Meet the speakers at The Europas, and get your ticket free (July 3, London)

Excited to announce that this year’s The Europas Unconference & Awards is shaping up! Our half day Unconference kicks off on 3 July, 2018 at The Brewery in the heart of London’s “Tech City” area, followed by our startup awards dinner and fantastic party and celebration of European startups!

The event is run in partnership with TechCrunch, the official media partner. Attendees, nominees and winners will get deep discounts to TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, later this year.
The Europas Awards are based on voting by expert judges and the industry itself. But key to the daytime is all the speakers and invited guests. There’s no “off-limits speaker room” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs and speakers.

What exactly is an Unconference? We’re dispensing with the lectures and going straight to the deep-dives, where you’ll get a front row seat with Europe’s leading investors, founders and thought leaders to discuss and debate the most urgent issues, challenges and opportunities. Up close and personal! And, crucially, a few feet away from handing over a business card. The Unconference is focused into zones including AI, Fintech, Mobility, Startups, Society, and Enterprise and Crypto / Blockchain.

We’ve confirmed 10 new speakers including:


Eileen Burbidge, Passion Capital

Carlos Eduardo Espinal, Seedcamp

Richard Muirhead, Fabric Ventures

Sitar Teli, Connect Ventures

Nancy Fechnay, Blockchain Technologist + Angel

George McDonaugh, KR1

Candice Lo, Blossom Capital

Scott Sage, Crane Venture Partners

Andrei Brasoveanu, Accel

Tina Baker, Jag Shaw Baker

How To Get Your Ticket For FREE

We’d love for you to ask your friends to join us at The Europas – and we’ve got a special way to thank you for sharing.

Your friend will enjoy a 15% discount off the price of their ticket with your code, and you’ll get 15% off the price of YOUR ticket.

That’s right, we will refund you 15% off the cost of your ticket automatically when your friend purchases a Europas ticket.

So you can grab tickets here.

Vote for your Favourite Startups

Public Voting is still humming along. Please remember to vote for your favourite startups!

Awards by category:

Hottest Media/Entertainment Startup

Hottest E-commerce/Retail Startup

Hottest Education Startup

Hottest Startup Accelerator

Hottest Marketing/AdTech Startup

Hottest Games Startup

Hottest Mobile Startup

Hottest FinTech Startup

Hottest Enterprise, SaaS or B2B Startup

Hottest Hardware Startup

Hottest Platform Economy / Marketplace

Hottest Health Startup

Hottest Cyber Security Startup

Hottest Travel Startup

Hottest Internet of Things Startup

Hottest Technology Innovation

Hottest FashionTech Startup

Hottest Tech For Good

Hottest A.I. Startup

Fastest Rising Startup Of The Year

Hottest GreenTech Startup of The Year

Hottest Startup Founders

Hottest CEO of the Year

Best Angel/Seed Investor of the Year

Hottest VC Investor of the Year

Hottest Blockchain/Crypto Startup Founder(s)

Hottest Blockchain Protocol Project

Hottest Blockchain DApp

Hottest Corporate Blockchain Project

Hottest Blockchain Investor

Hottest Blockchain ICO (Europe)

Hottest Financial Crypto Project

Hottest Blockchain for Good Project

Hottest Blockchain Identity Project

Hall Of Fame Award – Awarded to a long-term player in Europe

The Europas Grand Prix Award (to be decided from winners)

The Awards celebrates the most forward thinking and innovative tech & blockchain startups across over some 30+ categories.

Startups can apply for an award or be nominated by anyone, including our judges. It is free to enter or be nominated.

What is The Europas?

Instead of thousands and thousands of people, think of a great summer event with 1,000 of the most interesting and useful people in the industry, including key investors and leading entrepreneurs.

• No secret VIP rooms, which means you get to interact with the Speakers

• Key Founders and investors speaking; featured attendees invited to just network

• Expert speeches, discussions, and Q&A directly from the main stage

• Intimate “breakout” sessions with key players on vertical topics

• The opportunity to meet almost everyone in those small groups, super-charging your networking

• Journalists from major tech titles, newspapers and business broadcasters

• A parallel Founders-only track geared towards fund-raising and hyper-networking

• A stunning awards dinner and party which honors both the hottest startups and the leading lights in the European startup scene

• All on one day to maximise your time in London. And it’s PROBABLY sunny!

