OpenCoffee XXII – the minutes


Plexscape consists of two applications – the Plex.Earth and Plex.Mark! tools which enable mosaic creation and coordinates transformation for AutoCAD using the Google Earth platform. Basically this startup allows you to identify a plot of land on Google Earth given an AutoCAD file of the area, gather all the required images and create a mosaic. It’s a project aimed at engineers, research programs and environmental scientists with little competition (primarily by AutoCAD itself which also offers an extension with similar but buggy functionality). Plexscape is approximately three months old and is already looking for partners to develop and promote the product. Its main use lies in identifying whether changes in the physical space has been correctly reproduced on the blueprints given that Google images for Greece are relatively recent (2006-2008). The business model is based on a subscription fee and has already resulted in some customers.

skroutzstore – an offshoot of skroutz – offers the tools to quickly create an online store: there’s a 1′ signup and within 10′ you can be receiving product requests. Their niche market is about aiming for Greek e-shops and making the store creation simple and without many options to decide on (although it is customisable to some extent). Payments are handled via credit card and all bank and courier related processes are streamlined by the store to alleviate the user. All issues that such a stand-alone site has to face are compressed in one fee. As such site creation and hosting costs, certification, maintenance, updates to the platform (as well as some price reductions in are all offered to the user for a range of flat fees (in contrast to a percent of exchange which introduces maintenance overheads). They soon plan to introduce an API to allow users to export and most importantly import products massively using an Excel or CSV form – and even to connect the platform with an ERP (which sounds like an all-around neat idea).

Rate Solutions
is an Estonian company with  a social network which is localised in every country it’s implemented on with being our local version. The concept involves having a centralised platform (ensuring all countries run the same social network basically) while the databases are local (to ensure responses’ speed) and the interface localised of course. Half the Estonian population uses the service in Estonia while half the site was sold in the largest telecom in Estonia. Rate Solutions are behind the top social networks in many European and Asian countries. In Greece they have achieved 325K average daily page views and 30K users. The main target group is ages between 16 and 27 and the mentality is more centred in user profiles rather than the social aspect and friends. Their revenue model is 30% advertising and 70% micropayments (in exchange for virtual gifts, a rating system, customised backgrounds etc) which are done via credit card and SMS which results in a revenue of 4$/user/year on average. The global empire is maintained by just 8 programmers, 2 designers, 5 expansion people and 20-30 country managers. παλιοίφίλοι.gr is also launching in Greece in August (and they are looking for partner).

feeds2.0 is one of the very early Web 2.0 startups – having started at 2006. It’s a Google Reader look-alike but before Google Reader came about (only bloglines was around then). Feeds2.0 has some cool features that actually work such as learning from user behaviour, auto-tagging of articles and grouping of articles by subject among others. Their business model is based on advertising including personalised ads, delivery of RSS in the entreprise and delivery of RSS to the mobile. Having started at 2004, development took place throughout 2005 and it was presented at Innovate!Europe (the European version of DEMO) at 2006. That resulted in lots of promotion and additionally their business plan was awarded at the 8th VC Forum in Athens. Despite the promotion, the good business model and the working idea, still Feeds2.0 managed to generate no income. The reasons are that apparently Greek VCs like to give awards but not capital; no VC contacted feeds2.0 after the 8th VC Forum. Also, European and US VCs give no money abroad – for example, Saul Klein asked them to relocate to the UK in order to move from running ‘a project’ to creating a business. Other reasons also were important such as that too many resources were spent on traveling for promotion and negotiating deals that never happened. Currently feeds2.0 is trying to take the technology and apply it to another platform: the blogosphere for sentiment analysis, in a corporate environment, in music suggestions in your mobile etc.

odesk is well-known as one of the top employment services for online collaboration for employers and employees. Its innovation lies in that it allows sending snapshots of the employees desktop to the employer at random intervals so that the work progress can be monitored. That allows for charging by the hour and guaranteeing that a worker gets paid – advantages not existing in the competition at least when the company appeared. odesk launched in 2003 and in 2008 grossed 30M (3M profit), while in 2009 it is looking to double it. Although initially it took them 4 months to develop a working prototype 5 months later they had just 2 customers and that was it. The break came when a simple Google AdWords campaign attracted many small enterprises as customers to odesk. Although that indicated a revenue stream, funding was still sorely needed. After many failed attempts, a VC showed their idea to a staffing entrepreneur – who liked it and the VC decided to invest. Currently, they have 200K registered users (and that so far has landed them to be 2nd in terms of market share.) who have formed an open and transparent marketplace so that free-market forces can take over with odesk limiting its mediation and instead becoming just the enabler of the platform. America, India, Russia and Ukraine are top for workforce while in Greece they have very few members as employees and no employers. Their business model is based on claiming 10% of wages between contractors and by basically avoiding any other interference with them.


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