LeWeb announced this week the 16 finalists who will be competing this year in the startup competition. Just like last year, we’ll try to give you a quick elevator pitch of what they do, as well as what trends we see based off of the startups selected. The theme for this year’s LeWeb is the Internet of Things, or ‘connected devices’ – we already wrote a bit about how this is a great opportunity to show off some great French IoT startups. But let’s jump write in to the startups.
The Internet of Things theme played a strong role in this season’s picks: 10 out of the 16 startups, for me, fall into the realm of Internet of Things. There are some real R&D startups building devices that will enable us to hear & speak with devices and our surroundings, there are startups working on optimizing our energy use and environmental footprint by collecting data in our surrounds, and there is even a fashion startup building connected dresses that I found particularly interesting.
There were a few startups that seemed like ‘leftovers’ from previous LeWeb themes: one startup focusing on Realtime (LeWeb London ’12 theme), one startup that’s a little too SoLoMo for me (LeWeb Paris ’11 theme), and a few out of left field. Nonetheless, it’s clear that there are some strong trends presented in the startups. There are a nice mix of European startups, with Spain, Italy, France & Switzerland making a good showing – here’s a review of each of the startups by category:
Pure Player Connected Device Enablers & Hardware
Alleantia (Italy): A hardcore R&D-focused startup, connected devices seem to be their speciality. Reading everything from solar to light to temperature, this startup may have a hard time convincing last year’s SoLoMo crowd that their ready for mass production. Nonetheless, they fall right in line with LeWeb’s theme this year.
Altheia (France): “Mobile Internet for All” the site boasts. They may very well be right, as they want to bring the internet to the 86% of the world that is covered by 2G. It’s not too clear what they will be actually creating from their site, but hopefully their pitch will be a bit more clear. My understanding is that they allow users access to a limited internet over 2G that still allows them to get access to services like Twitter & Facebook by transferring only the most essential of data through the network.
Connected Devices with a SoLoMo twist
Argus Labs (Belgium): The creators of Jini, an Android application currently in beta which studies your daily habits (passively, I assume) and suggests things for you to do in the area. It seems to be more on the SoLoMo side than the Connected Devices side, but if it absorbs information from your Run Keeper, for example, and suggests places to go hiking based on your fitness level, then there could be an intrigue there.
Lhings (Spain): “The social network of your things in the cloud,” – it definitely falls under the spectrum of IoT. I’m not too sure if they provide the mechanism by which things communicate to the cloud, or just the cloud platform capable of receiving information from connected devices. In any case, as Connected Devices get bigger, there’s a possibility that a need to organize them will appear.
Snapeous (France): along with Lhings, Snapeous is looking to create a “social network of objects.” However, it seems the definition of what that means is not quite defined yet, as Snapeous positions themselves more as a network that allows you to put digital content on real-world objects – it’s a bit like Microsoft’s Vision of the Future metro scene. Scan a QR code to connect to the object, and then add content or interact with that object via your smartphone.
wiMAN (Italy) - Connect to wi-fi with Facebook connect? I’m in. wiMAN provides a router that connects directly to your DSL connection, and allows users to connect to wifi with Facebook. It seems interesting, and there may be a layer of “like our page on Facebook to connect,” which I think would be killer to cafe’s, who’s been providing wifi for years hoping to capitalize on it. I’d love to throw up a wifi router at LeWeb and get people to connect to it by liking the Rude Baguette Facebook page – hmm, maybe i’ll contact them in advance.
Smart Cities and GreenTech
Green momit (Spain): One of the most popular applications for connected devices is energy management tools like Nest, and Green Momit seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. The service offers tools for managing energy costs from providers, as well as consumption rates from industrial devices (with serial ports). In addition, they offer a service to monitor your printing habits.
kWIGly (Switzerland): Analyzing building energy consumption data and delivering actionable & prioritized recommendations for improving efficiency of energy consumption – kWIGly calls it “building for triage.” Looks legit.
World Climate Credit (Switzerland): The makers of MySollars.com, the only Loyalty Solution that actively fights Climate Change and rewards Carbon Neutrality. It reminds me a bit of eCO2data, actually – incentivize reduction in carbon emissions. It’s been adopted in California and a few other locations, and it has been said that Carbon Credits could become the next tradable asset class, like gold or currencies – the only difference is this one encourages good environmental practices.
FashionTech Meets IoT
Agent of Presence(US): data-driven fashion seems to be founder Alison Lewis’ overall vision. Just this past month the company showcased their Heartbeat dress at SF Fashiontech – the full video here. The current prototype consists of a high-end dress infused with fiber optics, that illuminate in coordination with your heartbeat. The information can also communicate with a mobile device, sharing that information. While Lewis speaks in the video about loved ones “sharing each other’s heartbeats” even when apart, I’m more interested about the implications of being able to track your cardiovascular health 24/7 while you’re wearing clothes than I am about the buzzing lights and whistles. Nonetheless, the arrival of Connected Clothes touches highly on the IoT theme.
qunb (France): We’ve spoken about qunb before – A LeCamping season 2 graduate working on building the “YouTube of OpenData.” The recently opened up their beta, and they seem to be growing steadily. They attended LeWeb last year in the notoriously poorly placed LeCamping room in what can only be described as the attic of LeWeb – I think they’ll be a little more excited to get a chance to pitch the main stage this year.
Biletu (Chile): For the stingiest friends, I highly recommend Biletu. While at first it looks to be yet another P2P payment service, I really get a kick out of its differentiating features. You can send requests for money – a feature that exists on the latest version of Skimm - but on Biletu, you can back it up with photo evidence. Did you pay €5,95 for your friend’s kebab because he “didn’t have his wallet?” Boom. Picture of the receipt, picture of him eating it, and a scanned copy of the ransom note written in cut-out magazine letters. Your friend swears he’ll pay you back? ” Add audio so no matter how good the party was you have evidence!” says Biletu! Biletu is a member of the Startup Chile program, a great government initiative to encourage innovation.
A few entries that I just couldn’t categorize…
Ujoolt (France): Ujoolt’s hastily put-together Google Maps interface is meant to allow you to follow what’s going on around you in real-time.
Touchalize (France): Created by Phonotive, an iPhone & Android development firm, Touchalize provides a ‘touch’ element to videos, allowing views of videos on mobile devices to touch elements in the video and then interact with them or receive information about them. Not sure how much automation there is in the product, but I’ll definitely be looking to test this out.
I could not find sufficient information about Intoino or Recommend. You can follow all of the LeWeb Startup Competition finalists on twitter with our LeWeb Startups list.