We have witnessed the evolution of how we purchase items around us. From the days of cash as coins, then paper and plastic money to the latest NFC enabled payment methods, all seem to have eased things out one or the other. The evolution has come about as per the needs of the time, and lately the need for change has increased dramatically. One startup from Norway, mCASH, plans to bundle all payments into your mobile device.
NFC, non-NFC, credit or debit, why carry extra luggage or purchase a dedicated devices when it's dubious whether the point of sale would even accept it or not? While NFC might become a common method of mobile payments, I am not buying the idea, primarily for the fact not every region worldwide can implement the system. What mCASH does is liberate you of the task of getting yourself a new hardware or implement a new technology. Keeping it simple is what mCASH focuses on, why burden merchants and clients with excessive burden?
Another disruptive service is launching in Sweden today. Wrapp, a new social gifting service, has just received $5.5 Million Series A funding led by Atomico, the international venture capital firm formed by Niklas Zennström, the co-founder of Skype, Kazaa and other companies. The company plans on updating the gift card model to the current era by tying their service to smartphones and social networks. The service is now out of its test phase in Sweden and will be launching in the US and UK in the first quarter next year, with the rest of Europe soon to follow.
Apple with the release of Siri for the iPhone 4S has had everyone praising the feature. It is no doubt a great addition to the iPhone, perhaps the only notable one in the new generation of the iPhone. While that goes for the iOS devices, there is one for the Android, Speaktoit. The application comes from Russia and is in for a challenge from Siri and Vlingo.
There is a need for virtual assistants and to be honest, with Siri in the playground we will definitely be seeing a rapid increase in improved versions. I tried my hands with Speaktoit and it does the job fairly well. You can ask questions or commands directly to the Speaktoit assistant on your Android device and the client processes the same, executing what is being requested. Of course this requires that your commands be specific enough for it to recognize and execute.
iZettle, the smartphone chip credit card reader and payment processer, is now out of beta and is offering its services to Swedish businesses and individuals that would like to accept credit card payments on the go. The device, which plugs into the data port of your iPhone, is given to users for no upfront costs. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the demand for iZettle’s card readers has exceeded their expectations but the company now guarantees that all registered users will have their card reader before Christmas. Only last month the startup received €8.2 million in venture funding.
While there are no upfront costs for using the service, they do take 2.75% of a sale, plus a €0.16 transaction fee. In comparison, Square, the similar U.S. service that plugs into an iPhone's audio jack, charges only 2.75% of a sale. iZettle is Europay, MasterCard and VISA approved, and compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). No sensitive data is ever stored on the mobile device or iZettle reader, and all data traffic is encrypted.
It may come a surprise that a Norwegian time-tracking app could manage to win first prize at the Under The Radar conference at Microsoft's Silicon Valley Headquarters, but Yast's presentation by Halvor Gregusson managed to beat out hundreds of applicants do just that. A two minute "Fastpitch" competition doesn't leave much room for errors, which is why Gregusson's well rehearsed presentation, complete with automatic slide changes and dramatic background music from "The Rock," was albe to leave the judges excited about tracking time.
We talked about Jongla a couple of years back. The Finnish startup promised to leverage the personal capabilities of the mobile devices and become personal marketing tool. The startup offers smartphone users the ability to send unlimited text messages, videos, images etc across the globe for free. Sounds quite a useful tool for bulk marketing.
The core issues or problem addressed is with the limitations that we have when it comes to the size of the multimedia files we share via SMS or MMS and the quality that we do share is awful by all mean (could be my personal opinion). With Jongla, users are freed of this size and quality limitations with the traditional methods. With Jongla you can share all these files directly to their friends. So this means another application, another setup file, a whole new registration or account association. Well not exactly.
Founded in March 2011, Muuvit Health and Learning Oy Ltd. is a start-up promoting international education and health, that has already seen traction in Finland, Germany, and Switzerland. Muuvit Adventure, the service platform of Muuvit, is a tool used by teachers, authorities, sports clubs and companies to inspire children to get physically active and enjoy learning. The company is base in Helsinki and has partnered its service with HeiaHeia.
We're releasing the first batch of the Arctic15 pitches. We saw a wide variety of presentations from all across the Nordic and Baltic countries, and now we're presenting pitches from Tribe Studios, Conferize, Transfluent, Campalyst, and 46elks. Re-live the Arctic15 conference and check out the videos below the fold!
Today, Spotify is trying to rapidly expand to every platform. The music streaming service has had things moving in the right direction, and the deal with Facebook seems to have supercharged its expansion. Last week Spotify announced the release of the Spotify app for the Windows Phone 7 devices. Big news and another platform to grow with, and there seems to be no stopping for the service.
