Guilty as charged. We sometimes need a helping hand from a copy editor here and there, because we are not native English speakers, but want to write in English just because its the global lingua franca. Now there's Wordy, a Danish startup, to help out. We saw Wordy already present in Copenhagen back in June at the ArcticEvening event we held there. Back then they were still in closed beta and only now have opened up.
Here's a presentation (video below; start at 00:23:20) from Wordy, when they were at LeWeb last week.
Nordic Game Program has had its ceremony in Malmö Sweden where it gave out three million Danish Kronor worth of funding. The program was started by the joint decision between the Icelanding, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish Ministries of Culture to promote Nordic games. The program was founded in 2006 and has plans to run until 2012. A total of 84 projects were submitted and only eight received funding.
This is our periodic thank you note to our blog sponsors to describe what they have to offer.
Brain Alliance is a fast growing Finnish software developing company, which is particularly specialized in open source web technologies such as PHP, Drupal and Zend Framework. Our clients include Sanoma Data, Lemminkäinen Oyj, YLE, A-lehdet and Hoivanet among few. Company’s founder Jukka Hassinen has build the 35 person employing company in six years. Other key people are Taneli Tikka (Board member), Mikko Hämäläinen (COO), Eetu Hyppönen (Serial Creative Director) and Santeri Lindgren (CTO). Brain Alliance is a part of the NASDAQ OMX listed company Soprano Plc.
Starting Year 2010 BizSpark program will include BizSparkCamps.
In Finland BizSparkCamps start with Azure, 8th of February!
Following the commercial availability of Windows Azure, we’ll be announcing free cloud computing use on the Windows Azure platform for all BizSpark customers. To kick-start developers on this powerful platform, subscribers will get 750 free compute hours per month for eight months.
Book you place and make a mark to your calendar and you are welcome!
Learn more about BizSparkCamp: where, when and what from the link and register!
EnterpriseHelsinki is an ongoing city initiative for new entrepreneurs and startups. In addition to free basic advisory on starting or growing your business, their mission is to help local startup ecosystem, by organizing and supporting related events, and by providing helpful tools and resources for the ecosystem.
Today The Finnish Software Entrepreneurs Association issued a press release (here in Finnish) demanding tax exemption for Finnish startups. Jaakko Salminen, head of the Association, argues that the current Finnish tax legislation is not fair for startups in comparison to the BigCo. To fix this the Association proposes that those startups that fund their operations from their own profits and are owned by the entrepreneurs themselves should be exempted from the corporate income tax. This of course means that those startups are profitable. Further, the tax legislation should promote all the measures that lead to M&A activity that increases the size of the company. The Finnish Software Entrepreneurs Association also go on to argue that such measures push up the employment figures and increase the tax revenue in the long run.
Currently the heaviest burden from the Finnish taxation is felt by the early stage startups that don't use debt leverage as much as BigCo, are owned by the entrepreneurs themselves and fund their day to day straight from the accrued revenues. Salminen goes on to argue that being exempted from corporate income tax would incentivise exactly these types of companies to leave the money in the company to fuel the growth, instead of taking out every last penny through dividends.
We concur, but can't see how this helps the pre-revenue stage companies that are not profitable, which is the type of startup where the need for tax, or any break, is the biggest. Profitable and promising startups should not have trouble getting investors interested in the. Conversely, even the promising, but riskier pre-revenue ones do.
I bumped into LumoFlow some time ago already, but only recently did I get more familiar with it. The service is a nice social collaboration site where you have the basic tools available for working in a collaborative manner. LumoFlow is being developed by Lumo Research, a company that launched the product in Slush 2008. While the product launch was initially a little over a year ago, the service has come along nicely.
The company was founded by Kristian Tanninen and Sami Linnanvuo. Bart Schrooten has also joined their ranks and is responsible for marketing and business development. Kristian Tanninen has a history of developing large scale IT-projects for powerhouses such as Logica, whereas Sami Linnanvuo and Bart Schrooten have their backgrounds in the company Leiki.
If you're an entrepreneur in the Northern Europe (and if you're reading this, you probably are) you should be feeling pretty good about now. For example, growth companies are now the largest employers in Finland, and it turns out working in Silicon Valley isn't all it's cracked up to be. So much innovation gets started here, it's not even funny. Companies like Stereoscape that push the frontiers of 3D movies, and Investors like Richard Youngman, who tells you where future developments are coming from (and why this big meeting in Copenhagen isn't that important afterall). Just be sure to avoid the 10 most common mistakes entrepreneurs make, and you'll be sitting pretty.
