//FOOT ON THE PEDAL: Moped steps out of private beta - Lerer Ventures, Betaworks, Earlybird and SV Angel invest//
Do you speak “@/#” ? Then you are proficient in Moped.
Moped is a smart, stripped-to-the-messaging-bones web + iOS app that works like Twitter DM’s - except without the limitation that you have to follow each other, you can include multiple people in one message by simply @’ing them and you can easily filter various conversation streams by using hashtags.
It also comes with some other perks, including a DropBox integration - allowing you to share files within the service, and a bookmark-like Chrome extension - enabling you to start a conversation directly from the browser.
Based in Berlin, American founder Schuyler Deerman assembled a truly international 6 person A-Team hailing from Great Britain, Turkey, Spain, Latvia and Alabama. They started working on the product in September last year and I’ve been using the beta version of Moped for some time - its simplicity is impressive.
Especially as Twitter is becoming more and more a content play and sets its eyes on conquering the mass market with a strong monetization focus (e.g. hashtag pages for brands), Moped is re:thinking messaging as a utility. Moped seems to Twitter, what Path is to Facebook - a nicely packaged subset of key features, designed for private communication. At LeWeb London today, Shakil Khan – Head of Special Projects at Path, made a great point by emphasizing Path’ focus on user network quality and engagement to get the product right. This is a similar direction that will work for the equally product-minded Moped crew: Think form and function. This mantra of the Berlin-school of product design has already seen companies like SoundCloud, Readmill, Amen, EyeEm and 6Wunderkinder raise to success. There’s a theme here - most of these start-ups are partly expat founders, release English speaking products, balance engineering and design — and attract funding from US investors.
Moped’s $1 million round marks the first Berlin investment from New York investors Betaworks and Lerer Ventures who join California-based SV Angel and Berlin’s Earlybird. — Congrats to Schuyler and team!
// MASTERCLASS EyeEm x Gidsy // — This is a perfect example of 2 Berlin start-ups joining forces: popular mobile photo app EyeEm offered a street-photography masterclass on Gidsy and these are the picturesque footprints across Berlin.
Street art + photography have been at the very core of EyeEm and it brings back memories of my first EyeEm encounter: a mobile photo exhibit in Berlin. As we learned during a recent visit to the EyeEm studio, this was actually the result of a lucky accident…
Back in 2009, CEO Florian Meissner had lost his camera on the very first day of a new job at a photo magazine in New York and was forced to surrender to an iPhone as his one and only lens. He got hooked on mobile photography, published a book and “the rest is history”.
EyeEm’s point of difference has always been a combination of deep routed passion for photography, mixed with great engineering talent. CTO Ramzi Rizk - dubbed by the team as ‘the best coding photographer’ - is the mastermind behind EyeEm’s data cube, which brings method to the picture madness. With mobile images sky-rocketing, the biggest issue for mobile photography is discovery and consumption. “How do I find images of places, topics and events that I really care about and that have an impact on my day-to-day decision making”, summarizes Florian the problem EyeEm wants to solve. EyeEm’s rigorous tagging system allows clustering of topics and locations and puts real relevance to mobile photo sharing. One can only imagine how valuable this ‘strictness’ will become in the future.
Instagram might have the masses, but the discovery process was always either silo’ed (friends and followers) or random (most popular). Whereas when you fire up EyeEm in a city, you automatically see a picture story of what’s happening around you. You can also follow albums from street-art, music, architecture, fashion and food to portraits and black/white photography. Ultimately, you are visually connecting with people around the globe who share the same interests. And it works: I have met like-minded ‘mobile photo maniacs’ in Toronto, Copenhagen, Barcelona and New York — just through images. — Lights, Camera, Action.
“LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR BAD EXPERIENCES IN BAD LOCATIONS” — Everplaces is here to help: Save and share the places you love.
Today, Danish location/curation startup Everplaces steps out into Open Beta and you can now download the mobile app here – or simply try the desktop version by signing up on everplaces.com. And: it’s really good.
