Indooratlas, the Oulu, Finland-based indoor positioning startup, announces it has commercially released its magnetic indoor positioning technology at New York's Adweek. To monetize their technology, they're bringing their solution to big box grocery stores and retailers to help customers find specific items in a store, at an accuracy level of 10 feet or less.
There are competing products on the market that can do similar indoor positioning for smartphones, but they don't have IndoorAtlas' ease of setup, nor is their technology as cool. Their competitors require wifi or bluetooth beacons set up throughout the store to provide triangulating signals for accurate positioning, while IndoorAtlas uses the built-in magnetometers in smartphones, which are sensitive enough to pick up the variations in the magnetic field caused by all rebar and steel I-beams that make up modern warehouse shopping centers.
Helsinki-based Tribe Studios was accepted into Tekes' Young Innovative Companies program, picking up the largest chunk of their private funding from Frontier, the consulting agency that has helped over 70 Finnish companies enter and establish businesses in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. This is Frontier's first significant investment, at €55,000, which is an interesting move for the firm.
We've covered Tribe Studio's product, Dramagame, for some time now. Their game platform was designed for their role-playing game concept, and has also pivoted into the educational and entertainment space.
SEED Capital keeps pumping out investments, this time into an interesting Danish cloud security startup, Sepoir. The company has come around in good timing as more and more corporations move their IT systems to cloud suppliers, but face risk of unauthorized access from corporate espionage, and popular cloud supplier monitoring by the NSA as detailed in the Snowden leaks. The exact size was not disclosed, but the round was joined by DTU Symbion Innovatoin, a Danish government funded incubator.
“A number of companies have tried to solve the [cloud security] problem using encryption technology to encrypt data before they reach the cloud supplier, yet the existing solutions for encryption of data in the cloud are just not good enough,” says Jakob Pagter, CTO at Sepior. Sepoir's solution is completely cloud based.
NordicAPIs kicked off a two-day conference in Stockholm last week, bringing together a number of members in the local API scene from startups and industry and pulling in speakers from around the globe. It was part of a longer series of events put on by two Swedish companies: Dopter and Twobo Technologies, an API consulting firm and Identity and Access Management consultant, respectively. Next up they have an APIs for Business topic planned for Internetdagarna, and they hope to hit cities like Copenhagen and Helsinki with smaller NordicAPIs events soon.
For our more casual readers, APIs basically allow a company to share its data to other developers, so that new things can be built off of it by third parties. Twitter has an API, for example, allowing developers to get access to the Twitter feed to build new Twitter apps or analytics startups, further strengthening Twitter's position in the world. Rather than covering these general topics, the conference dug deep into the whole scene, talking about testing APIs, building apps with an API backend, and covering fun topics like REST, SOAP, Hypermedia, and HTTP Headers.
Finland's Dream Broker has been topping the growth charts with their online video solution. In 2012 they were the top of the charts with Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 in Finland, growing at 2,712%. They apparently have no sign of stopping, as they plan on hiring 25 new employees this autumn on top of their current 60 employees, bumping up its staff number by 40%.
A new Finnish music app that passed the "woah check this out" test in the office is Cotracks, a collaborative music iPad app released today. We've all seen beatboxing or music creation apps, but Cotracks maximizes the iPad's real estate for realtime collaborative music creation with up to four friends.
It could be complete chaos, but Cotracks is designed to make it easy to record and playback in sync, which is important when up to four people are riffing on the same beat. As you can see in the video, Cotracks lets you copy your friends' beats to add new things to them, and lets you find a common tempo.
Right now if you want to collaborate in real time to brainstorm a beat, it requires hooking up your laptops, which can be a hassle. "When we first learnt that these touch devices can handle lots of simultaneous touches and process realtime audio at the same time, it became obvious that something like Cotracks must be developed," says Matti Jokipii, creator of Cotracks.
