Editor's note: This is a sponsored post by Graduateland part of their prize for winning the public vote in the 2011 Arctic15 conference.
As Graduateland spreads to universities, students, graduates, and employers all across Europe, their office has picked up a wide variety of nationalities along the way. Graduateland's Copenhagen offices so far include 15 employees, who are Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Lithuanian, and Czech. The team is also currently having job interviews with two programmers from Greece and Poland, respectively, who would relocate to Copenhagen if qualified. This all fits into their beliefs of open and creative collaboration in order to innovate and set the standard for the "career market of tomorrow."
As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. But who knew you could make money just by looking at other people's trash? Out of Finland, Enevo is a company creating smart sensors to improve the logistics of the waste management industry, and just closed a EUR 200k angel round with Lifeline and four angel investors. In waste management the main cost is logistics: it takes a lot of trucks, hours and fuel to empty the tens thousands containers just in Finland alone. And the costs add up when the waste trucks are driving out to and dumping containers that are half-empty.
Fits.me, the virtual fitting room, has announced it has raised "seven figures" from the Entrepreneurs' Fund, a London-based venture capital fund. The investment will be used to accelerate the delivery of virtual fitting room services, as well as to provide additional sales and marketing resources to fuel Fits.me’s growth. Along with the investment, Fits.me is moving its management to London while engineering, operations, and production will remain in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia.
The Helsinki-based social network site aimed at the world's muslim community, Muxlim, has shut down and now points to DisruptionManifesto.com, a teaser page for founder Mohamed El-Fatatry's new biography authored by David Cord. I spoke on the phone with El-Fatatry who gave me this official statement on the shutdown of the social network: "The Muxlim vision will carry on in a new way moving forward, and all the details of the story will be published in the book: Mohamed 2.0 - Disruption Manifesto."
Latvian-based Cobook is seeing a good deal of news hype and downloads in its first week of release. Yesterday on their blog they announced they've seen 20000 downloads of the application, which is essentially a better address book for OSX. The application sits in the menu bar, and opens a drop-down window when selected. A key feature seems to be the fast search and contact updating that happens through the same text box, where the app automatically updates new contact information to the correct location.
Seedcamp London is kicking off this week, and with it they announced for this round they've received a record number of applications and are hosting a record number of teams. For those who aren't familiar with the program, Seedcamp is a European startup incubator that employs many of the same principles as Silicon Valley's famous Y Combinator startup incubator. Of the selected 22 companies, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia are each represented with one company who will compete to win the London event. Winners will receive a year long support with mentors, and Seedcamp will invest around €50000 for 8-10% in the winning companies.
There are times when you need an extra hand to get an errand done, but at the same time the task is too minor to hire a full-blown professional to help you. A good neighbor will always give you a hand, but some things fall in that fuzzy area where it can be too much to ask of a friend or neighbor, but too minor to hire a professoinal. What do you do in that situation? You can bug your busy neighbors, nag your friends, or use Den Lille Tjeneste in Denmark, or use its sister service, Hinner Du, in Sweden. The websites are online marketplaces for services, providing private individuals and small businesses with quick help in order to solve everyday tasks and errands.
The idea behind the online service originates from a real life experience from co-founder Sara Ohlsson, who had bought a used fridge online. After having closed the deal with the seller, the question of transporting the fridge popped up and she gathered some quotes from professional transport companies, all of which required more money to deliver the fridge than the fridge itself was actually worth. Hence the idea: There must be someone out there with a car and a trailer willing to transport the fridge from point A to B without charging an obscene amount of money. And the result is what you see today, a peer-to-peer platform for small tasks and errands.
One of the largest Finnish media groups, Alma Media, has acquired CV Online, the internet recruitment service company in the Baltic countries. The size of the deal was not announced, but CV Online estimates its 2011 revenue at €2 million at a 30% growth. The company operates in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. According to the website's stats, the have exactly 1 364 969 registered users and 1 757 047 CVs.
The fourth episode of Unfair Advantage takes us to Denmark as we chat with Klaus Nyengaard, the Group CEO of Just Eat. Just Eat is originally from Denmark, where it was set up more than 10 years ago. In the last five or six years, the company has seen a huge growth in internationalisation and now operates in 15 countries. Their currently run forecasts that they will deliver somewhere around $750 million worth of food this year. Klaus Nyengaard gave us a very detailed view on their internationalisation strategy both from setting up shop yourself and acquiring existing players in the market to grow.
Allan Martinson, one of the most best known and experienced investors from Estonia (currently the founding and managing partner of MTVP), has cast concern about the amount of new accelerators and different support programs for startups. He states a valid point, that if every town and your brother has an accelerator they will fail to attract critical mass to support their functions. Martinson states that Baltics really need one big accelerator with strong financing and a strong team to make a splash in the global pond of startup activities.
There really cannot be too much discussion around this topic, and therefore we have included Allan Martinson's original statement from his public Facebook status below.
