In our eighth episode we dive into discuss the new rising star of Sweden - Wrapp. We've reported on the company in the past, especially in them raising two rounds of financing worth more than $10 million. The rounds were raised from Atomico Ventures as well as Greylock Partners, both highly acclaimed investors. The first round invested into the company was by Creandum, the acclaimed Swedish investment house that has stakes also in companies such as Spotify. We talk to Carl Fritjofsson, the COO of Wrapp on how exactly the company got setup and what they are really after. Believe us, there is so much more to the company than simply gift cards. After listening to the show, you're going to understand exactly why the $10+ million makes a lot of sense.
This week we are supported by 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. Also, they are looking for talented people to work with them in the area of sales and technical implementation. Big thanks to Gapps for supporting the show.
Mid January, Riga-based Vendon scored half a million euros in funding from Baltcap for their monitoring systems and solutions for vending machines. At first vending machines may not sound too exciting, but in reality they take care of the whole vending machine experience-- from mobile payments, inventory tracking, management software, and logistics. The service gives vending companies a complete system to monitor and manage the lifecycle of a candy bar.
Minecraft, the runaway indie game success from Sweden, lets users build structures and buildings out of the blocks mined in the game, and the fill them with craft-able interactive items. There's no real plot to the game, but the unlimited style of gameplay is, however, somewhat limited by the difficulty modding new items and rules into the game. Yesterday Mojang, the creators of Minecraft, announced they are acquiring the popular Bukkit server development team, whose third party tools and platform have made it easier for independent developers to get into modding.
Forbes.ru has ranked the top internet companies in Russsia based on revenue, which shows some impressive numbers for their limited geographic range. Yandex, the online search giant, leads in front of Mail.ru, who have $690 million and $515 million in revenue respectively. Utkonos, the internet-based supermarket chain came in third with $300 million. Forbes did not include subsidiaries of international corporations, like Google, in the rankings.
One of those groups you may see around startup circles or sponsoring events is FiBAN. It's fairly obvious from their name that they're the Finnish Business Angel Network, but in case you never get around to googling them, here's a closer look at their operations. According to their definition, FiBAN is a private investor driven angel network that aims to inspire more private investors to make early-stage high-growth investments. They currently have around 120 members, some of whom are experienced investors, while others are itching to make that first investment.
iZettle isn't the only point of sale (POS) solution from Sweden that's hoping to gain some traction. Accumulate has just launched a mobile merchant app that requires no special hardware or additions, and can run on any Android, iPhone and iPad. The purchases are made as a money transfer, authenticated by Accumulate's One-Time-Tickets, and the platform can support mobile wallet or cards in mobile solutions. The mobile merchant app is in their strategy to plug into all mobile payment solutions, from point of sale situations, online payments, and man-to-machine payments.
Transferwise has just come out with an announcement that the company has transferred around $13.4 million in currency exchange in its first year. It is situated in London and offers currency exchange for a mere £1. We covered the company a little over a year ago, when it began operations.
The $13.4 million in transfers was made up of over 5500 individual transfers, which may not seem like a lot but this yields an average exchange to be just over $2300. To me this is a sign of trust if people are willing to transfer amounts this large across the service.
There's been a good run of Skype news lately. Delfi (Estonian) is reporting a change-up in the management of Skype's Estonian office. Tiit Paananen, who joined the company in 2005, will take over daily management of the Estonian office, as well as head of Skype's engineering team and technical training. Paananen was born in Estonia and attended the Tampere University of Technology in Finland. Sten Tamkivi, who lead the growth of Skype's original Estonian office and is the current Site Leader of Skype Estonia, will go to Stanford for a year as part of Microsoft and Skype's investment in the development of key personnel, and will stay with the company. Both Tamkivi and Paananen joined the company at roughly the same time.
Hakema just launched its new product that focuses on appointment bookings for real-estate sellers and buyers. It solves a time consuming problem; when people are searching for apartments online, buyers need to make appointments with sellers. Currently, finding a suitable time using phone or email is time-consuming and inconvenient. Also, sellers' efforts are wasted if there are no visitors in open houses. Hakema brings these two parties together and also collects information on potential buyers and runs a proper analysis of visits and customer interest. With its launch, the Hakema service is now live on Oikotie, a large online classifieds site in Finland.