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That’s just the beginning. There’s more to come…

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Interested in sponsoring the Europas or hosting a table at the awards? Or purchasing a table for 10 or 12 guest or a half table for 5 guests? Get in touch with:
Petra Johansson
Petra@theeuropas.com
Phone: +44 (0) 20 3239 9325

Quit Genius, helping smokers quit, picks up an extra $1.1 million in seed

Quit Genius, the YC-backed app that helps users quit smoking, has today announced the close of an additional $1.1 million, bringing their seed round to a cool $2 million. Village Global VC, Pioneer Fund, Arab Angel VC, Max Mullen of Instacart, Olivia Teich of Dropbox, Paul Rosania of Slack, Ariel Polar of Strava, Eric Reis, David Langley of Zesty, Juha Paananen of NonStop Games, and Junaid Bajwa of Merck & Co participated in the round, among others.

Quit Genius was built by doctors — Yusuf Sherwani (cofounder and CEO), Maroof Ahmed (cofounder and COO), and Sarim Siddiqui (cofounder and Head of Product) — who met on the first day of medical school. They saw the terrible effects of smoking on patients’ health but didn’t see doctors giving those patients a clear path to quit smoking.

So the team started building out Quit Genius, which uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to change a user’s behavior.

“CBT breaks down situations into three areas: your thoughts, your feelings and your behaviors,” Ahmed told TechCrunch in February. “What you think and feel can affect how you behave. CBT focuses on replacing any negative thoughts and feelings you may have that trigger you to smoke, with healthier and more positive thoughts that will help you to quit smoking.”

Quit Genius uses CBT to take smokers through stages of quitting, using a number of different types of content, from audio sessions to animated videos to interactive exercises to help people think differently about destructive addictions.

Since launch, the company has introduced new ‘packs’ for other addictive behaviors such as drinking alcohol. Packs aren’t quite as comprehensive as the Quit Genius program around quitting smoking, but they do offer troves of additional content around other addictions.

The company already has packs for alcohol, stress, motivation, and health, giving users extra content around the issue they’re dealing with most. Alcohol felt natural, according to Ahmed, because alcohol is such a trigger for many smokers, and one of the issues they dealt with most in their quest to quit.

Soon, Quit Genius has plans to launch packs around pregnancy (for women who are smoking when they become pregnant and want to quit), weight management, social pressure to smoke, and self esteem.

Since launch Quit Genius has grown to 300,000 registered users, with over 20,000 people officially smoke-free in the app (which Quit Genius defines as having not smoked for over 28 days). The company’s internal goal is to get to 100,000 smoke-free users by the end of the year, and will track their progress publicly on the website.

While consumers are the primary focus of the company, there is also a growing opportunity for Quit Genius to start working with big-name employers around well-being and health. Healthy employees save the company money and are more productive, and Quit Genius thinks it can not only help employees get healthier but give employers a way to track that progress. In fact, Quit Genius has already signed on a tech giant as a customer, but wouldn’t disclose which one.

Given that the company was founded by doctors, it comes as no surprise that the Quit Genius team is participating in scientific research papers around their process. One paper, published by JMIR mHealth, found that Quit Genius outperformed the NHS Smoke-free app. An upcoming paper, which will be published in the next few weeks, found that Quit Genius yielded a 36 percent quit rate among participants, with a 59.6 percent reduction in cigarettes among participants.

Instagram says “you’re all caught up” in first time well spent feature

Without a chronological feed, it can be tough to tell if you’ve seen all the posts Instagram will show you. That can lead to more of the compulsive, passive, zombie browsing that research suggests is unhealthy as users endlessly scroll through stale content hoping for a hit of dopamine-inducing novelty.

But with Instagram’s newest feature, at least users know when they’ve seen everything and can stop scrolling without FOMO. Instagram is showing some users a mid-feed alert after a bunch of browsing that says “You’re All Caught Up – You’ve seen all new post from the past 48 hours.” When asked about it, Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that it’s testing this feature. It declined to give details about how it works, including whether the announcement means you’ve seen literally every post from people you follow from the last two days, or just the best ones that the algorithm has decided are worth showing you.

