Two Vietnam-based companies – one that helps people to secure their copyright and another that creates smart tags using QR codes – will be attending the Skolkovo innovation centre’s Startup Village outside Moscow in June after winning invitations to the event at the Echelon tech conference in the Vietnamese city of Ho Chi Minh.
CopyRobo and NousLogic were selected by representatives of the Skolkovo Foundation from among the finalists of Echelon Vietnam, a major event for tech entrepreneurs and investors organised by the e27.co media platform. The foundation’s Open Innovations Startup Tour is taking in Southeast Asia for the first time this year, having previously visited the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.
Hoang Nhu, CEO of smart tag-maker NousLogic, admitted that the Russian market was “beyond my wildest dreams,” but said it was certainly interesting for his product.
“My product is borderless,” Nhu told Sk.ru after winning the invitation to the Startup Village.
“It’s the world’s first and cheapest smart label. It is part of a connected, smart city, to make the world a safer place.”
NousLogic’s ReachMe tags combine QR codes with cloud services and Internet of Things (IOT) technology. They can be used for a variety of purposes, from inclusion on pet collars and bags to help people return lost items to their owners, to medical tags containing crucial information for paramedics.
The tags do not require batteries or hardware to use, and will cost just $1-$2 for two years of service via an annual subscription, Nhu told judges during the pitching competition at Echelon.
“IOT products and services have to be cheap, otherwise it’s hard to scale them up and for customers to adopt. That’s why I think this has a lot of potential,” he told Sk.ru.
NousLogic is headquartered in Ho Chi Minh and registered in the U.S., where Nhu, who is originally from Vietnam and now divides his time between the two countries, plans to launch his product, followed by Asian markets.
ReachMe tags can also act as a virtual doorbell, allowing users to remotely open their door to deliveries or guests. The product was officially launched on the eve of the company’s victory at Echelon on Indiegogo and Kickstarter crowdfunding websites, but already has its first customer: Airbnb, which Nhu said had bought its tags to give to its top-rated “superhosts” at last week’s Airbnb Open event in LA.
“This product is perfect for Airbnb,” said Nhu, who founded NousLogic in 2013.
“Airbnb customers are world travellers; they have luggage, so they need to tag it. On the hosts’ side, they need to be notified when guests arrive at their home. We have a follow-on hardware product to allow the host to send a secure key for the guest to unlock the door,” he told Sk.ru.
The other startup selected to attend the Startup Village was CopyRobo, whose technology allows users to secure their copyright in less than 60 seconds using blockchain and qualified timestamps, similar to a notary’s stamp. The system produces a link to a web page showing evidence, so that people can instantly see that its copyrights are protected.
“The current system [the copyright symbol] doesn’t work,” CopyRobo’s founder and CEO Hasan Kurtulus told the judges.
“When people see the traditional symbol, they see no evidence, and it only increases infringements,” he said.
Germany and Estonia have recently introduced laws that recognise timestamps in copyright protection, said Kurtulus, explaining that for that reason, the company plans to launch its technology in Europe first. A beta version is currently being tested by 300 trial users that include law firms and advertising companies, he said.
“Professors and academics are interested because they want their students to be able to share ideas safely,” he told Sk.ru.
“Our target is to reach 100,000 students free, because they have ideas, but they don’t know the law. They want to share [their ideas] but don’t know how to protect them. It has to be cheap, and take 60 seconds, it has to be mobile, and it has to be protected by the government. That’s what we can provide,” said Kurtulus, who founded the company two-and-a-half years ago. It now employs 19 people, including mostly Vietnamese developers.
Kurtulus said he had already thought about the Russian market because of the considerable interest there in blockchain technology. The Skolkovo innovation centre has hosted a series of events devoted to the technology, in which records or blocks containing a timestamp and link to a previous block comprise an ever-growing database in which the data cannot be altered. Blockchain technology is used in the bitcoin digital currency, among other systems. If Russia introduces the relevant legal regulations, CopyRobo’s technology could be successfully used by Russian companies and individuals.
“The Russian government and companies research and spend a lot of time on blockchain, and we focus on it too,” said Kurtulus.
“We [currently] provide a qualified timestamp based on European law, because this is the current benefit, but the feature is blockchain, and whoever makes legal regulations can take advantage of this,” he told Sk.ru.
The overall winner of the Echelon Vietnam 2016 Top 100 pitching competition was DesignBold, an online platform for professional designers. DesignBold will now attend Echelon Singapore in June 2017 to compete against the other regional Echelon winners.
AZ Stack, a B2B communication platform software development kit, won $40,000 worth of BizSpark services from Microsoft in the competition.