In the last installment of VentureVillage’s Top 5 Startups of 2014, Michelle Kuepper, our editor, explains why she’ll be keeping an eye on these up-and-coming startups this year. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our other installments (by Nina Fowler and Charmaine Li).
Here are a handful of relatively unknown startups in (or around) Berlin worth checking out:
The one-line pitch: “The smart heating app”
The story: Sick of fighting with his housemates over leaving the heater on when they weren’t there, Chris Deilmann decided there must be a better way to ensure their flat is always warm when they get home without running up a massive heating bill. With that, smart heating app Tado was born. The nifty app knows to turn the heater off when people leave the house and back on when they’re on their way back — so there’s no fights and no chills.
Why I’m backing it: We heard good news from Tado this year; in September, it announced a $2.6m Series A round and expansion plans. Plus, the company claims it saves users an average of 27 per cent on their heating bills — and cutting costs while saving the environment has to be a good thing, right?
The one-line pitch: “The easier way to do employee reviews”
The story: Are those complicated, time consuming “360-degree” reviews getting you down? Berlin-based Small Improvements has the solution. It offers a slick, quick performance review process and a team that’s so dedicated to its clients that it can easily spend hours discussing the design of a single button.
Why I’m backing it: With both Silicon Valley companies and VCs going crazy for it, it looks like 2013 was only just the beginning for Small Improvements. That it managed to get so far without taking a cent of funding is the icing on the cake.
The one-line pitch: “Making diabetes management more fun”
The story: The founders behind diabetes management app MySugr have extra motivation to make their app a success: More than half are diabetics themselves. That’s why they came up with a mobile app for managing the treatment process. MySugr is no dry medical app, though. It has a fun, colorful design and an interface so simple even kids can use it.
Why I’m backing it: Hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and it’s a disorder that unfortunately can’t be cured. That’s why I’m all for an app that aims to improve life for diabetics by bringing some positivity into an often draining treatment process.
The one-line pitch: “Europe’s answer to Coursera”
The story: Initially a course management tool for students and teachers, Iversity pivoted mid this year to launch as a MOOC (massive open online course) startup. It offers a number of free courses — from architecture to economics — that can be studied anywhere on the planet and will provide European university approved credit points. It couldn’t be easier to increase your skill set.
Why I’m backing it: Although Iversity has a limited number of courses so far, it claims impressive numbers, already attracting more than a quarter of a million students. Slowly but surely, it’s proving that the European market is ready and eager to get into MOOCs.
The one-line pitch: “Mobile photography marketplace”
The story: Though I’m really pushing the definition of “up-and-coming” with this one, mobile photography community and marketplace EyeEm really made great strides this year. From reaching 10 million users to seeing the first proof of its business model, EyeEm has now officially proven it’s not just another Instagram clone.
Why I’m backing it: These aren’t the only milestones EyeEm achieved in 2013. It scored a $6m investment and a write-up in Forbes, and it launched a redesign plus an iPad app. If it continues at this rate, EyeEm could end up being Berlin’s next SoundCloud.
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This story originally appeared on VentureVillage.
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