We organized an elevator pitch competition the other week as part of the International Technology Law Association's Fourth Annual Baltic Conference. It was the third year in a row we have thrown the pitch competition. This year we had five companies (introduced below) taking part. Flockler emerged as the winner, and the runner-up position was grabbed by Hitlantis by Cognitive Maps Ltd.
The winners and the other finalists (not in any particular order):
We're proud to announce that we've started a partnership with Nokia this month to cover the mobile phone company in greater detail. We look forward to bringing you lots of interesting details that otherwise may not have been widely written in public. This first post is about the Nokia Ecosystem and what it means today for those developing software for it. We talked to Karen Lachtanski, who works in Palo Alto for Nokia.
Thinglink expanded their reach with a new Rich Media Tags tool that adds content and functionality of other websites and social media to any image. In other words, Thinglinked images would allow users to interact with Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Spotify, Vimeo, Wikipedia, SoundCloud and Twitter directly from within a single image. This is a huge addition to the service as it makes Thinglink's tags even more relevant and meaningful.
In Europe we've come to realise it that while there are certain hotspots, to among which Northern Europe is slowly growing into, venture capital in general is extremely scarce compared to other parts of the world. Jan Müehlfeit, Microsoft’s European chairman, spoke this week in Brussles to TechEurope, in a Microsoft Bizspark summit, about the differences and challenges Europe faces as an area for entrepreneurs. Venture capital is clearly one of them.
Angry Birds Magic, which was further announced last night in New York at the RWW2Way Summit, will be using both NFC and GPS to enable new features and possibilities for gamers. Mighty Eagle Peter Vesterbacka and Ramine Darabiha, the product manager for Angry Birds Magic have stated in GigaOM, that the new platform will enable both new revenue streams for Rovio, but also new ways for gamers to enjoy the game.
The second largest social network in Russia, Odnoklassniki, recently launched a music streaming service on their platform. That would make it the second Russian social network to have a streaming service. Vkontakte has had one for years. Today Vkontakte offers unlimited free music streaming and this month it even introduced a music recommendation feature. Yandex also has a free music streaming app that allows building various playlists (unlike Vkontakte, for instance), though it lacks social dimension and is only available in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazahstan due to copyrights.
Apple and Nokia have settled their licensing disputes, the companies have stated. According to the agreement, Apple will pay Nokia a one-time payment as well as on going licensing fees. "We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees," said Stephen Elop. "This settlement demonstrates Nokia's industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market."
PhotoPoll is a new iOS application being developed by Nils Forsblom, one of our speakers coming to Arctic15 in September. The idea is really simple and appealing: you can create quick polls for your friends to comment with the help of images. Furthermore, if you're a bit more open with your privacy, anyone in the application can comment on your polls.
Fits.me, the Estonian company that is building a new way to help online retailers sell clothes, has announced the female shaped robot. The robot, which is used to photograph the merchandise an online retailer is selling, will essentially drive up sales as customers are able to see how different sized clothes fit different sized people.
Yandex, has invested in one of the applicants and finalists that took part in its Yandex Start event on March 15th - Zenmoney.ru. Zenmoney is a personal finance startup developing an accounting and planning application.
Tangerine District is a Denmark based company that has created an online community with a lot of different tools available for small businesses. It combines the traditional productivity tools such as a CRM and a calendar together with file sharing and a knowledge base where you can ask questions from fellow entrepreneurs. Furthermore, there are services provided by other third party members, such as lawyers, etc. to help the small businesses onward in their path.
AlterGeo (formally Wi2Geo) is a Russian equivalent of Foursquare. Launched in 2008, it is a location-based mobile platform that lets users socially interect with locations through check-ins, badges and coupons. Quintura reported that the start-up has just secured third round of investment from Intel Capital and Almaz Capital. The exact sum is not disclosed, though both Quintura and Vedomosti speculate it can be between $5-$10M. Investors took 25% stake in the company and valued it at $20-$25M. AlterGeo's earlier investments include $50,000 in 2008 from seed investor Addventure and around $1M from Kite Ventures in 2009.
We're working hard to build all kinds of value into our conference we're organising in the autumn, Arctic15. One of these include a partnership with Helsinki based VC Zone. VC Zone Helsinki works together with venture capitalists and investors to find startups to invest in. We want to help in this naturally with our media reach.
The news today and this week seem to be all about Estonia and for a great reason too! Flirtic, another Estonain company is flying high - they have raised funding from Almaz Capital, a Russian VC firm. Flirtic is a new approach to online dating. It borrows a lot from social networks in terms of usability, but puts all this into an online dating context.
GrabCAD, one of the hot startups currently coming out from Estonia, has announced that they have landed a $1.1 million in funding from top-tier investors. Matrix Partners, Atlas Venture, Next View Ventures and angels John McEleney, Alex Ott, Angus Davis and Jon Stevenson invested into the company. GrabCAD has been a very active startup in the recent year or so as they've both taken part in Seedcamp, but also the TechStars programs.
Mini Seedcamp NY will be held on June 14th at Google's New York offices. The 20 selected companies come from various parts of the globe: Brazil, Canada, Poland, Israel, Germany, UK, Austria, Romania... Three of those 20 start-ups are from the Nordic and Baltic region. Namely, Campalyst from Latvia, Planeto from Sweden (Malmö) and SurveyLegend also from Sweden (Lund). Together with the other teams they would compete for the access to Seedcamp's world-class network of mentors and advisors, for a direct route to seed and venture capital and, of course, for the prestige of being recognized as the best start-up in the region.
Summer is the best time to travel and social interactions with different people is a great part of that experience. But how do you get hold of cool folks with similar interests to party with in Tel Aviv or take a biking tour around New York City? These are the questions Tripl, a Swedish start-up, is trying to answer. Their solution is yet undisclosed but one thing is clear: they are building a platform that would connect travellers with each other, locals and friends of friends. Tripl has recently closed $300,000 funding round, finalized their team of six and will launch their product to the public within a matter of weeks. We talked with David Los, a co-founder, to find out what the start-up has been doing behind the scenes.
Mojang, the Sweden based developer of Minecraft, has announced in the E3 game conference along with Microsoft that their game will be made available to the Xbox 360. The development on the game is just getting started so it'll take some time to get it out to everyone. Carl Manneh, wrote on the Mojang blog that they expect the game to be ready during the coming winter.
Would you like to work on your start-up idea but feel like you need to break out from familiar routine? Then Spanish Village is a program for you. It offers teams of up to three to go to Spain for three months this autumn and develop their ideas into pilots or prototypes ready to enter international markets. To facilitate the work, the program covers food, accomodation and travel plus each team would receive 3000€ for current expenses every month. Mentoring is at the heart of the program so the organizers promise to bring European and American experts who would coach teams in marketing, project management, financing and creating effective business plans and presentations. If that wasn't enough, participants would also be offerred courses in English, Russian and Spanish.
Everyone wants Angry Birds and after invading almost all sorts of mobile and other computing platforms it is now coming to TVs this summer. (after the movie, Rio) The announcement comes as Roku, the maker of set-top boxes mentioned partnering with Rovio early last week.