The extremely popular British boy band One Direction sells everything in the world with their logo on it. Go into a retail store of any kind, and you’ll find 1D branded merchandise from bed sheets to school supplies to talking dolls and everything in between. In fact the band makes more off licensing than album sales. But when the lads decided to raise money for charity, they decided they needed a little help.
Forbes online reports that One Direction turned to a Y Combinator startup with roots at Oxford University. The startup, called Prizeo, harnesses the power of an amazing Rolodex and relationships that range from Samuel l Jackson to Khloe Kardashian to help build up their already amazing client list.
The company uses a raffle model that gives every entrant into a charity contest one entry. They also work with celebrities to offer huge prizes for fans, visits, or interactions with those celebrities.
For the One Directions charity contest ,they chose British non profit Trekstock, which provides funding for cancer research.
The prize in the contest was an evening on the town with Harry Styles and Liam Payne, arguably the band’s two most popular members.
Before One Direction, Prizeo had raised $1 million dollars across 10 campaigns Forbes reported. 1D raised $780,000 in six weeks.
The campaign attracted 1.4 million views, 240,000 shares and 445,000 video views on YouTube. The hashtag for the campaign trended number one globally.
Trekstock was extremely pleased with the results. “We had no idea how much the campaign could raise,” Sophie Epstone, the company’s CEO, told Forbes.
Ebay has been looking to broaden it’s horizons and be more than just an online auction site. Over the past year and a half to two years, we’ve seen Ebay develop a more robust e-commerce site, leaning on its auction business less and less. I remember when Ebay was just starting out, and you could get that real good deal on some artifact that meant something to you but not necessarily to the seller. Those days have just about dried up as the auction portion has become home to liquidators, drop-shippers, and professional storage auction shoppers.
But, the company’s newest partnership may have the thrifty Macklemore taking a look a second look at the former pillar of the online community.
Ebay has announced a partnership with Dressipi, a London startup for fashion discovery. The partnership will begin as a six month trial for Ebay users in the UK. Those users will use Dressipi’s Fashion Fingerprint, a fashion profile of sorts. Once the user completes their ideal Fashion Fingerprint, Dressipi will then scour Ebay site for Buy It Now options and auction listings for fashion items that fit the user’s tastes.
Dressipi combines big data, social media, and old fashioned customer service to return the most relevant results.
Venture capital investors ask a lot of tough questions before they sign any checks. One of the hardest is when they start drilling down into your business model and ask “How will you acquire users?”
But in reality this is a difficult question, because even well-known companies like Dropbox might have been hard pressed to come up with a satisfactory answer if they were asked that particular question.
Common answers include such nebulous coveralls like ‘build up a community identity,’ ‘implement viral marketing,’ and ‘create incentive packages’. Maybe these will indeed be persuasive. But, many companies learn as they develop through real life challenges and don’t really have all the answers.
Here we take a look at a few of the particular issues involved in acquiring users which may be more persuasive in wooing VCs over to the cause than the usual stock responses.
VCs prefer hearing that you’re committed to focusing on a particular market sector rather than how you will target a much wider audience and then go viral. There’s never any guarantee you’ll ‘go viral,’ but narrow the target a little and you’ve got a better chance of hitting the bullseye.
Budget and resources are limiting factors for any startup. If you focus all your energies on one particular sector, you will almost certainly yield far better results because that target sector will see a superior value in your service.
Events that are sector specific are the norm, though there are exceptions to the rule such as targeting engaged couples and college students. With these, there are usually sector-targeted content platforms and/or distribution channels involved that make it easier to penetrate a small but ultimately profitable market, from which you can expand.
If you can tell the VC that you have the scaling flexibility to go from a hundred to a hundred thousand subscribers and thereby transform into a sustainable business, this will be music to their ears. Promoting a product one-on-one is not scalability. If on the other hand, you’re able to say that you already have a partnership with Coles Group Ltd in place, this is real scalability built into your business plan, and they’ll be suitably impressed.
Get in early with validation
You need data to back you up. Look into several different types of acquisition strategy and decide which will suit your line of business best. For example, if you took out ads on Google and Facebook and found that SEO is more cost-effective than other methods, this sounds like you has done your homework. If you’ve worked out a conversion rate against costs to come up with a realistic ROI, that sounds even better.
All this is validated data, rather than just a bunch of assumptions tied together with a string of wishful thinking. When presented with such solid data investors can see how an injection of capital will help an early trend to scale up.
Author: Carlo Pandian worked at Adzuna, a tech start-up based in London. He is currently writing a tutorial on QuickBooks (accounting software for entrepreneurs), and has previously published for Techli, Killer Startups and Under30CEO. Connect with him on Twitter @carlopandian.
