A big issue to consider with any ongoing Facebook marketing campaign is Edgerank-- the algorithm that determines what items pop up in the newsfeed. Facebook tries to show you items that are most relevant to your interests by only showing you status updates, links, and images from the friends and pages that you interact with the most. This provides a strong motivation for Page owners to engage their users and encourage liking, sharing, and commenting. Riding this trend is Bemmu Sepponen, who has created two Fan Page Apps for Facebook, Fan of the Week and Top Fans, where each application has broken the milestone of 1 million monthly active users.
Ovelin, the creators of WildChords, has just announced it has received $1.4 (€1.1) million in seed funding from True Ventures. The Finnish company has already seen a great deal of successes for its innovative method for teaching the guitar, which provides instant feedback and gamified hooks to keep up motivation. WildChords counted 100,000 downloads in the first month of its release, and has racked up a full shelf of awards since leaving StartupSauna. With the funding Ovelin plans on strengthening their team and widening the number of platforms it is available on.
Iron Sky has been one of the more anticipated films in the Finnish movie industry in the past years. The movie is a sequel to the Star Wreck, a fully crowdsourced movie that has become the most watched (and also downloaded) Finnish film of all time. Iron Sky is a built on the story that in 1945 Nazis flew to the moon - and now they're coming back. The movie is also a big budget film by Finnish standards. On Wreckamovie, a site where movie creators can crowdsource parts of the content from the community, the film's budget is listed at an impressive €7.5 million.
Who has the right to enter the artistic scene? Who decides the criteria’s on access to public funding? How would public art funding be designed if we invented the concept now? CrowdCulture is a new crowdfunding site for creative projects, that tries to answer these questions in a fairly unique way. The crowdfunding platform mixes private money with public money in a hybridized economy to fund art and cultural works. The platform was developed by an initiative of Fabel Communication in collaboration with SICS-- the Swedish Institute of Computer Science.
We're back with organising ArcticEvenings! This year we'll do altogether six ArcticEvenings and our annual Arctic15 conference (more on the other events soon). We will kick off our events this year with ArcticEvening Tallinn on Thursday, the 1st of March. Our theme for the event is startup metrics. We also have a really good speaker coming to present his view on startup metrics - William Wolfram of DealDash. We recently interviewed him on Unfair Advantage about the metrics they use in DealDash. Back then he said they are obsessed with metrics and data. I'm sure there will be more interesting things to hear and ask William on stage.
Nokia has just announced, according to Reuters that it is cutting down 4000 jobs in Finland, Hungary and Mexico as it struggles for better profitability. Finnish Helsingin Sanomat expects that the factory in Salo will see some 1000-1200 jobs cut as part of downsizing the output to match demand in Europe.
Here's some nice news for Danish entrepreneurs: SEED Capital has raised another €20 million for SEED Capital Denmark II, their fund focused on Danish investments. This brings the total investment fund to €91 million, which will allow them to invest in three to four additional companies in the next year, as well as provide more capital per investment. SEED Capital Denmark II was established in 2010 and has already invested in 10 companies.
The Russian online retailer for sports, leisure, and travel goods, Heverest.ru, has received $4.3 million (€3.2 million) in financing led by Fastlane Ventures and eVenture Capital Partners. The company opened for business June 1st, 2011, and this investment adds to the company's total of $6.7 million in financing. This seems huge for a young e-commerce site, but CEO Vladimir Kim explains, "Before Heverest.ru, there were no such websites offering all kinds of sport, leisure and travel products in one place. We are in a strong position to change this, having joined the club of most successful startups in the Russian market of e-commerce, such as UTINET, KUPUVIP, SAPATO, etc."
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post by Graduateland part of their prize for winning the public vote in the 2011 Arctic15 conference.
As Graduateland spreads to universities, students, graduates, and employers all across Europe, their office has picked up a wide variety of nationalities along the way. Graduateland's Copenhagen offices so far include 15 employees, who are Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Lithuanian, and Czech. The team is also currently having job interviews with two programmers from Greece and Poland, respectively, who would relocate to Copenhagen if qualified. This all fits into their beliefs of open and creative collaboration in order to innovate and set the standard for the "career market of tomorrow."
As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. But who knew you could make money just by looking at other people's trash? Out of Finland, Enevo is a company creating smart sensors to improve the logistics of the waste management industry, and just closed a EUR 200k angel round with Lifeline and four angel investors. In waste management the main cost is logistics: it takes a lot of trucks, hours and fuel to empty the tens thousands containers just in Finland alone. And the costs add up when the waste trucks are driving out to and dumping containers that are half-empty.
Fits.me, the virtual fitting room, has announced it has raised "seven figures" from the Entrepreneurs' Fund, a London-based venture capital fund. The investment will be used to accelerate the delivery of virtual fitting room services, as well as to provide additional sales and marketing resources to fuel Fits.me’s growth. Along with the investment, Fits.me is moving its management to London while engineering, operations, and production will remain in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia.