The application is branded in the stylish WP7 Metro style, and is available for almost all the Windows Phone 7 devices. It has all the major features that every Spotify user would love, including:
Most of us use an array of web-based apps and services each day to carry out different tasks, but have you ever wondered how much time and effort is wasted switching from one app to another while working on a single project? Lithuanian startup BusyFlow aims to rectify the situation with a service that integrates all your favorite productivity tools into a single workspace.
MoSync is a startup out of Sweden that just released a new version of its mobile, cross-platform application development framework. MoSync 2.7 allows HTML5 and C++ to be used, and call each other, within the same application. With this they say it is possible to blend HTML5 and C++ seamlessly; the split between the two layers of code can be chosen freely by the developer. The company calls this “Wormhole Technology” to describe how the two worlds can connect.
Here's another Arctic15 video from the archive! We were honored to have Steve Huffman give our keynote presentation at the Arctic15 conference. In his talk, Steve tells us about his time at ycombinator, the Reddit story, and goes through the thought process behind his new startup, Hipmunk, which is bringing new innovations to flight search and hotel booking. You can find the video below the fold:
Ovelin, the creators of WildChords, have recently been on a rampage of success. Before the game's official release, they won the Slush 100 here in Helsinki and several other prizes including Best European Learning Game 2011 and Northern Dimension Music Innovation Award 2011. Now their app is out in the wild and has been topping the "free app" charts in Finland since its release, which is impressive for a music app.
It's easy to see why the game has been taking off. Everytime I see someone insanely "good" at Guitar Hero or a similar game, I ask myself how many more Mozarts or Jimmy Pages there would be in the world if all that focus was put in a musical instrument rather than mashing a couple buttons. WildChords combines the addictive features of similar video games with guitar exercises, so users get hooked on practicing on their real guitars.
Last night we got the chance to talk with CEO Otto Hilska about Flowdock's $650,000 seed funding round. The team of 8, currently working out of Helsinki, develops a web and desktop application that allows teams to easily track issues and collaborate in real time.
Flowdock first began talks with investors at the beginning of September, and Hilska describes the funding round as more of a happy surprise than a standard Angellist deal. Hilska was working out of Silicon Valley doing customer demonstrations, when another startup spotted their product and mentioned it to one of their investors. Flowdock wasn't seriously looking for funding at the time, but was happy to accept a deal put together by Gil Penchina, CrunchFund, Marten Mickos, and IDG Ventures.
Metro, the basic design principle behind the Windows 7 Phone, looks strikingly different when compared to other smartphone UI's. The clean lines, wide negative space, and strong typography offer a different perspective to the bubbly apps presented to iOS and Android users. Creating seamless interactions between apps and their operating system is important for a developer to build immersing apps and take the most advantage of the phone's "language" of gestures. Here we're going to cover exactly what Metro consists of (and it's more than just squares, semi-lightweight font, and white-space).
Ben Holmes has been a partner at Index Ventures since 2002, and has been heavily involved with Index's investments in Europe. In the Nordic region he currently sits on the boards of Gray Area Labs, Just-Eat, Rebtel, and Stardoll, as well as Mind Candy, Netlog, Notonthehighstreet, Shapeways in the UK.
He spoke with us to promote their newly announced €500 million growth fund, which will invest in emerging leaders with international ambitions. Below are the notes from the interview:
With digital books expanding beyond print, even outside the bulky desktop computers and laptops to the lighter e-book readers and the tablets, book lovers have more than one option to read books. I mean if everything is available on the go, why not books? uTales, a Swedish startup leverages the existing technology to create digital picture books for kids. The bigger advantage here is to make the book reading experience more interactive and thus interesting.
The startup germinates from the founders’ experience with bed time stories, the art of story telling that so many of us have enjoyed in our childhood and want to preserve the same for future generations. The idea is to engage, inspire and educate kids by bringing high quality picture books to the young ones globally. How exactly?
Tinkercad, a Helsinki based company that allows you make solid CAD drawings directly in your browser, announced it has raised $1 million in seed funding from True Ventures and angels Eghosa Omoigui, Taher Haveliwala, jaiku founder Jyri Engestrom, and Joshua Schachter. The browser based service is designed to make 3D printing more accessible to a wider audience.
Mobile Backstage, the multi-service communications platform for bands and their fans, is now available on the Android platform. The Android roll-out follows the launch of the service’s Facebook application last August.
Android owners can now use Mobile Backstage to follow their favorite artists, interact with other fans, play and buy music, check into gigs and much more.
Management isn’t just about having to manage your team at work or offices, it is essential everywhere where groups are involved. We at ArcticStartup are always on the lookout for interesting startups from diverse categories, keeping the interest factor in mind. Today we bring Liiqu, a startup that helps team management, for sports.
The startup helps you to effectively manage your sports team effectively. This offers an easy way to track statistics for the team and individuals as well as maintain effective communication amongst the teams. From where I see it, it is more of a tool for coaches of sports, be it football, ice hockey or footsal, to keep track of their team. Lets talk about the features separately and see what package Liiqu actually has: