8 Startups to Know About in 2020
From centralized distribution of resources for medical groups to virtual event technology, you’ll definitely want to check these startups out.
We’re always excited to highlight startup teams who’re making things happen in our Startup Grind community and the world. The following companies have shown their commitment to “the grind” and we’re pleased to share them with you. And, as always, if you’re interested in joining our program please visit our membership page here!
Viacheslav Oganezov, CEO & Co-Founder; Alex Fenechiu, Co-founder & COO
Reinventing supply chain finance.
How Finverity Got Started
“Born in what people called the third world, Slava and Alex both come from emerging markets — places that leapfrog in terms of their growth and development, but yet seem to never really catch up! Their families, conscious of this aspect, sent them both to study in the UK at a young age. Having gone through the British system and adapted, but nowhere close to yet matured, the two found themselves attending Cass Business School in London where they met and bonded over the many nights out and long conversations about how to change the world.
Alex started a full-time job in Investment Banking at JP Morgan during the 2nd year of university to be able to complete his degree and was later scouted by BNP Paribas. Slava joined PwC as a digital strategy consultant for the financial sector. He now found himself telling the very banks who failed to save SMEs after 2008, how to get better at serving their clients…
During their time in the corporate world, they kept dwelling on one core premise: credit markets in emerging markets (EM) are so inefficient and illiquid, while in places like London, billions of pounds are sitting idle and losing value to inflation. There had to be a way to redeploy this efficiently. So, Slava left to do an MSc in London School of Economics and search for ways to address it. Joined by Alex, their late-night number crunching began. Friends and family called them crazy and advised against it, but in September 2017 the business had a vision, a will, and a path forward. With the backing of Sir Nigel Burney and Dr. Simon Chapman, Finverity was born. Like every start-up, we struggled, we hustled, we failed… a lot. But then things started to fall into place.
Along the way, we have been joined by incredible people, making our journey possible and keeping us going through the struggles. It’s fun! Life brings people together precisely when they need each other. That included the good and the bad, the saviours and the wake-up calls. Today, in 2020, Finverity is on track to reduce the funding gap in global trade finance by over $100m this year alone. We still have a long way to go. But equipped with a new approach enabled by the technology we built here from scratch and with a team of brilliant and dedicated people that started with just 2, the goal that we are perusing with single-minded commitment, is becoming more realistic by the day.”
On Overcoming a Challenge
“We set out to build our company in a very traditional industry that desperately needs innovation and change of perspective as clearly indicated by one simple number — a $1.5 Tn Funding Gap in global Trade Finance. Traditional ways of working and the focus of incumbents on only large companies is clearly not working.
However when you try something new, you inevitably encounter resistance and that is multiplied in finance. Our company combines two important new elements: (1) the system, which is highly automated and efficient therefore removing the need for labour-intensive back-office tasks that make banks’ operational costs skyrocket and prohibit them from financing smaller companies due to economic unviability; (2) a new mindset, which is willing to look beyond just the biggest companies and find healthy and growing business of different sizes all around the world that are in need of sustainable working capital solutions to enable their growth. The main two challenges that we have, therefore, been facing are: (1) working out how to build the product and integrate various partners in order to facilitate the whole operation while staying legally compliant and providing high level of security; (2) convincing institutional investors that investing in mid-market supply chain finance deals across the world through our platform is not just reasonable, but offers superior risk-adjusted returns to most other assets classes.
Both of these challenges have been partially overcome as our system is now effectively facilitating millions of dollars of transactions and is being licensed by incumbents to run their own operations using our system. We have also managed to convince a range of known institutions in our space to start investing through the platform and the pipeline of lenders is constantly growing. The main reasons that we are here today is faith in the mission and the team, perseverance that kept us going despite hearing NO more times than we would like to admit, openness of mind that allowed us to learn and iterate as we went along and the unprecedented support of the team, our investors and all of the stakeholders along the way. We still have a long way to go to make a real impact on the global scale, but our vision is becoming more real day by day!”
How You Can Support Finverity
“If you believe in our mission of providing a more efficient allocation of resources and fair access to capital worldwide then please share what we do with those in your network that could help bring more lenders on to the platform. There is a huge need out there and collectively we can do our part in reducing it and making sure that more SMEs around the world are able to withstand the current situation and thrive.”
