Nika Ketabchi, digital marketing manager of Haslle, at the company's alpha stand at the Web Summit in Lisbon
Part of the excitement of the Web Summit is exploring the stands marked alpha which are at pre-investment or under $1m funding, where startups eagerly pitch, hoping to snag an investor. Delano caught up with two such Luxembourg startups.
Nika Ketabchi, digital marketing manager of Haslle, says it’s an exciting time to be doing her job. “The most interesting thing about technology right now is it’s hand-in-hand with marketing,” she told Delano. “It’s the future. The whole social media aspect of these small startups is also tech-related as well.”
Haslle, led by CEO Povilas Zinys, is a Luxembourg-based startup which has developed a tool to allow managers to set budgets for employees across a variety of categories. Not only does a manager have a real-time dashboard on whether budgets are being kept, but as Ketabchi points out, the approval process is simplified, which can be particularly helpful if an employee requires an emergency increase in their budget.
Haslle hopes to go to market in 2020. Among 150 startups to pitch at SWG Startup Wise Guys in Lithuania, Haslle was one selected to receive an initial investment of €150,000 which is allowing them to add new features and streamline. Ketabchi says the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (Lhoft) has also played an instrumental part in providing a platform through which they can interact with clients and investors as well.
Ketabchi, originally from Iran, told Delano she was amazed by the diversity represented at this year’s Web Summit both in terms of nationality and gender. She also saw there was a strong summit focus around sustainability. “Joining that with tech is amazing,” she said.
Also exhibiting on Tuesday was Eyal Grumberg, CEO of Travely, who will also take part in the startup showcase event taking place on Thursday. Travely is the first direct hotel booking app that removes the middle man and commission headache for hotels and allows guests to link directly with the accommodation. The initial target was boutique hotels, with about 30 rooms or less which can pay around 8,000 euros a month, according to Grumberg.
“Until today, everything we invested is from our own money, and that’s why we are here [at the Web Summit],” Grumberg said. “We’re looking for an investor.”
Eyal Grumberg of Travely Photo: Delano
Travely currently boasts 12,000 active users “without any big marketing effort”, plus 500 affiliated hotels (although the hotel database is much broader). The app is free, even for hotels for the time-being, although a subscription model is foreseen for the future. “More hotels want to affiliate with us, but if we don’t bring them traffic, we’re not interesting for them. That’s our big challenge today.”
Grumberg has been surprised by where the uptake has been most prevalent. “We have a lot users from the Middle East, and I talked to some investors from those countries which was very positive,” he said.
Although Travely isn’t participating in any Luxembourg programme yet, Grumberg says “We’ll stay in Luxembourg. It’s very convenient for us.”
But for now, in Lisbon at the Web Summit, as Grumberg puts it, “We’re here, and we push.”