Zerply Adds Premium Themes

We reviewed Zerply a few months back, calling it the next generation professional network. We weren’t wrong as the recent flare in its usage has been immense, maybe we are following all those who are part of Zerply, but we see the name more often in our timeline. The professional network is beginning to monetize its platform and has taken another step towards it with its premium themes.

Its growing catalog added themes from Mike Kus, a renowned web designer and another one by Kyle Steed. The theme by Mike Kus is sleek and offers a quick overview of your social links and contact information on the top. In short where it matters the most.

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Is Facebook Advertising Getting Too Expensive For Startups?

Sofanatics, the Finnish social sports media startup, has decided to quit advertising on Facebook for the time being, citing increased costs and lower conversion rates as the main factors behind the rather radical decision. The company says that despite optimizing and targeting their ads on Facebook, customer acquisition costs have almost doubled due to higher click prices and declining conversion rates.

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Shutting Down Your Company In Style

Joakim Achren, a Finnish entrepreneur, was one of the first entrepreneurs I met when we started ArcticStartup. He talked about his company Ironstar Helsinki with passion and of all the things they're building. Couple of weeks ago he posted a post mortem on his final touches to shut down the company and move on. He summarises the path they took with Ironstar Helsinki and outlines a couple of reasons why they decided to shut the company down, instead of pursuing other alternatives. We've also written about Ironstar Helsinki extensively, be it their product launch or the fact that Monty Widenius invested in the company in 2009.

The reasons that lead to the closure of the company were a failed acquisition and the failure to raise more funding this year. Nothing new there, but what I really respect with the all the emotional turbulence Achren must have gone through, is the effort he has taken to cover all this in a single blog post.

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AutoAle Launches In Finland

AutoAle is looking to enter the somewhat crowded car sales market in Finland. The company isn't all that unaware of the situation or unexperienced as you may think. AutoAle has been co-founded by Mika Fagerström, Hannu Kytölä and Dmitry Genin. Fagerström was the founder of the hugely popular nettiauto.com in Finland that basically took used car sales online. So what makes AutoAle better than the existing solutions on the market? In short - they're targeting the market of new or nearly new cars, something that is still being sold through traditional sales channels (ie. dealers). With AutoAle, dealers can advertise new or nearly new cars online to an audience that do not want to buy a traditional "used car".

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Heavy Duty Stickers

Let's start off the week on a little bit of a lighter note. One of our readers sent in a couple of photos to us regarding our stickers. We give these out at our events and whenever we meet people and so on. He told us he'd had one of these stickers stuck in his washing machine for a couple of months now. It's been stuck there and gone through tens of washes without leaving any color. We don't manufacture our own stickers, but we're still extremely proud of their quality. Talk about heavy duty!

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Finnish Awesomeness and Entrepreneurship

Editor's note: This is written by a Finnish entrepreneur Riitta Raesmaa, who wanted to cast her voice about her home country. We're glad to publish similar articles from any other country in our region - please get in touch with us, if you'd like to get your content published. This post was originally published at Riitta Raesmaa's personal blog.

Something exceptional is happening here in Finland. However I think that the foundation for that has existed a long time, only to wait its time to come. And it seems that the time is here and now. Let me explain.

I am a startup entrepreneur and I am considering myself very lucky that I have had the opportunity to follow somewhat amazing chain of events happening in the startup scene of Finland. The young crew from the Aalto University, so-called Aalto Entrepreneurship Society, has worked hard for two and half years, and finally this week they publicly proved that their vision and the actions taken truly are a very powerful force.

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Three Events To Watch: StartupGarage + Goto Conf + Slush

Every now and then we highlight a few good events people should attend to make the most of their networking, business opportunities or learning new things. There are three good conferences we believe people should watch in the coming month or so. They are Goto Conference organised in Aarhus, Denmark, Slush organised in Helsinki, Finland and StartupGarage -event organised in Tallinn, Estonia. All slightly different, but surely worth your time to check them out if they're of interest to you. Below's a short break down of each event.

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WOT Partners With Kiosked For A Secure Online Shopping Experience

Security is a prerequisite in the real world and perhaps more so in the digital space. And with security online, comes WOT that has been ensuring a safe browsing experience for the millions of users online. WOT announced another major partnership earlier, this time with Kiosked.

Kiosked is an online service that transforms online content into a marketplace. The service provides consumers with access to more information as well as making both online and offline purchases easy. Kiosked was also one of the Arctic15 finalists this year.

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Amazon Web Services Extra Prize For Arctic15 Finalists

Arctic15 was one great event last week. Not only was it great from the view point of attendees and speakers, but we also had some great partners there. A great example of one our partners is Amazon Web Services - they've decided to hand out an extra prize (we actually announced this on stage) to all Arctic15 finalists.

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Business Insider: The Top 100 Digital Startups

Business Insider has gathered a list of 100 companies from all around the world (these lists are always skewed a little and it's almost impossible to make them globally valid). The list is naturally ranked with lots of US based startups, but quite a few Nordic ones are on the list as well. Company valuation is used to organise the companies.

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Rochard Is The New Space Hero Protecting Us From Aliens!

