Hammerkit, the Finnish cloud technology provider, today received €1.25 million investment from the North West Fund, joining Veraventure and Tekes as investors. The company produces scalable digital solutions for the global PR and marketing industry, and will use the funding to open a sales and development center in Liverpool.
Yesterday the digital gift card service, Wrapp, got another boost to their funding round and added anther big name to their board of directors. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman has joined the board as Greylock Partners added $5 million to the company’s Series A funding to co-lead the round with Atomico. Wrapp received $5.5 million in November from Atomico and Creandum.
Sweden-based mobile payment and security provider Accumulate has been selected as the supplier of a mobile wallet service to 4T, a new payment solutions consortium created by Sweden’s four mobile network operators.
Taking advantage of NFC when available, the mobile payment service promises to be an alternative to cash and card payments in all payment situations, including point-of-sale, online, person-to-person and man-to-machine. According to Stefan Hultberg, CEO of Accumulate, the deal is a major breakthrough for mobile payments and an important milestone for the company.
Here's an event coming up for you startup folks around Malmö. Moll Wenden Attorneys, MINC, and Startup Bootcamp are putting together a 'Term Sheet Battle' March 1st from 17-20 at Moll Wenden Attorneys. What is a term sheet battle you might ask? It's sort of a public debate where entrepreneurs can learn the tricks and nuances of the term sheet negotiation process by watching experienced entrepreneurs and investors go head to head live onstage. The event is held in English and you can sign up here.
Adius is a free service out of Denmark that helps marketing managers and (anyone pitching to them) save their time by making it easy to find what the managers are and aren't looking for. Rather than being interrupted multiple times a day by SEO companies, PR agencies, advertising agencies, and so on, Adius seeks to solve the information problem by letting the "suppliers" know what the buyer's situation is.
Mogens Sejer Iversen, the CEO of Adius, believes that Marketing Managers would sign up for a service because they know that if they help the suppliers get a proper knowledge about their potential customers then the suppliers have a fair chance of either not continuing to pitch to the marketing manager, or to make a much more relevant pitch/meeting request, which can be sent digitally. To expand upon their service, they're also working on physical matchmaking based on the data they've collected on suppliers and marketing managers.
Spring 2011's Startup Sauna winner Campalyst has recently updated its service to become a more compete package for marketers. Campalyst was originally buit to measure sales generated through social media content by allowing marketers to track social media followers all the way to a purchase. But in their new update, Campalyst boasts several new features to manage and track your social media straight through one dashboard.
A new Finnish outfit has created a new iOS game designed to motivate children to be active and stay entertained while walking to the store, school, or any other place with their family. With Treesure, children are provided a story and given activities to complete based on how far they've progressed on the way to their destination. In a funny way it's kind of an augmented reality app, but for younger folks that have a more active imagination.
If you hadn't noticed, it's cold outside. And when the wind's ripping through streets and cities across these northern cities, there's no worse time to be a smartphone user. As a solution to this problem, a Stockholm-based company has created Tatchies, gloves with conductive thread that leads some of the heat from your finger to the screen, while still keeping your hands warm. Now no matter if the snow is blowing sideways, you can still check that app that tells you what bus you need to take, or get in that quick game of Angry Birds.
One startup we last covered in 2009 but deserves and update is Prezi, the cloud based presentation software that differentiates itself from the standard office presentation software by zooming in and out of of concepts, rather than the standard forward transitions of square slides. While we don't have any breaking news to give you, we do have nearly three years of updates to catch up on.
I know we covered this Icelandic outfit not too long ago, but I find these games for brainwave readers and smartphones so uniquely interesting. MindGames' newly released iPhone/iPad game, called 28 Spoons Later, puts you in the situation where you're captured by a gentleman zombie who would like to eat a dish of brains for dinner, but will only do so with a spoon. The game is controlled by a PLX XWave headset that reads your brain's focus level. By concentrating, you can bend the zombie's spoons with your mind and stay alive as long as possible.
This post has been updated after we were corrected by a representative from Fast Lane's PR that RentHome.ru is more similar to the business model of HomeAway.com than Airbnb, as originally reported.
