My Top 5 Startups for 2013 – Elaine Jung, VentureVillage Features Editor

excited
excited

Here Elaine, our features editor, shares her pick of startup gems for 2013.. 

width="113"The startups that really excite me are innovative, disruptive business models with world-changing ideas. Ideas born from passion that play close to the entrepreneur’s heart and arouse inspiration; whether they address first- or third-world issues, startups that are thoughtfully designed to make life easier and that much more enjoyable.

I’m captivated by the rise of the social enterprise movement, where entrepreneurs look to combine profit-making business models with social values. It’s a young, challenging field. So any budding founder with enough fire in their belly to embark on a career of making a worldly difference has my admiration and respect.

I’m also charmed by startups that know how to address the little luxuries in life. Whether that be designing your own handbag, finding a bargain-priced antique in your local neighbourhood, or having an Ecuadorian chef cook up a culinary four-course feast at your home for a dinner party of 10…

Kitchensurfing

Kitchensurfing

The one-line pitch
“Like Couchsurfing for chefs”

The story
This rent-a-gourmet-chef site launched mid-2012 in New York, and soon spread its unique culinary experience into Berlin and Boston. Users trawl through the site’s rundown of keen cooks and top chefs from all corners of the globe, and pay a reasonable fee to have them over to work their cooking mastery.

Why I’m backing it
After putting Kitchensurfing through the test in October 2012, I knew that co-founders Chris Muscarella (from the US), Borham Cho and Lars Kluge (both from Germany) were on to a winner. The chefs on offer are tested, top-class, and conjure up authentic specialties from around the world in the comfort of your own home. Perfect for lousy cooks like myself who love the idea of hosting a dinner party without the stress of creating presentable meals and fear of guests silently gagging.

Knowable

knowableThe one-line pitch
“Like a SoundCloud for DIY makers”

The story
Where makers connect, and solutions get found. The social enterprise, co-founded in Berlin by Simon Höher and Emanuel Schwarz, is in its early stages of becoming a “global community of makers, tinkerers, designers, craftsmen.” Currently in beta, Knowable.org aims to be the go-to place for anyone looking to either create or read up on a step-by-step project which solves an everyday problem. It could be anything from creating a Jerry server and home-made glue to making party hats.

Why I’m backing it
It’s the kind of enterprise the world needs more of. Upcycling goods, empowering budding DIY makers, and providing step-by-step solutions to problems in developing countries, Knowable ticks so many do-good boxes and has the far-reaching potential to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Photocircle

Zusammen kommen by Steffen Rothammel (on Photocircle)

The one-line pitch
“A World Vision for photography”

The story
Founded by Thomas Heinrich in Berlin, Photocircle.net allows photographers to sell their worldly snaps while passing on a cut to social projects in the region the photo was taken. Photographed motifs are put into the picture buying-selling equation where wildlife, communities and bruised environments can benefit.

Why I’m backing it
By social virtue, Photocircle’s professionally plucked pics are as pleasing on the eye as they are charitable to good causes. I love a great piece of photography. And I love that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with “doing good”. Photocircle charms both of these loves.

Project Oona

The one-line pitchProject OONA
“Making bags personal”

The story
Co-founded by German entrepreneur Maru Winnacker, Project OONA launched in November 2012 with its customisable carryalls service. The site allows women (and soon men and children) to personalise their choice of bag using a select range of styles, materials and textures.

Why I’m backing it
Because customisation is “so in right now”. Project OONA’s hit an upcoming tier in the fashion industry, which gives the design-power back to the customer. Perfect for more discerning fashion types who like shades of “berry blue” and “cavier black” and want their hands on textures with names like “chocolate crocco” and “cognac lizard”.

Stuffle

Stuffle

The one-line pitch
“Your mobile flea-market”

The story
Launched in Hamburg, Stuffle is a mobile app marketplace where photos and descriptions of sell-able items are made searchable to other users in and around your locale via a map. The buying, selling experience is made personal, with arrangements for payment and pick-up/delivery of items made through mobile contact. The app received a six-digit seed investment boost in November, 2012, and founder Morten Hartmann and his team are currently working on an Android version.

Why I’m backing it
eBay can be a daunting and anxiety-fuelled place to buy and sell used items. With Stuffle, I can still enjoy the thrill of landing a second-hand item of antique value for a bargain price – without the stress of shipping and heated auction time.

Photo credit: Flickr user camdiluv

For related posts, check out:

My Top 5 startups for 2013 – Nina Fowler, VentureVillage News Editor
My Top 5 Startups for 2013 – Michelle Kuepper, VentureVillage Staff Writer
My Top 5 Startups for 2013 – Charmaine Li, VentureVillage editorial intern
My Top 5 Startups for 2013 – Linsey Fryatt, VentureVillage Managing Editor