The Helsinki-based social network site aimed at the world's muslim community, Muxlim, has shut down and now points to DisruptionManifesto.com, a teaser page for founder Mohamed El-Fatatry's new biography authored by David Cord. I spoke on the phone with El-Fatatry who gave me this official statement on the shutdown of the social network: "The Muxlim vision will carry on in a new way moving forward, and all the details of the story will be published in the book: Mohamed 2.0 - Disruption Manifesto."
Latvian-based Cobook is seeing a good deal of news hype and downloads in its first week of release. Yesterday on their blog they announced they've seen 20000 downloads of the application, which is essentially a better address book for OSX. The application sits in the menu bar, and opens a drop-down window when selected. A key feature seems to be the fast search and contact updating that happens through the same text box, where the app automatically updates new contact information to the correct location.
Seedcamp London is kicking off this week, and with it they announced for this round they've received a record number of applications and are hosting a record number of teams. For those who aren't familiar with the program, Seedcamp is a European startup incubator that employs many of the same principles as Silicon Valley's famous Y Combinator startup incubator. Of the selected 22 companies, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia are each represented with one company who will compete to win the London event. Winners will receive a year long support with mentors, and Seedcamp will invest around €50000 for 8-10% in the winning companies.
There are times when you need an extra hand to get an errand done, but at the same time the task is too minor to hire a full-blown professional to help you. A good neighbor will always give you a hand, but some things fall in that fuzzy area where it can be too much to ask of a friend or neighbor, but too minor to hire a professoinal. What do you do in that situation? You can bug your busy neighbors, nag your friends, or use Den Lille Tjeneste in Denmark, or use its sister service, Hinner Du, in Sweden. The websites are online marketplaces for services, providing private individuals and small businesses with quick help in order to solve everyday tasks and errands.
The idea behind the online service originates from a real life experience from co-founder Sara Ohlsson, who had bought a used fridge online. After having closed the deal with the seller, the question of transporting the fridge popped up and she gathered some quotes from professional transport companies, all of which required more money to deliver the fridge than the fridge itself was actually worth. Hence the idea: There must be someone out there with a car and a trailer willing to transport the fridge from point A to B without charging an obscene amount of money. And the result is what you see today, a peer-to-peer platform for small tasks and errands.
One of the largest Finnish media groups, Alma Media, has acquired CV Online, the internet recruitment service company in the Baltic countries. The size of the deal was not announced, but CV Online estimates its 2011 revenue at €2 million at a 30% growth. The company operates in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. According to the website's stats, the have exactly 1 364 969 registered users and 1 757 047 CVs.
The fourth episode of Unfair Advantage takes us to Denmark as we chat with Klaus Nyengaard, the Group CEO of Just Eat. Just Eat is originally from Denmark, where it was set up more than 10 years ago. In the last five or six years, the company has seen a huge growth in internationalisation and now operates in 15 countries. Their currently run forecasts that they will deliver somewhere around $750 million worth of food this year. Klaus Nyengaard gave us a very detailed view on their internationalisation strategy both from setting up shop yourself and acquiring existing players in the market to grow.
Allan Martinson, one of the most best known and experienced investors from Estonia (currently the founding and managing partner of MTVP), has cast concern about the amount of new accelerators and different support programs for startups. He states a valid point, that if every town and your brother has an accelerator they will fail to attract critical mass to support their functions. Martinson states that Baltics really need one big accelerator with strong financing and a strong team to make a splash in the global pond of startup activities.
There really cannot be too much discussion around this topic, and therefore we have included Allan Martinson's original statement from his public Facebook status below.
Startup Incubator, a new program aimed at helping startups, has spun off from Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol and begun accepting applications. The program is named Startup Incubator and it was set apart to serve startups better in a more focused way. The new program officially launched towards the end of January and they are now accepting applications from ambitious startups and teams. The takeaway for entrepreneurs is that they're give more resources, coaching advice and seed capital.
Editor's Note: This series of posts is sponsored by Tekes and produced in co-operation with ArcticStartup to share experiences from startups about their funding experiences.
From offhand comments in forum comments, hackathons, and local tech events, I'm sure many first-time Finnish entrepreneurs have some pre-formed negative-leaning opinion about how the Tekes bureaucracy works. Without getting into a discussion on how society should support entrepreneurship, realistically there has to be some sort of balance between bureaucracy and free government money. With too much bureaucracy, the system can kill entrepreneurs time and crush innovation. But if the system is too loose, you then have "entrepreneurs" buying fishing boats for their summer cabin.
Where is Tekes on this scale and how should you mangage it? To get to the bottom of the bureaucracy, we talked to Joonas Pekkanen, who's been part of a few Tekes projects. He's currently the CFO of Flockified, who are gearing up to release a full-fledged version of their group buying service. Their teaser page proudly states, "WE'RE BUILDING THE BEST DAMN GROUP PLANNING AND GROUP DECISION MAKING TOOL EVER," which we'll cover more on later in the post, but first, here's our interview with him: