Yesterday, Helsinki, Finland based Gajatri Studios soft launched their facebook game Yoga Retreat. It's the first game of Gajatri Studios and developed through an interesting model of financing as well as a small development team that outsourced many parts of their work where they were missing talent.
We thought it would be interesting to talk to Tiina Zilliacus, the founder and CEO of Gajatri Studios about the development and funding of their first game. The story is interesting and hopefully would inspire other women to also try their wings at running a startup.
Compared to shopping malls, the e-commerce sector has it incredibly easy. But Helsinki-based Hyper[in] is attempting to make managing commercial real estate much more plug-and-play. Hyper[in] has produced a nearly all-encompasing platform for managers of commercial real estate. It combines all the things you need to run your shopping mall efficiently, while also creating significant non-rental advertisement revenue for their customers. On top of that they also offer services, like the website behind the shopping mall, making Hyper[in] an easy one-stop shop for their customers.
Their solution is somewhat targeted to commercial real estate owners with around ten good-sized malls in their portfolio. With multiple malls they can offer a management dashboard where whole-mall portfolios are shown, with metrics like sales, service provider management, advertisement sales figures, consumer analytics, and so forth.
Last Friday, the New York Times ran an editorial entitled That's no phone. That's my tracker. The authors Peter Maass and Megha Rajagopalan of ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative newsroom, make the point that today's mobile phones are used only occasionally for phone calls, and instead their main function is to help its owners keep track of the time, our friends, where we go, and how much money we have in the bank.
They suggest a new term for smartphones. "People could call them trackers. It’s a neutral term, because it covers positive activities — monitoring appointments, bank balances, friends — and problematic ones, like the government and advertisers watching us."
A Finnish company, RapidBlue, would fall into their latter category, as they are building the service that allows advertisers, media companies, and store owners to track customers in the brick and mortar stores. The solution uses public Bluetooth signals that RapidBlue's receivers picks up, but does not connect to. The company has determined that that their solution can track the movement of 95% of consumers in the Nordic countries, and 91% in Southern europe.
As the signal to noise ratio decreases on larger social networks, more and more startups are beginning to take a stab at creating much more private networks. Path is one big example of a social network for just your close friends, while others like Pair and Cupple (now currently operating out of Copenhagen) are building apps that allow couples to privately share messages, pictures, and checkins with each other. Continuing this trend is HeyWe, a private sharing app for families. It seems to hit all of the key pain points that parents and children have, or at least the easiest ones solved by mobile.
HeyWe is the first product built by the Oulu, Finland based startup, Cosmic Gecko. To build the product CEO Jyrki Matero leads a team of 15 people listed on their webpage (including three trainees). On top of HeyWe, the company also lists Cosmic Gekko Arena, a free location-based game, in development.
HeyWe has just launched on App Store, Google Play and Nokia Store, making it open to families with a mix of phones.
Most people are familiar with all the convoluted rights challenges around owning music they've purchased, but the problem is only extrapolated for those producing music. Many freelance artists join collection societies like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and Teosto. These organizations were created for keeping track of licensing, collecting and distributing income from the performance and the duplication of compositions. It makes sense for music creators so they can better monetize their works. But when new innovations like Audiodraft come around, it has added a some friction to getting their audio crowdsourcing platform to be a tool of choice for professionals.
Collection societies exist to give musicians a central organization that will take care of their rights. For example, if a composition is broadcast on TV or radio, the songwriter of that composition is entitled to public performance royalties from the broadcaster. The organizations that collect license fees from broadcasters and distribute these funds back to songwriters in the form of public performance royalties are called performance rights organizations.
While the homing pigeon is known for navigating back home over long distances, some other animals, such as the spiny lobster, are able to do the same on a more local level. Research has given some idea that these animals are able to derive positional information from cues that arise from the local anomalies of the Earth's magnetic field. With an accurate compass in every iPhone and Android device, a team of Engineers from the University of Oulu in Finland have created a new breed of indoor positioning technology that does not require WiFi or other beacons, but instead provides a major update to one of Man's oldest navigating technologies.
Using signal processing technology, the university team discovered that steel masses inside buildings twist the Earth's magnetic field such that every spot produces a unique pattern. “Each building, floor and corridor creates a distinct magnetic field disturbance that can be measured to identify a location and generate a map,” explains Dr. Janne Haverinen, the head of the project.
The team realized the practical potential of their findings. To provide a practical solution to be used by smartphone application developers, Dr. Haverinen’s research team has founded IndoorAtlas Ltd to commercialize the innovation. Along with the launch, the company also announces a seed capital investment from the Helsinki-based Vigo accelerator, KoppiCatch.