Fast Lane Ventures, a Moscow based early stage venture capital firm, recently announced it has invested in RentHome.ru, a service that operates and looks nearly identical to HomeAway.com, down to the same colors, layout, and background. Through RentHome.ru, property owners can list their properties for short term rentals, allowing people to make a little more money off that apartment they're holding on to, and provides travelers a more unique experience than staying in the same generic hotel room found all across the world. The size of the funding round was not announced.
Trulia, the U.S. real estate website, has now focused some attention to the data it has collected on the U.S. housing industry. The company was co-founded by Sami Inkinen, and provides an easy search of available real estate. The new service, called Trulia Insights, will provide real estate agents will valuable information such as which users have been pre-approved for a mortgage, who are looking to buy a home in the next six months, and which homes the users have looked at or saved on the website.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Jaakko Salminen. More information on him towards the end of the post.
One of the generally accepted wisdoms of the Finnish startup and growth company environment is shortage of private money. Startups run to Tekes for funding supposedly due to lack of available private early investments, and growth companies get sold very early when there is no VC money available. Easily available public funding is often cited as the dragon eating away any lucrative investment opportunities, and the vicious circle is ready.
Or is private money simply being directed elsewhere? In fact some very interesting sources for additional private money could be made available, if we take a forward-looking attitude.
Following the news of last month's €85 million closing of "Sunstone Technology Ventures Fund III," Sunstone Capital announced it has led a $1.2 million round in Gidsy, a Berlin-based startup offering an online service where people can discover, offer and book unique experiences. The round is led by Sunstone Capital and is joined by Index Ventures, Werner Vogels, Peter Read and Ashton Kutcher.
A few days ago I listened to Horace Dediu's Critical Path and it got me thinking that would governments be able to increase innovation and competition through more transparency in the economy. Dediu talked about the movie business in one the more recent shows and he stated it many times that it is very hard to analyse the industry at large as they do not provide any figures on how different players are doing.
Further into the podcast, he went on to explain the findings of his study and more specifically how movies are financed as well as how the accounting works in the industry. Having listened to his findings, I completely understand why there is so little innovation and disruption taking place in the industry.
The lack of innovation was put in concrete explanation in Fred Wilson's blog post on AVC yesterday where he argues that scarcity is a bad business. He writes how he wanted to find something interesting to watch through many different legal movie services, but was unable to find anything worthwhile. In the end he had to resort to a "foreign rogue site", as he put it.
Lithuania-based game developer Outlander Studios has signed a partnership agreement with pre-seed investor HackFwd, securing enough funds and support to commercialize the company’s first game, Equilibrium.
Equilibrium is a 3D real-time strategy game for Android. Players are taken into a medieval fantasy world of Chaos vs. Order in which they have to build and defend their village against the opposing force. Reminiscent of tower defense, Outlander Studios promises that the game mechanics and challenges presented in the game are actually quite unique.
Startup founders consider picking a company name one of the most important parts of their company's life. You can't succeed without a good name, right? Well, while you're searching for a new name, or if you've already got one trademarked, Stockholm-based Markify provides a free search service of confusingly similar trademarked names so you can be sure you're doing everything to protect yourself from legal trouble.
The Scandinavian news publisher Schibsted is set to buy a Norwegian company, Aspiro, for 340 million Swedish krona (€38m). Aspiro provides whitelabel TV and music streaming services, and also provides the music streaming service WiMP, which competes with Spotify. Aspiro is traded on the Nasdaq OMX Nordic Exchange in Stockholm, and Schibsted Media Group offers to the shareholders in Aspiro AB to acquire all the shares in Aspiro for SEK 1.65 in cash per share.
Editorial note: This is a sponsored post by Microsoft and is part of the Hear it from startups -series.
I had a chat with Drazen Dodik, a Microsoft Student Partner, about the Geeks on Wheels tour they did with the other Microsoft Student Partners in November and December. All in all the gentlemen toured some 12 different cities and universities in Finland, talking to students about the possibilities Windows Phone offers. The tour was also an answer to the numerous requests they had received regarding Windows Phone trainings from faculties and different partners around Finland.
The first episode of our new podcast is now out and it's called Unfair Advantage. In the weekly talk show we interview thinkers and doers from Northern Europe to understand what makes them tick. The show is co-hosted by me, Antti Vilpponen and our writer Greg Anderson. In our first show we interviewed Alex Esser from Sweden. He is one of the founding members of Tunaspot, a location based music discovery service. The service got its start from Copenhagen Startup weekend in 2011.