Would you like your smartphone to project hologram-like directions straight onto the front window of your car? Have you been trying to publish your newest holiday love novel with no success? Or maybe you want to try out clothes on a digital representation of you before ordering them online? The best young Russian firms which participated in the HSE organised The Best Startups of the Year 2015 awards could lend you a hand.
The Awards were started by the HSE Business Incubator in 2008 and have since grown into one of the most prestigious startup events in Russia. Household names such as the event platform TimePad and e-commerce discounts marketplace GroupOn have won in the past. Companies like Alphabet Inc. (aka Google), MTC and UBER participated in selecting the most promising startups out of 297 participants in four categories: the global startup, the best hardware startup, the best finance startup, and finally the best social startup.
HUDWAY Glass was chosen as the Best Global Startup of 2015. The company produces a universal vehicle accessory which turns any smartphone into a head-up display (HUD). The advantage of HUDs over standard smartphone maps is that they do not require the driver to take his eyes off the road and thus increase safety and convenience. HUDWAY are producing a glass accessory which allows to use their software during the day when projection on the front window is not visible. The price starts at $69.
The Best Hardware Startup race was intense with three equally eye-popping innovations trying to grab the prize. TEXEL specialises in software development for 3D scanners. Their particular strength lies in modelling people in 30 seconds. All one has to do is to stand in the centre of their 3D scanner for half a minute and the digital-you will be ready to go shopping (try out clothes before ordering them online), dancing (XBOX Kinect+real you on the screen?) or participating in digital reality games (»Hey you, Bunny21586, I look just like this for real, wanna meet?»). The second startup in the hardware section was a local firm Турбодиагностика which offers a contactless procedure to control turbines and the ensuing software to do so. However, the judges decided that Fibrum was the most worthy of the award. The winner is developing hardware and software solutions for mobile virtual reality sets. Despite being a startup, it has already become on of the biggest mobile virtual reality sets producers in the world.
In the Best Fintech Startup category the three finalists were equally worthy of the award but the e-shop for financial securities Freedom24.ru were the lucky ones. The e-shop allows individual investors to buy securities (be it stocks or government bonds) from a constantly increasing number of exchanges around the world. The great thing about Freedom24.ru is its customer-friendly interface and low commission fees. If you have 10,000RUB and 15 minutes you can start investing right now. The runner-ups in the category were a Russian-Kickstarter for small and medium businesses StartTrack and personalised (and heavily automatised) accounting services startup Фингуру (you are right if you guessed that their logo is a kangaroo).
The last but by far not the least important category was the Best Social Startup – firms in this group are not necessarily striving to be the next unicorn like Airbnb or Uber but rather are trying to help people which need help the most. ONDOC offers a single account unifying person’s medical information from various sources – hospitals and clinics, both public and private. Моторика is proving over and over again with their work that disability does not have to stop one from leading a happy life. They are producing individualised prosthetic limbs for children. The company is serious about their plan to produce the most advanced bionic prosthetic limb in the future. However, a startup which has already proven its competitive edge in international markets was chosen as the winner — Napoly. Currently their main product is ХитоПран – a biopolymeric plaster for wounds which disintegrates itself or can be easily washed off without any pain or damaging the wound. Their new approach to healing wounds is more effective and less painful.
Startups of the Year was a well-organised, entertaining (thanks to the
cheerful MCs) and useful event where businesses could get noticed and venture
capitalists could find their next investment (the author suspects that
investment decisions were catalysed by the abundance of champagne at the
afterparty). The only wish for the next year is to see more students on
stage presenting their own startups. Do you remember that idea you have had for
ages? Now is the time to start working.