Editorial note: This is a guest post by Kristoffer Lawson, the Travelling Salesman. He's on a 10 000 kilometre drive to meet Nordic startups. ArcticStartup is supporting the project, by covering his travels and findings.
I've now been one week on the road in my expedition to find the world's most arctic startups. I'll be honest: it feels like much longer. I am now on my way to Trondheim from Tromsø and have added over 2500 kilometres to the trip meter of the trusty Land Rover. It has given me a unique perspective into the lives of the real travelling salesmen. Each night I have slept in a different location. Each day I've driven for hours on end, with my life travelling with me. Weather conditions have varied from sunny and green, to icy, dark and snowy. I've crossed the Arctic Circle twice and even entered Sweden by mistake.
Flockler is a new start-up from Tampere, Finland, that offers a Twitter-like online publishing platform with two products: Reporter and Deal Flow. The Reporter tool allows professional or citizen journalists post short news stories that appear in a feed on the newspaper's webpages. Other users can share, 'like' and in the future comment on each story. Savon Sanomat is currently using the tool for its Kiekkoviisaat service where hockey fans post latest sports news. Aamulehti uses Flockler to run its Nettikampa tool where journalists post various 'soft news' content from the web. Flockler's second product, Deal Flow, helps small businesses put an online ad to their local newspaper: the short text also appears in a feed on the paper's webpages.
LucSens, a Finnish startup, specializes in augmented reality and computer-vision programming. Their products include iPhone applications helping you have a better time in Asia. By better time, I mean you're able to understand the language. They have five applications in their portfolio, but only two are out in the App Store at the moment. Lost in Japan and Japan Goggles are the applications that are out and China Goggles, Lost in China as well as Taiwan Goggles are still in the making.
Helsingin Sanomat ran a story on Mari Kiviniemi, the Finnish Prime Minister, who has expressed her thoughts on European state of affairs regarding digital media. She states that, "it's no co-incidence that the digital superstars, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, are all from the US, where they share a large, functioning domestic market". What she's saying here is that the European non-functioning markets should be better built for both consumers and online companies generating value.
In our last post in the Nexit Ventures supported series we covered "why being sold to the US is a big deal". This time round we cover the companis and the M&A activity in more detail. Basically, there are eleven large companies who do the majority of the buying. These companies are Apple, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm.
The big eleven are called the big eleven for the reason that their size and cash reserves enable them to do the majority of the acquisition activity in the States. There are a few key things that entrepreneurs should understand when looking at the M&A activity in the states.
Online gaming is a booming industry worldwide and Russia is no exception. I-Jet Media, founded in 2005 is one of the pioneers and a current leader in the Russian market with more than 60 million registered users and 70+ games. The company is allegedly valuated at $100 million, though some investors estimate this figure to be exaggerated and valuate it closer to $30-50 million. I-Jet Media is currently looking for $20 million funding for 25% stake in the company, Vedomosti reported. Alexey Kostarev, one of the founders, explained that the funding is needed to hire more developers around the world. The likely investors include venture funds like Almaz Capital, DST and Finam. Company's biggest success, a social game called 'Happy Farmer' ('Счастливый Фермер'), was launched in 2009 and within one year attracted 10 million registered users. It also generated $20 million in revenue, though half of that money went to Vkontakte.ru - Russia's biggest social network where the game was launched.
This is a bit light in news value, but entertainment wise it's pure gold. Angry Birds just came out with its Halloween ringtones on their site. They've got them available in two formats; in MP3 as well as for the iPhone. You'll be trick n' treating in no time with these babies singing your way from one door to another! Get yours below!
We'll get back to the real news right after I've got this installed on my phone...
In Internet the video revolution has been just around the corner as long as I can remember and I don't think it has ever arrived. The reasons are many. Whether its video's hard-to-index nature when it comes to seeing what the content really says in comparison to text, or the fact that it takes quite a bit of bandwidth. Or because an interesting video is just so much harder to produce that an interesting blog post. That said, it has come a long way of which the most recent example is 23 Video, a video platform by a Danish startup 23 (see our previous story here).
The company attempts to set a new standard in the online video space. 23 wants to take online video from embedding from central services to creating a whole video sites where organizations can engage with consumers in their own brand universe. In the process they want to make building a video sites easy and inexpensive with their new turnkey solution. The big vision is to enable the company to communicate visually where they currently communicate by text.
Blyk is looking to expand its business to Asia with the opening of its office in Singapore. Blyk, which pivoted some years back from a virtual mobile network operator to a service platform offering companies a way to talk with young adults through different campaigns, has previously built its business in Europe with Vodafone in the Netherlands and Orange in the UK. Susanna Hasenoehrl has been appointed to lead the operations in the Asia Pacific region. She has mobile industry experience from Nokia Siemens Networks, having worked in Thailand, Singapore and Germany.
A Finnish company by the name of Cabforce is looking to enter the taxi business, which has been spurring up quite a bit of discussion and a few C&D-letters in the US lately. Cabforce is planning to build an end to end IT solution for taxi entrepreneurs covering multichannel booking tools for passengers, web based dispatch & fleet management tools as well as software for taxi drivers to interact with clients and the dispatcher.
Mail.ru, former Digital Sky Technologies from Russia, is filing for an IPO in the London Stock Exchange. The company has received quite a bit of publicity in the recent years as it has invested into some high flying internet properties including Facebook and Zynga. Reuters reports that sources close to the deal say the IPO has been oversubscribed with more than two weeks left before pricing.
