Then we did more of the stuff we normally do, like meaningful investigations of interesting new companies, for example Danish online video site 23 Video or Finnish music site Hitlantis. Of course, we here at ArcticStartup are determined to be fair, but even we're not geeky enough to meet friends in a virtual bar.
Another thing we're not afraid to do here is be servicey, which is why we bring you posts with helpful tips on improving the startup ecosystem in Northern Europe, what the former CEO of MySQL thinks about opening offices in Silicon Valley, and, uh, how not to get your throat cut by Chinese competition.
We're also bringing you the best and most hotness from the Cleantech Sector, stuff like European Batteries, the new lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in Finland (with €40m in capital!), Windside, the fashionista's wind turbine, and VIGO, a new venture accelerator that sounds like the bad-guy from Ghostbusters 2 (Or the good-guy from Lord of the Rings).
We have a Hunch who are readers are, but if you answer these witty questions it'll help us know you more.
The Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship hosted an event today ambitiously titled, "Good Morning 2019," that plays on their 10 year anniversary by investigating what the world will be like in the next 10. Arctic Startup readers will be most interested in the presentation by Li Gong, CEO of Mozilla in China. Dr. Gong started his presentation by saying that he lives a bi-coastal life, splitting time between Beijing and Palo Alto. Then he said he had some stories to tell, that he hoped wouldn't be too scary. Unfortunately, since his presentation was titled "How The Chinese Compete," some trembling and teeth rattling was bound to occur. He continued by mentioning the fact that 13% of the world market for mobile phones is held by so-called Chinese, "grey market" companies. That would make it the 3rd largest handset maker that you've never heard off. But that isn't news. Everyone knows about low price competition from China. What isn't so well known is the way Chinese companies innovate. Mobile phones with 2 SIM cards for example, an idea laughed at in Espoo and Lund, but wildly popular in China. Even the example of the "myPhone," with all the form factor of iPhone, for 700RMB (≈$100). But don't be scared he said, Western companies still have a lot of advantages.
The common picture we have of wind turbines are the ones which stand on tubular towers and have three rotor blades, varying in different sizes. The design is very much similar to the windmills of old, which were used to pump water and grind grain. However, Risto Joutsiniemi had already developed another kind of wind turbine over two decades ago - the Windside vertical wind turbine. Its a unique product which has many advantages in comparison to the horizontal wind turbine, most notably that they are able to operate at very low wind speeds and in extreme temperatures.
Reporting from the second day of MoneyTalks, being held here in Otaniemi, Espoo, Finland I bumbed into a new innovative music startup called Hitlantis. I talked to one of the co-founders Timo Poijärvi about the concept and what they are doing. Poijärvi has worked in the music industry and with some startups before, but has a strong experience from the ways the music industry works. This showed up in our talks and he openly questioned the need of Teosto (Finnish Composers' Copyright Society) and record labels for musicians. The future is about the community around the artists.
The other day I saw Chris Dixon's Tweet, where he was tweeting about his company's new nifty little widget that let's you learn about your blog's readers (and lets them learn about each other). I instantly thought how I'd like to share it with ArcticStartup readers, with you, so all of us can get a better sense of what our community looks like.
The company behind the nifty widget is Hunch, a New York City based startup that was founded among others by Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake and SiteAdvisor co-founder Chris Dixon. Hunch aims to use machine learning to guide practical decision-making. You can see more about how Hunch works here.
Estonia has previously enjoyed a relatively high reputation among startups and international high tech companies due to its friendly and very incentivised tax environment. Well, if a new law regarding the different kinds of income goes through we might have to say good bye to that reputation. Baltic Business News reports that the government is in talks of revising the Income Tax Law to change the status of benefits, such as share options and shares. Instruments which are highly used by early and later stage companies to motivate employees.
During our trip to the Silicon Valley we aimed to meet people who have experience from the Northern Europe on one hand, and from the Silicon Valley on the other to get the bottom of the differences between the two places. This is the third post of the series. See also the previous posts here and here.
We talked to Mårten Mickos about the his experiences in coming to Silicon Valley, How MySQL made the decision to establish a presence in the US and his advice to young entrepreneurs wondering where they should set up a shop. Mickos became known as the CEO of MySQL before Sun Microsystems acquired the company in 2008 for a whopping $ 1 billion. Now the buyer is being bought if the regulator in Europe allow Oracle to snap her up. Mickos is currently an Entrepreneur at Residence at Benchmark Capital.
