Πέμπτη, 26 Μαΐου 2016

Interview with Nikolaos Nanas (Co-founder of Noowit)

Please introduce yourself to the readers of this blog. What is the story behind Noowit?
I am Nikolaos Nanas, co-founder of Noowit. Noowit’s history goes all the way back to 2000 when I started my PhD on Artificial Intelligence with a focus on Information Filtering and Content Personalization. I finished my PhD in 2004 and until 2010 I continued studying and improving the Immune-Inspired User Profiling model, which was the result of my PhD work. After confirming experimentally that it has the ability to learn and continuously adapt to a user’s (or a group’s) interests, I have decided to apply it to the real world. The development of Noowit’s Personalized News Aggregator started in September 2011 in collaboration with my business partner Christos Spiliopoulos. The first public beta version of the service was released on the 1st of July 2013 and has attracted international interest, which many characterizing it as a competitor to the popular Flipboard app. Although Noowit’s web app was innovative in many respects, it has not attracted a critical mass of users or the funding required for its marketing and further development. In May 2015 and after talking to various news publishers we have decided to pivot, i.e., change business direction. We have developed and recently (25th of April) launched officially a new platform for publishing intelligent newspapers and magazines online. By combining Artificial Intelligence with innovative design and cutting edge technologies we have managed to successfully transfer for the first time, the effectiveness of print media online. Noowit editions have a cover and a back page, but take the form of a “papyrus” that readers browse easily by scrolling on any device. In the process they are exposed pleasantly to full page advertisement, in the same way they used to when they were flipping through a print magazine or newspaper. The edition’s sections adapt to the reader’s interests, the content’s volume and characteristics and of course the device used. They are self-contained and can be disseminated as a whole via social media and newsletters. Overall, Noowit is offering a new innovative way to publish online with the power of AI.
How can media companies leverage your technology? What is the added value you offer compared to the way they have been publishing content traditionally? 
With the new platform, Noowit has essentially become the “printing house” of the future, offering the fastest, cheapest and smartest way to publish online. We are not only targeting news publishers but also companies who wish to publish corporate newsletters for market intelligence or content marketing.
Portals, pdf exports and dedicated native apps are not made for news publishing. When 70% of a news portals visitors come from social media, land directly on an article’s page, read it (partly) and leave, it means that they fail in their effort to keep the visitor navigating through categories and subcategories to produce pageviews and banner impressions. The site’s front-page becomes obsolete. In addition, banners don’t work, visitors just ignore them subconsciously or purposefully avoid them. Finally native apps are not suited for news, cause they lock all this social media traffic out and of course pdf exports are just inadequate, since they don’t support any interaction.
Noowit editions achieve better engagement and retention via personalization. They fully exploit social media by exposing the reader to the publishers full edition and not just individual articles. Their full-page ads have been characterized by readers themselves as pleasant and their Click Through Rate (CTR) is over 4% when the average CTR of banners is 0,06%.
Noowit editions are branded and ready for any device. We plug into the existing CMS so that the publisher does not have to change the way they work. They can be continuous, periodical (daily, weekly, monthly), or special on-off editions. We are charging an initial setup fee and then monthly based on the number of unique visitors. We continuously evolve and upgrade our infrastructure and we actively make sure that each publication appeals to as many readers as possible. Its a clear win-win publishing collaboration.

Your expansion strategy for global reach & customers? Has funding come your way? 
We are building our case in the local national market, but we are already talking to media people abroad and the reactions are more than positive. We are also optimistic that now that our revenue stream is in place, our business proposition will become more appealing to investors. We are already viable and this gives us enough time to expand and attract funding.

