HeiaHeia.com, the social tracker of physical activity, will soon be whipping Finland's youth into fighting shape. The Finnish Defence Forces are leveraging the HeiaHeia platform and launching a joint pilot initiative to improve the physical fitness of conscripts. The pilot, called MarsMars (loosely meaning "march, march" in Finnish), aims to increase physical activity among conscripts prior to the start of their military service.
Garage48 Tartu winner Qminder became part of the Seedcamp family last week after winning a Mini Seedcamp event in Prague. Qminder is the second team from the 48-hour hackathon to join the prestigious startup accelerator program in a short period of time.
Garage48 is about being quick, efficient and productive in the shortest possible time. You have a problem that needs a solution and all you have are a mere 48 hours or so to deliver a prototype. I think that is exactly the reason why many ideas springing from the event are about being quick and effective and “to wait” just seems a bit too alien for each. That’s exactly what Ordimo thought when it found the “wait” in waitress and thought about removing it altogether.
The startup launched at the Garage back in January is about providing a new take on self service for restaurants and bars. What Ordimo does is that it transforms your smartphone into a mobile waitress, where customers can order their items before they enter the restaurant. This translates to a quicker serving and more satisfied customers who don’t have to wait in line to place their orders.
I talked to Marina Treshchova, CEO of Fast Lane Ventures, a Moscow based early stage venture capital firm a few weeks back about the investment market in Russia. Fast Lane Ventures is quite a young investment company, but during their 18 months in operation they have invested in almost 1 company every month. Treshchova summed up the situation that there are so many opportunities in Russia at the moment that they have to run really fast.
Trustpilot, a rating service for online shopping, announced it has received €3.3 million in funding from two Nordic venture funds – SEED Capital and Northzone. The company allows a user to look at a single metric to see if they will probably have a pleasurable shopping experience. Aside from the value it provides between customers, the service is also helpful for online businesses to communicate their strong customer service by adding independent reviews to their site.
As an American citizen, I don't know if I should feel really impressed or disappointed about Blueseed's plans. It's either the epitome of the broken American immigration system, or its a powerful metaphor of how driven entrepreneurs are to find solutions to problems, no matter how far out their dreams are on the horizon.
In Blueseed's case, they're dreaming exactly 12 miles out on the horizon in the international waters off the coast of San Francisco. Once the group secures enough funding, they plan on placing a vessel just outside of U.S. jurisdiction, creating an incubator platform on which entrepreneurs from the Nordic countries and around the world could work without a US work visa, and yet can still be a short ferry ride away from the unique environment that Silicon Valley provides.
Here's another nice acquisition of a Finnish game company. Yesterday Ubisoft anounced it had acquired RedLynx Games, creator of the the popular "Trials" game that blew up on Xbox Live. The game has now become one of the best-selling games ever on Xbox LIVE Arcade, with over two million paid downloads for the main game and its downloadable content.
I managed to grab Peter Vesterbacka for a few minutes at Slush today to talk about how Angry Birds sees the world after 500 million downloads. Basically, there's a lot more out there for them to grab than one would expect - simply looking at them what they've done so far. Everyone knows that the company is looking to grow into an entertainment empire, but in my opinion they're already there. They're not just as big yet, even though they are.
We got an exclusive tip from the Mighty Eagle himself, that Rovio will be announcing something new at this year's Slush. The tip held through, as Mikael Hed, the CEO of the company made the announcement on stage through a video; Angry Birds has now been downloaded more than 500 million times. That's one hell of a milestone.
Only a little over a year ago, the company announced that they will try to reach 100 million downloads in 12 months. How wrong they were (and how crazy we all thought they were).
Those are the strategic figures of the Finnish gaming industry at the moment. Last night, prime time news in Finland covered the gaming industry in proper spotlight and outlined a few key figures of the industry. This year, the gaming industry is expected to generate 165 million euros in revenue and in doing so they employ 1200 people. Despite this somewhat significant size of the industry for such a small country, it has yet to see any real public acknowledgement from media at large or politicians. The downside of all this is that there are very few schools who teach anything related to the games industry.