22-year-old Summer Murphy created a video library startup with access to thousands of curated educational videos on a variety of topics. Unlike many entrepreneurs, though, this native New Yorker decided that he wanted to see if his luck would fare better across the pond in the TechCity incubator in London.
Growth Business UKreports that it has. Murphy’s startup Mobento has raised $1.7 million, which has been reported as the biggest investment for any education-focused tech startup in the UK. It’s also been reported that it was one of the biggest seed rounds of any UK tech startup.
Murphy told The Next Web that the company would use the money to grow the business and bring “educational technology up to speed with the advances made elsewhere in business, social networks, and mobile”.
When talking about the platform itself, Murphy told Growth Business UK : “It slots right into the behaviour and customs of contemporary students and is a democratising and liberating force within education because it enables the world’s best educators to reach out to students all over the world.”
New York has a thriving startup community, so relocating to London to launch Mobento was a testament to Tech City. “Mobento’s decision to base themselves here is further proof that Tech City is the ideal location to scale and grow a successful digital business. Quick access to Europe and our heritage of creativity and innovation make London attractive for digital media and tech companies. Whilst the blend of creativity and innovation that exists in East London with easy access to the financial centre of the City is also a major advantage,” Benjamin Southworth, deputy CEO of Tech City, said.
We’re not about to tell you the story of the latest spin on the All American Cookie Company, the Great Cookie or even Mrs. Fields. PresenceOrb is a startup based in London and they’ve developed a “virtual cookie” for the real world.
I’m hoping that it’s not too far reaching to expect readers of nibletz.com, the voice of startups everywhere else, to know what cookies are, at least in the internet sense of the word. Taking it back to internet 101 for those of you not in the know, cookies are the little tidbits of information transmitted from you, across the internet to other websites that help determine what you need to know.
It’s how the adservers on nibletz.com know to offer you an ad for kayak.com when the last website you visited was US Airways, that kind of thing.
Unarguably, having some kind of offline version of this very important tool would be amazing. Imagine if everyone that shopped at Old Navy went through some magic door that left some kind of radioactive film on you so that when you went to Abercrombie & Fitch, you could get some kind of message that says, “Come Back To Old Navy we’ll give you a discount right now”.
OK so it’s not that freaky, nor futuristic. However, PresenceOrb is that useful. The only thing you need to bring in the store with you to make this magic work is your smartphone.
Using the PresenceOrb app and your smartphone, if you walk into a business in the program your phone is “marked” or “noted” now that business can market to you in the best way possible. Using a profile you’ve completed and information locally at said business establishment, you’ll get relative, passive advertisements that may seem a little cray cray but actually it’s kind of fascinating.
For the sake of understanding, on the company’s video they show a customer with PresenceOrb activated on their phone. The customer walks into two different car dealerships, a Volkswagen dealer not using PresenceOrb and a Porsche dealer that is.
After taking a test drive at both dealerships the user ends up taking some time to think about it. Low and behold, he drives past a digital billboard also equipped with PresenceOrb and the billboard offers him a special price on that particular Porsche. Voila, it’s an offer the user can’t refuse and bam he’s driving a brand new Porsche.
When you dissect this form of targeted advertising it’s actually pretty amazing. The potential for real world advertising to be affected this way could lead to billions of dollars in sales.
We got a chance to talk with Thomas Sheppard the brilliant man behind this startup, check out the interview below.
What is Presenceorb?
PresenceOrb is the cookie for the real world. POB allows retailers to cookie consumers as they visit brick and mortar stores. Retails gain analytics previously only seen in the online realm, Footfall, Bounce rate, return customers, new customers, linger time …. the list goes on. With this information and via our expanding advertising partner network retailers can then action these analytics by targeting consumers on the street through such outlets as digital out of home billboards.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Thomas is the founder of Presence aware tech. He has worked as an engineer in banking producing financial markets software as well as for a number of technology companies producing consumer software for desktop and mobile for the past 11 years. Presence aware tech additionally has a North American partner company who provide development resource and are additionally POB’s largest customer.
Where are you based?
Presence aware tech is based within the Cisco office in North Greenwich, London. Having recently been awarded the Raptor SME grant for which Cisco is a key backer.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
The culture is fantastic. We are surrounded by like minded companies (Oprillo, AMBX, Lamppost, Prod designs, Crowd Vision) the majority of whom are also current or previous Raptor grant winners. We collaborate, disagree, challenge and encourage one another.It’s the sort of environment where you can lift your head and hear conversations covering twenty different industries.
How did you come up with the idea for Presenceorb?
Presence Orb was originally intended as a security device. After a startled wake-up at two am one night our founder thought someone was in his home. Thankfully it was just a bad dream which had forced him awake however it got him thinking. How could a home owner detect if someone was in the home, not just movement but be able to “cookie” someone and see if they where supposed to be present or not. From there he began to research how that could be done and then things got interesting. Thomas then went on to form Presence aware tech, we produced a prototype and pivoted our focus from security to analytics. We are now 8 months further on and the path from then to now has been astounding.
