Rovio is well on its way to stardom with Angry Birds. Business Insider reported last week that Rovio has sold more than 2 million toys already since October. In mere five months, the company has essentially generated at least 20 million euros worth of revenue through its toys (if we hypothetically agree on a 10€ average price per toy sold - they actually sell for $11.99 and $14.99). Plush toys are just one source of revenue for the company, other major sources include iOS apps, advertising on the Android platform as well as the Mighty Eagle add on.
The Skolkovo Foundation, established last year in Russia, is the country's biggest project to enhance tech and business development. At the end of last year, Skolkovo was boasting about the high-tech innovation hub they are planning to build and turn the whole project into the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley. While building work has not yet begun, the foundation has already started developing the ecosystem around itself. Most notably, Skolkovo Foundation assisted in choosing and funding the first start-up to be part of Skolkovo project - Pirate Pay. Pirate Pay is based in Perm and it has developed technology to block illegal downloads through peer-to-peer torrent sites. The seed funding was provided by Mircrosoft BizSpark programme in Russia and it amounted to $100 000, reports The Moscow Times. Head of Microsoft Russia Nikolai Pryanishnikov was reported to claim that Microsoft would fund 100 IT startups in the next 10 years, issuing grants ranging between $30,000 and $500,000.
I know who to follow religiously when it comes to getting the latest news, a really nice video or an upcoming event on the web. But often it gets a bit monotonous as the same person usually ends up giving the same bit of news. Likewise, following all your friends’ recommendation (individually) is a near impossible task and thus we rely on services that help us filter the most happening stuff from the plethora of friends we all have on numerous social networks and forums. Utopic is one such service emerging in the startup scene to help you with finding the hottest topics among your circle of friends.
In App payments seem to be catching the flare off late. While we have seen its implementation on certain apps but Google seems to be finally taking steps to initiate web based in-app-payments. This is great of course for developers on the Android platform, but will also enable better apps for consumers over time as capitalisation isn't a problem anymore.
Voxtrot is building a free mobile network. The Switzerland based company is headed by Taavet Hinrikus, who happens to be Skype's first employee. There seems to be a lot of activity in the mobile space, not only in gaming but on a deeper level to the way the whole infrastructure works. Earlier this week wrote on Blaast, who is working in a slightly similar space and now Voxtrot is pushing to be your free alternative to traditional operators (though you still need an operator agreement to access the free calls).
Founded in 2008, Bloglovin' has been growing and prospering every year. The service is aimed at fashion, beauty and lifestyle-oriented blog readers: it makes reading RSS-feeds easier and more enjoyable. The start-up has now announced the release of their first iPhone app. Mattias Swenson, one of the founders, explained the rationale for that move: 'Everything is going mobile. However, blog reading has lagged behind significantly. Only tech-savy people use RSS-readers on their phones. Most people don't read blogs on their phones because it's too hard. With our iPhone app we aim to change that.'
If almost half your users are paying to take advantage of a feature you have introduced, your product is by all means great. In the GDC Summit, Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio, aka the Mighty Eagle revealed that almost 40% of new Angry Birds users are paying to take advantage of the Mighty Eagle. The in app purchase enables users to skip a level just in case it proves way too difficult for them.
This post is a profiling story to the backgrounds and experiences of Martin Ferro-Thomsen, the Head of Communications at Issuu. He was also one of the co-founders of the company and blogs at Ferrogate.com. You can also follow him on twitter. Issuu is from Denmark and praises itself as the leading digital publishing platform delivering over 3.3 billion pageviews a month to 33 million readers.
My Story is a new series of posts which will cover entrepreneurs and their backgrounds, experiences and advice. My Story -series is written in first person, by the person in question.
I'm Martin Ferro-Thomsen and I currently work as Head of Communications at Issuu. I was part of the founding team. I've worked at Issuu since 2006.
I have an MA in Culture and Communications and I've always had an interest in technology since I was a kid and "deconstructed", well let's say destroyed, my toys.
Back in September we wrote about Jyri Engeström and his team closing $775 000 in seed money for his new startup. Today, we're able to share with you that they're now launching Ditto - a new way to discover places, movies and other activities as well as share what you're planning to do or currently doing. It borrows from many services, but builds them all together in the most natural way possible.
