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Eastist: Startups in Central & Eastern Europe - Page 8

Failure to cooperate, bad UX and marketing, engineers instead of entrepreneurs, and fear of change.

These are “Four Slavic Habits” John Biggs, the editor of TechCrunch Gadgets, outlined in a presentation at the Reaktor coworking space in Warsaw. The slide is from his talk at the OpenReaktor#1 meetup back in August, in which he gave advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Biggs has been coming to Poland for many years and also worked there as a consultant, so his candid insight is definitely interesting. Oh, and he is fluent in Polish!

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Here are some news and features that came across my desk today while working on the next feature article for Eastist.

Tripomatic from Brno is selected out of more than 60 applicants as the best Czech startup at the WebExpo Startup Show in Prague. The prize is a 1 million Czech Crown ( €40,655) investment offer from Miton Investment. The runners-up were BookFan and OpenBrand.

Filmaster, a Polish social movie startup, partners with Raindance, Europe’s leading independent film festival that takes place in the UK at the beginning of October, allowing festival-goers to check-in, rate, review, plan and more.

The Next Web has an interesting interview about improving the chances of East European tech startups with Bogdan Iordache of How To Web, the much-anticipated upcoming tech conference in Romania, and Aleksandar Tasev of Balkan Unlimited, a Skopje non-profit dedicated to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the Balkans.

 

 

Sportlyzer from Tartu, a picturesque university town in Estonia, aims to disrupt the personal training space with a combination of sport science and computer science. Its co-founder Tõnis Saag is no newcomer to this space – he worked in the analog version for 13 years as a coach, manager, and founder of sports medicine centers in Estonia. He observed that most potential clients could not afford his services, since composing individual training plans is rather time consuming. Looking for a technology that could help him advise more people at a lower price eventually led to the idea for Sportlyzer.

The company’s ultimate goal is to have Sportlyzer’s virtual coach “on every screen in the world that displays fitness data,” connecting to any tracking solution and analyzing the resulting training data. On a more futuristic note, Saag imagines that one day “users will be able to talk to their virtual coach and ask questions as if it was a human being.” That is a long way in the future, but he says he believes in the Sportlyzer team and its ability to get there eventually. This vision is also what distinguishes Sportlyzer from the plethora of other personal fitness services out there, according to Saag. In the coming years, there will be increasing amounts of data about individuals’ health from heart rate monitors, GPS devices, or smartphones, and Sportlyzer wants to be the “smart training planning engine that can analyze your data and provide you with training advice on how to perform better, avoid injuries and still have fun.”
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The joy of being mayor of Starbucks is fleeting, and this kind of fun is not for everyone. Oust.me aims to change that by developing a service that enables friends as well as strangers play all sorts of games using their existing geolocation services, such as Foursquare, Gowalla, or Facebook.

The team behind Oust.me consists of seven Slovenians who have been working on it since March of this year. They won the Ljubljana Mini Seedcamp in July, which resulted in a seed investment from Seedcamp. They also participated in Seedcamp Week in London, where they got a lot of new ideas they are working on right now, according to Roni Kordis, CMO at oust.me.

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It all started when Hardi Meybaum of GrabCAD surprised the European startup scene by giving GrabCAD’s €25K prize won at Seedcamp Week to FarmerOn, a young Croatian startup. This inspired Matija Kopić, the CEO and founder of FarmerOn, to spread the love further and he just launched a website called Startups Giving Back with the aim to document acts of inter-startup kindness. A place where he hopes to “create a repository of examples startups and entrepreneurs helping each other out in extraordinary ways, proving that bonds between fellow entrepreneurs are important part of startup’s life.”

Help Startups Giving Back (see what I did there?) by spreading the word and sending examples.

It seems that a bunch of Eastist-relevant operations got some buzz on Twitter this weekend while they participated in the #build07 event in Berlin organized by the startup accelerator HackFwd.

Filmaster from Poland describe themselves as “Foursquare for film.”

Sparrw from Croatia saves, manages and analyzes your tweets.

WhoAPI also from Croatia is an API for mass requests of domain information.

Mixgar from Hungary lets people check into real world places and influence the playlist.

These all actually sound like pretty cool and fairly unique ideas. Kudos to HackFwd for amassing such a cool crowd so early on in its lifespan (there is also a bunch of intriguing companies they invested in that is not within the scope of this blog). Keep an eye on these four and so will we.

This year’s Seedcamp Week had the highest yet concentration of startups from Central and Eastern Europe. What an exciting observation to report in the first article on Eastist!

Over the coming weeks we will bring you more in-depth profiles of these companies, but for now, here is an overview:

Campalyst (Estonia / Lithuania / Finland) – Social analytics software that helps companies measure the real ROI (up to the actual purchase) of their social network campaigns.

FarmerOn (Croatia) – FarmerOn helps farmers analyze their performance metrics and collaborate with other farmers. While they weren’t one of the three original winners of Seedcamp Week, in a surprise move, GrabCAD announced they would like to give their prize of 25,000 to FarmerOn.

GrabCAD (Estonia / USA) – On of the event winners, GrabCAD is a community and marketplace that connects companies and CAD engineers.
Oust.me (Slovenia) – A geo-location game that connects various existing location services into a strategic social game.

Sportlyzer (Estonia) – A social online workout application complete with a digital coach and training plans.

Vox.io (Slovenia) – Also one of the winners, a service that lets people make free phone and video calls straight from their website as well as share call-back links.

Zin.gl (USA / Belgium / Russia) – An online dating site.

In a bit of an ironic twist, both of the winners from the list above moved their offices to the US at some point this year. Vox.io moved to San Francisco and GrabCAD to Boston. The Eastist team is curious to hear them talk about the pros and cons of this decision.

It’s nice to hear that Seedcamp’s mission to foster technology business in Europe specifically seeks to include countries further to the East. As its founder Saul Klein expressed to Forbes:  “Some of these Eastern European startups are mostly invisible to Mayfair, and totally invisible to Sand Hill Road.” It is exciting to see that there is a rising movement to change that.

Eastist was created to bring you news, interviews, guest opinions and analysis about innovation, technology and entrepreneurs in Central and Eastern Europe. The main focus of this blog is on startups, where all of the above intersects in exciting ways. However, we won’t shy away from occasional coverage of policy, politics, larger businesses, or social entrepreneurship.

More than 20 years after the fall of Communism it doesn’t quite make sense to talk of “post-socialist economies in transition” — some of today’s entrepreneurs weren’t even alive when the regimes fell. Yet, this shared history defines a region, a unique one with its own challenges and exciting future. It would be hard to find all that much in common between Prague and Skopje, or Minsk and Ljubljana, but they get lumped together as “Eastern Europe”* and their native talent is under-reported, under-funded and simply under-appreciated. We are here to change all that.

While we might run an occasional profile of a vodka-chugging, mad-genious Russian programmer who does parkour in his free time and is hacking your bank account while you’re reading this, you are much more likely to read about Czech women in tech, Romanian VCs, or Slovenian incubators. And above all, you will uncover the incredible diversity of people, countries and ideas this region has to offer.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to make sure you don’t miss out and get in touch if you have tips, opinions, or requests!

 

*If you are wondering what countries exactly we intend to cover, check out the EastList where you will find a list of all our countries as well as a growing database of their startups.