Funderbeam CEO to talk about disrupting startup funding at Disrupt Berlin

Startup funding hasn’t changed much in the past decade. Funderbeam is an interesting company trying to turn everything upside down using a marketplace approach, a modern syndication system and a blockchain-based platform. I’m excited to announce that Funderbeam founder and CEO Kaidi Ruusalepp will come to TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

The first boom of venture capital of the 1980s changed everything in the tech industry. Countless of tech startups managed to get funding, grow and make money down the road. Without venture capital firms, some of the biggest tech firms out there just wouldn’t be around.

Arguably, convertible notes and accelerators turned startups into a mainstream phenomenon. It became much easier to get seed funding and some sort of mentorship.

But it hasn’t changed much since then. Funderbeam has some ambitious goals as the company wants to change everything by adding more transparency and liquidity into private funding.

Funderbeam combines multiple products into one. As a startup, you can use Funderbeam to raise your next funding round. Funderbeam acts as a marketplace so that angel investors can invest in your startup. As a business angel, you can invest in a syndicate.

The startup is also building a secondary market so that early investors in a company can sell shares to newer investors. And Funderbeam also compiles all its data on startups to create a database of financial information on startups.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on November 29-30.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.

Kaidi Ruusalepp

Founder & CEO, Funderbeam

Founder and CEO of Funderbeam, the global funding and trading platform of private companies built on blockchain. Funderbeam combines three stages of investor journey into one: startup analytics, investing, and trading on the secondary market. Powered by blockchain technology, the marketplace delivers capital to growth companies and on-demand liquidity to investors worldwide.

Member of Startup Europe Advisory Board at European Commission. Kaidi is a former CEO of Nasdaq Tallinn Stock Exchange and of the Central Securities Depository. Co-Founder of Estonian Service Industry Association. The first IT lawyer in Estonia, she co-author of the Estonian Digital Signatures Act of 2000 — landmark legislation that enables secure digital identities and, in turn, the country’s booming electronic economy.

Kaidi was named as an Entrepreneur of a Year in 2018 by the Playmakers Technology Award and as a Person of a Year in 2016 by the Estonian IT and Telecommunication Association. Co-author of #Foundership Playbook and mentor of various girls and women in tech initiatives.

Readdle’s Denys Zhadanov to talk about bootstrapping at Disrupt Berlin

Readdle might not be a familiar name, but chances are you’ve been using some of their mobile apps. The Ukrainian company is a bootstrapped success story with 100 million downloads, 135 employees and a profitable business. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Readdle Vice President Denys Zhadanov is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin to talk about this remarkable journey.

Readdle is behind some of the most popular productivity apps on iOS, such as Spark, PDF Expert, Calendars 5, Scanner Pro and Documents. When you browse the top charts in the App Store, there’s always a Readdle app here and there.

The App Store has been around for ten years and has created a major shift in the tech industry. Many companies wouldn’t be around without the App Store and the Play Store, such as Uber, Snap, Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram.

But the App Store isn’t just about social apps and big venture capital funding rounds. Readdle was there from day one and launched its first app back in 2008. They’ve been growing steadily, launched dozens of paid productivity apps, shut down some of them and iterated on the most successful ones.

Readdle’s biggest bet right now is Spark. The company wants to create a better email client for iOS and the Mac. This is an ambitious product with many competitors, including Microsoft’s Outlook and Google’s Gmail. The company is trying a software-as-a-service business model for this product with premium features.

In many ways, building such a strong company without external funding is even more impressive than the average startup. And I can’t wait to hear Zhadanov’s take on that.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on November 29-30.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.


Denys Zhadanov

Vice President of Marketing, Readdle

Denys is a Vice President of marketing at Readdle.

He is also an advisor, a speaker, and a connector between Ukraine and Silicon Valley.

Readdle aims to redefine personal productivity and shape the "future of work" by creating best in class apps and services. Readdle apps such as Scanner Pro, Calendars 5, Spark email, Documents and PDF Expert were downloaded over 100 million times worldwide, are always in top charts on the App Store, won numerous awards from Apple and love from the tech industry. Being a pioneer of the App Store, Readdle now employs 130 people in 8 locations, never raised external capital.

