Transferwise has just come out with an announcement that the company has transferred around $13.4 million in currency exchange in its first year. It is situated in London and offers currency exchange for a mere £1. We covered the company a little over a year ago, when it began operations.
The $13.4 million in transfers was made up of over 5500 individual transfers, which may not seem like a lot but this yields an average exchange to be just over $2300. To me this is a sign of trust if people are willing to transfer amounts this large across the service.
There's been a good run of Skype news lately. Delfi (Estonian) is reporting a change-up in the management of Skype's Estonian office. Tiit Paananen, who joined the company in 2005, will take over daily management of the Estonian office, as well as head of Skype's engineering team and technical training. Paananen was born in Estonia and attended the Tampere University of Technology in Finland. Sten Tamkivi, who lead the growth of Skype's original Estonian office and is the current Site Leader of Skype Estonia, will go to Stanford for a year as part of Microsoft and Skype's investment in the development of key personnel, and will stay with the company. Both Tamkivi and Paananen joined the company at roughly the same time.
Hakema just launched its new product that focuses on appointment bookings for real-estate sellers and buyers. It solves a time consuming problem; when people are searching for apartments online, buyers need to make appointments with sellers. Currently, finding a suitable time using phone or email is time-consuming and inconvenient. Also, sellers' efforts are wasted if there are no visitors in open houses. Hakema brings these two parties together and also collects information on potential buyers and runs a proper analysis of visits and customer interest. With its launch, the Hakema service is now live on Oikotie, a large online classifieds site in Finland.
Using the service is pretty straightforward and I found it well executed. As a buyer, you just need to browse what times are available for a private listing or an open house, then plug in your phone number, name, and email after clicking the time that works best for you. You immediately receive a confirmation text message, which the service uses to keep in touch with you in case the property is sold before your appointment, or if the listing price reduces. Buyers can also cancel by SMS, saving time for apartment sellers.
Nokia held a press event this morning in Barcelona's Mobile World Congress where they announced new phones and services that try to suggest the company is back on track for growth and better profitability. One of the new devices is Nokia 808 PureView that has the social web ablaze with comments and aspiration. The device holds an astonishing 41 Megapixel camera that crunches out 5 Megapixel photos with very little noise.
In addition to the mother of all camera phones, Nokia announced three new Asha devices as well as a lower end Nokia Lumia 610. All of the Asha devices, which are targeted at the next billion mobile phone users, will be on sale during Q2 for less than €100 (before taxes and subsidies).
There are a lot of Twitter clients out there for smartphones, some better than others. A lot of them give you some nice eye candy but after a while you find their UI can actually get in the way of information and context. Finnish UX specialty company, Fluid Interaction, seeks to redesign information and present it in useful, visually appealing way. Originally created for the Ovi store, Different Tack presents tweets in an interactive sector diagram that lets you quickly scroll along a wheel of tweets and find information about the traction they're getting from retweets and more, as shown by the more central blue bar. The Twitter client is currently being updated and ported to the iPhone and Android platforms, with the iPhone app expected to drop in April.
FXI Technologies, the Norwegian creator of the "any screen computer," Cotton Candy, has announced a new partnership with Polkast and is accepting pre-orders on the device for developers. The mini computer is about the size of a USB stick and packs a lot of power for its size. The device is a complete computer platform that will allow users a single, secure point of access to all personal cloud services and apps through their favorite operating system installed on the device, while delivering a consistent experience on any screen through its USB and HDMI connections.
The device can serve as a portable, secure thin client on PCs, Macs and notebooks as well as a set top box, gaming system, cloud computer, and more. In some sense it unifies computers, dumb screens, and smartphones and looks like a useful device to have in your pocket.
iZettle has announced that they will begin their Nordic launch tomorrow, and will be releasing 5000 devices in Denmark, Norway, and Finland, each, for beta testing. If you haven't seen our previous coverage, iZettle’s iPhone and iPad app lets anyone take credit or debit card payments on the go, with or without iZettle’s chip-card reader.
The company offers a service similar to the US-based competitor, Square, although Square is built for magnetic strip cards and plugs into the headphone jack. The device has already been beta testing in Sweden since November, a month after the company raised €8.2M in venture funding. We've already gotten our hands on the device, and will be releasing a more detailed review later this week.
Sometimes you just don't want to send that email right away, but at the same time you don't want to forget about sending it the next morning. Or maybe sometimes you wish you could schedule an email to be sent to yourself so you won't forget something coming up. Luckily for Gmail users, a Swedish company has provided a browser extension that does exactly that. Right Inbox provides a simple plugin for Chrome or Firefox that schedules emails to be sent later- and its all seamlessly integrated into Gmail.
Pingdom, the website uptime and monitoring company, has just become a Local Internet Registry (LIR), meaning it has been assigned a block of IP addresses. They join 468 other registries in Sweden, of which the largest are Internet Service Providers, academic institutions, and other enterprises that assign most of its block of IP addresses to its customers. Becoming a LIR fits into Pingdom's plans of updating and replacing all of its infrastructure in 2012.
Online advertising spending surpassed print advertising for the first time in 2011, the Russian Association of Communication Agencies (AKAR) annnouced in its annual report, published this week.
According to the report, the Russian online advertising market reached $1.4 billion, up 56% from 2010, demonstrating the fastest growth among the different segments of the market. In 2010, online advertising spending had grown by 42%.
