While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address hogged much of the limelight at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014, another startup pavilion was dedicated to ‘finding the next Mark Zuckerberg.’
Called ‘Four Years From Now,’ the pavilion offered views into emerging startups from Spain, the Arab countries and other parts of the world. Startup network MobileMonday’s Silicon Valley members helped put together pitching contests for startups in categories as varied as corporate innovation and personal self-help via mobile apps.
Here are my picks of some of the notable startups from Spain – as the list shows, some startups can be global in focus from day one, others are local in terms of scope and language, and yet others have a regional footprint based on common culture. It is this unity and diversity that makes mobile innovation such a fascinating study for entrepreneurs and investors alike.
Vizzuality is a data analysis and visualisation studio with offices in New York and Madrid, specialising in storytelling with powerful visualisation. Its clients include the United Nations, Google, Nokia and Oxford University. Its new product CartoDB is a geospatial database on the cloud that lets users visualise realtime Big Data on maps. It has more than 30,000 users and 400 clients around the world like ‘Wall Street Journal,’ Twitter, Harvard and NASA.
ChicPlace is an online marketplace that offers a selection of unique products from small shops and young designers. It already covers more than 200 shops in Spain, France and Italy and more than 5,000 products. The main categories are home, decoration, accessories and fashion. It has a team of ‘ChicHunters’ that select the best products from the most charming shops. Headquartered in Barcelona and Paris, the company has contracts in main European cities.
Based in Wayra accelerator, Madrid, Concept InBox is a visual collaboration platform for designers and other creatives that gives them the suitable tools to work together without meeting face-to-face. It has more than 10,000 users from 97 different countries. They were chosen as finalists at the Pioneers Festival (Vienna), Startup AddVenture (Kiev) and Seedcamp (London). Design projects are highly visual and the communication tools allow users to give feedback on the graphic files. Designers can also create interactive prototypes without coding and get feedback on them in a visual way.
El Tenedor offers the possibility of finding and booking a restaurant according to cuisine, ambience, location and price. Reviews have been received from more than one million users. Large groups such as La Tagliatella, La Vaca Argentina, Vips and other independent restaurants have signed on. The site has become the leading online restaurant reservations service in Spain, France and Switzerland, now covering over 12,000 restaurants. The site has accounted for 16 million reservations so far. They won the 2013 Best Tablet App in category ‘Travel and Tourism’ and ‘Most PopularWebsite 2013’ Award for ‘Food and Drink.’
Hiyalife is a storytelling tool, to collect, contribute and share stories together with the people and brands that people love. It offers a visual, social and dynamic publishing tool for brands -- a space to bring offerings together with the community, where brands and consumers exchange and crowdsource meaningful stories. Based on these interactions, brands can distribute highly personalised content. Users have control of their own content and privacy. Hiyalife was selected to join Wayra UK, the Telefónica-owned accelerator in London.
iMath Cloud is a Cloud platform that collects a set of Big Data services specially designed and optimised for SMEs. This innovative service uses cutting-edge mathematical and artificial intelligence techniques to perform Big Data processes in the Cloud. iMath Cloud thus democratises Big Data for SMEs. It was founded in the UAB Research Park by three researchers in 2012. Services are offered for data management and production planning.
Users looking for jobs can access Job & Talent on their mobile or desktop, download their CV from Linkedin or Dropbox and start to receive personalised job opportunities. They will be notified with job suggestions by email and push notifications whenever the algorithm finds something relevant for them. Over one million job offers from different countries are analysed every month to serve a shortlist of top matching jobs for 800,000 users. The company operates in Spain and the UK and is currently expanding to some other markets.
Founded in Madrid, Minube is a trip planning platform for web and mobile. It has an international community of over one million travellers from Europe, Latin America and North America. The apps have been downloaded over two million times in 100 different countries, and they were chosen as ‘App of the Year’ by Apple Spain in 2011 and ‘Best of the Year’ by Google Play Spain in 2013. Travellers can find inspiration for their next trips, find recommendations from real travellers about over 50,000 cities worldwide, compare prices and make real-time reservations.
Mobincube is a DIY platform which allows users to create native apps for smartphones and tablets without any prior programming knowledge. The resulting apps can be used to promote business, sell products and also create apps for third parties by selling app developer services to clients. Mobincube was created by Mobimento Mobile, a European company founded in 2008. It has offices in Spain and San Francisco, and has been funded by Inveready First Capital, Fundación Bankinter, Cartera Inversiones CM, and several investors in a crowdfunding round with The Crowd Angel.
Mobsyte is a tool for creating mobile websites. Users are given a choice of templates, the styles, content tools and publish features. More than 30% of access to websites is from mobiles, and simple basic sites are effective in most cases for users. In 2015, there will be more data traffic from smartphones than PCs, so it makes sense for companies to develop mobile-first websites and then PC-based content, this startup claims.
Plunge Interactive develops its own games and also offers services to clients and other developers for many aspects of game development, ranging from design to testing. It is located in the Science and Technology Park of Lleida (in the Barcelona area) and was founded in February 2011 by a team of experts in the game development industry. Plunge Interactive offers high quality mobile games and apps development services for mobile platforms such as iOS, Android and Windows 8.
qlikBar is a tool for the hospitality industry, that allows establishment owners to create their own loyalty programs and send push messages with segmented and personalised offers to their customers. The tool integrates with other software like POS, CRM, loyalty systems and reservation centres. The company has offices in Mexico, San Francisco and Spain.
QVAPP is an app to mobilise events. It allows event organisers and sponsors to inform and interact with their audience and to promote the event through social networks. This includes event agenda, exhibitors and speakers, and covers activities such as registration, surveys and multimedia content. It taps into the growing trend of using social media and mobile communication to transform the event experience in real time – as well as before and after the event itself.
Top Doctors is an online service based on trust, credibility and convenience for customers to find top doctors and make online appointments from a pool of more than 2,200 physicians. Patients can locate medical centres of excellence for specific treatments. Top Doctors are rigorously selected by experts from among thousands of physicians. The company, based in the US and Spain, has roped in leading academic medical centres, specialty hospitals, and regional medical centres.
Three years ago, Google’s CEO said: “If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy.” That is the vision behind Upplication, a simple and fast tool which allows users to create apps. The tool helps users configure their app, starting with the design, adding products and categories, setting up PayPal accounts, and posting business information. Other features include analytics and dashboards. Upplicaitons combines push notifications with m-commerce and geo-location.
In the next columns, we will cover startup pavilions from countries such as South Korea, and highlight some startups from India at the Mobile World Congress – such as Remo Software’s mobile device management (MDM) product called MORE, KeyPoint Technologies’ Adaptxt predictive text application, and Indus Net Technologies’ enterprise mobility solutions.