Over the years, as I have worked with several great designers, I have come to appreciate well designed info graphics more and more. At the same time, where I'm not that much of a designer myself but why I can help companies with their products' user experience is because I am one of the most impatient persons you'll ever meet when it comes to bad user interfaces - If I don't figure out right away what's happening with a given product, the interface is broken as far as I'm concerned. These two reasons added to the fact that I love big data go a long way explaining why I like Youcalc so much.
The company is not doing anything that revolutionary, but at the same time it just might be for those who use the product. In a nutshell, Youcalc is a Danish startup that let’s business people create and share custom reports and analytics on data from SaaS systems, in a very clear and easy manner I may add. And by business people I mean those impatient, busy people who can't concentrate to learn to use (let alone set up) a complex reporting tool even if their life depended on it because they are busy making that next sale. And that's what they should do, but that's also why they may need Youcalc. The company's mission is to create the world’s largest library of analytics apps by allowing business users to create and share those analytics apps. Here's Youcalc's presentation in ArcticEvening Copenhagen from a while back.
The Swedish mobile payment and security solution provider Accumulate has announced (in Swedish) expanding their technology further into physical point-of-sale (POS) payments with mobile. Accumulate is partnering with PayEx, a Swedish-based payment system provider, to allow retail customers pay their purchases with mobile phones.
Balancion, is a new Finnish startup that will help you see the complete picture of your personal finance. At the moment, the service is in closed alpha and very little is known of it. Jussi Muurikainen, the CEO and founder of the company has posted a long message into Balancion's Facebook page to tell a little about the service.
In the message Muurikainen outlines the basis on which the company was founded and what its goals are. The idea for the service has grown from his personal frustration to understand one's financial situation (income, expenses and the distribution there in). He, like I, use an excel sheet to keep count of your personal expenses and through that try to understand where your money is going and where you're getting it. It is usable in my opinion, but there are better network externalities in doing this online. Speaking from this perspective, I can say that this is a service I'm looking forwards to using.
Auktionsfynda, Swedish online auction search engine service launched today. It's focusing on listing the auctions about to close, thus triggering the great feeling of satisfaction when finding the best bargain. The service initially indexes five auction sites (Tradera, Auktionskompaniet, Brabud, Metropol, Lauritz) and is planning to add two more in the next coming weeks. For time being only Swedish auction sites are included.
Auktionsfynda is a service with a simple search and clean GUI, the main page displaying random selection of items that have 10, 30 or 60 min. left to bid. The search results include a short description of an item, time left to bid and link directly to the respective auction. No transactions, nor bidwatching is handled by the service, at least not yet. I think on demand notifications on auctions closing shortly would add value, since many of the bidwatching applications and services on the market are made service specific, especially for eBay.
Vigo, a Finnish government run program to strengthen the currently rather dismal foundation of Finnish risk capital ecosystem and to create international venture accelerators and investors in Finland (see our previous story here), has come to an end and now it's time to see what we got. And it does not look that bad at all.
In total, three venture accelerators where chosen by the steering board, which was lead by Mr. Risto Siilasmaa, Chairman, founder and former Chief Executive Officer of F-Secure Corporation, Member of the Board at Nokia and a prominent business angel among other things. It seems that the Vigo steering board was looking into finding teams to cover various different industries and compliment each other instead of creating competition into the Finnish venture capital scene. They seems to have found three such 'mutually exclusive' teams to fit the bill, namely Lifeline Ventures, Lots and Veturi Venture Accelerator. Here's a short description of each in turn.
This is the first post in a series of posts on startups that presented at the ArcticEvening in Copenhagen at the end of June. First up is Nosco, a nifty Danish startup that's specialized in idea management.
Nosco offers an idea management tool Idea Exchange. An online suggestion box, where you buy shares in ideas. I don't have experience in using the product, but by looking at some of their customers' experiences, there's clearly something there. Much more than in my previous job, where the management tried to engage and encourage the staff coming up with new ideas by going through all the trouble of setting up a one new email account. So if you feel an urge setting up email@example.com as your new organizational initiative, check out Nosco instead.