The feature could help out Instagram completists who want to be sure they never miss a selfie, sunset, or supper pic. Before Instagram rolled out its algorithm in the summer of 2016, they could just scroll to the last post they’d seen or when they knew they’d last visited. Warning them they’ve seen everything could quiet some of the backlash to the algorithm, which has centerd around people missing content they wanted to see because the algorithm mixed up the chronology.

But perhaps more importantly, it’s one of the app’s first publicly tested features that’s clearly designed with the “time well spent” movement in mind. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been vocal about prioritizing well-being on Facebook over profits, to the point that the network reduced the prevalance of viral videos in the feed so much that that app lost 1 million users in the U.S. and Canada in Q4 2017. “I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down . . . If we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too” he wrote.

But Instagram’s leadership had been quiet on the issue until last week, TechCrunch broke news that buried inside Instagram was an unlaunched “Usage Insights” feature that would show users their “time spent”. That prompted Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom to tweet our article, noting “It’s true . . . We’re building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram – any time should be positive and intentional . . . Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it’s the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this. We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously.”

Instagram is preparing a “Usage Insights” feature that will show how long you spend in the app. Image via Jane Manchun Wong

It’s reassuring to hear that one of the world’s most popular, but also overused, social media apps is going to put user health over engagement and revenue. Usage Insights has yet to launch. But the “You’re all caught up” alerts show Instagram is being earnest about its commitment. Those warnings almost surely prompt people to close the app and therefore see fewer ads, hurting Instagram’s bottom line.

Perhaps its a product of Facebook and Instagram’s dominance that they can afford to trade short-term engagement for long-term sustainability of the product. Some companies like Twitter have been criticized for not doing more to kick abusers off their platforms because it could hurt their user count.

But with Android now offering time management tools and many urging Apple to do the same, the time well spent reckoning may be dawning upon the mobile app ecosystem. Apps that continue to exploit users by doing whatever it takes to maximize total time spent may find themselves labeled the enemy, plus may actually be burning out their most loyal users. Urging them to scroll responsibly could not only win their favor, but keep them browsing in shorter, healthier sessions for years to come.

Ucare.ai is using AI to make healthcare more efficient in Southeast Asia

AI is being applied across the board in many industries worldwide, and its scope of influence is only likely to continue to expand as Kaifu Lee, a noted AI expert who was formerly head of Google China, recently told TechCrunch.

The main battle appears to be between companies in the U.S. and China, but this week a startup in Southeast Asia came out of stealth mode to show that innovation is present elsewhere in the world.

Ucare.ai is focused on applying AI on the healthcare system to increase efficiencies and help patient coverage. It focuses on three distinct audiences: patients, health providers and those who pay the bills.

In particular, the company uses deep learning and neural network algorithms to predict healthcare patterns in patients, and beyond, to reduce preventable hospitalization, and, in turn, save on costs and hassles. That also allows medical professionals and insurers to focus on the more obvious risk patients, Ucare.ai said.

The company was founded in 2016 by Neal Liu, an MIT graduate who career includes six years with Google and stints with Microsoft, eBay and others. The company picked up seed funding in 2016, finance executive Christina Teo came on board as CEO (Liu is CTO) a year later and this week Ucare.ai came out of stealth with the announcement of its $8.2 million Series A round from backers that include Walden International and Singapore’s Great Eastern.

Singapore is gaining ground as startup destination that locates founders within striking distance of Greater China whilst also giving them access to Southeast Asia, a nascent but fast-growing market where the ‘internet economy’ is tipped to reach $200 billion by 2025 according to a recent report co-authored by Google.

Ucare.ai spent its initial two years developing its core AI smarts, the backbone of its service, by stitching together de-identified healthcare data using a mix of publicly available information and data from private partners, before then building out products for the health sector.

“Healthcare costs are only going in one direction as people are living longer and chronic diseases become more prevalent,” Teo told TechCrunch an interview. “That means that costs are going up, and payers are paying more, while corporate health is receiving a lot of attention with corporate clients expecting cost coverage and intervention programs.”

