Like A Local offers up tips on restaurants, stores, and other attractions from local residents

LikeAlocalPlanning a trip has likely never been easier, as virtually any city you want to visit can be found through Google or Apple Maps. Just punch in the name of the city and you are offered a host of local restaurants. However, going that route might offer a simple listing of options or options selected by an algorithm. It lacks a personal touch and you might miss out on cool spots that are a bit off of the beaten path. Any service can find the highest-rated restaurants or attractions and offer them up to you, but Estonia-based Like A Local offers a personal touch with listings provided by people who live in the area.

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StoryMe helps explain your business in minute-long bites

storyme-screenThe startup world may be as exciting and full of fresh ideas as ever, but many people do not have time or patience to study every service and find something that appeals to you. Video is one way to cut straight to the point, but many teams lack the expertise to put together a polished film that will draw in users or customers. StoryMe, based out of Belgium, thinks that they can help by offering snappy videos to explain your service to those you are targeting.

Many advertising agencies can whip up professional videos to promote your business, but for StoryMe, brevity is key. Regardless of the features or options the client selects, they receive a (roughly) minute-long video that explains the basic concept behind your business, a particular app, and more.

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Amazon’s ‘Login and Pay’ comes to Europe a year after US launch

login and pay with amazon paymentsAmazon’s Login and Pay with Amazon service arrives in Europe. The PayPal-like service of US e-commerce giant helps e-commerce sites and 3rd party merchants accept payments from Amazon account owners easily.

Login and Pay with Amazon service, unveiled almost a year ago in the US, is now functional at Amazon.co.uk. Other national Amazon sites will follow, the company said.

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Startup Offices: BlaBlaCar works hard to add new territories


Imagine a startup who has launched a product to the weirdest and most sophisticated sub-sector of internet business, the so-called sharing economy, and managed to make it a European success story within a year. Paris-based BlaBlaCar did exactly that, not only expanding to over 12 countries in just 12 months, but also educating the once-ignorant internet users about the merits of sharing economy. As Nicolas Brusson, the co-founder and COO of BlaBlaCar, explains during our video tour at the company offices, they are now heavily preparing to open up to new territories.

Meantime, this is the first of a series of visits to outstanding startup offices across Europe. Stay tuned for more.

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Mail.ru pays $1.47B for full ownership of Russian social network Vkontakte

Vkontakte-screenMail.ru Group who has agreed to pay a total of $1.47 billion for 48% remaining shares Russian social networking giant Vkontakte. Acquiring the shares in an all cash deal from Blesmir Development Limited and Palagon Limited, Mail.ru plans to fully consolidate VK as quickly as possible, according to the press release.

As a part of the deal, all ongoing litigation and shareholder disputes between United Capital Partners and ousted VK-founder Pavel Durov “have also been settled”.

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Myscore takes off as indicator of influence on Facebook

MyScore-publicfastDespite the gigantic user base, Facebook often remains difficult to unlock the potential of businesses and convert them into customers. Ukraine-based Publicfast, which connects brands and leading social-media “influencers”, believes that they have a solution with their platform Myscore, a service for measuring your Facebook influence. It is a simple service, but one which may prove valuable to companies finding popular users on Facebook to act as paid spokespeople.

Finding your score is extremely simple, as it took me only a couple clicks and a few seconds to learn my Facebook rating.

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CEED Tech accelerator raises $5M to spend on East European early stage software startups

CeedTechCEED Tech, a consortium of Central and Eastern European technology accelerators, has raised €5 million from the European Commission as a part of the latter’s Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013). The funds will be given to startups that are to be selected via the application process launched today. CEED says they will prioritize early stage software startups.

CEED Tech is a consortium of established software accelerators with funds co-financed by private angels and venture investors. The investment by CEED Tech are made in return for 5% to 15% of equity stake in the startup.

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Ploonge aims to gain traction with user-created travel guides

ploongeMilano-based Ploonge launched a couple of years ago as a service looking to make travel guides a bit more fun by letting you create your own and share them with your friends.

The service, which will be free on the web and through mobile, has yet to launch, but I’m told that they are planning to go live sometime before the end of this year. At the moment, users can sign up and access the beta version for Milan, Berlin, and various other cities, but most will need to wait until the platform expands to their town. You can create an account directly through the site or through Facebook, but using the latter might make it a bit easier to immediately find your friends within the service.

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TripOwn launches as personalized-tour service

tripown-platformsMany decide to create their own businesses only after they have obtained a bit of money or life experience. Maciej Mietek, founder of Poznan-based self-guided tour service TripOwn, decided that there was no use in waiting. He created his first successful startup a few years ago at the young age of 20, but has since pivoted the business and, this week, his company relaunches in its current form.

Unlike other trip-planning services, which might simply offer a listing of restaurants, shops, or attractions, TripOwn aims to stand apart by providing themes that users can selected to take personalized journeys. Having selected the themes, users are presented with a trip based upon their choices, including the time and distance for reference. If it is not what you are seeking, you can change it up a bit and select different themes. After users finalize the trip, they are then emailed guides for each location along the route, with a detailed description of the site and listings for nearby restaurants and shops.

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Webrazzi Summit 2014 to host a highly influential group of speakers from around the world

summit_yatay-700There are only 10 days left for one of the most influential web conferences in CEE and MENA regions. Webrazzi Summit will once again bring together an extremely fascinating group of speakers who will address the global and regional topics that largely dominate today’s  internet economy and startup scene.

The keynote presentations, panels and fireside chat sessions will cover a wide range of issues and insights for tech businesses, including digital marketing, social media, e-commerce, venture capital, angel investment, online gaming, mobile apps and more.

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