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.
We all know that Finland is well known for extensive governmental support for start-ups and it is only fair considering the corporate and private income taxes in the country. It provides the necessary boost and additional investment incentives for angels and other private investors.
In 2011, Tekes Tempo launched with an idea to provide 50% non-dilutive funding to companies that would be building market-oriented services. In total the program funded 61 startups such as Kiosked, LivLiv and HeiaHeia. The total amount provided came to EUR 3.7 Million.
The Stockholm-based Shotbox team has worked in film and visual effects professionally, but couldn't find storyboarding tool that met their needs for daily production. So like all good startup founding stories, they decided to make their own, targeting filmmakers, animators, game designers, and whoever else needs a handy storyboarding tool. The product is currently free to use in public beta.
As you might imagine, planning and timing every shot is difficult work, no matter if it's a feature length film, or if you only have 30 seconds to squeeze in a full commercial. Traditionally filmmakers and animators have manually created storyboards to plan out their shots, but now Shotbox has put their storyboarding concept in the cloud with the goal of speeding up the development process of storyboarding, all while making their creation more flexible.
Stockholm-based VC firm Creandum has closed their Creandum III fund at €135 million. It's been a about six years since closing their previous fund, all while Creandum has been making recent investments into companies like JustBook, Non Stop Games, 13th Lab, Vivino, and just recently, Xeneta. Now that the technology fund has been officially closed, they say Creandum III will be used to invest in 25-30 companies in a mix of Seed and A-rounds.
Creandum's previous fund, raised in 2007, clocked in at €80 million with roughly half as many Limited Partners, showing that investors have seen positive results from the VC firm. Creandum seems to have a good eye, they have over €250 million under management in companies like Spotify, Wrapp, Appear TV, iZettle, and Videoplaza.
When we talk about funding rounds, the money seems to be the only thing that matters. But more important than that is what the money is actually buying. With so many fun clauses like liquidity preferences and clawback provisions potentially littering the term sheet put in front of you, it's best to know what you're getting into before you find yourself in a VC's office.
The best way to learn is by watching, so here's an event we're super excited about supporting. Term Sheet Battles are coming to Helsinki, Oslo, and Stockholm in the last week of this month to show 200 attendees in each city what happens during a negotiation.
In a big acquisition for Finland, McAfee has announced the acquisition of Helsinki-based Stonesoft for a nice €297 million in cash. As you might expect, Stonesoft is a security as a service solution, and leads research into cyber threats and advanced evasion techniques used in stealth cyber attacks, which is becoming a growing threat for businesses. Their focus is on all network sizes, like next-generation firewalls, evasion prevention systems, and SSL VPN solutions.
Sports stadiums sell tickets by giving you a few hours of action-packed excitement, but when the athletes have to take a time-out, spectators are left to watch the grass grow, or maybe be distracted by a silly dancing mascot. But it's 2013, and it seems the last big technological innovation in fan entertainment was the t-shirt cannon. We were due for a company like Uplause to come around and bring to stadiums' jumbotron screens what's already been happening in people's pockets.
The Helsinki-based company provides fan-entertainment products that leverage a stadium's main screen, and plugs into visual or audio inputs for fans to collectively control the screen. Like in the video below, one half of the stadium can compete against the other by trying to make the most noise. Other games allow fans to play Angry Birds, for example, by leaning their arms.
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.
Its the beginning of the month and hopefully you just received your salary and are thinking of where to put it. You could of course spend the money on food, drinks and clothing. However you could also consider thinking long-term and invest into companies that actually make those things in return for equity.
Crowdfunding is all the craze with companies such as Click & Grow from Estonia and Memoto from Sweden raising very large amounts in return for perks. However equity crowdfunding may be in fact the way of the future, where not only are you able to get the products of the companies that you back but also an equity stake for a long-term investment.
Our suspicions have been confirmed that Rovio's $42 million (€30 million) investment back in 2011 actually went to Rovio's owners, and not directly into the company. Rovio’s CEO Mikael Hed tells Elina Lappalainen at Talouselämä the reasoning behind the move was the same as Supercell's recent funding round, where $130 million went to its owners in a round closed February.
Hed is quoted as saying,
We're not in the situation yet where there's a 3D printer in every home and school, but the race of becoming the dominant platform for sharing and selling designs for 3D objects is getting more and more crowded. In Lithuania we have CGtrader, which we covered in February, and now out of Stockholm 3D Burrito has popped up on the scene.
“I love to make stuff with my 3D printer, but like most people I'm not a designer," says Max David, CEO and co-founder. "We created the 3D Burrito marketplace for people like us.”
Mancx, the business Q&A site has pivoted to Coworks, an online freelancing platform with a social recommendation twist to it. According to the company, the decision to make the switch was not because Mancx was not working as expected, but because the market was simply too small, whereas the online jobs market is expanding at an incredible pace.
