European Venture Summit: Most interesting startups

Dusseldorf was the city I spent my last couple of days as it was the host of European Venture Summit 2010.

EVS is an event where top 150 European ICT, CleanTech and LifeSciences companies present their portfolios to top European venture capitalists hoping for some funding. The companies are selected in semi-finals that take place during the whole year all over Europe.

I came here with my social film recommendation startup, Filmaster, as we managed to secure a spot at Warsaw Semi-Final in November.

Except for presenting I was carefully listening to what others have to offer, especially on the ICT sessions. As I’m mainly interested in social media and open source, I attended many presentations of companies fighting in those areas, but I accidentally witnessed some other cool pitches and here is my short summary of those encounters.

Mosync – the new Java? 

Dusyant Patel of Mosync explained why it’s such a crappy job to create mobile apps and what he and his team are doing to make it smooth. Bascially the idea is old as Grandma Java herself: code once, deploy everywhere. The problam is that it never worked but the ideas seems so awesome that it’s been  attracting new developers and companies constantly throughout all these years, latest trend being mobile apps so no one develops for the desktop anymore!

What is cool about Mosync is that it’s a fully open source platform, licenced under GPL. Anyone can take the code, modify it and as long as they give it back to the community, everything is cool. Patel counts on hackers around the world to notice his platform, enhence it and make it grow big, to become the standard in mobile development. Then he can try to replicate Sun Microsystems business model and… well actually they could have gone bust last year if not saved by Oracle, but… let’s not jump to conclusions. Open source is great and I’m really happy to see another great looking product in this area. I might even give it a chance when developing Filmaster for other platforms than iPhone and Android in case HTML5 suddely ceased to exist.

Website: http://www.mosync.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/mosync

Veenue – (not) a MySpace clone

Veenue was another cool project that almost no one seemed to get excited about (especially not the VCs). It’s a social network (yes, another one!) for musicians around the globe. 
“Just as if MySpace didn’t exist!” – you think immediately (if you’re smart). And… you’re wrong. Because veenue is no MySpace clone. Better: it has no compatition whatsoever (red light on from now for most European enterpreneurs famous for their lack of vision) and what it does is quite interesting. It allows musitians to become part of a group… online. If I understood it correctly, that is.
How it works in steps:
1. You record yourself playing a music instrument (like a trumpet).
2. You upload that video to veenue.
3. Others can now find it (under “trumpet” tag or based on your location) and not only listen to your music and watch you play but also:
4. Upload their own music video to be displayed next to yours… at the same time.
Yes, you got it. It’s like karaoke but with replaceable tracks. You for instance can mute a lousy guitar playe and record your own version of the guitar track, upload it replacing the original one. Then play the new version of the song with all instruments so that others can instantly see that the one with you in it is way better.

And here is the video showing how it all works in practice:

It sounds extremely cool and as long as the execution will be good (it looked amazing in the demos, but the final version of the website is yet to be released) I believe it can be a world-wide success, at least as far as the target group turns out bug enough to ensure traction.

Website: http://www.veenue.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/veenuewemusic

Filmaster – Foursquare for film 

Have you heard of Filmaster, the social network (not again!) for film buffs with personalized movie recommendations? Well, they are creating a mobile app called – you’d never believe – Filmaster Mobile and they want to be the next Foursquare… but for film. Sounds crazy? It is.

Borys Musielak (not wearing a suit like a proper entrepreneur should!) presented Filmaster in the ICT session as a tool to get personalized local recommendations (i.e. what’s on in cinemas in your area that would be interesting to you based on your tastes), check in to screenings (yes, that’s the Fousquare part), inform your friends through social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and meet new people who watch the same stuff that you do in your neighborhood.

Screenshot z Filmaser Mobile
Filmaster Mobile splash screen – the app for iPhone is due in January 2010. 

GetGlue that does something similar but on a more general level has just raised $6M from Time Warner, making Filmaster’s need of $200k of venture capital sound like begging for change, but if the idea sounds interesting to you anyhow, let me know, we can talk.
Yes, I’m Borys Musielak. You’ve got me.

Website: http://filmaster.com/mobile/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/filmaster

Flowr

Flowr – Facebook for business, yes, another one

I turned up late for the Flowr presentation, staying just for the Q&A, but it looks like after Yammer, Status.net, a recent venture of my friend, Smartupz Disqourse, and thousands of others, Flowr is yet another app that wants to be the “Facebook for business”.

Its founder, Davorin Gabrovec, doesn’t really know how to position Flowr among the competition, saying that “in the web 2.0. world you never know”. And it’s true – you don’t. But it also makes it harder for the blogger to write about your startup so I won’t.

Website: http://theflowr.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/theflowr/
8seconds – optimizing e-mail banner campaigns

This was one of the clearest presentations of the summit. Sofie Andries pitched the company with grace, passing the message: if you are doing an e-mail campaign with banners, do it with 8seconds to produce better results.

The product is so simple it’s hard to believe (and I don’t) that no one else is doing it. Basically you start e-mailing your audience using three different e-mail templates (e.g. with banners in three different colors), then analyze the click-through rate and automatically eliminate the least performing two from all remaining e-mails, displaying only the one that works best.
Clear and simple. I wish you luck with the investors, Mrs Sofie!

Website: http://www.8seconds.net/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/8Seconds_email

No, it’s not the right logo. But it’s not my fault you cannot find anything in the Internet about this misterious company!

YouChoose – yet another product recommendation plugin for online stores

This is actually the only startup I cover that made it to the top 50 of the 150 presenting companies (it did not get to the Top 25 that go to the final in Barcelona). And frankly I really don’t know how this happened. 

YouChoose (strange name for recommendation software, btw) is a plugin for online shops that adds recommendations. Some shops already have this feature. It targets those that don’t. The presenter, Uwe Alkemper, claimed that it can recommend useful stuff even with mininal amounts of data. But he did not explain how so I didn’t believe him.
I cannot see any innovation whatsoever here although, of course, I’m not saying it will be a failure.

Website: it’s strange but I cannot find it!
Twitter: Same, not existant.

Summing up

I saw plenty of talent during the two days in Dusseldorf and the selected this list only based on my subjective view and bias. Just like the jury. I wish they thought about providing the Internetr access to participants in EVS venue dusing the summit. I would have probably tweeted a lot more about the startups and other companies pitching in the real time. Unfortunately the organizers didn’t belive the Internet is of much use. Anyway, I have to say these two days in Germany was a great time. I met many great people and got to know interesting companies and ideas which will certainly be benefitian in my future ventures.

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And if you think the event makes sens, sign up for next year’s semi-finals and then come here for a chance to talk to VCs and get funding:
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