Editorial note: This is a guest post by Andor Jakab from Hungary. In fact, this is a cross post from his blog. The post outlines well many of the challenges early stage entrepreneurs face. Even though things aren't quite as bad here in the Nordics and Baltics, it's good to understand the realities. Towards the end, we also talked to Jakab about the recent laws and changes in the country regarding its future. It's a chilling read and a reminder to us all.
I could hire 12 people with €760 net salary, but I don't. I tell you why. You could work for my service provider company in a nice office. It's not telemarketing, it's not a scam. You would do serious work that requires high skills, 8 hours daily, only weekdays. I would employ you legally, I would pay your taxes and social security. I could give such a job to a dozen people, but I will not, and here I explain why.
You may remember our coverage of the Danish Daily Deals market was provided by Bownty, a daily deals aggregator that has its finger on the pulse of the deals market in several countries across Europe. The Danish company recently announced it has received half a million euros from SEED Capital to expand its growth and its partnering program.
Say you're part of a community- like a university, neighborhood, or any other medium to large sized organization. If you've got some things you want to buy or sell, the standard way of hawking your wares is to post it on that one bulletin board down that one hallway that everyone forgets to check. The same goes for the ride-sharing board. It's worked for generations, but it could use an update to the digital age. Current solutions, like throwing your items up onto Ebay or Craigslist makes it harder to move larger items, and doesn't include the same amount of trust that the small community board do. In comes Kassi, a service for your community to buy and sell items and services from each other.
Daniel Ek has just been named by Forbes as the most important man in the music industry, and will be on the cover of Forbes' 30 under 30 issue going out on January 16th. It's not hard to see why he's receiving the hype, considering Spotify's disruption to the music industry and the explosion of growth the company has seen since it has expanded geographically. But one thing that struck me in the article was when Lorentzon had just quit his day job and put up 2 million in seed money, and Ek had already made his money but shed his riches. Steven Bertoni writes, "Lorentzon and Ek were in a unique place: The former no longer needed the money, and the latter no longer cared about it. So they decided to ignore the dollars and aim for disruption."
Swedish entrepreneurs can now start reaching for truly divine heights as a former Greek Orthodox Church in the city of Stockholm has been converted into a full-blown, multifunctional coworking space for startups.
The Entreprenörskyrkan (Entrepreneurs Church) hosts 300 square meters of open plan office space with two conference rooms, a telephone room and a small kitchen. For 3600 SEK a month (ex. VAT), startups receive everything from basic utilities to furniture, wireless broadband and cleaning, not to mention invaluable help and advice from fellow startups. The church currently houses 15 companies but there’s room for about 30 office slots altogether.
Continuing with our prizewinning coverage of Graduateland (well, they won the prize, not us), we're taking a look at their solution that allows employers to find only the most relavent candidates. In a nutshell, Graduateland Recruiter is a free SaaS recruitment solution where employers can recruit talented students and graduates from 190+ countries across 3000 different universities. Setting up Recruiter is free of charge, and allows you to target and and attract candidates to your open positions. With Graduateland Recruiter you have a customizable employer profile that features you open job positions, access to several campaign features, and traffic analytics.
According to Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish), and two of their independent sources, Risto Siilasmaa will be proposed to become the next chairman of Nokia. Currently, the Chairman of the board is Jorma Ollila. Siilasmaa is the largest shareholder and also the founder of F-Secure, a computer security company.
GrabCAD has closed a $4 million in Round A financing led by Matrix Partners. This is in addition to their seed round of $1.1 million they closed in June 2011. Other existing investors in GrabCAD participated in the round. According to Hardi Meybaum, the CEO and Co-Founder of GrabCAD, the investment will be used to improve the community and product at large.
Gajatri Studios Ltd. announced it has received product financing for its social yoga game project from Mediatonic. Gajatri Studios is a new game studio based in Helsinki, that develops casual and social well-being games. Gajatri Studios Founder and CEO, Tiina Zilliacus writes on their development blog that the thinking behind the project comes from people's desire to play online social games especially when stressed out or after a hard day's work. Instead of purely virtual gameplay, Zilliacus sees value in incoproating real well-being elements into the gameplay. The number of Facebook players is expected to rise this year to 300 million, of whom more than 60% are women.
