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Bright Ideas: 11 Successful Startups & the Entrepreneurs Who Created Them

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Bright Ideas: 11 Successful Startups & the Entrepreneurs Who Created Them
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Oliver Dlouhý –

Photo: Marie Stránská

Founder of travel-booking site Oliver Dlouhý is one of many young entrepreneurs shaking things up in the Czech Republic. Dlouhý set up in 2012 to provide jet-setters with flight price comparisons through a unique ‘virtual interlining’ algorithmic technology.

With a workforce of more than 1,700 employees, earnings of $9 million on sales of $805 million in 2017, and revenue that has tripled on an annual basis, the sky’s the limit for the young Czech entrepreneur.

Christine Spiten – Blueye

Photo: Javad Parsa

Co-founder of Blueye and former sailing champion Christine Spiten has a passion for deep sea exploration. Her startup develops and sells underwater drones that are operated via smartphone. The unique design of Blueye’s drones is inspired by the hydrodynamics of fish. They can explore up to 150 meters below the ocean’s surface, providing unprecedented access to the hidden world beneath the surface of our seas.

Founded in 2015, the Norweigan startup has 19 full-time staff and has received 600 pre-orders for its drones. Its prototypes have been used for ocean mapping and cleanups in Norway, the U.S. and Australia.

Igor Zhadanov – Readdle

Photo: Readdle

Igor Zhadanov founded Readdle from a rented flat in Ukraine. What he lacked in funding he made up for in ingenuity. The company produces innovative Apps, such as readers, scanners and calendars, that can be used in conjunction with various devices, including iPads and iPhones. 

Zhadanov aims to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs, especially from Ukraine. With over 75 million downloads worldwide, the “App of the Year” runner-up award from Apple in 2015, and top positions on the App Store charts, his creation Readdle is growing year by year.

Silas Adekunle – Reach Robotics

Photo: Reach Robotics

A U.K.-based startup making giant strides in the tech market, Reach Robotics has developed an augmented reality platform, MekaMon, that brings video game characters to life. Founder Silas Adekunle has a four-year background in robotics and has a passion for pushing boundaries in the robotics world. His startup’s smartphone app enables users to control real combat robots, with augmented really seamlessly blended into the experience.

The Nigerian-British entrepreneur has just signed an exclusive deal with Apple. MekaMon will now be sold in Apple stores in the U.K. and the U.S from this year.

Josef Průša – Prusa3D

Photo: Jan Homola

In the last five years, Josef Průša has taken a small, innovative product to dizzying heights. And all without a sales team. His company is now one of the largest 3D printer companies in the world. Prusa has shipped tens of thousands of printers to over 130 countries.

With an estimated value of around €236 million, his 3D printers are one of the best-sellers around the world. And they’re ‘self-replicating’. At the company HQ in Prague, more than 300 printers are creating parts to construct new printers. With this kind of perpetual growth, Průša’s creation is at the forefront of the technological revolution. 

Robert Heinecke and Sascha Kuntze – Breeze Technologies


With an ever-increasing awareness of the need to tackle air pollution, Breeze is certainly a breathe of fresh air. Robert Heinecke and Sascha Kuntze created a low-cost air quality monitoring system that enables data-based interventions, providing an understanding of our environment and bringing about positive ecological change.

This past December, Breeze was selected as one of the EU’s most promising startups. Their distinguished team has been awarded the Hamburg Founders’ Award, as well as a commendation from the German federal president.

Martin Kissinger and Victoria van Lennep – Lendable

Photo: Forbes

With the aim of providing instant personal loans at fair rates, Kissinger and van Lennep founded Lendable in 2014. A peer-to-peer lending platform based on simplicity, speed and transparency, their simple machine-learning technology enables them to offer small loans at better rates than banks or credit cards.

Backed by institutional and private investors, Lendable has secured more than $5 million in equity funding and more than $250 million in lending capital.

Marc Soler and Jaime Farres – 21 Buttons

Photo: 21 Buttons

A fashion trend portal, 21 Buttons enables fashion-lovers to share photos of their outfits and buy the latest clothing of influencers. Founded in 2015 by Barcelona-based Marc Soler and Jaime Farres, this up-and-coming startup boasts 4 million app downloads and has raised $15.7 million to date. Growing year by year, they’ve recently launched in the U.K. and Italy.

Using Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration, Soler and Farrer have found a way to tap into the new wave of influencer marketing, blending the trend with the shopablity of their platform.

Elsa Hermal – Epicery

Photo: Karl Arsene

Paris-based Epicery is a fresh food delivery app that enables people to order fresh food online. With a speedy one-hour delivery service and a growing list of clients, Epicery is working to bring local communities closer together. Launched in 2016 by Elsa Hermal and her three co-founders, Epicery now works with 350 independent store vendors, including local butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and wine shops.

Hermal, who serves as COO, was a finalist at the Women Startup Challenge Europe in 2017.

Álex Huertas and Héctor Rey – Northweek Sunglasses

Photo: Northweek

Barcelona-based startup Northweek Sunglasses creates low-cost, tailor-made sunglasses for an ever-increasing customer base. From neighbors to classmates and now successful entrepreneurial business partners, founders Álex Huertas and Héctor Rey have seen their startup develop to become the leading brand of shades among Europe’s youth.

Their success is, in part, due to the customization of their product. Northweek’s manufacturing process enables up to 150,000 different sunglasses combinations. This, together with word-of-mouth and the relentless optimism of Huertas and Rey has led to the company’s meteoric rise. Last year, the Northweek’s revenues totaled over $10 million.

Omar and Taha Bawa – Goodwall

Photo: Forbes

A LinkedInesque social media platform that helps students connect with their peers, Goodwall has now connected over 1 million young students, eager to share their talents and achievements.

Brothers Omar and Taha Bawa, from Switzerland, co-founded Goodwall with the aim to help people maximize their potential and make a positive impact on society. Their network enables global talent from a wide range of disciplines, from sports sports and engineers to maths whizz-kids and business entrepreneurs, to connect, share ideas and collaborate.

Want to be an entrepreneur? Find out more.