On Thursday, TechCrunch wrote about Spotify having 30 000 users in the US and questioning why it hasn't launched there yet. The post is highly controversial compared to what Spotify has to say officially. Spotify has stated (at the end of the post) that they don't have 30 000 users in the US and they have good relations to all their partners. TechCrunch stated otherwise referring to their well placed sources, close to the company.
It's been quite sometime in the making, but it is finally time to launch the new site with some neat features that enable us to make ArcticStartup so much more it used to be. Let me explain what we've developed and why.
The new ArcticStartup has been designed to give more tools to the community. We wanted to reach out to the community and give you more ways to initiate discussions and share material (news, links, press releases, etc.) on our site. Our article sections is still there, but we wanted to add more ways for the community to discover new, interesting and most of all relevant content.
Finnish web design solution provider Hammerkit has launched a closed beta of the new version of its cloud-based web design tool with revamped UI and features. The company's tool allows web designers to implement even complex websites on their own, without the need for help from programmers. Traditionally web designers have built mock-ups and wireframes, and then transferred these over to programmers to implement and weave in database connections etc. dynamic functionality. Hammerkit aims to revolutionize this old school fashion, allowing creativity without learning complex programming techniques - thus the company's tagline "a tool for the web punk generation."
The Estonian Fits.me, Virtual Fitting Room, has launched. Heikki Haldre, the CEO of the company, has been at work with his team on the concept for quite some time, winning pitches in Tallinn and overseas. A few days ago we received an e-mail from Heikki announcing that they've finally launched their service and have done so with a British customer - Hawes and Curtis.
Limited Partners or LPs, the people or institutional investors who invest their money in venture funds, are pulling away and the European investment climate is going from bad to worse. This is on one hand because of the dismal returns that the funds have generated and on the other hand because of the bloated management fees that some VCs collect without working much for their portfolio companies or for new deal flow.
Even if the general investment climate in Europe is getting darker Seedcamp is determined to make the early stage investing work in Europe. I talked with Reshma Sohoni, CEO of Seedcamp, at the Copenhagen Mini-Seedcamp about Seedcamp's past, present and future and what value they can offer for startups coming from the Nordics and Baltics.
Seedcamp model is to invest €50,000 in early stage startups in return for some 10 percent of equity. Beyond just the capital, they aim to connect entrerpeneurs with the best mentors across Europe, UK and US.
Just a quick reminder that we still have some tickets left for our event on the 1st of June in Tallinn! We have a great setup for the evening and it would be a pity to miss it, so register your free ticket using the registrations module below. We'll have a very interesting panel topped off with about 10+ one minute pitches by young startups and entrepreneurs. For those in Tallinn, we'll also have quite a few Finns coming down to Estonia - so take the evening off for some valuable business networking as well.
Sulake Corporation, the creators of the popular teenage social network Habbo Hotel, have reported very strong financial figures for their first quarter of 2010. Between January and March, Sulake's revenue grew by more than 25 percent compared to Q1 in 2009. Sales for the first three months of 2010 were $20 million (€14.7 million).
Silicon Valley Journey - Experience of Finnish IT Startups from Dot-Com to 2010 is a new book published just recently that delves into the secrets of Silicon Valley from the Finnish perspective. It's written by Raija Rapo and Marita Seulamo-Vargas, two Finnish business journalist residing in the Silicon Valley. Pekka Pärnänen of Finnode had also his fingers in the pie in making the book happen. The book is at the same time a guide to how to go about entering the Valley with your startup and a window into the history of Finnish technology entrepreneurship. At least into the history of those who were ambitious enough to try to enter the infamous Bay Area.
When I got the draft copy of the book I thought I would find it boring as I already know most of this stuff. How wrong was I. Come page 20 or so and I had lost track on time and didn't even notice how the war stories and historical accounts had sucked me in. Although admittedly you need to be into technology entrepreneurship to find the book interesting, but given where you're reading this article I think you are just the right type.
We have a great lineup for you guys in Tallinn on June 1st. This time around, we decided to organise our event around a few strongholds: a panel as well as some very interesting company presentations. We won't disclose the companies yet, but there will be plenty and very interesting cases around. They're also pitching clear needs or opportunities they may have for you so all investors, mentors, advisors, possible co-founders, etc - make a note of next week's event in your calendars!
This is our periodic thank you note to our blog sponsors to describe what they have to offer.
OMLegal offers legal services mainly to clients involved in the IT, Media and Entertainment industries. With years of legal experience and in-depth understanding of the business they are able to provide their clients effective and comprehensive legal solutions. OMLegal is relatively small, yet very dynamic in the way they handle their clients – you won’t be left alone with them!
Be sure to check out OMLegal's pro bono legal advice at "OMLegal: Helping Startups". They're also sending out document templates to startups, who want to ask for them, so take advantage of the offer.
Aalto Capital, a Finnish investment bank, has launched a market place, Privanetanti, for startups and investors to find each other better. It is a very welcome initiative as early stage financing has commonly been noted as one of the largest challenges in getting growth companies off the ground and growing.
