The 12 Semi-Finalists For Next Month's 4YFN Startup Awards

These startups could change the business and consumer world as we know it.
Chris Young

It's only been a few days since CES finished, but there's not long to wait for another huge tech event with the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona just around the corner.

At the same time as the MWC, the 4 Years From Now (4YFN) conference is held to show off some amazing tech in its early stages made by budding entrepreneurs and startups.

Every year, awards are held for the most promising startups at the event. We take a look at this year's semi-finalists in alphabetical order. Be sure to look out for our coverage of the MWC to see who the winner is.


1. Aerial Technologies

What is motion intelligence, you might ask? Impressively, Aerial Technologies harnesses existing Wifi infrastructures to allow users to detect motion via Wifi signal disturbances.

The platform can be used for various applications, including monitoring the elderly — it picks up such subtle movements that it can monitor breathing rate — verifying if someone is in a room, and keeping an eye on pets.

2. Anzu

Does blending advertising into the gameplay and worlds of mobile games sound like a terrible idea? Well, hear us out. Anzu's solution would stop the need for more intrusive ads in mobile games — the type that are like incessant Youtube ads, stopping you from playing every two minutes to watch a video.

Instead, Anzu adds sponsorship seamlessly into a videogame world. For example, a racing game that would otherwise have plain scenery on either side of the track will have ads on billboards within the game. What would you rather have, that, or a video after every short race? In an ideal world, we'd have no advertising at all, but seeing as most mobile games are free-to-play, Anzu's solution feels like a reasonable compromise.

3. Cien

Cien is an AI solution for sales departments. As the company's website says, "most companies’ CRM systems are low-quality systems of record of sales activity with heaps of data, but few actionable insights to actually improve performance. Cien is the only app that measures the intangible sales rep factors that drive quota attainment."

The platform uses over 100 AI models to uncover actionable insights into what can be improved in a sales team to allow every member to reach 100% on their quota.

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4. E-bot7

E-bot7 says they supercharge a company's customer service via AI. The company develops an AI system for a company that can analyze incoming messages and send them to the relevant department.

What's more, the AI is constantly learning. Let's just hope it doesn't leave and create a rival business based on what it's learned at the company!

5. Etoshi

Cryptocurrency can be hard to manage. Etoshi's tool allows you to manage it all under the same roof. Trading, taxes, and wallets are all managed under the same platform.

The company's unified trading terminal dispenses with the need for multiple logins, helps you manage your portfolio and automatically compiles tax reports.

6. Exeon Analytics AG

Exeon Analytics AG has created a state-of-the-art cybersecurity solution, ExeonTrace, that protects companies in a time where data is a huge commodity that can be accessed maliciously by hackers, leading to huge losses within organizations.

The solution uses big data and machine learning algorithms to detect cyber threats within an organization's network before it's too late. The focus is on preventing breaches before they happen.

7. FigLeaf App Inc

We live in an age where, as the saying goes, 'if the service is free, you're the product.' The plethora of free services out there that we use in exchange for our data — make sure you read the fine print before selling your soul — means that a lot of our private information is out there on the web.

FigLeaf helps you to understand how much of your personal information is floating around online and take control of it. The app allows you to search the web to find out what private information you have floating around online. It then helps you make this information private, and, most importantly, keep it private from that point on.

8. Limbix

The Financial Times describes Limbix by saying the company has "grand ambitions to use VR to address anxiety, depression, addiction, pain, and trauma.”

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been shown in clinical studies to have great applications in medicine. VR can help psychological patients suffering from PTSD for example via exposure therapy. It has also shown great potential as a form of relief for severe pain in patients. Digital therapeutics for mental health could be a big part of our future and Limbix aims to be one of its big players.

9. Open as App

Open as App makes creating an app extremely easy. No coding knowledge is required. Want to impress colleagues in an upcoming presentation? Get them to download an app you made and look through the interactive information while you present.

Simply key in the information you want to show in the app and within a few seconds calculations, lists and forms can be turned into native apps with a wide selection of functions. As the company says on its website, "an app says more than Excel ever could."

10. Paronym Inc.

We live in the age of information. You could also say we live in the age of impatience. The majority of people want information as quickly and succinctly as possible. Media companies base their whole strategies on the fact that viewers or readers will quickly click away if they don't get the information they need.

Paronym takes this idea as the focus for its company. Its interactive video solution allows video uploaders to tag people or objects within a video with a highly accurate tracking system. The uploaders can then easily add links and information to the tags meaning that viewers won't have to click away to get the information they crave. Video could be about to get a whole lot more interactive.

11. PXL Vision AG

Customers increasingly engage with customers online — whether that's asking about a product or buying it. The problem is that identity fraud is at an all-time high. PXL Vision says its solution brings trust back to digital interactions and transactions. They do this by giving customers true digital identities.

The company's verification process utilizes state-of-the-art biometric facial recognition and liveness checks. Document verifications are also automated. PXL Vision aims to enable trust in an increasingly uncertain digital landscape.

12. ZecOps

ZecOps is a stealth mode cybersecurity automation company with headquarters in Tel Aviv, London, Singapore, Buenos Aires, and San Francisco. The company's solution figures out attackers' mistakes, turning the tables on them in a twist that could make a great scene in a Black Mirror episode.

The cybersecurity system learns from attackers' mistakes, allowing cybersecurity teams to find out their intended course of action and objectives. ZecOps, which was founded in 2017 by Zuk Avraham, a world-renowned security researcher and the Founder & Chairman of Zimperium, wants to keep companies a few steps ahead of attackers so they always know what action to take. 

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