The tickets for our next week's ArcticEvening are now available for booking. Please find the sign-up form for registering to the event below. Note that if you are unable to make it to the event, please don't sign up. We have a limited amount of space available and would like to get everyone on board. Likewise, if you need to cancel for any reason, please inform us at events(at)arcticstartup.com so that we can reallocate the ticket.
Expect a house filled with like-minded entrepreneurial people, and lots of networking. We will start off with a brief presentation from Jaycut and continue with an interesting panel discussion. See the Stockholm event page for details. If you haven’t been to ArcticEvenings before, have a look at videos from our previous events.
So sign up below and come spice up our wonderful mix of people!
Vigo, the start-up venture accelerator programme, is continuing with its fourth venture accelerator.
The Ministry of Employment and the Economy in Finland accepted Cleantech Invest into its Vigo accelerator program. The new cleantech start-up accelerator will provide funding for early-stage ventures and create growth stories by combining cleantech expertise, industrial know-how and capital. Cleantech Invest Vigo is lead by managing partner Ismo Rautiainen, accompanied by Cleantech Invest founders Tarja Teppo (in picture) and Timo Linnainmaa. The team estimates that most of the Finnish deal flow will come from the clean energy area. The other promising sectors in Finland in terms of deal flow include energy efficiency, new materials related to energy technologies, recycling and waste management solutions.
I was recently given a demo of 23 Video, a Danish online service offering a plug and play web-tv platform to set up ones own web-tv channel.
The first thought that crossed my mind during the demo was the feeling of sligth anxiety that occurs when checking out the roaming costs on the phone bill. If not chockingly high, they're usually more than expected. Even though you had checked out the costs in beforehand and were being sensible using your phone abroad.
How come? Because it's the exact same feeling of uncertainty and confusion one often faces when dealing with streaming costs. It already starts with the business offer letter, usually three pages long with no mention of the actual final cost. And that after a meeting with a sales person who's supposed to know your needs and demands by then. Need a video player, too? Call some more people.
23 Video is determined to kill that mumbo jumbo and all talk about difficulties surrounding online streaming and setting up ones own web-tv channel.
The godfather of venture bloggers, Fred Wilson, posts today on the timeline of a startup ecosystem, with the assurance that it takes at least a generation to reach a level that is, "fully formed and producing great companies." He breaks down the development process into 3 decade-long periods, with the middle phase described as:
In the second decade, you start to get it right. The entrepreneurs are doing it for the second or third time. The infrastructure has developed (lawyers, VCs, recruiters). And it is easier to get talented employees to do a startup. This is where Silicon Valley was from 1975 to 1985.
This is an accurate description of the scene here in the Nordic & Baltics, and makes it seem that we're on the way to becoming a "dynamic ocean" of innovation. However, whether we really can "get to the mountaintop" here in Northern Europe and take a place as a leading center of startup energy in the 21st century is far from certain.
Last month European Batteries (EB) celebrated the opening of its doors. Phase one of the project will cost close to €40m, which is a very high figure for a startup in Finland. The company was founded in 2008 as a spin-off from FEVT (later on, in September 2009, FEVT merged back into EB). European Batteries produces large format lithium-ion battery systems for energy, industrial and vehicle applications with a range of 3 kWh up to 1 MWh in size.
I had the pleasure of a telephone conversation with EB's new CEO Jukka Koskinen, former CEO of the Finnish company Ensto Oy, last week regarding the issues behind the chosen strategy to be a vertical battery system manufacturer (meaning that EB operates the whole production process from cells to complete system, allowing full control over the quality of the products).
EB's business model is clever: the demand for end-products, the large format lithium-ion battery systems, is based on cost-efficient, long-lasting and safe energy storage solutions. The energy content (Wh/kg) of lithium-ion batteries is about three times that of lead-acid batteries and double that of nickel-based batteries. The key customer group during the first phase is the transportation industry, EV car and delivery van producers.
Sulake, the company behind the popular Habbo Hotel, a virtual world for teenagers with 14,600,000 montly unique visitors, has come out with a new service, Bobba Bar. Bobba Bar is virtual bar where, according to Sulake, you can meet and make friends. And it's not just any virtual bar, it's a virtual bar for 18-year-olds and over, so teenagers stay away.
Clearly, Sulake is going for a new market segment after conquering such a big chunk of the teen market with Habbo Hotel. I'm just not sure if big people will jump on the virtual world in the same way as teenagers have. I'm already realizing I spend way too much time in Facebook for no reason. Compared to wasting time in Facebook, Bobba takes a lot more effort is you plan to waste time there as well and I honestly just don't have any. After all, I have a Twitter to attend to.