Want to connect with Finverity? Email us to request an intro.
2. Additive Flow
Alexander Pluke, CEO
Applying data science to the production process chain.
How Additive Flow Got Started
“Founded in 2017, Additive Flow in London, U.K. is leading the way in the creation of digital solutions with the overall aim of accelerating innovation through the use of AM. The company exists to solve digital workflow issues that currently prevent users — and potential users — of AM from unlocking the potential of manufacturing technologies during the pre-production stages of the process chain. The company was co-founded by Alexander Pluke (CEO) and Charles Fried (CTO), who are leading a growing team that work at the intersection of architectural computation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and material science.
Alexander and Charles met by serendipitous chance. Alexander was looking for a CTO with Generative Design, AI, Sustainability AND a 3D Printing Background (It’s good to be realistic). Alexander ended up at a different Christmas Party then the one he had planned to attend (was guided to a different floor of a co-working space in Shoreditch, London). Alexander was taking an ‘ask everyone’ strategy at the time — and between the gingerbread and drinks on tap, he chanced upon someone who said ‘I know someone who’s coming back to London this month, and is into 3D Printing and AI’. That person was Charles (who has expertise across it all (Generative Design, AI, Sustainability AND a 3D Printing Background) — and the rest is history!”
On Overcoming a Challenge
“We were aiming for our original Beta Launch just as Global Covid-19 lockdown was tightening in mid-March! Businesses paused, people WFH. Not really the best time to launch. So Additive Flow retrenched.
We paused our Beta Launch & press release plans and took the opportunity to dive into the product dev — while we put a secret alpha program in place. Working with select users, we took a 3 month sprint to make V2 of our software Formflow, and built up some exciting partnerships (with some announcements in the wings) across the supply chain.
We went fully remote, and tripled the team — bringing in developers from across the world to put some revolutionary features in place.”
How to Support Additive Flow
“We have a live beta program and applications open now — sign-ups here! Also, we’re always happy to work with teams and researchers across materials, engineering, manufacturing — across sectors ranging from aerospace, medical, electronics to additive and non-additive manufacturing.”
Want to connect with Additive Flow? Email us to request an intro.
Rolf Illenberger, Founder & CEO
The easiest solution for companies to create and distribute Virtual Reality projects.
How VRdirect Got Started
“VRdirect started as an intrapreneurial project at Germany’s largest TV Broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1. Rolf Illenberger later acquired the company in a management buyout and started the journey as an independent startup. Initially, we wanted to conquer the VR Entertainment segment. Apparently, this market does not (yet) exist, so we pivoted and became the leading Virtual Reality platform for companies and B2B use cases.”
On Overcoming a Challenge
“VRdirect was initially called Viond. When the US-based company Vyond filed brand name claims against Viond, we took the challenge and rebranded the company within 3 months to VRdirect. We also seized the opportunity to conduct a substantial pivot of the product (B2C to B2B focus), which in hindsight has proven to be the right decision.”
How to Support VRdirect
“We are just about to enter the next age of technology with spatial computing becoming mainstream. We want to enable anyone to be a creator of the ‘Metaverse’ (convergence of physical and virtual world). We’d like to invite anyone to share their thoughts and ideas on opportunities and chances of the Metaverse with us! It’s gonna be amazing!”
Want to connect with VRdirect? Email us to request an intro.
Shannon Daniels, Founder & CEO
Audience engagement platform for virtual, hybrid and in-person presentations & events.
How encaptiv Got Started
“Back when I was running sales and marketing departments I gave A LOT of presentations — internal, external, you name it — and over time I developed a toxic relationship with PowerPoint (“I hate you, but I can’t live without you!”). Eventually I got sick of the corporate grind so I quit my day job and started a communication and public speaking coaching business.
Since I’d successfully used presentations as a lead gen tool in my corporate life, I naturally gravitated toward it for building my business. Whenever I gave a presentation, people would line up afterward to talk with me and tell me how excited they were to hire me, so we’d exchange info and the follow-up game would begin. You know what I’m talking about. A bunch of people saying, “I’m definitely going to hire you!!!” followed by 100 emails and phone calls to get maybe one of them to actually hire you (if you’re lucky). It wasn’t that people didn’t want to work with me, it’s just that life happened after they walked out the door and priorities changed.
