Conferize comes closer to a TED-for-every-conference vision

As a Danish startup building an online platform for professional events, Conferize has our full attention. The company has now launched what they're calling V1, but to you and me it means a major responsive redesign of the platform with a few new features built in. It's a good move - the old Conferize was a little clunky, but today it feels like a polished platform that lets any event build a similar digital presence to what has made TED so successful.

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Here's what business tools the top startups in the region are using

After getting back from the lull of the summer it was time for us, and I'm sure other companies, to change up some processes and get organized. We've got an eye on startup tools coming out of the region, like Pipedrive for Sales, Flowdock for team collaboration, or any number of time tracking apps, but what tools are the most efficient companies in the region using to measure and stay focused?

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Hands on with Mindfield Games' virtual reality title: Pollen

Strapping on the Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 headset and putting a PC connected Xbox controller in my hands, I'm suddenly aware of a strange landscape and a virtual helmet obscuring part of my vision. Similar to many of our readers I'm a Virtual Reality newbie, aside from a hurried first generation Oculus Rift demo of the roller coaster at a tech conference, or maybe that time I played Nintendo's Virtual Boy back at my friends house in 4th grade.

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Camu launched as an all-in-one camera for today's social photographer

Camera apps have long specialized in certain areas, such as using one app to throw a nice filter on one picture, which you then send to another app to frame and mash up a few of your other pics. Over time, many of these camera apps have started to overlap, adding in collages or framing (for instance) as a feature buried in the app as an afterthought - but it was time for a social all-in-one camera designed for today's needs.

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Yoga Retreat hits iOS

Helsinki-based Gajatri Studios has now gotten their title, Yoga Retreat, out globally on iOS, meaning that anyone with an iPhone or iPad can start up their own yoga retreat in a free-to-play game. Most free-to-play games we cover outside the puzzle genre seem to lean towards the male demographic, which is the opening Gajatri Studios co-founder Tiina Zillacus saw when creating Yoga Retreat.

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Shipbeat raises €1.2 M Seed Round, launches 'logistics as a service' API

Startup Shipbeat yesterday announced a $ 1.6 M (€ 1.2 M) investment led by SunstoneSEED Capital and Klaus Nyengaard. The investment will be used to further expand product capabilities, hiring and complete key ecommerce software integrations.

Shipbeat was founded in early 2014 to develop an API which aggregates the services of leading parcel delivery companies.

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Zoined retail analytics is Cheap and Easy to set up, but is it Good as well?

If we’re to believe Aarno Pohtola, CEO of The Bodyshop’s Finnish and Baltic branch, BI analytics services are what’s keeping Finnish retailers afloat during these difficult times.

In his case the platform would be Zoined, one among the many Finnish retail analytics services out there that promises to turn store management upside down, for the better that is.

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What's BatCrab? A business phone system for SMEs, obviously.

As its name suggests, BatCrab has set out to make an unusual combination of usual concepts work perfectly. The startup has taken a smartphone, a simple phone and a landline and made sure you would not tell a difference in terms of how easily you can manage your calls. Launched just a month ago, the company already has positive cash flow and is making the on-call customer service of about 500 SMEs in about 60 countries way easier.

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Kyynel will Change the way we perceive long-distance communication

Military bodies, power-plants, the countless of ships sailing the seas, all of them are examples of institutions that require reliable and secured long-range communications in order to effectively operate the demanding, sometimes dangerous tasks they’re responsible for.

Normal smartphone connections, even if equipped with custom built amplifiers, are out of the question: when distances are measured in thousands of kilometres and the data going through is of extreme importance, usual communication tools drop out due to their low quality transmission rates, or simply due to their unreliability.

The first solution to pop into the mind of a non-expert would be satellite communication, which is by no means far-fetched. However, there exist other, in some cases better technologies that can be used for similar purposes. In this case, that technology would originate from the Oulu-based startup Kyynel which we first wrote about last week when they announced a €2 million funding round.

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Another crowdfunding platform in Finland? Innovestor takes a new approach

With their first round open today there's a new player on the block when it comes to equity crowdfunding in Finland, joining the ranks of Invesdor and Fundedbyme. But this one is different - Innovestor pulls from the banking roots of its founders, and is bringing something different to the table.

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Danish company disruptive to global furniture industry receives funding

Back in 2009 two former classmates Lasse Krügermeier and Janus Jagd started Cylindo, a company that provides interior design software that allows users to see how furniture would look like in their own apartments. Today, 5 years later the company is on the top of success wave! It has recently received funding from American venture funds Voivoda Ventures, Commerce VC, the Danish TradeShift CCO Christian Hjort, and a number of international businesses, reports TrendsOnline.

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Estonian Public Transportation soon accessible with NFC chipped Driftband

Some months ago we had a chat with Mihkel Tali, one of the co-founders of Driftband, the Estonian vision on fashion-ized NFC technology. We were well on our way on having the article pushed out, but then the launch got postponed (not to mention the website wasn’t responsive yet), and so began a long communication blackout. Fresh news kept on coming and required attention; Driftband slowly descended into the limbo of unfinished pieces.

