Silicon Valley Investors, Best Latvian Startups, Nokia, Free Beer & Exciting Talks. Riga, Here We Come.
As you may have noticed by now, we are touring the Arctic region with our series of events - ArcticEvenings. They are getting everyone ready for our main event - Arctic15:Exit Path, taking place in the end of May in Helsinki (You can get Early Bird Tickets until the 28th of April). For each country, we have a slightly different schedule and agenda and boy are we excited about Riga.
First of all, we are really impressed by the recent quality of startups there, growth in the amount of investments, co-working spaces & the local conference - Tech Chill Baltics.
As recently published in an article from Trendsonline.dk, members of the Danish parliament have collaborated upon a proposal for a resolution which will ascertain crowdfunding as a proper form of financing in the country. This will urge the Danish government to increase funding for entrepreneurs and startups through the use of crowdfunding, by the end of 2014. In the future, this initiative should provide startups with the means to reach new heights; like Copenhagen based startup Airtame, whose crowdfunding campaign ended with a gain of over $1.2 million in finances, the largest yet to be seen in Scandinavia.
I made a recent trip to Estonia's lesser-known startup hub, Tartu. While Tartu has frequently been overshadowed by its big brother, Tallinn, it is in fact the country's ancient centre of education and science. It hosts Estonia's largest and most esteemed university, founded in 1632, while containing a beautiful and easily navigated old town centre. To top it all, every time I have ventured into the city the weather has been clear and sunny. Admittedly that is a total of two times, but I am confident it is always like that.
If you’re a music fan old enough to have lived through the years of the Sony Walkman, the boom box, and New Order, you’re probably familiar with the shortcomings of the cassette tape. You remember that irritating hissing noise that seeped through the speakers? How about the tape jam that cut you off in the middle of your favorite Echo & the Bunnymen song? Who would ever want to bring back that horrible music format, right?
Two fairly young Swedes behind the security startup Detectify (more on that later) set out one night with a goal of hacking Google. Finding potentially compromising exploits are their day job, and just for fun they wanted to see if they could get some of that hot bug bounty that large companies pay out if you find potentially compromising bugs in their code. The logic for a company like Google is that if they pay hackers, then they don't have the incentive to take advantage of the exploit themselves or sell it on the black market.
Punos Mobile, the creator of the meeting app Meeting Assistant, has now launched an Android app to take their in-meeting app into meeting rooms and board rooms where the iPad isn't the only player in town. Many of the Nordic countries' Apple fanboy entrepreneurs (I'm talking about myself here) may have only seen iPads in meeting rooms, but there's a bigger demand for productivity tools on Android tablets than one might intuitively think.
Recruiting platforms have already popped up in our news feed a few times during the past week, so since we’re at it, why not expand our coverage of matchmaking startups a little more?
Unlike Cruitway and Games Jobs Finland, which are, despite being highly specialized platforms, quite traditional in their matchmaking approach, Heebo takes recruitment processes towards a more philanthropic path.
Launches are a scary thing, whether it is a public beta, an MVP or a full blown launch. They require a lot of planning, there is usually a missed deadline or two and then there are all these people that use your product in a wrong way, or worse - no people at all.
There are many strategies to a successful launch. Some startups organize parties, others quietly push it to the app store and hope for the best. There is no best way, but it helps to have a bit of help: a good article here, an event to attend there, investors looking at you everywhere.
Oi yous lot! Shut up, sit down, close every other tab you’ve got open right now and focus on me. Go on, do it, I can wait.
Done? Right, let’s talk.
Dealforfriends is a new service for e-tailers (online retailers of goods, usually clothes and accessories) to generate more sales and customers. Soon to change their name to Vouper, the service enables e-retailers to reach a wider audience through the use of discounts that can be shared over Facebook.
We know that the Nords and Balts have a thing for last minute entrepreneurial opportunities. So if you have not yet applied for the Europas Awards, you have until tomorrow to do so. For those of you that are not familiar with Europas, it is a startup award that was co-founded by Mike Butcher from TechCrunch, complete with a daytime unconference and the evening afterparty with bars & other entertainment.
As a sign of how Finnish gaming has developed recently, Finland now has a new matchmaking platform and jobs board for game developers. Games Jobs Finland (GJF) is a recruitment platform specifically made for the Finnish gaming industry, which is, according to KooPee Hiltunen, director of the Finnish Game Developers Association (FGDA), in a serious shortage of work force. The website was launched yesterday during the Finnish Game Awards, an event held in the Helsinki last night which mainly focused on rewarding last year’s best Finnish games.
Some of our Finnish readers might have already since a Finnish publication broke it early, but HeiaHeia, the fitness tracking tool that's pivoted to a corporate wellness product, announces it has raised a €1.5 million round. The funding was led by Wallstreet Financial Services, a Finnish boutique investment house that has chosen Heia Heia for the first investment through their new vehicle. With the funding from Wallstreet and Tekes, Heia Heia plans on pushing their international expansion further though Europe and North America.
Your private data has value. Last week I was looking into traveling down to Esbjerg, Denmark for Accelerace's demo day, which unfortunately I couldn't attend. When looking into the logistics, I hopped on Booking.com to see what cheap places to stay were. And the other morning, as I was checking Facebook in-between writing these paragraphs, I saw that Booking was advertising in my feed asking if I still needed a place to stay in Esbjerg.
When you go to a brick-and-mortar store, you would be insulted if you were asked for your ID at the door so why is it so common for online advertisers to do so? Clearly there's big money in it, companies like Google, Facebook, and any other ad platforms are happy to charge advertisers for targeting narrow demographics.
Once again Sweden opens its arms to innovation and technological improvements on the society level. This time, the city of Stockholm is on the lookout for creative ideas that could turn the entire city smarter and more enjoyable for its inhabitants, all through the development of solutions in the form of apps, web services, or project plans based on the city's open data.
Launching your startup into the world isn’t the end of your job, normally it’s only the beginning. Sometimes that can’t even be classed as the start, sometimes you’re still in the prologue of your company's story and you don’t even realise it. Marius Sowka, CEO and founder of ArtworkHeroes found himself and his company in this situation not long after the startup's website and store went live.
Credit cards get the job done, but we as entrepreneurs keep looking for ways to innovate on the concept. In Norway, mCash has put together a mobile phone payment system, and in the region we've seen bigger firms like PayPal give NFC payments a try (despite open skepticism), and there are plenty of startups who are trying to make NFC payments the next big thing since credit cards, but what hasn’t been booming the headlines is biometrics as a payment option.
It's a classic problem. Everyone wants to try new sports, but membership fees to climbing gyms, Crossfit clubs, and yoga studios are high barriers to entry. Helsinki-based SportSetter launched over a year ago to help reduce this friction, providing a "try out whatever sports you like" model that gets new people into gyms and clubs, but without these businesses having to devalue their product in the way that a Groupon does.
Stockholm-based Lifesum (formerly ShapeUp Club) has more than 4 million registered members for its app which helps users set health-eating plans and track exercise. The megahit from Sweden first became popular in the Scandinavia and since then their reach has taken them across all of Europe.
Today the company announced the closing of a $6.7 million investment round led by Bauer Media Group and SparkLabs Global Ventures. What makes the round somewhat particular is the fact that it’s by far this years’ largest first round financing in Europe.
TransferWise announces that they've now hit the milestone of £1 billion (€1.21 billion) mark in cross-border payments. The Estonian-founded and London-based company also announced it's gotten its Android app ready, meaning Android users can also move some money on the go. May of last year, as they received investment from Valar Ventures, Transferwise had only hit the £125 million milestone.