The Next Web's conference is kicking off, and with it is the European Commission's Tech Entrepreneur of the Year Award. What's noticible is the number of Nordic entrepreneurs up there on the list, especially Swedish entrepreneurs, who grabbed three out of the ten spots. Finland also makes an appearance through Rovio, naturally.
The list can be found here, but here's the copy-paste:
Alright, everyone get out your wallets - because after writing about plenty of apps that make some minor inconvenience in life slightly less inconvenient, I'm excited to write about a new app that may have some real-world impact. Copenhagen-based non-profit startup Be My Eyes is helping connect sighted volunteers with the blind community through video and voice over a smartphone app, and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help implement their idea.
So if a blind user needs help checking what the expiration date is on a can, for example, they can load up the app and call out to the network of sighted volunteers. This opens up a live video stream where volunteers can "be the blind person's eyes" to respond to questions and describe what they see. That's awesome.
Eric Wahlforss, co-founder of SoundCloud and Henrik Berggren, co-founder of Readmill, may be now based in Berlin, but they're staying in touch with their Swedish roots by offering a scholarship (well more like an awesome weekend trip) to two Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship students. This is the second time they're giving away this opportunity, and the deadline for SSES students is May 15.
Over the course of a weekend, the two students interested running their own internet company someday will have the chance to run through Berlin to meet entrepreneurs, investors and business angels of the Berlin scene. It also sounds like a good excuse to check out Berlin's famous nightlife.
Helsinki seems to have two major trends going at the moment. Gaming companies, and startups like Kiosked and Publishzer that are adding interactivity and engagement to images. But with this movement is ThingLink, a startup that adds interactivity to images to drive more engagement. Founded in 2010, they now boast over 130,000 publishers using the platform, including a number of giant newspaper and web publishing properties.
Now when publishers share ThingLinked images to Facebook, they're able the offer the same image tagging functionality right in the Facebook newsfeed. Uses need to click the images first to get the tags to pop up, but now publishers can drive Facebook users to more text information, videos, or links.
This past week we had the opportunity to participate in MESH's 1 year anniversary, and finally check out co-working space that's bringing together the community necessary for an entrepreneurial ecosystem and making some noise about it.
A startup ecosystem is sorely needed in Norway. There are some cool startups popping up there, but despite having the same population as Helsinki and a major tech companies like Opera located in Oslo, you really don't hear of many startups outside the oil and gas industry.
But MESH is making a movement happen by being a grassroots space 'by and for' entrepreneurs. Their 2500 m2 building located right in Oslo's city center offers around 50 desks and 9 offices. On top of that they have an entrepreneur-geared cafe, a new bar (which divides into three meeting spaces during the day), and a nightclub with a retractable roof, which doubles as an event space for 400 people. It's... a nice place.
And the space is growing in cool areas. On top of constructing a bigger community space, they're adding a sound studio for artists that need equipment, and right now they're putting together a Maker Space with 3D printers and hardware tools for hackers and artists to come up with new inventions.
Rocket Internet Is Heading North - Launches CupoNation in Finland With Norway And Russia Next On The List
Rocket Internet is one of those companies that create a lot attention and there are mixed feelings about what they do. However, it is hard to argue with their success, as most of the companies that are a part of Rocket Internet are largely highly profitable.
Set in Norway's picturesque fjord region, little Ålesund is a centre of expertise for the maritime sector, hosting over 200 companies and 17 shipyards. Local institutions offer niche education such as a Masters in Ship Design and a Bachelors in Biomarine Innovation. Silicon Valley it's not, but Ålesund is a hidden success story of technological innovation - Norwegian style.
On 22 and 23 May Ålesund plays host to the annual InnoTown conference. Rather than focusing on the successful local industry, InnoTown invites an impressive line up of innovators from around the world to share their stories.
Helsinki-based Cabforce has now opened their API, allowing travel companies to take advantage of Cabforce's network and technology that allows the pre-booking of taxi and executive cars, with the total price calculated at the time of booking
Booking a taxi at the same time you book a flight or other travel leg is a growing trend, as it opens up a new revenue path, and Cabforce has built a solid network of 60 travel destinations and counting, with the majority of coverage focused in Europe. Recently they have also expanded into New York - their first "overseas" destination.
Tomorrow marks the half-way point of Avoin Ministeriö, or Open Ministry's campaign to make the Finnish copyright law more fair. To help gather enough signatures, Finnish websites are blacking out and leading visitors to sign the online petition in support of a Common Sense in Copyright Law proposal.
"The idea is to follow the model that was in use in the US where companies take part in campaigning when there is an injustice. So the blackout day is a chance for Finnish companies to speak out against this far-reaching copyright law," says Joonas Pekkanen of Avoin Ministeriö.
