Ever wanted to discover what clubs, cafes and bars your town has to offer and what kind of people hang out in those locations? On Barisma you can find those answers. The Finnish start-up has been developing the concept and the website since 2009 and now it has gone live. For users Barisma is a search engine for venues with social networking features. You can either casually search for venues, discounts and people without registering, or engage with a service further by creating a profile, uploading rich media, commenting on content and connecting with new friends. For venues the website offers a marketing channel where bars, clubs or cafes can create and maintain their profiles, interact with their guests online, promote their events and offer discounts for Barisma members.
The startup ecosystem in the Arctic Valley (pardon us for our selfish term) hasn't always been a very well functioning one. Not that it is extremely functioning today, we're increasingly getting more evidence that the world is noticing your startups, your efforts and most importantly - your passion to change the world.
This week Wired UK wrote a piece on the hottest startup cities in Europe. Three of the nine startup cities in the outlined story are from the region; Tallinn, Stockholm and Helsinki.
Fluid Interaction is a Finnish tech startup working to innovate in the space of user interfaces. We covered the company back in April as they released Different Tack, a new way to view one's Twitter stream. Today they announced the company won Nokia's Calling All Innovator's Social Media category with their Different Tack app. This resulted in $150 000 as a cash prize.
Music fans are bands' most precious resource. They can take artists to fame and earn them money. Creating and maintaining a strong fanbase is, therefore, extremely important for any band. Mobile Backstage offers artists directly engage with their core fans through a fully customized mobile app. Now their solution is also available as a Facebook app, though for the moment it is in free invite-only beta. Artists can apply for an invite here. Steam Republic, the company behind Mobile Backstage, also hired a new Chief Marketing Officer - David Hazan, a seasoned professional in music industry that would help the Helsinki-based start-up establish presense in the US.
We're extremely thrilled to announce that Felix Petersen is coming to Arctic15! Felix founded a successful location based startup, one of the first that got global traction in 2006 and grew it until 2008 when it got sold to Nokia. After that, he spent a few years at Nokia Nokia working at various positions until heading back into the wild to work on his next startup - Amen.
Amen is a startup in stealth mode and not a lot of it is known. However, it is reported that Ashton Kutcher together with Madonna's manager (and Index Ventures) have invested around $2 million into this Berlin based venture.
Who do today's men look up to as role models? According to a recent survey by AskMen, it's entrepreneurs! Out of over 2,000 surveyed men, more then a third (35%) identified famous entrepreneurs as their role models. The article explains the trend with two main things: men consider wealth and freedom key to happiness. Entrepreneurship can offer both, especially if you succeed. Interestingly enough, almost as many respondents identified themselves as their own role-models, which is consistent with another trend the article identified - men's eagerness to start companies has been trending upward since 2001. Thus, we have to thank the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg for making entrepreneurship cool even in the mainstream.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Timo Ahopelto. He is an entrepreneur and founding partner at Lifeline Ventures.
Health is the only industry not transformed by Web. Health is 10% of our GDP. It is more important to us personally than we realize. It is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs to apply what already works in social web, mobile and consumer electronics.
I had the opportunity to talk to Jaan Apajalahti, the CTO and co-founder of Sopima, a company changing the way people work on contracts. Instead of passing around documents in e-mails and having a ton of different versions saved locally, Sopima allows companies and different parties to work on contracts in a much faster way by keeping them in a central location. More interestingly for the other founders and entrepreneurs out there, Sopima is built on Microsoft technology - Silverlight as well as Windows Azure.
Experts of the Russian gaming industry report that Russian gamers are less active in paying for virtual goods compared to their Western counterparts. Two of the biggest local social games developers, i-Jet Media and Progrestar, claim only 5-7% of all gamers buy virtual goods when playing. In comparison, about a third of gamers pay for virtual goods in Western countries (and about 60% of paying gamers buy goods at least once a month), according to the recent research by VGMarket.
Another big Russian game developer, Innova, noticed a further characteristic of Russian gamers: '...unlike gamers in the West, in Russia players want to pay for something that would improve their character's abilities, not change their appearances'. Though this is mostly true for massively multiplayer online role-playing games, not social games.
The Swedish indie (does it really account for indie anymore?) gaming company Mojang has released Minecraft Pocket Edition, according to Wired. The company release the game for Sony Ericsson's Android powered Xperia Play gaming phone. The game is currently available for the Xperia Play at first, but the company plans to release the game to other Android devices "in about a month's time", according to the Wired article.