This year the start-up community in Denmark for the second time held Startup Weekend Copenhagen. The aim of the event is quite similar to Garage48: participants form teams and within 54 hours create a foundation for a start-up. The teams are mentored by experienced entrepreneurs and at the end of the weekend the start-ups pitch their ideas in front of the jury. Last year's winners include quite well-known start-ups like MemoLane (the company went on to raise $2M VC funding last year) and Planely. This year the event attracted over 100 participants who formed 13 start-up altogether. Some of the teams were as big as 19 people. As one of the mentors, Henriette Weber, put it in her summary of the event: 'It was crazy cool and left me floatin’ on a creativity trip'.
The Swedish indie game developer Mojang has won 5 different awards last night in two different competitions, organised in conjunction with the GDC 2011 conference. Markus Persson, the creator of the game tweeted about this earlier today. Minecraft is still officially in beta, but millions of people are already playing and most importantly, paying for the game. To be precise, at the time of writing this Minecraft has 4 884 884 registered users and 1 470 357 have paid for the game (that's over a 30% conversion!).
Finland will be having its parliamentary this April. Naturally, entrepreneurship and welfare are on the agenda, but one aspect of entrepreneurship that has been missing is the lobbying of growth entrepreneurship. On 21st of March, Aalto ES will be putting together an event together with a whole bunch of organisations to promote growth entrepreneurship for the candidates running for parliament. The event is controversially called Finland Post Welfare.
In the previous post with Nexit Ventures we talked about the maths behind venture capital. In the post we basically outlined with the help of very basic level maths and assumptions why venture capitalists aim for ten fold returns on their investments. As the business of venture capital and risky investments is mainly a hit business, similar to the music industry - big hits and home runs are needed every time. In this light, there are a handful of companies in the region that have a huge significance to the valuation of the ecosystem itself.
Disney's Matthew Grossman has confirmed to Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that they have acquired the Finnish gaming company Rocket Pack. There was no confirmation or disclosure of any other details of the deal. First rumours of this began to surface last night on Twitter, but they were hard to confirm. The company was acquired relatively quickly, just a year from its founding.
Wikimart.ru is Runet's leading platform for online stores. Set up in 2009 by two Russian graduates from Stanford MBA, within a year it attracted over 2200 merchants and raised $5,7M finding from a group of Western business angels and Tiger Global Management. This week Vedomosti reported that Tiger Global invested another $7M into the venture. According to Kamil Kurmakayev, one of the founders, Wimimart was approached by a number of other investors, including Accel Partners and Index Ventures. The reason the company chose Tiger Global was simple: the group did not try enforcing their own vision onto the start-up or dictate how things should be done. Previous investments have been spent on expanding the operations, online marketing and SEO. This investment means Tiger Global has over 50% stake in Wikimart.
According to a blog post by GigaOM, Blaast has raised financing from some top tier investors. Blaast is a Finland based startup creating a cloud based mobile platform to change the way we think of user experience on mobile devices, says Joonas Hjelt the CEO of the company. We reached out to him to learn more about the situation as there is no official press release or announcement itself. According to the GigaOM article, investors include Ambient Sound Investments among others.
Russia’s largest online payment system, Yandex.Money announced the integration of Bank Cards into users’ existing Yandex.Money accounts. This integration would enable users to make payments with their cards and not actually giving away details, which often raises the issue of trust. Of course other than relieving users of the trouble when it comes to typing the card keys.
It seems Facebook has finally enabled their Places service in Finland. Facebook members are now able to check-in to different venues using the mobile apps. The feature could be significant for a few different reasons. This enables companies to offer deals for customers, a somewhat similar approach announced by a Finnish startup Dealium last week. There was no bigger announcement of this on Facebook's side which isn't surprising at all as they roll out new features in the US and slowly expand these to other countries.
Dealmachine has come a long way since summer 2010. In June the start-up's founders Timo Herttua, Valtteri Pihlajaniemi and Tuomo Riekki had only adjectives to describe their vision of the service, which was to be an easy-to-use and fun CRM solution. The service was put together throughout the summer and in August Dealmachine was among the finalists of the Summer of Startups programme. The product's first version was launched in September and the start-up won Slush 7 pitching competition and AaltoVG Bootcamp later that autumn. Last December Dealmachine closed an unattributed six-figure angel round and now it is about to release the second version of their product, which promises to be simplified and majorly revamped. We met with the founders to get an exclusive sneak peek of the new version of the product and learn more about the people behind Deal Machine.
This isn't your traditional post about a startup per se, but a post about a cool experiment some Norwegians came up with. They wanted to uncover the numerous WiFi networks in the city and make them visible. Cities are continuously experienced in different ways as the amount of devices relying on WiFi networks increases. This experiment is part of YOUrban, a broader research project from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.