European Entrepreneurs Come to Life with their Latest Creations

by on August 1, 2009 at 8:14 am

Seedcamp jpeg I spent a day at London’s Seedcamp earlier this month, where I met with a number of England and France-based startups, some of which have a presence in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

Seedcamp’s goal is to provide a catalyst for the next generation of great European entrepreneurs and help them take risks, think big, and succeed.

Participating in Seedcamp gives startups enormous validation and access to a world-class network of advisors, which helps entrepreneurs with every aspect of their business, plus a direct route to seed and venture capital.

The BaseKit team Juan Lobato, Richard and Simon Best talked to me about their new application designed for web professionals.

Instead of going after the prosumer, they’re hitting web designers who need a more integrated approach to web building.

Basekits Juan Lobato Richard Best and Simon Best (1)

Their view is that the traditional web design and development workflow is very disjointed and flawed. Because of this, they set out to design a unique alternative that will suit the needs of most typical websites today.

BaseKit goes a lot further that existing solutions, enabling people to implement functional, interactive and dynamic elements to a website quickly and easily without coding.

BaseKit lowers the barriers of entry to meaningful web development, so individuals and businesses can control their own sites and application projects, significantly lowering the overall cost and reducing the timescales.

Groupspaces Oxford-based GroupSpaces founder David Langer talked to me about the problem that no one is solving in an efficient way today: managing clubs, societies, associations and other real-world groups under one roof. Key differentiator here is under one roof.

If you’re a member of more than one group, you know how much work is involved to manage all the pieces, such as organizing and promoting the event itself, maintaining files, sending out invites or taking payments.

GroupSpaces David Langer

I’ve been a member of umpteen clubs and associations over the years. After spending time on the site and exploring its many integrated features, it’s easy to see what a time saver this would be.

Today, people use 5-6 websites to manage all the aspects involved with setting up and organizing events. While there may be over 35 million groups on Facebook and over 10 million on Yahoo Groups, their offerings are limited. GroupSpace provides an integrated suite of tools that allows you do everything you need in one central location.

Groupspaces screenshots

The GroupSpaces platform allows you to easily create a profile; get found on Google; attract more members; drive traffic to your group’s website; run various mailing lists; send professional looking e-mail newsletters; manage different lists for your committee, freshers and alumni; make it easy for members to subscribe and unsubscribe; manage a member database; and share management between committee members, which makes handing over and delegating admin easy.

Additionally, you can create polls and surveys, run committee elections online, keep the latest events up-to-date, sign up new members and archive news from your newsletters.

Qype Headquartered in Hamburg, Qype, which they say is a combination of quality and hype, also has offices in London and Paris and offer their service in six languages and communities in 9 different countries. It’s a bit like the “Yelp of Europe.”

Qype’s Andrew Hunter says, “we have a city-by-city approach. In the UK, it is much easier to create traction in the larger cities. Like the states,” he says, “the smaller towns are not the first to follow.”

Andrew Hunter of Qype

Unlike a lot of other sites that focus on user-generated reviews, they have a large volume and they emphasize quality. 95%+ of the reviews they find are higher quality than the majority of what is on the web today, at least in the UK market. They’re growing daily and already have 11 million uniques, 5 million of which are in Germany alone.

Other things to note on revenue model and profitability: they use AdSense and referrals through restaurant bookings to generate revenue and are roughly 6-12 months away from break-even.

Skimlinks Skimlinks founder Alicia Navarro wants to make affiliate marketing easy for publishers by aggregating every affiliate program in the world, and today, that is across 19 networks and 11,000 retailers.

“There are a number of problems associated with traditional affiliate marketing,” se says, “largely that it’s frankly just to difficult to implement for large or non-tech savvy publishers and editors.”

Skimlinks founder Alicia Navarro

She adds, “affiliate links can also look suspicious to end users and there are issues with non-deeplinking merchants and maintaining links in older content is cumbersome.”

Skimlinks maintains affiliate links on a publishers website, which creates an incremental revenue stream with no effort or cost.

They are currently working with large brands, as well as smaller content publishers. Some of their customers are Shiny Media, Telegraph, Future Publishing to name a few. According to Alicia, retail and consumer electronics are two popular categories and certainly ones that are a natural fit for their service.

They also launched a Twitter app called Printlink, which donates money to charity. Under the hood, Skimlinks was initially an internally technology used to monetize the user-generated content on and was commercialized as a stand-alone in late 2008.

Songkick Songkick is touting themselves as the home of live music online. They want consumers to go to Songkick to find their next concert and discover new ones.

They’re aggregating upcoming listings and information, which involves aggregating ticket vendors, MySpace, weekly online content and local listing sites.

Songkick’s Pete Smith talks about the sharing component. “You can follow a friend or someone in the network who shares similar music taste, so you can be alerted to their concerts and preferences as well,” he says. Additionally, you can save information on your past concerts and memories by inputting them into the system.

Songkicks Pete Smith (1)

They can also identify your past concert history – if you like these two musicians, you may also like these 3 new musicians. Through ‘smart’ filtering, their engine takes your past music history and recommends new bands from old bands that you list in the system using data mining from contextual references, i.e., how often Bob Dillan is listed with Madonna for example.

The company has been around since 2007. They currently have raised money from three seed groups, including Combinator and Jeff Clavier in the Valley.

Spotify Spotify was launched in March 2006 in the UK. Designed to be the alternative to music piracy, they already have partnerships with all four major labels. They’re adding 50K users across Europe every day, and hit two million users in the UK earlier this month, with Sweden being close behind.

Below Spotify’s Shakil Khan known to most as Shak

Spotifys Shakil Khan (1)

Spotify’s business model is an ad-funded free service and they’re also signing on ISP partnerships who are bundling their service. Interestingly, it’s a download not web based, yet its popularity is growing.

