Looking beyond Silicon Valley: 2014 SeedStarsWorld start-ups

Start-ups selected by SeedStarsWorld for the final competition in Geneva have pretty much energy to spare. It just jumped out at you during the two days of mentoring I had the chance to complete there, within a team of experienced entrepreneurs.

First of all, I want to thank SeedsStarsWorld team for this wonderful opportunity, and congratulate them for the impressive organization achieved.

SeedStarsWorld is not so much about mindblowing innovations, ‘coming out of the blue’: start-ups screened from emerging markets address real problems for real people, from e-commerce, payroll management, money transfer, to recycling, travelling, education, jobs, and smart city daily services. They differentiate by a better execution compared to poorly handled existing services. They have their hearts and focus in the right place:

  • ScandidApp is a good illustration: it is probaly not the first price comparison app in India, but it facilitates comparison with its handy barcode scanning, provides the best experience according to GooglePlay ratings, and its partnership with a major smartphone manufacturer to embed ScandidApp natively is an unrivaled asset: it’s all about execution!

SSW - Scandid

  • Feesheh from Jordan caters for the untapped market of musicians in the Midle-East with a one-stop-shop, presenting Arabic listings and oriental instruments; they stand out on best price, and short delivery;

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  • OkHi is born from its environment: just like mobile money soared from the lack of bank accounts in Africa, OkHi is working on the problem of unknown addresses that is widespread in his country, Kenya; it suggests a slick work-around by giving every smartphone a postal address. As in the Jugaad way, necessity is the mother of invention!

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  • Washbox24 switches the pain of coin-operated laundry to simplicity: you just drop off your clothes in the WB24 locker, notify, and pick it up  when it’s ready;
  • In a time where price competition is fierce, Prisync helps every merchant to have an updated eye on online retail price, and makes its solution remarkably self-service for any user retailer thanks to API.

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Mentors at SeedStarsWorld semifinals draw start-ups attention on customers, sales, marketing, competitive advantage, and scale. One thing that fuels the start-ups nominees is that they actually deal with customers, iterate their innovation based on their feedback, engaging in a continuous loop of improvement. Happy customers is not always enough, but unhappy customers will surely prevent you from succeeding.

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Out of the 36 start-ups gathered in Lausanne for the coaching sessions, 10 were finally selected to pitch in Geneva at the Final Event hosted by Lift ConferenceSalarium end-to-end payroll system from the Philippines was designed as the Winner (and won an equity investment of up to USD 500K from Seedstars), OkHi gained the Public Vote, and  Green Energy from Nigeria was awarded for the most Innovative Startup, with its exploratory process converting solid waste to petroleum products and electrical energy.

SSW - Salarium IV

Nevertheless, all participants would bring home a lot, from the sharing of experience across entrepreneurs -an exceptional time-, and from the meetings arranged between the thirty-six finalists and investors.

The 10 finalists were:

  1. Singapore’s 6Degrees, a self updating phone book, connected with your social networks;
  2. Peruvian travel platform Busportal, to find, compare and buy bus tickets in Latin America;
  3. Crowdfunding concert organizer Krowdpop from Seoul;
  4. Nairobi’s OkHi, a geolocalized address book linked to smartphones;
  5. The Brazilian hardware light plug-in device Ploog, letting you access safely your desktop on the go;
  6. India’s ScandidApp barcode scan app to compare prices;
  7. Salarium, from the Philippines, automating payroll service, and offering a topnotch mobile version;
  8. Yerevan mobile learning solution Sololearn, mastering programming while playing;
  9. Casual gaming for mobile, studio The Other Guys from Argentina;
  10. Bangkok’s Washbox24, an automatized laundry service on the go.

SSW - Finalists

 

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