On Friday January 22 the latest batch of e-commerce startups gathered at the Rabobank HQ in Utrecht to pitch their businesses. After three months of hard work, how did these companies present themselves?
In order of presenting:
24sessions – Rutger Theunissen (CEO)
What started as a video platform for mostly freelance experts and professionals, quickly became a video platform for in house experts for big companies. Companies pay 1200 euro per advisor per year to have a white label video chat environment. Right now 24sessions focuses on mortgage advice, is planning to move on to financial advice and ultimately all industries. “70 percent of the world’s business is in services”, stated Theunissen, marking the potential of his startup. The company expects a 400.000 euro revenue this year at a 90 percent gross margin. The pitch was very slick, so we have nothing to add here.
StoreGecko – Alexander Kahn (co-founder)
StoreGecko is a Product Information Management tool for Magento webshops, promising their solution is a lot cheaper than its competitors. The pitch was kinda boring to be honest, even with those cute cartoony slides. Actually, it seemed that there was a whole visual metaphor going on in the slides (with castles, knights and cities), which distracted a lot and was not comprehensible at all times. However: this startup is more impressive than the pitch did occur – because of the huge webshop market.
Clickly – Guilherme Lopes (CEO)
“You are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad”, started Lopes. Turns out, people don’t like ads. Companies miss out on 22 billion dollar each year due to ad blockers. Clickly creates unblockable native ads, to “really monetize content”. The startup takes 20 percent of the CPE and CPC revenue. Clickly expects a 1.7 million euro revenue in 2016.
I understand companies love this startup, having already raised 2.5 million euro. But as a consumer, I think shoving sneaky ads in your face is just plain evil. The Darth Vader tune when entering the stage doesn’t help either. Also: how long will it take before people find a way to bypass Clickly ads? Life finds a way.
MoneyLink – Lennert Pieters (CEO)
MoneyLink lets you easily sell anything online with a simple link you can send to multiple platform. The startup gets a 5 percent commission on every sale. The whole pitch was kinda boring. Cool stuff though: MoneyLink partners with the Dutch logistics startup SendCloud.
Dashmote – Dennis Tan (CEO)
This pitch proved to be the necessary energy boost the audience needed before the break. “I’m not going to talk about our vision, our business model or our investment needs”, Tan said. Dashmote wants to “create instant access to all visual content”, their deep learning algorithm already filing 120 million images. It sure looks like just another stock photo portal though, with a lot, and I mean a lot of results not being free for use. “What Netflix and Spotify did for illegal movies and music, we want to do for images.”
LiateR – Antonis Argyros (shusa)
LiateR (‘retail reversed’) is just another interactive sales solution for brick shops. The startup lets ‘window shoppers’ try out new clothes with just hand gestures in front of a screen. LiateR saw a 31 percent conversion rate in terms of people entering the store after playing with this tool. But how many people will actually buy something? That remains unclear.
ShopAds – Marieke Vollering (co-founder)
ShopAds is a startup offering advertising on the websites of retailers. Or, as Vollering says, “sell promotional space to other brands without loss of conversion.” As a retailer, you decide positions an then other retailers do a little online bidding for, for instance, top positions.
First, why would you have other retailers advertise on your retail page? And if you decide to do it, is a contextual ad not better than the highest bidder? What is this? A business model from the Middle Ages?
Maybe I just don’t get it. But the startup seems to work: it got 90.000 euro in revenue last year and ShopAds expects to raise that to 4 million euro within three years.
Skace – Nicholas Morgan (CCO)
Scotsman Nicholas Morgan entered the stage in a traditional quilt. Finally, someone showing some balls this afternoon (not literally). Skace offers realtime team feedback in the hospitality sector. Employers and employees can easily see this way if there’s something wrong or if something isn’t done properly. Although I don’t guarantee this startup doesn’t create a backstabbing and snitching culture on the workplace. This was demonstrated all too well when Morgan asked his fellow batch startups to rate his performance on stage. “Am I presenting our business idea well?” The realtime statistics showed a score of 24 percent. Ouch.
CrazyLister – Viktor Levitin (co-founder)
CrazyLister offers a DIY shop editor for online marketplaces. The cool thing about this, is that the editor gives the user advice about conversion design. Those advices change every time, but I’d liked to see more of that in action. The startup got an impressive amount of customers: 25.000. The videos of happy customers obviously reading from a teleprompter or a piece of paper, shouldn’t have been necessary though.
TryLikes – Janneke van den Heuvel and Steven Kroon (co-founders)
This duo pitch was awesome. “Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups”, Van den Heuvel said. “TryLikes wants to stop that.” How they do it? A simple hardware device full of sensors with a like and a dislike button. Placing these stations in a store with questions on them, businesses can get realtime feedback in the form of push notifications for example.
It’s a simple idea, but both were very honest in that. “It’s about small issues, yes. But we like to keep it simple.” Nothing wrong with that, especially after we learned the two failed before with another business. TryLikes also took bootstrapping to a whole new level. When clients wanted a mega order, but the team couldn’t wait on the manufacturer, Steven unleashed his inner inventor and created a smouldering oven out of a microwave. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what entrepreneurship is all about.
The good: Pitches from 24sessions and TryLikes, the energy from Dashmote, quilts on stage.
The bad: Standard format in most of the pitches (highlighting the experience of the team and telling they’re ‘raising’ funds). The most common last sentence: ‘We are X, and we do X. Thank you.’ Also, the lighting in the room.
The ugly: The coffee made me cry and question my life’s decisions.