My Top 5 Startups for 2013 – Linsey Fryatt, VentureVillage Managing Editor


Here Managing Editor Linsey explains why for her it’s all about learning a new language (yes, really), sweet music and sharing knowledge and possessions.

linsey fryattLooking at my choices, I seem to have focused on apps that are designed to enrich my starkly unfulfilling personal life. I *will* learn German this year, using any gizmo or aid that I can lay my hands on until someone discovers a real Babelfish.

I *will* go to more gigs (although the not-quite-dormant hipster in me demands that they be as exclusive as possible without me being the only member of the audience). And I will share stuff, because as an only child, I need to learn what this is all about at some point.

Oh yes, and I’d like to pay by credit card in Germany – is that too much to ask?

Sofar Sounds

The one-line pitch
“Like Secret Cinema, but for gigs”

Jesca Hoop

Jesca Hoop at Berlin Sofar Sounds – photo by Sascha Motschmann

The story
Recommended by Tobi Bauckhage, CEO of Moviepilot who counts himself as a firm fan and mentor to the Berlin chapter, Sofar Sounds is a “please don’t tell” style gig network that sees residents in over 18 cities worldwide throw open their doors to host magically intimate front-room gigs.

Why I’m backing it
I’m actually already regretting backing Sofar Sounds. Not because it isn’t breathing life and warmth into the gig scene, and providing visitors with once-in-a-living-room performances from the likes of the awesome Jesca Hoop, Bastille and Admiral Fallow, but because now I’ve got one fewer special little secrets in my life.


Memrise iconThe one-line pitch
“Drilling vocabulary into your brain. Painlessly.”

The story
Ed Cooke, the co-founder of Memrise and a Grandmaster of Memory can apparently learn a 1000-digit number in an hour. Instead of putting this knowledge to the noble pursuit of showing off in the pub, he’s decided to use proven memorisation techniques to help users learn the vocabulary of a new language.

Why I’m backing it
Because I’m rubbish at German. While I am aware of the nuts and the bolts and where to put my verbs, what’s missing is, you know, the words for what things actually ARE. Vocabulary if you like. By presenting learning techniques as a garden scenario, where my little words will die unless I water them with memory exercises, Memrise aims to “plant” these into my long-term memory. And it works. Wirklich.

whyownitThe one-line pitch
“Borrow that Steve Jobs biog from your hipster Facebook friends”

The story
Philipp Gloeckler, founder of Avocadostore, launches new socially conscious venture Whyownit to hook you up with your Facebook friends’ possessions. Upload the things that you are happy to share and create a trusted network of borrowing peers.

Why I’m backing it
Because the last time I had to borrow a vacuum cleaner, it was from a deranged neighbour, who I then had to talk with about Egyptian deities for 40 minutes. Ain’t nobody got time for that.


howdoThe one-line pitch
“Learn how to do stuff”

The story
A Swedish startup, co-founded by Nils Westerlund and Emma Rose, who came up with the idea “during a conversation on sharing the ‘little things’ they knew”. The HowDo team has recently moved to Berlin to create the iOS app that allows users to easily create visual slides how to dry socks to how to prepare for a hurricane.

Why I’m backing it
Although eHow and Instructables are great online How-To resources, HowDo makes it effortless to create and upload on the go, perfect for bite-sized bits of inspiration. And because it’s Swedish, it looks delicious too.


izettleThe one-line pitch
“Micro-payments for the masses”

The story
iZettle is the biggest European competitor to Jack Dorsey’s Square, launched a year ago by Swedes Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson. There’s a free iPhone or iPad app and a micro-reader to emancipate any small business or tradesperson to accept card payments although the Chip ‘n’ Signature method of payment is still proving tricksy for Chip ‘n’ Pin providers such as Visa.

Why I’m backing it
Frankly, I don’t care if it’s Square, iZettle, Payleven, SumUp, Streetpay or Bonko Industries who come out victorious in the mobile micropayments battlefield. The more, the merrier as far as I’m concerned. My only hope is that the end result is that arcane and filthy “paper money” will one day go the same way as putting people in stocks or marrying your donkey. And I will *finally* be able to pay with my goddamn card in German stores and restaurants. Thankyou.

What do you think? What are your Tips for the Top 2013? Let us know in the comments section below…

Image credits:
Martini glass – flickr user eric1g