There's a reason why London's Tech City is buzzing and loads of european entrepreneurs are flocking to the UK: it's a haven for technology-based startups. There's money, there's mentoring, and there's a huge market. That's why over 50 British startups stormed the Collision Conference in Las Vegas, this week, the largest representation of a country outside of the United States, looking to expand. If you haven't heard of Collision, it's because it's fairly new - this was only the second edition. But you certainly heard of Dublin's Web Summit, and suffice it to say it's the same team behind both.
Holograms for the masses
That's what Kino-Mo 3D Displays is offering, holography for the mass market. "Holograms are not available to mass market due to the high costs, and this is a cheap and affordable solution," director Art Stavenka tells Blasting News. "You can attach it to any surface and create an immediate advertisement platform." Three agencies have already been signed and there's interest from 25 countries. The final product will be launched in 5 months time, but Kino-Mo already signed a contract that will have Sky building a network of digital billboards in bars and night clubs.
Bank accounts for expats
Most of the British startups that flew to Las Vegas are tapping into the fast-growing app economy, which this year will be worth £31b in the UK. Some hope to be truly revolutionary, like Monese, launching in July as a way to open a bank account for people who can't access the banking system. Product director Mulenga Agley tells Blasting News that Monese will offer "an alternative to high street bank accounts, primarily focused on servicing the expat and migrant market, which many of the traditional banks hold out of the system." Anyone will be able to open a bank account in under 3 minutes using a mobile device, provided the person is an EU citizen). Better yet, the service will be free for the essentials and paid only when the fair use threshold is exceeded. International money transfer will be available. After a 1.9 million investment, Monese went to Las Vegas looking for "the right type of venture capital", and Agley says it went "absolutely brilliantly." Their primary markets are UK, Western Europe and Latin America, then West Africa. "One in four people in Europe don't have bank accounts," Agley notes. "Our core vision is to provide everybody with a safe place to store money."
Hairstyling at home via #Smartphone
Also looking for money is Belle, a team based at the Google Campus TechHub who started only two months ago. They're a Uber for hairstyling, offering a cheaper service: "We provide professional stylists to everyone's place, whether it's the office or home, and we use people from Tony Guy and Vidal Sasson academies," the company's founder Gabriele Musella tells Blasting News. He's a stylist himself and describes the service as "the quality of a salon and the convenience of a Uber." People can use the app to to request haircuts, colour and highlights. Prices will be around 30% less than the salon average. Belle is testing with 3 hairstylists and 20 customers in London and intends to expand to Paris, Dublin and Spain, before venturing into the U.S. The beta version will come in July and the public app will go live in Dublin, during the Web Summit.
Shazam for fashion
It's what one of the co-founders, Moeez Ali, calls Comb – an app that allows you to take a picture of something you like, upload it and discover what brand it is. Say you spot a nice dress and want to know the designer; Comb will match it not only with the right dress, but also suggest similar clothing - it has 3 million products in the database so far. Users can then buy the product directly. The image recognition software is from London-based Cortexica, and the app went live in January, growing to 5,000 users now. "Millions of people use Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration, but they can't actually buy things there," Ali says. Comb wants to tap into that market.
Uber for jobs
That would be LuckyLink. The 9-month-old startup provides a platform for companies that urgently need staff, like bars, hotels, restaurants and retail stores. "You can hire staff around you that is skilled and available," co-founder Benjamin Kaminsky sums up. Over 1,000 companies have registered and 9,000 people are ready to work on the platform. There's even a video interview feature so they can hire on the spot. Until January 2016, any company or professional can try it out free of charge (it will be pay-as-you-go after that). "Our clients say we're saving their work, because they don't have time to waste," co-founder Amaury Berthet adds. They're now looking to raise £1,5 million and open in more cities other than London. "Employers don't have a solution for hiring, the options now would be something like GumTree. The problem is bad quality," Berthet states. They want to change that. #Internet #Social media