Apple fanboys, admit it, even you despair when having to manipulate a block of text on an iPhone or an iPad. Yes, Apple has been improving this area over the years, but not fast enough – I still remember the hype and excitement when they introduced the copy and paste function at some point. Fortunately, the beauty of platforms lies in the fact that independent developers can bring additional innovation and improvements when the mothership has other priorities.

Just launched this week, Tyype HD, described as a “revolutionary texture-based text editor for the ipad” by its makers, caught my attention for attempting to fix the iOS text editing headaches. Move through your text with one finger, start highlighting with two, pinch to make it bigger or smaller – easy breezy.

Tyype HD was developed by Appvetica, a young Warsaw-based app development studio, run and founded by Peter Tuszynski (@dusker), Michael Tuszynski (@srgtuszy), and Tom Zajac (@tomzadesign). Read more

An interesting press release just came across my inbox, encouraging European entrepreneurs to apply to World to NYC on August 6th to 8th. It’s a 3-day program, free for selected participants, tailored to help international entrepreneurs expand to New York. It’s organized by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the city’s official development organization.

I’m a firm believer in more working and less networking, but I can certainly imagine some of you benefiting substantially from an opportunity to schmooze in New York. Mayor Bloomberg thinks so, too:

Applications are due on June 11th.

Happy Friday! We hope you will enjoy our weekly Poland news roundup. The roundup for the rest of the region will come soon.

  • Vivid Games, a mobile games developer, has successfully completed a private offering of shares. Vivid acquired 0,71 mln EUR from 31 investors. One of them is Giza Polish Ventures, which took 19,8% of the shares. In 2012 Vivid plans to achieve 176K EUR profit with 1,1 mln EUR of revenue (with 0,6 mln EUR in 2011).
  • On April 20th I wrote that UseItBetter got to the final of GiGse Launchpad in San Francisco. Five startups were given the opportunity to present their ideas for gaming, but it was Use It Better that won both the judges’ and the audience’s votes. UIB presented two products: Playful (helps designers and analysts understand players) and Fairplay („Security cam” for advergames, social games, and online gambling).
  • After good news it’s time for bad news. AdTaily, which enables selling ads on websites in an easy way (through sell-service ad widget), is closing down its international version. Reason? They failed at building enough scale. At the same time AdTaily in Poland is growing steadily and it’s profitable.

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Central & Eastern Europe News

    Image: The Dream by Henri Rousseau, MoMA

  • Prezi (Hungary) reached an exciting milestone – it grew past 10 million users. They also announced a Powerpoint import tool. It might be time to import my “history of beer in Central Europe” lecture into Prezi. Read on VB
  • The Next Web conference took place in Amsterdam last week and Natasha from GoalEurope has a neat writeup of all the CEE companies she met there. Read on Goal Europe
  • Brand Embassy, a graduate of the first batch of Startup Yard in Prague, officially launched its service. Read on Eastist Wire
  • Estonian Zerply, a professional social network, raised seed funding from Dave McClure. This seems to be a popular industry up there, with rival Achoo launching just recently. Read on GoalEurope
  • I recently participated in a discussion between a Latvian and Estonian entrepreneur about which country has the fastest internet in Europe. According to the latest Akamai State of the Internet report it’s neither, but Romania makes a surprise showing. Read details on GigaOm
  • 300.mg announced new social filtering tools.
  • Electric super cars made by Croatian Rimac go on sale. Read on Mashable

Poland News (by Szymon Szymczyk, our Poland contributor)

  • Winners of the Aulery 2012 awards have been presented during the ceremony on April 27th. They are: Can’t Stop Games, Brand24 and UXPin. Read more on GoalEurope.
  • Zoe Adamovicz, the founder of ConciseSoftware with HQ in Rzeszów, is among a group of business angels who invested in Loopc.am, a tool for recording and sharing short gif-based videoclips. Read on TechCrunch
  • Tequila Planet, a mobile games network, achieved 10 million unique users after a little over twelve months on the market. It provides game developers with a one-click in-app billing solution for Android, Java J2ME, and BlackBerry software, with broad coverage in more than 80 countries. It also extends the core functions of games by enabling social features such as online leaderboards, competitions with prizes, and integration with many popular social networks. Thanks to personalized recommendations, users can discover new games that match their interests.
  • And now a bit of entertainment for you before the weekend: Grow App, an accelerator for mobile apps (you give them the idea, they make it and pay you commision on profits) released its first app on iTunes – Dream Beam, “the first dream induction app”. I haven’t tested it yet, and the creators say it it will only affect your dreams in 30-50% cases, but it still sounds like fun.

Russia News

  • Russian VC firm NGI launches a fund for investing in French startups. Read on TC
  • Avito.ru, the largest Russian classifieds site, scored an investment from Accel. Read on TC
  • This is a bit last week, but too interesting to skip – the Russian gigant Yandex invested in the Seedcamp fund. Yandex could really do something for ties between European and Russian startups. Read on GigaOM

Read more

Participants at Startup-Your-Idea

GRASP is an organization with a broader scope that aims at making a contribution to the development of Romania in general. What do you do in terms of entrepreneurship and how does this fit in the broader picture of your vision for Romania?