Swedish startup Anyfi Networks has come out of stealth mode and announced Anyfi.net, a new Wi-Fi roaming solution. The solution allows Internet service providers (ISP) offer consumers the same automatic Wi-Fi user experience both at home and on the go - users can automatically and securely always connect to the same Wi-Fi access point.
The solution is based on a custom piece of software ISP can install (automatically over-the-air in most cases) into their Wi-Fi hotspot devices, to make the hotspots function as a radio gateway (or access point). The access points direct the raw Wi-Fi radio traffic securely over the Internet to a server in the cloud.
This way, when connecting to a hotspot where Anyfi.net software is installed, users will always be virtually in their home network, without having to login to any new local Wi-Fi network (no passwords are asked after the very first login to the home network). This means the users will also have a fully secured connection, even if the hotspot itself would be untrusted or even in an attacker's control. The solution is also very simple for the end users, as it does not require installation of any new software to the consumers' devices, thus working on any Wi-Fi client device (like smartphone) out-of-the-box. Check out the video below for more info.
Cleantech is becoming more important in Northern Europe, with an increase of investments in the region, and there's a growing interest from politics and private households. Time to evaluate and have a chat with a dedicated Cleantech Fund from the North to hear their take on the situation.
Ewa Grzechnik works as an Analyst at the Sustainable Technologies Fund (STF), a Venture Capitalist Fund based in Stockholm, Sweden. The Fund was established in 2007 and its main investors are Swedish Pension Funds as well as some private investors. The fund is a dedicated Cleantech private equity growth fund. Their Portfolio currently contains seven companies, and STF is looking to add an another company or two to their portfolio.
TripSay announced a couple of days ago their partnership with Helsingin Sanomat, the largest daily newspaper in Finland, on their hotel search. Helsingin Sanomat is using TripSay's hotel search as part of their travel pages targeted at Finns.
The service is a co-branded partnership where the community is run by Helsingin Sanomat, the hotel search by TripSat and the actual hotel listing and data by Booking.com. Read more about the partnership on TripSay blog.
Red Herring has announced the 2010 Top 100 Europe Finalists. Among these finalists, there are 36 companies from the Nordics and Baltics. There are 6 from Denmark, 3 from Norway, 12 from Sweden, 1 from Lithuania and 14 from Finland.
Red Herring organises a competition annually for startups to find out the most attractive startups across national borders. The Finalists are evaluated on both quantitative and qualitative criteria, such as financial performance, technology innovation, quality of management, execution of strategy, and integration into their respective industries.
Nervogrid, a Finnish cloud computing company, announced yesterday (in Finnish) that they have landed a 700 000 euro investment from a variety of Finnish investors. The company has been founded in 2004, but in the last two years its sales have exploded dramatically. In 2008 its revenue was 240k euros and last year they managed a 1.2 million euro revenue - showing clear traction and demand for their services. With the investment, Antti Vihavainen, has been named the country manager of Nervogrid to further speed up the sales.
Gigswiz, a Finnish startup founded by Juuso Vermasheinä with the ex-Floobs duo Kai Lemmetty and Joonas Pekkanen, has just launched in Beta. The service aims to enable bands and artists to better tell where they have fans who'd be willing to come and see them play. The team hasn't wasted any time as the beta launch came just months after they started to work on the idea in this February.
The service is an analytics platform for the live music industry and it should help bands, their agents and local promoters make better informed decisions on where bands should arrange concerts and tours. GigsWiz gathers fan requests through widgets that sit on the bands’ web sites and is looking to combine it with real-time consumption data from online music services. The actual widget can sit on the band's web pages, MySpace pages and Facebook pages.
We've made some more progress with the setup of the ArcticEvening Tallinn, including some really attractive prices for getting to and staying there for the event. First of all, we will open ticket registrations for the event on the 25th of May. Mark it down in your calendar. The ticket registrations will open at 8am Tallinn time (GMT+3).
Spotify has just announced that it will expand its service offering to Netherlands. Netherlands is the seventh country Spotify is available. The other countries are Finland, France, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Dutch people can now sign up to the service using the link on their website.
It seems that Netherlands came before the US in the end, which shouldn't be a big surprise. Clearing rights and getting the legal side of things sorted out is not a light job to do. It might also make better business sense for Spotify to grow their business in Europe before hopping to US - a show of strength that might ease legal issues later on.
Meniga, the Icelandic personal finance management service, has signed Applicon as its partner in Scandinavia to offer its service to banks. Meniga is an Icelandic startup founded in January 2009 with a very similar plan in mind compared to the famous US company Mint.com.
With the signing of the contract and the press release associated with it, it has become clear how Meniga plans to position their product and get it to market. They have signed the contract with Applicon, which is a Swedish company closely affiliated with banks. Applicon offers its customers a combination of standardized IT software with the help of its 50 strong organisation.