Year 2014 just came to an end. It is time to lay the cards on the table.
First of all, everything I discuss here is based on my personal experiences from the past year. I’d like to point out that there are some excellent investors in Finland, who are quite different than those discussed here. Likewise, everything you’ve read/heard about the Finnish game industry as a community is true: industry veterans offer their help and guidance to new entrepreneurs to an astonishing level of detail and involvement. Without them, we wouldn’t be here. I’m trying to continue that same tradition.
It was tough to know what was going to come out of Health Puzzle, the Helsinki-based app developer working somewhere in the quantified self and health area to unify your data together. The company originally came out of AaltoES' Summer of Startups batch in 2012 and since has stayed up there in the Helsinki startup scene's consciousness without any releases. With the launch of Apple's Health app it was easy to assume Health Puzzle would be one of those companies that would fizzle out with a giant player like Apple having the mission to unify data, but in 2014 Health Puzzle spun off a new company, called Fifth Corner Inc., of which Nelli Lähteenmäki is still CEO.
What even happened to Nordic and Baltic startups in 2014? We decided to dig through the ArcticStartup Archives to see what news pieces seemed like they should be remembered going forward. Take a minute to take in these headlines broken down month by month:
Many things matter in entrepreneurship. But when you believe in your idea and have it accepted by others, you get great inspiration, like from nothing else, to move forward with your project and achieve new heights. And that’s exactly how the four winners of regional Venture Cup South must feel, who apart from inspiration also received some solid money prizes – 20,000 SEK for a win in one of the categories and 100,000 SEK as an overall competition winner.
Christmas has come and gone, but today we want to hear how you're spending your holiday season. We put together a super quick poll to ask how much time you're dedicating to your startup over this Christmas, and also giving you a chance to brag about any cool gifts you got to fellow tech nerds.
Submitting the form lets you see the responses (Google forms have come a long way), but we'll wrap everything up nicely for you in a recap. And happy holidays from ArcticStartup!
With Christmas approaching tomorrow and the giving mood and campaigns of many organisations large and small reminding us to be good, we have taken up our own ArcticStartup do-good challenge to turn the Christmas hype into real impact for a fellow founder from our own startup community. The founder of Latvian Repairy Maxim Fjodorov is currently battling a nasty form of cancer, lymphoma, occuring in lymphatic system.
The Funderful team led by Maxim's fellow SSE Riga graduate Raimonds Kulbergs has launched a fundraising campaign earlier this year to help maintain his treatment. Thanks to Martins Zutis, Dmitrijs Dementjevs Dedelis and Gediminas Uzkuraitis the platform was set up within a month. Maxim's university's Alumni Association helped to spread the word. While the campaign is still active and has helped cover medical expenses for Maxim up till now, more help is needed. We believe Christmas is a good time to tell Maxim's story and ask our community to help.
It’s Christmas time and we are ready to announce the next Arctic15 event, so you can start preparing. The event will take place on the 26th-27th of May 2015 in Helsinki, Finland. In early January, we will release the first batch of tickets, to get those at the very special rate - sign-up here. And don't forget to mark your calendar, you can download the calendar file here, for convenience. We will also give away two tickets to those that sign-up between now and the January release.
With the holiday season coming up, a lot of us are thinking about how we should have kept up with our relatives better the rest of the year. One "excuse" for me not getting in touch with my older relatives more often is that I don't use the phone for long-distance calls anymore. Getting in touch with my parents in the States, I used Facetime or iMessages, and occasionally I'll drop some money into Skype to call the land-line phones of my grandparents.
Don’t let be fooled by sweeping generalisations that the Baltic region is only famous for talented, educated programmers and Skype. State of the art SaaS startups are originating and growing in the Baltic States making the region a hot-spot of tools focusing on web/mobile development and design. Here is a list to prove that.
The tech world is all hyped up about hailing a cab these days, but that's not the only angle to taxi travel. Helsinki-based Cabforce's service is all about plugging you into on-the-ground taxi travel with the rest of your travel plans.
Emerging Cooking Solutions is a Swedish-Zambian company with a strong social and environmental agenda. In 2012 they developed a market based concept for replacing charcoal for cooking purposes in Africa.
Game Analytics doesn't need much explanation, they're one of those companies that do what they say on the box with a free game analytics platform for developers. Now they've announced they've picked up a $5.5 million Series A raised by Beta Angels and the new management team that has joined the company. Previously Game Analytics raised $2.5 million from Sunstone Capital, CrunchFund, Jimmy Maymann (CEO, Huffington Post) and René Rechmann (President, Maker Studio).
Estonian Taxify announed today that they have raised a whooping € 1.4 million from Latvian Rubylight (Forticom Group architects, founders of One.lv sold to Odnoklassniki, investors in Ask.fm), Adcash (one of world's foremost advertising networks in the industry) and London-based investment fund TMT Investments (have also invested in Pipedrive and Vital Fields). This is the largest investment in Baltic taxi app sector to date.
Nordic VC firm Northzone is now freshly cashed up with the announcement of a €260 million fund, dubbed Northzone VII, which they say was oversubscribed and reached a hard cap in record time. The firm had a busy year, putting together this fund while also investing in 21 companies mostly in the Nordic region, like Playraven, Fyndiq, and Outracks. Previously Northzone has invested in some of the defining companies of the Nordics, like Spotify, iZettle, and Trustpilot.
You've read the narrative plenty of times before - the media industry is in trouble and writers need new tools to better present information and get paid for it.
If you're interested in building tools to support the media industry, now you don't have to do so out of the kindness in your heart. Uutisraivaaja, a media innovation competition run by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation is awarding €250,000 to this years grand prize winner, providing plenty of incentive to throw a good idea at them. And with one more month left in the application process, you better get your idea in quick.
Finland's Unmonday announced it's picked up €1.5 million in funding for it's multichannel wireless speaker system with a strong design aspect. It's hexagonal speakers connect through Apple's Airplay and pump out beats according to how you place them - with one hexagonal face down you'll get Mono, rotate it to the side it'll act as a left speaker, and so on.
With the Nordic smart home market growing steadily and increading 10% year on year in Norway alone, it is not surprising to see smart home startups coming from our region. However, this time we will talk about an Estonia-based startup Comfee (formerly known as Jalousier) solving a rather southern problem - venetian window blind automation. With the funding raised from their Ingiegogo campaign and admission to BuildIT hardware accelerator earlier this year, the Estonia-based Bulgarian family business has already gotten down to production of its first 100 devices to ship to their beta testers.
When we first heard about the upcoming VAT regulation changes, we did not think much of it. After-all, our business does not really fall into the category as our products are either events or partnerships. However, when we started following what this really means - we got scared. Looks like Goliath is about to crush David.
Basically, the idea is simple. For all B2C products in the telecommunications, broadcasting and e-services space - instead of paying the VAT in the country where your company is registered, it will now need to be paid where the consumer resides (If they are from the EU). No biggie, right? Wrong.
Swap.com (formerly Netcycler) announces they've picked up a nice $4 million to help grow their online consignment service for children's clothes, baby gear, toys, games, and maternity wear. Participating investors include Cleantech Invest as their institutional investor, as well as angel investors Ari Hypponen, Ahti Heinla and Jaan Tallinn among others.