25 superb SaaS and data start-ups to watch

7 Dec 2016

Who will be the most exciting SaaS and data-oriented start-ups to watch in 2017? Image: PanicAttack/Shutterstock

As part of our Europe Start-up 100 listing of companies to watch in 2017, here are 25 of the most superb SaaS and data-oriented start-ups.

25 superb SaaS and data start-ups to watch in 2017

If software is going to eat the world, then APIs are going to eat software, or so the experts say.

But, fundamentally, the hottest areas of enterprise software right now are in software-as-a-service (SaaS), data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. All, of course, driven and powered by the cloud, which is enabling new economies of scale for companies to very quickly become software giants.

Europe has a strong contingent of SaaS and data-oriented start-ups that span a multitude of facets of business and industry.

Our 25 SaaS and data start-ups to watch in 2017 form part of our Europe Start-up 100 list, which thus far has rolled out the 25 top start-ups in fintech and the 25 top start-ups IoT.

The selection of this year’s top 25 to watch was based on each company’s technological relevance, the use of data at the core of the services as well as funding activity in the past year.

Stay posted for Friday (9 December), when we will produce the Europe Start-up 100 listing in its entirety.


Unlike many online retail giants such as Amazon or eBay, Italy-based start-up DoveConviene is trying to drive customers to physical retail stores using digital vouchers.

Now six years old, DoveConviene finds itself in seven countries where it exists under different names, most notably ShopFully in the US.

Currently working with over 200 brands and retailers, the company claims that close to 90pc of its users actually make purchases using the vouchers in stores.

Last September, the company secured its biggest funding round to date of €10m from Highland Capital Partners Europe.

Genomics Medicine Ireland

25 superb SaaS and data start-ups to watch in 2017

From left: Co-founders of Genomics Medicine Ireland, Daniel Crowley, Paul Thurk, Sean Ennis and Maurice Treacy with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Genomics Medicine Ireland is collecting, managing and analysing data from the human genome in order to better understand the role of genetics in disease and rare conditions, and to lead to new prevention strategies and treatments.

Investors include Google Ventures, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ARCH Venture Partners and Polaris Partners.

The company was founded in Ireland last year by a group of leading life science entrepreneurs, investors and researchers, and its platform is based on work from Amgen subsidiary, DeCode Genetics in Iceland. It recently raised $40m in Series A funding from investors, announcing 150 new jobs.


From its headquarters on the Cote d’Azur, French start-up Oxatis is becoming one of the fastest-growing e-commerce start-ups in Europe.

Offering tools such as online CMS software, hosting, and integrated shopping carts for websites the company has secured a string of financing from investors. The most recent of these being last October when it raised €5m in Series D funding from Arkea Captial with plans to target a number of leading B2B websites in need of e-commerce software.

CEO Marc Schillaci said that, over the next five years, Oxatis plans to quadruple its turnover.


25 superb SaaS and data start-ups to watch in 2017

OpenBack founder David Shackleton holds aloft his Spark of Genius Award, flanked on either side by Parkpnp’s Garret Flower (left) and Wia’s Conall Laverty (right). Image: John Kennedy

With offices in Dublin, London and Silicon Valley, OpenBack is an on-device messaging engine that operates locally within third-party apps and remembers activities undertaken by users for targeted notifications.

Launched in 2015 by Irish pair David Shackleton and Christian Ryder, the company took the €25,000 grand prize and the ESB Spark of Genius Award at the first Lisbon Web Summit this year.

According to Shackleton: “When it comes to delivering notifications for users, every app does push in the same way as it was invented for email. We think that is crazy.”


Founded in France by Jean-Marc Lazard, David Thoumas and Franck Carassus, OpenDataSoft is a SaaS solution designed to make data more useful.

It launched late in 2011 and had its first customer in 2012. Now, OpenDataSoft has over 80 customers across 10 different countries, along with 30 team members.

The company recently raised $5.5m investments from Aster Capital, Salesforce Ventures and Aurinvest and is the only platform of its kind capable of processing data streams in real time.


Perkbox serves up an employee engagement platform offering a wide range of perks, discounts and tools to help companies retain and motivate their employees.

Based in the UK, the company was founded in 2014 by Saurav Chopra and Chieu Cao after they realised their stationery and printing website wasn’t going to work.

Now, it’s the UK’s fastest-growing employee engagement platform with perks that include gym and dental discounts and rewards for top achievers. Perkbox also recently received an investment from Wimbledon star, Andy Murray.


London-based Tray.io is tapping into the growth of the API economy by creating an “integration marketplace” for system integrators to link up the apps and services they use to run their enterprises.

Effectively, Tray.io wants to make costly IT integrations a thing of the past. It also means people with no technical expertise can push data between services.