As people were beginning to wind down for the long midsummer weekend, the Helsinki, Finland based Supercell went on to launch their new game Hay Day. Hay Day is a farming game like no other. One might think that the world has seen enough of annoying farm game advertising on Facebook from the likes of Zynga, but having played Hay Day through out the weekend for about 10+ hours in total I can say that there is demand.
Hay Day is also Supercell's first mobile and tablet only game, meaning it has been designed for the iOS platform. You can play it on your iPod Touch, iPhone as well as the iPad.
According to Ilkka Paananen, the CEO of Supercell, the launch has been quite phenomenal despite the challenging launch date.
Just during the long weekend, the game has shot to #7 in the US iPad listing while pushing to #13 on the iPhone. Paananen also disclosed that according to their own analysis, they are going to be achieving similar places in their key markets in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, UK, Canada, Australia and so on. In many countries they're already in the top three spot.
The other week we asked where were Helsinki's big startups, and today Kiosked responded with a new funding round. €4.5 million is a nice number for the "content activation platform," but what gives the funding more weight is that this is the first major public investment made by Kaj Hed since pumping money into and buying up 70% of Rovio. The funding round was also joined by private investors and Tekes, and Hed will join the Kiosked board as chairman.
Of the €4.5 million, a million euros comes from Tekes' Young Innovative Companies -program and the direct investments by investors is around €3 million. Kaj Hed's stake in the round is the largest by far.
On the funding round, Hed says, “Disrupting and re-shaping any industry is always interesting. Kiosked is the first to connect brands with their online business logic through their content and fans. It is going to create new paradigms that will change the way brands engage with consumers forever.”
We've opened the flood gates with Arctic15 and we're coming out with lots of news these days. The latest being the opening of the Arctic15 startup competition. Like said in a post earlier this year, we will do the startup competition in a slightly different way. We have 15 different categories that startups can submit themselves into and through those we will find the winners of each category that will get a chance to pitch themselves on stage in October.
Here we go! We have 12 hot keynote speakers from around the world coming to Arctic15 this October to share their advice in growing scaling businesses. Furthermore, we're only half way there. We'll be seeing 10+ more panelists in August, but we wanted to give you a sneak of the upcoming speakers and our program for this year. In addition to awesome talks, we're going to be hosting the Oohack Open 1, which is Open Ocean Capital's data hackathon on Tuesday th 16th. Lucky developers from the hackathon will get to showcase their hacks on the main stage.
As for the new speakers announced today, we have in no particular order Phil Libin, the CEO of Evernote, Mikkel Svane, the Founder and CEO of Zendesk, Kristjan Hiiemaa, Founder and CEO of Erply, Nicolai Wadstrom, Founder and CEO BootstrapLabs, Edial Dekker, Co-Founder and CEO of Gidsy as well as Niklas Adalberth, Founder and Deputy CEO of Klarna.
Arctic15 is a very dear child to us. We want to create the most business worthy event for startup entrepreneurs through awesome speakers, networking and business opportunities. We also realise that when you make a great event, a lot of people will have to travel to your event from close and far. This of course generates huge amounts of carbon dioxide and the so called carbon footprint is rather large for an event close to 1000 people.
Location data provider Gecko Landmarks announces $1 million in funding today. The Espoo, Finland based company provides location services for feature phones through text based landmarks. These landmarks provide data for application developers, who can then use location data for maps, checkins, and other services. You might think initially that this solution wouldn't be too accurate, but this example on Google Maps shows quite the opposite.
One use case of Gecko Landmarks is providing text-based checkins, or friend finding based on local landmarks. If you're near a shopping center, for example, Gecko can position you to being close to that landmark and return "Westfield Mall" for example. This workaround of feature phone's technology provides a good level of service, and there's just something cool about there being location services for phones that only display text.
Be forewarned, this post might be a little breathless, but this has to be one of the coolest technologies coming out of Finland right now. The other week I got the chance to go to Senseg's Espoo, Finland offices and get my hands on their prototype tablet. Senseg creates "feel-screens" or touchscreens that offer the sensation of textures when your finger is on the screen.
Their prototype device I used was an old Toshiba tablet that was running Android. Jukka Linjama, Senseg's chief technologist and the head of their human-centric development, was quick to point out that the choice of operating system was just that it was easy to hack, although looking at ArcticStartup's job board, you'll see that they are hiring Android, Windows 8, and Linux hackers, among other positions.
To be honest, my first few seconds with the tablet were underwhelming as I didn't really feel much of anything at all. But you quickly learn how to interact with the screen. I'm used to fat-fingering and mashing buttons on my iPhone, but with Senseg you need to be gentle to get the most precise feedback. I found the way to get the best response was to use more of the side of my finger, and use light taps or movements across the screen.