Your opinion on the Greek startup ecosystem 
The Greek startup eco-system is clearly growing, but still in its infancy. Success stories like those of workable, taxibeat, incrediblue and others are encouraging and inspiring. However, we are still far lacking in terms of the established legal/tax framework,  the access to funds and to the global entrepreneurial network. Of course this is just my personal opinion and since we are not based in Athens it may be ill informed. In any case, we should not be carried away by what we hear or read about the startup scene in San Fransisco and other startup capitals. We should adapt our expectations and efforts to the league we are playing in.
Sometimes the research behind a technology is great but the market is not ready to integrate it. How much effort do you need to market, communicate, establish your service, etc.? 
Excellent question/observation. Noowit’s computational core is just amazing and ahead of the curve in many respects, but this is not always easy to communicate and prove. It is the only Content Personalization/Recommendation Engine readily applicable to any language and any information type. It is the only one that can represent and adapt to a user’s (or a group’s) multiple and evolving interests and it the only one that is directly integrated into the design of each Noowit edition. It is applied not only to choose the most relevant content, but also the way it is presented to the reader. It produces “Similar Articles” recommendations based on the article being read and even personalized newsletters.
Our innovative technological infrastructure and the fact that is inspired by the immune system (find out more here: http://www.noowit.com/tech.html) has been central to our communication and marketing efforts so far, but we realized it is too much to swallow. Now it has become more silent. The reader does not even have to know it is happening as long as the numbers show that personalization matters. We are measuring everything and with every new publication and user we are building our case on solid numbers, proving that our technology and design are working and have a positive effect on engagement, retention and virality. The numbers so far speak for themselves, proving our case and making persuading publishers and investors easier.
Please close this interview as you see fit. 
Throwing the old Noowit away was a tough decision, but we failed and learned. We fall down and stood up again, when other Personalized News Aggregators, such as Prismatic, have ceased their operations despite receiving millions in funding. Noowit’s new platform is the result of the lessons learned and the experience gained. Christopher Varakliotis who joined the team as our front-engineer also played a catalytic role in developing our new layout engine and the general publishing infrastructure. The new platform is solid, addresses real world media issues and is straightforward to comprehend. Of course we never stop improving the platform and adding new features. Stay tuned…more publications and announcements coming soon.

Τετάρτη, 4 Μαΐου 2016

A campaign for kidney disease patients

Gabriele & Spiros are running an Indiegogo campaign for kidney disease patients. If you know kidney patients or their friends, family & loved ones, please share this campaign with them and support it anyway you can. They have worked tirelessly on pulling together the team and resources to create TROPHIN biscuits and to establish the TROPHIN brand. Watch & learn more details about their goals in the video below:

Trophin Biscuits Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign from Gabriele Neumann on Vimeo.

Visit & support the campaign here:

Τρίτη, 29 Μαρτίου 2016

Register your business Trademark

Why should I get a trademark registration?
You can sell products or offer services in the EU without having a registered trademark. So you might ask, why should I register my trademark? There are several reasons why registering your trademark is a good idea.
Rights Throughout the EU.
By obtaining a EU registration of your trademark, you can have more confidence that you have rights to use your mark throughout the entire European Union, without worrying that your trademark rights will be limited because of someone else’s activities (because of that person’s legal rights in a trademark.). It is also wise to research whether someone else is already using a mark similar to yours by doing a comprehensive trademark availability search before applying to register your trademark.
Working with Your Distributors
If you plan to work with re-sellers or distributors to sell your products or services, having a trademark registration lets you control your own brand. Many times, a re-seller who sells products or services, especially for an international company or one based outside the country, might register the trademark of the company for whom they sell goods. They may do this either in a good faith effort to protect the brand that they are selling for you, or they may want to pressure you to continue working with them.
Either way, if your re-seller owns a registration for your trademark, you probably cannot force them to transfer it to you without a costly lawsuit. The better path is to register your trademark yourself before you begin working with re-sellers or distributors.
Help Securing Domain Names
Disputes about the ownership of internet domain names are common. For example, if you own the trademark SPORTSSHOES and the domain name sportsshoes.bg, someone else may have registered the domain name sportsshoes.com before you. Many of these domain name disputes, including all disputes for .com domain names, can be resolved using an alternative Dispute Resolution Procedure. In some cases, a lawsuit is also used to seek a transfer of a domain name that was acquired by someone else in bad faith.
If you have registered a trademark that appears within a disputed domain name, the trademark registration provides evidence of your rights to the mark. The court looks very favorably on the owners of registered trademarks.
Consistent Use of Trademark Symbols
If you have registered your trademark in other countries, your brochures, products, website, and other materials may include the circle-R symbol ® to indicate the registered status of the trademark. The ™ symbol can be used without having a registered trademark. By registering your trademark, you can use materials that have a ® symbol, without the need to change materials to use the ™ symbol.
Enforcement in BG Courts
No one wants to deal with a lawsuit, but if someone is using your trademark without your permission, a trademark registration gives you several advantages in court. For example, instead of you being required to prove that your trademark is valid, the court will start from the position that your mark is valid; the other side will have the burden of proving that your trademark isn’t valid.
To register & protect your business Trademark, contact me at skassios(at)gmail.com to introduce you to Innovires Legal & Business Consulting Firm

