Skype founder Toivo Annus’s and Herty Tammo’s joint tech investment venture, Poohtech AS, announced today that it closed a deal with smartAD, a Baltic advertising network that services many major brands for the region. CEO of smartAD Rando Rannus tells us that the size of the funding round cannot be disclosed, but that in 2011 the company was able to double revenue to 1 million euros. The funding round will be used for geographical expansion, where in Finland and Sweden they will first try to partner with ad networks and agencies and who are trying to help companies expand out of their local market.
Garage48 from Estonia had a growing year of events and other activities to keep it busy. The non-profit organisation organised events in eight countries, on two continents. I participated in their Helsinki event almost a year ago. Here's our post on it with a couple of separate updates.
While every crowdfunding website will tell you that there's a long history of strangers pooling money together to fund ideas, the movement of funding online has beaten predictions that it would be inherently unsuccessful or overrun over by scammers. While Kickstarter has become the world's dominant leader in creative project funding, Funded By Me is holding its ground in the Scandinavian market by allowing users to take advantage of the pre-order and gift style of crowdfunding, and also by keeping projects close to home.
Soundcloud, the Berlin-based startup founded by Swedes Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss, has reportedly received a $50 million investment led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers including participation by GGV Capital. TechCrunch has estimated the round to be around $50 million, but Soundcloud did not confirm the round size in their press release about the investment.
The Estonian startup scene isn’t exactly known for its mobile game developers, but Tallinn-based Creative Mobile is doing its best to rectify the situation. Founded in 2010, the company is the developer of freemium hit Drag Racing, a simple but addictive online racing game for Android and iOS that has garnered over 31 million downloads to date.
Smartphones have completely revolutionized the ways we waste time, but we're still only at the basic stage of how we can use the pocket technology to improve systems and processes. Appear Networks out of Sweden has been creating useful mobile apps off of its Appear IQ plaform, a context-aware infrastructure that has already been personalized to fit law enforcement and healthcare applications. But before the holidays, Appear announced it has partnered with Qnamic, a transport planning software company out of Switzerland, to create a resource management solution to improve rail operators' efficiency.
Do you watch TV by itself, or do you always have your phone or laptop with you? If you're anything like myself, you may always be checking up for additional information and opinion, especially while watching sports and other events. To allow broadcasters to create a seamless experience like this, Never.no's Interactivity Suite connects fragmented media technologies by synchronizing TV broadcasts with mobile apps and the social web. The Norwegian company's target customers are broadcasters and advertisers who are looking to tap into an integrated experience, but don't have an independent soltion in mind. Never.no advertises having 80% of the work already completed, with the additional information and branding coming from an easy drag-and-drop builder.
With Google Analytics as our guide, we take a look back on 2011 to see what were the top stories according to the wisdom of the crowd.
"...We've heard that Techcrunch now, in some cases, require new startups to give them the right to determine when the startup can go talk to other journalists (and naturally if you don't want to abide - don't expect coverage anytime soon). In other words, they set an embargo towards the startup itself."
This time of year there's nothing worse than standing outside in the cold while waiting to get into a bar or club. To get around this problem in several Estonian cities, GateMe is a service that allows you to add yourself to a club's guest list before showing up at the door. With the service, a nightclub-goer can pre-pay the entrance fee to a club or event, then skip the line and be let in like a VIP.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Urmas Purde, the co-founder of the Estonian originated Pipedrive.
It’s that time of year again. Many of us are looking back at 2011 and plotting what to do differently next year. While there’s no doubt planning is a good thing, there’s a little something to keep in mind, especially if you’re working at startup pace.
I think it’s safe to say that in almost every startup there are always more things to be done than there are available people and resources. We’re constantly juggling with one or two balls too many, and it can be stressful keeping them all in the air. So when the time to reflect and plan comes, it’s very tempting to take the advice of time management gurus and write all to do’s on one sheet of paper. In theory this works well - the list in prioritized and all one has to do is tick things off the list, one by one. Plus this should create the feeling that juggling is now more under control.
Gecko Systems is a Finnish technology company that has taken an out-of-the box approach to location based services and markets. Instead of thinking of the obvious (which by Nordic standards usually means Western markets, USA, etc.), they have turned east towards Russia and their solutions, namely Glonass, a competitor to the GPS (Global Positioning System).