Forbes 30 under 30, Denys has often been quoted about app economy, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing by major media outlets such as WSJ, The Verge, USA Today, TechCrunch, Bloomberg, Wired, TheNextWeb, FastCompany.

Shared inbox startup Front launches a complete redesign

Front is launching a major revamp today. And it starts with a brand new design. Front is now powered by React for the web and desktop app, which should make it easier to add new features down the road.

Front hasn’t pivoted to become something else. At heart, it remains a multiplayer email client. You can share generic email addresses with your coworkers, such as [email protected] or [email protected] You can then assign emails, comment before replying and integrate your CRM with your email threads.

But the company is also adding a bunch of new features. The most interesting one is the ability to start a thread with your team without having to send an email first. If a client sends you an email, you can comment on the thread and mention your coworkers just like on a Facebook post.

Many companies already use emails for internal communications. So they started using Front to talk to their coworkers. Before today, you had to send an original email and then people could comment on it. Now, you can just create a post by giving it a title and jumping to the comment section. It’s much more straightforward.

“We aren't planning for all internal conversations to move to Front, but a lot of them very well could. A tool like Slack is often used for questions that don't require the immediate response that Slack demands,” co-founder and CEO Mathilde Collin told me. “By bringing these messages into Front, we aim to reduce disruptions and help people stay focused.”

In other words, a Slack message feels like a virtual tap on the shoulder. You have to interrupt what you’re doing to take a minute and answer. Front can be used for asynchronous conversations and things that don’t need an immediate response. That’s why you can now also send Slack messages to Front so that you can deal with them in Front.

With this update, Front is making sharing more granular. Front isn’t just about shared addresses. You can assign your personal emails to a coworker — this is much more efficient than forwarding an email. Now, you can easily see who can read and interact with an email thread at the top of the email view.

If somebody sends an email to Sarah and Sam, they’ll both have a copy of this email in their personal inboxes. If Sarah and Sam start commenting and @-mentioning people, Front will now merge the threads.

As a user, you get a unified inbox with all your personal emails, emails that were assigned to you and messages assigned to your team inbox.

Finally, Front has improved its smart filtering system. You can now create more flexible rules. For instance, if an email matches some or all criteria, Front can assign an email to a team or a person, send an automated reply, trigger another rule and more.

The new version of Front will be available later this month. Once again, Front remains focused on its core mission — making work conversations more efficient and more flexible. The company doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and still relies heavily on emails.

Many people (myself included) say that email is too often a waste of time. Dealing with emails doesn’t necessarily mean getting work done. Front wants to remove all the pains of this messaging protocol so that you can focus on the content of the messages.

Devialet unveils an ambitious new speaker

French speaker maker Devialet is arguably manufacturing some of the best sounding all-in-one speakers on the market, but they’ve always been too expensive for the average customer. With the Phantom Reactor, the company is releasing a cheaper speaker that still sounds great.

At €990 ($1,137), Devialet is going for a wider audience of music fans who have enough disposable income to look beyond your average Bluetooth speaker.

But pricing is just part of the story. The Phantom Reactor is also much more compact than the original Phantom. It is four times smaller and weighs 10 pounds. It’s still quite heavy, so you won’t be able to pack it in your suitcase when you’re flying for vacation.

But you can now put it on a shelf, unplug it and move it to the kitchen, etc. In other words, you no longer have to dedicate an entire table to your Devialet speaker. And as you saw in the photos, it definitely looks like a Devialet speaker with its egg-shaped design, but much smaller.

Fortunately, the company tried to compromise as little as possible when it comes to sound. Devialet has worked for three years on this speaker to produce the same sound quality in a smaller package. “We had to reinvent everything to release this product,” co-founder and CTO Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel told me.

