10 Latvian startups to watch in 2017

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As the snow begins to melt and the city begins to come out of its winter hibernation, we take a moment to step out of our hamster wheel and take a look at the startups who are so busy working with their noses down, that they don't even know they're in for a crazy growth-filled 2017. Here are 10 promising startups from Latvia to keep on your radar in 2017.

 1) Printful - on-demand printing and fulfillment

 In a nutshell: Printful prints and ships orders for online stores that are connected through their API or ecommerce platform integrations. They've effectively created a tool to help grow an entirely new business level - the online micro-niche entrepreneur, who can essentially set up an apparel company from home. Last year Printful opened their second printing facility in the USA

What they've got planned this year:  Printful is already on a path of exponential growth, and there's no reason that 2017 will be any different. Printful will keep up their competitive edge by continuing to develop their new printing facility in North Carolina. They've also just launched a major integration with Amazon that will let people sell print products on demand on the world's biggest ecommerce platform. Having doubled their turnover every year since being founded in 2013, Printful hopes to do the same this year. CEO Davis Siksnans has stated that at this rate, Printful will be able to go for an IPO by year 2020, making it the first Latvian startup to do so. 

2) Nordigen - transaction categorization

In a nutshell: Nordigen develops solutions for financial institutions that automatically categorizes the contents of statements that in turn alleviate other processes, such as evaluating the financial habits of an individual being considered for a loan.

What they've got planned this year: Nordigen is planning an explosive year. As of 2016 they had 25 clients in 7 countries; the Baltics, Finland, Spain, Georgia and Poland, and in 2017 they plan to enter the UK market, which is unique at the moment with Brexit-related banking complications that Nordigen believes can benefit them greatly. Additionally, as European banks are preparing for the new EU law that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018 about banking data belonging to the user, as an effect, many apps will appear that will be based on this banking data. There will be an increasing need to categorize and analyze many transactions, and Nordigen is conveniently (or smartly) ready to offer a solution.

3) Edurio - feedback and insight software for educational institutions

In a nutshell: Edurio is a startup that develops a system to collect feedback and turn it into actionable insights to improve the quality of education.

What they've got planned this year: Edurio is ramping up for a growth-driven 2017, having spent the last year setting the stage for development by securing a 1.9 million euro research and innovation grant from the European Union's Horizon 2020 program, as well as a partnership with the University College London Institute of Education to improve their data analytics capacity. This year Edurio is planning to go global, starting pilots in the UK, South Africa and Finland. Edurio is equally excited about the launch of another major partnership with Oxford University Press (OUP) where they will be implementing their feedback and insight generation approach in a range of OUP products and services.

Though they're not developing a startup considered to be traditionally “sexy”, the attraction of major EU research grants and partnerships with leaders in the education field, such as OUP and the UCL Institute of Education, suggests that the startup is making big strides in their industry. This is one startup whose potential impact lays deeper than simply developing the next hot app - keep an eye on Edurio and the moves they make this year.

4) Juro - automated sales contract creation and management

In a nutshell: This startup, co-founded in 2016 by Latvian-based Pavel Kovalevich, automates and alleviates the process of drawing up, going through, commenting and signing legally binding sales contracts.

What they've got planned for 2017: Juro is moving quickly. Having been founded in 2016, they were accepted into Seedcamp in the spring of 2016 and received $750,000 in financing. They're currently working on building a scalable product, as right now, they have the most pleasant problem a startup can have - too many clients to serve.

Investors are excited about the steps in machine-learning and the long-term data that Juro is developing. Kovalevich says that the legal industry is just waiting to be disrupted, that “legal tech is where fintech was 10 years ago”. We believe that Juro is on the path to great things.

5) Sonarworks - sound calibration software

In a nutshell: Sonarworks is a sound calibrating company that provide headphone and speaker calibration software and have now become used by sound engineers who work with artists such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5 and more. Thus far they've received a total of $1.5 mil. in funding, are used by over 5000 studios world wide, were awarded the Editors Choice Award in the Sound of Sound awards, and even participated in the Rio Olympics in 2016.

What they've got planned for 2017: While 2016 was a year of focusing on sound engineers, this year Sonarworks plans on entering them music producer segement, which should increase this year's turnover by 2.5. They're also working on a cloud solution that will alleviate co-operation in the music production industry.

6) Twino - peer-to-peer lending

In a nutshell: Twino is a funding platform that cuts out the bank as a middle man. Any person can offer their funds to be loaned, and receive their loan with a return. At the same time, anyone can take out a loan without having to go to the bank. 

What they've got planned this year: As of January 2016, Twino announced that they had completed 100 million eur of completed loans. By next year they hope to complete 200 million euro of completed loans. They've attracted the attention of lenders by become the first European peer lending platform to offer short-term and mid-term investments from Russia, as well as investment opportunities in Spain. They also implemented a buy-back guarantee, meaning that the investor will never come out at a loss. 

7) Funderful - alumni fundraising

In a nutshell: Funderful is software that helps organizations collect donations from their alumni. They not only provide the collecting mechanism, but also have developed several initiatives to make donating fun and interesting, to get even more.

What they've got planned this year: Funderful spent much of last year preparing for this year, having secured $150,000 in investments to fund their US expansion. They've been accepted to 500startups, the California-based seed fund and startup accelerator, and hope to continue growth and raise funds in Silicon Valley. As their goals for this year, their first priority is to set up a strong sales engine and speed up product development.

8) Notakey - safe employee authentication

In a nutshell: Notakey was founded last year, and is developing software that simplifies complicated loggin-in procedures. This solution is useful for industries that have the need for extra security and verification when accessing online data, such as, for online banking, government institutions and hospital staff.

What they've got planned this year: During their one year of existence, Notakey has earned 106,000 EUR in turnover, and for 2017 they believe they're ready to more than triple this growth, and are aiming for 450,000 EUR. The founder, Janis Graubins, is confident in their growth in the years to come. They've been testing Notakey with a variety of partners, one of which is PricewaterhouseCoopers, who have also become distributors of the software. Notakey hopes to grow their partner network in 2017, so that 2018 can be a year of even bigger growth. Notakey is evidently playing the long game.

9) Sellfy - digital product sales solution

In a nutshell: Sellfy lets you sell digital products (think music, ebooks, design materials) online. What sets them apart is their ability to integrate to any social media platform, letting you sell products anywhere on the web.

What they've got planned this year: Sellfy is gearing up to launch a new version of their site this spring. It'll feature an improved interface that's geared towards client feedback. Sellfy already has 150,000 registered sellers, and last year hit half a million dollars in revenue. They're set up to double the revenue in 2017.

One thing that's certain - these guys are driven!

10) Giraffe360 - Virtual Reality Tours

In a nutshell: Giraffe360 develops 360° virtual reality cameras and software to enable virtual tours, currently with a focus on real estate.

What they've got planned this year: last year Giraffe360 made headlines for raising $500,000 from Koha Capital. This year they'll be making use of the seed funding to expand to their target audiences - Tokyo, New York, London and Sydney. What instills their product with absolute trust is that they've managed to build a team of superstars - a hardware specialist who built his own 3D printer at the age of 15, and a developer who's a robotics world champion. With a team this strong, results are inevitable.