Using the service is pretty straightforward and I found it well executed. As a buyer, you just need to browse what times are available for a private listing or an open house, then plug in your phone number, name, and email after clicking the time that works best for you. You immediately receive a confirmation text message, which the service uses to keep in touch with you in case the property is sold before your appointment, or if the listing price reduces. Buyers can also cancel by SMS, saving time for apartment sellers.
Nokia held a press event this morning in Barcelona's Mobile World Congress where they announced new phones and services that try to suggest the company is back on track for growth and better profitability. One of the new devices is Nokia 808 PureView that has the social web ablaze with comments and aspiration. The device holds an astonishing 41 Megapixel camera that crunches out 5 Megapixel photos with very little noise.
In addition to the mother of all camera phones, Nokia announced three new Asha devices as well as a lower end Nokia Lumia 610. All of the Asha devices, which are targeted at the next billion mobile phone users, will be on sale during Q2 for less than €100 (before taxes and subsidies).
There are a lot of Twitter clients out there for smartphones, some better than others. A lot of them give you some nice eye candy but after a while you find their UI can actually get in the way of information and context. Finnish UX specialty company, Fluid Interaction, seeks to redesign information and present it in useful, visually appealing way. Originally created for the Ovi store, Different Tack presents tweets in an interactive sector diagram that lets you quickly scroll along a wheel of tweets and find information about the traction they're getting from retweets and more, as shown by the more central blue bar. The Twitter client is currently being updated and ported to the iPhone and Android platforms, with the iPhone app expected to drop in April.
FXI Technologies, the Norwegian creator of the "any screen computer," Cotton Candy, has announced a new partnership with Polkast and is accepting pre-orders on the device for developers. The mini computer is about the size of a USB stick and packs a lot of power for its size. The device is a complete computer platform that will allow users a single, secure point of access to all personal cloud services and apps through their favorite operating system installed on the device, while delivering a consistent experience on any screen through its USB and HDMI connections.
The device can serve as a portable, secure thin client on PCs, Macs and notebooks as well as a set top box, gaming system, cloud computer, and more. In some sense it unifies computers, dumb screens, and smartphones and looks like a useful device to have in your pocket.
iZettle has announced that they will begin their Nordic launch tomorrow, and will be releasing 5000 devices in Denmark, Norway, and Finland, each, for beta testing. If you haven't seen our previous coverage, iZettle’s iPhone and iPad app lets anyone take credit or debit card payments on the go, with or without iZettle’s chip-card reader.
The company offers a service similar to the US-based competitor, Square, although Square is built for magnetic strip cards and plugs into the headphone jack. The device has already been beta testing in Sweden since November, a month after the company raised €8.2M in venture funding. We've already gotten our hands on the device, and will be releasing a more detailed review later this week.
Sometimes you just don't want to send that email right away, but at the same time you don't want to forget about sending it the next morning. Or maybe sometimes you wish you could schedule an email to be sent to yourself so you won't forget something coming up. Luckily for Gmail users, a Swedish company has provided a browser extension that does exactly that. Right Inbox provides a simple plugin for Chrome or Firefox that schedules emails to be sent later- and its all seamlessly integrated into Gmail.
Pingdom, the website uptime and monitoring company, has just become a Local Internet Registry (LIR), meaning it has been assigned a block of IP addresses. They join 468 other registries in Sweden, of which the largest are Internet Service Providers, academic institutions, and other enterprises that assign most of its block of IP addresses to its customers. Becoming a LIR fits into Pingdom's plans of updating and replacing all of its infrastructure in 2012.
Online advertising spending surpassed print advertising for the first time in 2011, the Russian Association of Communication Agencies (AKAR) annnouced in its annual report, published this week.
According to the report, the Russian online advertising market reached $1.4 billion, up 56% from 2010, demonstrating the fastest growth among the different segments of the market. In 2010, online advertising spending had grown by 42%.
Print advertising represented $1.36 billion in 2011, up 6% from 2010, while TV advertising grew by 18% to $4.4 billion. Total advertising spending increased by 21% to $8.85 billion, an impressive growth rate despite a slowdown in Q4.
Lithuania-originated GetJar claims to be the world's largest free app store with over 2 billion downloads to date. The company distributes more than 350,000 mobile applications for Android and today the company has released a virtual currency that rewards Android users for downloading any app, and allows them to spend that currency on premium apps and in-app purchases.
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.