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.
It seems like everybody got new jobs this week. Spotify announced their new CTO, Oskar Stål, and took the fun out of guessing what their mobile strategy is (can you say, "transactional model"). Polar rose announced their new CEO, Carl Silbersky, and added fun to guessing who will be acquiring them in the next 12 months. The hotshots at Videoplaza announced they will be hiring ten (10!) new people before the end of Q1 2010. We here at ArcticStartup are hiring too! We're looking for a Stockholm based Co-editor, let us know if you're interested.
Other interesting companies we met this week include Helsinki based FilmGator, a Last.fm for movies, and Tuxera, whose system interoperability software is in such a deep niche no natural light reaches them. The other hot new company of the week is Sofanatics, a Finnish social viewing service. How they will add value to watching teevee while Skype chatting with friends remains to be seen.
Of course, not everyone can be in the right place at the right time. For example Zipiko, the real-time social invitation service that was before it's time and is now behind Plancast, Foursquare, Hot Potato and everybody else. Even the mighty Bonnier Group might be setting themselves up for a fall, with a "maybe" forthcoming e-reader. You be the judge.
Our cleantech team was all over Clean Tech Venture Day, and posted some great video interviews with Rene Savelsberg, CEO of SET Venture Partners on the topics of break through areas for 2010 and which markets to enter in cleantech.
We also introduced you to a couple of companies trying to clean the world up one boat at time. Faroe Island based GreenSteam is trying to help the maritime industry reach their goal of a 15% reduction in emissions by 2015. And Eniram, who doesn't want to turn the marine industry backwards at all, but wants to use IT to help it save fuel and emissions.
Yesterday we reported that a big name team has come out with a new startup called Sofanatics. The team consists of Toni Laturi, CEO (former Valve managing director), Asmo Halinen (Apaja co-founder) as well as Sami Kuusela and Peter Nyman, a familiar face in Finnish television as he hosts one of the most known Saturday night shows Uutisvuoto.
We have gathered some further information and believe Sofanatics is a service focusing on sociel viewing. Wikipedia describes a social viewing service as a practice revolving around the ability for multiple users to aggregate from multiple sources and view online videos together in a synchronized viewing experience. Typically the experience also involves some form of instant messaging or communication to facilitate discussion pertaining to the common viewing experience. This would fit our earlier prediction of 'something with video, football and doing all this is a social manner.'
Eniram, a Finnish startup, helps the maritime industry to save fuel, emissions and money. The company, based in Helsinki and established in 2005, currently employs forty people and has seen good growth during the last years.
Eniram uses IT in an old industry. They integrate their measurement system in ships, and with a simple UI the crew can optimize the performance of their ship. Installation takes two days and can be done on the water during operation, so it doesn't hinder the driving of the ship. It can be installed on all kinds of vessels, from passenger to container ships. Annual savings of up to USD 400k can be made per ship, and payback times vary between two and fourteen months.
Remember Zipiko? The service with a "quick and effortless way to see what your friends are doing and a way to invite them to your chosen venue whether it’s it a local cafe or your own place for drinks, lunch or whatever you fancy."
Unfortunately the company that developed Zipiko, namely Zipipop, put the product development on ice already last June and moved on to service the growing Finnish enterprise customer base that is completely and utterly lost with social media wave that has hit the organizations. To scale their operations Zipipop, lead by its energetic CEO Helene Auramo, has teamed up with the former Managing Director of Accenture's Finnish and Nordic offices.
Richard von Kaufmann of Zipipop states in the company blog the following:
E-readers and tablet MIDs are the new black. Eric Schmidt says they'll be our new best friends by 2015, making internet consumption an orgasmic joy. But by now we all know about the strange fate that befell the Pad of Crunches. So, we've got 5 years to go from absurd FUBAR to utopian ecstasy and the team at bonnier_rd isn't wasting any time. They sent their office overseer, Sara Öhrvall, to San Francisco yesterday where she will surely meet, work, and learn about lots of fancy new media things that are getting born there. She will, however, need to keep her eyes on the prize: a Bonnier Media Empire Tablet E-Reader. A media company with an "R&D" department is one of the perks of having a national media monopoly that is itself part of a regional oligopoly. But it is precisely Bonnier's many content and distribution tentacles that make the prospect of it's own e-reader so appealing. But as we learned this week, when you yourself know nothing about tech manufacturing, it tends to blow up in your face. Is the Bonnier Media Empire Tablet E-Reader™ a lawsuit waiting to happen? Or will it be the must have item for Swedish Christmas 2010?
