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Four growing European startups to keep an eye on

Loek Essers | April 25, 2014
Europe's startup scene is as diverse as any in the world, and young companies with unique value propositions are expanding quickly.

Akamon games, available on PCs, iOS, Android and Facebook, are designed to be simple. "They need to be playable with your grandparents," Marti said.

New games are developed quickly and posted on the portal by the company's developers. If they prove successful they are developed further, Marti said, adding that about 70 percent of the games they publish end up failing.

Akamon has a freemium model in which people can pay for extra options in games. About 10 percent of the company's users pay for the extras, Marti said.

On the enterprise end of the startup spectrum, Netherlands-based Eyefreight offers a Web-based transportation management system for shipping companies. Its platform provides central coordination for global transport operations and is designed to help companies calculate optimal routes for freight pickup.

Licenses vary from €80,000 to €750,000 annually, with companies typically opting for a contract of three to five years, according to the company. Some customers include Heineken, Levi's and Campari. Small customers need about six weeks to have the system up and running while bigger companies can take up to a year to set it up, according to the company.

The companies presenting at the conference Thursday are a good sign for Europe, given the hurdles that young European companies have had to overcome in the past, said Evan Nisselson, an investor at LDV Capital.

"The European startup scene was lagging very much behind the U.S. for many, many years," Nisselson said. "But now there are a lot more companies that are actually making real revenue."

Starting businesses has always been harder in Europe than in the U.S., for a variety of reasons, Nisselson said.

Failure is not looked at as kindly in Europe as it is in the U.S. When an entrepreneur's company fails, it can become impossible for him to borrow money from a bank for other ventures, Nisselson said. Entrepreneurs can also be held personally liable for the salary of employees when a company goes out of business, he noted.

The many different cultures in Europe can make business expansion difficult, Nisselson added. "In the U.S. most likely you can sell to all of the U.S. and they all speak English."

But there appears to be more venture capital invested in European startups now than in past years, Nisselson said. In addition, entrepreneurs who have already sold their companies are reinvesting in the startup community, which is what got things going in Silicon Valley years ago, he said.

 

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