Print advertising represented $1.36 billion in 2011, up 6% from 2010, while TV advertising grew by 18% to $4.4 billion. Total advertising spending increased by 21% to $8.85 billion, an impressive growth rate despite a slowdown in Q4.
Lithuania-originated GetJar claims to be the world's largest free app store with over 2 billion downloads to date. The company distributes more than 350,000 mobile applications for Android and today the company has released a virtual currency that rewards Android users for downloading any app, and allows them to spend that currency on premium apps and in-app purchases.
A new Estonian company to watch is Pult.io. In a nutshell, the service provides users an easy way to control any internet enabled screen through a smartphone without any cryptic setup issues. The company has recently gotten some hype at the TechCrunch Baltics event in Riga, and also joined Seedcamp earlier this month.
The most refreshing thing about Pult happens even before you start streaming anything. Rather than setting up an account and waiting for a confirmation email, Pult skips all of that nonsense; just by going to Pult.io on your TV or computer's browser generates a random four letter code. You then go to Pult.io in your smartphone's browser and then plug in the code. Just by doing that the two devices are linked, even if they're not on the same network, and the webapp gives you control to several streaming and content services.
ThingLink has released Tabs For Facebook, which allows marketers or anyone else to embed ThingLinked images on Facebook Pages. The service provides a non-intrusive way to integrate rich media into static images on a mouseover, turning any picture into a platform to highlight and embed content. An example of the embedded link on Facebook is featured on the David Lynch Foundation Music Facebook page.
The Finnish Arvopaperi magazine has announced the ownership structure of Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds. The information has not come up in any IPO filing, but through public information in the Finnish governmental registry. The biggest chunk of the Rovio is owned by Trema Holdings International BV, the holding company of Kaj Hed. Kaj Hed is Mikael's father and Mikael is Niklas' cousin. It seems that Accel and Atomico, who together invested $42 million into the company last year, own around 20% of the company.
Presentation technology is ripe for disruption. Current presentation tools are barely a step above the overhead projectors seen in classrooms since the beginning of time. Slides move on and off the page, and sometimes you make your text "appear" or "wipe right" if you're feeling adventurous. We've got a lot of connectivity in our laps and in our pockets, and a Finnish startup, Screen.io, seeks to take advantage of it.
With Screen.io software presenters can collect, analyse and present audience feedback. Through one application, users can set up interactive presentations that include slides imported from Keynote or PowerPoint, videos, images, polls and live results, and a controlled discussion channel. Screen.io's website talks about 3 way communication between you and your audience, your audience and you, and audience to audience. It makes a lot of sense in the digital age, and seems a lot better than the fragmented discussions taken place using a Twitter hashtag.
In our seventh episode of Unfair Advantage we talk to Christoph Thur of Ovelin. Ovelin has created a game called Wildchords that has attracted a lot of interest both from consumers, but also from investors. Recently they closed a €1.1 million investment from True Ventures. We talked to Christoph to understand how Ovelin went about creating Wildchords, but also how the game has been distributed and what were the steps leading up to the closing of the investment from one of the top-tier investors in the US.
Our sponsor for this week is Gapps.fi - a Helsinki-based company that brings the Google productivity tools to your workplace. They've got a special offer for all those who ping them and say they came from ArcticStartup. Big thanks to Gapps for supporting the show.
Editor's note: This post is part of a series of posts sponsored by Microsoft Finland. You can read the other posts over here.
Last week saw Mobile Acceleration Week (MAW) take place in the Aalto Venture Garage, where a group of mobile developers gathered to create applications for the Windows Phone platform. The series of events under MAW take place in many different parts of the world Moscow, Shanghai, London and Berlin to name a few. In Helsinki, 16 team participated in the program. On Thursday, the teams finalised their work and came on stage to present their results.
The winner of the competition was Entetrainer, which had by far the most impressive app, even in our opinion. We'll outline in the list below all the different apps and what they set out to do. The runner up was Star Arcade, which enables gaming to hundreds of thousands of people.
If you run your own business, you've probably got an old Excel file somewhere that tries to keep track of employees' days off. It works, but it could be so much easier if it were more self-managed and actually a calendar. A team from Riga (but now working out of the UK) is trying to make HR functions for SMEs easier with Cake.HR. The service is currently in private beta, but they are giving free accounts to companies until they turn on payments sometime in early March. The team also tells us they're giving free-for-life accounts in return for feedback on the service.
Wikipedia has become a staple of internet life, and has risen to the top due to its aim of giving readers the impartial truth. Wikipedia serves its purpose well, but it also misses out on the color of human experience that cannot be verified by a third party source. A new service out of Sweden, Empedia, launched today and builds off of the Wikipedia API to allow anyone to add their personal experiences or stories to world events, companies, places, and everything else. Empedia calls itself a social encyclopedia.
There seems to be at least one daily deal aggregator in each country, and it's interesting to get their take on the local daily deals from their vantage point above the market. According to the daily deals aggregator, Dealfins, the daily deals business in Finland is different from other North European countries. It lacks the niche sites that sell specific deals, and the market is almost completely dominated by Groupon – Citydeal, which holds 89% market share. Dealfins has also noticed that business is also very much concentrated in the Greater Helsinki area.