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.
Anyone who's had to dig for a serious dataset knows it's not always easy to find what you're looking for, even if you know it's out there and is offered for free. DataMarket out of Iceland offers 100 million time series from wide range of public and private data providers, including the United Nations, the World Bank, Eurostat, and the Economist Intelligence Unit. The portal allows all this data to be searched, visualized, compared, and downloaded in a single place in a standard, unified manner. I'm looking at this from the perspective of a university student, but DataMarket is also geared towards business users to find and efficiently publish their data and reach new audiences.
A Lithuanian company has created a Microsoft Kinect-based login system for secure online banking, with the added benefit of minority-report style arm waving to pay your bills. In total it looks like ETRONIKA has built a concise security system. You begin by using a Kinect plugged into a PC, where the sensor's motion-based software will use your face and voice as login information. On top of that they use a phone-based pin code for an extra layer of security when you actually move money aroud. If you were ever to step out of the Kinect sensor's range, the system would log you off automatically to protect your information.
Last friday Qubulus, the mobile indoor positioning out of Sweden, announced it has completed a funding round led by angel investor Jean Pierre Payat followed by the Swedish government backed investment fund, Innovationsbron. The existing shareholders have also joined the round, including IT consultancy company Jayway, retail re-development company Reteam, as well as Qubulus' management. The size of the investment was undisclosed.
Aside from the funding news, today Qubulus is announcing a new partnership with Crunchfish to add accurate Indoor Positioning support their Hearway app. Together their app basically provides your car's spoken GPS, but for your smartphone.
Last weekend, Mojang spent some 2,5 days developing games at their offices for the good of charity. The worked together with the HumbleBundle folks through an event titled Mojam and raised money for four charities; Child's Play, Electronic Frontier Foundation, charity: water and the American Red Cross. During the weekend, they raised over $450 000 from over 81 000 people.
People were able to donate money and in doing so receive the games the Minecraft developers were building over the weekend. The average purchase thus was $5,62. Raising over $450 000 during a couple of days is phenomenal and just shows the amount of visibility and interest Mojang is able to attract.
Zervant has announced they have closed their second angel round. While the specific details of this recent round are scarce, they do share that during the last 2 years Zervant has raised over €1 million from private investors and governmental funds in Finland. The company's cloud service offers a complete package for small businesses including time tracking, invoicing, and bookkeeping. Next month they will launch their services to mobile customers, and later in 2012 Zervant will start distributing 3rd party services to small businesses through their platform.
ArcticEvening Tallinn will be organised in just a few weeks. We've already registered about 3/4 of the tickets (overall availability is 120 tickets), but there are still some spots left for those who would want to attend. Now there's one more reason to attend - we will be giving out four free tickets to our Arctic15 event organised 17th and 18th of October. These tickets aren't the traditional one day tickets, but will actually get you into the exclusive first day of the conference. The tickets will be drawn between all those who attend the event (registration isn't enough). We will give more details on how this works by e-mail to those signed up.
Our event in Tallinn is themed around startup metrics and we have William Wolfram of DealDash share his experience how his company goes about metrics. If you want some sneak peak into how they think, listen to our audio interview with him on Unfair Advantage.
Abonnet is a new service out of Finland that helps connect companies to virtual advisors through the internet. While there's value in face-to-face meetings, Abonnet opens up companies to a wider range of experienced advisors, which is great for companies who are limited by geography or by the size of their personal network. The service reminds me of a dating service-- a company founder or CEO creates a personal and company profile, and then invites advisors to join the board. Advisors can also apply to open Advisory Board positions via the service. Some advisors may join for free, some have set a price for their expertise.
I don't know what to say, other than that this Swedish company does magic for smartphone photos. Scalado has come out with a new photo app called Remove that helps with the annoying problem of busy locals and tourists filling up you photos, when you just want your picture taken in front of that famous thing. With the app, you basically let the camera film for a couple seconds, and then the app is able to take out all moving objects just with a tap on the screen. It's like photoshop for your Android device. But that's not all up their sleeve-- Scalado released another app last year that also uses time to get the best exposure:
We've just gotten off the phone with Sulake's CEO Paul LaFontaine about today's announcements. He did not want to comment on the specifics of the announcement, but what we really wanted to understand is what is the future direction Sulake will take. LaFontaine stated that Sulake is modernizing their strategy and this involves changes to how the company currently operates. A big part of the company's future will have to do with games and user generated content.
Sulake is also moving towards a model where their current Habbo community will further evolve into a platform on which third parties will be able to develop additional services on. LaFontaine did not want to comment at this moment on what kind of a time frame we are talking about at the moment. However, he did disclose that they are working with some third parties today already.
According to Finnish publication Dome.fi, Sulake the creator of Habbo Hotel, will be laying off some 40-60 people from their workforce. In total, they have about 210 people working for the company so this is effectively 25% of their workforce. We also heard this from a different source, so the chatter is definitely picking up. Sulake.com was down as of just now and there is no official announcement on this so far.
In showing the door to 25% of their workforce, Sulake will also close all of their 11 country offices according to the article on Dome.fi.
The whitelabel media streaming service, Aspiro, has signed a deal with Google's Widevine DRM for studio approved DRM-solutions for Video OTT-services. The Norwegian company runs the music streaming service WiMP, as well as provide TV and music streaming services for partners who wish to put their own branding on a streaming service. This new deal will allow Aspiro's partners, which include Hi3G, Telnor, Netcom, and Deutsche Telecom, to easily stream protected movies and TV shows to nearly any device. This comes as good news for media companies, as it seems the streaming services are used mostly for sports broadcasts.