Plugg wraps with two very capable winnners

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So Plugg, the European startups conference in Brussels today (organised by TechCrunch writer Robin Wauters) wrapped up with two overall winners of their startup competition, and if I do say so myself they were pretty worthy.

The overall winner was London-based Mendeley which describes itself as the “Last.fm for research” – in other words they are out to scrobble capture data about research papers, as well as making scientific research both social. Fascinatingly, they are setting out to make the trends in scientific research a great deal faster to analyse and expose – something which normally takes years to recognise. The startup essentially aims to enable academics to manage and share their research paper inventory and at the same time discover like-minded people and papers thanks to a recommendation and matching algorithm. The business model is based on premium features like increased upload space, working out who is reading your papers, and something they call an “iTunes for Research papers”. Corporate/ research departments are looking to license the software in-house. Plus CPM rates for research papers tend to be much higher than in consumer markets.

The audience also cast their votes in the morning session and awarded Myngle with the People’s Choice Award. This startup, based in The Netherlands, pitches itself as a ‘new way to learn languages’. Myngle was founded by ex-eBay and Berlitz language company employees and operates a platform for online language education where teachers and students can virtually connect and determine if there’s a match for an online course to start between the parties (from both sides).

Myngle’s defensability against Livemocha and iTalki is, they claim, the combination of quality teaching and community. Teachers on Myngle are ‘checked’ before going online – though that does raise issues of scalability. However they do have revenues – they ask people to pay about 300-400 Euro up front for lessons, thus avoiding the “shall I continue” question with other paid-language sites, and this means they are booking 20,000 Euro per month and accelerating.

Some other highlights of the conference included:

Inma Martinez, digital media strategist and Venture Capital investor, who threw down the guantlet to European startups, saying they needed to ‘surf the same wave’ all the US firms surf, before it hits Europe. She also emphasised the importance of marketing and productization – something European startups are generally pretty bad at, even as they are great at R&D.

• Synthetron sounded like a fascinating way to create a crowd conversation.

Beebole.com looked liked an interesting mashup of the Netvibes model tailored to businesses

Senseboard was a bizarre Minority Report-style startup from Stockholm that had a hand-controller for sensing movement opposite a computer screen. Wild.

• EyeTronics scanned your face into a 3-D image which, ideally, will get inserted into games

Silentale continues to be one of the startups to keep an eye on.

Lisa Sounio, chairwoman of Dopplr encouraged women to get involved in startups. She’s a serial entrepreneur who used to work for iconic Nordic brands, but found the corporate companies too slow. She also called for European MPs to declare their travel plans and release the data.

Dries Buytaert, the original Belgian creator and project lead for the Drupal open source web publishing and collaboration platform, gave a masterful speech about being an outsider on the US startup scene. This guy is rapidly making his way forward. He is president of the Drupal Association, a non-profit organization, co-founder of Acquia, the VC-backed software company which is the “Red Hat” of Drupal and is also working on Mollom, a service that helps you identify content quality and that stops website spam. And he’s in his 20s. Beat that.

Bart Decrem, CEO of Tapulous is originally from Belgium, but now heads a company with a main-street office in Palo Alto where Mark Zukerburg will casually drop by. Decrem coordinated the creation of the GNOME Foundation, headed marketing and business affairs for the Mozilla Foundation, and founded Flock. His main message was that where as originally people thought iPhone apps would be about location services, in fact they turned out to be about disposable services and entertainment. Tap Tap was one of the most popular apps and now has 6m users and 1,000 games are completed every minute.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John_Stoll/620281069 John Stoll

    test

  • http://www.boardofinnovation.com Nick

    Myngle and Mendeley both seem to be interesting start-ups but they aren’t that innovative. We took some time to plot out their business models and then you see more easily that they are similar to many other internet businesses. But of course that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a sustainable business.

    Congratulations to both of them!

  • http://www.egitisim-blog.com Eğitişim Kariyer Enstitüsü

    We are very excited to learn what are the new things in Turkey especially.

  • http://arabcrunch.com ِArabCrunch

    We have organized a smiler conference for startups in the Arab world:
    http://arabcrunch.com/2009/02/arab-tech-startup-showcased-their-innovation-at-arabcrunch-demo-9.html

  • Rob

    I read as far as “I do say so myself they were pretty worthy.” and “Last.fm for research”, followed by “Fascinatingly, they are setting out to make the trends”.

    If my name were Gump I might have continued.

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  • http://www.theenglishteacheronline.com Aniya

    Well done Myngle!!! I am a teacher on Myngle so I will share this success with all the staff, colleagues and students :-)

  • http://www.myngle.com Perry

    I work for Myngle and I am thrilled to hear about Myngle receiving the people’s choice award! It only shows that the world is getting smaller and smaller with an ever growing interest for cross-cultural communications.

    One misconception though, students do not have to pay EUR 300-400 to sign up. The teacher determines the rate per lesson and the student can choose for just one individual lesson or a package or subscription.

  • http://Www.talkbiznow.com Martin Warner

    Good summary Mike, thanks.

  • http://beebole.com Yves (BeeBole)

    Mike,

    Thank you for the nice comment about BeeBole !

  • http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez Ramón

    I should add one: your 101 course on pitching journalists and bloggers. I am sure the video of your presentation is gonna be a success as soon as robin uploads it.

  • Shannon

    One more highlight: the VC panel, particulary Fred Destin from Atlas with his no holds-barred, tell it like it is, practical advice to startups – another video to watch! 1. realise how bad the crisis is from investor perspective. 2. the bar is high, you either have to be established startup with 1m+ users that needs acceleration, or innovative IP with proof points. 3. cash is more important than your mother. 4. startup model is predicated on creative destruction, ex: Skype created 2B of value, but probably wiped 10-15B in value off telecoms…newspapers up next. 5. predicts 24 more months of pain. 6. innovation problem in europe is not related to $: need to identify opps and think big 7. govt spend on startups is a waste of $.

  • http://www.myngle.com/blog/2009/03/13/myngle-wins-people%e2%80%99s-choice-award-at-plugg-start-ups-rally Myngle wins People’s Choice Award at Plugg start-ups rally! |

    […] Plugg event of 2009 was a great success! It received much coverage already, including reviews on TechCrunch , Emerce (Dutch) and many others. Secondly, it showed that the audience was on our side. Not only […]

  • amicamia

    Congratulations Myngle !
    amicamia-Turkish and English Teacher on Myngle

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  • http://learn10.com Nicola Robinsonova

    So good to see a language site as the audience choice.
    Looked like an interesting event from what I could follow on Twitter.

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