€2.28 million ($3 million) seems to be a popular financing figure, as today Bitbar joins Nosto with a fresh influx of cash. Bitbar produces testing solutions using real mobile phone and tablet hardware, being sure that apps and websites are loading as the developer intended on mobile devices. Bitbar announced seed funding just about a year ago.
The newly announced round was led by Creathor Venture (Frankfurt, Germany), DFJ Esprit (London), Finnvera Venture Capital (Finland), and Qualcomm Incorporated, acting through its venture investment group, Qualcomm Ventures, with additional funding from TEKES financing.
Helsinki-based Nosto Solutions announces it has raised €2.2 million in a seed round led by Open Ocean Capital, Sanoma ventures, and a number of angel investors. It's a big number for a company that has just popped up on our radar here in Helsinki. Nosto is still somewhat in stealth mode, and produces an e-commerce marketing solution that gives a platform-independent marketing features for e-sellers. Currently Nosto employs 12 people in the Nordics, UK, and Germany, and their first customers include Angry Birds, Intersport, and Huuto.
The founding idea behind the company is to bring Amazon-like features that drive more dollars through product marketing, or to retain lost sales. These features include personalized content and triggered emails that get sent if a item is left in a cart, but not purchased.
Traditional Investment Money Goes Crowdfunding: Taaleritehdas Invests Into Finnish Crowdfuning Company - Invesdor
Invesdor, a Finnish equity crowdfunding company, announced today that they received an investment from Taaleritehdas, a local wealth management company with over €2.6 billion under management. It was immediately interesting to point out that the money was not raised through their own platform. Instead it was a deal in which Taaleritehdas Asset Management Ltd acquired Invesdor shares.
Companies such as Fundedbyme chose to go the other way and crowdfunded themselves in order to showcase their system. So we reached out to Lasse Mäkela, the CEO of Invesdor for comments.
We recently covered how Flattr added web-wide functionality, allowing its users to send micropayments by plugging into the big social properties on the web (and not necessarily though the Flattr button). These integrations included Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Vimeo, among others. Now the company has added Youtube support, which could put a good amount of money into Youtube video creators' flattr accounts whenever people click the "thumbs up" button on connected accounts. Youtube obviously has a huge creator/supporter ecosystem, so plugging in with them offers a huge integration.
But as Youtube has walked into the door, Twitter has closed off, taking claim to the fact that Flattr receives 10% of the donated money moving through their service.
Let's face it, we are overwhelmed with data. On a daily basis we get bombarded with tweets and Facebook posts of our friends. Then there are news feeds, e-mails, youtube, blogs and so on. Because of this ever expanding amount of new data coming in, most of us have developed internal filters that help us navigate in this jungle. For instance, I rarely notice cat pictures on Facebook anymore. However in certain industries, it is your sole responsibility to dig through this data and make sense of it, otherwise you will not make any money.
One particular industry is the financial trading sector, where your only hope is to act fast on available information. We could go into a very long debate about whether trading is based on luck, skill or internal trading but let us leave that aside for a second and assume that if you get information early enough, it can give you an edge. This edge would be useless if you got the information in its current format: thousands of tweets, blogs, news articles and Facebook posts. The time it would take to dig through it would would be so long that the market would simply adjust by the time you are done. The trick is to read all of this information in a sort of a visualised summary without the need to go into the specifics.
Today Spotify has expanded into seven new markets, hitting four countries under ArcticStartup's radar: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and everyone's favorite, Iceland. It's part of today's bigger push, where they've expanded into Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Mexico. This now brings them to 31 countries, by my count.
There's not much more to say about this news, but for our readers in the Baltics or Iceland, it's worth the download. For better or worse it's become one of those services I don't want to live without - I like having 20 million songs on my computer or phone, and Spotify's UI is clean and constantly improving.
Nordic media publishing giant, Bonnier, is getting into the accelerator game. Or something like your idea of an accelerator, at least.