When it comes to specifications, the Phantom Reactor features a tiny touch panel at the top to control the speaker. It connects to your phone or computer using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Spotify Connect or UPnP. There’s also an audio jack. Chromecast Audio support as well as the ability to pair multiple speakers will come later with an update (you probably can already use multiple speakers with AirPlay 2 though).

There’s no microphone and Devialet doesn’t plan to support voice assistants on its devices directly. “We are completely focused on sound quality. We want to be platform agnostic with Apple, Amazon or Google. Our idea is that we want to make our speakers compatible with all the protocols from those companies — but our business is sound quality,” CEO Franck Lebouchard told me (former CEO Quentin Sannié wasn’t around during our meeting).

If you’re into voice assistants, you can always find a workaround. For instance, you can buy an Amazon Echo Dot and plug it to your Phantom Reactor. Let’s see if the company adds HomeKit support and other smart home features in the coming months.

Given that Sonos has taken a U-turn and integrated Amazon Alexa into its flagship speaker, I pushed a bit more on this front. “We have no plan today because it would involve a lot of effort to interact with Reactor to do your shopping. In the end, we’ll never be as good as Amazon,” Lebouchard said.

So the Phantom Reactor is just a damn good speaker, nothing else. “There’s zero background noise, zero saturation and zero distorsion,” Lebouchard said. And just like other Devialet speakers, it’s incredibly loud for the size of the speaker. During my fairly limited listening session, it sounded awesome.

It takes advantage of Devialet’s patent portfolio, including its unique sound amplification technology, a mathematical model that lets you push the speaker to its physical limits and the iconic piston-powered woofers.

But Devialet isn’t just a speaker manufacturer. The company has licensed its technology to other companies, such as Sky in the U.K. A couple of years ago, the company wanted to put a “Sound powered by Devialet” sticker on all your electronics products, from your TV to the speakers in your car.

“Phantom was the first step to make our technology accessible,” Lebouchard said. “Phantom reaches tens of thousands of people today. We’ve crossed a big milestone with the Sky Soundbox and we now reach hundreds of thousands of people.” And with the Phantom Reactor, the company hopes to reach even more customers.

The company told me that Devialet will follow all options. There will be new in-house Devialet products as well as more licensing deals. Lebouchard gave me a ‘no comment’ on the Freebox rumors though.

The Phantom Reactor will be manufactured in France near Fontainebleau. The company has built a brand new factory and expects to produce a speaker every 49 seconds.

There will be two versions of the Phantom Reactor, a 600W model for €990 and a 900W model for €1,290. Pre-orders start tomorrow and the speaker will be available in many consumer electronics stores (also on Amazon) on October 24th.

Taxify and Via drive to Disrupt Berlin

After years of impressive growth, Uber has been showing signs of weakness and had to give up on some markets. Maybe Uber isn’t going to be the market leader in every country. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Taxify and Via Transportation co-founders and CEOs are going to talk about challenging Uber at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

Markus Villig started working on Taxify years ago. But things started to take off quite dramatically in the past twelve months. The company now works with hundreds of thousands of drivers to serve millions of customers.

Taxify now operates in 25 European and African countries and is carefully avoiding the U.S. That strategy could pay off.

Via is interesting for another reason. As Daniel Ramot will tell you, Via is attacking the ride-sharing market from a different angle. You might remember that Uber (UberCab back then) started with a luxurious on-demand experience. Ordering a private driver would cost you twice as much as jumping in a taxi.

Via thinks that shared rides and fixed costs are more important than luxury. Ordering a ride on Via costs a bit more than a bus ticket, but is a lot more flexible than public transportation. You will share the ride with other Via users. It’s a good solution for under-deserved areas and poorly planned cities.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on November 29-30.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.

Scaleway adds object storage

Cloud hosting company Scaleway is launching object storage in public beta. The company uses an Amazon S3-compatible API, which means that you could easily replace your Amazon S3 bucket with a Scaleway bucket by changing the API end point.

