A couple days before Christmas, recent Startup Sauna graduate Lokus Digital released their first game, Nuke Commander, in the Android app store. In the game, you play as an AI supercomputer that is intent on destroying the earth, like sort of a Skynet style plot. The visual style of the game gives immediate flashbacks to the cold war from the 1980's style state-of-the-art green wireframe graphics that chart launched nuclear missiles. The game should also soon be available in the Apple App store.
All About Windows Phone is reporting that the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace recently reached 50 000 apps and seems to have hit some sort of critical mass. It took over a year to get to 40 000 apps, but just 40 days to get to the next 10 000-- a sign of good exponential growth on the platform.
With the new year right around the corner, I'm sure many ArcticStartup readers have it in their mind to finally start a company from that business idea they have knocking around in their head. If you're in Finland, you may find help getting off the ground with funding from Tekes, the "Finnish funding agency for technology and innovation." Getting the funding process started with Tekes is fairly straightforward. The basic steps are to first be prepared to answer basics about your company's plans, to send in a sounding form to make contact and discuss more about your company, and then to prepare the actual application.
Before submitting anything to Tekes, take a second to familiarize yourself with is a list of test questions your Tekes contact person will likely ask after you submit your application. I'm sure you've seen these Due Diligence questions before, but its good to solidify your answers to questions like "Who are your potential customers," early in the stage where your company is applying for Tekes financing.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Timo Jäppinen. He is the managing director of a marketing agency Drayton Bird Associates Finland.
You can’t do much about Europe – either it will fall apart or it won’t.
Here are three things you can bet money on, though.
First, the politicians won’t save you. They have no worries. And second, the only economy you should worry about is your own.
And there is one piece of good news. Those who start getting things right during a recession come out stronger than those who sit on their hands.
We caught some news right before the holidays: the Swedish advertising technology specialist Freespee announced a partnership with Sponsormob from Germany, a mobile advertising company. Together they will offer performance-based mobile advertising to companies with call-centres.
On mobile, the partnering company Sponsormob, has done click-to-call advertising on an performance basis. Together, the companies have found mobile an ideal environment for call advertising, where clients only have to click on a button on a landing page and can be directly connected to the advertiser's call center. The benefits of Click-to-Call include a high sales conversion rates and the opportunity to up-sell customers during phone calls with a physical person.
As the year is turning to an end, we'd like to take a moment to wish all our readers a very happy and relaxing holiday season. We have had an awesome year here and we're glad that so many of you have enjoyed the ride with us. To be exact there are more than 50 000 of you who keep coming back each month. That's a lot when we work hard to stay away from any click optimized, SEO focused content. We're of course very happy about this, but it's more awesome for all the startups in the region - they've got the world's attention.
Here's some big news out of the Baltics: Slevomat Group from the Czech Republic and Cherry Media have partnered together to form the region's largest Daily Deals group. Their 2011 turnover put together exceeds 60 million euros, putting them up there as one of the largest startups in the region.
“Both companies were looking for expansion in Central Europe and teaming up was the most logical step. We have the best management teams in the region and have now got great opportunity to gain a scale for region-wide deals,“ said Tomáš Čupr, Chief Executive Officer of Slevomat.
There are over 215 million domain names currently registered, which means finding a the perfect domain name is difficult without any tools. While GoDaddy and others give you a simple suggestions, NameStation, a startup from Estonia, provides domain suggestion tools you can find suitable candidates faster using better algorithms and the community.
Perhaps inspired by the emerging data centres in Finland, Sweden and Iceland, Norwegian shipping and investment company Smedvig has teamed up with ErgoGroup, Norway’s largest provider of ICT services, to develop Green Mountain, a fjord-cooled data centre that is housed in a completely refurbished ammunition depot on Rennesøy, an island in southern Norway.
Taking advantage of the cold fjord running through the area, the data centre will be cooled by a continuous flow of 8-degree water all year round. Power will come from a low-cost renewable energy source, which means that the data centre will have a practically non-existent carbon footprint. In fact, Green Mountain claims to be greenest data centre in the world.
According to Mobile Payments Today, Paypal is testing a NFC payment system in Stockholm at two retailers, Alpingaraget and Webhallen. The new app, called PayPal Instore, uses NFC stickers affixed to smartphones to enable purchases. After downloading the app, customers just need to swipe their phone over the terminal to display and confirm the purchase.
