Metro International, publisher of the free daily newspaper availible in over 100 cities across the world, has signed a co-operation deal with Scoopshot, a Helsinki-based news photo crowdsourcing service. This deal will allow readers to capture and sell their photos to Metro using Scoopshot's iPhone and Android apps. Scoopshot is owned by Helsink-based P2S Media Group.
The Helsinki Based seed accelerator, Startup Sauna, recently announced their Fall batch of startups. The 17 teams began working out of Otaniemi yesterday and will finish with a public demo day on December 15th. This year there are 8 Finnish teams, 5 Russian, 2 Polish, 1 Estonian, and one from Lithuania.
Getting your documents and proposals approved on time by all relevant stakeholders can be a tedious and nerve-wracking task. Easyprove, a Lithuania-based startup, is developing an online platform that could potentially make the process a whole lot smoother, efficient and carefree.
Mobile payments are hot right now, but many services are only offered for certain phones, or certain stores-- like Starbucks' mobile payment app. A Lithuanian startup has a new take on the concept to also reach users who don't have a smartphone. Mokipay uses a sticker with a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that attaches to the back of a smart or dumb phone, which can be read by a Mokipay reader already present in about 2000 bars, restaurants, and retailers across Lithuania.
As a quick followup, The Switch, a windmill component engineering firm, is no longer being acquired by American Superconductor Corp. When the acquisition was announced last March we called The Switch "the next success story Finland has been waiting for," but yesterday The Switch shareholders and AMSC announced that they have agreed to terminate the acquisition agreement, due to adverse market conditions for the financing required to fund the acquisition. According to Bloomberg, AMSC has dropped 82 percent since April 5, when its largest customer, Chinese wind-turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group Co., refused to accept contracted shipments.
With the hype surrounding the new Nokia Windows phones, perhaps we will start to see more apps developed for the Windows Phone 7 marketplace. To get any traction, new and existing apps are going to need some healthy promotion to reach customers. The Lithuanian cross-promotion network, AdDuplex, seeks to help developers gain traction and monetize their apps through in-app advertisements.
In this day and age, what could be worse than making a phone call to arrange a taxi? It sounds too much of a hassle, and while it might be effective for many, the concept sounds too medieval. This is just my personal opinion, but gladly some firms are keen at bringing Cab facilitation online. The idea is to help ease the task for arranging taxis via one single destination. Yandex has started doing exactly that.
The Russian online giant is leveraging its popularity online in Russia to launch a Yandex Taxi Search Service. Yandex.Taxi sends request for booking a cab to all taxi services and accelerates the process of finding a cab for travellers. To start off, Yandex.Taxi has succeeded in partnering with 11 Taxi Service providers. Currently this service is just in beta and the operations are limited to Moscow alone.
Here's more of our keynote talks at Arctic15 earlier this autumn. Richard White gave one of the fastest, action filled talks I've ever heard. He talked through the story of his past startups, but also how came to found Uservoice.com. A nice coincidence was that Richard White and Steve Huffman both knew each other previously and thus he made quite a few references to Steve Huffman's Reddit along the way as well. More keynote videos and all the startup pitches coming up in the next few weeks.
Publishzer is a new content collection platform that allows anyone to view videos, tweets, photos, and blog articles in a tight, dynamic, magazine-like spread. When the service goes live, users will be able to create their own magazines or read others.
When using Publishzer, everything feels clean and easy to use. When creating your own online magazine, Publishzer designed a buttonless interface that is intuitive and autosaves what you type. And when reading a Publishzer, you can click on images to enlarge and re-arrange content. It makes it easy to look at photos in more detail, or find more content. To view what their service looks like, check out a sample based on our Arctic15 conference.
In our series with Microsoft - Hear it from the startups, we talk to Techila Technologies about their use of Microsoft Technology and business development in general. Rainer Wehkamp is the founder of Techila Technologies and in the interview below he explains what led him to start the company. Techila offers a cloud based solution to access high-performance computing for very specific use cases.
Yandex has had an eventful year: it rolled out a whole set of new features, invested into quite a few start-ups and enlisted on NASDAQ, raising almost $1.5 billion. Though after the initial hype of the IPO their shares were in decline. According to Q3 financial results released this week, the company is doing very well.
Their revenues jumped 65% from last year to $161.9 million and their net income grew a staggering 93% over the last 12 months reaching $53.5 million. However, their share of the Russian search market slightly dropped from almost 65% to 62.7%. Lost market share went to Google, who is trying to grow their market share in the region with the help of their browser, Chrome (popular especially among young people). Though, as Arkady Volozh, Yandex's founder and CEO retorted to Reuters: 'In the long run, clear market leadership is more important to financial performance than the magnitude of that lead which is likely to fluctuate over time'.