Kippt, the bookmarking service started by Finnish entrepreneurs Karri Saarinen and Jori Lallo, has been accepted into perhaps the world's most famous startup accelerator, Silicon Valley's Y Combinator. Along with the announcement, Kippt has announced new social features that help groups share lists of bookmarks publicly and privately. We covered the company previously just a couple of weeks ago here on ArcticStartup.
Kippt allows users to bookmark websites through a bookmarklet or web extension. When doing so, you throw the bookmark into a folder, allowing you to keep your bookmarks organized. The new sharing features build off of thus feature, allowing users to share their folders publicly or privately.
Sulake, the Finnish company behind Habbo Hotel that has some 10 million active users a month globally, has run into its biggest difficulties as a company so far. The company has seen its fair share of challenges in the form of financial difficulties that resulted in shutting down its country offices outside of Finland. Last night The Kernel broke the news that Channel 4 in the UK would reveal some very disturbing material regarding the teenage community. The Kernel titled their piece as "Habbo exposed as a paedophile haven".
Before airing the piece on Habbo Hotel, Balderton Capital confirmed to the BBC that they will exit their investment in the business at zero value. The investment firm held a 13% stake in Sulake which by even careful estimates would have been in the low tens of millions. Since the Channel 4 piece ran, Tesco and WH Smith have withdrawn the Habbo Hotel gift cards from sale in the UK.
Editor's note: This post is part of a series of posts published in co-operation with Elance, the leading source of outsourcing talent in the world. Elance is also supporting our ArcticEvening Helsinki on June 14th.
Elance is helping us with ArcticEvenings in the region and in return we want to highlight how they're helping startups with quick access to talent. On Thursday, Elance representatives will also be present at ArcticEvening Helsinki and therefore we want to highlight a Finnish startup they are working with.
Dream Broker is an online video software company started in 2007 that focuses in video production and distribution. They are a video platform for companies and organisations where open systems such as Vimeo and YouTube don't work. Their service can be used for software tutorials and support, staff competence development, change management as well as communications to name a few functions.
The company has strong growth and in 2011 did almost €1.5M in revenue.
We talked to Ari Heljakka, the Chief Strategy Officer about how they use Elance and how other startups could learn from their use cases for it.
Last night Startup Sauna, the FInnish startup accelerator pulled of something that became Europe's largest demo day with some 750 registered attendees. We've also noticed something else this week with Founder's Week in full swing and Latitude59 taking place in Tallinn - we need to begin to prioritise startup events as we're simply running out of bandwidth. As we're also attending the Latitude59 event in Tallinn we weren't actually able to attend the Demo Day, but based on what we've heard - the Startup Sauna guys and gals pulled off another great event with an awesome late night after party.
An interesting application of 3D printing is shown by London and Helsinki based MakieLab. The company announces their alpha launch of MAKIES, a user designed 3D printed doll. Along with the launch, MakieLab has announced their seed round investment of $1.4 million, led by early-stage investors Lifeline Ventures and Sunstone Capital. The round was also joined by Anime and gaming industry veterans Matthew Wiggins, Daniel James and Cedric Littardi of superangel-fund Ynnis Ventures.
Editorial note: this article was originally written by Chieftain Elina Arponen for Tribe Studios blog. Tribe Studios builds Dramagame - a platform for high quality multiplayer story games. Tribe Studioes was also one of the Arctic15 finalists last year.
I attended an excellent panel yesterday morning which consisted of Paul Bragiel, Sami Inkinen, Russel Simmons and Aaron Patzer. The event was part of the founder’s week organized by Aaltoes. This topic of having kids/family came up in several audience questions and was a little bit foreign territory for most of the panelists.
I feel somewhat of a self-learned expert on the area and thought to write about my experiences. I’ve been running with Tribe Studios now full speed for 1 year and 8 months. My husband, Ville-Kalle, is one of my co-founders from the start. Together we have a boy that’s going to be 4 years in August. Currently I’m pregnant with the second one with an ETA in July. So how do we make it work?
ArcticEvening Helsinki will be organised on the 14th of June to discuss "Where are Finland's big startups?" The event will take place at the awesome Aalto Venture Garage from 6pm onwards. Sign-up now to enjoy the panel discussion, network and a plenty of cold drinks before summer holidays. We're expecting to have a good turnout of people as earlier in the day Aalto is putting on an event with Linus Torvalds and the Summer of Startups program has also kicked off at the Venture Garage.
Please take a look at the full program and event description here and also sign-up for the free tickets.
Editor's note: This post is part of a series of posts in collaboration with Lappeenranta University of Technology to promote their expertise and tools in commercialising research based innovations.
Back in 2003, when I was looking for a Master's program I was accepted into one in Lappeenranta University of Technology as well as a competing one in a Helsinki based business school - I chose the one in Lappeenranta. There were several reasons behind this and I'm honored to see the university working with ArcticStartup to further promote these reasons and spread knowledge of the vast experience and talent they have accumulated.