Earlier this year, the company raised a seed round of $2.2m led by True Ventures with participation from Redpoint Ventures and Angelpad, followed by new investment of $5m led by Mosaic Ventures in November.


Irish start-up SmartTrace is an innovative platform to quickly manage waste at multiple levels. This includes bridging rough data from waste contractors, extrapolating to volume, EWC, finance and Co2 statistics.

Data extracted can act as a guide to improve methodology, educate, strengthen oversight and direct improvements to the bottom line, as well as environmental outcomes.

The company is a graduate of the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers programme, Climate LaunchPad 2016 and Microsoft BizSpark.


A platform that saves companies time and money on business travel, Irish start-up Roomex was founded in 2006 and went global a year later with over 20,000 hotels worldwide.

Founded by Jack Donaghy and Karl Glennon, the service is used by Allianz, Laya Healthcare, Topaz, KEMP Technologies and many more.

Roomex recently raised €3.5m in Series A funding and also won three prestigious business awards including Services Exporter of the Year at the Export Industry Awards in November.


Belgian start-up TeamLeader is a platform that offers all-in-one solutions for SMEs looking to go digital, bringing together calendars, invoices, CRM, project planning and more.

The company was founded in 2012 by Mathias De Loore, Jeroen De Wit and Willem Delbare. In 2015, it hit a company-wide monthly recurring revenue of more than €100,000.

Along with its Belgium office, the company has offices in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain and, in November of this year, raised €10m in Series B funding.


Dataiku is the French start-up behind Data Science Studio (DSS), a predictive analytics software platform built to be for data scientists what Photoshop is to designers.

DSS helps users get from dirty data to insight with less hassle. The software shortens the steps from raw data to up-and-running data-driven applications and, with a visual and interactive workspace, aims to be accessible for data scientists and business analysts alike.

Founded by Clément Stenac, Marc Batty, Thomas Cabrol and Florian Douetteau in 2013, Dataiku raised €3.2m seed funding in January 2015 and has closed 2016 with a $14m Series A round.


Founded in Portugal in 2013, Unbabel’s quartet of founders – Sofia Pessanha, João Graça, Vasco Calais Pedro and Hugo Silva – are now split between Lisbon and the company’s new HQ in San Francisco.

The start-up’s proprietary technology, the Unbabel Language Engine, pairs machine and human translation for better results. Pitching its ‘translation as a service’, Unbabel promises to reduce the cost of translation without cutting down on quality.

After a series of successful seed funding rounds and a stint in Y Combinator in 2014, Unbabel has wrapped up the year with a $5m Series A investment.


New to the scene, French start-up Foxintelligence is behind two free web apps: Misterfox and Cleanfox. The latter helps users unsubscribe from newsletters and has reportedly cleaned up over 30m email accounts. Meanwhile Misterfox, the first app from the start-up, secures automatic refunds for train delays or cancellations.

These apps are free to use because users are paying with their data. Foxintelligence collects and anonymises data on users’ online transactions and provides this to business customers as market intelligence.

Founded earlier this year by CEO Edouard Nattée, Foxintelligence has already raised over €1m in seed funding.



PageFair founder Sean Blanchfield. Image: PageFair

Advertising software start-up PageFair was founded in Dublin by Sean Blanchfield, Neil O’Connor and Brian McDonnell in 2012.

Designed to circumvent the increased use of ad blockers by internet denizens, PageFair aims to “sustain the open web” by offering a new form of advertising that people won’t necessarily want to block. But, just in case, it is also ad blocker-proof.

PageFair has raised $3.5m from six funding rounds to date. Earlier this year, the start-up came off a $2.27m venture round, drawing investments from Tribal.vc and Frontline Ventures.

Red Sift

Red Sift provides a cloud-based developer platform, originally started by former Shazam employees Randal Pinto and Rahul Powar. Operating out of London, the company recently raised raised $2m in a round led by White Star Capital and Oxford Capital with participation from Entrée Capital.

Launched on an open platform, Red Sift allows developers to use its SDK to create and share their own solutions. Currently in beta, its tools are available through Gmail.

The company calls its various services ‘sifts’, with developers able to mess around with the growing library of mini-apps that will reside on the Red Sift platform.


25 superb SaaS and data start-ups to watch in 2017

Aylien founder Parsa Ghaffari. Image: Aylien

Dublin-based Aylien is an AI-start-up no stranger to Siliconrepublic.com, with a busy few years culminating in a landmark 2016.

In March, Aylien secured a round of international funding worth €580,000, with eight new jobs to be added before 2017.

Aylien’s technology is focused on developing a text and image analysis API that allows developers and data scientists to filter and make sense of massive amounts of textual data. The company was founded by Parsa Ghaffari, its current CEO, and has thousands of customers worldwide.

The SaaS Co

Operating out of Berlin, The SaaS Co is an aptly named start-up helping SaaS companies with B2B sales.