The Finnish manufacturer and designer of touch based large screens, Multitouch, has secured a 2 million euro investment from the Finnish Industry Investment and Veritas Pension Insurance. The investment will be used to speed up the company's sales and marketing efforts including their international operations. Previous investors, founders and seed fund Vera will continue as owners in the company as well.
The company was founded in 2007 and has received a good start ever since. Earlier this year we covered the company as it designed the Twitter wall for CES. According to the press release, Multitouch has currently clients in 40 countries.
A Finnish startup by the name of GoAct, has released a new way to organise your days activities. Plango is a social, mobile calendar app that changes the way we think about our traditional calendars. Not in the sense that it completely changes it, but more like adds a useful social approach to it all. If you think about it, the most advanced features embedding social in calendar applications has been the possibility to invite attendees and share events - something many would consider seriously outdated in comparison to the advances we're seeing elsewhere. Plango tackles this challenge head on, in an interesting manner.
We covered Advant Games, a Finnish money gaming company, back in 2009 about their development and how they're building their company. Back then they had just Veikkaus, the Finnish lottery monopoly, as their client, but today work with all three Finnish money gaming companies and a a handful of foreign companies as well.
This week Spotify found itself under attack from indie labels, resulting in at least one of them (Century Media) taking their content off the music-streaming service. Their biggest criticism: Spotify pays next to nothing to independent labels. The owner of a New York-based independent label Mode Records, Brian Brandt, also shared that for 11,335 streams through Spotify they earned a meagre $36.98 (which still needs to be divided between composers and artists). In comparison, physical sales (which, according to Brian, still make up most of their sales) bring in $3-4 per sold CD. Thus, indendent label owners say in chorus, Spotify is destructive for their business. As Brian puts it: 'While the major labels and pop music may be able to reap a real income stream from Spotify simply due to the sheer volume of streams, the Spotify model is not financially sustainable for any indie niche label'.
Patric Blixt is the Chief Marketing Officer of a Swedish VoIP telephony company called Rebtel. He's been with the company since 2007 and will come to Arctic15 to share the story of the company and how they've been able to grow their company with such high growth rates. Earlier this year we interviewed the CEO of Rebtel, Andreas Bernström and he revealed that the company will do around $75 million in revenues this year. We'll be sure to ask the latest figure on that in September.
Bloomberg has a story on Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds, that they'd be looking for financing at $1.2B valuation. Bloomberg refers to two people familiar with the matter, but does not disclose who they are. What makes this financing talk a little more interesting (not that it would need to be at such valuation) is that Rovio is said to be in talks with a company in the entertainment business to take on a strategic investment. Similar offers have been rejected from large institutional investors Bloomberg's sources said.
Valkee is a Finnish technology company that has enjoyed a very controversial ride in the last year as people have questioned it for scientific backing regarding its claims. Valkee has created a device that shines light into the ear - somewhat like mobile music player where music is replaced by light. Today, Valkee has announced scientific findings to back their initial claims.
AaltoES is one of the more active organisers of different entrepreneurial activities in the Helsinki region in Finland and last night saw one of its programs coming to an end with the Demo Day of Summer of Startups 2011. This year Summer of Startups was organised for the second year running and it needs to be said out clearly that the quality and level of ambition these teams had this year, had tremendously increased from last year. During the event, I tweeted that it wouldn't be a surprise if some of the startups got acquired soon.
Kristian Segerstrale, the former CEO of Playfish, a social gaming company before it was sold to Electronic Arts for $300 million back in 2009. Today he leads the Playfish team in EA and invests through some smaller funds, like that of Lifeline Ventures here in Finland. Playfish wasn't Segerstrale's first startup. Before Playfish he sucessfully build up Macrospace that since then changed to Glu Mobile and went onto IPO into Nasdaq. Segerstrale was on stage yesterday at the Summer of Startups demo day event. He was energetic, inspiring yet very easy to approach - everything you'd expect from a man of such success and experience.
Monetizing content online is a wet dream of many content-creators. Some are putting their creations behind a pay wall, while others grudgingly offer their content for free, hoping for advertising revenue or spill-over effects in other business areas. Some start-ups, however, took it upon themselves to fight the trend and help content-creators monetize their creations without paywalls or other tricks. They simply offer viewers of the content micropayment options to reimburse creators for their troubles. Favor is one of such services that recently emerged from Rovaniemi, Finland. Users can publish any kind of content on Favor's platform (text, audio, video, pictures), share it elsewhere on the internet with a link and encourage followers to 'Return the Favor' - give a small donation (starting from $0.10) to the content creator. 90% of that money goes directly to the author of the content, the rest 10% goes to Favor.