New Finds At TNW Shows Europe Is Nailing It

European startup conference The Next Web (and now competing blog, hello guys), which took place in Amsterdam last week, was covered in full by seven TNW bloggers who wrote over 30 posts about all major announcements, speeches and competitions. More posts are coming according to its European editor and ex-TechCruncher Robin Wauters, but in the meantime here is our TechCrunchy take on the conference.

I will start off by naming a few startups I thought had interesting concepts or products, even though they did not quite make it to the list of the winners, or did not participate at the competition altogether. So that’s an issue for the organisers to address next year. I will then follow up with a list of the hottest companies in tech according to Robert Scoble, and inevitably list the winners of the TNW Startup Rally.

First, the new finds.

New Discoveries

Dutch New Master Artist is a social network for artists, experts and buyers of art, which eliminates galleries as middlemen. The artists can upload and promote their work, and prospective buyers can browse galleries and contact the artists if they want to buy it. The company makes money only if the buyer would like an expert to rate a particular piece of art by taking commission on the advice sought, or if an organization chooses to run a competition for a custom-made piece of art. The website is currently in beta.

Polish Zapstreak is a toolset for app developers that allows streaming media app content to any device, such as a TV set or an entertainment system, thereby bringing Airplay functionality to Android phones and tablets. Without using additional hardware, any mobile app developer can integrate content beaming functionality into their apps, to help in sharing various media such as videos and photos on a TV screen. The business model is based on subscription, plus the Polish startup plans to sell data to the consumer electronics manufacturers.

Norwegian Easybring, still in a closed beta, enables hitchhiking for parcels, allowing the sending and bringing of packages by people for people.

German Impossible Software allows placing images and other videos dynamically into a video stream creating new opportunities for pre-roll and video banner ads, as well as images, text, animations and sounds. The startup should not technically be included into the list, as it has been already ìdiscoveredî.

Belarusian TaxiStartup takes a taxi business to a new level. It combines a cloud-based taxi ERP platform (dispatcher app), with web-based booking, a passenger app to order a service and a driverís app (GPS tracking, order fulfillment). †It offers integration with the taxi ordering apps to bring new orders, and when a taxi company cannot process orders, it can trade them with other taxi companies in exchange for a commission. The business model is commission-based, so it remains free for taxi companies until the first orders begin to roll in.

Oleg Nederev of Skript from Ulyanovsk, Russia, showed me a simple shopping list app Buy me a pie, which has been downloaded over one million times. Its Russian version Kupi Baton became one of the top 10 apps on Appleís app list ìMade in Russiaî (other entries are the famous Cut The Rope and a number of Yandex apps). Coincidentally Ulyanovsk is also a base for Ecwid, an ecommerce widget based on Ajax technology, which powers over 100,000 online stores worldwide.

Dutch is a platform to crowdfund and crowdsource a development of mobile apps in an auction format. The idea gets listed, and the crowd can bid funds for the app in exchange for, say, a share in revenue. The mobile developer can then choose an app that has collected a sufficient budget for its development and will create it based on the provided app design within the required timeframe.

HackFwd portfolio companies Polish movie recommendation startup Filmaster and Latvian infographics startup were also exhibiting at the conference, and team of the HackFwd Build0.9 audience award winner ScatchApp participated in the hack battle.

Ukrainian Hubbub is a social network based on voice communication, which makes you think of a voice-based Twitter. I can see how one can use it when on the go, when reading text or watching videos are not viable options, but I’m not sure it should be a standalone social network.

And thatís all the new names I can cram into one post. This next batch of names includes the hottest startups according to Robert Scoble.

Hottest Startups according to Robert Scoble

Having spent most of my time networking, I did not get a chance to sit through most of the speeches. So with all due respect to other speakers, I will only mention one presentation in which Scoble named the hottest companies in tech. Below is the 33-minute long video, but to save you time, here is a list of companies he thought will change the way we live.

Placeme app remembers places you visit.

iControl is a new generation of home management software.

Primesense gives digital devices a 3D view of the world, which turns the userís body into a remote control.

Streamboard is a Twitter client which adjusts the Twitter feed according to key words, number of followers and location, amongst others.

Zaarly allows you to trade with people nearby.

Karma App is a gifting app, which allows gift recipients to customize, swap the gift or choose to donate money to charity instead.

Showyou and other video discovery apps help select video content to watch (its competitor won the TNW Startup Rally competition).

Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app. Though with a very large war chest it’s pulling away from the startup category.

HomeSnap allows users to take a picture of any house, and pulls up details about the house, including its sales price.

Glympse is an app that helps Scoble tell others that he is running late and share his location to estimate the time of arrival.

Firebase makes servers optional for real-time apps.

Scoble closed his speech by inviting Matteo Lai, founder and CEO of Empatica, to demonstrate a device which measures levels of excitement and stress based on heart rate data and electrodermal response.

Scoble’s list also included Highlight (networking for introverts as he called it). Yet when I opened the app and tried to meet people of interest appearing ‘nearby’, I did not manage to flag any one of them including Scoble himself, of whose presence I was alerted by Highlight. Sharing a bloggersí table with him was more helpful.

The Winners of TNW Startup Rally

As I have already mentioned, the overall winner at Startup Rally was American social video startup

German BeamApp (also HackFwdís portfolio company) took an award for the most innovative concept. It deals with continuity of using an app, when one has to leave the laptop and switch to a mobile phone, for example, to continue listening to the music, or beam a phone number from a web page onto the mobile phone.

English/Greek Babelverse, the real-time crowd-sourced interpreting service, won the B2B and Public Choice awards. I have met Josef Dunne and Mayel de Borniol†at a number of events including HackFwd Build.0.9 and have been amazed by their relentlessness. Babelverseís team has been paying out of its bootstrapped pocket (padded with a $40K grant from Start-up Chile) to offer real-time interpreting of TNW into Spanish and Italian, and has announced the launch of the public beta.

A Dutch startup Snowciety took the B2C award and launched their app at the conference. Snowciety is a tracking app for skiers and snowboarders with built-in social features that allow friends reconnect, for example at the lunch time. At present the app is free.

Between from South Korea took a prize for the best mobile app that allows sharing for couples. If the couple splits up, the app disconnects the account but gives the parties a grace period to get together again. Should this happen, the connection and data are reinstated. The app has been downloaded 700,000 times since November 2011.

Nuji, based in London, UK, is a social wishlist which rewards its users with loyalty points which can later be swapped for discounts. According to Crunchbase, it has over 20,000 stores and its users view over seven million products per month.

Dutch Frommees was a wildcard participant at the Startup Rally, and won an award for the most remarkable presentation. Frommees, which I would also distinguish for the most beautifully designed marketing materials, offers a game which bridges an online world with offline serendipity, which can be cleverly used by brands. You get a token with a code on it. When you get the token (called a frommee), register it on the website, add photos, videos or music to that Frommee and pass the token along to someone else. You can then see the path your frommee makes, and can meet people who registered your frommee and shared something through it. Coca Cola bottles can spread frommees around and benefit from the exposure, should this game go viral.

This post is written by our regular contributor Natasha Starkell, the CEO of GoalEurope, the outsourcing advisory firm and a publication about outsourcing, innovation and startups in Central and Eastern Europe. Twitter @NatashaStarkell. Gplus.