Om Malik, the founder of GigaOm was speaking in Helsinki to a room of media representatives yesterday morning at the Aalto Venture Garage. His visit to Finland is part of a tour to come understand the companies and environment the local startups work in. Before Helsinki, he had visited Berlin and the LeWeb conference in Paris. I managed to talk to Malik about the way he sees these entrepreneurial hubs.
The big part of our discussion circled around the fact that people in Europe always look up to Silicon Valley and how they succeed in everything they do, while failing to see all the potential in front of their eyes. I have to say, while I knowledge the value Silicon Valley has on companies - I wonder how much possibility is wasted when following a given path without truly thinking of the possibilities closer to you. After all, Rovio didn't go to Silicon Valley to succeed - it all started with an innocent tweet by a Swedish athlete in the Nordics (going international I mean).
Maxygen, Qminder, and Zonear all won the Fall 2011 Startup Sauna Demo Day here in Helsinki. It was an interesting event, with a nice Keynote by Om Malik the founder of GigaOm. On top of that there were some solid and entertaining pitches, and the StartUp Sauna guys put on a good show.
Maxygen is producing an interesting product on the social level. From what I understand, they do cheap and quick DNA testing through a device they built, which can tell doctors whether or not you have an infectious disease. Currently hospitals provide this service through their laboratories, but not every hospital has this access in developing countries.
An interesting new startup coming out of Denmark is Movellas, a new but familiar platform to create, discover, and develop stories and writing talent. Movellas is essentially a writing community to make it easy to self publish and read new stories. So far they've only officially launched in Denmark but they also have a working English version of the site.
CEO Per Larsen tells us that currently they're targeting a younger audience of authors and readers, and that most of their writers are in the 14-18 age group. But within that younger crowd they're seeing a hotbed of activity, with users who are engaged with reading and writing a large number of stories, as well as using the social features to comment and share.
Nordic Startups, a brand new accelerator program for Swedish web and mobile startups, will soon start its operations in Stockholm. According to the accelerator's representatives, the program will be modeled after some of the world’s leading accelerators, such as TechStars, YCombinator and Seedcamp.
Nordic Startups plans to take in six new startups every three months. During each three-month period, the accelerator will provide startups with in-depth coaching, mentoring, office space, and a fun and enriching work environment. The program is largely based on lean startup methodology and includes an investor demo day as well.
In the past few years even the biggest and most traditional organizations have taken steps to modernize their services. In the banking business, E-invoicing is here to stay due to the worldwide incentives to get this working. In the For example in Denmark, Tradeshift has seen a lot of traction with their model. The situation in Finland is slightly different due to the numerous operators offering solutions in this area. One of them is Maventa.
We've covered Maventa in the past as well, back in 2010. Back then we called them the rebel e-invoicing provider and it seems the rebels are taking over "the universe".
Last evening Issuu announced the beta release of their HTML5 app, opening their collection of thousands of magazines to the iPad and other devices. Before this release, Issuu was rough to access on an iPad; Issuu was built out of Flash, so for basic iPad accessibility publishers needed to upload their files into a "single page - continuous" format, similar to a standard PDF reader, and not the magazine style format which has become what they're known for.
On their GetSatisfaction page they explain the issues they've faced to get in the app store:
Just a couple of weeks ago we wrote that Supercell would be announcing multiple new games in early 2012. Well, one of them will be Battle Buddies, and will be available for tablets in the first half of 2012. Supercell's first game, Gunshine.net focused on bringing the experience of social, real-time multiplayer gaming to as many people as possible. Since then, the Helsinki, Finland based company has proved the concept works and raised north of 10 million USD from Accel Partners and others.
As Pixelmator writes on their blog, they've had quite a year. The image editing app has been one of the highest rated and most downloaded apps on Mac App Store market, which has translated to a crazy amount of sales at €23.99 a copy. A couple of months ago the Lithuania-originated team won the prestigious Apple Design Award, and yesterday Apple named Pixelmator as the App Of The Year.
Arctic15 winner Mancx has partnered with Viadeo to integrate the company's knowledge transaction platform with the Paris-based professional social network. Coupled with an earlier deal with LinkedIn, Mancx’s “knowledge market” is now directly available to more than 155 million business professionals around the world.