Now, in all seriousness, I'm sure there are people who find Bobba to be for them, but I just don't think the number will ever get even close to the ballpark where Habbo Hotel plays in. That said, it might just well be that Sulake is just experimenting without any more expectations than I do regarding Bobba Bar, and if I'd be Sulake I would probably try it out as well given the success of casual games among adults. Sulake also touts the possibility to data people in the virtual bar, but its bit of a stretch to go there just to hit girls. Also, not surprisingly, in the near future Sulake plans to provide virtual content purchases inside Bobba Bar, so the business model is clearly there as well.
Tesla Having 10 Percent Of Danish and Norwegian Sports Car Market. Oh, And They Are Profitable (Video)
Electric cars are all the rage currently and in many ways its also the holy grail of Detroit and thus plays a disproportionately large role in the US politics. To get an idea of how big a role cars alone play, the federal program paid individual car owners up to $4,500 to replace their current vehicles with new ones that get higher-mileage. Whether this was just an indirect subsidy to Detroit or a real environmentally responsible policy is another discussion.
If the electric car is a hot topic in US, it could be even bigger globally if someone gets the economics right and makes a pure electric vehicle a real alternative to the combustion engine.
During our trip we visited the most talked about contender that has been claimed to be the future of car industry, Tesla Motors. I talked to Rachel Konrad, Senior Communications Manager at Tesla, in length about the car itself, the future of the industry and most interestingly is Tesla’s business model really working and making real profits for its visionary founders and investors.
ArcticStartup will be travelling to Tampere to tap into the entrpreneurial buzz there we've heard so much of. The evening will be an interesting one wrapped around the theme of Networking and Pitching. More specifically, we'll be discussing the different ways entrepreneurs can take advantage networking to grow their business. We'll have some very practical advice from industry heavy weights and local entrepreneurs.
A nifty little Estonian startup called Scarfmaker, has launched its less than a month ago. As the name suggests they make scarfs, but not any kind of scarfs - custom tailored ones. The company was founded in October 2008 and has been around a little over a year to develop the service. In the year of developing the service and company, I have to say I like the end result and makes me want to test their service.
Our second ArcticEvening this year in Stockholm will be held on 18th of November 2009.
The theme of the evening will be Mobile smartphone solutions and trends - how to strategically build business around the different native application platforms and mobile web.
Discussion around delivering content and servics to Android, iPhone, Symbian, and different app stores is stirring up the mobile industry, and there are lots of different views on how to approach the smartphone market. In our evening's panel discussion, we have representation from three firms: one that provides their service using mobile web browser and SMS solution (Traveas), another that uses a native application to complement otherwise "app-less" service (Rebtel), and third a cloud computing firm making it possible to access your documents and virtual computer on any device over-the-air (Cloudo). Each of the firm will surely bring interesting viewpoints into the discussion.
There's a big trend currently sweeping though the Nordic and Baltic countries. This is not a new phenomena for those who have been following what has been going on with the Internet, but it seems that the bigger public has been hit in the head with it and now doesn't really know what to think of it. Internet is becoming more social and most of everybody seem to be lost on what it really means.
A symptom of this is the social media consultants of all kinds that supposedly give advice the companies that have been hit to get their head around what the social Internet really means for them. Unfortunately very few of these social media experts advising the companies really understand what a more social Internet means, where it's going and what's its real promise for the whole civilization in the long run (more on this in the video below). There's more to social Internet than creating Product pages for companies on Facebook, telling them they need to be on Twitter and hiring students to become community managers.
From Google over Apple to the Start-up next door, nearly every company today uses web hosting services or has huge server farms at their disposal so that their services can run smoothly. That much of this energy to run these data centers comes from fossil fuels or even nuclear energy is probably known, but ignored. However, "green" web hosting is growing at a rapid pace to become an important category, so its no surprise that more and more data centers and web hosting providers are looking at opportunities to green their services. Verne Global from Iceland is looking to shake up the game and provide a reliable, cheap and 100% green data centre solution starting from 2010.
The Finnish Heavy Metal band Mokoma, has publicly thanked Spotify for their payout model. Their Facebook fan page states that for "every 100 album playbacks we get 30 euro cents from Spotify. Thanks Spotify." The deals that Spotify has struck with different artists have been kept secret, so it is not known if this is the only payout model. However, if there were 1000 people listening to an album and to my understanding would listen it through, Mokoma would get 3 €.