While many of us were still packing up in Paris this weekend, more than 100 “geeks with ambitious ideas” gathered in Berlin for the city’s second HackFWD hackbox Build O8. Here, the 10 most promising of 100 competitive applicants got the chance to pitch their start-ups for eight minutes to a panel of prestigious investors and tech impresarios across Europe. One tweeter said: “Berlin creates the future while Paris (
#LeWeb) reports.” The spirit on the #Build08 twitter feed was passion meets momentum.
Among the panel of judges was founder of Om Malik Giga Omni Media, TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher, Mangrove Capital Partners’ Michael Jackson, and resident HackFwd founder (and Xing founder) Lars Hinrichs. Every pitching team could have just one representative present.
Who took home the first place prize?
The winner was MyGuidie, a B2C internet business led by CEO Ola Sitarska (@olasitarska), a dynamic Polish 19-yr old presenting her third startup to the judges (with her first two companies valued at 250k). Her latest Warsaw-based MyGuidie provides a platform for localized information sharing so tourists can access “a market for unique experiences” from native accounts. Its three-person all-female superteam has projected ambitious profits of 225 million euros per year. Their enthusiasm was without limit, recognized not only by the HackFwd panel but previously by Start-up ‘Weekend Warsaw’ in May.
German start-up API O MAT takes second place
The runner-up was German start-up API O MAT, a service that proposes to reduce your back-end development time for mobile applications by 95%. For many in the audience, this was the most impressive presentation. By automating the back-end infrastructure for mobile apps, the workload would be significantly lightened, from 100 to just five developer days. The Jena-based start-up enables app-makers to model their business logic using a drag-and-drop interface without having to write a word of code, an attractive solution to a thorny problem. This mature team is focusing their well-tested product on B2B customers.
The remainder of the pitches were eclectic
Finnish start-up Fishare proposed a social platform for sharing fishing experiences, which founder Olli-Mikael Vattinen reportedly brainstormed during a fishing trip around the South Pacific. Wiesbaden-based Vinto presented an online wine merchant platform which uses sommelier and user reviews as well as a logistical backend to its partners to target UK and German wine markets. FinancialQ’s impressive algorithm-based system uses crowd-sourced filtering, sorting and rating to track sentiments related to particular stocks.
Among the hippest to present was Berlin-based Listgeeks, whose CEO Max Zerrahn pitched to harness the addictive power of lists (in similar spirit to LeWeb finalist HeyCrowd). Aussie lean start-up disciple Justin McMurray presented Vocatr, a company aiming to revolutionize the traditional recruitment process. After racing two limos in Paris, he showcased a system of dividing the earth into 10m grids as an AR gaming engine for developers using an open API. By taking the popular mobile game Snakes and superimposing it for players on the streets of Berlin, the company illustrated its practical applications.
Assisted by Max Hall and Elaine Jung