In our series with Nokia, we look at the Ovi Store from the viewpoint of the developer. There has been a lot of talk about the ecosystems and it's not always clear for a developer which development paths they should choose. We wanted to bring some clarity into this by talking to Jussi Nevanlinna, the Product Marketing Director of Nokia Developer Experience and Marketplace.
In short, while there are different ecosystems available - Nokia's clear advantages are its payment options and possibilities to localise content across markets, but still in a global manner. Read more about the possibilities for a developer through the interview below.
What is the connection between a rover exploring Mars and an iPad 2? Both devices are capable of identifying their surroundings with the help of a camera and some software. 13th Lab has built that software for iPad based on theory originally developed by NASA. The technology was first used to automatically navigate rovers on Mars and then it was employed for military and healthcare applications as well as by big utility companies. 13th Lab was the first company to adapt the technology for consumer products. To showcase what it is capable of, they launched an iPad game - Ball Invasion. It's a simple shooting game but it takes augmented reality to a whole new level: it uses iPad's camera to recognize the environment around you so that bullets bounce off the walls or any other objects in your surroundings. Ball Invasion went live as a paid app ($1.99) last Monday and by now it's a #2 paid app in Swedish AppStore and is a featured app in AppStores in US and Canada.
So you founded your start-up, raised your initial funding and already acquired some customers. Time for raising some serious funding to get your company to a new level? There are a few obvious yet crucial questions you need to be ready to answer before you talk to any angel or venture capitalist. While the list can go on forever, there are top 6 questions that Richard Allan Horning identified. Richard is one of the most highly regarded Silicon Valley attorneys with over 40 years of experience representing technology companies. (Check our previous post where Richard shares his insight on patents.)
Good things can come out of university projects. Take for example Fredrik Teir, a student at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki. As part of his school project he, together with a friend, wanted to learn more about funding possibilities for start-ups in Finland. Within two months they identified over 100 potential funders. To organize and make sense of the information they built Rahoituskone.fi, a search engine that helps start-ups find most suitable potential investors. The website covers both state and private funding institutions. With Rahoituskone start-ups can search for funders based on the amount of funding they are looking for, the type of investment and the kind of funding institution they seek the investment from. The engine would also show what investors would require from the start-ups in return. Rahoituskone is completely free to use.
Pavel Durov, founder and CEO of Vkontakte (Russia's biggest social network) prefers to keep a low profile in the media. He rarely gives interviews and almost never looks in the camera when his photos are being taken. Though he frequently addresses the 2.7M audience of his personal blog and this month Pavel gave an extensive interview to Forbes.ru. The article gives an insight on Pavel's early days and Vkontakte's future plans. Perhaps the interview itself was part of the company's strategy of raising its profile before entering other markets and possibly going public. Rumors about Vkontakte's IPO resurfaced a few weeks ago but has been unconfirmed so far. Vkontakte was founded in 2006 by Pavel and two of his friends. Today the social network attracts the largest audience with estimated 26 million unique daily visits. Read on to learn how it all started and where the company is at right now.
It's mid-July already, which means there are only 2 weeks left to apply for the Arctic15 Pitching Competition! We know many of you already applied but on an off-chance that some willing candidates missed this, here is a reminder. If your start-up is based in or has founders from Nordics, Baltics or Russia (includes Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), if you are less than 24 months old by September 22nd and if you have a working product or service to showcase to the audience - this is your chance to compete for monetary prizes and publicity. You can apply by simply filling out this application form. Remember: July 31st is the deadline!
We've been speculating about Applifier going mobile for a few months and now it is official: Applifier is beta-testing their mobile game discovery tool. Since smartphones and tablets are gaining mass appeal, game developers are increasingly building products that work across all mobile platforms. But here, just like in browser-based or Facebook game, the number of available games hinders discovery. Applifier's new mobile tool helps cross-promoting games through a pop-up bar inside the game that recommends games based on user's history. A similar tool has worked wonderfully on Facebook, helping hundreds of publishers grow their userbase faster. The new tool is now available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod. Support for Android will be launched later this year.
Everybody likes playing a music instrument, though a lot of us don't really know how to. That is partially why game consoles that make us feel like we know what we're doing are so popular. Learning to play a real instrument is much harder and is definitely more tedious: you have to practice a lot before you can play a Beatles song. That is why Ovelin, a Finnish start-up, decided to develop Wild Chords, a computer game that is played with a real guitar. We talked with Chris Thür, co-founder and CEO, to find out more about the game and the company behind it.
Spotify has just announced via a press release that they will launch their service in the US today. There has been very little information given out and they plan to announce more information around 14.00 CET. The move has been an anticipated one and not an easy one for Spotify. It has been rumored that it has taken this long due to negotiations with the record labels among other issues. Nevertheless, this could seriously drive Spotify's revenues north during the rest of the year.
Startup Crib is a series of posts dedicated to start-ups' offices. The visual tour around a start-up’s office gives readers a real-life picture of how and where entrepreneurs work and meat the team behind the company. Different offices have their own perks and peculiarities so sit back and enjoy!
The first company to share with us their office and introduce their team is Tripl, a Swedish start-up that is building a platform for social travel. Their product has not been released yet though you get to sneak peak a few snapshots of their service in the video. Without further ado, here it is.