Ucare.ai CEO Christina Teo (left) and CTO Neal Liu (right)

That’s the ecosystem Ucare.ai has set out to impact. With hospitalization one of the most significant costs, the startup wants to reduce that through AI-powered predictive services. Healthcare provider Parkway Shenton, which has over 1,000 clinics, is one public name that signed on with Ucare.ai with other partners as-yet-undisclosed. Clients like Parkway pay for various different products which can provide real-time predictions, or more regular report-like information, Teo explained.

Liu had been based in Singapore while at Google, and he saw an opportunity to develop the startup there whilst tapping into the unique features of the city-state.

“Singapore is ideal,” Teo, herself a Singaporean, told TechCrunch. “It has a robust healthcare system, is well audited, there’s tech adoption such as cashless payments, and data privacy is taken seriously.”

“It’s also a country where you can study people of different backgrounds and lifestyles, which makes it fairly good for scientists. The cost of businesses is reasonable, there are government grants and there’s talent,” she added.

There’s also the potential to expand the business. Ucare.ai has focused its efforts on Singapore, to date, but Teo said there are opportunities to move into neighboring markets to both improve the systems by adding more data and grow the business from a revenue perspective.

“The heavy lifting has been done in the last two years, now we’re looking at opportunities to scale and repeat the business models in other parts of Southeast Asia,” she said, adding that Greater China is also a focus of interest.

Right now, the startup has less than 20 staff with a blend of nationalities, but Teo said the headcount is climbing on “a near-daily basis.”

Other notable healthcare-focused startups in Southeast Asia include fellow Singapore-based CXA, which helps corporates provide quality healthcare to employees, and mClinica, which maps healthcare sales and data in the region.

For decades, it was an open secret that patients of USC’s only full-time gynecologist were complaining about sexual assaults during exams

For nearly 30 years, there was only one full-time gynecologist on staff at the University of Southern California's student health clinic: Dr. George Tyndall, about whom there was a widespread understanding among staff and students that he sexualized his examinations, making overt sexual remarks to the teenagers under his care, fondling them, and waxing creepy about his predilection for Asian women. (more…)

Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is an inspiring example of inclusive design

Every gamer with a disability faces a unique challenge for many reasons, one of which is the relative dearth of accessibility-focused peripherals for consoles. Microsoft is taking a big step toward fixing this with its Xbox Adaptive Controller, a device created to address the needs of gamers for whom ordinary gamepads aren’t an option.

The XAC, revealed officially at a recent event but also leaked a few days ago, is essentially a pair of gigantic programmable buttons and an oversized directional pad; 3.5mm ports on the back let a huge variety of assistive devices like blow tubes, pedals and Microsoft-made accessories plug in.

It’s not meant to be an all-in-one solution by any means, more like a hub that allows gamers with disabilities to easily make and adjust their own setups with a minimum of hassle. Whatever you’re capable of, whatever’s comfortable, whatever gear you already have, the XAC is meant to enable it.

I’d go into detail, but it would be impossible to do better than Microsoft’s extremely interesting and in-depth post introducing the XAC, which goes into the origins of the hardware, the personal stories of the testers and creators and much more. Absolutely worth taking the time to read.

I look forward to hearing more about the system and how its users put it to use, and I’m glad to see inclusivity and accessibility being pursued in such a practical and carefully researched manner.

Quip raises $10 million for electric toothbrushes and dental care

The mouth tech industry is continuing to pick up steam with electric toothbrush startup Quip’s latest $10 million funding round from Silicon Valley Bank and its acquisition of dental insurance startup Afora. Afora is a New York-based startup that offers an alternative to traditional dental insurance with plans starting at $25 a month. All of its plans include preventive services like two cleanings per year, annual exams and x-rays, and pre-negotiated pricing for additional work, like root canals.

Afora will now be part of Quip’s newly formed venture studio, Quip Labs. The idea with the studio is to fuel innovation in oral health products, platforms and services. Quip did not explicitly mention any other companies it has its eyes on, but the goal with Quip Labs is to enable the startup to explore new ideas in the dental health space, regardless of whether they’re related to Quip’s core offering, Quip CEO Simon Enever told TechCrunch via email. 

