By: Louise Graham
One of my favourite phrases is ‘inspiring the inspired’. It’s the core philosophy of a new initiative I’ve co-founded — The Think Collective. Our vision is to help entrepreneurs across the world bring their dreams to life. A global network of the world’s best problem solvers and creatives, we help inspired entrepreneurs and startups solve their biggest marketing problems in effective, imaginative and original ways.
It’s a transformative time in the digital world. This was the impetus for the creation of The Think Collective, which is essentially an online and global version of our bricks and mortar business Think Frog Marketing.
Governments are starting to recognise the economic impact of the digital revolution. In 2015, one quarter of the 90 European startups that raised more than $20 million were cloud-based software companies.
Government ministries and task groups are being set up to create policy and infrastructure that supports entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial networks, and business growth. France and Poland both now have a Minister for Digital Affairs.
We are living in exciting times that support digital innovation and initiative.
It’s also a highly individualised and competitive world, and it’s really hard work getting startups off the ground. According to a number of sources, over 90% of online startups fail. I believe it’s important to collectively celebrate and recognise people worldwide who have successfully chased their creative dreams to solve problems, and who have taken real risks with tenacity.
Here are eight of The Think Collective’s most innovative global startups of 2016, and an eye on startups to watch in 2017. They represent a global breadth of (largely digital) innovative ideas that have come to life, pushing boundaries and disrupting markets.
Fromigo is a travel startup with a unique vision that offers carefully curated experiences made by London locals. Founders Tim Elder (Google, Skype, Rolls Royce) and Diego Jenzer (tourism industry expert) recognised that no travel business currently exists to connect tourists directly with locals offering truly authentic experiences of a location. Also, the size of the London tourism market is over 850m (USD) and expected to double by 2030! Fromigo is a marketplace of authentic experiences ranging from “London essentials” — visiting the Tate Modern with a local artist (!), to “Hidden Gems” — immersing yourself in the untold Muslim history of London. They are also the first and only travel company currently offering immersive 360 previews of experiences on offer.
There are over 50 energy suppliers in the UK offering a range of options with vast discrepancies in pricing. In October 2016 alone, over 600,000 people changed their energy suppliers. Milkman energy brings the age-old process of collective purchasing to the energy market. They organise groups of people to sign up to “collective switching”, so that they can save money on gas and electricity bills together. Energy suppliers bid for the business of the crowd, and the cheapest supplier wins. Each person is then offered a contract by the supplier. It’s a win-win initiative.
How often have you found yourself discretely trying to find a place for your heavy suitcase of backpack in a crowded coffee shop, on your way to or from the airport? Airportr is a service based startup with a solution for London’s visitors. The company has recently obtained a 3.3m GBP investment. Available at all London airports for British Airways customers, AirPortr arranges pickup and check in (!) of your luggage or delivery of bag to your hotel for as little as 20GBP.
Sydney based PH360 (Personal Health 360) is a revolutionary tool that has recently received global attention. The team is led by Matt Riemenn. Diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, Matt was disheartened by his medical prognosis and travelled the world consulting with geneticists and health specialists. The result is a tool for optimal wellness that will now positively impact millions of lives. “Intuitive, Interactive and Personalised”, the virtual PA/app “Shae” provides individualised insights into fitness, food, environment, and lifestyle based on your own epigenetic makeup. A client of the Think Collective, the catchy company slogan is “Siri for health”.
Initiated by founder of Couchsurfing Casey Fenton, Mastly is the first online platform that allows US business owners to allocate a part of their company to their employees for equity. Casey had worked with a tireless group of volunteers to launch Couchsurfing, but was unable to reward them with equity. He began envisioning an alternative ecosystem with a team including a high profile lawyer who played a key role Facebook. The result is Mastly. The innovative initiative is a client of The Think Collective, and helps companies save over 70K on legal costs alone.
Irish founded and Philippines based First Circle, tapped into the growth of SME’s in Manila. Business growth is at 6% p.a. in the Philippines and traditional institutions are finding it hard to keep up. It takes over a month to get a loan and there is a lot of bureaucracy holding SME’s back. First Circles provides efficient loans, with risk and document assessments, and quick online transfers. Clothing retailers, architects, manufacturers and business owners from a number of different industries have already benefited from this technology.
STARTUPS TO WATCH IN 2017
Taiwan based GliaCloud is a massive market disrupter. Over 80x more people click on video compared to text, and publishers are starting to realise the power of video, however not all have the capacity to produce content. Launched by David Chen (one of Google’s cloud developer experts), and his partner Dominique Tu, GliaCloud’s product GliaStudio automatically creates video summaries of text articles using artificial intelligence (AI). The product has already won international awards at Evernote Hackathon, Google Cloud Developer Challenge and the Baidu Hakathon.
Founders of Pulsate recognised real-time marketing as a major growth industry, and set up the “All In One Mobile Marketing Software”. The result is a cloud based platform for mobile that interacts with customers and drives brands at the same time. Clients so far include Schwartzkopf and Brown Thomas. The sector is projected to grow from $28.6bn in 2016 to $98.8bn in five years time. Definitely a company to keep an eye on.
About Louise Graham:
London-based (for now) Co-Founder The Think Collective. A global network of problem solvers helping entrepreneurs solve their marketing problems in effective and imaginative ways.