Creating customized soundtracks for a brand or a product is not as easy at it seems. You need to find a professional, go through dozens of samples and spend a lot of money and time on it. Audiodraft makes the process a piece of cake: it crowdsources music production to its community of amateur and professional musicians. Their service works through contests: companies that need any type of customized audio file set up a competition on Audiodraft's website with a monetary reward for the winner. An average competition lasts between 2-4 weeks and receives around 50 entries. Since Audiodraft's public beta launch in July 2010, they hosted 42 contest with some well-known Finnish companies like Marimekko, YLE, Microtask, Salomon and GameHouse. This week they are launching their first contest with Nelonen Media, one of Finland's biggest media houses. Nelonen is looking for an audio identity pack for their brand and are cashing out $2,400 for the winning entry.
Grow VC (or Grow Venture Community) is a community-based platform that helps start-ups acquire the initial funding either through crowd-sourcing or through direct investments from venture capitalists or business angels. As of today, Grow VC scrapped their membership fee and opened their network for free for anyone. Members of the community that would like to invest into listed start-ups can purchase a micro investment membership and invest all the credits they bought. The monthly plans are $20, $50 and $150. No commission is charged from direct investments by professional investors either. Grow VC also recently released an iPhone app to help their members keep updated on the go.
'We like to bring home memories from our travels. We also like really good hotels and saw the opportunity to find luxury hotels and negotiate good discounts for ourselves - that's how Destly was born', states on their website Louise Brudö, co-founder and CEO. Destly is an online club that offers heavily discounted rooms in luxury hotels for a limited period of time. People can become members for free by signing up on Destly's website and enjoy up to 70% discounts on luxury hotels. The service was founded in Göteborg, Sweden early this year and initaly operated as a Swedish-only service. Destly talked about expansion plans back in February and this week they announced for certain: their service is now available in Serbia and Croatia.
With the advent of social media customers today have multiple channels to express how they feel about a product or service. But how can companies efficiently capture all such comments to derive overall trends and meanings? Etuma, a Finnish start-up, has built a text analysis engine that collects feedback (mainly from social media), breaks every text-based customer message into sentences and creates discussion topics based on the extracted meanings. The topics are then categorized into two types: problematic topics that need to be addressed and admiring topics that can be used for selling and marketing communications. The results are visualized and presented in real-time.
Online advertising is an industry full of problems and possibilities. Hence, there are a lot of start-ups working in that sphere from different angles. Burt is a Swedish company founded in 2009 that makes software tools for the advertising industry. Their three main products include Copybox (a tool for copyrighters), Meme Machine (cloud computing for marketing data) and Rich (online campaign analytics tool). Burt recently closed $3M funding from Industrifonden. The new investment is said to be used for international expansion and further improvement of their campaign analytics tool Rich. This is Burt's second investment since foundation. Back in 2009 the company received $500,000 angel funding.
After a decade of developing and distributing software for mobile apps, e-commerce and marketing, i-Free decided to start funding promising start-ups through a newly formed i-Free Ventures. Created in Russia, the fund is open for projects that concentrate on European, Asian and US markets. Particular areas of interest for the venture fund are mobile, tablet and TV apps; digital media; mobile and browser games; e-commerce and Internet services. The type of companies i-Free Ventures is willing to invest into range from companies with proven business models, to start-ups with sophisticated technology aimed at niche markets, to early-stage companies without a monetization plan. The fund is therefore interested in investments from seed to early growth stage. Planned volume of each investment is from $20,000 to $600,000.
Great news for start-ups: we've extended the age of companies eligible for applying to the Arctic15 pitching competition. From now on start-ups need to be less than 24 months old by the day of the conference (September 22nd). The decision for the extension was due to the many requests we got from companies that are around 18 months old but who started developing their product only in the past 12 months. While we want to pick the best of the youngest start-ups, we realize it sometimes takes more than 12 months for companies to develop and launch their product. Therefore, companies that are less than 2 years old are still very much start-ups and should be allowed to apply for the pitching competition. Now they can.
If you could choose one value you stand for, what would that be? More importantly, how would your daily activities help you express that value? While this is a big philosophical question, there is now a web service that helps you find answers to it. OneThingThatMatters was built to help people live up to their main value through simple small steps. Once you define a personal value or goal on the website, other users can suggest actions you could undertake to accomplish it. Say you want to make a dent in the universe. This abstract goal can be made real through simple steps like thinking where you want to be a year from now or drawing inspiration from studying the people who've already made history. Your friends and other users of the service can give you suggestions and you can return the favor by recommending them a step that would help them support their values.
About a month after closing a $7M funding round, Tradeshift is doing better and better. Their platform is now available in Finnish and Dutch languages to attract even more local businesses use the network. 'Of all the European markets we are in, the Netherlands and Finland are among the most mature when it comes to online invoicing', comments Christian Lanng, CEO. 'The adoption of e-invoicing has been driven [there] by the Governments which has resulted in highly competitive e-invoicing markets'. Turns out that even before Tradeshift was translated into Finnish and Dutch, their free e-invoicing model was already being used by businesses of all sizes as an alternative to traditional online invoicing providers.
We've partnered with another very cool conference held just before Arctic15, Frozen Rails, to offer a 20% discount on tickets for those who wish to attend both conferences. As you know, we're building Arctic15 to be the biggest startup launch conference in the Nordics this year. Frozen Rails on the other hand goes well with developers and others interested in Rails development.