Parce, pariot, and home-ix

In the last couple of days at least three German startups have made it into the news: parce pitched on Die Höhle der Löwen Pariot started their Kickstarter campaign Porsche invested in home-iX Parce During the Die Höhle der Löwen (DHDL) parce pitched their smart socket Parce Plus. It costs €49.90 and devices connected to it can be controlled through an app or Siri. They also have two smart light switches announced to ship March 2018 in the portfolio.parce’s products from left to right: light switch Parce M1, light switch Parce L1, and socket Parce Plus (Sources: Parce M1, Parce L1, Parce Plus) The socket, which was the focus of the pitch, has pretty standard features; integration into HomeKit (no Android support, however), an accompanying app and power consumption logging. According to the TV pitch, their main differentiator is „Made in Germany“ and WLAN as the connection technology. However, on Indiegogo, where they raised money for their first socket Parce, they advertised more functions which centre around analytics. The Parce turns off devices based on usage or schedules, has price comparison for electricity included and recommends you ways how you can save money. But according to their website these features are

Google’s Pixel Buds, Bragi, and the power of incumbents

Google introduced a range of new products during its hardware event including a set of wireless headphones called the Pixel Buds. Google Hardware event; presentation of Pixel Buds start at 1:23 Amongst other features, Pixel Buds support real-time voice translation through Google Translate. The earphones, however, do not do the actual translation work: Google told us that the earbuds are connected via Bluetooth to the smartphone, and that the smartphone microphone picks up the spoken words. It sends them over the cloud to Google’s data centers, where Google Translate produces a translation. It sends back the translated words in the form of speech to the phone, which transfers them back to the earbuds. — VentureBeat Thus, they are more about seamless user experience than technology (click the Bud and start talking vs. talking out your phone, opening the app and then talking). The announcement of wireless headphones should not come as a surprise. A Google patent from earlier this year showed that they might be working on something like that. Also, Samsung, Sony, Motorola, and Apple have similar products as well. Speaking of Apple, Apple’s AirPods are what comes immediately to mind when hearing about the Pixel Buds. And the

revolut, N26, and the future of banking

revolut, the app-based bank from Britain, started their operations in Germany and Austria on September 27. From their profile on SEEDRS Revolut is targeting consumers and businesses that are dissatisfied with their banks and other financial services for three main reasons: (i) lack of product innovation (ii) the expense of spending money abroad and (iii) fees to transfer money overseas. — SEEDRS The narrative is clear (this is important as I will show later on) and is well summarized in revolut’s claim: “ Revolut — The only account for your global lifestyle”. Concretely this means that you get fee-free purchase and withdrawals for 120 currencies, free money transfers of up to £5,000 per month and you can keep up to 26 currencies in the app which you can exchange without fees. Furthermore, they focus on user-friendliness through insightful spending overview (financial forecasting is planned), immediate balance update, splitting-bills between revolut-users, P2P credits, in-app credit card (un)blocking, instant money transfers and an in-app customer support chat bot. In terms of products you can either use a real or virtual credit card and they also offer an insurance for smartphones. In addition to free services, they have a premium version (6,99€/month) though which you

ZEIº on DHDL

The Austrian-based start-up Timeular went on Die Höhle der Löwen (DHDL) with their hardware-based time tracking tool ZEIº. The ZEIº is an eight-sided polygon where each side represents a task you are working on. You switch between these tasks by switching the polygon, and the upwards-facing side is the tasks being tracked right now. Three Z by Timeular (Source) I wrote about ZEIº a while back (post in German) and concluded that the product creates „pain“ for users: because they have to (re-)design each side multiple times due to ZEIº’s limited flexibility: it has only eight sites, and you cannot add spontaneous tasks people can steal it it is only useful for stationary work The jury from DHDL additionally mentioned that people simply won’t use ZEIº because finding the right side for the corresponding task is difficult, they will simply forget to track and that using a time tracking device is simply annoying. Furthermore, they criticized that a hardware-based solution is not future-proof and that an (AI-)software is the way to go. ZEIº only better significantly better for a few people The first part of the criticism shows that customer education is needed. There are a lot of people who do not

volders, a Berlin-based contract management startup, raised two million euros

 volders, a Berlin-based contract management startup raised two million euros. The company describes itself as a personal contract assistant. You feed the application with your contracts and it manages them for you. You are alerted about contract expiration, you can cancel or prolong contracts and in combination with a built-in price comparison tool you can compare and sign up for new contracts. Overview of your contracts in volders (Source) In essence, volders wants you to do the following things in a repetitive circle: Upload all your contracts Receive notifications about contract expiration Cancel contracts Compare and switch contracts volders started as vertragslotse.com in 2014 and received a six-figure investment in 2015. Also in 2015, Vertragslotse.com was renamed into volders. (It seems to me that the major reason for the name change was internalization.) Finally, In 2016 they launched an iOS-App (pretty late) (volders’ history) With their latest investment they want to position themselves as your „personal digital contract assistant“. Furthermore, they want to make “their customer service more proactive and tailor the comparison and prolongation offers more towards their customers“. This year they increased their user base by 50 percent to 550.000 (from Gründerszene). Their plan (more proactive customer service and

goUrban, an Austrian e-scooter sharing startup, received a six figure investment

Recently, the Austrian startup scooter sharing startup goUrban received a six-figure investment. The startup wants to deploy 50 NIU e-scooters in certain parts of Vienna focusing on local recreation areas and inner-city travel. The scooters are free-floating and goUrban will swap the empty batteries. The scooters have space for two people and come with two helmets and a net to put over your head for hygienic reasons. With car sharing, public transportation and bike sharing, the most pressing question is which — if any — role can scooter sharing play. There are two general aspects. Scooters are either a tool for getting from A to B (like public transportation) or they are recreational vehicles (like sports cars). As goUrban positions their scooters as a low priced way to avoid parking issues while driving through the city, let’s look at scooter sharing as a tool for getting from A to B. Based on scooter sharing’s vague relative advantage goUrban should offer lifestyle instead of practicality In this context the success of scooter sharing depends on whether it is better than the other means of transportation it competes against. It competes against car sharing and public transportation. In comparison to public transportation

ZENJOB, a German tech company matching companies with temporary employee shortages and students, raises five million euros

ZENJOB is German startup which matches companies with temporary employee shortages with students.The company hires the students, trains them, pays them minimum wage (on average above minimum wage) and lends them to companies either for side jobs or on an hourly-basis for one-time jobs. The positions they fill are typical job students jobs such as being a waitress, doorman or handing out flyers. Job matching is usually spontaneous and they promise to find a match for companies within within 1,5 hours on average [3]. When a company needs help they contact ZENJOB who then sends out the job offer to all their students through the app. Students can then accept or decline the job through the app. ZENJOB was founded in 2015, employs 1.500 students , works with 450 companies [2] and is active in Berlin and Munich. In March they received their first investment in the amount of three million euros and a second one in September in the size of five million. With the raised money they want to expand further, amongst others, into Munich, Cologne, and Hamburg. I find it fascinating that they not only enable hourly jobs for the mainstream but also that their lead time is