Five inspiring startups

By Shane Schick, |  IT Management, CeBIT, startups

When you're surrounded by more than 4,000 other companies at the world's biggest IT trade show, it's not easy forthe innovative startups to stand out. One solution? Let prospective customers walk through the walls.

Sitting in a large square in Hall 16 of CEBIT 2012 this year is an odd-looking collection of booths, or half-booths.

Many pieces look only half-built, and some have huge holes large enough to be a makeshift doorway. Painted in a space-age silver, the space is home to a collection of startups participating in a global innovation contest called Code_n12. Launched by IT entrepreneur Ulrich Dietz, the contest drew 400 applicants from 42 countries, the final 50 of which are represented at this year's CEBIT. The avant-garde look to the booth space is intentional, designed by a German artist, Jurgen Mayer H., and architect Tobias Rehberger.

"This may be the first show that has a piece of art designed for it," said Dietz, speaking the day before CEBIT officially opened. Although startups still have tables, chairs and other common elements of trade show booths, "It's also like a labyrinth, with plenty of placesto think and reflect." talked to a handful of firms in Hall 16 that could either offer useful services to Canadian SMBs, or who may represent the kind of competition startups in Canada will soon face.

Name: DoctapeMarket space: Document managementCost: Free

Does the world really need another cloud-based provider of document storage? In an age of DropBox, Doctape might seem redundant, but founder Sacha Reuter believes the secret is making sure everyone can open anything, anywhere. Users are given a digital filing cabinet called a "tape" which, once uploaded, can be tagged in a category (as opposed to being filed in an easy-to-forget file folder). The service will take any major format, including PDFs, Microsoft Word or JPEGs, and reformat them so they can be viewed in a browser. This helps avoid the file compatibility issues that make document-sharing so frustratingat time, Reuter said.

For now, Doctape remains in a private beta but will be initially aimed at freelancers and individual users. "We'll work on a pro version, but first we'll work on handling professional formats, like CADfiles," he said. Even a pro version probably won't cost more than 10 Euros a month, he said. Doctape is also available for iOS devices and an Android version should be finished in a matter of weeks, Reuter said.

Name: KioskedMarket space: E-commerceCost: Depends

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