It recently raised €800,000 in seed funding, which it will use to develop its AI sales assistant, the Learning Intelligent Sales Agent (LISA). Part of that funding came from the EU via a €300,000 grant for promising innovation.

“Our goal for LISA is simple: to free salespeople from repetitive tasks so they can focus on creative ways to make their sales,” said CEO Peter Schlecht, who co-founded The Saas Co with Florian Erlach.


25 superb SaaS and data start-ups to watch in 2017

Peter Johnston (front and centre in black) and the Lystable team. Image: Lystable

Founded by Irishman Peter Johnston in 2014, SaaS start-up Lystable is headquartered in London.

Lystable is behind a piece of software that allows large companies to more effectively manage a freelance workforce and its vendors.

Previously featured as a Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, Lystable has enjoyed a successful first two years of operation since its launch in early 2015. The start-up raised $3.5m in its first year, and recently closed out an $11m Series A, led by investment from Peter Thiel, Goldcrest Capital and Spring Partners.


Artificial intelligence research start-up Yedup was founded by Dr Martin Spollen and Paul McWilliams in 2015. A previous Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, Yedup uses social media analytics to detect trends and gain valuable customer information.

Earlier this year, it launched its SodaBread API to monitor “global social media content continually in real time” for hedge fund clients as well as high-frequency traders and algorithmic trading.

Last month, Yedup was named the best New Start company in the regional NI category at the InterTrade Ireland Seedcorn awards, securing a €20,000 cash prize to finance its future ventures.


Mobile marketing software company Pulsate aims to bring wireless technology into the physical world of retail.

Another Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, Pulsate was founded by CEO Patrick Leddy in 2013 and strives to “involve customers at every stage of the product development to make sure you end up with something people actually want to use”. In 2014, it began using Apple’s iBeacon positioning technology to generate footfall into retail stores.

Last August, Pulsate raised $1.5m in an investment round from PayPal and Dunnhumby Ventures, and intends to use the capital to accelerate growth in the US.


A start-up looking to bring elderly care into the 21st century via an on-demand platform is London-based Cera.

Founded in March 2016 by Mahiben Maruthappu, Marek Sacha and Marketa Strakova, the company finds itself firmly in the ‘Uber of’ category whereby it connects elderly people in need of care with a carer through its app in a matter of hours.

The company also plans to use AI to track patients’ health conditions and reduce the number of emergency hospital admissions.

Having only launched as recently as November, Cera also raised £1.2m in funding from a number of investors including JustEat’s CEO David Buttress.

As a former carer for the NHS, Maruthappu has said the flexibility of the service will prove crucial to patients.


25 superb SaaS and data start-ups to watch in 2017

Popdeem CEO Richard Whelan and co-founder Gavin Hayes

Founded by Gavin Hayes and Richard Whelan, Dublin-based Popdeem is a social rewards platform. It gives brands the ability to identify their most influential customers on social networks and to reward them for sharing their brand experiences online.

This year, the company raised €500,000 of funding, following an identical return in 2014. The latest capital is helping the company open a New York office, pilot a new version of its software and hire engineers in Dublin.

Its solution is now live in more than 10 countries, including Ireland, the UK, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand and the US.

4040 Media

Software company 4040 Media comprises a group of brands which include Sketcha, Publish and Wyzowl, through which it creates explainer videos for marketing purposes. Founded in 2009 by Matt Byrom and based in Southport in the UK, the company has a number of high-profile clients such as Deloitte and Oracle.

In November, 4040 Media announced an equity and debt funding round that raised more than £500,000, backed by Redstone Venture Managers and Angel CoFund. Believing in the future of content marketing, the company intends to use the capital to invest in future products and services.


With more than 500 sites, including those belonging to BAM Construction, Bouygues and Willmot Dixon, UK company Biosite Systems is revolutionising security and data collection in the construction industry.

The Solihull-based start-up has developed a system that uses fingerprint recognition to provide access control for workers on sites and collects data to help companies better manage their workforce via the cloud.

The use of biometric access control in tandem with workforce management ensures safer and more secure construction sites.

The company recently raised £4m from Mobeus Equity Partners to expand its team and develop its technology.


London-headquartered WeFarm is a nice piece of SaaS agritech, navigating the connectivity barrier experienced by many farmers in rural parts of the developing world.

Founded in 2015 by CEO Kenny Ewan, in concert with Café Direct Providers’ Foundation, WeFarm connects coffee farmers around the world, instantaneously, through SMS.

The start-up, which was in development from 2010 to 2014, allows members to send questions about farming via text message through the service. The message then gets shared online and, after being translated into several languages, sent to select farmers.

WeFarm has raised $4.7m in funding thus far, with the most recent tranche coming in at $1.6m last month.