Piipl is a Danish web service focused on improving the innovation processes of enterprises, government agencies, and researchers by facilitating user-driven innovation. The service could be used for product or service improvement, change management, user research, or any similar process benefiting from interaction of and input from multiple persons. Piipl has been created in cooperation by three Danish firms, Copenhagen Living Lab, Workz, and 23 Visual.
Fruugo has burned through 14,5 million euros in 2008, according to an article in Kauppalehti. Last year's books show (in Finland these are public for all limited liability corporations) that Fruugo's net loss for the year is 14,5 million euros and with no income, this is the investment Fruugo used in 2008.
Fruugo is the much debated startup from Finland that has gathered a lot of media attention in the recent year. One of the reasons they have done so is their attractive and well known board members that include Risto Siilasmaa (Founder, F-Secure), Jorma Ollila (former CEO and Chairman of Nokia) and many others. Fruugo's main product is a webshop that would aggregate all the different webshops into one.
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On Thursday, Dopplr launched a very cool iPhone app that puts the social atlas into full use. In essence, it's a mobile travel guide getting its details from Dopplr. It's even better when you have an account with Dopplr, you can do the usual stuff of seeing where your friends are and best of all, contact them if you don't happen to remember their contact details at that moment (or don't have them on you).
(To our readers in Sweden: There's a little summer gift waiting for you in the end of the article.)
As filesharing, piracy, copyright and privacy issues, and the future of media in whole being the current hot topics, I sat down with Peter Alvarsson, Founder and COO Headweb, to hear his thoughts as an industry player dealing with the changing market space.
Headweb is a Swedish startup offering movies online for both rent and download. The company was founded 2006 being the first legal service to offer DRM-free downloads. Not just that, they also engourage and reward filesharing using a custom P2P technology to deliver downloads. The service is platform independent, by so far one of a kind in Sweden, running smoothly both on Windows, Mac and Linux.
Headweb is a premium service charging average $3 / $13 per movie (rent/download). The company is backed up by angel investors and has today a team of 10 people with offices in both Stockholm and Gothenburg.
As soon as Ilkka Tiainen, Oppifi CEO, told me about the service I thought of MyHeritage and Geni, but as he quickly pointed out Epooq, Oppifi's first product is more about subjective count on our memories than objective family tree what the two formerly mentioned services focus on.
Oppifi, a Finnish startup, is aiming to build solution for gathering and sharing subjective 'life-experiences'. We all have our own experiences from the life that we have led and whereas many of us have aimed to get all those memories between the covers of a scrap book, Oppifi wants to help out by giving us better digital tools to do it. The founders are confident that there are demand for a such a service from the get go and will also charge the user from day one.
The service is still early stages, but we got a quick look at the alpha version and talked to the team about the service. See the video below.
Arctic summer is in mid-season but ArcticStartup goes forward. I'm excited to present our new design which I have been working with for a while.
Our goal with the design was to make the content more appealing and declutter the site. In addition to design, I revisited our whole Wordpress installation, plugins and files to make the site faster and cleaner.
Discussion is something we very much like to encourage here in ArcticStartup. For that reason, comments are now threaded and separated from trackbacks. We're also planning to bring some other improvements to make the discussion more meaningful.
So what do you think? Did we nail it, or do you still prefer the old design? Give us your feedback, either to info at arcticstartup dot com or in comments.
The Europas, the inaugural TechCrunch Europe Awards 2009 for European and EMEA tech companies, were held last night in London, UK. Nordic and Baltic countries had a rather strong representation among the nominated startups and consequentially took home no less than 5 out of 15 categories. But these five wins did not scatter around just any startups. Four out of the five were taken home by Spotify and the fifth one belonged to SoundCloud, which has also its roots in Sweden just as Spotify does.
So Sweden truly lead the Northern European pack and really were an example to the whole Europe: Spotify not only took home 5 wins, but more impressively won Best New Startup, Summer 2008-2009, Best Startup Founder(s) and Best Web Application Or Service (EMEA) as well as was given the The Europas Grand Prix award by the 19 expert advisors, which included some industry movers and shakers and which I had a privilege to be included in (consider this as my disclosure). SoundCloud on its part won the Best Entertainment Application or Service (EMEA).
Pikkoo has teamed up with Foreca weather service and introduces Foreca Live Weather Screensaver for mobile phones. The product is said to bring interactive location based weather forecasts to mobile from 140.000 locations worldwide.
