We stick to digital startups here at ArcticStartup, but we're not afraid to wander if something catches our eye. A new project on KickStarter has done just that: a couple of guys from Helsinki have created Wishbhone, a clever piece of plastic that allows you to actually store your headphones without them turning into the strongest, most complicated knot known to man. You can receive the product if they reach their goal, and if you donate more than $10 (€7.50).
I'm writing this from LeWeb, actually from the back of a mobile sauna the Travelling Salesman Crew brought in. It's about the only place I could find a seat outside of the main hall to work a little. If you are in LeWeb, do pay the sauna a visit! Loïc and Geraldine have been able to pull together one big event once again in Paris with some 3300 people from all around the world.
It must be part of the evolution of LeWeb and technology conferences in general (us included with Arctic15), but most of the content in the first day of Le Web this year seemed to be full of product launches.
A couple of months ago we reported that Swedish app developers were facing a double value added tax in the EU market. Once implemented, the tax would have put several Swedish startups at a competitive disadvantage.
With pressure from Per Strömbäck, spokesperson for the Swedish Games Industry, and others, the Swedish authorities finally caved in last week and announced that they will put the double tax on indefinite hold until EU member states can agree on common guidelines for the taxation of electronic services.
The concept of Bambuser, the service that allows you to live upload video from your smartphone, came from a final exam project Måns Adler worked on while finishing his studies. At the time, he pictured three use-cases for the project: the first involved a Grandma running late to her grandchild's graduation, yet luckily was still able to watch the first half from her smartphone. The second was a father who couldn't make it to his kid's soccer game, yet was able to get it live-broadcasted from another parent. And the third case Adler pictured was an Iraqi filming daily life in Bagdad, or footage of soldiers shooting at civilians. "This was back during the Iraq war... and I saw a service like this useful for stuff maybe CNN wouldn't publish or the U.S. government would object to."
For a university project it was quite prophetic. As people have taken to the streets protesting governments and corporations around the globe, Bambuser has become a source of truth where emotions and media spin can cloud the facts. Despite the Bambuser website's glowing stock images of couples filming each other on the beach, the service's major impact has been on live-recording angry crowds, tear gas canisters, and riot police.
The beta of Foodie.fm is already running in Finland and the UK, but yesterday TechCrunch reported that Foodie.fm will be launching in all countries at LeWeb this year. The service provides recipes which you can save in the app, which in turn will give you a shopping list to use at the store. Foodie.fm also has a deal with the S Group in Finland, so it gives you the prices of items on your shopping list as well. In UK Foodie.fm product assortment is linked to Tesco.com through their API.
10 billion mobile ad impressions a month is a huge number of ads served across mobile platforms. It's hard to believe, but Rovio has claimed to be the largest mobile ad publisher of the world-- which includes beating Google, which has its ads running on all mobile applications and search results. It's impressive but tough to digest.
Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds has already invaded all known platforms like Apple iOS, Android, Windows, Chrome browser and so on. It currently boasts 500 million downloads on all the available platforms, which makes the claim of 10 billon ad impressions a month believable. Peter Vesterbacka, Chief Marketing Officer of Rovio has been very vocal about this and even voicing plans on creating a new advertising method. We saw this happen with the release of Angry Birds Rio campaign that acted as a massive promotion for Rio the movie.
For developers, having as many payment models as possible gives better flexibility for your app's business plan. This is especially important when targeting the frontier of new untapped markets, such as those where the affordable Nokia Asha 303 is expected to expected to be popular. Nokia just announced that they are now supporting in app purchasing for the Asha 303, which is the first for the Series 40 platform.
Motorola Solutions announced today that Appear, a Swedish vendor of mobile application platforms, along with with Ryerson University’s Flybits, a Canadian research and development group, today received a Golden-idea Award from Motorola for augmented reality software for a wearable computer designed to be used by security guards and law enforcement. The hardware is Motorola's own Golden-i bluetooth headset that is touch free and includes a virtual reality screen in front of one eye.
Currently the only high speed submarine cables leading to Iceland are coming from Europe, creating a roundabout trip for internet connections to hit North America. Emerald Netorks, a new American submarine network company, is building one of the fastest neworks across the Atlantic that will branch from Ireland and Iceland, and head straight for New York.
The new cable will cost around €227 million, and will provide a 100 Gbps connection across the Atlantic. This has great benifits for the high speed trading used by the financial sector-- expected round trip latency between New York and London is around 62ms. But it will also open up Iceland to become a new datacenter powerhouse.
There are numerous different ways media companies generate news. Some focus to cover the bigger picture of events. A good example of this is The Economist. They dig deep into the story backgrounds and go beyond the obvious. Another more common way to cover stories online is the one of breaking news.
