Instagram does a great job on its native platform, but sometimes you wish there would be a solid web interface where you can browse pictures. Sure, there are a lot of services out there trying to do the same thing, but at the Sthlm Startup Hack, Arno Smit and Spotify iOS developer Magnus Johansson put together a nice product, called Instadashapp, by drawing from elements of Pinterest.
MePIN, a Helsinki-based specialist security provider, has now announced a multi-factor authentication system and user verification aimed at the gaming industry. Higher security features makes sense, people are putting more and more money into online gaming accounts, and a hacked game account could potentially destroy tens of hours of work.
MePIN is available as either a smartphone app or a USB key. The solution is based on banking grade public key infrastructure, and it solves the problem of having to remember multiple passwords, or being a target for phishing and password hacking.
Aalto University's Entrepreneurship Society is throwing a Founders' Week: a week of talks, workshops and encounters with the aim to bolster the entrepreneurial spirit and startup culture in Finland's growing ecosystem. The events run from June 4th to June 8th, starting with a talk by Finnish Foreign Minister Alex Stubb, and cumulating with the Startup Sauna Demo Day.
Flown over from the Valley are a handful of well known names who will participate in the week's events:
A cool little app that found its way to us is Streetheart, built as a side project by Arvid Janson, the co-founder of Stockholm's Hoa's Tool Shop. The app helps document and explore the street art scene anywhere in the world an iPhone's camera and location-based features.
"I like connecting online to offline, which is why one of the most important features – to me – of the app is the possibility to place the photos on a map. One part of this is obviously due to the inherent fragility of the format, to document what has been, but to me it's more about giving people another way of looking at their cities," says Janson.
It's the little things that add up to a regional culture of entrepreneurship. While I'm sure organizations like AaltoES and Tekes would be happy to take the credit for how ubiquitous entrepreneurial hype is in Helsinki, I'm glad there are events like Restaurant Day spread entrepreneurial culture to the streets by helping hundreds pop-up restaurants open four times a year.
Restaurant Day's goal is to spread food culture, but I believe it also serves as the spark that makes people realize there's value in providing the market with something unique. Every self-proclaimed chef has dreams of opening that restaurant or cute coffee shop, and Restaurant Day provides the ecosystem with the same effects as a hackathon. It gets people beyond the idea of starting a restaurant, into the doing.
Yesterday we revealed how Rovio's $42 million investment last year actually went to one or more of its founders, by the look of their financial statement that was filed with the Finnish authorities. We received a lot of feedback regarding that article through e-mail, but also in comments through other channels. The overall attitude seems to one of caution, that we should be careful for digging up information and discussing it in public.
This publication is all for growth entrepreneurship and we feel that the more discussion around these topics we have, with the right attitude and manner of course, the better off the Northern European startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem will be.
Rovio is not a taboo that should not be discussed. It's one of the best things that has happened to the Finnish startup ecosystem in a long time. The execution of its vision will become a case study for future MBAs on how to go about global growth. Believing that if we gave successful companies peace and quiet as media, and thus avoiding studying them in detail, in the fear of damaging the company's future potential is at best superstition.
It's no secret the U.S. healthcare system is a mess. The lack of transparency is likely why the system has bloated up to a $2.7 trillion industry, and finding the right doctor for yourself is no easy process.
Each year, over 70 million Americans look for a new doctor, and BetterDoctor, built by a team of Finns in San Francisco, is bringing order to doctor search. There is a clear need to bring in higher quality information for people looking for a new doctor: There's around one million doctors and 200,000 medical practices that take care of the 315M people who are insured by tens of insurance companies, which offer over 1,500 different insurance plans. It's not easy to match the right people up.
In early May, Rovio came out with their financial results for 2011. Today, the National Board of Patents and Registration Of Finland has received Rovio's official financial filing for the year 2011. One would expect that there is no news value in the filing since Rovio already came out with their results prior to this, but it shows a big discrepancy regarding the company's funding situation. In early March last year, the company announced it has raised a $42 million round from Accel Partners, Atomico Ventures as well as Felicis Ventures.
$42 million is about €32.85 million in today's exchange rate. This €30+ million is however missing from Rovio's financial statement for 2011, which begs an answer to the question:
Who did the money go to and why did Rovio feel the need to announce a funding round when it clearly wasn't one?