We all love Spotify here at ArcticStartup and use it everyday to listen our favorite tracks. We also know that it was not cheap to begin with for the VCs to invest in Spotify even though it was (and still is) the early days, since the founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon had plenty of experience, capital of their own and know what they were doing. But if you thought it was expensive before, the Times Online reports that "Spotify is trying to drum up a valuation of close to £200m (roughly €230m) as it seeks new investment of between £20m (€23m) and £30m (€35m)."
Times Online further reports that If it Spotify achieves the valuation it aims for, the company will have almost trebled in value since it sold a £13m stake last autumn to Nordic investors Northzone Ventures and Creandum.
We are excited and for once, think the high valuation is for a very good reason. Just recently in an investor forum I heard a VC who had invested in Spotify proudly stating that Spotify is the next Skype, meaning that it will be the next big Internet service success story coming from the region. They certainly have the right direction and I don't think I have seen any company have the same potential since. Regardless of whether Spotify ever reaches a $2.6 billion exit (with current exchange rate some €1.87 billion), or exit at all for that matter, I, for one, would invest in a heart beat.
Bloglovin', the Stockholm based startup that is making reading RSS feeds easier, has redesigned their site and added a bunch of improvements while doing so. Mattias Swenson, an active player in the Nordic startup scene and a co-founder of Bloglovin', got in touch with us and told us about the improvement. Mattias told us that the facelift was mainly done for usablity purposes and I have to agree, the new site looks a lot better and intuitive. The layout of the new site can be seen at the end of this post.
When talking about car manufacturing, one normally thinks of Germany, Italy, France, Japan and the USA. Finland, on the other hand, comes seldom to one's mind. That much more interesting it is to see that a plug-in hybrid is build right here in Finland, the Fisker Karma.
The Karma is, as Fisker puts it, "a beautiful and environmentally friendly car for people who do not want to compromise luxury". The car uses a small gasoline engine which turns the generator that charges the lithium ion battery pack, which powers the car in normal use. You can configure the car so that it comes with a solar roof which helps to charge the car. The car drives 80 km before it starts to run on gasoline, and it seats four plus sufficient place for luggage. Finally, the design is beautiful, and conveys the image of speed and luxury.
Valmet Automotive is the company building the car in Finland. Valmet signed the deal with Fisker Automotive in November 2008 and production will start an the end of 2009. Their plan is to reach a volume of 15.000 cars per year, while the contract between Valmet and Fisker runs for several years. The reason that Valmet was chosen over their competitors was the quality and speed necessary to reach Fisker's production goals, and because more than half of Fisker's sales are expected outside of North America: Valmet represents an ideal international foothold, according to Fisker Automotive CEO, Henrik Fisker.
Hoist is an on demand project collaboration tool joining the long list of business productivity services such as Basecamp. It was launched in private beta at Reboot conference held last week, where I fortunately managed to get a short demo. There's not too much information found on the site so the best way to find out more is indeed to book a demo meeting, get lucky requesting a test account, or simply wait them to go public later this fall.
NewsToScreen, the service by Finnish marketing men that aimed to charge consumers for watching ads, has filed for bankruptcy according to Kauppalehti. We covered the company just little over a year ago in March. Later last year I talked to the CEO Marko Parkkinen back then and he quoted them having 80 000 users. Apparently not everyone was paying the 29€ annual fee as it would have brought in revenue of over 2 million euros.
The company had a very respectable board including Marko Parkkinen a reknown marketing man in Finland, Seppo Sairanen known for making his wealth from the private banking corporation FIM (and having invested into Fruugo). Other members of the board include Lauri Hulkko and Ilkka Seppälä. One thing that does surprise me is the resignation of Parkkinen as the CEO just 15 days before filing for bankruptcy. He had resigned the position on the 15th of June 2009 and the company had filed for bankruptcy on the 30th of June, 2009.
While it is never good to see startups going belly up, you have to admit and give it to people for trying. However, despite encouraging entrepreneurs - this is one idea that I never saw taking off, even in my wildest dreams. I remember talking to Parkkinen about the future of NewsToScreen and he was optimistic about the new course they had been taking with licensing the service to large corporations as a tool for communication. Needless to say, marketing without understanding the fundamentals of business does not work very well.