Codility – smart Polish start-up

Codility is the programming skills automated assessment solution from Poland that saved recruiters time and money by filtering underqualified job candidates. The 3 start-up founders won the 2009 Seedcamp Week and received 50 000 € for developing their solution.

Codility is dedicated to helping companies hire better technical talent by providing automatic assessment tests that can test programmers in a very effective way. Codility’s target audience are software development companies and corporations with high IT demand (telecom, finance). By using codility recruiters will save a lot of time and money that they were previously spending for recruiting software developers. One of the great advantages of the Codility tests is the fact that they provide on-the-job technical skills assessment and are not only a proof of the theoretical abilities of the developer. Another great advantage of Codility is the fact that it can be used by non-tech recruiters, thus saving the time that CTOs and Senior Developers in corporations spend assessing and recruiting new colleagues.

The founders of Codility are Grzegorz Jakacki (CEO & CTO), Tomasz Walen (Principal Developer) and Tomasz Blaszczyk (Technical Advisor). Codility was founded in Warsaw in 2009 and was one of the Seedcamp Week 2009 6 winning teams. After winning the start-up competition the company Codility Limited was founded in London, UK and received 50 000 € seed funding from Seedcamp.

The idea for Codility has originally come to the founder  Grzegorz Jakacki during the time he spent working as a Senior Software Engineer in Beijing, China at Exoweb.net. During that time he spent long hours recruiting programmers, testing their technical abilities and running tiring interviews. Greg then decided that the process needed improvement and worked on developing an automated evaluation method. The automated evaluation method he then came up with had saved around 4000 hours of his time in 2 and a half years. That’s how the idea for Codility came up and, of course, Exoweb became Codility’s first customer generating more than 1200 evaluations per month.

Codility is also recognised as one of the smartest UK’s small businesses in 2010 being announced as one the Smarta100 2010 edition winners.

AdTaily – fast growing self-service advertising platform from Poland

AdTaily is a self-service advertising platform which has managed to build a network of more than 16 000 publishers and 3000 advertisers in a bit more than a year. AdTaily provides publishers with an easy way of selling advertising space directly to their readers, many of which would like to sponsor a website and reach its audience if only the process were less difficult.

The success of AdTaily is obvious as the website has reached in less than a year a number of 1 billion impressions a month in both Polish and English version together. AdTaily was selected as a finalist of London Seedcamp Week 2008 and was launched may 2009. The founders of AdTaily are Marcin Ekiert and Jakub Krzych, while Marcin Grodzicki is the current Business Development Manager of AdTaily.

The mechanism that AdTaily provides is a very simple one. It develops a self-service widget that lets online publishers sell ads directly on their websites and have full control over the price of the ads. AdTaily is targeted mainly at bloggers, forums, online communities, local businesses and services and iPhone of Facebook applications as it proves to be a very convenient advertising solution for them. The surprise is that AdTaily charges no commission for the purchases made directly through the widget as one would expect. How do they get their revenue then? Well, from it’s AdStore and direct sales to corporate customers.

The usability is one of the main advantages of AdTaily. The sales widget enables readers to buy ads in less than 3 clicks. What’s more is that readers don’t even have to upload the banner if they don’t want to. The alternative of generating a custom banner based on any entered text is also available. The company currently sells 30 000 ad units every month and is currently used by Canon, Ford and Nestle.

n June 2009 AdTaily received $314 000 in seed funding from the publishing group AGORA. As far as the future plans of the company are concerned, AdTaily is focused on becoming an ad-network in itself.

Financial Times: high hopes for Romania’s IT potential

The online edition of the Financial Times has published a special 6 minute video report about the IT potential of Cluj-Napoca. Chris Bryant, Central & Eastern Europe Business Correspondent for Finacial Times has paid the city a visit and has given a fresh point of view concerning the business context here.

The video material is called “High hopes for Romania’s IT hub” and presents the city’s potential for IT outsourcing and entrepreneurship in a very positive tone.

The star of the video is the 27 year-old Romanian online entrepreneur, Sergiu Biris, the founder of Trilulilu.ro. Trilulilu is Romania’s YouTube, a video sharing friendly platform who draws 3 million visitors a month and has more than 700 000 registered users.

The video material certainly brings hope to the new wave of Romanian IT and online entrepreneurs and to the Transylvanian student town as a promising entrepreneurial hub and centre for IT development.

Erply – fresh $2 mil Estonian start-up hit

It seems like there is a lot more to hear from Estonia as far as the online business is concerned. Erply, the ERP on the web, is one of the most successful European startups at the moment and it is coming from the baltic country. Some say that Erply will be the new Skype and it will do for business software what Skype did for the telecom business. We certainly do hope so and look forward to hearing a lot from these Estonian guys in the future.

