.

Great presentation and figures about the problem. Transforming email into text-messages-like interface, with statistics and challenges to improve your productivity.

Jury is tough on questions, but that’s the game… The team is fun and resistant, though.

Next : eWents.pro

Little joke at the beginning, not bad. It’s all about an event organizer tool : before, during, and after the event.

Great presentation, with a demo, and actual customers!

Last one : boARd

Stands for global standard for AR games.

Very impressive demo of an augmented reality technology, in fact. Selling games or technology, that’s the question!

16h20 That’s it for the pitches, time to deliberate!

Well, the winners are eWents.pro, boARd, and Time 2 Go (more or less in that order). Congratulations to all the team! More lengthy story about the event later!

Summer replay #2

Before going back to a full-throttle publishing pace, let’s continue with looking back at some of the best startups we featured in the past few months. It was the beginning of U.S.E., so maybe you missed some of those…

 Cafe Babel
One of the few european media, created by its own citizen. They are a few years old now, but they deserve some cheers and support. Read more.

 Hojoki
Get a feed of all your cloud apps, and follow what’s happening. Read more.
Since featured in U.S.E. #2, they added a bunch of new services, launched a mobile app, and finished #2 at Le Web London!

 Sharypic
Create a space for a public or private event, and collect pictures taken by anyone attending. Read more.
They now have a mobile app, and are implementing a solid business model.

 Zeebox
This is the raising star of Social TV apps. Read more.
They have since launched in the US and in Australia, with the support of Sky, but no sign of presence on the continent…

Summer replay #1

European summer

After a few months of publishing, it looked like a good idea to look back at startups we featured, and that you may have missed along the way.

 Archify
Record all your browsing history, and find quicker what you looked at just yesterday. Read more
Since featured in February, they raised capital in May, and moved from Vienna to Berlin!

 Checkthis
Between nothing and a blog, sounds like a great idea. Read more
They raised capital too, and look like they’re on a great path!

 Roozz
Rent your code, and make it work in a web browser with a wonderful plugin. Read more

 Mobbles
It’s a new mobile game, working with your position, and some funny looking creatures you have to take care of. Read more

 Conceptboard
A great collaborative tool, to work on designs, mock-ups, and documents. Available on iPad. Read more

Get One Free

Collect local shops points on your phone

The problem: how often do you get a stamp on a piece of card a day? One for the morning coffee, one for the lunch snack, maybe one for the dry cleaning or the sushi shop in the evening… But how often do you miss the card? And pay your coffee without any reward, as small as it can be?

10Stamps app screenshotThe solution: a phone app collecting all your local shops cards.
You pick the right one, you flash the QR Code your barista is presenting you, and you’ve got one more stamp.
What you get when you reach 10 stamps remains up to the shop though…

Why talking about it?: ultra local apps are a growing trend, and the check-in/local deals apps are probably not the only relevant approach.
Local shops want to be up-to-date (at least some of them), and consumers are crying for it.
Getting shops to sign up is of course the big challenge, as they have to be won one by one. But the need for such a simple and neat app is clearly there.

Visit 10 Stamps

Using QR Codes to get a stamp, renew your card, or collect your bonus, is a great way to keep the shop manager in control of what happens.
No need for a complicated (and/or expensive) device, it’s almost as simple as real stamps cards, and can provide much more data on its consumer habits.

The possibility for shop owners to implement the system seems a bit tricky.We know that a local sales force is obviously required to grow the users base, but a clean process to try it on your own is probably missing.
Geeky and curious managers should feel free to create an account and start testing it, it would grow the users base more quickly.

U.S.E.’s take on it

A great mix, a click-and-mortar based app. It’s a great factor of success if the users base grows quickly.

The cost and time required to expand the number of partner shop is of course a limitant factor, but look how Groupon did it! Still, the business model for 10Stamps is still unclear, and in a low-margin, low-investment industry, it could blurry their potential future.

Out final take :

  • No way this will work
  • Not betting on it, but the start is interesting
  • Need a bit fixing, but the path is clearly good
  • Where do we sign to invest ?

Our grade : 9/12

Your Own Edition

Create digital journals with Living Junction

The problem: too much news. Not enough time. Some people do, and share it via Twitter, Facebook, etc. But it’s nowhere near the pleasure to read a magazine or a book, even on an iPad. And going through your entire Twitter timeline is painful.