The market is ready, hardware is now cheaper to make. People are familiar with the concept of cookies and the adjoining technology is available. In short the market has come to meet our vision.
What problem does Presenceorb solve?
Presence Orb levels the playing field between physical and online retailers. For years online retailers have had analytics software and marketing which has allowed them to analyse consumer wants, needs and actions. Online retailers can then adjust to these findings very quickly. Physical retailers have been hampered by an inability to gain such rapid feedback. Typical collection methods such as surveys, in store spotters and analysis took months if not more to conduct and collate. With Presence Orb retailers can gain these analytics instantly similar to Google analytics but for the brick and mortar stores.
Who are your competition?
There are others in this space doing similar things and we are aware of them however we don’t overly concern ourselves with competition. We have a vision and direction as to how we believe our product should function what features it should include and how we are going to do that. We can only concentrate on our own game, we leave everyone else to concentrate on there’s and the results will come out in the end.
And what’s your secret sauce?
It’s no secret that good people make great products. We make sure that our people have the drive to produce something truly amazing. It’s no secret it’s just what makes us produce a quality product is a desire to do exactly that.
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
Bootstrapped and proud. We would take funding when it’s needed but at the moment we can survive on our own resources and steam. We don’t charge for the hardware which can meet initial ourlay is high but our SAAS business model then takes over and will allow us to grow as we bring on more customers.
What are some milestones you’ve achieved?
We’ve recently been announced as Digital innovation finalists in the advertising space at Digital shoreditch London. We are one of 21 companies presenting in the final for 7 awards. This was a hugely proud moment for us.
To be accepted onto the Raptor SME program run in part by Cisco was another huge milestone for us. This fueled a number of conversations that without which we might never have begun or had the good fortune to be part of.
Our first enterprise level trial was another amazing milestone. We have deployed within a household recognizable location and it blows our mind every time we walk into the location to think …. we’re deployed here.
Our second enterprise level trial with a global chain…. i’ll say no more.
Honestly there are loads of milestones that as a team we are exceptionally proud of but our main focus is our product and perhaps the biggest milestone was our first customer feedback from a small Cafe in North Yorkshire telling us there takings are heading north in no small part because of Presence Orb they knew where to focus there marketing spend. That’s when we knew our product was making a difference.
What’s your next milestone?
Taking on the Digital Innovations final on May 20th. We want to wow the crowd with whats possible. And we will.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
We are in an incredibly privileged position to have not only people as mentors but also companies. Cisco provide us with one to one mentors and also business units will email from time to time giving advice. We are really thankful for that. We have advisers in the advertising space and even companies who have installed our product who we view as mentors. They provide feedback on what they like and don’t like so much about POB and ultimately that’s the best feedback and direction we can ask for.
Where can people find out more and what is your Twitter username?
Nyk Lygkonis and James Strickland are two London based entrepreneurs who are looking to change the way employee performance reviews are done. Their startup, Appraisly, is being built in a clandestine location in the middle of London’s thriving startup hub. They’ve found great wifi, coffee and a color printer in the lobby of a swank hotel. That’s where these two financial guys by day are perfecting the art of performance reviews.
The product they are bootstrapping will help companies both large and small with employee retention. By having their employee performance platform based in the cloud, it offers easy access for both employees and managers to reference past reviews, keep up with goals, set new goals and conquer milestones. Long gone are the days that an employee should need to wait for an HR person to rifle through file cabinets to find the latest review.
While the company insists that for employees and employers to benefit from reviews they need to discuss them and have an actual in person dialogue their SaaS platform also allows employees and employers to communicate within the platform on a goal. This makes it easy for the employee and employer to remain on the same page. This can be critical for retaining good talent and for employees to set and know benchmarks so they can get raises.
We got a chance to talk with the guys behind Appraisly, check out the interview below.
What is your start-up, what does it do?
In your day-to-day job have you ever had a bad performance review? How did it feel? Unfair? Unjustified? Like your side of things had not been taken into account? Evidence had been ignored? Biased? All of the above?
Appraisly is a cloud-based employee performance management service which will improve the way performance appraisals are conducted at our customers businesses. Our solution allows business owners to manage employee performance in a manner that aligns individual goals to those of the business, in real time and in the cloud. It’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Think of Employee Performance Management as all of the activities that ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner. It is the method by which job performance of an employee is evaluated. We think every business (small, medium or large) in every country should be doing this; and if they’re already doing it they should be doing it better.
