20 mighty European mobile and e-commerce start-ups

25 Jan 2018

Image: TWStock/Shutterstock

Which European mobile and consumer e-commerce start-ups are rewriting the rules of business for 2018?

The mobile screen is the shop window of the 21st century. When coupled with powerful advances in data, analytics and app development, the relationship between customer and brand is transformed.

Europe is home to a diverse and innovative array of mobile and consumer e-commerce-oriented start-ups focused on solving a variety of customer needs and pain points, effectively removing the frictions from commerce.

Our 20 to watch in 2018 are razor-focused on areas ranging from education and payments, to training and property. They are transforming the traditional bricks-and-mortar buying experience.

This listing is part of our Europe Start-up 100 series for 2018, which also includes fintech, IoT/hardware, health/medtech and enterprise/SaaS entrepreneurs.

Tune in tomorrow (26 January) for the Europe Start-up 100 listing in its entirety.

Afrimarket (Paris)

Afrimarket, based both in Paris and the Ivory Coast, is a money transfer operator with a novel cash-to-goods approach, specifically targeted at African migrant workers hoping to send funds home to the likes of Senegal, Mali and Cameroon. The funds are converted into credit, which can be used to purchase food, medicine, household appliances and tuition.

African migrants face fees as high as 12pc to remit funds normally, well above the global average of 8.96pc. Afrimarket solely leverages a mobile platform, which cuts out the middleman and drives down costs.

The company has raised €13m over three funding rounds, with its most recent seeing the Global Innovation Fund as its lead investor.

Aptoide (Lisbon)

Aptoide is a third-party app store with a focus on emerging markets, and positions itself as a customisable alternative to Google Play.

The start-up has offices in Lisbon, Singapore and Shenzhen, where it works with handset makers. It features more than 500,000 apps, including Facebook and VLC. Aptoide recently raised $4m in a Series A funding round led by E.ventures with participation from Gobi Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures and Portugal Ventures. It was founded by Alvaro Pinto, Inês Rola and Paulo Trezentos.

Buymie (Dublin)

Buymie is an Irish app that allows users to order groceries from various outlets across Ireland and have them delivered to their door in as little as one hour.

The company was founded in early 2016 by Devan Hughes and Artavazd Sokhikyan, and has already had influxes of capital from supermarket giant Unilever and Superquinn’s Fergal Quinn. It has since mounted a UK equity funding campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, raising €420,000 just before Christmas.

Buymie claims that since it has launched, its app has been downloaded more than 9,000 times and processed more than €230,000 in transactions.

Deemly (Copenhagen)

A Copenhagen-based start-up, Deemly was founded by Sara Green Brodersen and Jens Farvig Thomsen in 2016. The company is a reputation and social verification tool for P2P marketplaces and sharing-economy businesses to help them deliver in terms of the keystone of this industry: trust.

Deemly users can become verified through social media or even government ID, and the company creates a ‘trust score’ by integrating data from firms such as Airbnb and Yelp. Syddansk Innovation was one of its initial investors.

Farmdrop (London)

Ben Pugh left behind his finance job in London to found and lead Farmdrop, a food delivery start-up addressing the concerns of the conscious consumer with a service based on convenience. Along with co-founders Ned Staple and Ben Patten, Pugh has led the company through a series of significant funding rounds, the most recent securing £7m from Atomico in early 2017.

Currently available in London, Bristol and Bath, Farmdrop brings locally sourced food ordered online to customers via 100pc-electric vans. The next step is to grow to all major UK cities.

Foxintelligence (Paris)

Foxintelligence provides market-based anonymised and aggregated data based on online purchases made through its business-to-consumer web apps, Misterfox and Cleanfox, the latter of which is a one-click mechanism to unsubscribe from email newsletters.

Foxintelligence is extremely transparent about using the data of Cleanfox and Misterfox clients, explaining that users are automatically part of an ‘anonymous panel’ and protected by the company’s aggregating software.

The young firm has raised €7.2m in funding since it was founded in April 2016 by Edouard Nattée.

