As you know, inventures.eu is dedicated to the movers and shakers in the Centraland Eastern European startup community, with a finger always on the pulse of the who-s and what-s of our region’s development and innovation. These are our picks of the CEE startup stars that popped up most on inventures.eu this past year, and remember to check back here to see how they grow and where they go in 2014.
Flipps (previously iMediaShare), Bulgaria
Following steady, well-paced expansion, media-sharing service Flipps underwent rebranding from its identity as iMediaShare, its name since inception. That was in 1998, when it began merely as a side project for seasoned entrepreneur Kosta Jordanov, who we profiled in August. Now, Flipps’ operations have expanded from its birthplace in Sofia, with bicoastal locations in the US (New York, Los Angeles, and San Mateo, CA). The company’s premise is simply to simplify – making the discovery and sharing of media easier. It’s done using a cloud-based mobile app operated by patented technology enabling content-sharing and seamless integration across a range of platforms and devices – TVs, game consoles, blu-ray players, audio systems and media boxes. Its highlights are HD video delivery in 3D optimised in real time, and delivery of on-demand video content to any TV set.
In October, newly-dubbed Flipps reported receiving a personal investment from Silicon Valley venture capitalist-superstar Tim Draper, founder and managing director of venture firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The app already had 700.000 dollars in seed funding from LAUNCHub, Teres Capital, and Blanor. With Draper’s undisclosed amount, they plan to “extend our content partnerships to offer more content to our audience, and to further improve the product,” according to Jordanov.
Strawberry energy, Serbia
We first covered Strawberry energy in June, reporting on the Serbian team of entrepreneurs working by the motto, “Making renewable energy sources more accessible to all people.” Their initial product, the Strawberry Tree, a solar charger for portable devices installed in and around busy urban areas, has already seen success in its implementation in various cities throughout Serbia and the Balkan region. The Strawberry energy team is also focused on educating about the importance and usage of clean energy, and dedicated to increasing sustainability.
Their enterprise has grown rapidly, and we caught up with them again in November, after they’d won the startup pitching competition at the Belgrade Venture Forum. They’ve developed a charger for portable devices that’s portable itself, with plans to install it in more rural areas that are seriously lacking adequate access to electricity. Additionally, they’re working on rolling out a new business plan that will draw less funding from charging users, more from investors and an innovative advertising model.
IDerma co-founders Josipa Majić and Ana Burica are behind one of the companies making up the recent trend of startup businesses taking a turn towards cornering the medical and healthcare sector niche of the market. In September, we profiled the young pair of Croatian economics students who managed a breakthrough in this tough category for startups, succeeding in placing their innovative products in clinics worldwide.
An often inaccessible industry, the business of new developments in healthcare has nevertheless been the one to watch in 2013, as innovators managed to break through such restrictions with beneficial and game-changing products. One of those game changers comes courtesy of IDerma. The Croatian startup developed Teddy the Guardian, a plush teddy bear toy embedded with sensors that detect a child’s vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and body temperature. Those measurements are reported to parents’ smartphones, allowing them to more easily monitor their children’s health. Even more practically, it allows vital signs to be taken at normal, relaxed rates, as opposed to recording potentially skewed measurements thanks to doctor’s office-induced fear.
Pragulic, Czech Republic
In early 2012, a team of three Czech university students developed a concept that, while not entirely new itself, was not yet introduced in the CEE region. The idea is offering tours of a city – in this case, Prague – guided by the homeless. Pragulic co-founder Tereza Jurečková explained to inventures.eu in April that they work with guides who are not homeless in the literal sense of the word, but who have had the experience, and thus can translate it into necessary insight of their city.
Pragulic has already collected awards including the SozialMarie, ERSTE Bank Award for Social Integration (covered here by us), and the 2013 Future Impact Prize (read inventures.eu’s coverage and post-win catchup with the team here). This year, they pitched to investors at CEE Impact Day and discussed impact investment at the Investment Ready Program‘s first Warm-Up event in Vienna. The tour operators plan to launch a new business model while growing their operations and tour offerings to a financially sustainable organisation, and simultaneously bringing attention to the social issue of homelessness, and fighting its negative stereotypes and perceptions. The endeavor’s success comes with plans for replication in other CEE countries.
In July, we profiled Matic Bitenc, laid-back CEO and co-founder of Toshl, a finance management app out of trendy Slovenia that is changing people’s mentality towards money. The concept is simple – eliminating the frustration and avoidance that so often accompany managing our money with a smartphone app that tracksand analyses expenses, creates budgets and navigates currencies while helping to take the stress out of it with fun, shareable graphics. They received extensive coverage, eventually leading to a feature in Apple’s US App Store and over 800.000 registered users worldwide and more than 2.5 million dollars of personal expenses tracked. This past January, their efforts at making finance fun paid off when they snagged an award at The Europas, “Europe’s most prestigious tech event”, in the category for Best Commerce and Finance. Then in October, they opened their office doors to visitors as part of Slovenia’s participation in the collaborative festival Internet Week.
Check out the wrap-up of our week-long dedication to the Slovenian startup scene, definitely one to watch in the coming year, here.