European Web Startups Founded in Germany

It isn’t Silicon Valley but old Europe still has a few interesting things going on in the startup world. I went around to search for startups in Germany and around. I looked particularly for companies doing Software as a Service.

It features where the companies are based and what service they provide. It is by no means comprehensive, just enough to tease those pessimists that say nothing is going on in Europe. Here is the list I came up with, feel free to comment about other interesting startups you know about:

  • Babbel – by Lesson Nine GmbH, in Berlin – online platform for teaching languages.
  • Jimdo – by Jimdo GmbH, in Hamburg – online platform for website creation.
  • ScaleUp – by ScaleUp Technologies GmbH, in Hamburg – online cloud computing platform.
  • TripWolf – by tripwolf GmbH, in Vienna – travel tips from professional travel writers.
  • fatfoogoo – by fatfoogoo AG, in Vienna – in-game commerce ecosystems for the monetization of online games and virtual worlds via microtransactions.
  • yigg – by YiGG GmbH, in Munich – social news website with features such as discussion boards, map integration, bookmarking and geotagging.
  • papermint – by Avaloop IT Solutions GmbH, in Vienna – virtual world with casual gaming and social networking.
  • wooga – by wooga GmbH, in Berlin – social games for networks like Facebook.
  • absolventa – by Absolventa GmbH, in Berlin – online platform that allows companies/recruiter to view the resumes and contact graduating students.
  • Venyoo – by venyoo GmbH, in Hamburg – one of the leading event calendars in Germany.
  • Communipedia – by ekaabo GmbH, in Weinheim – service developed to help people build a social identity to take on the web.
  • Xing – by XING AG, in Hamburg – social software platform for enabling a small-world network for professionals.
  • Studivz – by VZnet Netzwerke Ltd., in Berlin – social network platform. is very similar to Facebook, but primarily focuses on the German speaking market. The company was sold to Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, a German publishing group, for €85 million [1] in January 2007.
  • Opportuno – by Opportuno GmbH, in Munich – job search engine that specializes in finding jobs directly on employers’ web sites.
  • FriendCaller – by C2Call GmbH, in Werl, near Cologne – browser based Java VoIP service. Which has recently received funding from High-Tech Gründerfonds [2].

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iPhone App Listens to Music and tells you the name of Song

There is an application for the iPhone where you can humm along a song and it will identify it for you. You can then even buy it from iTunes or see related videos on YouTube. The application I’m talking about is Shazam. We were talking about it over lunch and we all agreed it was impressive technology. We were wondering not so much the part of fingerprinting the music, which is already impressive to get right, but how is it possible to search such a large database, supposedly containing every song in the world, in a timely manner? Someone then asked: “who are the people doing such great software?” I then decided it was time to do some digging and found this great video, a bit romanticized I grant you that, but pretty cool..

Some of the things that caught my eye.. they started back in 2000. Also I was reading about the technology and how it works. Fingerprinting the music is based on the spectrogram. The database is an hash table, where the key is the frequency. When it receives a fingerprint it doesn’t need to search all the songs. Still there is an immense amount of work involved in making the whole thing work. It’s fantastic what they have accomplished.

The People

Chris Barton, Philip Inghelbrecht, Dhiraj Mukherjee and Avery Wang.

Chris and Philip were still in Business School (at UC Berkeley in California) when they started Shazam. Dr. Avery Wang comes from Stanford University. Not sure about Dhiraj.

Shazam Founders on Twitter

The beauty of the Internet these days.. you can follow these guys on Twitter.

Chris Barton – @bartonsurfer

Philip Inghelbrecht – @Inghelbrecht

Dhiraj Mukherjee – @dhirajm


Customer development

I was reading on Jussi Laakkonen’s blog about “Customer development or why 9/10 startups fail”. I think the bottom line the post makes is that the difference between a successful startup and a failed one is that the successful ones get out of the office and talk to the customers. I think that is a very important idea and I hope to keep it in mind.

Customer development or why 9/10 startups fail