An app by wine lovers, for wine lovers, Vivino combines recommendations, product discovery, content and search. The firm’s app lets users take pictures of labels to cross-reference bottles with information, reviews and ratings posted by a community of more than 4.5m users. The firm faces competition in the shape of wine discovery apps Delectable and Drync in the US, but clearly distinguishes itself through content. It’s entertaining. There are tips on wine-tasting etiquette. There are travel features. There’s tongue-in-cheek analysis of the wines of Game Of Thrones, including the White Walker 2012 Chardonnay.
With competition in this segment increasing, the battle is on to keep users on board and build loyalty. How is the firm tackling this? Vivino has recruited a select group of its most highly-engaged members, Featured Users, to act as brand ambassadors and stir up engagement among the ‘Vivinos’. The company does not seem to offer an e-commerce element just yet, but it is surely in the pipeline. With a highly-engaged community the firm is perfectly-positioned to connect the dots between discovery and sales and start knocking back a tidy commission. Skål!
Investors: Creandum, Seed Capital, Balderton Capital, Janus Friis
While we’re on the topic of e-commerce, let’s take a look at Trustpilot. We often look at the value of online reviews from the consumer’s point of view. This firm is coming at the opportunity from another direction, helping companies leverage reviews to connect with their customers and gain insight into how to improve their businesses. In January it claimed some 70,000 e-commerce businesses had scores based on 6m reviews on its system and that it is adding 2,000 new merchants and 300,000 new consumers to its community each month.
In January the company picked up USD25m in funding from prolific Scandi investor Northzone and Skype-backer DFJ Esprit. At the time, the company said there were 5m online shoppers posting reviews on the site. With offices in London and New York, its ambitions go well beyond the Nordics where it built the foundations of its business.
Investors: Seed Capital, Northzone, Index Ventures, DFJ Esprit
3. Falcon Social
We know brands are spending more on social marketing, but many are still grappling with the technology and few are leveraging networks such as Twitter and Facebook to their full potential. Enter Falcon Social, a platform where brands can create, launch and track campaigns across social media in real time.
It might be based in Denmark, but Falcon Social has the US social advertising market in its crosshairs, just opening an office in New York. It faces competition from not just direct competitors such as HooteSuite, but legacy software firms such as Salesforce and Oracle that are trying to buy their way into the space. Nonetheless, it’s entering the space with a strong portfolio of brands ranging from Jaguar and Carlsberg to Coca Cola, Conde Nast and Chupa Chups. It’s also posting promising figures. The company recently posted growth figures, claiming monthly revenues are up 640 percent since last May and will triple this year.
The firm’s head of marketing, Ronja Gustavsson, talks competition and differentiation: “Competitors like Adobe are buying one-trick solutions and mashing them up into one offering for clients. They’re not integrated inside. Danish design is very famous. Our product is designed for a purpose and that resonates with how we’ve built the platform. It’s extremely easy to use for all the disciplines that you need in social. Marketing, HR, customer service and sales all want a slice, so it’s important to have a combined solution where everyone can work and you know who said what on behalf of your brand.”
“The Danish tech scene is fantastic. There are lots of start-up events happening around us. The Nordics are a really good scene for young early startups at the moment."
Investors: Northcap, Target Partners
We’ve been touting the growth of skills-based marketplaces for some time now and one vertical where they’re really starting to flourish is in the automotive space. Enter Autobutler, which is part price comparison site, part marketplace. Users describe the work they need done, the urgency and the location. Within 24 hours they have three tailored quotes from nearby garages. They can then pick the most appropriate based on ratings submitted by other users, spare part availability, reviews and warranty. The firm took on USD5m in funding last year to expand its presence in Sweden and Denmark across Europe. At the time it said it had handled 90,000 repairs to date. Expect that number to climb as the company stretches its wings and signs up more users and garages. As in the domestic services vertical, however, we can also expect a flurry of copycats coming to market. In these early land grab days, the firm needs to move fast.
Investors: Creandum, Dawn Capital, Jesper Buch
Part events discovery, part networking tool, part content platform, Conferize wants to make conferences sexy online – and that’s a direct quote from founder and CEO Martin Ferro-Thomsen. The firm is setting out to reshape the way people experience conferences and interact around them. For organisers, the firm aims to help them build up online communities of attendees and speakers in order to boost interaction and broaden their audiences. It focuses purely on the professional events space – from meet-ups and seminars to tradeshows – but no tupperware parties or whiskey tastings.
“Compared to any other companies in this space, Conferize is much more visual, appealing and sexier,” he tells us. “That is the word we use. We’re making conferences sexy online.”
Looking to boost the longevity of these events, the firm offers access to content – be that presentation slides or publicly-shared content such as tweets. It also lets users attend virtually with live streams and archived content. That helps event organisers make more from their assets, opening up content to non-attendees and after the event. The firm says it’s currently hosting more than 10,000 events, with 3m people and 15m pieces of content. It operates a freemium model, with premium tiers offering additional services such as additional promotion and personalised marketing strategies. There are many companies operating in this space, but they tend to focus on one element – be that live streaming or event networking. Conferize aims to unite them all.