Breaking news type of stories are hard to catch and usually require the media organisation to be on alert at all times. Another way to go about it is talking to lots of startups and simply getting news first. Third way to go about breaking news is to try and get an exclusive story from the startup. The startup can then decide if they want to give exclusivity to only one company. In our experience, most startups try to get the news out to as many companies out there that would want to cover them. After all - it doesn't make sense to artificially limit coverage.
Why am I writing about exclusive stories then? Well, we've heard a rather disturbing way Techcrunch handles some exclusives these days and feel its in the interest of the startups in our readers to know more about the practice.
We covered ShapeUp Club almost a year ago (see our coverage here). It's a service by Sillens Ab from Sweden and they've reached one of their bigger milestones, one month ahead of schedule. Today the company reported reaching one million users and also came out in stating that they are now the fastest growing weight loss service in Europe.
Open Ocean Capital, a Finnish VC firm, has invested $1 million in Zentyal, a developer of the Linux based Small Business Server. Open Ocean closed a $40 million fund in may, and gravitates towards open source projects due to their background with MySQL. Zentyal is based in Spain, and the startup says it is now at more than 30,000 monthly downloads, three years after its founding.
The Finnish gaming company Supercell, that launched the hugely successful game Gunshine.net earlier this year is working on their next release, Pets vs Orcs. They have stated this in their blog in the beginning of November.
Microtask has been putting in a lot of effort in the recent year or so to expand their operations beyond the Finnish borders. They've been restructuring their business this fall by moving all Finnish operations to Tampere and focusing on setting up their US business on the other side of the Atlantic. We thought it might be a good time to talk to the CEO, Ville "Wili" Miettinen, about why they decided to move overseas and how it has gone for them so far.
Copenhagen originated Unity Technologies announced on Tuesday that its development platform for games and interactive 3D has surpassed 750,000 registered developers. This marks a 50% increase in developers in just four months and it appears that Unity is bringing the year to a close with continued record growth.
After receiving a $12 million Series B investment from Asian venture capitalists in July, CEO David Helgason predicted that 40% of Unity’s business will come from China within the next 18 months. No details were released on where the current growth is coming from, but the figures are definitely impressive. Over the course of the past year, the number of registered developers has tripled from 250,000 to 750,000 (26% active monthly) and Unity Web Player installations have doubled from 40 million to 80 million.
One Swedish startup that's in private beta, but still has popped up on our radar a few times is Tripbirds. We got in touch with the company and found out that they're building a social travel site based on Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, and Instagram to make it easier to get travel recommendations from your friends.
So say if you're going to Paris, Tripbirds would allow you to easily access your friends' check-ins and location tagged pictures to see where they've visited, so you can find or ask for recommendations. In this way you're able to get real reviews from people you trust, and not fake "outstanding!" reviews from hotel owners. This also allows you to get more personal recommendations than what non-partisan guides like Lonely Planet tell everyone.
Later this evening European time, Spotify is holding a Global Press Conference in NYC to announce "a new direction for the company". If the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, Spotify will announce a new push for third party apps to integrate with Spotify, starting with an "app finder" integrated into the service starting tomorrow. Right now we'll speculate away, but will also keep this post updated as more is announced.
(See updates below the fold):
You may have met some of the team behind the new Amsterdam-based Rockstart Accelerator if you were present at Slush in Helsinki, or the Startup Weekend Copenhagen. Over the last 18 months, the team behind Rockstart Accelerator organized Startup Weekend events all across Europe, in London, Copenhagen, Athens, Bucharest, Warsaw, Bratislava, Brussels, Prague, and Amsterdam where they saw about 200 startup teams and 3000 entrepreneurs participate. It's not a bad way to get to get name out to the freshest young teams across Europe.
Rockstart Accelerator is open to all types of startups, whether they are in technology, sustainability, retail, or other sectors. The Program starts on March 1, 2012, and the application period ends January 6.
Right now, event planning services like Eventbright and Ticketmaster are providing a decent way to buy and receive tickets, but not much more. A new Helsinki-based player called Flockified noticed that if a ticket service had a "organize this with your friends" feature instead of the current "I'm coming or nothing" approach, they could provide a service to both venues and users.
GigsWiz Ltd., the company behind Flockified, have based their entry into the ticketing market on some data. Analysis of the ticket purchase landing page data and doing further consumer research they found that 90% of customers exit the purchase funnel after the initial event discovery phase on standard ticketing pages.
We are always on the lookout for interesting news and startups, especially those coming from the people and teams we have already covered on Arctic Startup. From Utopic.me and its founder Jüri Kaljundi, who recently unveiled the new look of Utopic.me, we caught wind of a new news aggregator they've put together called StartupInMe.
StartupInMe is a news aggregator and Q&A community for startups. The basic idea is to provide startup enthusiasts and experts a destination to share opinions and remain up to date on all news associated to the global startup scene. While that might classify StartupInMe as “just another startup news aggregator”, you may enjoy it due to its tight focus, and the slow culture shift prevalent on other popular aggregators.