The flowers of the European start-up scene were in bloom at Uprise 5 in Amsterdam.
The start-up scene in Europe is frenetic and varied, and out of the many companies on show at Uprise 5, we spoke to 16 start-ups working on the next big things.
Uprise, the brainchild of Limerick export to Amsterdam Paul O’Connell, has just held its fifth event. Planning is already underway for the sixth edition in Dublin later this year.
At the event, around 142 speakers, 120 start-ups and 3,000 attendees milled about with their own version of what the future has in store.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t speak to every start-up, but here’s a selection that caught our attention.
Remember the Universal Communicator in Star Trek? Well, it exists. Dutch start-up Travis has created an Android device that works in 80 languages. The device has raised close to $600,000 on Indiegogo from 3,200 backers, explained Gisele Warner of Travis. “Using machine learning, the more it is used, the better it gets,” Warner told Siliconrepublic.com.
Inventshift is a global marketplace for services, which highlights businesses that create a positive impact and then shares some of the revenue with charities. “We are currently working with 1,100 businesses in over 20 cities in Australia, the UK, the Netherlands and Finland,” explained co-founder Iranthi Gomes. “It is all about social enterprise and funding innovation. We work with businesses that are social enterprises, and 5pc of revenues from the marketplace goes back into our fund for charities.”
Highside is a platform that enables your application to communicate with customers all over the world. It allows app creators to build intelligent, automated messaging products without coding in just minutes. “The platform lets brands or apps send automated SMS messages to people, such as a code to enter a website or a doorway, a sales confirmation or an appointment,” said Highside’s Martin Savelsberg.
Amsterdam-based Eccentrade offers business insights, company checks and credit information – essentially everything you might need to perform proper due diligence on a company or individual you may do business with. “Our mission is to connect businesses worldwide with raw data around financial sustainability,” explained Eccentrade’s Rose Groen. She said that the company has built up a profitable business in the Netherlands and has attracted angel investment. It is now expanding into wider Europe, beginning with Benelux countries.
As every founder knows, building a team can be a risky business. Squads offers start-ups, spin-outs and intrapreneurs vetted teams to help them complete projects. “If you have a budget of €100,000 and you need to do a minimal viable product but don’t want to spend that money and have nothing at the end of the day, we can help. We will build your team and solve the recruitment problem, and get your MVP built,” said Iwein Fuld of Squads.
Another export to Amsterdam from Ireland is John Staunton and his start-up Countr, which is a mobile point-of-sale solution that works on iPad and Android devices. “It provides a dashboard that lets you set up shop anywhere. Retailers can automate their retail, manage sales and inventory, and – most importantly – make transactions. It works with loyalty cards and can connect with any payment provider, like iZettle, and you can basically retail from anywhere,” explained Alifa Shabrina of Countr.
If you haven’t heard of Organic Love by now, expect to in the future. The young, food tech start-up is hell-bent on creating healthy food alternatives without sacrificing taste. They even want to make their own beer, so we’re on side with that. “We are working with universities in the UK, for example, to develop healthier flour for making bread and beer brands in Europe to create healthier, tastier beer,” said Lou van de Wal of Organic Love.
Invoices are a pain the backside for small traders, but they don’t have to be. Storecove has created an ingenious app that enables business owners to file an invoice once, and have it go directly to their accountant. “The system can be automated to do your taxes for you as you work,” explained Carina Rea of Storecove. “Our route to market is through accountants who want to help their clients automate the invoicing experience.”
Developed by husband and wife team Simon and Fiona Austen, Third Skin is the future of wearables. The company’s patent-pending technology allows you to use wearables without surrendering any of their senses, beginning with headphones that employ natural language processing to enable users to compute on the move, interact online and maintain concentration with the world around them. “I am a serial inventor, and it came out of Fiona urging me to actually do something with one of my ideas. We are doing this at the right time with the rise of smart headphones and wearables. We are also developing our own voice assistant but our headphones will also work with other voice assistants too,” said Third Skin’s Simon Austen.
Created by Hussain Ahamed, MainTool has developed a patented technology that turns any watch into a smart watch. The company’s smart strip has technology built in to provide discreet notifications, an emergency button and hands-free navigation using haptic feedback. “Our vision is to seamlessly connect everyday things to the internet of things, making technology a seamless part of people’s lives,” Ahamed said.
As the age of 3D printing unfolds, the industry could generate jobs, grow communities and help the environment at the same time. Look no further than Reflow, which has created high-quality, 3D-printed material from recycled plastic bottles. Based in Amsterdam with production in New Delhi, the company melts plastic flakes from bottles to manufacture the material for ideas. “From a quality standpoint, it is the same level, if not as high or higher as high-end materials made from virgin plastics,” explained Lyndsey Lewis of Reflow.
The Main Ingredient
Start-up studios are the new thing, where the skills and resources needed can be found and employed to turn an idea into a viable product. The Main Ingredient has already spawned two successful start-ups, a money collection app called Tikki and a legal services discovery app called Ligo.
“We help get ideas of start-ups off the ground in terms of in-house development and design skills,” explained Daniela Roosen of The Main Ingredient.
Devised by the founders of Eriks, Zamro is a one-stop shop for SMEs that need tools, machinery and parts via an e-commerce store. “We exist for anyone who needs tools – for example, a plumber – and we have more than 550,000 products. We want to be the next Google, but for tech parts, with fast delivery and good prices,” said Zamro’s Nikki Kimpel.
Ever heard of a 3D printer that doubles up as a CNC (computer numerical control) milling machine? Antwerp-based PrintRod is the creator of a crane-like robot that helps designers to build prototypes at record speed. The platform has its own software and can print and mill large parts, using a combination of 3D printing and CNC heads. “This is the first of its kind in the world,” said co-founder Miro Svetlik.
Imagine this: owning plants that you don’t need to water. Based in Amsterdam, Pikaplant was formed by designers who wanted to create products that combine sustainability with health. “The plants are contained in glass and water themselves,” said Danny Sutjahjo of Pikaplant. “Research shows that having a visual connection with nature reduces stress and impacts recovery time; for example, in hospital, patients can achieve a 20pc faster recovery from surgery if they are closer to nature.”
Flymble is a next-generation platform that makes travel easy and affordable by booking and paying later, or in a structured plan. “Our technology is very similar to how Steam works in the games business. Our mission is to make flight and accommodation booking faster, more financially accessible and fun,” said Vincent Hus, co-founder of Flymble.