Startup Incubator, a new program aimed at helping startups, has spun off from Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol and begun accepting applications. The program is named Startup Incubator and it was set apart to serve startups better in a more focused way. The new program officially launched towards the end of January and they are now accepting applications from ambitious startups and teams. The takeaway for entrepreneurs is that they're give more resources, coaching advice and seed capital.
Editor's Note: This series of posts is sponsored by Tekes and produced in co-operation with ArcticStartup to share experiences from startups about their funding experiences.
From offhand comments in forum comments, hackathons, and local tech events, I'm sure many first-time Finnish entrepreneurs have some pre-formed negative-leaning opinion about how the Tekes bureaucracy works. Without getting into a discussion on how society should support entrepreneurship, realistically there has to be some sort of balance between bureaucracy and free government money. With too much bureaucracy, the system can kill entrepreneurs time and crush innovation. But if the system is too loose, you then have "entrepreneurs" buying fishing boats for their summer cabin.
Where is Tekes on this scale and how should you mangage it? To get to the bottom of the bureaucracy, we talked to Joonas Pekkanen, who's been part of a few Tekes projects. He's currently the CFO of Flockified, who are gearing up to release a full-fledged version of their group buying service. Their teaser page proudly states, "WE'RE BUILDING THE BEST DAMN GROUP PLANNING AND GROUP DECISION MAKING TOOL EVER," which we'll cover more on later in the post, but first, here's our interview with him:
This year's CeBIT trade show will feature a brand new global innovation contest called CODE_n. Short for ’Code of the New’, the contest aims to seek out and promote the world’s most innovative startups involved in the development of new business models for the internet or mobile devices.
Six Nordic and four Russian startups have been selected into the Top 50 of this year's contest out of over 400 candidates. Each finalist gets a 15 square-meter presentation space at CeBIT and a chance to promote themselves at the world’s largest digital expo. A whopping 62% of the finalists are from Germany.
Finnish cloud-based video and gaming service provider G-cluster has received a significant financial investment from French telecom operator SFR. SFR was one of the first companies to deploy G-cluster's gaming service in 2010 and it now joins Intel Capital as the company's financial backer. No details were released, but the deal is reportedly worth millions of euros.
G-cluster’s core business is a fully customizable, cloud-based video and gaming platform. The company’s patented technology allows high-end video games and full-length films to be distributed to a wide range of devices, including televisions, personal computers, tablets and mobile phones.
Editorial note: This post is part of Microsoft's sponsored posts series Hear it from the startups.
Microsoft Finland is throwing its annual conference, TechDays in Helsinki in just over a month's time. The event is scheduled for two days between the 8th and 9th of March. The event has a ton of speakers covering a very impressive amount of topics. Microsoft has also confirmed for us that they will be giving a first look at the new Windows 8 operating system at the event as well. In fact, there will be one whole day's worth of content aimed at Windows 8.
Valkee, the bright light headset used to treat mood disorders, has announced it has gained good traction this winter with Seasonal Affectedness Disorder (SAD) sufferers. Just in Finland alone Valkee has gotten into the hands of 10,000 people, which the company conservatively estimates at 1/3 of all the bright light market in Finland. Timo Ahopelto of Lifeline Ventures, a Vigo Accelerator, tells us, "Our year has been really phenomenal, and people have adopted Valkee. In our view, this is based on good user experience: most of Valkee users realize very strong benefit to their wellbeing during the winter months"
TorrentFreak has come out with an article on the situation with the legal problems of the Pirate Bay founders. The Swedish Supreme Court has rejected the leave to appeal in the trial. This essentially means that the sentences in place given to the founders of the file-sharing site will stand. The founders, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström, all received sentences of different length, but combined they are required to pay back $6.8 million in damages.
Oulu, Finland-based Ball-IT's product, blobo, is a golfball sized soft ball that can sense movement, rotation, magnetic fields, and even pressure. You can compare it to a Wii controller or Playstation Move, yet because of its size it offers unique opportunities available for gameplay-- such as throwing the ball up in the air or placing it in a players pocket to sense macro physical movements like jumping or running.
The device has seen the creation of a children's TV show in Finland, but Blobo is now being taken to China, where the Shanghai Media Group's children's channel, Toonmax, is turning it the game system into an interactive TV show. On the show kids take each other on in front of a live studio audience, who watch their avatars compete on a large screen. Meanwhile the viewers at home can play blobo at the same time using their computer and compare their results with the TV contestants.
Videoplaza has just come out with an announcement that they have secured a $12 million investment aimed for global expansion. The Series B funding comes from Qualcomm Ventures and Innovacom. We've written about the Sweden based company before as well, regarding their strong growth. With this investment the growth is sure to follow. The company had a great 2011 according to the press release. It served five times greater ad volume than the year before and opened up new offices in Madrid, Berlin and Singapore. It now operates in 17 different countries.
In December Twingly announced it has acquired Bloggportalen.se from Aftonbladet, allowing Twingly to add the categorizatoin and visitor numbers provided by bloggportalen. The site is now redesigned and moved over to the Twingly servers, but still kept separate from the main Twingly Blog Search features. Twingly says it's now the best meeting point for bloggers and blog readers in Sweden.