The reason I ended up choosing Lappeenranta was their 40+ years of experience in combining technology with business in a frictionless way. This same strength has carried the university to this day and will do so in the future as well.
ZTE is one of the world's largest device manufacturers and service providers to the mobile industry. In Q4 of 2011, ZTE became the fourth largest handset maker with 4,9% global market share. Today, ZTE and Rightware are announcing a partnership where by ZTE licenses Rightware's Kanzi UI solution to their new range of Android smartphones.
This week we talked to one of the most well known serial entrepreneurs in Finland - Taneli Tikka. He's been part of many startups, but also built some of his own companies and also bankrupted one, and failed in a few. We talked to him about the ride along all the years and what he has learned, both from the success cases as well as bankruptcies. In addition to this we also discussed a little how the startup environment has changed in the 10+ years from the perspectives of investors and entrepreneurs. Did you know he got 5 million euro investment on a 20 million pre-money valuation on his first company, just based on slideware?
Yesterday we revealed how Rovio's $42 million investment last year actually went to one or more of its founders, by the look of their financial statement that was filed with the Finnish authorities. We received a lot of feedback regarding that article through e-mail, but also in comments through other channels. The overall attitude seems to one of caution, that we should be careful for digging up information and discussing it in public.
This publication is all for growth entrepreneurship and we feel that the more discussion around these topics we have, with the right attitude and manner of course, the better off the Northern European startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem will be.
Rovio is not a taboo that should not be discussed. It's one of the best things that has happened to the Finnish startup ecosystem in a long time. The execution of its vision will become a case study for future MBAs on how to go about global growth. Believing that if we gave successful companies peace and quiet as media, and thus avoiding studying them in detail, in the fear of damaging the company's future potential is at best superstition.
It's no secret the U.S. healthcare system is a mess. The lack of transparency is likely why the system has bloated up to a $2.7 trillion industry, and finding the right doctor for yourself is no easy process.
Each year, over 70 million Americans look for a new doctor, and BetterDoctor, built by a team of Finns in San Francisco, is bringing order to doctor search. There is a clear need to bring in higher quality information for people looking for a new doctor: There's around one million doctors and 200,000 medical practices that take care of the 315M people who are insured by tens of insurance companies, which offer over 1,500 different insurance plans. It's not easy to match the right people up.
In early May, Rovio came out with their financial results for 2011. Today, the National Board of Patents and Registration Of Finland has received Rovio's official financial filing for the year 2011. One would expect that there is no news value in the filing since Rovio already came out with their results prior to this, but it shows a big discrepancy regarding the company's funding situation. In early March last year, the company announced it has raised a $42 million round from Accel Partners, Atomico Ventures as well as Felicis Ventures.
$42 million is about €32.85 million in today's exchange rate. This €30+ million is however missing from Rovio's financial statement for 2011, which begs an answer to the question:
Who did the money go to and why did Rovio feel the need to announce a funding round when it clearly wasn't one?
Walkbase, has released Tweagle, a new product taking advantage of the company's advanced indoor positioning API. Essentially Tweagle is an Android Twitter client that integrates with Foursquare, but with a lot more useful positioning features for the Twitter world. The app looks polished, and makes it possible to hear what people are saying at a certain bar, club, or festival, for example.
Helsinki-based Giosg has built a sales, marketing, and customer intelligence solution designed to help companies get the most out of live help on their websites. Their main innovation offered by Giosg is the service allows companies to recognize and prioritize the most potential visitors in real time, and then reach out to them using a nicely integrated live-chat solution. The browser-based service is easy to use, and is designed to help any organization increase sales online by targeting only their most valuable potential customers who are browsing their website.
The installation of Giosg requires adding just one script to your website. This script maps your website, and through the settings you can target customers based on the priority you set for each page. If a webshop is running a new campaign, for example, a user could easily set the priority of that page to higher. The business potential for each customer is then calculated, and show graphically.
Arctic15 early bird tickets are now available at Arctic15.com! While the event is still some time away, we wanted to come out with our first batch of speakers to the event as well as more information on the concept itself.
Rovio must have had to carefully analyse many different alternatives for the first successor of Angry Birds as that would truly begin to label them as an multi-brand entertainment company. Today, Angry Birds brings in over €75 million in revenue for the company, but due to the nature of the games industry, being a hit business, that revenue will be hard to keep up over the years. To further grow and really get closer to a meaningful IPO, Rovio must differentiate its offering successfully.
Earlier this year the company announced they will be releasing a non-Angry Birds game as well. It is this game that will begin to determine how good Rovio really is. Sarah Lacy's book, which looked at the ability of serial entrepreneurs to create successful companies one after another, titled "Once you're lucky, twice you're good", applies well to this situation.