When Tine Thygesen, Co-Founder and CEO of Copenhagen-based Everplaces, first told us about her new entrepreneurial endeavour in September, the service was still in stealth mode but already had us intrigued. “Your quality of life depends on spending your time in the right places,“ Thygesen said back then. “With Everplaces we want to create a service that helps you to only spend your life in locations that matter.” Right location for the right moment — That might be a work place with free WiFi in London – not too loud to still have a business conversation; a roof terrace hotspot in Berlin; a romantic dinner place on the right side of cool but intimate or the best vintage design shops in Copenhagen.
So, this is not Foursquare — although as Foursquare Co-Founder Dennis Crowley told us in Barcelona, their current focus as well is on highlighting the “Explore & Radar” function to make people aware of Foursquare as a customized guide, rather than a check-in instrument. However, it’s still a mind-shift for the user, whereas Everplaces gets in from the start with a very streamlined approach of recommendations.
Everplaces is much more an Evernote / Pinterest for Places – and therefore right on track with the current ‘less is more’ curation trend.
Since it’s closed beta release in December we have tried and tested Everplaces – and especially liked 2 things:
1) it is simple and sleek on both platforms, mobile and desktop (one of the co-founders is a designer and it clearly shows)
2) the slick integration with MyGoogle Maps (and the now defunct Gowalla) lets you easily import your preciously collected locations from previous travels.
So, it’s a keepsake of the locations you want to remember or plan to go to – and then pull up when you need them. A follow function let’s you track selected suggestions from experts you trust for food, arts, fashion, hotels – instead of being bombarded with a news feed from all your friends.
Since in private beta, the team has made some valuable observations on how people actually use the service:
1) People are using it much more for storing personal information. True, we used Everplaces to plan and map-out all MWC locations in Barcelona in advance, then add information and pictures as we entered the locations. And we love the focus on a private collection for places rather than a broadcast of where I am.
2) The location info being added is often experience and value-driven. Equally true. Because of the sleek design you tend to store locations with the extra twist for food and design plus add personal memories. It’s like your personal interest graph for places.
3) Mobile + Desktop. Cross-platform is the way to go and with a seamless synch of mobile and desktop version, people tend to use the ‘online version’ of Everplaces for planning and adding information. Again a testament that Everplaces has more of a utility driven proposition and similar usage patterns to Evernote and Pinterest.
During its closed Beta, Everplaces has already spread to 57 countries and is particularly popular in the US and Germany. People use it in their own city but also take to it for travel recommendations. - Although the current focus is on building the community and there are no immediate pressure points for monetization, Thygesen sees revenue opportunities especially through affiliate marketing in the future (similar to TripAdvisor).
But for now Thygesen’s focus for Everplaces is to get onto people’s radar. “I would also love to see more integrations, not only with Foursquare but collaborations with great content partners.”
Here is an excerpt from the SoundCloud’ed Skype interview with Tine from Copenhagen (apologies for the echo sound):
Apple buys mobile search start-up Chomp for $50m to revamp app-store discovery.
Is this the end of the Apple charts as we know it? We certainly hope so. When Chomp first made its debut in February 2010 it was dubbed “The Google for app search” – but as co-founder Ben Keighran remarked in an interview with MG Siegler when asked what Apple thinks about one-upping them in app discovery? “Apple is insanely excited about this.” Now the Chomp-team is heading over to Apple with CEO Keighran joining iTunes Marketing and CTO Cathy Edwards becoming a Sn iTunes Engineer.
Chomp is a cross-platform search engine covering both, iPhone and Android apps. Aussie-born Keighran is also no stranger to acquisitions by the search giant: prior to Chomp, Keighran held a lead advisory role for brilliant social search company, Aardvark, which was acquired by Google in early 2010 for $50m. However, despite its huge potential, Aardvark joint the deadpool in September 2011 as part of Google’s product streamlining effort. Hopefully Apple will give Chomp more attention as this could indeed be a solution to put method to the madness of now 500,000 apps in the Apple Store and a lead-up to 25 billion total app downloads.