Glovo (Barcelona)

Through the Glovo app or website, users can arrange a grocery delivery, a trip to the pharmacy or just a simple pick-up and delivery service with the ‘Glovers’ who sign up to the service as independent couriers.

Founded in Barcelona in 2015 by Oscar Pierre and Sacha Michaud, Glovo quickly spread into Spain’s major cities and now has footholds in France, Portugal and Italy as expansion continues.

Having ratcheted up investment steadily in its early years, Glovo closed 2017 with a €30m Series B round led by Rakuten Capital and Cathay Innovation.

Lingokids (Madrid)

Previously known as Monkimun, Lingokids was founded by siblings Cristobal and Marieta Viedma, and offers language lessons for kids between two and six in the form of interactive games.

The lessons are built using Unity 3D and run on Android and iOS. The company recently raised $4m in a funding round led by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and JME Venture Capital, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, Sabadell Venture Capital and Big Sur Ventures. The company also raised pre-seed funding from 500 Startups.

Lightneer (Helsinki)

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Former Rovio Mighty Eagle and co-founder of Lightneer Peter Vesterbacka (in red hoodie). Image: John Kennedy

Founded by former Rovio alumni, Lightneer is on a mission to create the best science-learning game on the planet.

Its Big Bang Legends game has been created in cahoots with some fine minds at Oxford and CERN.

Lightneer recently raised $5m in a funding round led by GSV Acceleration, which also included support from IPR.VC, Brighteye Ventures and Reach Capital.

LogoGrab (Dublin)

Founded by CEO Luca Boschin and CTO Alessandro Prest, LogoGrab can detect logos in images and video, alerting companies when their brand makes an appearance in increasingly visual online media, and providing them with additional information on how well their marketing is going.

The Dublin-based company’s innovative AI tool saw it win first prize in the 2017 spring programme of Google Adopt a Startup and it also featured as a Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week. Crunchbase tallies LogoGrab’s funding to date as approaching $3m and Enterprise Ireland has backed the company as a high-potential start-up.

Matsmart (Stockholm)

Founded in 2013 by Karl Andersson, Erik Södergren and Ulf Skagerström, Matsmart is a Swedish e-commerce company on a mission to put an end to food waste.

Selling surplus products, it reportedly prevented 708 tonnes of food from being discarded in 2016. In December 2017, it secured €7.5m in funding from investors Norrsken Foundation and D-Ax Corporate Venture Capital to expand across the Nordics and Europe. According to Crunchbase, its total funding raised so far is almost $25m.

Na-kd (Stockholm)

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From left: Magnus Emilson, chair, Na-kd; Jarno Vanhatapio, founder, Na-kd; Bruno Crémel, general parter, Partech Ventures; and Omri Benayoun, general partner, Partech Ventures. Image: Na-kd

Na-kd is a global online direct-to-consumer brand for women, founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneur Jarno Vanhatapio.

The company offers millennials stylish yet affordable clothes, mainly marketed through social influencers.

At the end of its second full year of operations, the company had a revenue run rate of close to $75m, growing 150pc in 2017 alone.

At the start of January, Na-kd raised $45m in a Series B round led by Partech Ventures along with existing investors Northzone, eEquity, US-based FJ Labs, and Jonas Nordlander and Filip Engelbert (Avito founders).

Nu3 (Berlin)

Nu3 has made gains from a blend of superfoods, nutritional supplements and a massive e-commerce platform. It stakes its claim as having the largest selection of nutrients and supplements, including some that are exclusive to its online store.

As well as selling a mix of own-brand and other products, Nu3 promotes itself as a lifestyle brand through advice and tips dispensed via its online network.

Founded by Kassian Ortner, Robert Sünderhauf and Felix Kaiser, Nu3 has attracted investors such as Lakestar, Project A and Black River Ventures, with reports in 2016 pointing to a “high seven-figure sum” for the Berlin start-up.

Ottonova (Munich)

Inspired by Oscar Health (the New York insurtech expecting $1bn in revenue this year), Ottonova brought the model for health insurance making use of digital technology to Munich.

