iTunes just got a kick in the head when Spotify revealed their plans this morning realeasing the Spotify version 0.4.3 which includes the largest feature upgrade since Spotify's launch in late 2008. Why? Because music just become very social. It's on now and Apple can ignore it only at its peril.
The release is centered around a set of social features more than anything else. It lets you create an identity that is defined by the music you listen, or put other way you can create a personal playlist and share it with your friends. In the new release you see your friends profiles and by clicking them you also see all the music they listen to (given they allow it to be seen).
Partnering is easy to talk about but a lot harder to undertake. It requires courage, patience and determination over time. It is rarely a quick fix solution to a problem and can sometimes be a frustrating and disappointing experience - falling short of initial hopes and expectations. A long and winding road where it is hard to navigate.
But it does not have to be this way.
A week ago, Tallinn hosted one very interesting startup event, Garage 48. Garage48 is an event organised by Estonian Startup Leaders Club. The event's title hints at the concept. The event is organised over a 48 hour period during which the participants build and launch companies. A week ago, 16 startups were launched as a result of the 48 hour period.
The company titled its annual report for 2009 as a "Fantastic voyage" and having been at the press conference I can say the title is a big understatement on the story itself. The Switch is a 5 year old clean tech company building converters and generators for the wind energy industry. They have been in business for about 5 years and their first years (2005 and 2006) revenue wise were good - they made a few millions in turnover. In 2009 they turned over 96,5 million euros.
Eat.fi is hands down one the best designed Finnish webservices, if not the best. I love it and use it weekly, but can't keep thinking it could be so much more.
Facebook just yesterday released its new API in its developer conference f8. This is really big news for everybody. Much bigger than we can yet grasp. With their new really(!) big vision, Facebook will now compete with Google in being the one who parses the web together for the rest of us. Google does it with hyperlinks. Facebook will try to do better job with the meta data from our social relationships. That aside for a moment, let's look at what this announcement could mean for Eat.fi in the short term.
Just as with Yelp, who was Facebook's partner at the f8 launch and have integrated their service to Facebook API, Eat.fi could gain similar benefits by simply integrating its service with the Facebook API. This would surely channel more traffic to Eat.fi as it would let people see who else likes the same restaurants (or even meals) that they do and let the users share the restaurant reviews more easily to their activity feed on their Facebook profile. The Facebook integration would help Eat.fi to get more traffic, but I believe they could do much more.
We are proud to announce, for the second year in a row, an Elevator Pitch Competition for all Baltic and Nordic startups and growth companies, to be held in Tallinn on June 1st.
The jury of the competition consists of pan-Nordic-Baltic VCs, so this is a perfect opportunity to put yourself on the radar and get valuable feedback on your pitch from experienced financiers. We also have great prizes for the winners.
The applications to the Pitch Competition must be done using this form.
Please send your application to events (at) arcticstartup.com latest by May 6th 8:00 PM EET. Finalists will be announced by May 12th.
The Elevator Pitch Competition is organized as part of the Third Annual Tallinn Conference by The International Technology Law Association and Enterprise Estonia. The conference will be held at the Swissotel Tallinn during May 31-June 1, and the Elevator Pitch Competition will take place in the afternoon of June 1, 2010.
The conference theme this year is Preparing The Technology Company For Breakout: Challenges and Tools for the Nordic Region. Last year the conference drew in VCs, entrepreneurs and business owners, and naturally business lawyers (of the good type...) from all over the Nordic and Baltic countries, and also many guests from the USA. Registration is now open.
And that's not all - ArcticStartup will also organize ArcticEvening Tallinn in the evening of June 1st, to wrap up the conference and the pitch competition, and to create a networking forum for the international bunch in the city. Mark it in your calendar and stay tuned for more info!
Seedcamp, the European seed investment program that originated in London has opened its Nordic Mini Seedcamp for applications. This year the Mini Seedcamp takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark 27th May 2010.
Mini Seedcamp Copenhagen is a one day event aiming to connect the 20 best web-tech, mobile and software startups with some of the leading entrepreneurs, developers, and experts from the European tech ecosystem.
Last year Seedcamp's Nordic event took place in Helsingborg, Sweden and attracted a decent line-up of startups. That said, there is definitely room for more quality applicants, not least from Finland. You can see our coverage from last year here.
Balancion has become fully commercial as of 15th of April. Balancion is the Finnish equivalent of Mint.com as in a personal finance service, where a user is able to keep account of her income and expenses as shown on her bank account. The monthly subscription prices are not overly expensive as prices range from 4 to 6 euros based on the length of payment.
Below you'll be able to follow the ArcticEvening Helsinki event live stream, courtesy of Bambuser.
Great news for all those who can't make it to our sold out event tonight - we'll be streaming it live, thanks to the wonderful guys at Bambuser. Later tonight, at around 6pm (GMT+3) - a blog post will go out with the embedded video stream, where you can watch it. We'll be streaming the introductions, Microsoft presentation of their mobile platform as well as the panel, including audience questions. All this will be about 1,5 hours in length.