The basic object storage package starts at $5.75 per month (€5 per month), which includes 500GB of storage and 500GB of outgoing transfer. You then pay €0.01 per month for every extra GB of storage and €0.02 per month for every extra GB of outgoing transfer. And there’s no limit.

You can transfer data back and forth between a Scaleway server instance and your object storage bucket for free. You can also create a bucket for free during the public beta phase.

When it comes to service level agreement, the company promises 99.9 percent availability and 99.999 percent redundancy and protection of your files.

It’s hard to compare Scaleway’s pricing with big competitors, such as Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage and Microsoft Azure’s blob storage. Pricing differs depending on the region and the level of availability. But they tend to be more expensive than Scaleway if you choose standard storage options.

Backblaze’s B2 charges $0.005 per GB of storage per month and $0.01 per GB of outgoing transfer per month. DigitalOcean’s Spaces costs $5 per month for 250 GB of storage, 1TB of outgoing transfer, and then $0.02 per extra GB of storage, $0.01 per extra GB of transfer.

But pricing is just one thing. Chances are you don’t want to work with multiple vendors and pay for outgoing transfer by hosting your computing instances with one cloud hosting company and your object storage with another. Having object storage could help convince more clients to switch to Scaleway for everything.

Most iOS devices now run iOS 12 according to Mixpanel’s data

Analytics company Mixpanel is currently tracking the install base of iOS 12. And the latest version of iOS is quite popular as it’s already installed on roughly 47.6 percent of all iOS devices. 45.6 percent of devices still run iOS 11, and 6.9 percent of iOS users run an older version.

Adoption rate is an important metric for app developers. With major iOS releases, Apple also releases new frameworks. But developers still need to support old versions of iOS for a little bit before moving entirely to newer frameworks and drop support for old iOS versions.

But it’s interesting to see that you can already drop support for iOS 10 without losing too many customers. Chances are that users who don’t update their version of iOS don’t really care about having the latest version of your app anyway.

With iOS 11, it took much longer to reach that level. Last year, Apple announced on November 6th that iOS 11 was more popular than iOS 10. Sure, Mixpanel and Apple don’t have the exact same numbers, but you can already see that the trend is different this year.

iOS 12 focuses on performance. Apple has optimized this major release for older devices, such as the iPhone 6. All devices that run iOS 11 can update to iOS 12 as well. Basically, if you want a faster phone, you should update to iOS 12.

This is a bit counterintuitive as previous iOS releases had rendered older devices much slower. But it sounds like iOS users got the message based on the adoption rate.

Google Maps adds ‘Commute’ tab and music controls

Google just announced new features for Google Maps on Android and iOS. The update is rolling out this week and features a bunch of new features focused on commuting, music and getting more personal data from you.

While Google Maps is particularly useful for road trips and vacation, the app can also be useful for stressful commutes. Google is resurfacing some of those features with a new ‘Commute’ tab.

After setting up your home and work address, the app will help you know what to expect in the morning and the evening. If you drive to work, Google Maps now tells you how long it’s going to take and if there are any alternative routes. It works pretty much like Waze’s ETA screen and tells you if it’s going to be faster or slower in 30 minutes or an hour.

If you take the bus or train to work, Google Maps can help you find out when you should leave. The app takes into account the walk or drive to the station. Those public transit features compete directly with Citymapper and most likely relies on a lot of open data.

Talking about public transit, you’ll be able to see your bus or train on the map, slowly moving closer to you. The app also tells you how long you have to wait. This feature will be available in 80 regions around the world. In Sydney, the app tells you how full the next bus is going to be.

Unfortunately, this update comes with a privacy drawback. Until very recently, you could associate your home and work address with your Google account in Google Maps.

Now, you need to activate ‘web & app activity’, the infamous all-encompassing privacy destroyer — I used to store my home and work address and I can no longer change those addresses without enabling that. If you activate that setting, Google will collect your search history, your Chrome browsing history, your location, your credit card purchases and more.

And Google nudges you to activate that “feature” all the time. You need to turn on ‘web & app activity’ to use Google Assistant on an Android device for instance. It’s becoming quite clear that Google is monetizing its newest features with your data.