The company has raised roughly €40m to date, the most recent coming from a €10m in Series C funding led by Debeka, the largest private health insurance provider in Germany.

The company was founded by Frank Birzle, Sebastian Scheerer and CEO Roman-Marcus Rittweger, with the latter declaring: “We want to become the Tesla of German health insurance.”

Pointy (Dublin)

Pointy combines hardware and software to help local retailers establish an online presence.

The technology, developed by Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby, gives retailers a chance to shine online in a world increasingly dominated by online giants such as Amazon.

Dublin-based start-up Pointy last year raised $6m in a Series A funding round led by Frontline Ventures and also including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital.

In fact, the investment round reads like a who’s who of digital, with other investors including WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg, Google Maps co-founder Lars Rasmussen, Bebo co-founder Michael Birch, TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and even Irish rugby star Jamie Heaslip.

Smartbox Group (Dublin)

Smartbox Group is an online vendor of experience gifts for the European market and has more than 180,000 ‘experiences’ on offer. The company trades in the UK market as Buyagift.co.uk.

Smartbox Group, which has offices on Dublin’s Talbot Street, last year sold more than 6.5m experiences across Europe. In the fiscal year 2016-2017, it recorded revenues of €480m, up 11pc on the previous year.

In December, AIB led a €167m senior debt financing of Smartbox along with participation from Crédit Agricole, Credit Suisse and CaixaBank.

TravelNest (Edinburgh)

TravelNest logo

Image: Travelnest.com

TravelNest founder Doug Stephenson wanted to build a solution for his parents to manage their property portfolio, so he devised a central hub to manage ads across a spectrum of rental platforms. TravelNest users can manage and optimise listings on the likes of Airbnb, TripAdvisor and Booking.com for free, with the company earning a commission on ads booked through its platform.

Just 18 months after launch, there were 2,000 properties listed on TravelNest and the company secured £3m in seed funding led by Pentech, plus two new board members: Mark Logan, ex-COO at Skyscanner, and Pentech partner Craig Anderson.

Spotahome (Madrid)

Spotahome is opening the door to a world of real estate possibilities

Alejandro Artacho, co-founder and CEO of Spotahome. Image: Spotahome

Spotahome is all about revolutionising the real-estate sector by taking the process 100pc online.

Founded in 2014 by Alejandro Artacho, Bruno Bianchi, Bryan McEire and Hugo Monteiro, Spotahome is focused on the mid- to long-term letting market for apartments, and has generated €60m total contract value for landlords. Spotahome recently closed a €13.6m Series A round from investors including Passion Capital, Nordic Makers, Samos Investments and Mexico Ventures, bringing its total funding raised to date to €20.7m.

Stowga (London)

Map of UK showing Stowga’s site distribution

Map of UK showing Stowga’s site distribution. Image: Stowga/Medium

London start-up Stowga is tackling the problem of unoccupied space in large warehouses. Its on-demand online platform takes an Airbnb-style approach to unused storage space, offering flexible, pay-as-you-go rental.

The company, led by founder Charlie Pool, secured £1.5m seed funding in December 2017, with contributions coming from previous backers such as Seedcamp and Hambro Perks, as well as real-estate firm CBRE, which coupled its investment with a strategic partnership. At this time, Stowga reported having more than 4,000 warehouses across the UK among its listings. With this injection of funds, Stowga enters 2018 with plans for international expansion.

Veri (Kilkenny)

Start-up of the week: Veri Integrated Training

Ann Marie McSorley, Veri. Image credit: Dylan Vaughan

Kilkenny software start-up Veri wants to make quality assurance training painless by eschewing the typical paper-and-spreadsheet presentation in favour of sleek software and live online dashboards.

The app helps trainers track and review the performance of those being trained, reducing admin time by as much as 30pc.

Its founder, Ann Marie McSorley, was previously a team leader for Compass Catering and has headed up iResource and Training since 2008.

Veri snagged the top award at Google’s autumn edition of its Adopt a Startup programme in Dublin, joining distinguished start-up alumni such as FoodCloud and Jobbio.