Continuing from our previous coverage of the daily deals market in the Baltics, we're taking a look at the Danish market with information and analysis provided to us by Bownty, the leading daily deals aggregator in Denmark. The company provides a service similar to what Kayak does for air travel; they collect and put together the daily deals for more than 600 cities around the globe, to the point where at any given time more than 4500 deals are available on the service.
Bownty is in a nice postion to give some analysis about the market because as an aggregator, they have little conflict of interest in exaggerating the data. We talked with CEO and Co-founder Steffen Frølund and gained access to data from the several hundred-thousand deals that have been run through their platform.
bSafe is a new app that's designed for those who walk through bad neighborhoods or are inclined to paranoia. The basic functionality of the free smartphone app allows you to press a big red button when you are in danger. Once the button is pressed, the app will automatically call a predefined guardian, as well as send a SMS messages with a map of your GPS position to an unlimited number of people. The app is made by Bipper, a Norwegian maker of personal and child safety apps.
We talked to Harry Nelis, a partner at Accel Partners, about startups, entrepreneurship and Europe as well as many other topics. When we shot the video, Nelis had just come down from the main stage at LeWeb where he participated in the traditional Money Panel. Accel has been able to discover and invest into some of the most successful startups out there. Some of their portfolio companies include Facebook, Groupon, Spotify and the list goes on.
Finnish software company Profium, creating solutions for the media industry, has signed a million euro deal with AFP (Agence France-Presse). AFP is the world's oldest news press and they create news in six different languages, around the clock, around the world. The deal enables AFP to take Profium's Metadata Server into global use. The deal is valued at one million euros, which is significant for this Espoo based company. 2010 revenues for the company were 1.4 million euros.
Sunstone Capital is announcing a new €85 million fund today, with a continued promise to invest in start-up companies within software, web services, e-commerce, gaming, and mobile during the next five years. The new fund expects to more than double their number of portfolio companies, with investments in up to 25 additional companies. Sunstone is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, with an office in Menlo Park, California.
Intoloop is expanding their set of features. The service provides a convenient location to store and share your child's story on a timeline, and this week they came out with a new mobile app that allows you to take pictures of your kid and upload it immediately to Intoloop. They advertise this app as "getting your kids off your phone," which is commendable, because you know grandma wants to see some new baby pictures.
Vesa Perälä, the CEO of WOT, contacted us late last night about the ruling of the lawsuit (which we covered in February) against them. They won and the court of justice in Florida granted the motion to dismiss with prejudice.
The case was brought up against WOT by ten differenf companies, which were later found out to belong to Mr. Ayman El-Difrawi. The companies wanted WOT to remove the ratings and comments left by users against those websites.
Antti Öhrling, the co-founder and inventor behind the idea of Blyk, announced he will be leaving the company to explore new opportunities. Blyk, the youth engagement media company, was founded in 2006 and has grown rapidly in Europe, India, and Southeast Asia
On his blog, Öhrling hints at the social media and mobile sector:
I managed to grab 20 minutes of Mikkel Svane's time in LeWeb to interview him on the evolution of Zendesk and some of the thinking they had behind building a world class company in just a few years. Zendesk isn't just your usual startup, if there really even is one. Zendesk very early decided to move its headquarters to the States after raising their second round in 2008. The company focuses in providing the very best help desk solutions online, which only aren't extremely easy to use and integrate, but also beautiful.
Rovio has teamed up with Lappset, a manufacturer of park and playground equipment, to build officially licensed Angry Birds activity parks for children. The first activity parks will pop up early next year in Finland, but it comes as no suprise that Rovio’s plan is to introduce these ”Angry Birds Magic Places” in every corner of the world.
CMO Peter Vesterbacka says that Rovio will not build large amusement parks in style of the previously seen Chinese knock-offs. The company wants to engage kids in activity rather than force them to wait in line for 15 minutes in order to enjoy a two minute ride. The new Angry Birds parks will also include in-game features that will bring the game and the physical world together.
At the end of last week, Tripl announced it is travelling out of private beta and is hoping to find people to connect with in the real world. We covered their $300,000 funding round last May, but if you don't remember their service, they're another Swedish startup in the social travel sphere. Tripl searches your and your friends' connections and check-ins from Facebook to help you meet the locals whenever you're in a strange city. And when you're just at home, I suppose Tripl is sort of like Couch Surfing. You get to meet with new people who come visit your city, except without some stranger staying the night.