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If only I could give a definitive answer, but I will try. The thing is, the presence of a competition means that the startup idea addresses existing problems (and/or simply easy to do). Just from the top of my head (and from very recent encounters) here is what I know.
Let’s start with Imgn.it from Poland. Just this week, I came across Ukranian City Eye, which can create beautiful 3D panoramas from regular images. The company has been around for a couple of years now, and does impressive job with or without a special wide-angle camera.
Maxygen has an analogue in Slovenia called Genelitik, not to mention a high-profile 23andme genetic testing service company, founded by Anne Wojcicki, the wife of Google’s Sergey Brin. Unlike B2C focus of 23andme, Maxygen provides its testing kits to the doctors to help diagnose a decease within 10 minutes. Funding is what missing to grow its customer base.
NeptunIDE is from Poland: the second best project at the Polish Warmup has also been offered a place in the Sauna. It is a cloud-based Integrated Development Environment. Competition includes Croatian Codeanywhere, but more importantly Kodingen, an American startup backed by Russian RTP Ventures.
Estonian Qminder, the virtual queuing ticketing service, conceived at Garage48 event in Tallinn, looked unique until recently. Then I discovered a competitor Qurami in Italy. Having not heard any news about Qminder’s looming partnerships (the team was busy ever since its inseption to get into an accelerator program), I was impressed that the competitor, founded at the Startup Weekend in Rome in 2010, has already secured a partnership with a leading queuing management system provider Qmatic. Let’s see if Startup Sauna will accelerate Qminder well enough to help them catch up with the competition.
Turku, Finland-based Lokus Digital might be developing unique games, but mobile multiplayer augmented reality games are developed in all corners of the world these days. As I am paying a particular attention to the eastern European startup scene, here is one example from Poland: Cityrace.me, GammaRebel graduate 1.0.
Another Finnish startup Yodiz is a cloud-based project planning and team collaboration tool. Someone kind has pulled together a list of all project tools out there, coming up to a number of 85. With such a name, Yodiz will be all the way at the end of the queue. Guerilla marketing and ruthless competitiveness should be their main focus during the Sauna’ five weeks of mentoring and idea develoment.
Finnish Zonear helps build HTML5 apps with ease. There is a Russian company which does that for sure. I can’t come up with a name at this stage.
I could carry on, but you get the idea: the teams selected are not unique, they have to battle for its market share and the sooner they will get up to speed on what will make them successful, the better chance they will have at securing the funding needed to start the fight.
Idea alone is worth nothing, it is the execution and the quality of the team which will tell successes and failures apart. On this subject I have nothing to comment as of yet. As this non-profit accelerator boasts experienced serial entrepreneurs amongst its mentors, they should turn on the heat in the sauna starting now.
The competition is not waiting.
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vita at goaleurope dot com