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In this edition of CEE startup news we’ll fly over Russia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Ukraine+Kazakhstan.
Russian-founded startup API.AI has been acquired by Google for an undisclosed amount.
API.AI is a conversational UX platform which enables developers to build and integrate natural language interactions for bots, applications, services, and devices. The startup was founded by Ilya Gelfenbeyn, Artem Goncharuk and Pavel Sirotin in 2010 and now has over 60,000 users worldwide. API.AI works with 15 languages and dialects and has processed over 3 billion API requests so far.
According to the ranking of an international online test platform MegaFace, Russia’s face recognition algorithm by Vocord is the best performing in the world. In the competition, it identified 75.127% of the faces among 1 million distractors.
Vocord’s algorithm was designed to recognize faces in crowded places such as at malls, stations and airports. The system can process up to 3 million images per second.
The company is also working on its video surveillance, telecommunication and archive products, and is currently optimizing its face verification algorithms, which can be used in security procedures.
Moscow-based startup Fibrum, which develops virtual reality headsets for smartphones and apps, has announced the expansion to European and US markets. The company has already made a deal with German retailers Media Markt and Gravis, and plans to enter the markets of France, Italy and Portugal. Recently Fibrum entered Hong Kong and partnered with American television award “Emmy”.
Ukrainian-Kazakh hardware startup Robo Wunderkind secured $500K from Polish venture fund Arkley VC, business angel Juergen Habichler and Austrian AWS.
Robo Wunderkind is an educational robot that combines game with teaching coding and basics of robotics to children. They can build the robot by simply snapping the blocks together. The Robo Play app recognizes how the components of the robot are assembled, and suggests possible functions. The robot connects to the app via Bluetooth or WiFi, so children can remotely control their robot from the app.
Robo Wunderkind was founded in 2013 by Rustem Akishbekov from Kazakhstan and Anna Jarotskaya from Ukraine. The company has offices in Austria, US and China. In 2014 Robo raised $200K from SOS Ventures, and a year later was funded with $250K on Kickstarter.
Mobalytics, founded by Ukrainians Bogdan Suchyk and Nikolai Lobanov, is going to coach competitive gamers. The platform measures your in-game performance and gives you actionable advice on how to improve. The startup has won TechCrunch Disrupt 2016 and launched a beta of its project.
Currently it brings visual analytics to competitive gamers of a popular online title League of Legends. The key feature of Mobalytics is Gamer Performance Index (GPI) which helps gamers quickly identify their strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of competitors.
The company plans to expand to other e-sports titles like Overwatch, DOTA 2 and Counter Strike.
Smart hotel management app Facility raised €550K investment. Facility was founded by Luka Berger and Aljaž Ketiš in 2012, and graduated from ABC Accelerator in Slovenia in 2015.
The startup offers a complete solution to all the communication problems between hotel departments. It’s a specialized platform which works on a smartphone or a tablet and enables a complete overview of all the tasks and requests of the hotel staff, minimizes inventory loss and gives a deep insight to managers.
Today Facility is used by more than 100 hotels and plans to expand to more countries and enter the US market.
GoDaddy is the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures with over 60 million domain names. It already hosts about 8% of all websites managed by ManageWP. After the acquisition of ManageWP GoDaddy can offer bloggers better publishing tools and provide one place for web developers and designers to manage WordPress sites easily and efficiently, saving thousands of work hours.
Video advertising platform Teads announced the acquisition of interactive video ad startup Brainient, which is based in the UK and Romania. Brainient’s engineering team increases the engagement and performance of online video adverts and makes them more personalised and interactive. It means that their ads can tap into any data source and match a user’s profile and preferences. At the same the ads can submit an in-video form to request further information about a product.
Video adtech company Teads specialises in “outstream” ads which reside outside of video content — such as placed in an article between two paragraphs of text. After the acquisition of Brainient such ads perform better than traditional video pre-rolls because they enable customers to choose where to place a video ad and how to deliver it.
Together Teads and Brainient plan to double the size of the engineering team in Romania.
A cloud-based storage platform Zettabox closed its first external round of financing led by Henrik Kraft. The amount is not disclosed.
Zettabox was built specifically for businesses and now has offices in London, UK, and Prague, Czech Republic. The company provides cloud storage, sharing and team collaboration tools for companies who need to comply with Europe’s strict data protection regulation.
Zettabox integrates into the most popular productivity tools and gives users control over their content, from how they store it to who sees it.
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