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.
Keeping receipts and warranties is a pain for consumers. A few diligent folks keep files in their table drawers with warranties on the expensive appliances and devices they bought. The majority of us can't be bothered so the receipts either end up being scattered around or lost altogether. Warrantify set out to alleviate that pain by digitalizing the process. Their platform helps users keep and manage receipts in one place through a simple dashboard. You can download either scanned copies of your receipts, add digital receipts from online retailers or (in the future) have a 'warrantified' receipt sent directly from a retailer into your account.
APEXvj started off as Simo Santavirta's side project late last autumn. Being a lead web developer by profession at FWD Helsinki, Simo does realtime graphic coding as a passion. Experimenting once with sound spectrum data and Pixel Blender, he ended up creating the first prototype of APEXvj, a tool that visualizes music online. After connecting the service to SoundCloud through their API, Simo thought he's onto something and decided to develop the application further. With the help of a colleague and an Art Director Jani Länsimäki, the concept was clarified and the application got a visual identity. APEXvj was launched in December 2010.
There is a growing number of people in Russia buying products and services online. Many of those shoppers prefer foreign products and brands: they are often associated with higher quality, exclusivity and status. While some Russian online stores offer a variety of such goods, there is a greater abundance of them on global sites like Amazon and eBay. The problem is those sites are not well localized: their product selection is not translated into Russia, shipping does not work as smoothely as to other European countries and you cannot pay in Rubles. This gap is what Bay.ru is trying to fill: it is an e-commerce platform for Russian shoppers that lets them easily buy items from eBay, Amazon and the likes.
Indymusic discovery platform from Finland, Hitlantis, this week closed a substantial angle round worth $1.5M. The team of investors include senior Nokia executives, JSH Capital Oy, Hasan & Partners, PM Ruukki Oy, Notion Oy, Rock Island Investment Oy, T&T Enterprises Oy, as well as other private individuals from the media and telecom sectors. The new funds will be used for product development and market expansion in 'key territories'. What those territories include was not stated but one can guess US is one of them. Asia is the other: Hitlantis recently launched a localized version of their service in South Korea and hinted that other markets would be opened soon. Moreover, unofficial sources claim the company plans a series A round of up to $7M for the fall.
You often hear that knowledge costs money. With Mancx you can see how the metaphor works when taken literally. The website's users post questions or requests with a price attached to them so that people with the right knowledge can help them save time and energy by providing a quick answer. The website was launched merely this April but it has already closed two funding rounds: a seed investment and an angle investment that are altogether worth over $1.1M. About $170,000 came from the founders, the rest from angel investors Bo Axel Ax:son Johnson, Nils-Robert Persson and Per-Arne Nordlander. The acquired funds will be used to support further development of the Mancx's knowledge marketplace and to make an aggressive marketing push.
Sanoma Media is a giant in media space not only in Finland but across Europe. Their operations span 11 European countries plus Russia and their potential audience is estimated to be more than 290 million. Thus, getting even one of its TV channels as a customer is a big deal. That's what makes ThirdPresence's announcement so exciting: Nelonen (Sanoma's commercial TV channel in Finland) chose ThirdPresence's platform to deliver their TV catch-up service Ruutu.fi to iPads (other mobile devices being added soon). The iPad application can now be downloaded for free from AppStore.
Starduck Studios was able to close 400 000 euro ($570 000 US) in financing just before midsummer. The financing has come from 8 different investors. Among the announced investors were Pitkäjärvi Capital, Hannu Jyrkkä, JanDing, Jussi Lahdenniemi and Gowda Capital. We had a chat with Henri Liljeroos, CEO and Co-Founder and he mentioned that many of the investors are from outside the capital region of Finland. A refreshing sign that the investing market is maturing.
Most of the countries from Central and Eastern Europe are famous for their culture as well as for their affodable prices. Though they do not often come up when one talks about technology start-ups. Founders of the StartupHighway, an accelerator program focusing on Central and Eastern Europe, are determined to change that trend. The program's first round will be launched on September 15th in Vilnius, Lithuania. The 13-week startup accelerator offers intensive one-on-one mentoring as well as preseed funding of up to €14,000 (€2,000 for the idea plus €3,000 for each founder) in exchange for a 10% share in the future company. Application period for the program is open until August 11th.
HackFwd launched a pan-European programming competition targeted at under-18s - HackNow. The aim of the contest is to challenge technically talented young people to create a cool application during the summer. The scope of freedom in choosing what app to build and how is vast. Participants can build anything from a web, Facebook or iPhone app to a graphics demo or a Linux distro. Contenders can program in any language they want as long as they stick to the platforms accepted by the competition: Windows (XP and higher), Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Linux and of course web browsers. The competition is already open and will run all summer until August 15th.
After 9 months of operating a members-only shopping platform, Design/story opened their doors to the general public. Anyone can now choose and buy inventory from the website's Collections, which include hundreds of lifestyle and design products. Collections are centered around various themes, the first one - 'I Need A Drink' - offerring hand-picked interior decoration goods that help unwind at home after work. Desgin/story's main distinction from competitors in design-oriented e-commerce websites is the story-telling part of a shopping experience they offer.
Every once in a while, a weekend comes along when it's worthwhile to stop being productive and take time off to enjoy it with your "family, friends and fools". Midsummer is one of those, so have a great, unproductive midsummer with whoever you're spending it with.
We'll be back in action on Monday, but until then - stay safe and have a great time off!
As our partnership with Nexit Ventures is coming to an end, so are the items we'll be covering. In the second last item we're covering - we'll focus on the importance of startups in an ecosystem, such as Finland in this case with recently published data. The importance of growth companies to an ecosystem is mostly known by the entrepreneurs running these companies. They see the potential that so many others fail to see. The data in this post should strike as interesting to many, to say the least.
Not so long ago we wrote about Grey Area launching their first MMO game, Shadow Cities, in the US. Today the company surprised us with another big launch, this time in Europe. From now on the game can be downloaded for free in local AppStores in 13 European countries: Italy, France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. This follows-ups company's earlier promise to open up new big markets already in June.