10 THINGS WE LEARNED | NEXT STEP CHALLENGE

Last week we attended the Danish chapter of the Next Step Challenge, Europe’s largest startup competition, where we witnessed 15 amazing international startups pitch their businesses in a bid to win €250,000!

Run by our partners Accelerace and five other companies, the Next Step Challenge involved an intense eight-month program to prepare 15 ‘Smart Energy & Digitalization and Sound & Home Integration’ startups for commercial launch and, of course, the big finale where one budding business would take home the grand prize. The pitch evening in Esbjerg was a fantastic experience – it was hard to pick just 10, but here are our top takeaways…

  • Personalised feedback can go along way to save energy. It’s a no-brainer that better data analysis should result in more informed consumption, but startups are now developing home tracking systems that provide personalised and encouraging feedback to consumers when they save energy – which is proving to have massive a impact.
  • More and more designers are connecting the dots. Although this is something we’ve already observed for a while, it’s incredible to see how innovative people can be when it comes to redefining how technology can be combined and used. An example, the cooling process of the world’s data centres require about two percent of the globe’s total energy – it might not sound like a lot, but it IS a lot. And at the same time, we use a tremendous amount of energy to heat buildings. Based on this challenge, Qarnot Computing came up with the brilliant idea of cleverly using this  computer hardware as ‘heaters’ – check out their website to see how it’s done.
  • Curated radio is on the way. These days almost all media content is somewhat personally curated, whether it works for you or not. But new startup Linguoo wants to curate the radio for you – like “Spotify for articles” they’re making sure you only listen to the news and the music you want.
  • Denmark could be the next fin-tech hub. There’s already a strong scene of financial technology startups and, lucky for us, we can see a growing trend of these business flocking to our Northern shores. Could this be due to all the amazing business accelerator programmes we have in Denmark?
  • ‘Intrapreneurship’ is a thing. Intrapreneurship means to launch a smaller company within a larger company – often a very effective strategy for an older established company to ‘renew’ themselves or enter an emerging industry.
  • You can hire filming drone pilots. Drone aren’t just a great way to access aerial views, but are fast developing into the preferred method to capture amazing quality images and film. That is, if you own one and really know how to use it. Now Chilean company Telewander is working to bring this technology to everyone!
  • Intuitive banking is the future. A relatively new development that is desperately needed. Fin-tech and i-banking startup Cogni is a new business shaking things up by providing an easy, flexible, intuitive, real-time banking experience.
  • San Francisco based company Instamic took home the €250,000! The design is the “smartest, smallest, and most affordable microphone and audio recorder that’s easy to operate” and has already raised over €355K ($400K) via an Indigogo campaign.
  • The investors’ choice award went to Australian/Irish company Cogni. They received almost €3,400 (25,000 DKK) sponsored by Esbjerg Erhvervsudvikling (Esbjerg Business).
  • Streamlining is the new black. What else do all these companies have in common other than the theme? It’s all about compiling and streamlining the massive amount of data we have. Like we mentioned earlier, simplifying and connecting the dots is essential. Thankfully, it’s now at the top of many innovation agendas.
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