One Lithuanian startup serving a specialized market is ArtNetBook, a service that allows you to manage your art gallery business online. ArtNetBook provides gallery managers a way to make collections, run exhibitions, and sell artwork with their web based and mobile app.
Atomico announced it has invested in Ge.tt, a Danish startup that seeks to make it easy to share files with people you know. Currently if you're trying to send a file greater than 25mb, you either need to find workarounds, upload it to a sketchy service, or just put it on a USB stick and drive it to your friends house, like in that XKCD cartoon. Atomico is backed by Niklas Zennström, one of the co-founders of Skype.
Ge.tt has such a simple yet valuable service. It allows you to select a file, copy an URL while it's uploading, and then send the URL to a friend who can start downloading the file while it's still uploading from your computer. The whole package is well designed and easy to use. There are two free usage tiers for users. Without creating an account you are given 250mb of storage space, but if you create an account you have access to 2gb. Users who want more storage, such as professional users or people with large file requirements, will pay small, tiered fees. For $5 a month they get 5GB, for $10 they get 40GB and for $20 they get 100GB.
Do you dream about creating your own digital startup but lack the business know-how to get everything going? Then an international master’s degree programme in Design and Development of Virtual Environments (DDVE) may just be the thing for you.
DDVE is a new inter-discliplinary initiative at the University of Tartu in Estonia that combines three key study areas; design, business and ICT. Taught in English, the two-year programme provides students with advanced skills in entrepreneurship for creating innovative digital products and services.
Techdirt has brought to our attention an interesting turn of events in adopting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, also known as ACTA. EU Council has adopts ACTA and will thus pass it for vote in the European Parliament. EU Council is the place where national ministers get together to adopt laws and coordinate policies. Interestingly, the policy regarding international trade was hidden in a meeting regarding issues of agriculture and fisheries.
Morten Lund, one of Northern Europe's "less traditional" investors announced on his blog that he's now allowing nearly anyone to invest in a pool of startups where he's focusing his time. He's looking to build a €500 000 fund with a €10 000 minimum investment, which may allow smaller investors to capture part of the crazy that saw Skype, ZYB, and his huge seed portfolio before their time. Lund has been one of the most active seed investors in Europe, and currently is the chairman of Everbread and Tradeshift.
In more Scandinavian VOIP news, Vopium from Denmark has released the first Blackberry calling app that allows users to make cheap phone calls phone calls over Wi-Fi or their existing network coverage. While Skype is clearly the market leader in VOIP technology, other players like Rebtel and Vopium have sprung up claiming cheaper calling rates and better integrated experiences.
When you're looking for an event to go to, a product to buy, or a non-profit to support, do you pay attention to advertising or do you listen to what your friends recommend? Goodbuzz from Lithuania blurs the lines by paying people for referrals of products and events on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or by email. How it works is that advertisers post their advertisement to the Goodbuzz website and deposit a sum of money for people who like the advertisment and want to spread the message to friends and followers. At the end of the campaign, the tip is split between these sharers, relative to the leads they've generated.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Harri Kanerva, CEO, Founder of Valueframe. The company focuses on providing a SaaS based solutions to SMEs.
I’m writing this at an altitude of 10 kilometers in a plane to London. For an entrepreneur dedicated to the cloud service model the view outside of the window is rather fitting to be writing an article like this. ValueFrame was founded back in 2001. In ten years we have managed to become a key player in the Finnish Professional Services Automation market. We currently have 300 customers with 12 000 users in 14 different countries. This year we were nominated Country Representative for the HSBC European Business Awards. For the last five years we’ve been among the Deloitte Fast 50 list of fastest growing technology companies.
The creators of Minecraft have released their first third-party game as a publisher: Cobalt. The game is a 2D platformer with fighting robots that looks like it has similar elements to Super Smash Brothers. It should also be noted that currently there are no single player campaigns, only co-op and multiplayer. The game is only available on Windows initially, with OS X and Linux support arriving in "Beta."
While the world has become paperless, one thing that has been lost is how to get signatures for legal documents. Scrive is a Stockholm based service for e-signing of tenders, contracts, and other documents. To use Scrive, you just have to upload you document, sign it, send it to your contractee, let them sign it digitally, and then it is saved and archived. The company just closed their second angel round on the 15th.