The Voxstone VoxTrac acoustic gas line measurement devices are selling like hotcakes!
Finland based AW-Energy harnesses energy from the motion of the ocean.
Even when it's really cold in Finland, Beneq thinks the thinnest possible coatings are the best.
The upside to Upsido? You never have to use E*TRADE ever again.
Starting another company sound like too much work for you? Join a VC! They're always looking for washed up entrepreneurs, just ask Nikolaj Nyholm.
It is nice to be able to write about positive growth stories for a Finnish SME in these times, especially if the company is located in the Cleantech sector and was just established in 2005. Beneq is located in Vantaa and during the Finnfacts Cleantech Blogger Tour 09 we went for a visit, where CEO Sampo Ahonen and Marketing Manager Joe Pimenoff gave us a presentation on what the company is about and also granted us a look at their products and premises.
Seedcap AB help entrepreneurs and start-ups to raise capital. Here's Andy's 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Often Make When Raising Capital.
1. Trying to raise money too late
Raising money is time consuming. Count with an absolute minimum of 3 months, with a more likely scenario being 5 - 7 months.
2. Trying to raise money too early
There should be a logical relationship between the perceived value of the company in need of cash and the amount of cash to be raised. Trying to raise significant sums simply based on an idea usually fails, which leads us to point 3 below:
As the region's reigning consumer web champion, there can never be enough stories about Spotify. And since today they've released a verison for Android and some new user & track figures, it's a good time as any to wonder what the future might hold for them. Especially in light of Apple's recent acquisition of US based La La Media. Caught on tape at Le Web, Spotify "Consigliere" Shakil Khan announced that they now have 7 million users in 6 countries choosing from 6.5 million tracks and listening for an average of 80-90 minutes per user.
When asked the million billion dollar question about when the service will launch in the US, Khan reiterated the 1Q10 time frame that has been given before. Interestingly, he also said that one of the main delays has been setting up a corporate infrastructure in the US including "business licences and visas," as well as operations and ad sales teams in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Spotify has used this type of careful building since the beginning, and it is a credit to they way that they think about user experience, considering problems that would result from not being fully prepared as a degradation to the end service. However, with attitudes towards the non-ownership model changing rapidly, there will be an element of first-mover advantage to whomever can launch an insanely great streaming service in the US, and even more so if that first-mover happens to be called Apple. Will Spotify be dead-on-arrival in the US if Apple launches an iTunes streaming service before they're ready?
Steam Republic, a Finnish startup in the mobile space, is focusing on digital fan oriented marketing. They are big in mobile and want to enable bands to control the relationship with their own fans and consequentially make money through that.
Steam Republic was previously called Backstage Alliance. The company has participated and won several competitions under both names. Latest is the Appsfire App Star Awards where they were a finalist (see video below). They have also landed their first international agreement with EMI record label (UK) and are pushing out their first international pilot with You Me At Six already at the end of this week if all goes as planned.
Nikolaj Nyholm, a Danish serial entrepreneur, who stepped down as Polar Rose's CEO just recently will join a Nordic venture capital firm Sunstone Capital as Partner in the Technology Ventures team on January 1.
Nyholm has spent the last 10 years working with internet infrastructure projects, commercial ventures and organizing, among other things, Reboot with Thomas Madsen-Mygdal. He has previously founded Speednames/Ascio acquired by Group NBT (NBT.NL), Imity merged with Zyb (acquired by Vodaphone Group), and Organic Network, a WiFi startup whose legacy is OpenWRT.org, an open source WiFi project.
Without a doubt this is good move by Sunstone Capital as Nyholm has an extremely wide network and is considered one of the most visionary entrepreneurs in the space. Quite naturally, at Sunstone Nyholm will focus on developing early-stage investments in the software, mobile and an internet space. Commenting his move, Nyholm said that " There aren't enough seasoned entrepreneurs joining VC firms in Europe, which should otherwise allow us to stir things up a whole lot more! " We couldn't agree more.
We visited Lahti Cleantech Venture Day a few weeks ago and were able to talk to Richard Youngman of Cleantech Group. Richard is based in Cleantech Group’s office in London and is responsible for the company’s global membership offering – its industry-leading data, research, and conferences – as well as driving the growth of the group’s activities in Europe, India and the Middle East.
In the first video we discussed what will happen in 2010 in cleantech and whether Youngman believes the cleantech market in India is finally catching fire.
