Swedish social fitness startup FunBeat will soon launch outside its home market, where it has found a strong following. The company established itself in 2008 and going to become the largest training site in Sweden, with 200,000 members today, with 6.5M registered exercises in 1,300 sports, clocked in 2011 alone.
The company was founded by Olle Eriksson, who has been joined with former Nordic Google Marketing Director, Thomas Bergbom. He describes it, “In short, FunBeat is a Facebook for exercising, where you can share and compare all your logged activities and training targets with your friends. We also have an analysis tools that is purely addictive and inspires people to keep on going,"
A group of Finnish startups traveling in the US together with Alexander Stubb, Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, rang the famous bell opening the trading session this morning in New York. Stubb is traveling with a group of startups in the US, meeting with members of media, investors and other stake holders while promoting Finland as a rising startup nation. Later in the journey, the delegation will travel to Silicon Valley to visit networking events, universities, internet companies as well as investors to promote the companies coming out from the region. Below we have a few photos of the event from this morning.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Richard von Kaufmann, co-founder of Zipipop and Chairman at Reality Creating Media. He has studied in great detail the different crowdfunding opportunities for some of their clients and we thought that it would be a great chance to understand the industry by sharing his findings with our community.
Government-based innovation funding agencies around the world have a great challenge to continually identify the innovative concepts and teams with the best chances of success. In recent times there has been growing criticism of the effectiveness of some Finnish funding mechanisms, but similar issues affect public funding agencies around the world.
It is now generally accepted that diversity in team compositions leads to better decision making, and there is growing evidence that, given the right conditions, other means of increasing the range of opinions also produces better results.
This then begs the question as to the validity of relying on just two or three staff, or at best a small committee, to make decisions on the funding applications that are submitted to national innovation funding agencies.
This article makes the case for opening up the decision-making to involve larger communities, using known crowdsourcing principles and social technologies, to improve the quality of funding decisions. It also introduces the potential benefits that could come from developing a government-backed crowdfunding platform that would make it easier for private individuals to invest in early-stage startups.
isePankur, the social-lending service, was established in 2008 and pioneered the concept of social lending in Estonia. The service allows individuals and small to medium-sized enterprises to borrow and lend between each other, skipping the whole traditional banking process. The company has just opened up a white-label of their service, allowing other institutions to take a solid social lending platform to their area.
For individuals looking to earn a return on their money, isePankur displays auctions of people looking for money. From there you can analyze the credit history of the borrower and do your own due diligence by asking additional questions. Lenders can then make a bid specifying the investment amount and interest rate, and the system will automatically choose the bids with the lowest interest rates and combine them into one loan.
The Danes seem to be good at their file transferring services. A while back we covered the Atomico investment in Ge.tt, a smooth and simple file sharing service for those times you need to quickly send a file greater than 25mb. But for creative agencies or any other business that needs to move large files online, you don't want a quick one-off service like Ge.tt. You want a full-branded approach that solves more problems and lets your clients know you're the real deal.
Filecamp out of Denmark launched a few weeks ago and seeks to become the go-to web-based file sharing service for creative agencies and other businesses. They offer a simple service with a nice set of features; Filecamp allows custom branding, online proofing and approval tools, an easy web interface to handle permissions, and of course some space to put files online.
As a quick followup to the MegaUpload case, founder Kim Dotcom is still on bail awaiting a hearing on a US application to extradite him to face charges of infringing copyright on films and music, racketeering and money laundering. In his first interview after being released, Dotcom said, "I find it very surprising that this is happening because like I said we had legal advice all these years telling us that we are an online service provider and we are not liable for the actions of third parties." The full video is embedded below. Dotcom holds dual citizenship in Finland and Germany, which is why we figure we can provide a quick update every now and then.
Betabeat has dug up SEC filings about the Swedish travel startup, Tripl, showing that they've raised $300,000 out of a $500,000 debt round. This comes as Tripl's second round of investment, which was led by NYC based VCs. We covered their first round in May of 2011, where they also raised $300,000. The startup is currently based in Stockholm, however, on their job page they mention they're in the process of moving half of their team to NYC. Betabeat confirmed this to take place on the 19th of this month.
Early this February I spoke briefly with Peter Sullivan, co-founder of Tripl, who told me that they are currently undergoing "a very big product re-iteration," and they are waiting for some events to take place before they make an official announcement.
The Estonia based Garage48 is organising a music focused event in a couple of weeks in Tallinn together with the Tallinn Music Week. The event is held on the weekend between the 23rd and 25th of this month. Registration ends a week early on Sunday the 18th. The goal of the event is to make people focus on the potential of good services in the entertainment space.
Jüri Kaljundi, one of the people behind the successful events tells us "music and entertainment is our first try to do industry-specific events. We believe that the actual business problems are among the common people, non-tech crowds. Technology is just an enabler, so we want more people from other areas of life to come to the events to get their ideas executed. Focusing on real life problems is very important."
In Swedish gaming news, Techcrunch reports King.com has just acquired Swedish mobile gaming developer Fabrication Games. In recent years King.com has risen to become the fourth largest game developer on Facebook after Zynga, Wooga, and EA, but has yet to make a big push to mobile. Fabrication Games has been working in the mobile gaming industry for a long time -- they won their first award in 2002 -- and all signs point to a talent acquisition. The cost of the acquisition was not disclosed.
