June 18, 2014 was the day when we were honoured to be a part of Startup Yard’s Demo Day in Czech National Library of Technology in Prague, and witnessed the birth of a new age entrepreneurship along with its contagious desire for changing the world. Excitement and good energy could be spotted the minute we walked into this amazing library, known for its user-friendly design and described as a “hi-tech living room for students”. The Demo Day was opened by StartupYard’s Director, Cedric Maloux, who greeted everybody in a very motivating tone, thanking the teams, partners, mentors and investors.
This year, it is the 4th year we are running the program. It was founded by seznam.cz and Synot, who I would like to thank for being fantastic investors and amazing mentors. I would also like to thank Startup Yard’s shareholders and partners who have been with us for the past 10 weeks and helped us transfer their knowledge to our teams. So far, we have accelerated 29 companies. As it happens, out of the 29 teams, 7 no longer exist. Out of those 29, we have exited from 4 of them. So, out of the 29 companies, 22 are still alive. That makes the survival rate of 76%.
This year, Startup Yard decided to do things in a different way. The first decision they made was to only asset projects within the domain of search, data and analysis. They received 62 applications, out of which 58% came from countries like USA, India, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, and Finland. At the end, they selected 7 teams from 5 different countries: Czech Republic, Albania, Serbia, Romania and Kazakhstan. Overall, they are 20 young entrepreneurs from the age of 20 to 34.
Our mentors helped them refine their strategies and market. Without them, the teams would not be where they are today. After their first month, the teams focused on building their marketing, financial and projection plans, with the goal to either launch during or after the program. We are very happy because 3 teams have already launched their beta versions. Out of those 3, one has already generated revenue. Another team, who is about to launch in a couple of weeks, has already raised money from business angels.
This Demo Day also showed a new way of finding out more about the teams and their project. Instead of having a usual Q&A time after the presentation, what Startup Yard did is enabled a true engagement with all of the teams after the presentation, where everyone could walk to the each team’s table and find out more about them by talking to them and enjoying a more personalized conversation. Here are the 7 chosen teams, along with 1 more who comes from Microsoft Innovation Center in Prague:
The Demo Day started with our Serbian neighbours, who presented their highly useful project Warrant.ly – a cloud platform for issuing and managing product warranties, which will make paper warranties a history. Nikola Todorovic, one of the founders, ran an interesting presentation, starting it with the words:
I have a simple plan. I want to change the world. And if you want to change the world, you need to start some sort of revolution.
Warrant.ly presents a perfect solution for retailers and manufacturers to issue digital warranties to the customer who will be able to keep all the warranties of the purchased devices in one place – Warrant.ly system.
This Kazakhstan’s startup showed an analytics and targeting tool for managing and executing loyalty programs through mobile. One of the founders, Mark Okhman, held a presentation during which he explained how YourPlaceApp will help restaurants, bars and cafés to build loyal relationships with their customers and create special offers. Customers here have 2 steps to make in order to be rewarded: Download the app and check-in to their favourite places. That’s when they start receiving exclusive rewards. The biggest achievement this team reached in the past 3 months was the discovery of what scaling required of the team and investors. They completely re-wrote their backend to be flexible and scalable in only 3 weeks.
Czech Republic introduced its team whose project presents a brand-related opinion summarization in multiple languages. Josef Steinberger showed this social media deep semantic analysis that uses unique metrics for locating comments with the greatest impacts, prioritizing impactful content and filtering insignificant comments. SentiSquare’s multilingual analysis allows visualization of opinions on the world map, comparison between countries and geographic insights specific to each brand. SentiSquare will provide a fast and deep understanding of brand reputation and competitive landscape.
Presenters from Microsoft Innovation Center (Prague) showed another project from Czech Republic. One of the Verifiqua’s founders, Kamil Ježek, presented the automatic verification of Java programs that will prevent runtime failures by detecting problems early in the development process. This pay-as-you-go cloud service is offered to software houses, quality assurance departments and developers.
Romania came up with an interesting project they call a flirting app. Alin Stanescu presented Evolso in a very high energy tone, getting audience’s attention with his interesting performance and even more interesting girls’ app. This location-based mobile app helps people connect and enhance their social network by finding like-minded people who share the same taste for events and a night-out locations. It took only 6 weeks for this startup to have an idea, execution and the launch. We find it very impressive.
Here comes a perfect solution for all you students! MyPrepApp is an exam preparation application created by a Czech team, whose one of the founders, Vaclav Formanek, showed their success story. An app helps students with low self-motivation who need to be pushed to study for exam. It creates customized study plans and uses gamification to motivate students to study and achieve good results. The team has successfully launched the application for the Czech students, and it already attracted 5000 students within the first week of its launch.
This mobile magazine for famous people and their fans will absolutely bring a new, fresh way of following your favourite celebrities, without searching social networks and online magazines. With Famely, you will have it all in one place. Ready to launch its first beta this July, one of the founders, Pavel Nemec showed 3 simple steps a user does when choosing a mix of celebrity content. All you have to do is connect with your Facebook or Twitter account, chose your favourite celebrities and create your own magazine. With this, you can enjoy all the latest news and other content relating to the chosen celebrities. Famely recently introduced its US-based marketing manager who will help the app reach its US audience.
Our Albanian neighbours presented a very interesting project named Gjirafa. One of the founders, Mergim Cahani, showed this Albanian language web search and news aggregator that will also provide access to information which currently cannot be searched online. With over 1,000 subscribers in only 1 week, this Albanian startup managed to increase scale processing 3 pages/sec prototype, to processing 150 pages/sec private beta within only 3 months. This Albanian language full-text engine will bring relevant information that will be easily accessible to over 12 million Albanian speaking people worldwide.
Brave new world of young entrepreneurs
Watching these new entrepreneurs and hearing out their great ideas made us feel proud and happy, knowing that there are young people who clearly put the matter in their own hands when it comes to changing the world. They created 127 jobs and will turn “complicated” into “simple”, not only with the ideas they presented at the Demo Day, but also with their innovative entrepreneurial approach and highly enthusiastic spirit. During the last 3 months, they worked hard and spent countless hours with their mentors to improve, launch and succeed in their future plans. Now they are ready to return home and continue their road to success, which, no doubt, is promising. StartupYard, Cedric Maloux, Seznam, Synot, partners and mentors undoubtedly did an amazing job. It was more than obvious they transferred their essential wit, savvy knowledge, energy and unresting belief to these young entrepreneurs, whose shining performance proved that they are more than ready to conquer the world. Netokracija wishes good luck to all the teams!