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In other news: A weekly tour through the SEE startup ecosystem, May 2-6

blockchain, Innovation, artificial intelligence
Image credit: Canva

This week has been fruitful for the Romanian and Bulgarian tech ecosystems, as it brought forward new tech solutions, partnerships, acquisitions, and long-term digital transformation strategies that aim to provide more added value and a better experience for the end-user. Below, our weekly startup news for the week starting May 6th.

 

#1 Romanian blockchain startup Modex sells an equity stake to tequilarapido. Reported by Start-up.ro.

Tequilarapido, a French consulting and communications agency, acquires an equity stake in Modex, a Romanian tech company that uses blockchain to store, manage, and share data. The announcement comes after nearly a year of mutual collaboration between the two companies in order to refine Modex’s branding and digital transformation strategy. The acquisition is part of tequilarapido’s aspiration to create an open and transparent ecosystem of enterprise-level products and services. The partnership with Modex and their experience in building and implementing blockchain-based solutions will be an essential part of this evolution as this technology provides the needed transparency, security, and decentralization.

“Blockchain technology will shape the financial, economic, and societal landscape of tomorrow. The values of transparency, security, and decentralization that this technology imposes resonate entirely with a collective desire to reclaim our digital destiny and trust in our interactions. With Modex, we interpret these trends, imagine new uses and create value for our customers and their audiences,” says Toufik Lerari, CEO of tequilarapido and member of the Modex Board of Directors.

 

#2 Mondly, a Romanian online language learning platform, was acquired by Pearson. Reported by Start-up.ro.

Pearson, a global top-ranked learning company, acquires Mondly, a Romanian-based online language learning platform. Pearson will improve its portfolio of self-study services by offering new tech-based tools to its clients to study English and 40 other languages. These include an app, a website, and virtual and augmented reality products.  Pearson will take advantage of Mondly’s already developed user base of both enterprise and individual customers. The acquisition is  a strategic decision for both the company and its shareholders and is expected to drive Pearson’s growth in the language learning market, increasing its revenues, and the investors’ returns.

The acquisition marks another step in our digital strategy, giving us an exciting foothold in the fast-growing direct-to-consumer English learning market and building yet more connectivity across the entire Pearson portfolio,” says Andy Bird, chief executive of Pearson. 

 

#3 Oveit, a Ramanian online ticketing, and virtual shopping company, partners with Human.ai, a tech startup, providing blockchain-based solutions. Reported by Start-up.ro.

Oveit, a Romanian online ticketing and virtual shopping company with headquarters in Texas, announces its partnership with Humans.ai, a local Romanian deep-tech startup that uses AI and blockchain. Together, they will create NFT-based tickets that are enabled by AI. The tickets will be incorporated on Oveit’s live stream shopping platform Streams.Live, where shoppers can interactively explore the specifications of the product and exchange impressions with others, before buying it with one click.  The AI NFT tickets are the next step in Oveit’s strategy to expand its business on Web 3.0 and the Metaverse, by offering new compelling experiences in the form of experimental digital art. The AI NFT vouchers are next-generation event tickets that can be traded on the blockchain, generating an additional revenue stream for the organizers. 

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We believe that the future of trade is social and experiential. Oveit NFTs powered by artificial intelligence will provide the gateway to an unforgettable event experience, which can be digitally translated and stored forever, ”said Mihai Dragan, COO at Oveit.

 

#4 H2B, a Romanian platform that digitizes tourism plans to increase its customer database to more than 700 users by the end of 2022. Reported by Ziarul Financiar.

H2B, a Romanian platform that digitizes tourism, has reached 350 customers only 3 months after it was launched and expects to reach more than 700 users by the end of 2022. The startup facilitates the communication between 200 travel agencies and 500 hotel units and will use its own investment of €200,000 to increase the number of bookings in the system and consolidate its position on the market. This investment allowed H2B to break away from TravelFuse, a Romanian-based online store for travel agencies. H2B helps travel agencies prepare their packages much faster and with better diversity. Clients receive responses in real-time and this saves them time when checking for availability, rates, and offers. The accommodation units receive better visibility because the platform shows their unoccupied rooms.