People can also upload their own music and use Spotify’s interface. Revenue generation will come from one click downloads, tickets and merchandising.

UberVu uberVU is a cool concept and a service I’d likely use if the UI makes it easy to use.

I was only able to see their current version, which is still in private beta (roughly 1,000 to-date), although they plan to go public with new features later this month, which includes a UI overhaul.

Essentially, they are a real-time conversation search engine that tracks buzz from across the web around a story. Today, it’s a URL only although later this month, they’ll allow you to add a conversation by keywords and in real-time.

They do real-time tracking today but only in roughly 30 online services, including yahoo Buzz, Digg, Twitter, Hacker News, NY Times and Stumble Upon.

Below are founders Dragos Ilinca (COO) and Vladimir Oane (CEO)

UberVus Dragos Ilinca and Vladimir Oane

A few apps are trying to do this but the problem is so complex that you find yourself still spending as much time sifting through the threads they sent your way than searching for them in the first place.

uberVu hopes to change that. ContextVoice is coming, a free API. Context will be key of course since some conversations they have tracked have as many as 30,000 reactions and responses or more. Weighting will be important too…for example a retweet will be weighted less than a blog comment.

It creates a real stream around entire conversations. Vladimir says with a smile, “find and interact with your tribe.” They give you a database of threaded, platform independent conversations that you can find and track in real time.

Zemanta Zemanta is essentially an email app, with email extensions for WordPress, Moveable Type and Drupal and plugins for Firefox and IE. It also supports Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, Ning and MySpace, among others.

Zemanta also suggests links to other sites. They get to know your social graph so they can offer suggestions, such as links to specific URLs inside Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, Ning and so on.

Below Zemanta’s Andraz Tori

Zemantas Andraz Tori

They suggest photos, links, events and others who have written about the same thing, and it’s presented in real time while the author is writing. Zemanta currently has more than 30,000 bloggers per month.

You can also link to related new media, large and small from over 10,000 sources. As for their future? They want to go where every author goes daily.

Huddle Huddle founder Andy McLoughlin asks me, “what happens when the MySpace generation goes to work?”

Huddle lets you manage all your projects in one place, allowing you to organize and collaborate, as well as interact. You can share files with online editing, auditing, permissions and workflow.

He adds, “we wanted to find a way to help people work together better.” Alastair adds “it’s not just about collaboration. You don’t just need people, but you need all the tools in one place. I might use a project for one tool and a blog for another project and a conferencing tool for another project. Another way we’re different is that we’re actually a network.”

Andy and co-founder Alastair Mitchell below

Huddles Andy McLoughlin and Alastair Mitchell

They’re growing, already have sales offices in Chicago and plan to open a San Francisco office in September 2009. More recently, they partnered with Intercall, who is pushing their service out to 1 million users.

School of everything School of Everything’s co-founder and CTO Peter Brownell grew up in South Africa, who said he mostly learned everything he knows through working with friends and his peers.

Their premise is simple: everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach.

School of Everything is a site that helps people who want to learn meet up with people who want to teach.

Teachers register online and create a personal page giving information on their lessons, the qualifications offered and the format in which they teach – for example workshops or one-to-one sessions. Potential pupils find a tutor who’s right for them simply searching by subject, learning category and location. They can then send them a message, arrange to meet and begin learning their new subject.

Some School of Everything teachers have left jobs in educational institutions because they’ve become fed up with the administrative burden.

Others are ‘pro-ams,’ people who have found a way to make a living from their hobbies and amateur passions. You can charge what you like for teaching, or share your skills for free – and unlike most schools, you can teach or learn whatever want (as long as it’s legal).

School of everything screen

They were supported from the beginning by the Young Foundation, the charitable trust which carries on the work of Michael Young, founder of Which Magazine and the Open University.

Says Peter of their business model, “School of Everything takes 5%. Teachers often give the first lesson for free and then School of Everything takes 50% of the first lesson.”

They’re currently only in the UK today, but they’re looking to expand into the US market soon. I asked them what their top categories were for learning. The answer? music, yoga/meditation and martial arts, so essentially everything that revolves around lifestyle and health.

Kwaga logo The Kwaga CEO and COO Philippe Laval and Erica Bezy ask me if I’m drowing in email. “You don’t want to know,” I respond, wanting to open up Outlook and show them what a disaster I have to plough through on a regular basis.

Kwaga essentially deals with the “drowing in email problem” using semantic and natural language, cloud computing and a plug-in architecture. Currently bootstrapped, they’re only nine months old, but they plan to roll out their private beta in the Fall.

Kwagas Eric Bezy and Philippe Laval (1)

More from the founders above after their launch.

Stupeflix And lastly, Stupeflix is a web service that turns your pictures, videos, and text into professional videos.

Stupeflix video generation is extremely fast. It operates the rendering of your video faster than real time, so you can see the result of your creation right away, and try lots of different options in a few minutes.

You can add one or many soundtracks to your video, sync them to your pictures precisely or mix them together. You can also add as much text as you like, style it and animate it at will. And if it is too long to fit the space you’ve defined, it will wrap or scroll automatically.

This is a cool feature: you can group several pictures and videos into templates featuring impressive effects and polished transitions. They even allow you to build your own templates by defining effects and transitions, text style and position, adding graphic overlays, logos, other graphic elements and more.

Their online editor also allows you to create video slideshows within seconds. More after I’ve had a try. Hopefully it’s simpler than other video editing solutions I’ve tried in the past.

I shot videos of nearly every company I interviewed so be sure to check out the We Blog the World channel on YouTube. They will also be posted on both the Down the Avenue and Traveling Geeks blogs.