Honestly Wins Pitch In Berlin Competition, As HackFwd’s Event Grows Up

Participants of the quarterly event Build organized by the European accelerator HackFwd usually stay in Motel One in Berlin, where Honestlybranded posters suggest guests leave anonymous feedback in exchange for discount vouchers. As it happens, Honestly emerged as a winner of Hackfwd’s Pitch In Berlin startup competition recently (here is a list of all participating teams).

To leave feedback through Honestly, users need to download a mobile app. With this app they can scan a QR code or NFC sticker on the poster and provide the feedback in a form of a one-to-five rating and a comment. The tool is available as a mobile app or a mobile website, so even the feature phone users can leave feedback.

As for the business clients, the feedback management is cloud-based. Companies with more than one location can analyze the level of customer service between individual units by comparing their feedback scores and send discount vouchers and special prizes as incentives.

HackFwd’s Build event was initially been conceived as a format for its own companies to get feedback on their progress, meet experts and attend talks. But it’s morphing into something bigger. The latest Build 0.10 for example featured Rene Obermann, the CEO of Deutsche Telekom and Niklas Zenström, the founder of Skype and Atomico. Build is also deal flow, as the winner of the previous competition German startup Hike has just joined the accelerator program. Hike develops free Facebook apps, and has over 220,000 fans on Facebook. The winner of the popular vote Polish ScatchApp, an app that turns paper sketches into digital interactive models, has also received investment from HackFwd.

In addition to Honestly, which won the judges’ vote at Build 0.10, the winner of the popular vote at the latest Pitch in Berlin is Uncover, which personalizes MacBooks with laser-cut light-emitting designs. It will be interesting to see if they too will join HackFwd.

Build 0.10 coincided with a milestone, as HackFwd celebrated two years in the running. In the meantime some of its startups have reached their own milestones. The video bookmarking and content curation app WatchLater from Germany already has over 10 million video bookmarks. Latvian cloud-based infographics builder app Infogr.am has seen over 1000 infographics created daily, while Cobook, an address book app for Apple users also from Latvia is the number one app in the Mac App Store in eleven countries.

The way European startups can apply for the program is to go through a referral (disclosure: I am one of the referrers for Central and Eastern Europe, but do not get paid by HackFwd). They can also directly apply to participate in the Pitch in Berlin competition. The accelerator offers between 91,000 and 191,000 Euro for 27 percent of the equity. The focus is on the B2C businesses and geeks who build them.
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