Gravity defying, men against alien pirates, set to save planet Earth from evil, sounds like a typical video game. But with all the hype surrounding Rochard, I am sure Sony Online Entertainment and Finnish Recoil Games have done a quite an impressive job. Even though the hero defies gravity, the gamers are sucked into the gaming experience.

Rochard is a tale of John Rochard who is given the voice of Jon St. John, the same person who’s voice is better associated to the legend we remember as Duke Nukem. The gameplay revolves around Jon, who is an astro-miner when he discovers an artifact deep within an asteroid. When you say artifact it should be known that it is of great value, and if this is found in space, don’t be surprised if aliens come with an objective to acquire it. Artifacts, aliens, invasions and in comes Rochard and alien annihilator; the G-Lifter that helps him play with gravity, solve puzzles and save the day.

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Angry Birds Coming After Your Coffee, As Rovio And Starbucks Partnership Gets A Flare

It comes as no surprise that Rovio is eager to build a strong retail presence. The company is, after all, already selling a million T-shirts and plush toys each month. Bloomberg reports that the makers of Angry Birds are now eager to setup a partnership with Starbucks Corp. The idea is simple: grow beyond the digital space and add more variety to its portfolio of products.

The Angry Birds smartphone game has seen over 350 million downloads and Rovio wants to capitalize on this phenomenal growth further. Leader boards in stores is just one option for promoting Angry Birds in a bid to transform the digital reach into a real-world behemoth. What are we looking at? The fad of Angry Birds shoes, socks, pillows, rugs and what not syncs perfectly to help Rovio diversify its line of products and reach more customers.

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PickyDomains Helping Your Brand Find The Right Name Online

You have a killer idea with proven demand, but what you don’t have is the right domain name that does justice to your brand. You can hire me and I will charge a hefty sum for consultation without a guarantee that you would even like my suggestions. Or you can try PickyDomains. I will tell you why.

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Facebook Adds Spotify Integration, Spotify Returns The Favor: Requires Facebook Login

Last week's Thursday saw Mark Zuckerberg present a ton of new things at the Facebook developer conference f8 that will hit Facebook in the coming months. One of the additions, that was immediately enabled was the deep partnership with Spotify. For those who love to listen to music in a social way, this is heaven. You're able to dive into your friends' music habits whenever you're in Facebook. There are a couple of downsides to this and the most important one isn't the fact that your Facebook stream is a flush of Spotify updates. It's actually the fact that with the integration - Spotify has disabled any other sign-in method and now requires new users to have Facebook accounts. This is a huge gamble for the Sweden based music company that could backfire on it.

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Endomondo Raises $2.3M And Reaches 5M Downloads

Endomondo, the company developing a mobile sports tracker application by the same name, has announced its $2.3 million financing round from Denmark based SEED Capital. Endomondo was launched in September 2008. The company's mobile app has gained substantial traction since February, when we reported it reached a previous significant milestone of 2 million downloads.

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Just-Eat Expands To South America

Just-Eat, a Danish originated, world's largest online takeaway ordering service has expanded to South America through a partnership with RestauranteWeb. The partnership in practice means that Restaurante Web will become part of the Just-Eat Group. The partnership will give Just-Eat a pool of over 1000 restaurants in Brazil initially.

RestauranteWeb was founded in 2004 by Luiz Jares and Marco Corradini. Jares commented “We’ve always known the huge potential online takeaway has in Brazil, and as the leading provider of food ordering services we are in a prime position to capitalise. Being part of the Just-Eat Group means that we will be able to offer both existing and new restaurant partners an enhanced service that will allow them to serve more customers than ever before.”

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Rovio And Uplause Premiered Angry Birds Crowd Game At Formula1 GP Singapore

Last weekend Rovio and Uplause, two Finnish companies, premiered the Angry Birds Crowd Game at the Formula 1 race in Singapore. Uplause is a company creating differnent kinds of massive multiplayer games - the kind that you play in large stadiums and outdoor events, for example, together with thousands of players simultaneously. More than 2.5 million people have participated in the games so far, according to Uplause.

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Mancx, Graduateland Win At Arctic15

Close to 400 startup enthusiasts from all over the region came together in Helsinki to witness 15 stellar pitches from companies on stage at Arctic15 yesterday. The day was all about winning and despite the hard choice of the jury to pick one winner - all the companies already won, by getting tons of coverage and visibility on stage for their products and services. In addition to this, Amazon Web Services decided to give a substantial amount of credit to all the 15 finalists (we'll contact you directly regarding the details on this).

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No Coverage Today - Everyone's At Arctic15

We'll be resuming our coverage tomorrow as today everyone is at Arctic15!

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Arctic15 Mobile App Now Available

The Arctic15 mobile app has now been made available. The mobile app is, bowing to web based applications, all HTML5 and it's been put together by the wonderful team at Webcrumbz. Their team will also be at Arctic15, so go say hi to them! The app is your digital guide to the event and through that you can check the schedule, speakers, sponsors and also send questions to our speakers. Furthermore - it's up to the audience to decide on the audience favorite, who will win 5000€ of sponsorship from ArcticStartup. All this is available in the mobile app.

Head over to http://m.arctic15.com on your mobile to check it out - voting will be enabled tomorrow morning!

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