LeWeb Picks Most Promising Startups in Europe


Each year, the LeWeb startup contest brings together the best of Europe's startup community to decide which will be named the crème de la crème.

The competition, which was co-organized by TechCrunch Europe, took place in Paris this week, boasting some 135 entries to vie for the LeWeb gold. The sixteen finalists, each of which took part in a Q&A session and a Demopod presentation, included the Shutl e-commerce platform, task.ly to-do manager, friendbinder social networking service, and Mendeley research management suite.

Co-host Mike Butcher wrote on TechCrunch Europe that "it was nice to fit in startups that were broadly related to the realtime theme. It was great also to see the Le Web startup event veer back to its roots as a venue for very early stage, rough and ready startups, as well as a launch-pad for more fully-formed plays that have literally launched for the first time at this event." The site live-blogged the event, and provided profiles of each of the finalists.

Of the three winners, two are social networking-related startups - a reminder, perhaps, of the importance of the medium - while the third provides management options for the cloud computing market. That entry, the Dublin-based CloudSplit, took bronze in the competition with its CloudSplit Cost Counter, which promises analytics of a company's cloud computing resources in real-time along with spending alerts and even automated cut-offs to keep costs under control. The service, which is currently seeking $2 million in venture capital, just entered private beta.

The silver prize went to Tigerlily, a Facebook management application for "media groups, large brands and their agencies and marketers." The service, which offers both free and paid versions, allows users to manage their Facebook pages, run sweepstakes, import content from other social media sites, and interact with other users. The paid version provides additional branding options as well as statistics, specialty widgets, professional support services. Despite having launched just days before the competition, Tigerlily claims some 500 users already, though it is only available in the French market at the present time. The Paris-based company has plans to expand into other European markets in the coming months.

Gold-winner Stribe offers a different form of social networking tool: private-label networks themselves. As Butcher described it, "site administrators can copy and paste a bit of javascript, and hey presto, they have a customizable, freely branded social network for their sites." Separating it from some of its competitors is the ability for cross-community interaction, leaving users free to participate in multiple Stribe-based networks. Like Tigerlily, Stribe offers free and paid versions - it will also be providing the obligatory developer application programming interface. Stribe, which launched in September with $600,000 in funding, is in open beta, and maintains offices in Paris and Silicon Valley.

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