So I started thinking… What if I could make my presentations more engaging and collect data to understand which attendees are most interested so I can focus my follow-up? What if I could improve my presentations by knowing what content my attendees love and what is missing the mark? And what if I could use detailed data, analytics and in-the-moment audience engagement to get attendees to complete my call to action when they’re still at peak motivation and I have their full attention? Wouldn’t that be amazing!!!
And that’s how the idea for encaptiv was born. encaptiv was designed to make your presentations and events more engaging for your attendees and help you improve ROI.”
On Overcoming a Challenge
“encaptiv was originally built for in-person presentations and events. We were just coming out of beta and beginning to market our product in January 2020, and we were going to be debuting our event tech at a large conference in April, but then Covid hit and destroyed the in-person events space. As a result, we had to pivot to the virtual market. The good news is that since we are a web-based application, it wasn’t that hard to do. We’ve now added live video streaming into encaptiv so that our users can fully facilitate virtual, hybrid and in-person presentations and events. We also expanded our events offering beyond content to support the full virtual event-going experience with custom branding, sponsorship opportunities, recommender engines, gamification, agenda, networking, virtual expo booths and more. We even developed this really killer video networking functionality that mimics a real-life networking experience.”
How to Support encaptiv
“If you or anyone you know is hosting a presentation, webinar or event, give encaptiv a try. Also, we work very closely with our customers to develop a product that you will love, because at the end of the day we’re building encaptiv for YOU, not us. If you would like to be part of a core group of thought leaders who are shaping the future of encaptiv’s event and presentation tech, let us know! We’d love to hear your thoughts.”
Want to connect with Encaptiv? Email us to request an intro.
Thomas Taylor, Founder
Online platform for signing important document electronically.
How E-Sign Got Started
“My career background is in engineering and software. Early on in my career my roles were focused on finding ways to improve existing processes. Whilst working offshore straight after university I often had to improvise and improve systems, to ensure oil production in remote locations. It had been on my mind for some weeks back in 2011, how ineffective (given the available technology) getting agreements signed and sent via post in general was. This thought led me to develop the first iteration of E-Sign. My friend Adam came from a compliance background and he understood and shared my vision for the product. He has a vast amount of experience and although in different areas to myself, we found they were complimentary and helped us to manage the various business functions between us at that critical early stage.”
On Overcoming a Challenge
“I think the most difficult time was the months leading up to October 2016. We had sought investment to continue to improve the platform and to start marketing. We were introduced to a well known investment group. We spent a lot of time engaging with the group (going through due diligence, etc). It took a lot of focus but seemed to have paid off when they made a formal investment offer of £200,000. We were delighted, and they issued us heads of terms. At the same time, we were one of the front runners for a large UK government contract called Verify. Then in the second week of October 2016, the investment group suffered a loss in one of their portfolios and withdrew their offer. This nearly crushed the business, as we put our focus in this investment and did not engage with any other investment groups (rookie mistake) at the same time. Then within the same week we learned that we were unsuccessful in the government bid, as we were too young a business and deemed not stable enough.
Initially these were sickening events and we honestly thought the company would be in a death spiral. However, instead of letting it consume us, we decided to just keep working as though the business would still be here. We just addressed each problem as it were presented to us (final demands for payments, server issues etc), and managed to win round service providers, and customers. We did this long enough for the business to become stable and survive. We still work as though we are in this moment back in 2016 and we never get complacent, but now we service many government departments, and health trusts, and since October 2016 we have had over 1.5 million in investment.”
A Note from E-Sign
“At E-Sign we want to use our technology for good and one of our key messages which I continually share with both the team and my family is ‘try to leave the planet in a better shape than you found it.’”
Want to connect with E-sign? Email us to request an intro.
Jessica Mendoza, Founder
Enables individuals to update their address across their service providers when they move.
How Monadd Got Started
“As an immigrant who moved to many cities and countries, I’m inspired to bring the freedom felt from moving to new places and explore new cultures without the weight of stress or admin-mishaps.
Too many times I had packages arrive to my old address in a different city where I no longer live, unexpected fees showed up just because I had forgotten to share my whereabouts, and I’ve had a lot of the important medical or tax paperwork sent to different places. I don’t understand how the existing system does not allow individuals to take responsibility and control over their address admin without having to update every single thing (even the things that are not top of mind) one by one. Which ultimately means waiting on the phone multiple times for calls to drop.
