New on Passport: In 2017, investors are literally driving around Europe, looking for startups

We created Passport, a place where we – and you – can post anything from the local sushi festival to your startup’s pitch to investors. Think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs … where to find not just housing and careers, but fulfillment, friends, and fun across Europe.

Passport is about life’s essentials – housing, jobs, travel and quality of life. Each week, we think we’re going to do something different and post about housing or startups. Then we see all the career opportunities for internationals across Europe ….

This week, we really are going to break out of the rut and tell you about all the early stage capital sloshing around Europe for startups.

Here’s what’s new ….

This is kind of crazy. Crazy cool.

A new European (mostly French) investment fund is turning to social media with a plan to drive across Europe looking for startups to fund. Seriously.

Based in Paris, OneRagtime is run by a combination of “millennial partners and experienced investors,” according to a VentureBeat post. So, sort of Wise Men and Young Guns. The firm has created a platform to connect startups, investors and mentors. The money flows through a combination of direct investment via a fund and help with crowdsourced fundraising, according to VB.

So far, so conventional. Here’s the weird part.

Last year, OneRagtime used Snapchat for a competition between startups looking for funding. This year, the platform is Instagram, and OneRagtime crews are planning to drive to 19 cities, looking for talent and concepts. To get their attention, entrepreneurs can post a one-minute pitch video to Instagram with the name of their town and the tag @oneragtime and #StartupHunt2017.

From the OneRagtime website posted Monday, 4 Sept.:

This year, we’re travelling to 19 cities in Europe and Israel to discover the best start-ups and meet with the key actors of the local ecosystems. The Start-up Hunt starts today, 4th of September, at DLD Tel Aviv and will end on the 15th of November at OneRagtime’s annual event in Paris where the winners of our InstaPitch will be announced.

We’ll be scouting the following cities:

That’s a lot of driving.

The best start-ups will be selected to compete at a final pitch battle on 15 November and winners will be accepted on the OneRagtime platform.

One note: The founder is Stephanie Hospital. But former Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier is the person behind all this. He has – how do we put this? – an interesting past. Former Disney Euro CEO Philippe Bourguignon is also along for the ride, so to speak.

We’ll see what happens.

• Kiev, Ukraine-based AgriEye, an AI startup, just landed $200,000 to expand into Europe and the United States.

AgriEye, which uses Artificial Intelligence to increase the efficiency of agricultural operations, has been accepted into Katapult Accelerator in Oslo. That includes the $200,000 investment, with AgriEye’s valuation at $2.5 million.

AgriEye was one of 12 startups chosen from 1,000 applicants, according to an email. Earlier this year, the startup graduated from the Starta Accelerator program in New York, receiving a $130,000 investment.

Agri Eye develops intelligent solutions for agriculture using “multispectral remote sensing, unmanned aerial vehicles and data analysis, according to the release. According to the company, the increase in efficiency for agricultural companies using Agri Eye systems averages around 15 percent, and in some cases can be up to 40 percent.

After Norway, future markets range from the U.S. to Peru, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Ghana and Namibia.

• If you’re building the next fintech Unicorn, Global Startup Challenge wants to help. EDGE 196 is taking applications for its Global Startup Challenge FinTech Berlin 2017, with the cluster countries Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Czech Republic.

Okay, if you’re confused, we are, too. So, what is EDGE 196? All this appears to be an initiative inside another initiative. “Global Startup Challenge 2017: FinTech is an initiative of NRI Startup India to empower innovations & startups across the globe through the platform EDGE 196,” according to the website. The challenge runs across 26 global clusters (196 countries). The objective is to identify startups that have the potential to become the next unicorn … companies valued at more than $1 billion. But the point, of course, is they have a lot of money to invest in startups.

There is a friendly bot standing by to get you signed up.

• Thinking that your startup needs to be at SXSW? (That’s South by Southwest, to the uninitiated, only the biggest startup festival in the world.)

Applications will close 10 November for the 10th Annual SXSW Accelerator Pitch. The pitch event is during SXSW Interactive 10 March thru 16 March, 2018 in Austin, Texas. Since its inaugural year, the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event has raised a total of $4.63 billion in funding, according to the SXSW website. Of the 403 companies that have participated, 70 percent have received funding and 16 percent were acquired.

You can apply here.

Our point in telling you this is the Netherlands has been increasing its presence in Austin during the past few year. Dutch officials are so certain of their chances that Delta Air Lines will add four nonstop round-trip flights between Austin and the Netherlands during South by Southwest 2018.

The airline and city said the flights between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) will operate March 8, 9, 14 and 18, 2018. Delta added the flights will use a Boeing 767-300 aircraft with 225 seats.

From the Delta website:

The flights on March 8 and 9 will depart Airport Schiphol at 10:05 a.m. and arrive at ABIA at 3 p.m., with return flights departing at 5:43 p.m. and arriving in Amsterdam at 10:50 the following day. The flights on March 14 and 18 will also depart Airport Schiphol at 10:05 a.m., but arrive in Austin at 4 p.m. due to Daylight Saving Time beginning in the United States. Return flights on March 14 and 18 will leave ABIA at 6:43 p.m. and arrive at 10:50 a.m. the following day.

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