The digitalization of the publishing industry should make books easier for everyone to consume, but unfortunately ebooks are released into a world of fragmented platforms and formats. Publification, a new Estonian ebook publisher at the Springboard Accelerator, allows anyone with a browser to publish and read handsomely put together ebooks hosted on their HTML5 platform. Their browserbooks beta is set to be released sometime this fall.
Earlier this week at Nokia World, Nokia announced that it had partnered with Rovio and Angry Birds. In practice this means that all new Nokia Asha family phones will have Angry Birds pre-installed on it. A little earlier in the keynote, Stephen Elop announced that Nokia is making 14 phones each second. Think about it. It adds up to 1,2 million phones a day. Most of those phones aren't smart phones - they're phones being built for the emerging markets. Nokia Asha will be replacing the Series 40 phones and therefore, most of the phones Nokia makes - will come with Angry Birds pre-installed.
More Arctic15 keynotes coming up! This one's from Patric Blixt from Rebtel. Blixt is the Chief Marketing Officer at the VoIP operator that is surprisingly little hyped about, considering they're doing tens of millions of revenue only a few years after their founding. We had the honor to have Blixt share his thoughts on marketing and promoting startups in the early part of their growth phase. He talked a lot about the virality loops, which are a key component of Rebtel's success.
Information overload is a big problem online and there are many services that try to solve it: from good old RSS readers to various content discovery platforms like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon or Reddit to social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Two entrepreneurs from Lithuania, Daumantas Dvilinskas and Mindaugas Krisciunas, decided it's time to move content discovery from social to interest graph, making use of all the existing services. That is how Pinevio, a social content discovery platform, was founded a year ago.
Ok, this is a story I was supposed to write earlier this week. First, when I set out to take some screenshots of the game on my iPad I ended up spending a good 30 minutes with the game before forgetting what I was meant to do. The game is addictive as hell and it's called Bike Baron. It's an iPhone and iPad game from Mountain Sheep (produced together with Qwiboo). It's also understandable why it took a while for Kimmo Vihola, the CEO of Mountain Sheep, to get back to my questions too. The game has shot to the top 1 spot in 62 countries, in less than a week. That's faster than Angry Birds!
On Monday Fortumo, the company probably best known for its in-app purchasing provider for Android developers, released an API for cross platform HTML5-supported mobile payments. This will allow app and game developers to easily integrate in-app payments for any mobile HTML5 based application. The service allows billing to customers' phone bills, which can open up a whole range of new customers who don't have credit cards.
Sony annouonced it is taking over the Sony Ericsson mobile phone joint venture by buying out the remaining shares of the Swedish manufacturer for 1.05 billion euros. The handset maker will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corp. This move is seen as a play by Sony to take further unify its games and hardware with its handsets, which have been kept seperate since Sony's 2001 takeover of Ericsson.
International development aid and tech startups is an unlikely but promising combination, as shown by Aspectus Ltd, a Finland-based startup that officially launched its online donation portal, Bank4Hope, on Tuesday.
Donations to developing countries have long been plagued by the lack of transparency and people are often hesitant to give away their hard earned pennies if the money has no concrete destination. This is the problem that Aspectus wants to address. Bank4Hope is the first online portal that allows private and corporate donors to follow their donations in real-time and get direct feedback from the beneficiaries themselves.
Update (3.11.2011): We've updated the information regarding Estonia to better reflect the market situation. After analysing a 3rd party data source (Refresh.lv) we realised Zizu's figures were wrong. They are now portrayed correctly in the data below. Please note that we have not changed the overall market situation of the Baltics, even though it would change slightly due to the change in figures from Estonia. Samad Mukhamedov from Zizu Project contacted us and we've discussed this over e-mail. According to their figures, they are number 2 in the Baltics in September, but due to the sheer difference in figures between Cherry's and those of the research site Refresh.lv's we are unable to replicate this. However, we wanted to bring this up as to make the figures as transparent as possible.
This post is a very comprehensive look into the daily deals, group buying market in the Baltics. We've also talked to the market leader, Cherry Media Group about the situation on the market and how they see it develop in the future. Despite being a fairly established trend in the world of e-commerce, the daily deals industry is far from saturated in the Baltics, but we're going to see consolidation among the players in the future. Cherry Media Group is the largest player in the market by far. According to calculations from the company themselves (that are available to the public, based on the deals the companies have sold), they have 49% market share in the Baltic market. Cherry Media Group operates in all three, Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian, markets.