Quip began as a subscription-based electric toothbrush service that replaces tooth paste and brush heads, partly because you’re apparently supposed to change your toothbrush every three months. But before this acquisition, Quip had already started evolving its offerings by inviting dentists to join the platform to connect with Quip’s consumer subscribers.

“Our mission has always been to provide an end-to-end solution that makes the preventative care routine — which is so critical to your oral health — more simple, affordable and enjoyable, Enever said.

Quip specifically wants to handle the everything that happens before and after your checkups with the dentist, Enever said. In order to get there, Enever said Quip needed to start with an affordable electric toothbrush, “but we are extremely excited to start accelerating our mission to provide more digital and professional services that complete this loop to more people.”

Other startups in the dental health space include clear teeth aligner startups. One of them, Uniform Teeth, recently closed a $4 million seed round. Whether Quip decides to expand into the clear aligner market remains to be seen, but Enever said “our broad mission is to improve oral health as a whole.”

He added, “Quip labs allows us to explore all aspects of mouth care and the various ways we could help make other health focused services more simple and accessible to more people, always in a manner that aligns with the best practices of the dental professionals behind them.”

Quip’s last funding round came in November 2017, when it raised $10 million from Sherpa Capital, Blue Scorpion VC, Demi Lovato and others. The plan with this round is to further accelerate the company’s expansion into “new physical and digital products and services to serve our members,” Enever said. To date, Quip has raised over $20 million in funding.

Instagram has an unlaunched “time spent” Usage Insights dashboard

Instagram may be jumping into the time well spent movement, following the unveiling of Google’s new time management controls last week. Code buried in Instagram’s Android app reveals a “Usage Insights” feature that will show users their “time spent”. It’s not exactly clear whether that will be your total time spent in Instagram ever, which could be a pretty scary number to some users, or within some shorter time frame like a day, week, or month.

By being upfront with users about how much of their lives they’re investing in their favorite apps, tech giants could encourage people to adopt healthier habits and avoid the long, passive, anti-social browsing sessions that can harm their well-being. These features could also help parents keep track of what their kids are doing online. Both might lead people to spend less time on apps like Instagram, but they could be happier with companies like Instagram.

The Usage Insights screenshot and “time spent” code were discovered by prolific app investigator Jane Manchun Wong inside the Instagram for Android application package, or “APK”. She wrote “Be self-aware or be prepared to be ashamed for Instagram addiction”. When asked by TechCrunch for more evidence about how the feature worked, she tweeted screenshot below of Instagram’s code. Several of Wong’s other recent discoveries of unlaunched features like Facebook Avatars and Twitter encrypted DMs were subsequently confirmed by the companies as being in testing.

An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch the company has no comment on this discovery for now, but may return with more info later. We’ll update when we hear back. Until then we’ll have to wait and see what exactly the time spent dashboard will show, or if Instagram ends up launching it at all.

For comparison, the new Android time management tool shows a daily look at how much time you spent on different apps, and lets you set time limits. But since most of Google’s apps outside of YouTube are utilities designed to be used as quickly as possible, it might have less to lose by revealing how users spend time on their phones than Facebook . Many are hoping to see Apple launch time management features at WWDC this year.

Google’s new Android time management features. Image via The Verge.

Offering “Usage Insights” aligns with Facebook’s recent discussion of research that shows active social networking, like messaging, posting, or commenting can be positive for people’s well-being, but endless zombie scrolling can make people feel worse. While Facebook hasn’t created anything like this feature in its own apps, it’s started to change its algorithm to promote active interactions while downranking viral videos that people consume passively. That led to Facebook’s first ever decline in its North American daily user count in Q4 2017, though it was growing again in the region by Q1 2018.

Instagram’s photo and video-heavy feed especially lends itself to the negative social networking behaviors like envy spiraling, where users constantly compare themselves against the glamorous highlights posted by their friends. Letting users know how long they’re Instagramming, or even let them set time limits, could push people to go out and live life instead of watching through a screen as others live it.