Made in Emerging Europe

Made in emerging Europe: Certific, Äike, Salto X

Emerging Europe’s start-up scene is thriving: new money and new ideas are coming onto the market all the time. To keep you up to date with the latest investments, innovations, movers and shakers, each Monday Emerging Europe brings you a round-up of the region’s start-up news.

Certific: At-home diagnostics start-up raises 7.4 million euros

Estonian HealthTech start-up Certific, co-founded by unicorn builder Taavet Hinrikus, has raised 7.4 million euros to advance remote medical diagnostics, support product expansion, and enter new markets.

“The pandemic revealed many ways in which healthcare across the world is broken, and it’s clear that technology and innovation can dramatically improve the way that people access healthcare,” notes Hinrikus, one of the founding investors of Plural, a 250 million euros investment platform set up by four leading European founders to invest in the founders of the next generation of European technology, which led the seed funding.

Other investors include Specialist VC, a venture capital fund that supports forward-thinking founders from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Ukraine, and among other angel investors, Christopher North, former UK Managing Director of Amazon.

Certific aims to transform healthcare by eliminating unnecessary appointments with trusted remote diagnostics for millions of people. The platform radically improves the cost and convenience for patients, healthcare providers and national healthcare services alike.

Certific has served patients to self-test over 100,000 times and was the first to launch fully certified remote Covid testing in the UK and Estonia. After the recent launch of two new remote testing services in the UK and Europe, the funding will enable Certific to expand to new markets and evolve its product offering.

“I co-founded Certific because of my frustration of not being able to use digital-first, human-centric solutions in health, which I am used to using in almost every other area of my life,” says Liis Narusk, co-founder and CEO of Certific.

Working with leading organisations like Imperial College London, University of Tartu, and other independent, internationally recognised academic institutions to validate its processes and professional standards, Certific is creating a global standard for clinical-grade at-home procedures.

“What really impressed us is the way Certific has created a trust infrastructure, allowing both patients and medical service providers to feel at ease with the online at-home testing and diagnostics process and perform procedures within minutes instead of hours,” notes Gerri Kodres, founder of Specialist VC.

Kodres believes that Certific’s technology and founding team’s execution skills can radically transform multiple fields of medical testing ranging from testing for prescription drugs to genetic tests and clinical trials.

Äike:  E-scooters assembled in Europe assembled using only renewable energy

Newly-founded Estonian sustainable e-scooter startup Äike has launched the first electric scooter designed and assembled entirely in Europe using solely renewable energy. Developed in partnership with leading IoT company, Comodule, the Äike T is also the only e-scooter to have USB-C charging capabilities.  

Äike is committed to making e-scooters and zero-emission commuting accessible to everyone by being regionally compliant with all legislation and integrating unrivalled safety, stability and durability into its product range.

The company actively seeks materials from responsible local recycled suppliers, ensuring a supply and distribution chain that is as close to the manufacturing facility as possible, free of conflict and fully reliable/traceable while ensuring 92 per cent of the materials used to produce its e-scooters are recyclable. 

“Äike is a true passion project of mine as I feel we are filling a huge gap in the micro mobility market,” says Kristjan Maruste, co-founder of Comodule and now CEO and head of product for Äike. “After seven years in the industry, I find it crazy how the e-bike boom in Europe has brought us to around five million e-bikes sold per year with more than 50 per cent made in Europe, whereas with over a million e-scooters being bought annually, virtually no one manufactures in Europe.

“This has left e-scooters in the background as the vast majority of them are not sustainable, comfortable or safe at all. Äike is here to change that. There obviously is a demand, and we are here to meet that with a sustainable, durable, inclusive, IoT-connected, safe and genuinely best version of what they are looking for. We’re currently still in our launch phase, but we are very well positioned to grow fast as we control the full process in-house from design to production to delivery.”

Äike’s e-scooters – now available for pre-order – are built for all metropolitan streets. The Äike T is weatherproof, durable and can be ridden smoothly over potholes and curbs without compromising on important motor power and speed safety regulations across cities worldwide.

On one full charge, the Äike T has a 40km range. Äike has made its removable battery compatible with any port using a USB-C laptop charger, which eliminates excess charger waste. While Äike’s e-scooters are designed to be easily transportable indoors, they can be safely left on the street thanks to the IoT-integrated threefold anti-theft GPS lock protection system provided by Comodule.

As well as GPS protection, each e-scooter comes with Comodule’s own IoT device and passport that allows exclusive access to the Äike app and enables remote customer support, instant firmware updates, and e-scooter performance monitoring, offering commuters a unique connected riding experience.

Salto X: Re-inventing stock options for the Web3 world

Most founders who have distributed teams know the pain of giving out equity. Divergent laws in different jurisdictions, taxation and employment rules. And the pain only increases when founders try to give equity to non-employees: contractors, advisors, community and any other type of gig workers.

It seems so apparent that old-school stock options just do not fit into the future of work. Salto X – a Web3 alternative to stock options in Europe aims to change that.

Salto X gives transparent access to equity-like compensation to contributors regardless of geography. The issuance consists of an off-chain part – legally establishing the company’s token pool – and an on-chain platform to issue contributor NFTs, set distribution rules and stream the company tokens. 

Contributors receive NFT certificates for the cliff period, consisting of key properties: the amount of tokens, cliff, and vesting end date. The smart contract automatically and continuously executes token transfers upon vesting. Contributors can add the NFT to Metamask and access any time.

Vesting execution can be set for any period: months, weeks, or days – thus, contributors can have faster access to the financial upside of the company.

As of now, tokens can be cashed out in case of full or partial exit. This creates much needed liquidity without the company needing to wait for an exit with an IPO or a sale. 

“Our goal is helping founders to build more global remote companies, where every single employee will receive their fair share of company success,” says Salto X CEO Ragnar Sass, a founder of unicorn Pipedrive.

“The Salto X team has been a remote company from day one. Our team is divided between Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine; so we know the pain very personally. Imagine if Skype’s success was equally shared between contributors in Romania or Georgia – what effect it would give to the ecosystem over there?”

The 5.2 million euros seed round was led by ByFounders and Blockwall and backed by New York-based Box Group, crypto fintech 3Commas, and angel investors such as Liu Jiang (ex-Sequoia GP) and Alex Gluchkowski (founder of ZkSync).

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