So grab a beer later tonight, have a sit by your computer and enjoy the show we'll broadcast live from Korjaamo Helsinki. For all those who want to tweet about the event, the hashtag is #AEHki.
I watched a terrific TEDx video from Edmonton where entrepreneur Cameron Herold shares his advice to parents around the world for raising your kids with entrepreneurial thinking. He himself did not do too well in school and was left questioning at a very young age; "why are our kids raised in this manner?".
Cameron Herold has very pragmatic advice for parents and other viewers alike. For example, instead of giving children weekly allowances, which in his opinion teaches the kids that incoming money is taken for granted, he tells his kids to go around the house and look for things that need improving. Once the kids notice something that can be done better, they come back to their father and start negotiating on the price for that job. This way they'll always have to realise the opportunities, defend their point of view why it needs improvement and create the setting for a small project. Fantastic!
Erply has come up with an innovative way to harness the mobility of the iPad. Erply is an Estonian company, who just last month raised 2 million dollars in funding and is trying to create an appealing solution to the sales, inventory and CRM challenges of retail SMEs.
Some time ago, Erply announced iPOS, which is essentially the ERPLY solution running on the iPad. They have a demo landing page up for the service, but it is enough to intrigue me into writing a story about it. I think this is one of the best B2B solutions/ideas out there for iPad.
While EVs are the most environmentally friendly transportation solution of today, there is one start-up which thinks further ahead. What might sound like a futuristic idea, borrowed from a Sci-fi movie, will soon be reality in some cities - I am talking about Personal Rapid Transit, which fits right between the mass transport metros and busses provide and more private transportation like taxis. BM Design is a Finnish start-up which has the solution to our transportation needs of tomorrow.
I'm happy to see another acquisition coming from Sweden. So happy I was about to write how PlusFourSix is strengthening its offering within digital entertainment through the acquisition of Global Media Bank. Then decided not to. There's something more interesting that I wanted to share.
Petteri Koponen, Jaiku co-founder and now partner at Lifeline Ventures, shared many interesting tidbits about his career as an entrepreneur at Aalto Entrepreneur Society Bootcamp event, but the best part was him telling about the emotional roller coaster that an entrepreneur is bound to go through (jump into 23.02 on the video, if you want to go straight to the 'emotional part'). Just as Koponen says, it's exhausting and the lows are really low and highs are really high, but once you get the taste, it's very hard or even impossible to go back to working for the man.
Last spring we lightly touched Sumo Paint regarding a startup competition in Estonia, but today we're going to take a slightly deeper look into the company. Sumo Paint, simply put - is your Photoshop in a browser, on steroids. It's extremely powerful and has shown steady growth along the years. Today the service claims to have six million unique users with 130 000 registered members from over 200 countries.
Sumo Paint in short is a photo editing/painting application that works from your web browser. The application is Flash based and thus works on most of the different operating systems.
On the face of it startup events might look like bunch of geeks listening to talks that provide little or no value over what can be obtained with an Internet connection and an ability to read.
Wrong! It's not what happens on-stage but off-stage that matters. This is where grown men talk tech, drink imported beer and meet the most important people of their startup lives. This is where you get to know the people. And its the people you know that will make the difference between a success and a failure.
Yes, your product's traction may play a role, but a few emails to the right people do wonders when you are running out of money, haven't slept for days and are fighting windmills to close the one deal that means the difference between life and death. This is while at the same time Facebook is busy stealing your CTO right when your servers can't cope with the increased traffic. That's when knowing the right people come handy.
Pingdom is a service measuring and tracking the uptime, downtime, and performance of websites, covering the uptime monitoring needs of 90% of the companies in the world. The Sweden based firm has been very efficient in concentrating on this narrow segment, and has been growing strongly as a result. The firm's mission is fully focused on providing the best uptime monitoring service available. Pingdom was founded in 2005 by Sam Nurmi, who also founded and later sold Sweden’s biggest web hosting company, Loopia.
SongHi Entertainment is a few years old Finnish startup aiming at empowering the masses with tools to create music. They will try to achieve this through a variety of means, such as casual music oriented games. SongHi Entertainment's mains service is called SongHi - a virtual community created around people interested in creating music. The company's on a roll too, a few months ago they closed an investment round that had a group of angels, Optiomi Invest Oy and Veraventure finance the company. Only few months ago they were able to hire one of the key personnels from Sulake, Juha Hynynen to join their ranks.
Apple will be the talk of the town in mobile advertising this year. Last week at Apple’s OS 4 event, Jobs presented what advertising industry has been asking from mobile: iAd - the engagement media with scale and quality.
For brands, mobile advertising has had a big promise but no breakthrough: digital media and technology companies trying to fit the traditional online advertising model - mainly display and search - into mobile have not taken off. Mobile media is different to online: being based on communications and quick tasks one performs, not browsing, mobile requires different user experience. Running banners on mobile is like running radio ads on tv.
Janne Jalkanen, sometimes referred to as the Godfather of NFC, leaves Nokia after 8 years to join the Finnish startup Thinglink. Thinglink is a catalogue type site where users can share images, thoughts and ideas regarding products on the web. The company is founded and run by Ulla-Maaria Engeström. See our previous coverage of Thinglink.