Who doesn’t have a secret crush once in a lifetime? Unfortunately, many have trouble expressing the emotions to their crush. The reason being nobody wants the crush to crash their reputation by becoming public. True that, I would rather keep affection for someone to myself than to say it out loud putting my reputation at stake. If there is a secret way to express this, who wouldn’t want to make use of it? Hiddenhint does exactly that.
Now there are a lot of other traditional methods, such as tossing a random note on a girl's desk, putting a nice card in her bag, etc but in the age of social media and apps, gadgets, etc it sounds too old school. Hiddenhint makes a note of this and adds a bit more modern and anonymous touch to it. But how exactly does it work?
Metro International, publisher of the free daily newspaper availible in over 100 cities across the world, has signed a co-operation deal with Scoopshot, a Helsinki-based news photo crowdsourcing service. This deal will allow readers to capture and sell their photos to Metro using Scoopshot's iPhone and Android apps. Scoopshot is owned by Helsink-based P2S Media Group.
The Helsinki Based seed accelerator, Startup Sauna, recently announced their Fall batch of startups. The 17 teams began working out of Otaniemi yesterday and will finish with a public demo day on December 15th. This year there are 8 Finnish teams, 5 Russian, 2 Polish, 1 Estonian, and one from Lithuania.
Getting your documents and proposals approved on time by all relevant stakeholders can be a tedious and nerve-wracking task. Easyprove, a Lithuania-based startup, is developing an online platform that could potentially make the process a whole lot smoother, efficient and carefree.
Mobile payments are hot right now, but many services are only offered for certain phones, or certain stores-- like Starbucks' mobile payment app. A Lithuanian startup has a new take on the concept to also reach users who don't have a smartphone. Mokipay uses a sticker with a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that attaches to the back of a smart or dumb phone, which can be read by a Mokipay reader already present in about 2000 bars, restaurants, and retailers across Lithuania.
As a quick followup, The Switch, a windmill component engineering firm, is no longer being acquired by American Superconductor Corp. When the acquisition was announced last March we called The Switch "the next success story Finland has been waiting for," but yesterday The Switch shareholders and AMSC announced that they have agreed to terminate the acquisition agreement, due to adverse market conditions for the financing required to fund the acquisition. According to Bloomberg, AMSC has dropped 82 percent since April 5, when its largest customer, Chinese wind-turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group Co., refused to accept contracted shipments.
With the hype surrounding the new Nokia Windows phones, perhaps we will start to see more apps developed for the Windows Phone 7 marketplace. To get any traction, new and existing apps are going to need some healthy promotion to reach customers. The Lithuanian cross-promotion network, AdDuplex, seeks to help developers gain traction and monetize their apps through in-app advertisements.
In this day and age, what could be worse than making a phone call to arrange a taxi? It sounds too much of a hassle, and while it might be effective for many, the concept sounds too medieval. This is just my personal opinion, but gladly some firms are keen at bringing Cab facilitation online. The idea is to help ease the task for arranging taxis via one single destination. Yandex has started doing exactly that.
The Russian online giant is leveraging its popularity online in Russia to launch a Yandex Taxi Search Service. Yandex.Taxi sends request for booking a cab to all taxi services and accelerates the process of finding a cab for travellers. To start off, Yandex.Taxi has succeeded in partnering with 11 Taxi Service providers. Currently this service is just in beta and the operations are limited to Moscow alone.
Here's more of our keynote talks at Arctic15 earlier this autumn. Richard White gave one of the fastest, action filled talks I've ever heard. He talked through the story of his past startups, but also how came to found Uservoice.com. A nice coincidence was that Richard White and Steve Huffman both knew each other previously and thus he made quite a few references to Steve Huffman's Reddit along the way as well. More keynote videos and all the startup pitches coming up in the next few weeks.
Publishzer is a new content collection platform that allows anyone to view videos, tweets, photos, and blog articles in a tight, dynamic, magazine-like spread. When the service goes live, users will be able to create their own magazines or read others.
When using Publishzer, everything feels clean and easy to use. When creating your own online magazine, Publishzer designed a buttonless interface that is intuitive and autosaves what you type. And when reading a Publishzer, you can click on images to enlarge and re-arrange content. It makes it easy to look at photos in more detail, or find more content. To view what their service looks like, check out a sample based on our Arctic15 conference.