Editor's note: This is a sponsored post with our partner UK Trade & Investment
A number of companies from the Helsinki region have moved operations to London to take advantage of the networks and connections available around London's Tech City. Among them count Foodie.fm, who has built a presence in Tech City to help bring their grocery shopping solution to the UK market, as well as Kiosked, the platform that turns images, videos, and applications into interactive storefronts.
Stockholm-based ShapeUp Club got a little bit of a shakeup yesterday after hiring as CEO Henrik Torstensen, ex-Spotify head of Premium Sales, and Marcus Gners, Vice President of Business Development at Stardoll. Their positions will be CEO and Deputy CEO, respectively. Both have a history of being advisors to the company.
The company's founders, Tove Westlund and Martin Wählby, will be heading up product development and sales. “I have been part of a couple of amazing growth journeys before and with the way ShapeUp Club is evolving, both from a product and company perspective, the potential is huge”, says new CEO Henrik Torstensson.
It is no secret online dating is surrounded by stories of disappointments and broken hopes. One reason is pretty simple - you never can be sure if the person behind the appealing profile picture is real. Fake profiles, hidden payments, annoying photos of kissing couples, clumsy nicknames is the incomplete list of what makes experiences of those seeking for a partner online so frustrating.
Helsinki-based Audrey has risen to a challenge to put an end to a disturbing faking game and revolutionize online dating experiences. Launched on 1 May in Finland, Audrey calls themselves the first real identity online dating service.
Two Swedish companies have partnered to improve conversions on mobile ads. Freespee, the mobile advertising "click-to-call" solution has partnered with, Tradedoubler, the internet advertising and marketing company founded in Sockholm in 1999. Tradedoubler has since moved headquarters to London, but have seen good growth. Today their network includes 140,000 website publishers and 2,000 advertisers.
It's been a few months since we've covered Freespree, but they offers a pretty interesting click-to-call advertising solution which they claim helps increase conversions.
Entrepreneurs looking for government contracts, update this negotiation strategy to your rule books. The Finnish Tax Administration is reforming their information systems, replacing seventy tax systems with a single one. Selected was the Fast Enterprises’ Gentax taxation software, along with Finnish-Estonian Nortal, who plans to implement the project for €62 million with the overall price of procurement running around €226 million over 15 years.
Also competing in the bid was IBM, whose bid of €38 million with a total value of €143 million over 15 years was rejected. The Finnish Tax Administration was able to do so under the public procurement laws, which says the contracting authority may reject abnormally low tender.
"There comes a time, when silence is betrayal" proclaims a Swedish anti-human trafficking website. It is one of the first projects to attempt to publicise their campaign using Swedish crowdfunded advertising site Take Space.
Nordic countries have been among the cutting edge few who’ve embraced the democratising potential of crowdsourcing in governance. Finnish Avoin Ministerio or “Open Ministry”, for example, crowdsources proposals for laws and agenda issues for consideration in the Finnish Parliament. The crowdsourced Icelandic constitution (and its current limbo) has become legend the world over.
Headquartered in Espoo, Rightware, develops embedded User Interface (UI) technology and performance benchmarking tools for mobile, automotive and consumer electronics industries, and announced today that it has closed $5.2 million in fresh funding. The Series B is supported by prior backers Inventure and Nexit Ventures, and a new investor Finnish Industry Investment.
The fresh investment will be used to further expand global sales. The money will also go on the continued development of their main product, the Kanzi UI Solution.
Since meeting Hoa's Tool Shop at the Stockholm Startup Day, I've been really interested in everything they're doing. They're a team of three psychologists and one developer who are cranking out applications and... tools to effect behavior change - which is a term they use a lot. Given their background they look a the world differently than most startup founders, and benchmark themselves differently from trying to "gamify" or "influence", but instead look at the word more clinically.
The main product they're developing is Viary, a tool for clinical psychologists and organizational consultants to drive behavioral change, and reduce the amount of face-to-face time needed to meet for therapy.
You probably could have seen this coming given the kind words by Peter Thiel in TransferWise's previous press release, but the PayPal co-founder has led a new €4.6 million ($6 million) investment into Transferwise through Valar Ventures. Transferwise raised about €1 million a year ago, led by IA Ventures, Index Ventures, and Max Levchin, another co-founder of Paypal.
“Innovation in the banking industry typically involves rent-seeking or unsound derivatives, which offer marginal benefits to consumers. TransferWise demonstrates true innovation in banking by enabling its users to retain their wealth across borders,” says Peter Thiel.
Planning drinks or events with your friends seems has moved to Facebook or Whatsapp, but there's still some room for a startup to value-add. One to check out is Helsinki-based Planify has just launched to help you put the pieces together. At the basic level they provide a location and event directory with a social focus. Clicking on a location gives you shows you the information you need, like a map, photo, opening hours, and and user comments and photos, so sort of like Yelp in that respect. But the real focus is in the name - making it easy to plan to meet up with your friends.