In other news, Google is also adding music controls in Google Maps. You’ll be able to control Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play Music. It looks like the company is taking advantage of taller screens to add a banner near the bottom of the screen with the current song and the ability to skip a song or pause the music.

There will be a new button on the right to open your music app as well. Spotify users on Android will also be able to browse the Spotify library from Google Maps directly.

Carpooling service Klaxit partners with Uber for last-minute changes

French startup Klaxit connects drivers with riders so that you don’t have to take your car to work every day. And the company recently announced a new feature with the help of Uber. If your driver cancels your ride home, Klaxit will book an Uber for you.

Klaxit is a ride-sharing startup that focuses on one thing — commuting to work. And this problem is more complicated than you might think. You can’t just go to work with the same person every day because you don’t always go to work at the same time. Similarly, sometimes your driver has to leave work early, leaving you at the office with no alternative.

As a driver, you want to take the quickest route to work. So you want to be matched with riders who are exactly on the way to work.

Klaxit currently handles 300,000 rides per day. In particular, the company has partnered with 150 companies, including big French companies such as BNP Paribas, Veolia, Vinci and Sodexo.

Klaxit can be particularly useful for companies with large office buildings outside of big cities. Promoting Klaxit instantly fosters supply and demand from and to this office. But you don’t have to work for one of those companies to use Klaxit.

Local governments can also financially support Klaxit to improve traffic conditions and mobility for users who don’t have a car or a driver’s license. “Subsidizing rides on Klaxit is 8 to 10 times cheaper than building a bus line,” co-founder and CEO Julien Honnart told me.

One of the biggest concerns as a rider is that you’re going to be stuck at work in the evening. Klaxit is now asking its users to request a ride with two other drivers. If they both decline your request, Klaxit will book you an Uber ride to go back home.

You don’t have to pay the Uber ride and then get reimbursed, Klaxit pays Uber directly. You don’t need an Uber account either as Klaxit is using Uber for Business. MAIF is the insurance company behind this insurance feature, and also one of Klaxit’s investors. This is a neat feature to convince new users that they can trust Klaxit.

Klaxit competes with other French startups on this market, such as Karos and BlaBlaCar’s BlaBlaLines.

Relike lets you turn a Facebook page into a newsletter

French startup Ownpage has recently released a new product called Relike. Relike is one of the easiest ways to get started with email newsletters. You enter the web address of your Facebook page and that’s about it.

The company automatically pulls your most recent posts from your Facebook page and lets you set up an emailing campaign in a few clicks. You can either automatically pick your most popular Facebook posts or manually select a few posts.

Just like any emailing service, you can choose between multiple templates, decide the day of the week and time of the day, import a database of email addresses and more. If you’ve used Mailchimp in the past, you’ll feel right at home.

But the idea isn’t to compete directly with newsletter services. Many social media managers, media organizations, small companies, nonprofits and sports teams already have a Facebook page but aren’t doing anything on the email front.

Relike is free if you send less than 2,000 emails per month and don’t need advanced features. If you want to get open rates, click-through rates and other features, you’ll need to pay €5 per month and €0.50 every time you send 1,000 emails.

The company’s other product Ownpage is a bit different. Ownpage has been working with media organizations to optimize their email newsletters. The company is tracking reading habits on a news site and sending personalized email newsletters.

This way, readers will get tailored news and will more likely come back to your site. Many big French news sites use Ownpage for their newsletters, such as Les Echos, L’Express, 20 Minutes, BFM TV, Le Parisien, etc.

Ownpage founder and CEO Stéphane Cambon told me that Relike was the obvious second act. Using browsing data for customized newsletters is one thing, but many talented social media managers know how to contextualize stories and maximize clicks (even if it means clickbait, sure).

The startup was looking at a way to get this data, and ended up creating Relike, which could appeal to customers beyond news organizations. For now, both products will stick around. In the future, the company plans to add Twitter and Instagram integrations as well as better signup flows for newsletter subscribers.