My strategy when traveling is just to wing it, for better or worse. Last week I spent some time in Stockholm for the NordicAPIs conference, and even though I've been to the city a lot, I still didn't know what I was doing, and I noticed I just go to the same places I always go. I probably should have checked out Oslo-based Stay before my trip, which has updated their travel app quite heavily since we covered them a year ago, now tweaking their social features and have now announced their Trusted Traveler program to provide unique guides to cities and scenes.
Helsinki-based Moves, the activity tracking app that works like a modern interpretation of a pedometer, has now launched on Android. For those of you who haven't checked it out, it works sort of like RunKeeper, or other run tracking apps, but works quietly in the background, following you to work, lunch, and on trips. The app is smart enough to pick up walking, running, cycling, public transportation, and so on, giving you a breakdown of how much you moved each day. If you grab lunch somewhere, it recognizes you're at a location, and lets you tag the place using Foursquare's API.
As they launch their Android app, they count 2.5 million downloads.
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post to alert you to the crowdfunding options in the region. Research before investing - early stage companies are high risk.
Back in the day, investment was only the privilege of those with a lot of free cash lying around but today this is being challenged by easier investment opportunities and also absolutely new ways of investment such as equity crowdfunding.
Not only is it a brand new opportunity, it is also a relatively simple one. For instance to get into stock trading you need to understand a lot of basic terminology, learn your brokerage software and if you want it to be at least one step away from gambling - spend a lot of time on education and research.
With crowdfunding, it is that much simpler. The facts are normally laid out in front of you flat out, you can reach out to companies for additional information and get a general understanding of the concept and chances for success based on fundamental analysis and perception of “quality”. Once you are ready, you can for instance take a look at our crowdfunding round-ups, such as this one, and see if there is anything you like. In this issue, we will have 6 startups from the region by FundedByMe and Invesdor, who are all looking for funding.
What's important in your social media strategy, likes, or actual engagement? That's the question EzyInsights claims they have the answer to as they start pushing their social media analytics tool out on the market.
"Too many companies focusing on just likes, measuring their Social Media by just how many fans they have," says Duane Atkins, the Kiwi CEO behind Helsinki-based EzyInsights. "If a company buys a bunch a likes it costs nothing, and management thinks they're doing something, but that's worthless."
Quick question, have you ever been to a great conference website? Like one that really gave you a great impression of who's going, what to expect from speakers, and one that gives you a great idea of what's the buzz and content during the event? Some are better than others, but the industry really doesn't feel like it's really pushing the envelope of what's possible in 2013.
"Conferences are a content producing industry that has no effective digital strategy on that concept. That's where our media background from Issuu is coming into play. Just like publishers that are building good content, we want to help share conference content and get the word out," Conferize CEO Martin Ferro-Thomsen tells ArcticStartup as they announce a solid €1 million seed round.
It is always great to see when there are two major funding announcements on the same day for the region. In addition to today’s Kiosked funding round, Pipedrive just announced an extended seed round of €1.8 million.
The round was co-led by Rembrandt Venture Partners and Storm Ventures, with participation from TMT Investments and a group of angel investors, including Taavet Hinrikus of Transferwise, Ott Kaukver of Twilio and Rain Rannu from Fortumo.
Internetdagarna (“The Internet Days”) has long been one of the highlights of the Swedish tech calendar. Last year, I recall meeting a number of amazing start-ups at Internet Discovery day. Some, like Memoto, have since gone from small Swedish fry to global sensations. Apart from meeting a number of ICT entrepreneurs, I was also privileged to hear Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor and one of the founders of the Creative Commons, speak.
When you talk to Micke Paqvalén, the CEO of Kiosked, it's easy to get on his level of excitement about the product. He talks quickly and forcefully about their 'e-commerce everywhere' solution, laying out the roadmap and reasonings behind one aspect of their strategy before jumping up to the next level of their roadmap. A common phrase coming from him is "this is big," or "this is only the beginning," a phrase he used with the $6.9 million (€5.2 million) funding round they have announced today.
The round of funding was led by Kevin Wall of Craton Equity Partners, who will also join Kiosked’s Board of Directors, and John Lindfors, Partner at Digital Sky Technologies. Last June, Kiosked announced a €4.5 million round lead by Kai Hed, the Chairman and main investor in Rovio.
