A somewhat new initiative coming out of Tekes is Tekes Tempo, a program designed to put "feedback into practice" as we called it. In their own worlds, they're a market-oriented mobile services project designed to encourage growth-seeking companies to quickly reach the top of their field.
In 2011, 16 projects were funded with the average amount of funding for each project was just over EUR 43,000. Tempo is designed to cut through the bureaucracy so companies can quickly test out ideas on the market; so far the average processing time has been 33 days.
One company funded through Tekes Tempo this year has been Tellyo, a Startup Sauna Fall 2011 participant that is turning your phone into a personal remote controller that works with existing TVs. We were lucky to have Tekes suggest Tellyo for interview, the company is doing some really interesting stuff at the moment.
To get started with Tekes, co-founder and Tellyo CEO Kimmo Koivisto just went to the Tekes website and contacted them. The company was familiar with a few Tekes representatives from local events, but after contacting Tekes they learned more about the different funding vehicles and programs, and were steered into the Tempo program.
"It was very quick once we got everything sorted out, after some small confusion in the beginning. It took maybe 3 weeks from when we submitted the application to when we got the decision from Tekes," says Koivisto.
Tellyo has an ex-Nokia co-founder, and was able to secure a grant from a Nokia bridge program to help finance their Tekes funding.
"We just needed to provide details for the plan of what we'll do with the Tempo project. And it was actually very helpful to us because we had to think through 'ok what are we doing' and make a formal project plan," explains Koivisto. "It brought structure to our work as well."
"We expected a lot more bureaucracy then there actually was. Of course the application was pretty heavy, it took quite many hours as there is detailed descriptions required about all the team members and the company financials and so on."
But things progressed smoothly, much in part due to the help given by Tekes. "It was very much straightforward thanks to our Tekes advisor as he was advising us how to get everything done in a smooth way. He was very helpful in what to fill in."
Tellyo is now working out of the Aalto Venture Garage, after liking the environment after Startup Sauna. Tellyo is an application and a small hardware device that converts "second screens" like mobile phones or tablets into smart TV remotes. People can choose TV shows instead of channels, and Tellyo helps people find what's hot on TV with social interaction.
They have just released their Alpha release, which currently works as a check-in application. You can see and comment on what your friends are watching, and check-in to the shows you're watching. Currently they have the TV listing data for Finland live, and they're also soon implementing TV listing data for Poland, where some of their development team is located.
"Our target with the Tekes Tempo program is to run this alpha release and a beta release. Soon the Alpha release will allow you to connect your phone to certain smart TVs. But for the beta release Koivisto says they will manufacture 1,000 Tellyo devices that will allow you to connect your smartphone to any TV by plugging in a small remote control device to the headphone jack.
The timeline for these Tellyo devices is to have them out by June, and currently the team is finalizing the industrial design (which you can vote on at their Facebook page). "We estimate we can get these down to €1.50 at high volumes, and our business model revolves around offering these free to TV viewers, and then monetizing through advertisers," says Koivisto.
With Tellyo, advertisers get interactivity through their TV ads, and can target advertising on the second screen. TV stations also can build off of higher interactivity with TV viewers, who have come to expect more interactivity in the digital age.
Right now, Tellyo is inviting users to try out their Android app and offer feedback on how they use the product. Anyone can also submit their email address on the Tellyo website to be notified when the devices become available.
Hear it from startups
This series of posts is sponsored by Tekes and produced in co-operation with ArcticStartup to share experiences from startups about their funding experiences.