There's a new startup in town called Sofanatics. The company, based in Helsinki Finland, is in its early stages and has nothing but a simple splash screen on their website. Earlier today the team tweeted about this and thus broke the silence regarding the company - at least on the level that who's on board the startup. The team behind the startup is Toni Laturi, CEO (former Valve co-founder managing director), Asmo Halinen (Apaja co-founder) as well as Sami Kuusela and Peter Nyman. Nyman is a familiar face in Finnish television as he hosts one of the most known Saturday night shows Uutisvuoto.
Daniel Jacobsen, CEO of Decision 3 came from the Faroe Islands to attend the Lahti Cleantech Day 09 to tell about his company's product, GreenSteam. Fuel efficiency and optimization of existing ships is their business, and as the maritime sector is looking for ways to drive down emissions and costs GreenSteam is coming out right on time with their technology.
Seafaring is getting under a lot of pressure to minimize CO2 emissions, 15% till 2015 is what the International Maritime Organization demands, and with 6% of global CO2 emissions by 2020 being emitted by the sector its high time to look for ways to optimize. Given that fuel costs are often half of a seafaring company's expenses, looking for ways to optimize should come natural.
This is our second video from Lahti (see the first here) where we visited at the Clean Tech Venture Day. I talked to Rene Savelsberg, Managing Director and CEO of SET Venture Partners. Rene is responsible for managing the € 50m Sustainable Energy Technology (”SET”) Fund based in Amsterdam with a pan-European investment focus.
We discussed which markets to enter, whether to focus on the home market or go big from day one. Rene went on to explain the pros and cons of each option. We also touched upon the role of entrepreneurs, scientists and PhDs, and how these different skill sets play out in a growth company.
Tuxera is a Finnish software startup specialized in file system interoperability software. The firm has developed Windows-interoperable file system drivers for NTFS and exFAT, allowing device manufacturers who use Linux or other non-Windows platforms to still provide plug and play access to the files from Windows or Mac computers. It claims to be the only company currently providing such system drivers to device manufacturers who use Linux or other non-Windows platform.
ArcticEvening Tallinn sold out yesterday, but we decided to add another 50 tickets to the event. The evening will be a very interesting one with 3 entrepreneurs in different stages of their company explaining about the importance of marketing and how it is made successful for the company. You can read more about the event in our previous blog post, but just to sum it up we'll have Martin Koppel from Fortumo, Petteri Koponen (former Jaiku Co-Founder) from Lifeline Ventures and Kai Lemmetty from Floobs.
The Malmö, Sweden based company who's facial recognition powered visual search technology is very well regarded, announced on their blog this afternoon that they've appointed Carl Silbersky as their new CEO. In a move that seems strangely similar to Spotify's announcement earlier, the new focus will be on developing Polar Rose's mobile service. The fact that Former CEO Nikolaj Nyholm will remain on the board of directors gives us a good clue about what this new direction really means for Polar Rose, the respected but ultimately profitless company whose A-round was way back in 2006.
Spotify blog has a post out that they have appointed a new CTO, Oskar Stål. He comes to Spotify from mBlox, a mobile transaction company he helped grow to a $100M business from a five-man team. The experience from mBlox is the main reason behind hiring Stål. Andres Sehr from Spotify writes that his experience in the art of building high performing technology teams and producing scalable, robust services in a fast growing environment is a significant advantage.
I talked to Videoplaza founder and CEO Sorosh Tavakoli just last week and Sorosh told me that videoplaza is very bullish on online video monetization. They see that throughout the industry the number of started video streams are up and the number of ads per video are up, on average moving from three to seven. Overall in the video advertising market demand is growing faster than supple and big media companies are waking up to online video.
During our call Tavakoli went on to tell me that Videoplaza could be cashflow positive if they wanted, but they are focusing on growth.
Today Videoplaza walked the talked and put out a blog post where they are looking for no less than 10(!) new employees to recruit before the end of Q1 2010. This is no small announcement in the current economy. The company is clearly scaling up for the storm ahead in 2010.