Favor is a open publishing platform where users can post any kind of media to their feed. There's not much difference between difference between it and your standard microblogging platform, but their main difference lies in their commenting system. If you want to comment on (or just reward) the media, you must pay at least $0.10, with 90% of the proceeds going directly to the content producer.
Just like in our Tallinn and Stockholm events, we want to reach out to our community again by giving a chance to win a free ticket to Arctic15, the awesome startup and growth entrepreneurship conference we're putting together for October.
We're giving out four lucky ArcticEvening Copenhagen attendees a free ticket to Arctic15. All you need to do is sign-up to the event held on the 31st of May (it's free by the way) and attend (we'll be in touch by e-mail a day before the event what you need to do to be eligible).
A pioneer among foreign investors on the Russian venture scene, David Waroquier of Mangrove Capital Partners is a recognized expert of the local Internet ecosystem and a reference partner for several Russia-based ventures. He shared with East-West Digital News his vision of the fast-growing Russian online retail market, its challenges, and the exit scenarios for investors in this industry.
This interview is an excerpt from an in-depth research paper on Russian e-commerce that will be released soon.
It's Friday! Here's what you've come to expect, a weekly rundown of news, events, and jobs. Top image is of Ikea adding apps to its new home theater system. It's Ikea's world, we're just living in it.
(Edit: Music Kickstarter is launching a service with the name KickUp. The article has been changed to call it the name it is launching with)
Launching this Saturday by Music Kickstarter is Kickup, the "world's first cloud-based record label." The Helsinki-based company aims to update the recording industry by throwing a lot of the standard recording label tasks into the cloud. The platform aims to both give artists a publishing platform for physical and digital distribution, while also giving bands new ways to collaborate and support each other.
The cloud platform will run artists €99 a year, and handle contracts, rights management, and industry connections.
Walkbase, has released Tweagle, a new product taking advantage of the company's advanced indoor positioning API. Essentially Tweagle is an Android Twitter client that integrates with Foursquare, but with a lot more useful positioning features for the Twitter world. The app looks polished, and makes it possible to hear what people are saying at a certain bar, club, or festival, for example.
One of the main drivers behind the hype of the Finnish startup ecosystem is Kristo Ovaska, who either founded or helped co-found Startup Sauna, Aalto Venture Garage, and Aalto Entrepreneurship Soceity among others. In the recent months he's been promoting his new startup, Metrify, and we decided to find out what it's all about.
I joined Metrify CEO Kristo Ovaska and CTO Osma Ahvenlampi for lunch, not really knowing what to expect. To be honest, the cynic in me wrote this startup off as only an excuse for Ovaska to run his own company, rather than watching more and more Startup Sauna teams shoot up around him. But I left convinced this is the real deal; Metrify is on a path to solve some really interesting business and technical challenges.
The city of Oulu, Finland has selected Butterfly Ventures to manage the Northern Startup Fund, which will be established in Oulu. The fund will start its active operations early fall. Butterfly Ventures will be expected to boost the regional startup ecosystem through knowledge and networks, as well as by bringing in the Techstars style acceleration model.
We're always on the lookout for good events we believe our community should be looking to participate in. While we get a ton of requests for event promotion, the truth is that a select few pass our filter. The European Pirate Summit is one of these and we're proud to be partnering with them. The casual, laid-back event will take place in Cologne on September 10th and 11th.
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.
When ArcticStartup got started towards the end of 2007, we set out originally to cover Finnish startups and technology focused growth companies. In just 6 months we realised that the market is too small to sustain coverage and potential business. Therefore in early 2008 we expanded our reach to cover Nordics and Baltics, which back then seemed like an overly bold thing to do.
However, that move has probably been the smartest strategic decision our company has ever taken. The reason is quite simple to be honest. The Nordics and Baltics create a big enough region that makes sense to cover for a few good reasons.
iZettle, the chip card reader that allows anyone to take credit card payments on their smartphone, announces it is launching a test run in the UK. Three thousand mini-chip card readers are being made available for small businesses and individuals who are willing to participate in the beta trial.
We covered iZettle's payment fees recently, as the company just dropped the €0.15 transaction charge, leaving just a 2.75% fee for MasterCard, Visa, or Diners Club. American Express comes with a 2.95% fee. Missing from the UK launch is Visa credit card acceptance.