As winners of the popular vote at the Arctic15, we provided some free advertisement vouchers to Graduateland as a reward. In the coming months you'll find we'll cover a variety of topics on Graduateland's service.
It seems strange to introduce the winner of a popular vote, but for those of you unfamiliar with Graduateland, they're a career portal for European students and recent graduates that facilitates the connections between students, universities, and employers. Graduateland is designed for employers to find ideal candidates, but the service is also built from an advanced crawler engine that synchronizes with large employers' career websites. Around mid November, Graduateland welcomed user number 65 000, which has made them the largest career portal for students in Europe.
A couple days before Christmas, recent Startup Sauna graduate Lokus Digital released their first game, Nuke Commander, in the Android app store. In the game, you play as an AI supercomputer that is intent on destroying the earth, like sort of a Skynet style plot. The visual style of the game gives immediate flashbacks to the cold war from the 1980's style state-of-the-art green wireframe graphics that chart launched nuclear missiles. The game should also soon be available in the Apple App store.
All About Windows Phone is reporting that the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace recently reached 50 000 apps and seems to have hit some sort of critical mass. It took over a year to get to 40 000 apps, but just 40 days to get to the next 10 000-- a sign of good exponential growth on the platform.
With the new year right around the corner, I'm sure many ArcticStartup readers have it in their mind to finally start a company from that business idea they have knocking around in their head. If you're in Finland, you may find help getting off the ground with funding from Tekes, the "Finnish funding agency for technology and innovation." Getting the funding process started with Tekes is fairly straightforward. The basic steps are to first be prepared to answer basics about your company's plans, to send in a sounding form to make contact and discuss more about your company, and then to prepare the actual application.
Before submitting anything to Tekes, take a second to familiarize yourself with is a list of test questions your Tekes contact person will likely ask after you submit your application. I'm sure you've seen these Due Diligence questions before, but its good to solidify your answers to questions like "Who are your potential customers," early in the stage where your company is applying for Tekes financing.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Timo Jäppinen. He is the managing director of a marketing agency Drayton Bird Associates Finland.
You can’t do much about Europe – either it will fall apart or it won’t.
Here are three things you can bet money on, though.
First, the politicians won’t save you. They have no worries. And second, the only economy you should worry about is your own.
And there is one piece of good news. Those who start getting things right during a recession come out stronger than those who sit on their hands.
We caught some news right before the holidays: the Swedish advertising technology specialist Freespee announced a partnership with Sponsormob from Germany, a mobile advertising company. Together they will offer performance-based mobile advertising to companies with call-centres.
On mobile, the partnering company Sponsormob, has done click-to-call advertising on an performance basis. Together, the companies have found mobile an ideal environment for call advertising, where clients only have to click on a button on a landing page and can be directly connected to the advertiser's call center. The benefits of Click-to-Call include a high sales conversion rates and the opportunity to up-sell customers during phone calls with a physical person.
As the year is turning to an end, we'd like to take a moment to wish all our readers a very happy and relaxing holiday season. We have had an awesome year here and we're glad that so many of you have enjoyed the ride with us. To be exact there are more than 50 000 of you who keep coming back each month. That's a lot when we work hard to stay away from any click optimized, SEO focused content. We're of course very happy about this, but it's more awesome for all the startups in the region - they've got the world's attention.
Here's some big news out of the Baltics: Slevomat Group from the Czech Republic and Cherry Media have partnered together to form the region's largest Daily Deals group. Their 2011 turnover put together exceeds 60 million euros, putting them up there as one of the largest startups in the region.
“Both companies were looking for expansion in Central Europe and teaming up was the most logical step. We have the best management teams in the region and have now got great opportunity to gain a scale for region-wide deals,“ said Tomáš Čupr, Chief Executive Officer of Slevomat.
There are over 215 million domain names currently registered, which means finding a the perfect domain name is difficult without any tools. While GoDaddy and others give you a simple suggestions, NameStation, a startup from Estonia, provides domain suggestion tools you can find suitable candidates faster using better algorithms and the community.