Appraisly will provide the guidance, tools, processes and outputs to enable business to conduct effective and value adding performance appraisals without requiring any integration with existing systems.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
I’m James and my co-founder is Nik. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa and have a background in corporate and retail finance while consulting to some of the world’s biggest organizations. I have extensive experience with large scale talent management software (solutions provided by SAP, Oracle and IBM) and personal experience with the ups and downs of the performance management process at some of the world’s top consultancies. On the start-up scene I’ve been involved in a couple of businesses including a custom t-shirt website for social media trends, an affiliate advertising master plan which never took off, and a fledgling financial trend analysis business. On the side I am a passionate PHP developer currently learning about the joys of Ruby on Rails and Python. And I love sci-fi (especially Dune).
Nik is an ex-pat who fled the sunshine and blue seas of Greece to land up in the Welsh countryside. He mastered the town of Aberystwyth and climbed the ranks of one of the world’s leading commercial finance businesses, and ended up in the same consulting jobs as me a couple of times. He’s a pitbull and doesn’t understand the word ‘no’; literally. He has a real problem with authority but is the driving force behind some of the great work we’ve done on Appraisly so far. He’s big into Basketball but has wisely decided to focus on start-ups, since he’s a short white Greek guy who can’t jump very high. He codes on the side
Where are you based?
We’re based in the cultural melting pot of London, U.K. We also have full time jobs in the Financial Services sector at the moment (but hopefully not for much longer). We tend to operate out of a swanky hotel but this is mostly because we like the waitresses, the beers are cheap and the wi-fi is free. Also there’s a color printer. We just pretend that we are staying in the hotel, but really we just rock up each evening and use their facilities. I will decline to mention the name for obvious reasons.
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
We are fairly new to the startup culture, but outside of Silicon Valley I would say that London has a great deal to offer especially around the Old Street area. There are meet-ups occurring all the time and plenty of interesting ideas and people to meet. It seems like every person we meet in our day job has an idea for a start-up too – probably because there’s a lot of really motivating success stories in the UK right now, and some really viable channels to obtain funding. Having said that, I think the proportion of folks who actually get up off their seats to make their ideas a reality is really small; and the people who have the determination and motivation to succeed is even less.
What problem does your startup solve?
Small businesses aren’t doing performance appraisals. They should be. Bigger businesses probably are doing performance appraisals, but they aren’t doing them well enough. This affects people’s job happiness and success, and ultimately affects the bottom line of even the smallest business. Overall, employee performance is not measured or managed accurately.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Doing valuable and unbiased market research is hard, and something we’ve failed to do in past ventures. We’ve been incredibly candid with friends, family and people we meet – we are pitching the idea to every man and his dog. But getting honest unbiased market research has been tough. Here’s how we overcame that: we built a market research survey on Google docs and personally emailed everyone we knew. We put ads on Gumtree and Google to garner additional responses; we promoted the hell out of it on Twitter. In addition, we harvested as many publications and research papers as we could from the routes available to us in our day jobs. At this early stage the data looks really promising, and most importantly it’s proving some of the hypotheses we initially conjectured. The findings are proving very useful as we move through the construction of our detailed business plan.
What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?
Getting off the ground in the rightway has been a real win. We’ve tried the lean approach in a few other scenarios but we’ve really not found that method to be a great success. With Appraisly, we wanted to plan things out properly and that’s been a huge help. By planning I mean the following: We’ve drawn up a macro plan which outlines where we want to be in 5 years, where we want to be in 1 year, and then what we need to do to get there. Some of the key outcomes from that process have been things like “We COULD go away and build this thing right away; but it’s more sensible to plan, design and then raise investment before starting”. We feel so passionate about this idea that just going away and doing a slap-bang job would be doing a great disservice to ourselves and to our idea. Having said all that we do understand that our plan almost certainly will not survive the first investor contact, let alone the first customer contact – but it will get us to those contact points in good shape, and that’s a big deal.
We’ve also drawn up a 6 week plan to get us out of the plan phase, and into design. That’s nearly complete and we’re looking forward to wire framing.
We’ve also built a holding page (htttp://www.appraisly.com), bootstrapped it and launched an EC2 instance to host the site. We’ve started a blog (http://www.appraisly.com/blog), built up a good network on Twitter (@appraisly) and most importantly, registered from early stage investor events. This gives us real targets to aim for and those targets align to our macro plan.
What are your next milestones?
At the moment we’re finalizing our detailed business plan for 12th May, as well as a ten page investor pitch and a couple of one-pager infographics. Following that we’re going into a detailed design phase for the following 6 weeks. That will flesh out our major product offering – we’re really looking forward to this. We’ll be doing an extensive wireframe in Balsamiq and preparing detailed use-cases. Upon completion of the design phase (mid-June) we’ll be heading into the funding/investing phase.
Who are your mentors and role models?
Our role models are Mark Cuban (the man started an IT business, bought a sports team and starred in Entourage!), Elon Musk (the guy has started three separate $1bn businesses – enough said) and Kenny Powers (fictitious), the washed out baseball player from the HBO show Eastbound and Down.