We also talked in length why he believes Copenhagen does not matter. As we all know, the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) is going on in Copenhagen, Denmark right now. Businesses have already a long time argued for a clear road map what kinds of policies governments will implement, what will be taxed, what will be supported and so on. The missing clarity will inhibit or at least defer all the investment decision to the new technology, which in turn influences the number and the amount of investments, trade sales and even IPOs in the sector, when nobody knows what horse to bet on. Youngman argued it's not quite as what is seems. See the videos below for more.
Kauppalehti reports on some fascinating results from research conducted by Balance Consulting on the effects of growth companies in the Finnish economy. While I realise this data is very Finland centric and might not be of that much interest to others - I am sure these results will resonate in similar manner in other countries. We wrote about this in 2008 as well and it seems that the data, some one and a half years later is still very valid. The study was conducted by looking at companies whose revenue is above 1,7 million euros annually and belong to the Balance Consulting corporate databse. While the database is very thorough, it does leave a lot of the younger startups out.
During our trip to the Silicon Valley we aimed to meet people who have experience from the Northern Europe on one hand, and from the Silicon Valley on the other to get the bottom of the differences between the two places. This is the final post of the series. See also the previous posts on the differences between VC firms, how to enter the US market and our chat with Mårten Mickos.
I talked with two seasoned entrepreneurs, Risto and Markus, who live in Silicon Valley, but are originally from Finland. It was invaluable to hear what Silicon Valley is alike from someone who is not a superstar entrepreneur, but is just like us, a passionate and proud entrepreneur working gradually towards building a successful business. We talked about how is it to run a business in the Silicon Valley and the downsides of the location (yes, there are some). The guys also told us what is the number one best thing about the location. See video below.
Upsido is a Danish startup providing a web service for Nordic private investors that focus on fundamental analysis. Upsido claim to offer the most comprehensive, quickly updated, and accurate financial information, tools and news on Nordic public companies. The service aims to allow private investors to make sounder long-term investment decisions and track their portfolio performance.
Netcycler, a Finnish startup, wants to get us to recycle all the pretty things we own but don't need anymore. After talking to the founders they are also keen evangelize their own version of cradle to cradle thinking and want to make more than just money, even though that is part of the plan as well.
The service itself is still in closed alpha (we have invites though, see more about those below), although to me it's a full blown Beta and working just fine. You can put your stuff for people to see, include a photo, description and all the usual stuff. In addition to this there's quite a nifty way to find what you'd like to get in exchange: You can also create a Wish, where you tell the service what you'd like to get in return. After you have done this, it will automatically offer you that, if someone is willing to exchange such a product.
I talked with John Liljelund, the CEO of AW-Energy in Lahti, Finland a few weeks ago in the Cleantech Venture Forum. He discussed various aspects in how the company was founded and where they are at the moment with their product. Not only is the story behind the company very interesting, but he goes through in detail the different stages of investment the company has received including his own march to become the CEO of the company. AW-Energy develops a product called Waveroller which harnesses energy from the energy of the waves.
Voxstone CEO Tommi Peltomäki was invited to pitch in Lahti last week. Voxstone, a spin-off from VTT has developed and patented VoxTracs , which are acoustic measuring devices that accurately monitor gas flows in industrial applications. VoxTrac (in the picture) can also make measurements in difficult conditions, which existing electronic technologies cannot do realiably. In addition to making it possible to optimize the biogas production process, proper monitoring can also lead to energy savings. When used to measure and optimize compressed air production in industrial facilities, the energy costs savings can be €10 - 20k annually. Tommi and his team have been developing the product since 2008. Their next step is to set up a sales network in the EU, Asia and the USA to accelerate revenue growth with a target of increasing net profits by 30% - 40% by 2011.
We visited Lahti Cleantech Venture Day a few weeks ago and were able to talk to Richard Youngman of Cleantech Group. Richard is based in Cleantech Group's office in London and is responsible for the company's global membership offering - its industry-leading data, research, and conferences - as well as driving the growth of the group's activities in Europe, India and the Middle East.
We discussed Cleantech Group's offering and what they do in particular, how does the clean tech space currently look like and where the innovation is coming from.
In the second video Youngman told us how he sees the Nordic space and what are the hot areas to follow. Similarly he addressed whether he sees clean tech continuing to attract the most venture capital going forward, just as it did in Q3 this year.
The Nordic countries, and especially Finland, have been strong in graphical software development. This has partially been reflected in the relatively large and successful gaming industry. Another area where this expertise has now had positive network externalities is the animation and movie industry in the form of 3D. For those unfamiliar with 3D movies, Wikipedia defines the technology as the process of including the illusion of depth perception. There's an interesting Finnish player in this area that has attracted quite a bit of international interest in the recent months.