What differs Coworks from the likes of Elance and Odesk is that they are not trying to offer you a choice from hundreds or even thousands of freelancers. Instead, they focus on your social networks to find freelancers that your friends and connections know and are willing to recommend. Basically they want to digitalize “word of mouth”.
Here's probably the first big acquisition of an Icelandic startup to a Silicon Valley firm. Earlier this week, San Francisco-based Jive Software announced their quarterly earnings, and mentioned that they've acquired the Icelandic startup, Clara. The reported price was approximately €6.8 million ($9 million).
We last covered CLARA four years ago, but their company has obviously taken off since then. CLARA was founded in 2008 by two college dropouts, and produces community analytics tools that allow businesses to understand, monitor, and engage with their members on online platforms. Today they have 16 people distributed between San Francisco, London, and Reykjavik.
M-Files is a company that is disrupting the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) field by getting rid of the standard folder structure and introducing an enterprise-wide document management system that is based on metadata. Basically their solution does not care where the data is but rather what the data actually represents.
According to the CEO, Miika Mäkitalo "one way to understand the M-Files metadata-powered approach is to look at the iPhone. When you put music on the iPhone, you don’t put it in a music folder, the device just knows it is music and it shows up where and how you expect it, grouped by artist, genre, date, etc. This is what M-Files does for information management, and when companies experience it, the effect is a revolutionary change in their business. Think Enterprise Document Management 2.0, or the combined power of Dropbox AND Documentum but for enterprise-scale businesses."
The problem of finding the right "fit" in online shopping is difficult but challenging. We haven't covered Stockholm-based Virtusize yet, which is a shame because it's an interesting solution to solving online fit. Rather than the robot-based solution we've covered with Estonia-based Fits.me, Virtusize offers a 2D measurement solution. Measuring a flat t-shirt with a tape measurer isn't as cool as a robot, but they claim scales better and offers an easier solution for their customers.
"The big difference that separates us is that we start with the garment rather than the body," says Peder Stubert, co-founder of Virtusize. "It's much more intuitive and clear for the consumer."
It's such an obvious metaphor for Finland's economy it seems to reach into cliche. In 2009, Google bought an old paper mill in Hamina, in Eastern Finland, and threw a datacenter inside. As Finland transitions from a tree-based to internet economy, new partnership are forming to make the best of Google's investment for South-Eastern Finland's regional economy, which has become somewhat economically depressed after the pulp and paper industry has moved out of town. The two biggest cities of the region, Kotka and Hamina showed unemployment rates of 17.2% and 12.6% respectively (compared with the Finnish national unemployment rate of 7.8% and the Eurozone's 11.4%).
The Helsinki-region's Aalto University and Startup Sauna are no strangers to creating new clusters. Their student entrepreneurial revolution has helped create quite the startup scene in the suburbs of Helsinki, and now the two organizations are working with financial support of Google and Cursor, the Kotka-Hamina Regional Development Company to organize new activities and contribute to the region's entrepreneurship scene.
When ArcticStartup was on tour to the UK thanks to UK Trade & Investment, we had the chance to meet innovative and exciting companies that were based in the Liverpool Science Park. One of these companies happened to be the Finnish Hammerkit, a company that have seen it all and was forced to change directions, adapt to the environment and fight to survive. As opposed to overnight success stories, Hammerkit is an example of all the hard work that startups need to go through in order to make it out there.
At the meeting, we had the chance to speak to the brand new CEO of the company, Simon Bartolo, who replaced Mark Sorsa-Leslie in February 2013. Bartolo shared his insight and plans for the future.
Helsinki has a new music app that's becoming the talk of the town. Started by a group of students from Helsinki, Sydney, and St. Petersburg, Clerkd launched last week to help you find and play new music.
The app mixes together music discovery with a local angle, allowing you to follow your friends and tastemakers, like bands, blogs or whoever you want. On top of that the map view lets you see whats popular nearby by giving each genre its own color. After selecting a location, you can just press play to get a playlist what music has been played in that general location though Clerkd.
Now Stockholm's transportation agency is identifying Uber drivers and denying them permits required for Uber's service, as well as stopping and fining Uber drivers on the street through the police. The transportation agency's explanation is that the permit for cars without a meter can only be given to companies that run members of the Swedish royal family, or senior managers in corporate positions. In Uber's terms, they've challenged the status quo, and now they're getting pushback.
Roaming Will Be Killed By The Nordic/Baltic Region. Roamer From Latvia Joins The Race Battling Roaming
Roaming. The ArcticStartup region is going to get rid of that beast one way or another. Whether it will be Ukko Mobile, Skype, HolidayPhone or the new kid on the block, Roamer remains to be seen.
With Ukko Mobile focusing on data sim-cards only, HolidayPhone sending you a bunch of sim’s by post and Skype demanding internet - in addition to the roaming killing name, Latvia based Roamer also probably has the best promise. If they are able to deliver, that is.