GRASP has 120 active members who are Romanian young professionals and students who are either studying or working abroad, but who try to contribute to Romania’s development and modernization through projects which offer concrete solutions to specific challenges. In this sense, “Start Up Your Idea” is basically an “incubator for ideas” since it seeks to develop the entrepreneurial abilities of a certain number of participants selected on the basis of their business proposals and motivates them to apply them in Romania. In addition, we want to create more than a workshop on entrepreneurship, but a network of people who want to have a start up and need the resources to implement it. Thus, the next step of the project is to involve GRASP network in mentoring the participants to implement their business.

How does Start Up Your Idea fit in the scene of entrepreneurship events in Romania?

“Start Up Your Idea” is actually different from similar projects insofar as it is a long-term endeavor which seeks to create a network of entrepreneurs where participants can become mentors and speakers for subsequent editions. In this sense, the program was structured on three pillars so as to facilitate the transfer of know-how from successful entrepreneurs towards the participants, but also between the participants themselves.

What is the idea behind the project?

“Start-up Your Idea” is a program aiming at helping aspiring entrepreneurs move from the idea to the start up stage through mentorship and basic knowledge. “Start-up Your Idea” comes in the shape of a 3 pillar program. It is structured on: workshops and trainings twice per year, regular meetings with participants from previous editions, and a mentoring system aimed at supporting the entrepreneurs throughout the business implementation process.
Read more

Make sure you don’t miss any Central and Eastern European tech news. Sign up for the Eastist Newsletter, delivered weekly, full of stuff like you see below and more.

The news roundup is a bit short this week due to too much Baltic travel, but it’s delivered to you with love from the Riga airport through painfully slow wifi.

Central and East European startup coverage

Poland News (by Szymon Szymczyk, our Poland contributor)

  • The 2012 Aulery Awards Nominees list has been published. Although the contest is international, most of the finalists are from Poland.
  • UseItBetter got to the final of GiGse Launchpad in San Francisco. They will present two new products: Playful (helps designers and analysts understand players) and Fairplay(„Security cam” for advergames, social games, and online gambling).
  • EduKoala (mobile app to learn vocabulary) got to the final of Startup Sauna in Helsinki.
  • NaviExpert (GPS navigation provider) got to the final of the 2012 Red Herring 100 Europe Award.
  • Startup.tv has officialy launched (unfortunately, videos are in Polish only…).
  • Brand24, a successful startup specializing in social media monitoring, has acquired another investor – business angel Andrzej Zydorowicz took 5% of shares for 200K PLN (48K euro) thus valuing the company at 4 mln PLN (about  1 mln euro). It is worth recalling that in August 2011 (just before the end of the beta phase and market launch) CAM Media SA acquired 30% of Brand24’s shares for the same amount of money. The company is already profitable and plans international expansion.

Sign up for the Eastist Newsletter and you’ll get more of where this came from every week.

On my way to Tallinn earlier this week I took advantage of my Riga layover and visited Tech Hub Riga. There, I got to chat with Uldis Leiterts (@uldis), the co-founder of infogr.am, and check out their upcoming beta release. Click here for a sneak peek.It’s live now and you can check it out, too.

You could think of infogr.am as an instagram for data. Or you could think of it as an extremely easy-to-use tool for data journalists, bloggers, educators, and countless others who would like to make data sexy. The Latvian team behind infogr.am is building tools to make it easy to create customized inforgraphics on the web, and share or embed them anywhere. The ultimate vision is to be the next generation software for data visualization with a strong community and ecosystem behind it – a competitor to Adobe or Autodesk, but with the spirit of Evernote or 6Wunderkinder.

In almost typical Baltic startup fashion, infogr.am is taking advantage of several accelerator programs. Earlier this year they joined HackFwd, and this week they just started the Startup Sauna program. When I jokingly asked if they did Garage 48, too, the answer was “sort of”. Leiterts was part of the Mighty Fingers team at the Garage 48 hackathon where the Mighty Fingers project was born.

While on the topic of acceleration, I asked about going to Silicon Valley, and the answer was “No, thanks.” This team doesn’t feel the itch for a spiritual journey to the Valley, and I have to admit, it’s nice to see so much optimistic spirit for Europe. Leiterts sees infogr.am as a European company, with plenty of friends and mentors all over the continent, and plans to put down strong roots in the Baltics.

The early version of infogr.am has been getting a positive response from data journalists. There is great potential for news websites in the ability to visualize breaking news immediately. When infogr.am published an infographic with live data during a referendum, it received over 800,000 visits. This kind of clicking must be music to publishers’ ears. But unless you have a kick-ass team like the New York Times, with the current tools it can take days to put together a good quality interactive chart. Let’s see if infogr.am can shake this space up a little.

The president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, addressing Mini Seedcamp Tallinn.

