November is a dark time to be in Finland, but it’s certainly not stopping more than 10,000 startup enthusiasts from getting together under one roof to talk, have fun and possibly (hopefully) score a few life-changing handshakes. The occasion is, of course, the latest edition of Slush.
Slush has progressively become one of those major yearly events that’s reached global acknowledgement in the world of startups. It’s grown immensely since it first saw daylight in 2008, up to the point that it's beating out Helsinki's 2007 Eurovision song contest as the largest largest technical production in the Nordics.
We've written plenty of articles on the company over the years, but looking back we haven't given Stockholm-based Videoplaza nearly the attention they've deserved, considering they've raised $17.4 million since being founded in 2008 and are in the increasingly-important market of video advertising. But today they're making headlines again with the news that they've been acquired by Ooyala, a subsidiary of Telstra, which powers video for hundreds of broadcasters and media companies, with a focus on engagement and monetization. With Vidoplaza onboard, Ooyala can address everything from content acquisition, playback, ad serving, and personalized content. Over time, Videoplaza will be unified into a single offering for their customers.
Today's the day that Kickstarter opens up in Scandinavia, and with it we're taking another look at Kúla, the Reykjavik-based 3D camera solution that works for any DSLR or smartphone. They've opened up a crowdfunding round with a legal entity in Denmark, and are looking for DkK 233,626 (€31,000).
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post for Imperious Group.
The investment market is becoming increasingly competitive, and the Nordic/Baltic region is starting to attract special attention from VC's. Many major firms now have full-time principals and partners looking at startups everywhere between Denmark and Estonia and others often send representatives to local events.
Stockholm-based Instabridge is back in the news again after raising a $1 million seed round (€780,000) from a group of investors led by Swedish VC Creandum. Getting the rest of the invesmtent news out of the way, the round also included GP Bullhound, business angels such as Niall Murphy, former CTO of TheCloud; Scott Bannister, early board member of PayPal; and Felix Hagnö, co-founder and former CTO of TradeDoubler.
As the times are changing and large corporations are struggling to keep up with the fast pace of the technological evolution, the smartest ones have realized that they simply cannot handle the progress just by developing stuff in-house anymore. They are getting more active in seeking possibilities from the outside. They are turning their eyeballs towards the startup world where things happen fast by using the latest lean and agile development methods they can only dream about implementing in their massive organizations.
One of the most successful movements to come out of the Nordics is Restaurant Day - or the quarterly event where anyone can open up a pop-up restaurant on the street corner to sell whatever dishes you've been dying to make. When it first started in May of 2011 there were 45 restaurants in 13 cities but today it's grown to 2,017 restaurants in 30 countries. It's become a "big deal" in its native Helsinki.
Politics, a game many of us refuse to follow and play. We just build great companies and get things done. That's what I thought of Politics vs. Startups for a very long time. Frankly, I rarely followed the news or wanted to participate in that whole mess. That being said, recently I had the chance to be involved with a few projects in Brussels and realized that in reality, what we say does matter.
Did you see those iPhone 6 review videos? I bet you did - whether it's a new hot tech product on the market, or something you're looking to buy, its not uncommon to end up on a review video to figure out if that new phone actually bends as well as advertised.
Editors note: TRAFI app has been added to the list and TutoTOONS was specified as this year's winner of Silicon Valley Comes To Baltics.
With many of our readers reacting positively to our startup guide to Riga, we decided to continue the series. Our today’s destinations: Vilnius and Kaunas.
It doesn't need to be repeated that the Lithuanian startup scene is getting more and more exciting. Instead, let’s get to some practical tips to help you put your boots on the ground.
For a few years there we were knee deep in smart tagging news with Helsinki-based Thinglink and Kiosked making noise and grabbing publications, each in their respected niche. But both companies have been notably more quiet this year with the silence broken by Thinglink acquiring St. Petersburg based video competitor Smartag (domain expired) for an undisclosed amount of money. With the acquisition, Smartag CEO Alexey Solomatin will join ThingLink's Palo Alto office and CTO Andrey Lyuberg will join ThingLink's developer office in Helsinki.
Whether you knew it or not we're now in EU coding week, meaning there are plenty of events out there for you to learn how to code, or to get the young people in your life started with coding. The Nordic and Baltic countries are stacked with events, which can be easily found by following this link. If you're in Norway you're a little left out, but at least its Oslo Innovation Week.
With one week left on Indiegogo, bttn has managed to raise nearly €47,000 of their €50,000 goal. Helsinki-based The Button Corporation, which launched at Arctic15, produces what they call "the simplest user interface in the world" riding the trend of the Internet of Things, the growing layer of connectivity giving us new interfaces for us to talk to our toasters.
Two days ago I got my hands on the beta build and have been playing it enough for my girlfriend to roll her eyes about it. I found it a pretty charming remake of Candy Crush Saga, or at least that's my impression, I've avoided Candy Crush Saga due to the ridiculous name and flashy colors but nothing seems too original about the gameplay. You drag your finger across blocks, giving your characters enough power to attack the evil slugs.
Editor's note: this post is sponsored for Dublin Web Summit
The Web Summit is just around the corner, and we're getting excited about heading back to Dublin between the 4th and 6th of November for another few days of action packed days of talks, networking, and catching up with the new trends and hot products in our industry. While the organizers have pulled together a ridiculous list of speakers, the real value is in who you meet. So, who's going to be there?
You have to imagine Champagne bottles were popping in Stockholm last night as Truecaller announced it has raised a massive $60 million Series C from Niklas Zennström's Atomico, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital. The company provides something like a crowdsourced yellow pages - by installing their app on your phone they add all your contacts into their database, but give you nice caller ID and let you do reverse number lookups for those missed calls and pay for searching for phone numbers by name. This funding was reportedly raised at a $300 million valuation.
After browsing through all the flashing lights and shiny colors in Dribbble, casual admirers might come to the conclusion that web design is a unique bespoke process. But looking closer you can see some motifs with two columns here, or a grid layout there. When it comes down to layouts, it makes sense to at least have a solid foundation as a starting point rather than coding all the layout and responsiveness yourself.
Finnish ed-tech startups are starting to really build off of Finland's education brand and raise some funding. SkillPixels announces today that it has raised $2.1 million (€1.65 million in a round led by private investors and soft money from Tekes' Young Innovative Companies program.
We have selected 10 companies to represent our region in “Arctic Pavilion” at this year’s TC Disrupt EU, which will be held in London October 20-21st. These companies are a nice mix of interesting stuff coming out from our region, some of them are already at A-series stage so they will be looking to nail good VC meetings and then the younger ones launching their thing will be looking to get nice media visibility.
Selected companies are:
Tolstoy's Anna Karenina famously begins, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Are startups the same way, or is there a bigger trend out there?
That title isn't a rhetorical question, we're writing an article about startup failure and it only makes sense to pool from our community about what lead up to your shutdown. So anywhere from death in the MVP stage to a later stage burnout, we want to hear your story for a new special feature of ours.