Our mentors include our buddy David Batey (@davidlbatey) a coding genius and lead developer on a couple of awesome projects like Shutl, The Mediagraph and many others. If you want to mentor us give us a shout on Twitter, we’d love to hear any advice you can offer to a new start-up.
What are some of the advantages/disadvantages growing your startup outside of Silicon Valley?
Our major advantages include ready access to the rest of the world (outside of the US). European venture capitalists are on our doorstep, along with a number of potential Arabian and Asian investors. The scene is growing massively and we’ll be part of that wave. We think investors outside of Silicon Valley are looking for founders who are serious, experienced, determined and will not give up. That’s us.
The disadvantages are probably on the flip-side – from what we’ve read, having never visited Silicon Valley, the culture is very immersive; everyone is talking about start-ups or knows someone who knows someone. I guess the disadvantage we have is in terms of the networking possibilities available to us. We also have to ditch our full time jobs and focus exclusively on Appraisly.
What’s next for your startup?
Getting featured in Nibbletz!
We’ll be kicking off our external facing campaign on June 13th at the Launch 48 Showcase event in London. Look out for us there, and stay in touch on Twitter (@appraisly) and via our Blog in the mean time. You can find out more at appraisly.com
The 3d printing revolution is off to an amazing start. Within a year, 3d printers for the home have come down to an affordable level. Two years ago at TechCrunch Disrupt NY we saw the first 3d printer, MakerBot. This year at the same event there were several startups in the 3d space including, Cincinnati based 3DLT, a 99 designs for 3D templates, and 3dindustri.es.
3dindustri.es is hoping to become the go to search engine for 3d printing. They are very unique in that they don’t use search terns, keywords or typical algorithms. 3dindustri.es is all about geometry and shapes. 3dindustri.es, or 3DI as they’re affectionately known, is based in London.
“What Google did for words and text on the web, we aim to do for shapes and 3D models,” said Dr. Seena Rejal, the founder and CEO of 3DI in an interview with Forbes. “We are ordering the 3D world.”
That’s a tall order to fill with the rapid growth of 3d printing. That’s why the company has already inked partnerships with companies that will prove to be influencers in the 3d printing industry, like 4DLT.
We also got a chance to talk with Rejal. Check out our interview video below:
There’s more where that came from check out over 40 startup stories from TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013.
Jess Butcher is the CMO and Co-Founder of Blippar, and chief proponent and evangelist for the new verb “to blipp.” Follow her @jessbutcher.
Who is your hero?
Margaret Thatcher. Like her or loathe her, Britain’s first female prime minister made her way in a man’s world and changed the way we think of women politicians.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Stop benchmarking yourself against other successful entrepreneurs or business people – it wastes valuable energy! Your personality and circumstances are unique and there is no right or wrong way to grow an innovative business. Yes, learn from others’ experiences and be inspired by them, but also make your own rules and navigate your own path. Trust your gut instinct as much if not more than the numbers, and surround yourself with people who you respect and enjoy working with.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
I don’t really associate with the word “mistake,” preferring “learning!”
The occasional error of judgement or wrong move can often move your business faster than the right ones. To be honest, I don’t think we’ve made any big errors of judgement — only wasted time and effort that could have been better spent — but you tend only to appreciate that in hindsight, and re-focus accordingly. Knowing when to stop and draw a line under a particular strategy or approach is critical. About-turns are not weak, they’re strong and demonstrate good leadership, but they need to happen quickly and be communicated decisively.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
A bit of Twitter and industry website browsing first thing on my train commute (to put my head up and check out what’s happening around us), then a good half-hour of writing and rewriting to-do lists and priorities for the day. The sheer number of balls I’m juggling means I’m constantly scribbling down to-do lists. (And I haven’t yet found a to-do app that is as satisfying as my multiple scraps of paper when it comes to drawing a heavy line through a completed item, a big bold star or a screaming, underlined caps item in red!)
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Don’t pay yourselves until you have to! That, and hire a good finance director. This isn’t always possible from startup, but having that skill set within your founding team seriously helps. If you’re fortunate enough to have a product or service that you can trade for another, then “in kind” deals can help a lot with cash flow in the early days.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Possibly a slightly strange one — but if you haven’t already got one, find a good “better half” or at least draw closer to those real friends in your life whose support you’ll need. The life of an entrepreneur is all-consuming, with a poor work-life balance and a roller coaster of highs and lows. Having one personal, special cheerleader who celebrates your highs with you and brings you out of despondency during the lows makes all the difference and keeps you focused and balanced.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
For us, there’s a simple measure of success: when to “blipp” becomes as ubiquitous a verb as googling or tweeting, and as habitual an everyday behavior. Everywhere we go in our daily lives, we will be surrounded by physical images and objects annotated with Blippar ‘b’ instructions, which tell you why each is worth blipping and unlocking for a unique content experience. We will simply look at the world around us through an enhanced Blippar lens — whether via our phone or maybe even hardware we wear — and the world will instantaneously jump to life with additional content experiences.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched#StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
We love talking to British entrepreneurs and founders, it’s just something about the way they say process that makes them seem so professional and articulate. The same goes for Jonathan Knight the cofounder and CEO at Qmee. Knight was quite animated when he told us that Qmee was based in Gloucester England, in the countryside where they have cows and hills, but very few tech startups.