Erply is a business software company founded by Kristian Hiiemaa in Estonia in 2008. The new Estonian software start-up is a web-based on demand business suite, consisting of a powerful ERP, software for comercial retail inventory, invoicing and e-commerce that handles data across several sales locations, online stores and offices and provides real-time dashboards with relevant data. Erply means to offer its users an extensive set of business modules: CRM, full featured financials, inventory, POS, billing and webshop software. Due to the currrent economic context and to the need to focus on productivity, Erply is based on cloud computing technology, thus providing the convenience of computing capacity on-demand over the internet.

Erply won the 2009 Seedcamp and its clients number is growing rapidly, the business being already profitable. The client focus of Erply is very strategically thought as they are focusing on small businesses and requesting smaller business fees, unlike their competitors SAP, Microsoft and Oracle.

So far, Erply has raised $2 million in funding from Redpoint and Index Ventures, Marten Mickos, Zack Urlocker (both formerly of MySQL, Kenny van Zant (SolarWinds), Aydin Senkut, David McClure and the Accelerator Group. Erply will invest this funding mainly in marketing activities and team development.

Eastern Europe’s Got Web Talent!

Web innovation is global nowadays. It has never been easier for web innovators and entrepreneurs all over the world to get out in the open. I would dare say that nowadays web truly is a global language. However, Eastern Europe’s focus on this area is unexpectedly low and very few EE startups are launched eevery year. Nevertheless, the few international success stories seem to be proving that inspite of this small numbers of daring EE entrepreneurs, Eastern Europe’s got the web talent it needs.

The Slovenian Httpool, the Estonian Skype, the Romanian Interakt and Gecad,  the Czech NetBeans and GoodData are all good examples of Eastern Europe’s web know-how. Zemanta, CodilityErplyUberVU, Brainient are also a wonderful proof of Eastern Europe’s drive and energy.

According to Reshma Sohoni, CEO Seedcamp the EE entrepreneurs are: “Very talented from a technical standpoint. I find Eastern Europe’s entrepreneurs really driven and dream big. Many of them display the sense of urgency that is really critical for a startup entrepreneur to have“.

As a matter of fact this is exactly what the Seedcamp competition is all about. Seedcamp believes that Europe has the talent, the role models, and the capital founders it needs to succeed. That’s why Seedcamp is trying and, based on the success stories, it is also succeeding to empower web entrepreneurs all over Europe, including EE.

So, Eastern Europe has got the energy, the skills and the opportunities to make web things happen. But it no longer has any excuses.

According to Loic Le Meur, founder and CEO of Seesmic.com and LeWeb Europe tech event,  “the fact that the largest investor in Facebook this year is a Russian company says a lot about the Internet industry in eastern europe, I am expecting entrepreneurs from the east to build more international leaders very soon“.

Alex van Someren, UK IT Entrepreneur, states the exactly main idea: “I’ve met a lot of exciting and imaginative entrepreneurs and technology businesses from Eastern Europe recently, and I think How to Web looks like a great opportunity to meet and spend time with even more of them!“.

So… do you speak web? Then, what are you waiting for?

GoodData – $7 mil funding for Czech start-up

GoodData is a data analytics web solution, founded in the Czech Republic in 2007 by the serial entrepreneur Roman Stanek, which raised a total of $7 million funding up to the moment. If GoodData will be successful, this will mean the disruption of a billion dollar market: the data analytics.

Moving business intelligence and data analytics to the cloud

GoodData is a software-as-a-service complete business intelligence application, delivering a reporting tool, an on-demand analytics platform and a place to collaborate around data, all at the same time. In other words, GoodData is meant to be a new way of interacting with business data, helping business owners handle the day by day challenges of reporting and analysing business data.

From the beginning, GoodData has intended to do for dashboarding and data analytics what Amazon Web Services does for storage and compute resources. In other words, Stanek, who previously founded and sold NetBeans Inc. and Systinet Inc., is now aiming at the multi-billion dollar market of data analytics dominated by big players like SAP, IBM and Oracle. In comparison to the expensive solutions that these companies have to offer, GoodData is offered for free for the moment and it will probably come up with a usage fee in the near future, which will anyway be much lower that those of their competitors.

GoodData boasts to keeping their fixed costs down to a mininum as the application is using cloud computing entirely and running on Amazon web services.

Roman’s track record = a guarantee for GoodData’s success

GoodData raised a total of $2 million seed funding in july 2008 from Esther Dyson (chairman of EDVenture Holdings, third time investing in Roman Stanek’s businesses), Tim O’Reilly (CEO of O’Reilly Media) and Windcrest Partners. The business has closed a second round of financing of $2.5 million from Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, OATV and General Catalyst in april 2009 and a Series C funding of another  $2.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz (a $300 million venture fund that was launched on July 2009) General Catalyst Partners and other undisclosed investors in october 2009. The Czech company has now raised a total of $7 million in capital.

The success GoodData has had with investors is in no way a surprise. Roman Stanek is what we could call “highly fundable” due to his serial entrepreneurship track record. Stanek sold NetBeans to Sun for $10 million and Systinet to Mercury Interactive/HP for $105 million.

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