In the U.S., these campaigns generally ask supporters to call their congressmen or sign a petition to make some noise, but Finnish legislation offers a much more concrete method to effect change. Just over a year ago, Finland amended the national constitution so that any petition that reaches 50,000 signatures must be brought to the parliament floor for a vote. At the time of publishing, this proposal has gathered 26,348 signatures.
Stockholm-based Volumental is one research spinoff that's going to be fun to watch. It's roots go back to Kinect@Home, which made a lot of noise in the news recently with their tool that allows anybody with a Microsoft Kinect camera, which was created for the Xbox, to create 3D models of people or objects in a matter of seconds. To do so, all you have to do is make a circular video of the object with the Kinect camera, and then you can share, download, embed the model for online or 3D printing use.
The project was started as a research project by two Ph.D. students and a professor at the Centre Of Autonomous systems, a research centre at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
Sticky Uses Eye Tracking Technology To Make Sure Online Ads Are Seen And Receives €2.3M From Conor And Northzone
Advertisers often use a term known as ad impressions, which you might think means how often the ads are seen by prospective viewers. In reality all it means is how often it was displayed and according to latest research statistics, between 30-50% of those impressions are never actually seen. Just think of banner blindness and how often you actually move your eyes to the side of the screen to take a look at the ads.
This is the story that will explain everything you need to know about the Baltic investment market, outlining the current trends, introducing the key players, listing major investments and exits. It does not get much more comprehensive than this, so grab a chair, get a coffee and dig in.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE INVESTMENT MARKET
Before we start with the statistics and introductions, let us take a look at the Baltic investment market in general. The scene has been changing and developing and over the course of the last 5 years, the number of startups coming from the Baltic States was growing rapidly, most of them requiring seed and early stage investments.
Does your office have a retractable roof in its nightclub? If you work at MESH, it's probably a yes, but for everyone else in the world, I imagine it's a no. We're in Oslo today helping one of the region's hottest co-working spaces celebrate its one year anniversary.
It's our first time here, and honestly we're impressed. They've got 2500m2 to play with in the center of Oslo, including an innovation cafe, office space, a maker lab, and a nightclub, which also doubles as an event space for 400 people.
Dmitri and I are going to be both busy today, so we might be light on news today, but expect more stories from Norway in the near future!
With a phone in everyone's pocket, there still seems to be too much friction when you're trying to get rid of your old bike. So to bring a peer-to-peer marketplace to iPhone, Stockholm-based Osom (think "awesome") has launched a polished app that will get you selling or buying in no time.
Co-founder Anton Johansson tells us that the company got its start after the founders decided to start a company after working for Videoplaza and Twingly. The idea came up as the three founders were sitting down and going through their favorite apps and all realized that Instagram has the best stickiness and "epicness" out of their phones. From there, they started to think about how that interface would respond in the e-commerce environment, and realized it was pretty optimized for a marketplace already.
The problem of 'fit' when selling clothes online has always been a problem, and since 2009 the Estonian startup Fits.me has been trying to solve it. They are not trying to do this by modifying the sale procedures or offering free return shipping, instead they built robots that can mimic nearly every body shape. Since the company was founded, they have raised around €3 million and were already one of the best funded startups in the Baltic region.
Today, Fits.me announced a Series A round from an existing investor SmartCap and also new investors onboard: Conor Venture Partners, Fostergate Holdings Limited and The Entrepreneurs Fund. The total amount raised is €5.5 million and is a part the earlier reported investment.
From live questions on a panel debate to fan comments at a sports game, more and more TV output incorporates social media content. never.no's Interactivity suite offers its clients the ability to monitor, filter, approve, and harvest user-generated content from around the web - using Twitter hashtags for example.
The big value driver of online advertising into e-commerce is that it's measurable. But despite the rapid growth of the e-commerce sector, it still remains only 8% of total retail sales. Those impressions are going somewhere, but it might be driving people into retail stores, and not necessarily into online shopping.
As Walkbase CEO Tuomas Wuoti explains, “If a campaign is not performing, a retailer could understand if that is because it is not delivering a stream of consumers to their location or whether they are coming and browsing at the store but decide not to buy – the latter being something that can be addressed by improving store operations and customer service.”
Most ArcticStartup readers will know all about Startup Weekends. In Norway the 54-hour events have been the breeding ground of many innovative businesses, including Soundrop, ClickLift, Pido and Swipe.
Now all the way from San Diego comes an event with a twist, as Startup Weekend Oslo's Project Manager Erik Holthe Eriksen explains.
“We see veterans of the armed forces as a great resource, and understand that the transition to civilian can be difficult for some. We want to help make this transition easier, by helping to release the unique skills, experience and potential into the world of entrepreneurship.”
€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.