So it was the perfect place for Knight and his co-founder Nick Sutton to launch an internet startup. What amazed me was the idea that these guys have come up with.
Qmee is a platform that pays you to search for stuff on the internet. It works with all of the big search engines like Google, Bing, Amazon, Ebay and Yahoo.
Once you install the browser plugin everything magically happens in the background. When you search for something that Qmee has advertisers for you will see an unobtrusive sidebar on the left side of your browser. This sidebar serves up relevant ads and alongside those ads is the amount that you’ll actually get paid for clicking through to the ad. Now this isn’t some kind of crazy deal where you only get paid if you agree to three offers that will set you back $1000 this is pretty simple, search, click, get paid.
One of the best parts about Qmee is that users can take their payments whenever they want. Payments accumulate in a “Qmee Piggybank”. You can look at your piggy bank balance anytime you want and see what you’ve made so far. Whether it be $80, $800 or 80 cents, you can have Qmee pay you via paypal whenever you would like.
Not bad for some guys from the British countryside right?
Check out our interview with Knight below and for more information visit Qmee.com
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The latest “cofounder platform” promising to connect cofounders to launch the next wave of startups is in London and has a great name. London startup Bizoogo, is allowing UK entrepreneurs to search, connect and collaborate with partners and co-found new businesses.
“The website is organised as a Noticeboard for “People” and “Ideas”. If you’re looking to find a co-founder to help develop your business idea, search our database of “People”; if you want to contribute your time and skills to a new startup opportunity as a co-founder, search our database of “Ideas”.”
“To get started,you sign up for free; update your profile by specifying your location, expertise and the industries you’re interested in. If you have a startup idea, post a brief, specify your location, the industry of your idea, and the expertise you’re looking for in a co-founder. Now you can find or be found according to location, expertise and industry preferences. You can shortlist your top picks and connect privately or publicly via our messaging features. And when you’re ready to meet, come along to our monthly co-founder networking meetups to find out whether the connection is as good face-to-face as it is online.” Erez Nounou told nibletz.com in an interview.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Erez Nounou (CEO) – Erez started out as a commercial lawyer before jumping ship and getting involved in the London startup scene. Alongside founding bizoogo, he has also been involved in digital media and angel investing.
Nicolás Klein (CTO) – Nico is our all-knowing technical guru. From Buenos Aires, he’s been programming for over 6 years and has several desktop and mobile (android) applications to his name. He’s now working on the next set of game-changing features on bizoogo.
Where are you based?
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
The London startup scene is buzzing. We’ve got some of the best support and infrastructure in the world and the quality of our startup and investment community continues to improve and influence the European tech space. It’s a good time to be a startup in London, and as a grassroots entrepreneur community, we’ve got great seats.
How did you come up with the idea for Bizoogo?
The idea came about as a solution to my own startup dilemma of having an idea but not having the technical skills or the industry know-how to develop it. Starting up can be expensive and before proof of concept, risky. It seemed like a good idea to have a go-to, where you know from the start there’s a bunch of people from a range of industries and areas of expertise available and interested in working together, either to eliminate bad ideas early or to validate and develop good ones. That would give us all a cost-effective opportunity to start new businesses and to build better resourced teams from the start.
How did you come up with the name?
It all stemmed from the root word ‘zoog’, which in Hebrew means partner; the website is a place where entrepreneurs are able to find the partners they need to ‘go into business’. Put it all together and you get bizoogo – you go into business! The interlinking O’s in the logo design represent the partnership made up of ‘People’ and ‘Ideas’.
What problem does Bizoogo solve?
With an “ambition gap” in the UK that sees more than 44% of the population wanting to start a business but not doing it, and that “gap” largely follows worldwide, our aim is to bridge the gap by matching the ideators with the technical help they need to execute. Working together lets both sides bridge the creative, technical and financial gap that holds them back; it’s also a really easy, effective and fun way of validating ideas and building a community for those of us that are new to the scene and just scratching and exploring the surface.
What’s your secret sauce?