In a TC guest post Keighran stated that “For Mobile Apps, It’s 1996 All Over Again” and suggested on how to capitalize on the current wave — “The same way the winners did last time. Figure out what people want and then deliver it to them using the new version of the Internet—the one delivered via apps. If you’re able to give people a better, faster, more tailored mobile experience, you’ll be one of the disruptors.”
//Mobile Innovators x SuperBowl// — Sometimes commercials can be really good. The “Mobile Innovators Series” by BestBuy - which was broadcast during the SuperBowl - is definitely one of them. The ad features innovators who’s products & technologies have impacted our mobile landscape big time.
Among Best Buys “Chosen Ones”:
- Text-to-speech inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil
- Instagram founder Kevin Systrom
- Camera phone creator Philippe Kahn
- Mobile payment system inventor and founder of Square Jim McKelvey
- Video sharing creator Daniel Henderson
- Shazam co-founders Chris Barton and Avery Wang
- Words with Friends creators Paul and David Bettner
- Neil Papworth — sender of the first SMS message.
The campaign is intended to bring focus to Best Buy’s mobile phone and carrier plan selection.
“ How many companies have been handed the opportunity to get 15 million users in the first year? Not many. We want to take this ticket and ride.
TOUCH-DOWN & TUNE-IN: Shazam live check-in drives record Super Bowl Engagement — “The Super Bowl was our first major live network television event where we enabled people to interact with all aspects of the game, including the ads and the spectacular halftime show,” said Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher. “Knowing the size of the Super Bowl audience, we had high expectations for how many people would be engaged during the event and with the numbers in the millions we were blown away.” — In the coming months, viewers can expect to see a number of exciting events, new ads and other shows that incorporate Shazam, including the 54thGRAMMY Awards on CBS on Sunday, February 12th.
//APPLAB x ART// — ARTFINDER — We take a closer look at Artfinder, the place to “discover, experience and share art”. Perfecting discoverability through customized recommendations is a massive trend throughout all genres – and Artfinder does exactly that by deeply connecting art lovers within an interest community of like-minds.
The mobile app let’s you locate art and events around you as well as taking snap-shots of the art you like and store it into a personal collection. Artfinder also offers themed “iPhone/iPad guides” – which we are taking on a testdrive. Some of our favourites so far:
//INTERVIEW x SOUNDCLOUD// — At the DLD conference in Munich SoundCloud Co-Founder Alex Ljung just announced that they hit the mark of 10 MILLION REGISTERED USERS, 7 million of those have only joined over the last year. The recent financing round in January - which is believed to have pumped another 50 million into the Berlin-based company - was already a testament to the expected dimension of growth.
In this excerpt from our interview, SoundCloud Co-Founder Eric Wahlforss talks to us about the “inevitable trajectory” towards building SoundCloud, why sound will be bigger than video and how launching the ‘record button’ has fueled the vision of unmuting the web everywhere.
//APP LAB x CHASING SALANDER// — Impressed! Testing the new iPhone app “Chasing Salander” - released by Norstedts, the publishing house behind Stieg Larssons Millenium Trilogy. Coinciding with the wide movie release of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” in Europe, it adds an additional narrative layer to the bestseller and dives into the untold story of the hitman chasing protagonist Lisbeth Salander.
DARE TO ASK: Erik Wahlforss (Co-Founder SoundCloud) / Henrik Berggren (Co-Founder ReadMill)
We meet the 2 “Swedish Imports” (and good friends) at the Readmill HQ in Berlin where they talk about Stockholm clubbing days, advice for young entrepreneurs, favourite sounds and (social) trust issues.
//INTERVIEW PIX: READMILL// - We meet Henrik Berggren, Co-Founder of ReadMill in Berlin to talk about socializing the reading experience.
//ON THE ROAD x FOUNDERSHOUSE CPH// - During a Copenhagen stop-over we visit Founderhouse - a “shared invitation-only workspace for ambitious technology startups and experienced tech entrepreneurs.”
We interviewed Everplaces, Shape, Ge.tt, Evertale, Inventors Of, Eventbird, Young Academics and CanvasDropr — and can testify that this is a truly talented ensemble cast of entrepreneurs under one roof.
Watch out for a profile on Foundershouse in our upcoming Copenhagen Special.