Mini Seedcamp Tallinn felt like a homecoming for Seedcamp. Even though this was the first Seedcamp event in Estonia, the Seedcamp family already features six Estonian companies and is probably about to expand this number. Most Mini Seedcamp events present companies from all over Europe and the world, and this one was no exception, but the proportion of local teams was unprecedented this time, with 8 teams out of 20 coming from Tallinn and Tartu (with further 5 from other CEE countries). Adding to the general impression that Estonia is about to emerge as a serious startup hub was the presence of the nation’s president. Not only did he welcome us in the “startup country” in flawless English, he stayed to listen to all of the pitches (and was impressed by their high quality according to Twitter).

I noticed a strong 3D/augmented reality theme at this Seedcamp, such as CGTrader – a marketplace for 3D designs, Sayduck – a tool for viewing 3D models of furniture in the comfort of your home, Sketchfab – an online 3D viewer, or Notif5 – a location-based audio notification platform. Not quite augmented reality, but firmly rooted in the physical world were Viewsy - a real world metrics solution for businesses, and WeatherMe – a crop management system for farmers that uses weather data to suggest the best farming methods. Other themes such as gaming (Healthy Heroes and Mighty Fingers), marketplaces (carfitsme and Merkanty), tools for developers (browserbite and Zonear), and content curation (Kula and Pinevio) were well represented. The rest of the pitches included Arkademy - a platform for online seminars, easyRider.me – a tool for managing bands’ technical requirements while touring, Opuss – a social publishing platform, tellyo – a 2nd screen TV app, and UtilityCamp – a smart-meter with usage analytics. And no 2012 startup event can be left without a clever taxi app – TaxiPal works with taxi companies to provide a simple multi-lingual mobile app for ordering taxis. Several Seedcamp visitors found it very useful during the post-event barhopping.

The day ended with a visit to the legendary Tallinn dive bar Vaalli and their deadly house shots called millimallikas. Apparently, this painful combination of tequila, sambuca, and tabasco, similar to the Polish wściekły pies shot, is an important piece of Skype company culture, and we were convinced to try it because supposedly Steve Ballmer did it, too.

Seedcamp team Kirsten and Carlos *before* the millimallikas shots. The *after* pics were a bit less happy.

Make sure you don’t miss any Central and Eastern European tech news. Sign up for the Eastist Newsletter, delivered weekly, full of stuff like you see below and more.

 

Central and Eastern European Startup News

Poland News (by Szymon Szymczyk, our Poland contributor)

  • Two Polish startups qualified for the TNW BizSpark Startup Rally at the TNW2012 conference. They are:
    • AppMotion –  ”Think of it as Nintendo Wii, but with your iPad as a console and screen, and iPhone as a controller.”
    • Zapstreak – “Zapstreak will put AirPlay into Android media apps (video, audio, photo). No hardware required.”
    • (And Belladati from the Czech Republic is the third one from CEE. It provides analytics tools to retailers.)
  • iTraff Technology, the company behind the SaveUP image recognition application, has collected 1,9 mln zł (0,45 mln euro) in its second round of financing. New investors are Innovation Nest fund, Rafał Han, Stephane Senkowski, and SpeedUp Venture Capital Group, which also invested in the first, seed round. SaveUP had started as a mobile application but then it found out that there were companies interested in just its image recognition technology. So SaveUP made a pivot and now it’s a B2B product. They plan to sell a worldwide licence and access to its API.
  • Two business angels, Mariusz Gralewski and Michał Skrzyński, have invested 300k zł (72k euro) in positionly.com, a tool for monitoring the position of a website in search engines, which just recently came out of beta. Positionly.com has 1500 registered accounts (paid and free) and plans to attack Silicon Valley – they’ve already got customers there.
  • At last some numbers that look impressive even after dividing by 4 (Polish złoty/euro exchange rate). PizzaPortal.pl and three other websites (from Sweden, Austria and Finland) that are run by OnlinePizza Norden, a company based in Łódź, were acquired by the German group Delivery Hero for 120 mln zł (28,7 mln euro). Today Pizzaportal.pl supports over 1150 restaurants in Poland.
  • This news may surprise many people, but… beginning on April 12th, Polish developers can at last officially sell applications in Google Play. It’s a pity they had to wait so long…

Read more

Geek.
Thanks to the fantastic Estonian startup Newspin.co, I stumbled across a study about Estonian IT hiring. The study by Estonian Development Fund revealed that Estonia needs “two or three times” more IT professionals than available, especially network architects and other telecommunications specialists.

I can’t vouch for this information, since, true to the current unfortunate trend in scientific reporting, the article doesn’t provide a detailed-enough citation of this study (let alone a link). However, it raises some interesting questions:

  • Do other countries in CEE face similar problems?
  • If they don’t face these problems yet, is this a trend they should be worried about?
  • How true is the Western European perception that the East is a motherlode of plentiful and affordable engineering talent?
If you have any information or opinion on this subject, please get in touch in the comments or through email! This is a fascinating topic.