Le Camping Puts Some Ooh La La Into Berlin’s Startups

By David Knight |

Everybody wants a piece of Berlin – including startups from other tech hubs. A few weeks ago it was the Swiss; now it was the turn of the French to turn up and show off. Although if I was to tell you that one event started bang on time, and the other displayed a… lack of urgency, I think you would probably be able to guess which was which.

Nonetheless, the startups who pitched at Found Fair on Thursday – all part of Le Camping accelerator in Paris – impressed greatly, it has to be said. I particularly enjoyed moving my miniature, digital Eiffel Tower around the room, courtesy of Augment. Sacrebleu!

I could make French-based puns all day, so I’ll leave them to one side to concentrate on how Berlin is suddenly the big kid in town. The Le Camping Demo Day was sandwiched in between two other events which give an insight into the German capital’s new-found status as a tech destination: The Berlin Pub Summit, ahead of the Dublin Web Summit next month, and Wednesday’s launch party for the new Berlin office of GP Bullhound.

It’s encouraging stuff – but before we all go getting ahead of ourselves, the French contingent could also teach some of the startups here a thing or two. There were some fantastic ideas and intelligent, well-thought through plans.

The aforementioned Augment was a favourite – and the CEO, Jean-François Chianetta, helped make a good first impression by approaching the two journalists in attendance before the event started and giving us a personal demo.

It is a mobile app which allows users to visualise 3D products in real life though a tablet or smartphone camera. It requires a marker piece of paper to be in shot so the platform can properly judge how large the 3D image should be. And what would you know – the business card Jean-François has that marker image on the reverse, allowing me to playing around with the Eiffel Tower as I waited. The service has plenty of potential usecases: You can check to see if a sofa fits in your lounge, or even a swimming pool in your back garden. The eCommerce possibilities are numerous.

JellyNote was another great idea. It’s a platform for musicians which provides access to music scores and the ability to play with people remotely. And who would have thought the music score market could be worth $1 billion?

Even the startups I was skeptical about at the beginning did a good job of winning me over during the pitches. These included Explee, which allows non-technical experts to create awesome videos, and ForgetBox, which enables users to turn their own storage and bandwidth into a personal cloud.

The other pitches I saw were Webshell, an API platform with a scripting interface meaning developers can interact with countless APIs much more efficiently, and Sketchfab, which aims to bring 3D to the Web. The founders, Cédric Pinson and Alban Denoyel, were grilled about their business model in the Q&A, including by the host, CEO of Found Fair Burckhardt Bonello who also co-founded 3D gaming world Smeet.

Three other startups also pitched – house hunting service Home’n’go, video search engine Veezio and e-learning platform Fleex.

France has always been famous for its creative spark, its ingenuity, its… well, its je ne sais quois. The French startups were in Berlin on the hunt for money (they have already done a demo day in Paris and will do another one in London on September 28) but hopefully they can leave a little bit of inspiration behind.

PS – a little behind schedule they may have been, but I very much appreciated the extensive booklet with information on each startup and space to take notes, as well as the app which included all the evening’s slides. C’est magnifique!