Παρασκευή, 26 Φεβρουαρίου 2016

New business partnership for Hellene in Scandinavia

Hellene.gr has announced a new strategic partnership: ”We are glad to announce our new business partner & distributor in Sweden and Scandinavia, MED.Style!” – Stathis Kassios (Hellene Co-founder)

Τρίτη, 19 Ιανουαρίου 2016

Why you should register a company in EU, Bulgaria?

According to Forbes among the top 10 cities around the world to launch your startup business is Sofia, Bulgaria. Behind the blare of Berlin, Beijing, Moscow and London, the Bulgarian start-up scene is set to become a center for seed investment and start-ups in South East Europe.

A Bulgarian limited liability company can be incorporated within one week, with a minimum of one shareholder and one director, who can be of any nationality and place of residence. Conveniently, the minimum paid up share capital is only €1 and there is an option for a Client not to travel to complete Bulgaria business setup.

Registering a business in Bulgaria enables Clients to minimize tax because:
1. Bulgaria’s corporate tax rate is a flat 10% on global profits, the second lowest in the EU. See the global corporate tax page for more details on corporate tax rates in Europe.
2. Withholding tax on interest payments is low at i) 5% within the European Economic Area and ii) 10% to all other countries unless reduced by a double-tax treaty.
3. Bulgaria boasts VAT refund agreements with 10 countries outside of EU.
4. Tax losses can be carried forward up to 5 years.
5. Licensed real estate investment trusts (REITs) are fully tax-exempt.
6. Companies incorporated in municipalities with higher level of unemployment can receive up to 100% tax retention.
7. VAT registration is not mandatory under €25,000 annual turnover of taxable goods.

Bulgaria is a prime setup location for Clients running a manufacturing business in Europe and the Middle East:

1. Because of its EU membership and free trade agreements, Bulgaria enables manufacturing businesses to reach to: 500 million duty-free EU market.
80 million duty free Turkey market
booming Middle Eastern markets.
2. Labor costs are the second lowest in Europe, according to Eurostat. Average monthly skilled labor salaries are recorded at €700 and unskilled labor at €400. The monthly minimum wage is only €220.
3. Skilled workers are also available, with a strong backgrounds in engineering, sciences and languages.
4. Almost every young person in Bulgaria speaks English.
5. Tax holidays of up to 5 years are available to qualifying manufacturing projects under the Corporate Income Tax Act.
6. Electricity costs in Bulgaria are estimated to be 30% lower than the standard EU rates. Standard KwH for corporates is just €0,165 per hour.
7. Bulgaria is a great place for companies selling products and services to the automobile industry. Large EU companies like i)Witte ii) Montupet and iii) others car parts suppliers have relocated their factories to Bulgaria. The only Chinese car manufacturer in the EU – Great Wall Motors – chose Bulgaria to setup their factory.

Contact me at skassios@gmail.com to introduce you to Innovires legal & business consulting firm