It’s informal, easy to use, clear in purpose, non-discriminatory and effective. Members across all industries and areas of expertise are able to connect and work together in partnerships that share the talent, time and cost of developing a new business. Instead of paying disconnected freelancers at a time when risks are high and money is limited, anyone can now find the people they need or collaborate on the ideas they like, with a shared interest to make it work. We also realise that lasting relationships don’t exist virtually, so having face-to-face opportunities to meet really helps.
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
Bootstrapped…investors, get in touch.
What is your goto market strategy?
We’re using social media to spread the word via facebook and twitter; we promote our events via meetup; we’re big on strategic partnerships and try to attend and get involved at as many industry events as possible.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
The toughest challenge was finding the right people to work with. To start a new venture, you often don’t know where to start, who to ask or trust and there’s generally a lot of trial-and-error, particularly with freelancers. I think it’s a problem which knocks back a lot of people with business ideas because going beyond your own limited network is a step too far in the dark for most. We’ve created and personally used Bizoogo to help overcome that problem, and it’s fast becoming a really credible go-to community and first point of call for many UK entrepreneurs, because you’re sure to find a mix of different skills, experience and ideas, with the joint aim of collaborating and co-founding new ventures.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
We’ve got a solid network of experienced and exited entrepreneurs across digital and traditional business. I think we’re lucky in that we meet so many passionate and enthusiastic entrepreneurs through our events and our day-to-day that it always provides us with a good measure of inspiration and learning.
What’s next for Bizoogo?
We’re looking to create an end-to-end startup ecosystem where ideas are conceived, developed, grown and funded into profitable businesses.
We want the platform to become a creative, dynamic and ambitious hub packed full of ideas and professionals looking to get involved across the industries, and we want to make sure we’re able to help any business from idea through to sustainability. Watch this space!
Comments Off on London Startup Wants To Know What Float’s Your Goat0LikeLike 1,738
File this under: startups with kick ass names. What’s more is that London based startup Float Your Goat has already attracted over 350 freelancers to their network that connects freelancers to their powerful social network.
Float Your Goat is a social workplace where creative people can network, build teams, grow ideas, and earn money. To date there are 367 freelancers in the network and some of them have been rates as part of the top 100 designers in the UK by The Drum.
The site connects graphic artists, illustrators, photographers, web designers, copywriters, animators and more, not just to each other, but to businesses and other colleagues that have projects that need a designer now.
Float Your Goat was founded by Emeline Wraith who appropriately took the title of “Chief Goat Herder”. The idea for Float Your Goat came up in 2010 as part of “Dragon’s Den” (American’s think Shark Tank) style competition called Dream Big.
“The dream was to create and promote fair, honest and open relationships between clients and freelancers, encouraging the idea of remote working and offering a social media platform for freelancers to share their ideas, tips and tricks as well as showcase their work.” Wraith told nibletz.com in an interview. “We are keen advocates of the idea of remote working; internet access, a laptop and a creative mind is all you need to freelance, and this is something we wanted to promote. Equally, we wanted to be able to cut out the middle man and offer affordable and fair services for all parties involved!”
With a variety of free lancers at different levels and rates, Float Your Goat is perfect for small businesses, large businesses, individuals, and of course startups. Since it’s 2013 and everyone is using the internet anyway, it’s very easy for a startup in Boise Idaho to connect with a designer on Float Your Goat. In fact that startup plans on growing without geographic borders.
Float Your Goat is just as effective for recruiters and those with projects as it is for freelancers.
“For recruiters, With the site’s search engine and rating system in place, clients can easily browse freelancers’ portfolios, testimonials and references, and so find the right person with the right skills to fulfil their needs. Perfect for any ad hoc work!” Wraith said. She’s also hoping that Float Your Goat will become agency executives’ “little black book”.
Now with a solid community growing Float Your Goat is launching a campaign geared towards startups.
“Float Your Goat have just founded a new campaign called Startups 4 Startups (SUSU), a meaningful network of creative startups that, together, delivers selective areas of expertise to nurture, collaborate and develop new business propositions into a working reality. We want to demonstrate the development of a startup from inception to launch, taking a fledgling company and making it fly.
Startups 4 Startups (SUSU) consists of five partners which, when combined, provide a 360 degree service and the necessary elements to help a new business succeed, from business development and financial management to design, print, PR and online presence. Float Your Goat, Incisive London, EML Wildfire, Print My Pixel and People Of Print each offering a different angle and a different skill set to be used both within and outside the creative community. Together we provide the knowledge and ability required for business to business propositions and supply the creative services needed for success.
Each of the partners is either a start up themselves or a collaborator with startups. Through Startups 4 Startups, each will give an understanding of how the startup process works as well as offer sound advice and best practice in terms of the startup journey.”
We will be reporting on this as it launches next month.