The H2B team has been working in tourism for almost 10 years and the identified solution is win-win-win. First of all, the hotel units have higher visibility towards those who offer accommodation solutions. The agencies thus have visibility and can offer quality and unique Romanian products. Accommodation units, including small and medium-sized ones, receive a more predictable and larger flow of customers. And tourists receive a faster service, with a greater diversity “, said Gabriela Florea, CEO of H2B.

 

#5 Cargo Buddy, a Romanian-based startup that digitizes the freight industry, eyes the opportunity to receive 1M funding. Reported by Ziarul Financiar.

Cargo Buddy, a Romanian-based startup that digitizes the freight industry, reached 10,000 new accounts at the end of last year, making revenue of almost 1M. The company that supports the transportation of goods throughout Europe is developing the second version of its application and expects to attract funding of at least 1M which will help expand its business to new markets.  The startup was founded in 2019 by Mihai Năstase and received 100,000 of European financing along with 20% co-financing. This amount was used for the creation of the first version of the app. The B2B sector of the business model of Cargo Buddy includes a fee on each transaction that can be from 6 to up to 10% of the value of the transported goods. In addition, about 20% of the app’s users are individuals that need help with the transportation of large items like furniture and medium-sized vehicles.

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“We’ve been able to attract 10,000 in-app company accounts, both shippers and carriers, in a short amount of time because of the benefits we offer to shippers: efficient shipping time – costs are low because CargoBuddy is a bidding system where carriers bid on the goods they have to transport. What’s more, all documents are digital through Cargo Buddy – senders don’t have to waste time completing shipping orders, scanning, printing, signing, and stamping. Through Cargo Buddy everything is digital. The monitoring of the goods transported by Cargo Buddy is 24/7, we offer additional cargo insurance in the insurance of the carriers”, says  Mihai Năstase, founder and CEO of Cargo Buddy

 

#6 Nexo, a Bulgarian-based crypto platform, issued one of the largest NFT-backed loans so far. Reported by english.alarabiya.net.

Nexo, a Bulgarian-based all-in-one crypto platform, has issued one of the largest crypto NFT-backed loans in the history of the space, and as collateral were used two rare NFTs of the CryptoPunks Zombies collection. The loan of 1,200 ether is worth more than $3.3M and was issued to an anonymous borrower. The period of the loan is 60 days and carries 21% of an annualized rate. The deal was arranged by Nexo and the loan was issued on Arcade, a peer-to-peer NFT marketplace. Nexo managed to hedge this high-risk loan through Meta4Capital, an investment manager.

“With this multilateral partnership, we are demonstrating the merging of traditional, decentralized, and crypto finance,” says Kiril Nikolov, Sales Executive at Nexo.

 

#7 R3, an American blockchain company opened its first European office in Sofia, Bulgaria. Reported by ain.capital.

R3, an American blockchain company that develops solutions and products for central banks,  capital markets, and regulated industries will open an office in Bulgaria and is planning to hire 50 people by the end of the year, and to have about 100 employees by the end of 2023. Sofia will be the first European office of the American giant with headquarters in New York, London, Dublin, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sao Paulo. Petko Karamochev, founder and executive director of the Bulgarian blockchain company INDUSTRIA, will lead the Bulgarian office. Both companies are working on a common project that aims to digitize the banking sector of 20 Arab countries with the help of digital currencies. 

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Intellias, a global IT company, will open a new development center in Sofia, Bulgaria this year. The company aims to create a team of at least 40 local IT professionals with proven experience in Java, .NET, DevOps, AQA, and other technologies. The company invites Bulgarian IT specialists with relative experience to apply for their open positions. They will join the company’s global team of 2,500 experts. Intellias creates high-quality navigation and autonomous driving solutions and this expansion will help the company improve and further develop its expertise and strategic approach in the sector. The company uses innovative technologies including the IoT, AI, data science, cloud, DevOps, and big data. Its products are used by more than 2 billion people worldwide. Intellias has been on the market for more than 20 years and has been recognized multiple times as one of the best employers. It was named the best IT employer in 2020 and 2021 by Forbes Ukraine and EY.  

“The opening of the new office in Sofia is another important step towards Intellias’ development in new European markets. But it is also an opportunity to create a powerful IT community, encouraging specialists to learn from each other and grow professionally. As we do at every Intellias office, in Sofia, we will nurture a human-to-human corporate culture based on trust and support.” — says Vitaly Sedler, CEO, and co-founder of Intellias. 

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