Wouldn’t it be easier if there was more freedom of movement and a secure, independent place to manage one’s address admin — that’s where the idea started.”
On Overcoming a Challenge
“There are so many challenges. I think the challenges that I’ve learned to overcome is lack of knowing how to hire, how to show up, how to interact with potential partners, and have the courage to be okay with not knowing, and even then still step up to lead. I’ve made painful mistakes with hiring, where I’ve hired because the other person was super enthusiastic about the business. And, everything felt right and I didn’t want to get bothered by going through a more thorough review of skills, attitude and competence because I simply wanted to move the business forward and launch. Then slowly started realising that competence, skills and overall professionalism were really crucial for me at the very early-stages, far more than just enthusiasm and commitment. I had to let go of that team member and it was painful and costly, and now I’m an advocate for hiring slowly and setting up strong vetting processes to bring great talent in.”
How You Can Support Monadd
“A note-to-self and also one that may be beneficial for others is: Be okay with not knowing. Once that is acknowledged, then you’ll be able to identity the areas where you need support to help the business grow.
We’re also beta testing features and offering discounts via the newsletter, so if you want to stay up to date, subscribe. If you want to help with Monadd’s journey, drop a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org”
Want to connect with Monadd? Email us to request an intro.
7. Hubspring Health
Sylvia Xistris, Director of Operations
Mobile cloud platform that delivers the Hub — empowering medical groups to access, organize, manage, and distribute the resources and communications they use every day.
How Hubspring Health Got Started
“Hubspring Health was born out of frustration — as frontline physicians we know and have experienced our fragmented and antiquated healthcare system. We at Hubspring are doctors and nurses and techs working together to put all the needed resources and communication tools in the hands of each provider — wherever they are.
Hubspring is the powerful mobile cloud platform that delivers The Hub — empowering medical groups to access, organize, manage, and distribute the resources and communications they use every day.”
On Overcoming a Challenge
“In the early Hub days, we ran into an obstacle on the platform with access and view permissions across the various tiers of our client’s healthcare teams. An early client determined that their teams of administrators, faculty, techs, and students all required different levels of access across both view and communications permissions. We learned this the hard way when a student accidentally messaged the entire user base.
Therefore, out of necessity, we sought out to build our very own ‘Permissioning System’. This system allows each and every piece of information on The Hub (a contact, folder, or schedule) to individual and team based communications to be controlled. Now, an administrator can control which pre-determined ‘teams’ can chat with which user groups, access which pieces of information, and edit which pieces of content.
Today, The Hub is segmented to address the various levels of healthcare teams with ease. A problem that had once tripped us up has now become The Hub’s signature and most powerful feature.”
How to Support Hubspring Health
“Hubspring is currently offering the COVID Hub, a mission critical resource built with frontline healthcare workers in mind, free to any interested providers. It provides finger tip access to — COVID-19 protocols & guidelines, COVID-19 codes & algorithms, a live directory, and a HIPAA compliant messaging suite — all custom built to meet your healthcare team’s needs during this challenging time.
If interested, search ‘Hubspring Health’ in your App Store to download and create a free account. We also have The Hub for enterprise, a large scale Hub ready to deploy to thousands of users anytime, anywhere, across any device. For more information, visit our website or email us at Sylvia@Hubspring.com.”
Want to connect with Hubspring Health? Email us to request an intro.
Dina Bayasanova, Founder and CEO
Unique jobs marketplace where anyone with relevant skillset can find a job regardless of their age, gender, educational background, and employment history.
How PitchMe Got Started
“It was evident that many people are affected by the imperfections of traditional approach for screening CVs. CVs tell us the chronological story of employment as told by the candidate. They do not present the diversity of skills that one may poses. CVs also support a biased vision of the candidate in many cases, making it extremely difficult to shift career and explore opportunities beyond specific narrow career track. I wanted to change it.”
On Overcoming a Challenge
“When we just launched start-up we were a group of friends, who had a passion to try something new. When the project was turning into something bigger and required more work and dedication, few people decided to leave.”
How to Support PitchMe
“We are actively growing and hiring people to join our sales team. We also have an exciting role of a Lead Data Scientist open. Would appreciate a referral!”
Want to connect with PitchMe? Email us to request an intro.