(photo by penlix)
Favit is yet another startup which is here to address the problem of information overload. They do this combining a number of techniques but their core idea lies in collecting all news sources the user might need at a single point so that the information comes to the user rather the other way round. That’s why allegedly Favit is superior to other services like Google Reader because it allows integrations of multiple services. They also have some other interesting features such as allowing users to import sources of interest not by adding links but just keywords – in their native language. The interface is not just text based – you can also view news in images. You can also search the news sources you are following and the results appear in reverse chronological order. Hiding, liking and voting capabilities are also available and they feed learning algorithms that improve the user experience further while another central concept is that of groups of people from which you can learn and also push news to.
When it comes to the Bulgarian startup scene where Favit originates from it is still nascent – most investing is in non-IT-related projects – and OpenCoffee-like events are quite rare too. To get started, Favit contacted a 40M Bulgarian fund specialising in IT and got funded to do localisation in order to ensure easy usage by simple humans and not just geeks. Interestingly, they secured that funding with not much more than the idea and at the very early stage it was pushed forward by a single, non-IT person – which is quite unorthodox. What is also intriguing is that the Machine Learning alogorithms are drawn from another company of the fund which also plans to setup a datacentre and generally create a ecosystem of mutually helped companies.
Pragmaticomm was founded in 2005, is now employing 8 people across 4 countries and is operating in the field of Voice over IP which has recently seen huge growth due to the advent of phone applications (iPhone, Android etc). MvoIP is their flagship product and it is already a mature application that offers transparent, telco-independent communication. MvoIP basically offers free calls across the world between MvoIP users and ~10 times cheaper prices when talking to non-MvoIP users (incl. landlines). Compared to the first competitor that comes to mind – Skype – their difference is that they are open-source and use a different technology (they are SIP-based instead of Jabber-based) thus offering another type of product in an attempt to get their share of the market.
Its main features are ease of use, ubuiquitus availability, good integration with the mobile device and has a good quality of services due to its maturity. On the downside, no encryption is implemented (although they are planning to include it soon) and voice continuity when going from wireless to GSM and back is not in place either.
Their business model is another difference with Skype – they are offering B2B services: they are providing a VoIP services bundle to providers who in turn sell it to the end-user. Currently, they have secured a major customer in Vyke which uses their technology while at the same time they are planning to port their application to the iPhone.
Joomlaworks started as a group of freelancers who back in 2006 turned their expertise with Joomla CMS to a startup. It was as ‘simple’ as seeing a gap in the market of Joomla extensions and decided to take the plunge and start a company.
Six people are working now in joomlaworks.gr and have created 16 free GPL extensions and 3 commercial ones (available for a life-time fee). They boast 2M+ downloads in 3 years (out of 150M websites running Joomla in total – not a small fraction). They run 7 content websites, 2 community websites and 8 demo websites in order to have a strong presence in the community – and they attribute to that presence their achievement of including 7 of their apps in the Top-100 Joomla directory. This is their company’s core philosophy: make a few excellent apps and release them for free to attract attention and users – which can then be converted to customers who will buy the premium apps. As programmers the philosophy (of the Greek part of their company at least) is to create websites for customers but they also give back to the developers’ community. In other words, they leverage the community for help but also are there to return the favour.
So far they have established a good and steady revenue allowing them to experiment with further business models and create new products. Their main experimental product-to-come is K2 which is currently free and combines the best bits of existing CMS packages like WordPress. Their other product is TemplateWorks – i.e. creating templates for Joomla initially for free to attract attention and hopefully later for a fee. Also, it’s in their plans to enable the creation of video platforms as well as even more interestingly a web service that will enable Joomla extensions to operate in other CMSs in order to go over the strict Joomla borders.