On Friday night, The Europas, a startup award ceremony put together by TechCrunch was held in London. While there were many European companies in the nominations, Nordic and Baltic companies in general did well. Quite many made it to the finalists and in some cases they were able to win their categories. Below are the companies from the Nordics and Baltics and their performance in the competition.
Just a quick reminder before you run away from your computer to enjoy those after work drinks. We're organising an ArcticEvening in Tampere on the 2nd of December in New Factory Demola, located at Väinö Linnan Aukio 15, 3rd floor. We'll be showcasing a panel with angel investors and also some startup pitches (you can still apply here for a chance to pitch). The show will kick off at 5pm and will continue until 8pm. To take part, register your ticket below.
At the end of October we wrote about Blyk opening office in Singapore. Today they've announced that they will begin to offer the Blyk platform through Aircel in India. India has one of the largest mobile markets globally. With Blyk's focus on the youth segment, India is a dream market - 51% of the total population is young and potentially interesting for Blyk. Aircel is a Pan-Indian operator with a subscriber base of 48 million customers.
Soothing music in the hotel lounge, hip tunes in a bar or a cafe - music in service industry is something we're all used to without paying much attention to it. Providing music seamlessly for hotels, bars and restaurants is not as painless, however. That's something DJ Online discovered and decided to solve by creating a new solution for online media distribution. I talked with Jani Tolonen, CEO and one of the investors, who told me that what their company offers for a service industry is a way to easily manage high-quality music, unify it across customer's chains, offer karaoke and songs on-demand as well as discreetly show audio-visual ads. DJ Online deploys a client machine to connect with their own server over the Internet, where all customer data and artificial intelligence is stored. The music used is licensed through record labels (their cost is included in the price of the service). The service works online and requires a connection with a minimum transfer rate of 2Mb/s. DJ Online downloads the music to be played and stores them on the computer, so any disturbances in Internet connections will not compromise functioning.
Editorial note: This post is a guest post written by Ossi Marko, a lawyer who jumped ships and founded Signom, a company working with electronic signatures. Full disclosure as well - Signom is a current advertiser at ArcticStartup, but this post was in no way paid for.
I've heard and read a lot of comments about startups being afraid to launch their products. Or to put it another way, having a lot of problems determining when the product is good enough for launch. We usually tend to think that the product needs to be somewhat spectacular from the very beginning. Otherwise someone big comes and steals it and we don't have a competitive edge OR we make fools of ourselves and hang our heads in shame.
Angry Birds 2 may very well be told from the pigs point of view, if there's believing what Peter Vesterbacka has disclosed about Rovio's future plans in Virtual Goods Summit in London. Pocket Lint wrote that the Mighty Eagle, aka Peter Vesterbacka, stated that they want to be able to surprise people. David Selle, a participant in the event tweeted Vesterbacka saying "We are not going to do a sequel, we want to surprise people - no one has told the story from the pigs point of view".
I participated in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Finland awards ceremony last night to see who the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Finland were. Before the awards ceremony though, there were two talks by Kaija Pöysti, the founder of Trantex, a translation company that grew to about 200 people before she sold it, and Petteri Koponen the co-founder of Jaiku and partner in Lifeline Ventures among many others.
Reading and writing are the basics that we often take for granted. However, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, there are 800 million illiterate adults and 130,5 million illiterate youths in the world, most of them living in the developing countries. At the same time, more and more people use mobile phones to access Internet and broadband providers are expanding to the developing markets. Ympyra is taking advantage of those circumstances by delivering basic educational services through mobile handsets. Their technology is patented and their educational methods are based on the Finnish basic elementary curriculum, which is ranked number one by OECD's educational assessment benchmarker PISA.
In our previous posts we have covered issues such as why being sold to the US is a big thing and who's doing all the buying. Another important aspect in all the M&A activity is to look at company valuations and what affects them, especially from an investor's point of view. In this post we cover valuable insight from Nexit Ventures on what creates value in startups.
To start off with, let's determine value. In basic form, there are two kinds of value - strategic and financial. Albeit financial being the one that interests most - startups have to understand that they can have two kinds of value accumulated inside their company. Below is a graph showing the strategic value curve, as well as the financial one and what affects them.
Risto Siilasmaa, the F-Secure Chairman and Founder, one of the most well known private investors in Finland, has stated in a recent event that direct Finnish government investments to startups should be stopped. By this he means that the way they are currently done, should be stopped and we should leverage the wisdom in the market to make smarter investment decisions. His basic statement was that Finland has created the Vigo accelerator program which is full of serial entrepreneurs and the government investment funds should beinvested through these entities. He states that Finland should look towards Singapore and Israel, where the government leverages all private investments with certain restrictions.