Digging into the website details, the feeling is more like aquahires at the concept phase, or a cheap idea sourcing for Bonnier. Rather than the standard taking a standard fixed percentage for a fixed amount of money, they're providing you with a salary, office space, and a mentor. And from you they're taking potentially your IP - the questionable paragraph from their FAQ reads:
Norway-based WiMP is bringing some innovation to their music streaming platform through the launch of WiMP DIY, allowing unsigned artists to upload their music, and take in 70% of the income. WiMP offers a more editorially focused take on a music streaming service, and with it, these unsigned artists have the possiblitly to be featured in WiMP's NewSound campaign, which highlights new, local music, or to be put in playlists next to international acts.
"We launch this offer to cover a market demand. WIMP DIY is not intended as an alternative to a conventional record deal, but as a push in that direction. WiMP wants to invite artists who do not yet have a record label supporting them, but who have got ambitions of reaching out with their music," says Sveinung Rindal, Head of Editorial at WiMP.
“Well, of course we should, it is one of the highest investment numbers we have ever heard of” - Screams the crowd. However may I remind you what Rocket Internet really is? A simple, thought highly profitable, copy-paste button. They take unique and interesting ideas and use their assets and knowledge to replicate them in other markets before the original company has the time or money to do it. For instance they took Groupon and created CityDeal in Germany which they later sold it to, you guessed it, Groupon for $126 million. Sure, we can’t argue that it does not take skill or planning to enter these new markets, especially considering that many of them are very unique.
Still when we heard that the Sweden based investment firm Kinnevik disclosed in their annual reports that they have invested over €1.1 billion into Rocket Internet, we could not be as excited as we normally are with large investments.
It must be fishing season again, my inbox is filled with press releases about all the startups that all simultaneously won the Red Herring award. Out of the 100 in Europe, we have 12 winners from Finland, 8 from Sweden, 3 from Norway, and 5 from Denmark.
I'm not going to tell any entrepreneurs how to live their life, but I'm going to lay it out as I see it. A startup's journey doesn't necessarily come with a lot of external affirmation, so winning an award with some name recognition, and having a recognizable logo to display on your website is all good and well. And maybe it gives you some sort of legitimacy to potential customers.
But still, it's an award you need to pay €2,900 to be eligible for, which feels more like you're paying for a certificate. I suppose the mathematics for these startups come down to a gamble if they can be listed as one of the 100 winners, and then hopefully receive more than €2,900 in PR.
Co-founder Patrik Berglund claims their company might not look that sexy, but to me, disrupting prices in the absolutely massive container shipping industry is incredibly easy on the eyes. What Oslo-based Xeneta does is similar to what Glassdoor did for employee wages. They offer a price comparison service for sea freight, and yesterday announced they received €1.2 million in financing led by Creandum, with Norwegian private investment company Alden co-investing.
Berglund and one of his co-founders, Thomas Sørbø, got their start at Kuehne & Nagel, a freight company. After leaving in 2011 for shipping and logistics consulting, they realized pricing is extremely volatile, and there was really no transparency in the industry. So they set out to do for sea freight how you buy airline tickets - prices are there in front of you.
Editor's note: My trip to Murcia was paid for by INFO Murcia, but the opinions in this article are my own.
In late February a group of Finnish entrepreneurs gathered from their flights to the Alicate airport in south-eastern Spain. Once we were all accounted for, our van left the Alicante Airport bus depot and a blast of sunlight hit us from the side. All the Finns had a verbal and physical reaction to our first direct sunlight in months.
Our bus was traveling 45 minutes north to Murcia. Despite it being the 6th largest city in Spain with a population a little less than the size of Helsinki's, a before the trip I couldn't put it on a map. Despite its lack immediate name recognition, at the end of the trip, myself and the Finnish entrepreneurs and was sincerely convinced they've got the right climate and attitude for tech startups to set up the Spanish arm of their company.
Helsinki-founded Kippt is strengthening their web-based bookmarking service as more of a central bookmarking platform with a new focus on developer tools to create and promote Kippt-based apps. Co-founder Kaari Saarinen tells us they've now launched their new API, a developer site, and an app gallery.
