The Europas Liveblog 2009

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6:16 PM: The hordes descend! Champagne is flowing, the live stream is streaming, anticipation is high.

6:35 PM: Our roving reporter Mike Butcher has been Twitpiccing:

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6:47 PM: Starting in one minute….

6:50 PM: So, here we go! We’re starting with a pitch competition featuring six startups from across Europe. Pitch sponsored by UKTI.

First pitch: Bernhard Niesner from busuu.com – an extremely European company (they’re Austrian based in Spain!)

(Not unlike Babbel) Busuu is an online language learning community, with interactive tests and the chance to practise your new skillz with native language speakers around the world. Currently have +130k users around the world. Feb 2009 started monetising the freemium model, currently the largest language learning site in Spain.

6:57 PM: Next up: Heikke Haldre from Fits.Me – This is some crazy sh…. Robots + fashion = online clothes shopping without fear of buying things that don’t fit you. It’s a virtual fitting room which helps people see what clothes will look like on their body shape. Raised €1.3m, developed the prototype for which a patent has been filed.

7:01 PM: Philipp Mohr from Comufy. Taking communications to the next level. This looks like something we could all do with – going further than just aggregation – it lets you hook all your comms into the Comufy platform and then set levels of permission and filters to make sure you either a) receive exactly what you want in the right context. Target markets: corporates, SMEs, individuals – so, everyone then! Web app and mobile client already available, public launch in September.

7:04 PM: Mark Fletcher from Pitchero. Mike distracted me, but as far as I can tell, this is a social networking community for football, rugby union, rugby league and cricket clubs, 40k members, freemium model in a £10m market in the UK and £35m in the US. Want to find the next heros of the sports.

7:11 PM: James (who’s just 18!) from GigLocator. Focused on making live music more accessible to all by tying into the leading social networks.

7:14 PM: Ravi Sharma of emarket.com – online exchange for the FMCG industry – >€1 trillion marketplace, due to the nature of the goods. Making it quick and easy for companies to trade – i.e. manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers. (This sounds like what the eprocurement/SCM movement of the early-to-mid 90s was trying to do.) Close to reaching target of 300 of the top companies in this industry as member. 9 September public launch, started trading 4 weeks ago, done £2.5m of trade in that time.

7:18 PM: Mike has an announcement: as of today, TechCrunch Europe launches the TechCrunch Europe Top 100 – a constantly updating index of the top 100 companies in the European tech scene – mobile, web, clean tech, gadgets and hardware. Tracking provided by YouNoodle, the people that power Crunchbase.com. Scores are based on verified facts, ranking can be improved by improving your company. Positive reinforcement FTW.

And so, on to the judging! Panellists: Tariq Krim, Sarah Lacy, Brent Hoberman, Michael Birch and Stefan Glaenzer.

My bad, it’s not the judging at all. The question is, where are we (i.e. the European tech startup scene) headed?

Stefan: Will be devoting the next few years to built a European hub to act as a base for launching global startups. What’s needed is education, money to school European startups in the way of global domination.

Tariq: When you’re in Europe you don’t really believe that you’re taken as seriously as you would be in San Francisco. But there is a network of European entrepreneurs thinking big, super smart people who understand how to engineer startups to scale.

Sarah: Telling us about the book she’s authoring at the moment, looking at startup activity in the emerging markets around the world. Looking at trends that are transforming economies. Her advice to European startups – don’t look to the US as usual, look to China, India, Africa. Rwanda, in a year, is going to be better connected than the US. A lot of bridges being built between emerging economies excludes the US.

Brent: One of the main frustrations is that today, one of the big determining factors of success is how good a company is at spanning Google’s search algorithm.

Michael: Getting booed (goodnaturedly) for suggesting that SF is better than the UK/Europe. Announcement: Michael and Brent’s new investment fund – comprised of people who have themselves founded successful startups – has gone live this week. They will go earlier stage than VCs, viewing themselves as a fund central to the ecosystem, working with VCs. Though they haven’t officially launched they have seen 250+ pitches to date, a clear indication that this sort of fund is needed.

Questions/comments from the floor:
How can we work well together in Europe given how diverse the market is?
Stefan: Citing Last.fm, international rollout in 12 languages in 8 weeks – which saw a pretty significant improvement to the uptake of Last.fm at the time. Looking at Oxford, Cambridge and other great tech universities, we do have a good chance. But we need to look at Asia, not all innovation will come out of Silicon Valley.

Sarah: If London wants to be more successful as a tech scene, don’t even call it Silicon anything – play to the city’s strengths.

Tariq: Traditionally most companies try to be good in their country of origin first before expanding globally. But starting with international expansion as your goals in mind is an interesting way we’re seeing a lot of startups go.

** And now, a short intermission **

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