By viewing a location you can either add it generally to your to-do list, or you can plan it with your friends. So if you want to meet up at Bar 9 you can click the "plan this" button to add a time, and start adding friends. Additionally, once your friends start making open plans, you can find them in your friends feed, where you can request to join.
Ask.fm has been growingly rapidly and currently boasts 52 million registered users, over 20 million visitors per day and 180 million monthly uniques. To put that into perspective Reddit has about 9 million uniques per day.
However the Latvian based social Q&A site Ask.fm has recently been under a lot of pressure due to allegations of enabling cyberbullying that led to a number of teenage suicides. Last week we raised the question of why companies such as Ask.fm are the targets and if instead everybody should concentrate on the root of the problem.
It's been a busy week, but some news just hitting our radar is Spotify's acquisition of Stockholm-based Tunigo. Covering news late really isn't news, but to comment on the deal I think it's more exciting than the rest of the tech press would have you believe given our interview with Tunigo CEO Nick Holmstén just last March. I'm biased, because I'm interested in the area Tunigo has hinted at, but hear me out.
Silicon Valley Investment Circle Compared To The Nordics: Speaker Video By Henrik Dillman Of Coworks
Funding is one of the first things modern startups think about after they have an idea or a prototype. After all, in order to grow and scale fast, you need a lot of it. At last years Arctic15, Henrik Dillman, the CEO of CoWorks (formerly ManCx) shared their story on funding, valuable advice on using the whole community for it and compared the San Francisco investment scene to that of Sweden and the rest of the Nordic countries.
Ask.fm has recently announced that they have hit the 50 million registered users mark, making it one of the biggest social media sites in the world. Considering that they also claimed 9 million daily uniques in November 2012, when the site only had about 25 million registered users, it also makes it one of the most visited websites on the web with a current Alexa ranking at 168. That is a 236 spots jump since November.
The site boils down to a Q&A social network where anybody can ask each other questions. This would be all well and good, however as an option they provide full anonymity to people asking the questions. Combine that with a target group of 13-18 year old teenagers and you get a potentially dangerous mix, which has already resulted in a number of scandalous problems for the site with at least five suicides being linked to bullying on Ask.fm.
Apps4Norge was a competition organised jointly by IKT Norge (ICT Norway) and Difi, the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment. Prizes worth NOK 150,000 (€20,000) were on offer for apps and ideas utilising public data to benefit society.
The government did its bit by opening up a raft of new datasets. Location and weather data were the most utilised in the 50 ideas and 38 prototype apps submitted to the jury. The most interesting ideas combined multiple datasets, such as a map application for sailors combining location and weather data.
In late 2008 the financial system was collapsing in Iceland. Bala Kamallakharan, an Indian national who moved to Iceland to be a part of the booming financial sector took a look around himself and realized that the only way for Iceland to get out of their economic situation was to create faster, smaller companies that would create value in the short run.
So in May of 2010 he convinced a bunch of partners and friends to invest in CLARA, which produces community analytics tools. It turned out to be a smart investment. Just last month, they were able to see a decent exit after Jive Software acquired CLARA for €6.8 million.
According to many, Applifier is one of the hottest startups in Finland and with over 150 million active users in their gaming cross-promotion network - rightly so.
Last year, they announced Everyplay. Which in most basic terms allows in-game replay recording. However it also acts as a gaming video social network as you can share your game replays on Everyplay, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. This, according to Applifier, will drive organic growth for game developers.
WeVideo is an ambitious startup with Norwegian heritage. The cloud-based video editor is built on educational software technology from Oslo's Creaza. Within a year of spinning out a new company and moving to Silicon Valley, WeVideo struck deals with Google and Disney, the latter allowing fans of The Avengers to remix their own movie trailers. They've now taken their product mobile, with the launch of what their PR calls an "iMovie competitor for Android".
The new app syncs with an "online video creation environment", enabling customers to capture video on a video camera or smartphone, edit their footage on any online computer, and collaborate with anyone, anywhere in the world. Videos created with the WeVideo Android app can be edited, trimmed, stylised and published from the phone, or saved to be edited at a later time.
Common wisdom tells us we can undo bad habits, but shaping positive attributes feels more like something you're either born with or not. Take procrastination for example. We all feel that it must be possible to improve our time management skills, but can you get better at something as abstract as creativity?
To talk about creativity in a entrepreneurial setting, you have to look no farther than Stockholm-based Hoa's Tool Shop, where a team of psychologists and hackers create tools to track and impact behavioral change.
Copenhagen-based 23 announces "The Player Release", or an update to the 23 Video platform allowing organizations to develop their own branded video players to build video websites through 23. The big news here is that their technology has been updated from Flash to HTML5, which has lowered the barrier to entry for organizations to develop creative new video players (since Flash is a more challenging platform to develop on). Meanhwile, HTML5 also allowing greater flexibility on mobile devices, where HTML5 video is king.