QAim, a Finnish mobile analytics and Customer Experience Management (CEM) startup, has released a new study (announcement available in Finnish) on the share of different mobile operating systems (OS) among users of mobile services in the Nordic countries. QAim's study shows strong increase in Android's popularity among the active mobile services users, and the firm estimates that Android will become the most widely used mobile operating system among the Nordic mobile service users in the summer of 2011.
Netcycler announced today that they have closed a 725k€ investment round and while doing so, have also expanded their business to Germany. Investors in this round include the current owners, Cleantech Future Fund and the early stage fund Vera (Avera). Additionally, the company has been accepted into the Tekes YIC program, where Tekes is able to leverage costs up to one million euros.
I've been a huge fan of Steven Blank's Customer Development methodology for a long time. I've also read his book The Four Steps to the Epiphany, where he outlines this in great detail. A few years ago I also started following Alexander Osterwalder in his blog about his Business Model Generation -mantra. Some time ago I thought these guys should meet! Needless to say, I was thrilled to see Alexander Osterwalder post a presentation online combining these two methodologies.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Christian Arno, the founder and managing director of Lingo24. While the company is not from the Nordics nor Baltics, the story shares experiences on how Christian went on to create a multi-million dollar business internationally.
From having a simple business idea, to running your own international company is a world of difference, but with a good plan and a bit of courage you can take a leap of faith and put your ideas to the test.
When it comes to technology and start-ups Russia can be full of mystery and surprises. First we learned this summer about an attractive Russian spy - Anna Chapman - infiltrating entrepreneurial scene in New York. Now there is a a serial entrepreneur who hides behind a fake indentity while his latest start-up is preparing for an IPO. It's the second story that is of interest here. The entrepreneur in question, who prefers to call himself Andrey Andreev (though some sources claim his real surname is Andrey Ogandzhanyants [Андрей Оганджанянц]) founded four tech start-ups since 1999, his latest one - a dating service named Badoo - is preparing to file for an IPO on London Stock Exchange. The service has about 80 million registered users and company's revenue is estimated to reach $200 million this year. Why is it that Andreev is hiding from the limelight and using a false name?
In July of this year Prince released his latest album, dubbed "20TEN", in the UK using a distribution method that is quite unorthodox for the times that we're living in. He chose to bundle it, for free, with an issue of the Daily Mirror. That decision isn't wasn't what got him attention this past summer all over the internet, instead it was the interview he did with that tabloid where he offered this choice quote:
"The internet's completely over. The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."
Fantastic news to start the week off. The Finland based Sibesonke, a mobile service company, has been announced the winner of the AfricaCom 2010, Telecom Innovation of the year -category. The competition has now been held for the third consecutive year. In total there were 10 different categories. Other finalists in the same category with Sibesonke were Ericsson (Base Transceiver Station), Helios Towers (Lean Operator Model), Vodafone & Vodacom Tanzania (M-PESA) and Zephyr Corporation (Wind Powered Network).
GigsWiz isn't even a year old and already they have a very solid and impressive track record behind them. I talked to Joonas Pekkanen, the finance guy as their website puts it, about their newly released ticketing service that in all simplicity helps bands sell more tickets. Having had this talk, I finally realised how fundamentally broken the industry has been. One of the main concerns the promoters have had, according to Joonas, is that bands really aren't helping out in promoting their own gigs. Now think about that for a moment, you as an entrepreneur (which artists are, but most probably don't think like it) aren't helping out people to sell your own services that your produce - how crazy is that?
Facebook's grip on Europe is by far not complete. According to the recent analysis from Casual Games Association presented by i-Jet Media (the biggest game publisher in Russia and Eastern Europe), Europeans still prefer local social networks to Facebook. In Poland Nasza Klasa has 8 million users more than Facebook, in Germany VZ has 6 million more and Russia's Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki together have a mighty 104 million users compared with 1,6 million Russians who've joined Facebook. Thus, Europe's 30 social networks altogether boast 180+ million users, which is 24 million more than Facebook has in Europe.
Russia has come a long way in the recent years in terms of establishing itself as an internet superpower. However, it has done it at such a speed that many parts of its legislation have not been up to date, regarding online payments for example. Yesterday, the Russian government approved a bill to clarify and regulate e-payments. The bill has been much awaited, according to Moscow Times, and online payments are expected to increase by 400 million euro this year.