Here at ArcticStartup, our priority is to write about startups from the Nordic and Baltic region that going after international markets. We have this editorial focus because we write in English, and it makes sense to lead our international readers to startups they can use for themselves, or are at least going places. Day-to-day this means following Twitter feeds and seeing what the buzz is across the region, and an interesting trend has appeared.
In Finland, basically every single startup we come across is building their product to target international markets. It's really hard to find web startups targeting only Finland. But if you look around to the rest of the region, it's easy to bump into web companies that are doing a web or mobile app that is somewhat innovative, but are focused inward onto only their own country and are operating in their native language.
Stockholm's sweetheart startup, Tictail grew quickly by copying a basic tenant of Tumblr. Like setting up a nice looking blog, e-commerce should be simple, easy, and beautiful for first-time store owners to set up and start selling right away. But now Tictail has embraced more of an iOS for e-commerce philosophy as they have fully launched their API, developer platform, and App Store, which allows developers to start building apps and monetizing them through the platform.
"One of the things that was really important to us when when we decided to do this was that we wanted to avoid a situation where its just an API where two services communicate with each other," says Carl Waldekranz, the CEO of Tictail, saying that they wanted to avoid the two different logins, and the same options on two different services. To keep the user experience consistent, they wanted to do more than unite the API, but also provide developers with a UI kit, a redesigned version of Bootstrap 3, that looks and feels like Tictail.
Let's get a regular general event rolling again.
We'll call it ArcticStartup Announce, and let's make it a celebration of what's happening at your company.
Here's how it'll work. If you've got something you want to share with the community, such as launching your beta or announcing a funding round, we'll give you a few minutes to demo your product or share the news up in front of everyone. We have plenty of pitching events, but let's just make this about us. By entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. Hopefully we'll get 10+ companies announcing their new milestones, and afterwards we'll celebrate it, have a good time, and network.
The good folks over at Øresund Startups found an interesting Masters' thesis that looked at startup investments in Skåne, the Southernmost part of Sweden that includes Malmö, Helsingborg, and Lund. There are a few takeaways that I found interesting, which we'll summarize, but the entire thesis can be found online. The study, Equity financing of early stage growth firms in Skåne was authored by Karl Fogelström and Christoffer Nilsson, and was done in cooperation with Teknopol.
There are some results that entrepreneurs might find practical. It's somewhat obvious, but, making personal connections with angels, or friends of angels is important. According to the questionnaire, 46% of the time angels find the companies they invest in through personal contacts, 22% go through formal networks, and the remaining 36% find companies through both paths.
Additionally, the most common reason why angels did not invest, was because they found the valuation of the company to be too high, which may be something to consider during negotiations.
Startup Wise Guys, the Tallinn-based incubator that's playing off the #estonianmafia or #balticmafia hashtag, has welcomed new teams to the incubator this week, and have announced that 10 out of their 15 pervious startups have or are closing follow-on funding, coming to a total of "well over" €1 million raised. More funding appears to be coming from the Estonian Development Fund's investment arm, SmartCap, who has committed €1 million to Wise Guys alumni. SWG was founded in 2012 with help an initial investment from the Estonian Development Fund.
Of their past companies, Dutch video discovery app WappZapp recently raised €650,000 from Sanoma Ventures. They say that from the second batch, one team has raised $100,000, another an undisclosed round and 70% of the companies are already generating revenue. With two more teams in late-stage investment talks, new announcements may be on the way.
You can't say Finnish startup Tellyo isn't bringing real value to the world. With their solution you can grab moments from shows like Celebrity Big Brother to share cutting edge analysis of the Nokia acquisition by aging Finnish celebrities, for example.
For those of you who don't speak Finnish or are not steeped in Finnish culture, the rundown of the conversation between the 'machostyle' disco star Frederick with some celebrity name Jori is a discussion of the details of the Nokia acquisition. Meanwhile aging rocker Andy McCoy follows the conversation.