Yesterday, however, Tali got back to us with good news: Driftband is about to launch, and the website is very much up and running.

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Latvian social Q&A platform Ask.fm bought by Ask.com

Ask.fm, a Riga-based social Q&A platform where users receive anonymous questions and constitute their feed by answering them, was acquired by Ask.com on Thursday. With 180 million members in 150 countries and 40 million mobile app downloads, Ask.fm is world’s biggest Q&A social network and may seem an attractive deal. However, the unflattering publicity that Ask.fm has accumulated due to notorious stories of teenage suicides caused by anonymous cyberbullies and the abuse of platform’s anonymity by extremist organizations, makes many question whether Ask.com has made the right decision.

With this controversy in mind, Ask.com has announced their purchase by also clearly articulating their commitment to put Ask.fm users’ safety first and rescue the disgraced brand. ‘We would not have becoming involved in this if we did not think there was a bunch, a bunch more things that we could do to make it significantly safer,’ assured Ask.com CEO Doug Leeds in his interview to BBC last week.

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How should the region's startups attract London's investors? The top VCs tell us.

Editor's note: This post topic was sponsored by UKTI

When thinking expansion, it’s clear many Nordic startups find themselves gazing at the UK, which many consider the first major stop before a full blown global (or U.S.) roll-out. However, startups need cash to keep their machinery on the move, and getting funded in the UK is a whole different story than in the Nordics. Or is it?

We had our own suspicions, so we decided to do some investigation on the topic: we conducted several interviews with London-based VC’s to get our finger on the pulse of UK venture funding.

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NaturVention raises €1.1 Million

There are a few companies out there producing and maintaining walls with plants on them for interior design purposes, but Finnish startup NaturVention has taken a more scientific approach to indoor plants with the purpose of cleaning out the air. According to the company, their patented Freshwall has the air purification capacity of 6300 ordinary houseplants. Growth seems to be good for the company and as we mentioned from last week's article on Butterfly Ventures' H1 2014 activity, NaturVention has raised a €1.1 million round led by Sitra, with participation by Butterfly Ventures, Oy Hammaren & Co Ab, D. Med. Leena Niemistö, LL.M. with court training Olof Rehn and partners and employees of NaturVention.

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Hunt Yourself a new Job for the Upcoming Winter

It’s been a while since we wrapped up the open positions available in our startup region, so we figured it’s about time we straightened that out.

If you’re interested in being part of the ever growing infogr.am team in Riga, Latvia, now’s your chance to do so (we've heard they’re going to open a fully equipped new office in downtown so you’ll be working in the hottest locale available as well):

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Norway's Wonderloop Pulls together top Viners to promote app

Social apps should have the hooks built right in for that viral growth, but how should you introduce yourself into a new market? Norway's Wonderloop, a video profile app, has seen some success in the Norwegian markets, but to properly introduce themselves to America's youth the company pulled together 17 trendsetters together for a type of promotion we haven't seen Nordic social apps leverage before.

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Controversial App Haxi lingers in the grey zone of Taxipiratism

As commonly reminded to us by popular culture, Scandinavians used to make a serious living out of piratism. Vikings, as the Nordic version of pirates were called, left a trail of countless of burned villages wherever they set sail, pushing nations to rethink their defences largely. Indeed, the Vikings’ bloody adventures went as far as to define the very existence of the country we today call the United Kingdom.

Today, roughly a thousand years later, the Scandic civilizations are still fond of piratism, though luckily for the rest of us, the piratism they do now is of less aggressive nature.

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Butterfly Ventures announces significant H1 2014 activity, investment into Kyynel and 5 others


Holidays are clearly over: our email is bursting with new investment announcements and expansion roll-out press releases. The latest news among this lot comes from Oulu, where the rather secretive telecommunication startup Kyynel has rounded a major investment from Butterfly Ventures, who also shares with us some statistics from the first half of 2014.

“The investment we made is so far the single largest capital investment made by Butterfly”, said Juho Risku of Butterfly Ventures.

Other participants of the funding round include Inventure, as well as private investors; the share of venture investors in the funding round amounts to €2 million, with more soft money from Tekes added on.

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Taxi app Taxify Meets Resistance in Finland Launch

Earlier this year we gave a second look at the Estonian startup Taxify, which was doing some serious changes into the Estonian way of ordering a taxi. At the time of the article, Taxify’s statistical growth had been impressive to say the least, amassing 5,600 new users in a span of three weeks, including 100 new drivers. This prompted them to launch the service in Latvia and plans to expand across all the Baltic countries were under no secrecy.

However, back then I dared not ask Taxify founder Markus Villig whether we’d see the application in Finland, where the taxi culture has for long dwelled under a nasty stigma of monopoly, high cost and taxi queue cock-fights, because I feared he’d say "we'll see" accompanied by a polite laughter.

Maybe I should’ve asked after all: Taxify has now, in fact, arrived in Finland, and it hasn't wasted time creating a fuss about it.

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