Toywheel Triumphs in €10k HY Berlin Contest

By Conor Rushby |


Toywheel took home the hub:raum pitching prize of €10,000 plus a trip to Silicon Valley after winning the first HY Berlin event – while second placed and third placed Agorique also earned tickets to California for their CEOs. Bringing to a close Media Entrepreneurs Day at RADIALSYSTEMV, the competition was intense, with a variety of good pitches that kept attendees guessing as to who would triumph.

The contest was hosted by Milo Yiannopoulos of The Kernel and judged by a panel including Uli Schmitz of Axel Springer, Thomas Madsen-Mygdal of 23 and SocialSquare and Jörg Rheinboldt of M10, who dished out useful advice to the entrants. Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, also took the opportunity to launch the publishing giant’s new Media Entrepreneurs Program, while the evening served as a prototype for HY Berlin’s series of startup events.

The evening was kicked off with a host of product demonstrations and launches from Moped, Soccorama, Karaoke World Cup, WHY own i, Foundd, iversity, Tweek, Vamos and Liquid State as well as Blinkist – the first startup to benefit from the hub:raum accelerator.

Operating on the premise “everybody is smart and wants to learn new things,” Blinkist promises to digest non-fiction for the user, giving short succinct pieces of text – useful indeed if their statistic that on average readers don’t pass the eighteenth page of a non-fiction book is true.

The contest saw 11 pitches of four minutes followed by a brief Q&A with the judges. Three startups were then selected to take part in the final, which took the form of an extended ten-minute Q&A.

‘Roots and Wings’

Winner Toywheel aims to give youngsters “roots and wings” by providing an online platform for kids and parents, detailing missions, ideas, and toys. Co-founder Evgeni Kouris, who pitched with Inken Peterson, told Silicon Allee: “This is amazing, it’s the first step – a really important step – and we worked so hard to achieve this, we have a great plan for how to proceed – now the work begins.”

A trip to Silicon Valley will be a chance for the three startups to attract investors, and indeed the runners up also impressed. pitched a solution to decreasing radio listenership and increasing audio consumption by personalising content. Describing themselves as the fifth song in your playlist, their nifty app gives weather updates, as well as social media notifications.

Stefanie Halphen’s strong presentation, meanwhile, showcased Agrorique’s platform to connect international fashion designers – especially those just breaking onto the scene – and retailers of speciality clothes.

Also pitching were Beautiful Incs, specialising in targeted advertising complete with statistics on user demographics, Scolibri which offers an educational platform for teachers and students to exchange work and communicate outside school, and Talking Layers, an app that places a ‘layer’ on top of websites and allows users to comment on specific aspects of that page.

‘Tear Down This Pay Wall’

Eisenhower and NUZ, both made appeals to history – to do list app Eisenhower to Ike’s time management system, and NUZ – a personalised platform for media articles – to Reagan, getting a big laugh when they implored media companies to “tear down this pay wall.”

Rails on Fire , provider of cloud based testing for apps and websites, and Stylemarks a peer to peer platform for selling used designer goods also delivered strong performances. Yet perhaps the biggest cheers of the night went to a student entry from Leuphana University with their app Arche Nova, and a team who met at Boston University and are now part of Startupbootcamp Berlin with their app Credport.

The team behind wildcard entry Arche Nova, a system to find library books using RFID tags, ambitiously laid out a three year plan for expansion and were received positively by the judges. They had had only five days to get an idea and pitch together, having won a student startup pitching competition, and they told Silicon Allee: “The competition has definitely opened our eyes to what’s going on in here in Berlin, it’s quite amazing.”

In addition, Connor McEwan of Credport presented their scheme to bring trust to the Internet by building an API to take an individual’s history from sites that rely on trust – such as carpooling services, or sites for overnight stays – showing positive reviews, common interests, and common connections.

All in all a very entertaining evening, with the opening of the Media Entrepreneurs Program also leaving a buzz on the banks of the Spree – applications for the 12 month business development course are now open.