The solution: a simple newspaper creation tool for anyone to build its own magazine, and share it with its followers. Aggregate content from social networks or create your own, add pictures and a bit of editing, and you’ve got a great magazine you can distribute to anyone accepting to read it (the traffic is not included…).

Who is this for?: hard to tell yet! But curating news is a big trend, and doing it in a more regular and pleasant way than a twitter feed or a Pinterest account, with also more different possibilities, should attract users. Amateurs and pros.

Visit Living Junction

Integrating medias, such as YouTube videos or your own FB pictures is really easy, Tumblr way.
It makes the creation of graphic and well designed pages much more simple!

There is too much you can do. No need to have all the possibilities a real editor offers : the font, the color, the size, for each element of the magazine…
Creating a magazine takes time, and we’d love to see templates and pre-designed pages to do it a lot faster. Sometimes, constraints are good, they enable creativity!

U.S.E.’s take on it

Self edition, or curation, are growing markets, and completely automated technologies like Flipboard or Paper.li are not fullfilling all the needs.

Individuals and pros might very well need for a tool mixing social curation and self edition. And Living Junction may be one of them, especially if they improve the possibility to integrate contents and links from social networks, maybe in a semi-automatic way. Like selecting a few links from your timeline, and sharing them in your LJ magazine.

Out final take :

  • No way this will work
  • Not betting on it, but the start is interesting
  • Need a bit fixing, but the path is clearly good
  • Where do we sign to invest ?

Our grade

7/12

First published in the newsletter #24, on July, the 12th, 2012

Click on a Magazine

Transform every printed ad into a digital one

The problem: the only way for old-fashioned printed ads to attract customers to a web site is to give a URL or an ugly and not-working QR Code.
Not such a problem for big luxury brands, but a big one for new services or online merchants. And magazines would love to get these advertisers to buy ads in their magazine.

The solution: a simple ads-recognition technology, that let people “click” on a printed ad with their smartphone. Like a Shazam for ads. It drives traffic to the site, and can give information about the potential customers and readers.

What is their market: brands are probably eager for a tool driving more traffic to their site. Especially big brands, that can catch the attention of a potential customer, then show their whole product line in a controlled environnement on their own site. Having the technology to do this is a way to enter the probably big market of “printed ads going online”.

Visit Adzuki Mobile

Helping print editors to drive traffic to websites is a great idea for them to take a bigger part of the digital ad market.
And the more simple and obvious the solution is, the more it will be efficient.

From what I understand, you need to download the Adzuki to “click” on your printed ad.
Meaning the newspaper or the brand has to explain how it works.
Meaning your readers must download the app, then use it on an ad.
Meaning no one will use it more than once, for fun (at best).

U.S.E.’s take on it

The first idea is good: driving online traffic from offline contents. But it looks like it’s too late and not effective enough to have a chance to be successful.

As the New York Times announced they have now more subscribers online than offline, proposing a technology to make ads in digital editions more interactive (and note just a copy of a printed ad) would probably have more potential.

Finally, the business is not easily scalable, which is another constraint to its further development.


  • No way this will work
  • Not betting on it, but the start is interesting
  • Need a bit fixing, but the path is clearly good
  • Where do we sign to invest ?

Our grade

3/12

Enlarge your Body

Track your training with Sportlyzer

The situation: Summer is here, and you want to look good on the beach. Or you just would like to feel better and work out a little more. But you don’t know how much, when, and you easily lose track of what you’ve already done last week.

The solution: Sportlyzer is a web app that lets you register your sport sessions, and gives you a plan of what you should do, depending of your own goal.
Every sport can be included, and after each jogging or football match, you just have to log the duration and hardness of it, to track your progresses.

Their unfair advantage: No need for an electronic device. You just enter the time you worked out, your sport and how hard it was. You can add your heart rate if you have it, but it’s not required to update your training plan. After all, you’re not preparing for the Olympics!

Visit Sportlyzer

The science behind the app calculates what’s your training plan, based on several parameters.
Your goal (be fit, run a marathon), your muscle pain and sleep quality are taken into account.
Not rocket science, but a very nice way to use algorithms to define an quite adapted plan to your own body, without any expensive electronic device.

Some actions are not self-evident. Modifying your plan, updating a workout, etc.
Not broken, but it could be better and simpler to use.
Overall, a bit more explanations or tours might help newbies to see the power of the app, instead of rejecting it as “too complicated for me”.