Talouselämä has an article about Pia Erkinheimo, a newly appointed manager in Nokia, who is to put crowdsourcing matters into the core of Nokia. While this is simply an appointment to a new post, I think this is a larger step inside Nokia that will be the turn of events for things to come. Erkinheimo has been working with Nokia for the past three years planning a dialogue strategy for the company, among other things. In her new post, she's making sure consumers and developers are better listened to, for example in the development of new products.
Discovery and cross-promotion are important buzz words all over the app and gaming world, especially on the iPhone and Facebook where the amount of new product launches is ever increasing. With thousands of new products being launched each day, it is very daunting task for game developers and publishers to try to stand out and drive downloads to their own apps - at least if not gettng any help. It can be also very hard for the users to find out new content they would enjoy from all the noise. Swedish The Game Trail's purpose is exactly to "guide iPhone gamers down the right path to quality games" and thus ease the problem for both sides.
Swedish company Cartomapic has enabled location sharing inside Facebook groups (the new ones) with their mobile app Mappr. The company was founded earlier this year by Bart Denny, Jesper Särnesjö and Fredrik Bromee. Denny is the co-founder of Inspire Infrastructure (sold to Local.com in 2005), while Bromee is a server side java developer and Särnesjö is the first Spotify iPhone app developer.
On the Mappr app, Denny explains its roots, "since the start, we wanted to use the ideas of Groups in a check-in context, to offer different social dynamics than the standard Foursquare synchronous friendship model. Users can easily tag a place with a group during check-in, which signals that this is an interesting place for that group."
During last weekend's AltParty I had a chance to talk with Casey Pugh who told me about his journey from the early days of Vimeo towards his latest project Star Wars Uncut, which got him an Emmy award this year! Casey describes himself as a technologist and an entrepreneur at heart. He built his first website - a platform similar to Google Reader - while still at college and learned flash by working as a free-lance developer for high profile client websites like JanetJackson.com. Once he graduated in 2006, Casey moved from North Carolina to New York and joined Vimeo 'by pure luck'. In other words, he stumbled upon a job opening on LinkedIn, applied and got it. While at the company he helped with everything from backend to frontend but his main pride and joy is Vimeo's video player that he built himself.
Danish Lumigon has unveiled their T1 mobile phone in a gala in Copenhagen last week. The phone uses the Android operating system bundled with Lumigon's own P-GUI software to give an extra kick to the user experience. The availability of Android has created an attractive opportunity for companies such as Lumigon to go after added design value in mobile phones, when the OS has been taken care of.
"T1 is built on Scandinavian craftsmanship and design, coupled with the finest materials such as steel, aluminum and scratch-free glass. These uniquely designed phones are also packed with features not seen in mobile phones earlier”, states Lars Gravesen, CEO and founder. T1 relies on Bang&Olufsen's technology for voice quality. It comes with a 480x800 resolution 3,5” TFT screen, based on the same technology as the Apple iPhone, the capacitive touch screen.
I interviewed Sami Inkinen last week about Trulia and how their company is currently doing. Trulia is a US based residential real estate search engine, which Sami Inkinen, a Finn, co-founded together with Pete Flint. I wanted to talk to him how Trulia is doing in the turmoil of the US economy, where the housing market was hit the hardest definitely affecting their business. I thought of writing a story from Inkinen's answers, but since he manages to best explain their business and his thoughts in his answers, I decided to publish the interview in full.
On more than 3000 m2 with more than 300 people attending, this October for the third year Helsinki hosted Slush , a two-day annual conference focused on entrepreneurship. The highlights included insightful key-note speeches by Allan Martinson and Mårten Mickos, Slush Seven pitching competition for early-stage start-ups with the prize of €7500 cash and Slush School of Angels. The event also included many presentations from local start-ups and some captivating panel discussions. The space was thoughtfully organized with plenty of booths and chairs, though some participants missed the smaller and more intimate lay-out of venues used in previous years.
Earlier this week we announced the date and setup for our upcoming ArcticEvening in Helsinki. The tickets are now available for free registration below. As a summary, we'll be having presentations from two very interesting speakers and founders of companies on their journey and how they got to where they are now.
The event will be held on 4th of November, from 6pm to 10pm in Korjaamo (Töölönkatu 51), Helsinki. We'll start the event soon after 6pm, so try to be there as early as possible. Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, we're able to offer everyone a complimentary drink upon arrival - so do take a minute to get to know our sponsors as well.
ArcticEvening Helsinki is also the official after party of IBP Camp Helsinki held earlier that day in Korjaamo as well. The day will feature world class speakers, including Andreas Ehn, ex-Spotify and Timo Soininen, CEO of Sulake. Themes of the day handle productization, challenges of the international sales and marketing with scarce resources, building the international team, and successes and failures in internationalization. Highly recommended, if you're in Helsinki for the day as well. For more information, check out the IBP event page.
Since leaving MySQL, Mårten Mickos has been busy running another startup called Eucalyptus Systems. Eucalyptus Systems offers "private cloud computing", meaning develop open source cloud technology that can run on clients' own servers. According to Tietoviikko (in Finnish), Mickos' first tasks has been to put together the partner program at Eucalyptus Systems. Codento is a Finnish software company, that has recently been putting a lot of effort into the cloud computing phenomenon as well as startups. Codento will be Eucalyptus Systems' partner in the Nordics.