Comments Off on Funding Round Up Everywhere Else: batterii, Bluefields, Nomi, Club W 2/18/130LikeLike 2,211
batterii, Cincinnati OH $2.5 Million
batteri is a “co-creation” social network software platform. They recently raised $2.5 million dollars led by Cincinnati local private/public seed stage investor CincyTech. CincyTech contributed $500,000 to the round which included Los Angeles based investor Ken Salkin, batterii CEO Kevin Cummins and other unlisted individuals. The company reports that they have nearly a dozen clients. TechCrunch noticed that quotes from Nike, Crush Republic and ConAgra Foods were on their site. source TC
Bluefields, London England $1 Million
Bluefields is a social platform and management tool for recreational sports teams. The startup is originally from London and is an alumnus of both Seedcamp and 500 Startups. In addition to this latest one million dollar round, Bluefields just launched out of private beta.
During the private beta, TNW reports that there were over 60,000 sports teams players using the service.
Tony Hsieh’s VegasTechFund, Ballpark Ventures, Venrex, 500 startups and White Star Capital all participated in the round. Elliot Loh, Edward Wray, Christian Hernandez, Alicia Navarro, Chang Ng, Andy McLoughlin, Tim Fong, Richard Fearn, Andreas Koukorinis, Christian Lawless and Nathan Elstub all contributed as individuals. source TNW
Nomi, New York, $3 Million
Nomi is a retail “Experience Economy” startup helping to drive engagement for loyal retail customers, rather than having to race to the bottom in price wars. The company was founded by Marc Ferrentino who was formerly the Chief Technical Architect at SalesForce. Nomi takes relationship lessons borrowed from CRM and implements them in a real time environment that’s crucial to closing sales at retail cash registers.
Philadelphia’s First Round Capital led the $3 million dollar round with participation from Greycroft Partners, SV Angel, Forerunner Ventures, Ralph Mack, Dave Tisch, Andy Dunn (CEO, Bonobos), and Sam Decker (CEO, Mass Relevance and former CMO, Bazaarvoice).
Club W, Los Angeles $3.1M
Los Angeles based Club W claims that they are the “coolest wine club” . They are also the first company to offer a personalized and curated subscription model for wine. Their$3.1 million dollar round follows a $500,000 angel round closed this time last year. L.A’s Crosscut Ventures led the round.
“We look at wine and see a $34 billion annual market ripe for disruption,” says Adam Goldenberg, Venture Partner at Crosscut said in a statement. “Club W has great traction and a solid model. We realize we’re taking a contrarian position on eCommerce given the prevailing attitudes among venture capitalists but we’ll continue to bet on the early movers leading great teams in markets with huge potential.” source: bizjournals.com
Comments Off on Uber’s Biggest Competitor Hailo Raises $30 Million For Eastern Expansion0LikeLike 1,128
We’ve been covering Uber’s biggest competitor Hailo since last March. The European startup aggressively expanded throughout Europe in major cities like Dublin and London before coming over the the U.S. Now, according to report from TechCrunch and AllthingsD they’re ready to expand eastward to Asia.
They just announced a $30 million dollar raise led by Union Square Ventures, Japanese telco KDDI, Richard Branson and others. The company is expected to use these funds to expand to Asia. Back in March they announced a $17 million dollar raise with funds used from that round to expand into the U.S.
Hailo reportedly has 10,000 drivers using their service across the globe and have had over a million passengers since launch. Hailo is operating in Dublin, London, Chicago, Toronto, Boston and Chicago. They plan to add New York, Madrid, Barcelona and Tokyo in the immediate future.
Like Uber, Hailo allows customers to use a mobile app to hail a ride. Hailo works with Taxi cabs which can be a lot cheaper than the black sedan service that Uber users are accustomed to hailing. However, Uber has gotten into the taxi game, testing a taxi hailing platform in Washington DC during the inauguration. Also, regulators in California along with other states, seem to be backing off regulations when it comes to hailing and ride sharing apps, which should help smooth things along for Uber, and of course Hailo.
Comments Off on What’s Not To Love About BagServant, A Startup About Handbags?0LikeLike 2,032
Every woman is always looking for the most stylish and affordable handbag. Shopping for handbags can be a real pain. I know when I go into a mall with a Coach Store, Dooney store and department store, I’m at a loss because I can never make the right decision. Lord knows I can’t afford them all.
Wimbledon startup BagServant is here to help women everywhere find the latest greatest bags. Not only are they the only search engine devoted to handbags from just about every designer but they also have virtual concierge services. Their concierge can help you figure out just want you want, and of course when you want more, you just go back to BagServant.
Lenka Gourdie is the woman behind BagServant. She has a background in consumer marketing and worked for one of London’s fashion manufacturing houses as well. She and her staff have an impeccable eye for the latest trends, styles and of course fashion.
Some of the best fashions in the world come out of the UK and that holds true at BagServant as well. We got a chance to talk with Gourdie about her startup and London’s exciting startup scene. Check out the interview below.