Where do you search for advice when you need to buy an expensive piece of some very specific equipment like ice climbing axe or a soft shell jacket? Looking for that kind of niche information online can be time-consuming and hard. You often end up jumping from site to site, trying to piece together the scattered pieces of information out there. Tribevine, a Finland-based start-up, addresses that problem with a product information community they built around outdoor and extreme sports. Tribevine uses the wisdom of crowds to create reliable and objective reviews of skiing and climbing equipment and present those in a structured and intuitive manner. The website has been operating in closed beta for the past six months. Its main users so far have been a couple of hundred professional athletes who reviewed loads of products. Next week Tribevine will launch their website into public beta to expand their userbase and grow traction.
Big news coming out from Britain. Passion Capital, a new investment company has just announced that they've closed a $60 million fund from both private investors as well as the UK government. Private investors put in $20 million and the British government upped the ante with a $40 million. Passion Capital features three partners, Stefan Glaenzer, Eileen Burbidge and Robert Dighero. The trio is among the most high profile angel investors in Europe.
Just a few days before Christmas last year we wrote about HeiaHeia logging one million exercises. Back then we estimated that they'd cross the 2 million exercise mark around April. Last week they announced that the company has reached this milestone, a little before our estimate. This of course means that they've been able to increase usage, get more users on board or both.
Ever thought about getting even with someone, but never had the courage to do so? There's a little iPhone app now on the market that might help you in this. The game is called Blow'em and it was started as a Garage48 project in Helsinki, Finland in January. It offers users a great way to have fun with its Perverted Candle, Retarded Tomato, Deep Throat or the Angry Egg. The instructions are simple; point, select your weapon and shoot. That’s it, you don’t really need a user guide on this do you?
TrueCaller announced last week that they have reached one million downloads and users for their apps. Only a little over a month ago they announced they have 900 000 users, so the growth has been increasing dramatically in the recent months. TrueCaller is a called ID application for the iPhone, Android and Symbian phones. It has social media integrations and features such as call blocking against spam calls.
GrabCAD, the Estonian company that has created a CAD drawing sharing service for engineers, has been accepted to participate in Techstars Boston program. What makes this all noteworthy is for the following two reasons. According to our knowledge, no Northern European company has been accepted to any US based Techstars program and secondly, especially not after winning Seedcamp London earlier this year.
Garage48 is one of those startup weekend type events, where people gather together for about 48 hours and develop something that could potentially be founded into a startup. The concept isn't all that old, but the people behind it have been active. This weekend Garage48 will take place in Riga and in the coming months, a lot of other cities will also see a Garage48 event take place. In April (15th-17th), Garage48 will take place in Tallinn, at the end of August in Tartu. Later in the year Garage48 will most likely be visiting Stockholm and Helsinki as well. Additionally, the team will have 5 events in Africa this year.
Anything you see can be yours, that’s what Kiosked believes in. The startup revolves around the concept of Web Wide Shop and has developed a secure sales and marketing platform, transforming all content online into a marketplace.
Social networks are today's darlings: a lot of us use at least one and many strive to build one of their own around a certain aspect of their lives. Eskimi belongs to the second camp: the company offers a mobile-first social network. Eskimi's main purpose is to help users meet new people. To that end, everything is made simple in the service: creating a profile requires only a username, date of birth, your location and gender. Thus, you are free to chat with other users after 30 seconds of using Eskimi.
You can also share photos and send gifts or private messages. Even though the service works both in a browser and as an app, being mobile-first means Eskimi gets most of its traction from mobile platforms. Most of their users come from the emerging markets like Asia, Africa and Latin America. Founded only a year ago in Lithuania, the service today has 1M registered users who generate over 300M pageviews and 60M messages per month.
A month ago, a Finnish newspaper interviewed me and asked are we living a bubble due to the high valuations of startups. Back then, I said no. Today, I'm not so sure anymore. My statement in that interview still stands true though on one part - there's no bubble in Northern Europe for sure, but I can't fully agree with regards to the US anymore. First, let me define a bubble in this case by stating it's an economic cycle where companies' valuations are highly inflated compared to a situation when calculated by business potential and metrics at large.
Sports Tracker is probably the best application ever built, solely for the Nokia phones. It has millions of users world wide since its launch in 2007. Ever since 2007, they have only supported Nokia phones, understandably due to their background. The company announced yesterday that they will be launching iPhone and Android versions of the popular application in the near future. The development is almost ready and the apps will head to final testing soon.
