Editorial note: This is a sponsored blog post by Microsoft as part of their series Hear it from startups.
Imagine Cup is an annual competition aimed at students worldwide, who are looking to change the world. Each year students compete against each other in many different categories for the best application. Applications are judged by their real world potential in changing the world, but also how viable they are business wise.
This year the finals will take place in Sydney, Australia and Microsoft Finland will be sending one team from Finland to the finals. The team however, has to win the semi-finals in Finland first.
Imagine Cup has multiple different categories available, but if you choose to enter the competition local semi-finals will be held for the Windows Phone Challenge as well as the Software Design categories.
A market survey conducted by Norstat for the WiMP music streaming service shows that roughly 3 out of 10 Norwegians and Swedes have listened to music by streaming in the week before the questioning took place. The survey was collected in January of 2012. In Norway, this proportion increased 20 to 29 percent from June of the past year, while Sweden saw a jump of 27 to 29 percent, showing the early saturation of the market. Danish users are behind the times, with a jump from 14 to a current 20%. This low penetration can likely be explained by Spotify only launching in Denmark in October.
Swedish VoIP startup freephoo has updated its app with a bunch of new features that include Facebook and LinkedIn integration, as well as HD quality audio. The update is currently available for both the iPhone and the iPod Touch, with later releases planned for Android and the iPad.
PlayMySong has announced it has received $350,ooo (€271,000) in funding, allowing them to open an office in New York City and continue their reach in bars and venues between both coasts of the United States. In case you haven't seen our previous coverage, PlayMySong is a social jukebox mobile app that lets patrons control the background music you hear when you're out at a bar, diner, or at a similar location where the venue owner has the PlayMySong app running on iOS device connected to the sound system.
Helsingin Sanomat wrote an article on A.W. Yrjänä, the head of a successful Finnish rock band CMX, and how much money they made on Spotify and through record sales. Yrjänä is a multi-talent. Not only does he write and sing the vocals for their songs, but he also writes poems and books. He shares with us that Iäti, their album that came out in September 2010, wasn't really a huge success financially even though it shot to number one on the charts.
Unfair Advantage is out! Our guest this week is William Wolfram, the CEO and founder of DealDash. DealDash is a penny auction site with a lot of small innovations to improve the shopping experience. We talked to Will about pretty much everything related to DealDash; how he started it, what he did when he started the company, how they're doing financially and so forth. Listen in to hear the story of DealDash and what Will thinks of running a company that does revenue in the low eight figures annually.
Editorial note: This is a sponsored post by Graduateland part of their prize for winning the public vote in the 2011 Arctic15 conference.
Graduateland Gateway is a free plug-in for unversities to connect their students to an international career portal. By plugging into the whole Graduateland service, Gateway provides students with a wide vareity of international career options as well as other features like a CV template, online career counseling via webcam, event calendars, and so on. Graduateland Gateway is a fresh new service released by Graduateland, and only a few days ago it was implemented at Copenhagen Business School, one of the top business schools in Scandinavia.
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.