On March 8th, more than 200 tech-savvy experts gathered in Luxembourg to witness the presentations of 10 European startups who pitched their innovations to get a chance to fly to San Francisco and try to win $1,000,000 in investment prize.
Jonathan Prince, co-founder of Luxembourg-based FinTech startup DigiCash acted as Master of Ceremony, highlighting the fact that Luxembourg was proud to hold one of the 16 regional finals of the Startup World Cup.
Luxembourg, a true startup nation
Then, Kamel Amroune, Managing Director, IT One, took the stage to officially launch the SWC Luxembourg edition. The country has been working on innovation for a long time, thanks notably to the initiatives launched by its government. For this very first edition, more than 50 startups applied. Olivier Lemaire, Partner at EY Luxembourg can only agree with Kamel Amroune on the entrepreneurial spirit of the country. "The Technology, Media and Telecom sector has developed greatly over the last 15 years and the country is now seen as a tech and media hub" added Mr. Lemaire. According to him, this is all been possible thanks to the collaboration between the private and public sectors: "Luxembourg is a true startup nation". Then, John Lim, VP of Operations, Fenox VC, went over the creation of the Startup World Cup.
Disrupting the telecommunications industry
Taïg Khris, three-time world ramp skating champ, and serial entrepreneur then took the stage to share his story. "I never went to school. I have an out-of-the-box education and therefore developed an anything is possible state-of-mind" started the Frenchman who started many companies over the years, every time he broke his leg, wrist, hip, the list goes on. Four years ago, he decided to follow a safer path. "On my hospital bed, I wrote down the 6 main points I thought could help me develop my startup" added Taig. At the end of the day, he chose the telecommunications industry, which according to him, had not changed in the last 30 years. "I didn't even know if what I wanted to do was legal. And this is actually what allowed me to continue working on such a project". His solution, called OnOff, is "the link between telecom operators and mobile application" and allows users to switch from one number to another, in every country in the world, making his app an alternative to SIM cards. To conclude, Taig Khris shared a message with startups and even bigger companies: "Innovation can change the world and young startups can shake the biggest industries. On the other hand, the big players need to be flexible and on top of the innovation".
10 pitches, 10 innovations
The pitching session started with Geoffroy de Schrevel from Birdee, a new and flexible way to manage our money, in a period with historically low interest rates when people do not necessarily enjoy going to the bank.
Then, Malik Issolah from Epsilon presented his connected sneakers to the audience. The company based in Nancy combined its footwear and electronics knowledge to create a connected sole giving data to runners, the possibility to heat the shoes, etc.
The startup Houser was pitched by Matti Heikkila. His concept? Houser tracks every property, every day so that people can easily and at any time compare any property against similar properties.
Amaury De Buyser and Maxime D'Hondt then presented their startup JUDG and its newest spinoff Showup, which brings together bars and customers in order to increase fidelity and visibility, notably.
Yann Mahe pitched MyScienceWork, a global scientific platform making research more visible and giving people easier access to information. The company also develops online promotion platforms for research institutions, integrated under a single, global portal.
Nomoko was then presented by Nilson Kufus. The startup's aim is to map today's data-driven world in artificial reality by creating 3D models.
The next presentation was given by Loïc Bar, who presented Opinum, a startup targeting the building industry and more specifically the energy used by these buildings, mainly by collecting data and analyzing them.
SESAMm, a FinTech startup, was pitched by Sylvain Forté. The team develops stock market forecasting tools by extracting millions of messages from social media and other textual data sources.
Denis Kiselev, founder of Gloneta, pitched his concept in front of the jury. The mobile app allows instant payments in a messaging interface, with a comprehensive user interface.
Finally, Jean-Philippe Hugo and Julien Weber presented Wizata, which aims at bringing Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at the service of companies’ innovations and digital transformation.
Next step? Heading to San Francisco
After the deliberation of the jury composed of Raz Bachar (Head of Startup Business Development, Amazon Web Services), Warrick Cramer (CEO, Tomorrow Street), Yannick Oswald (Investor, Mangrove Capital Partners), Peter Maynard (Startup Lead BeLux, Microsoft), Edith Magyarics (CEO, Victor Buck Services) and Alain Rodermann (Founding Partner, Expon Capital), the winner of the Luxembourg regional contest was finally announced: the connected sneaker was labelled the most innovative startup. EPSILON will therefore pitch on March 24th in San Francisco.
"EPSILON is the connected footwear leader" stated Malik Issolah, Marketing Director. Their two products are currently being sold in more than 15 countries, and the company already showcased its solutions at the CES in Las Vegas. The sole can heat the shoe, give the runner information about fatigue and posture. Based in Nancy, Lorraine, the company is composed of 19 employees and wishes to develop its presence in North America if declared winner of the Grand Finale. It already raised 5 million dollars and aims at raising another 20 million by the end of the year. Stay tuned.
Photos credits: Dominique Gaul