Their developer tools section highlights 13 apps in their App Gallery that plug into Kippt's service, including home-built desktop and mobile apps to use Kippt with, as well as apps like Pocket that offer Kippt integration. In adition, their developer tools offer libraries put together by third party developers.
Sunstone Capital has now added Max Niederhofer as a partner in its Copenhagen office, after leaving his position as Vice President in Accel Partners' London office.
Niederhofer has been working the last 11 years in growth companies in Europe and the United States as both an entrepreneur and investor. He started and sold Qwerly, a data marketing business, and as a Principal at Atlas Venture, he has been involved with companies like DailyMotion, Seatwave, and Moo. His personal investements include Last.fm, among others.
Enevo Grabs € 2 Million From Lifeline Ventures And Finnish Industry Investment To Improve Waste Management
Garbage might not be the first choice for an industry that young entrepreneurs dream about. However, when you think about the fact that waste management is a $1 Trillion global industry, of which 30-50% is purely logistics it then certainly becomes a much more attractive area to try and disrupt.
Today, Helsinki based, Enevo announced a €2 million investment from Lifeline Ventures and Finnish Industry Investment to do just that. Their idea is fairly simple and has been tested in the local market. The investment will be used to fuel worldwide expansion and deliveries.
I don't enjoy writing articles where I become somewhat of an advertising mouthpiece, but even more than that I hate banking fees, so here we go. Transferwise is giving away $100,000,000 worth of free international bank transfers to European startups, making it more cost effective to pay employees or suppliers abroad, attend conferences, or set up overseas offices.
Transferwise is a London/Estonia based startup that cuts down the huge costs associated with sending international wire transfers through banks. The company is regulated by the FSA and HMRC, and gives average people access to the mid-market exchange rate by using peer-to-peer technology that matches up money transfers.
Do three dots make a trend line? Helsinki seems to be the home of adding overlaid "tags" on an image after Publishzer released its image tagging solution for fashion bloggers they call a "Mag Tag". Now they join Kiosked and Thinglink's solutions for driving more engagement in images.
In case you missed our past article, Publishzer offers The Fashion Mags, a platform for building embeddable magazine-inspired spreads. As their name implies, they're targeting the demographic of fashion bloggers who want to lay out their images nicer than your standard blogger template.
Swedish HolidayPhone Attempts To Solve Roaming Costs By Shipping Local Sim Cards, Supports 27 Countries
The problem that HolidayPhone is tackling is a familiar one: the cost of phone calls, sms and mobile internet while traveling abroad. In a short span of 6 years, we have become accustomed to always being next to our trusted mobile phones. Most of us are constantly online, so when we are forced to pay outrageous bills for phone calls and internet abroad, we rage. This results in great startups that try to disrupt the space.
Indeed, many companies from the region have set their sights onto solving this problem or parts of it. Ukko Mobile is creating a single data-only sim card that would work in the whole of Europe, Rebtel is solving the problem of expensive calls through VOIP and Goodspeed created a device to enable flat-data fees in countries where you travel to.
After writing about the Nth social whatever, I believe any thinking man has to start questioning the real world impact of some startup companies. Naturally I suppress these thoughts before I get in too deep, but I was happy to find a press release from Sibesonke, an Espoo-based company that has partnered with the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, and the Tanzinian Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development.
Together they're taking the Finn's mobile prowess to build a cross-platform news source for basic mobile phones to help Tanzanian farmers. The aim is to provide farmers with real-time weather forecasts and livestock management tips to help small-scale farmers increase their yields, helping provide food security for eastern Africa.
Editor's note: this is a sponsored post by UK Trade and Investment
The other week UK Trade and Investement brought together a few speakers in Helsinki to talk about the startup opportunities in London's Tech City. To get one Nordic entrepreneur's honest opinion about the scene, we talked to Johan Brand from We Are Human, Kahoot, and Nordic Connection. He's Norwegian national, but has made London his base for launching startups, for a number of good reasons he lays out.
We'll cover his education startup, Kahoot, later this week, but until then, here's some of his logic for setting up shop in London.