The Online Backup Company closed a NKr 50 million deal (€6.47 m) with Northzone and its partners to help the company expand to Sweden, Germany, and the rest of Europe. You probably guessed it from the name, but the company provides online backup and disaster recovery solutions, and has seen steady traction in its home in Norway with 4000 customers, 35 employees and a turnover close to NKr 50 million.
Are you more active on Google+ than any other social network? Now you're able to also follow ArcticStartup on Google+ and get all our updates in a similar fashion to Twitter and Facebook. Google+ recently came out with its pages feature enabling businesses to create pages similar to those on Facebook. While we don't get a lot of traffic from Google+ currently, we do realise it's in our interest to offer alternatives to our readers in the way of distributing our news. Google+ has also been generally touted as the place where many technologically oriented people hang out.
New out of Norway is betaFACTORY, an incubator with the goal of mentoring and funding 50 companies over the next 3 years. The incubator will be located in downtown Oslo and was put together using the same fundamentals as Y Combinator, TechStars, and other intensive incubators that provide a strong focus on customer development and give a small amount of seed funding. I got the chance to talk with Brian Weisberg, the founder of betaFACTORY about who they are and what they're looking for. The deadline for the application is January 8th.
Skype founder Toivo Annus’s and Herty Tammo’s joint tech investment venture, Poohtech AS, announced today that it closed a deal with smartAD, a Baltic advertising network that services many major brands for the region. CEO of smartAD Rando Rannus tells us that the size of the funding round cannot be disclosed, but that in 2011 the company was able to double revenue to 1 million euros. The funding round will be used for geographical expansion, where in Finland and Sweden they will first try to partner with ad networks and agencies and who are trying to help companies expand out of their local market.
Garage48 from Estonia had a growing year of events and other activities to keep it busy. The non-profit organisation organised events in eight countries, on two continents. I participated in their Helsinki event almost a year ago. Here's our post on it with a couple of separate updates.
While every crowdfunding website will tell you that there's a long history of strangers pooling money together to fund ideas, the movement of funding online has beaten predictions that it would be inherently unsuccessful or overrun over by scammers. While Kickstarter has become the world's dominant leader in creative project funding, Funded By Me is holding its ground in the Scandinavian market by allowing users to take advantage of the pre-order and gift style of crowdfunding, and also by keeping projects close to home.
Soundcloud, the Berlin-based startup founded by Swedes Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss, has reportedly received a $50 million investment led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers including participation by GGV Capital. TechCrunch has estimated the round to be around $50 million, but Soundcloud did not confirm the round size in their press release about the investment.
The Estonian startup scene isn’t exactly known for its mobile game developers, but Tallinn-based Creative Mobile is doing its best to rectify the situation. Founded in 2010, the company is the developer of freemium hit Drag Racing, a simple but addictive online racing game for Android and iOS that has garnered over 31 million downloads to date.
Smartphones have completely revolutionized the ways we waste time, but we're still only at the basic stage of how we can use the pocket technology to improve systems and processes. Appear Networks out of Sweden has been creating useful mobile apps off of its Appear IQ plaform, a context-aware infrastructure that has already been personalized to fit law enforcement and healthcare applications. But before the holidays, Appear announced it has partnered with Qnamic, a transport planning software company out of Switzerland, to create a resource management solution to improve rail operators' efficiency.
Do you watch TV by itself, or do you always have your phone or laptop with you? If you're anything like myself, you may always be checking up for additional information and opinion, especially while watching sports and other events. To allow broadcasters to create a seamless experience like this, Never.no's Interactivity Suite connects fragmented media technologies by synchronizing TV broadcasts with mobile apps and the social web. The Norwegian company's target customers are broadcasters and advertisers who are looking to tap into an integrated experience, but don't have an independent soltion in mind. Never.no advertises having 80% of the work already completed, with the additional information and branding coming from an easy drag-and-drop builder.
With Google Analytics as our guide, we take a look back on 2011 to see what were the top stories according to the wisdom of the crowd.
"...We've heard that Techcrunch now, in some cases, require new startups to give them the right to determine when the startup can go talk to other journalists (and naturally if you don't want to abide - don't expect coverage anytime soon). In other words, they set an embargo towards the startup itself."