Is Russia becoming a new frontier for US venture capitalists? With local startups and incubators springing up like mushrooms, a number of foreign tech investors have started to operate in the country, which is striving for modernization.
Exemplifying the invest in Russia trend is Tiger Global Management, a New York-based international investment management firm. Over the past two years Tiger has invested twice in the Russian e-commerce platform Wikimart.ru – $5 million in 2010 and another $7 million in 2011 – and contributed $10 million in a round of financing for online travel sales site Anywayanyday.ru.
Our second ArcticEvening of the year will be held in Stockholm on the 29th of March. The theme of the event will be the future of commerce and to make it all the more exciting, we have three fantastic Swedish companies at the event to share their views. We'll be having a panel discussion with Klarna, Wrapp and iZettle to talk about how they see the commerce changing and evolving through technology, but also how consumers are changing their behaviour.
Fuel is the shipping industry's greatest costs, and any improvement on efficiency can have big consequences. Today, Finnish Eniram is launching a new product, Eniram OSA (Optimum Speed Assistant), which is set to save ships and liners a ton of money in fuel costs. Eniram OSA is able to accomplish this by matching real-time data about current sea conditions with historical information about a vessel's performance to determine its optimal speed. The company expects this will save up to 3% a year in fuel costs, while still getting the vessel to port just in time.
Wrapp has now launched in the UK, allowing users to send and receive gift cards, download the Wrapp app, as well as send gift cards to users in the UK and Sweden. The app has seen a fairly decent amount of traction in Sweden, becoming visible to 1/3 of all Swedish Facebook users during their beta trail. The company has also received over $10 million in two investments from respected investors such as Atomico, Greylock Partners, and Creandum. From here, Wrapp tells us they are beefing up to target the U.S. market.
The title says it all, Rovio's Angry Birds game has reached over 10 million Monthly Active Users on Facebook's gaming platform. The game launched less than a month ago on Valentines day, meaning this Facebook metric currently tabs up the the number of unique users since its launch. As of this writing, the total number of uniques are around 10.2 million MAU, with another 1.1 million users added today according to the independent Facebook apps metrics webiste, App Data.
The ridesharing options in the Nordic countries are few and far between, and the available options don't leave users with much access when unteathered from a computer. Ants is a mobile-based ridesharing service inspired by Foursquare and Instagram, and is free to use. The service allows users to search and offer rides, give feedback, follow favorite drivers, and instantly share details on Facebook and Twitter. Payment for the ride is independently settled between the riders.
On Fridays we're going to start putting together a few links to good reporting done on the region, quick follow-ups to previous posts, events, and anything else we find mildly interesting or noteworthy. We don't know exactly what this Friday post is shooting for yet, but hopefully you might be better informed, cultured, and entertained.
When creating Android apps, your final product isn't necessarily predictable across the hundreds of different Android models. Your app can run into hardware issues like memory size, and sometimes you'll find that certain hardware API's that only work on newer devices. Also, some devices have different UI paradigms, while others add their own UI layer on top of the app. This means on some devices your app may have a complete failure to install, it may crash, or the resolution may give your app ridiculous layouts.
One way to ensure consistency is to test out all of your Android apps yourself, requiring plenty of phones and man-hours to install and run the tests manually. Or you could use Helsinki-based Bitbar's suite of Testdroid Android testing applications to automate and quickly run these tests across over 100 devices.
Voddler, the video on demand service for movies and TV series, is now expanding outside of the nordics. Since launching in Sweden, Voddler has over the past two years gathered around 1.3 million registered users in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, and is now making Spain its fifth market.
The common pattern that Nordic startups seems to follow is to tackle the home market and then expand to the UK to start targeting the English speaking world. But with competitors including Netflix and Vdio also fighting over market share, it makes sense to target underserved markets. On this, Markus Bäcklund, Voddler's CEO says, "Spain was an obvious choice for us as our first market outside of our home market of Scandinavia. It is a country of movie lovers, with good broadband penetration and an audience that is increasingly turning online."
Estonian startup Plumbr.eu has developed an algorithm to spot memory leaks in Java, and describe them in detail so that it becomes very easy for a programmer to solve the leak. While there is a plethora of applications available in the world for debugging Java memory contents, there still doesn't exist a product that would straight help you solve the leaks. And those of you who have worked with memory leaks know they are usually hard to solve, and without a special purpose tool it often takes man-weeks of time. Plumbr runs lightweight and in the background so you can spot memory leaks before you see any OutOfMemory errors.
As a woman in the startup community, Dalia Lasaite says she hasn't encountered any serious obstacles due to her gender, and even suggests the opposite: "Starting a company is always hard, whoever you are. But I find that women actually get more visibility and stand out easier as the tech community is made of men - so this is the advantage of being a woman entrepreneur."
Lasaite got into entrepreneurship in 2007, right after finishing her studies. After a bit of brainstorming co-founded the ride sharing website Geogoer, which seems to have closed down. At this time she was only working on the project part-time while simultaneously starting to work at an asset management company. But after playing around with that project for a while, the team got an investment from the Difference Engine accelerator, and Lasaite quit her corporate job.