Sportlyzer, an Estonian start-up that offers a sports web application, has just made their service available to the general public. Currently anyone can create a profile and use all of the features for free. The last time we wrote about Sportlyzer their team shared all the hard work they have been putting into developing the product. Now we can see what fruits their work will bear. So far the released product promises to add a lot of value for the people wanting to get fit. Apart from tracking workouts, Sportlyzer helps create a diverse training plan and give advice according to your individual training history. You could either use the tool to add fun and diversity to your training routine or to compete with your peers.
Zokem continues with its expansion and moves into ensuring that it becomes the largest source of mobile market research globally. Recently the company announced its partnership with Cint, a firm focused on providing SaaS based solutions for market research industry. The partnership will help Zokem’s Mobile Life panels expand further into the Western markets by utilizing Cint’s Thumbspeak.
I turned to Nexit Ventures for opinions on 2010 for the venture capital industry. I received both comments and a lot of good research data regarding VC investments in the US. The data is based on Fenwick's recent survey on Q4 VC activity. In short, 2010 was a good year for venture capital. Almost all metrics were pointing higher, except for one: raising funds for venture capitalists was still difficult and was at its lowest since 2003.
This is a series of posts, written in co-operation with the Finnish Software Entrepreneurs to promote entrepreneurs working with software. The first post is about Jussi Muurikainen, the CEO of Balancion. Balancion is a personal finance management application that integrates with banks.
In this series, we try to dig deep into the backgrounds of the entrepreneurs and their companies. You can also win a ticket to Arctic15 by subscribing to the Finnish Software Entrepreneurs newsletter over here.
Mail.ru Group recently reported a fiscal year revenue growth of 63,5% in 2010, reaching $324M. The Group's net profit was reported to be $76.7M, up from $47.2M in 2009. Dmitry Grishin, co-founder and CEO, explained that the growing revenues came as a result of the Group's ability to benefit from a growing potential and engagement in the Russian Internet market. Other likely reasons are the general economic recovery and a strong shift among advertisers towards online ads, which were the biggest source of Mail.ru Group's revenue. They made up $124M of the overall sum (up from $75.9M in 2009). MMO games brought in almost a third of the overall revenue - a whopping $99.8M, up from $61.4 in 2009.The overall number of unique monthly visits to Mail.ru Group's properties amounted to 27,2M in December 2010, 21% more than in 2009 but still slightly less than Yandex got that year.
Amazon has joined the Android app race with their own store in the US, according All Things Digital. The store isn't available at least in Finland and an attempt to access it simply redirects one to the Amazon front page. Amazon is claiming that since it's a retailer already, it can do a better job in selling apps than Google itself. For developers, it adds fragmentation as there are now at least three sites one has to be present in if you want to reach the masses, The Google Android Market, Amazon App Store and the Baltics originated GetJar.
Students in Finland have come a long way in a few years. Last night, Finland saw one of its most impressive events in support of growth entrepreneurship - all organised by a small group of passionate students. What makes this all the better, is that the event was covered by numerous national media and the panelists at the actual event included the hotshots of Finnish business environment; a mix of very influential business people and a group of startup entrepreneurs. The event was called "Finland Post Welfare", questioning the things Finland should work on to sustain its welfare status. It was put together by Aalto Entrepreneurship Society.
We live blogged the event last night in English as the event itself was held in Finnish. As it's not the best use of anyone's time to suggest that you go through the logs - we'll do our best to summarise the event in this post.
We live blogged the Finland Post Welfare from Finlandia Hall. Below, you'll be able to find the log of the live blog. We'll have a summary of the event available on ArcticStartup tomorrow morning.
Behind every successful company there are years of hard work. Each founding story is unique and fascinatingly interesting, especially when you talk about Internet businesses emerging from the Soviet Russia. Forbes has recently published an exclusive interview with Yandex's founding fathers Arkady Volozh (CEO) and Ilja Segalovich (CTO). Today Yandex has 28M unique monthly visitors and more than 80% of Runet's audience uses the website to search for information online. The company is set to file for an IPO sometime this year and its potential value is estimated in billions. Where did this success come from and how did it all start? Those were some of the questions the article answered.