Last week we visited Lahti at Clean Tech Venture Day. I talked to Rene Savelsberg, Managing Director and CEO of SET Venture Partners. Rene is responsible for managing € 50m Sustainable Energy Technology ("SET") Fund based in Amsterdam with a pan-European investment focus.
In the first video we discussed about SET Venture Partners' investment focus, how their deal flow looks like and where it comes from. Lastly we touched on the current state of the Nordic and the Dutch clean tech enviroment and where its progressing.
In the second video we discussed what one should consider when dealing with VCs and taking VC money. Rene also gave his take on what are the break through areas in clean tech in 2010.
I've been longing for a service like Last.fm, but for movies, for quite some time already. To my surprise, I had an e-mail waiting in my inbox last week regarding such a service. It's called Filmgator and it's still in beta, but the service works in the way you'd expect it to. FilmGator is a Finnish startup, based in Helsinki. The service aims to answer the question: "What are people watching?"
The Nordic and Baltic startup scenes have come of age and ArcticStartup has grown with them. Much has been done, but there's still much to do. I will outline some of the changes, improvements and future plans below, but there's one message above else that should take priority: We are looking for a new member to fill big boots in our team. We are looking for a full-time co-editor for Sweden. This role is a big deal and it will also command equal compensation.
We will offer a modest monthly salary and equity for a suitable candidate who is a real self-starter and can take the lead in the Swedish market building a strong editorial side-by-side with the team in Finland, as well as develop the monetization and business areas, which we will identify together. We expect you to have:
- Some previous writing experience (a personal blog or articles in other publications)
- An interest in reporting on breaking stories
- Familiarity with the Web and online business
- Fluency in Swedish and English
- An interest in entrepreneurship
- An interest not only in journalism, but also in monetizing an online media
- Previous work or connections with advertisers are a plus
We don't care so much about what you have done before, but want to hear what you will do in the future as the co-editor of ArcticStartup. Send your application to editor(at)arcticstartup.com by 20 December 2009.
The co-editor will join a strong team. Antti Vilpponen has taken on an important role as our new CEO making sure the business stays on course. Antti will also have an active role writing stories just as before, and will keep our product development on schedule. What product development, I hear you asking.
We recognize that there are a number of ways we could help out the startups in their journey from an idea to a successful business. We have watched the space for quite a while and have subsequently identified the areas we believe we can really help out. It's still early days regarding the product and we'll be sure to let you try it, see it and comment on it when there's something ready. I'm happy to announce that Karri Saarinen will lead our product development with the help of the rest of the team.
Further, Hendrik Morkel has joined us as our new cleantech writer to take the growing cleantech editorial forward with Päivi Kangasmäki and myself. Nick Mueller has also joined us to cover Sweden. We are really excited to welcome both writers to our editorial team (see everybody's bios here). Welcome guys!
On the same note, we are sad to inform you that our Sweden correspondent Paula Marttila has left the team. We thank Paula for her invaluable contribution and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
Lucky for you, starting a company is easy, er, easier than you think. If the Bloglovin' guys could do it, anyone can. Eventually though it pays to have some managerial talent, not just good ideas. But good ideas help, and there sure are a lot of them around, like AleLion, the Swedish company that wants to put lithium iron phosphate batteries in all the world's golf carts, or TaxiPal, the Estonian service that lets you control a fleet of Parisian taxis with just your thumbs! Don't forget Noko Jeans, the Swedish designed, North Korean made jeans that Kim Jong-il would wear, if he, you know, wore jeans.
Once that light bulb has gone off in your head and it's time to start working, there will be plenty of other entrepreneurs to help you out. Like the guys at TimeGT, that started their company just to help you GET THINGS DONE. And to make sure your productivity doesn't get interrupted just as you've entered The Zone, Numo solutions from Norway has caller ID search, so you only have to answer when your VC calls, and your mother-in-law can go straight to voicemail.
It's always interesting and enlightening to understand how some of the companies we consider established today have started out. The other day I talked to Mattias Swenson, Bloglovin' co-founder and one of the more energetic and prolific web entrepreneurs in the Swedish startup scene. Here's how their startup came to be.
The team at Bloglovin' started building websites in a garage in Täby, Sweden and before they started Bloglovin´ they were working on their second failed web project, a fashion-community. This happened right after high school, so for Bloglovin' the signal of entrepreneurship was already strong from the early days.