Gajatri Studios, a Helsinki based gaming company that made the game Yoga Retreat for Facebook announced earlier this month that they have raised a new seed round of funding. The round comes from Dreadnaught Finance OY and Leena Niemistö as a private investor.
Their first game - Yoga Retreat, allows you to build and manage your own little Yoga getaway. While at it, you will be taught many different Yoga poses as well other other aspects of Yoga. Gajatri Studios is trying to make games that are focused on well-being and inspire you to take better care of yourself and Yoga Retreat is the first game that they built with this attitude.
Helsinki-based Appgyver's Prototyper has added Android and iPhone 5 support to their mobile app prototyping product, allowing anyone to quickly get a product up on their phone. We covered Prototyper not that long ago, where designers and developers could upload their wireframes or mockups into Appgyvers web platform, add simple buttons and native features (like a camera), and then spit out very basic app that you can show off on your phone.
Every Monday morning, I have about 40-60 tasks that I need to take care of and that is on a good Monday. Since studies show that you should do the most complicated and difficult ones first, the week starts with figuring out exactly which ones those are. This can be and usually is a daunting and difficult task that can take at least an hour. Thankfully, MorningList solves this problem (and many others) for me. The idea is extremely simple. It is hard for your brain to compare 40 things to one another, but it is very easy when they are paired together. So what MorningList does is allows you to compare tasks to one another and thanks to a clever algorithm, you can do this in just a couple of minutes.
If you have been to Estonian homes, you may have noticed that many of them have a little card-reading device next to their computers. It looks like a bank card reader or a memory card reader or something. To those that don’t know, it may create an illusion that Estonians are all hackers or something. The truth is, this device can read your personal ID card and can be bought very affordably at any Estonian bank. This is legally binding and also confirms your identity. This is why Estonians can easily e-vote, file tax returns, submit company annual reports, sign contracts or even start brand new companies in minutes all from the comfort of their own homes. It removes a whole level of bureaucracy and adds a lot of simplicity to the daily life.
Unfortunately, outside of Estonia this system and the likes of it are not that wide-spread despite the EU Directive on Electronic Signatures that was put in place in December of 1999. This is what Signwise, a Tallinn based company, is trying to achieve by integrating all the possible solutions under one roof. Before we can explain how that is going to happen, let’s take a look at what an Electronic signature really is. You might think that Signwise will have a lot of competition as there are literally hundreds of companies and start-ups that provide an electronic signature solution. For instance in USA it is extremely common to simply attach your scanned signature to documents and it would be legally binding by law.
Editors Note: I sat down for lunch with Anna Bessonova (@Annasnova), former writer at ArcticStartup, currently working at Finland’s PR Agency of the Year – Netprofile. We were talking about the value of proper communications and PR, and this is the guest post that resulted.
Amazingly many just love to trash PR. It’s expensive, its value is hard to measure and it’s not always clear how hiring a PR professional would help your startup. Besides, while people like to influence others, they don’t like the idea of being influenced. That is the double-edged sword that makes PR such a hotly discussed subject.
In the startup context the never-ending debate usually comes down to whether or not Public Relations (or any form of Communications activities) are worth paying for. At the end of the day, most of the communication tools are free, you’ve been on Twitter and Facebook for years and you can easily reach out to a tech blogger through a tweet. Besides, who can better know how to talk about your company than you?
Accel Partners yesterday closed a €367 Million fund to focus on Europe and Israel. With Accel London IV, the firm will invest in early-stage and growth stage companies in the consumer Internet, big data, cloud, SaaS and mobile.
The Nordics are a big focus of Accel's new fund, as they seek to focus on their success with Rovio, Supercell, Spotify, and QlikTech, whose listing on NASDAQ resulted in a return of over $400 million to the Accel fund - one of the largest venture returns in Europe.
If TV was invented today, what would it look like? That's the question posed by Magine, a Stockholm-based startup that's adjusting the TV.
To put it simply, Magine (think: imagine) is a cloud TV operator. And it's about time we got one. That cable going to the back of your box is nothing compared to the wonders of the internet, and instead of leaving you with the functions available to your three-year-old DVR box, Magine can deliver an awesome TV experience through the cloud, allowing you to do live or catch-up TV on your smart TV, smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Helsinki-ish based game studio Cute Attack has launched a new title on iOS entitled Captain Clumsy. Its a pretty cool game. It stars a clumsy pirate (given by hooks on both hands) who drops his gold from the top of the mast. You have to navigate him him down the masts to collect the gold, and avoid the jerk seagulls.
The game is launching with 26 levels, and they say there's lots of replay value. The app is free to play, and is monetizing through power-ups like gull smashers and coin magnets.
All entrepreneurs are gamblers, but building your startup on someone else's platform sets you up to a few more opportunities for systemic risk than the average startup. Stockholm-based Copygram is having fun with Instagram's API with a Instagram web-viewing platform and photo printing service. Now that Instagram is in the browser, Copygram is at an interesting stage of their company.
Copygram launched their web viewer well before Instagram had any native web viewing features, so they were able to build a solid online userbase through a well designed platform. Now that Instagram does give you some browser features, you would think their value proposition would have somewhat diminished. But that doesn't seem to be the case. We hear their web view still sees more than 3,300,000 impressions a month.
It hasn't been too long since we last covered Truecaller, but I love big numbers thrown around in the region, so drink this in. Stockhom-based Truecaller announced today that it sees more than half a billion name and number lookups each month from 13 million users. These user numbers is a pretty sizable jump from the 11 million users they announced just on Valentines day of this year - about a month ago.
Truecaller has apps available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Symbian s40/s60 systems. This wide platform reach has made them popular in India, where most people are on unlisted pre-paid phone numbers that were impossible to keep track of before this new directory was created.
Before we dig into features, we'll quickly start with Lithuania-based project management software Eyelean's backstory, because it's pretty impressive what they've done with four employees. The company started to sell Eylean 2 years ago, but the first version of the software was created it 3-4 years ago. The story goes that the company built it for themselves because they couldn't find anything that fit their needs on the market and after using it for their own work, some people saw it and suggested they try to sell it.
Now it seems they've had plenty of success - they have customers ranging from universities in New Zealand, to IF, Velux, Bupa, L-3 TRL or First Solar, and some weapons manufacturers.
Kippt has realeased a big new update, keeping their bookmarking and indexing services powerful, but presenting your links in a fresh new way.
The first thing you'll notice about the new redesign is how visual it's become. Gone is a bland list of text-based links, instead the new design brings out the images and video stills that make the content you're saving memorable. As they say in their blog announcement, "Storing a link in itself isn’t valuable – it should be the content."
With good news being so easy to write about, it's important to also highlight the startups that made it far, but didn't hit their long-term goals. Balancion, a personal finance management startup from Finland, tells us they are shutting down on the 29th, citing difficulty in attaining and collaborating with business customers.
The startup was founded in 2008 and is owned by the management and a group of private investors. We first covered them in 2009.
“I’m both grateful and wistful as I have to say that we haven’t achieved our business objectives and are thus forced to shut down our online service”, states the Balancion CEO and founder Jussi Muurikainen.
The sun isn't the only thing that's hot in Singapore. A team of Finns at Nonstop Games has raised a €2.2 million round led by Creandum and Lifeline Ventures. With the funding they're continuing their development, and are opening up an office in San Francisco. On top of that, Heroes of Honor, their next game, will launch later this Spring.
Not too many details are shared about the game before it's released, but the game is based in a fantasy world with three different factions fighting for power. Alliances are a big portion of the game - players have to band together and perform real-time coordinated attacks between thousand-of-player armies.
CEO and Co-Founder Juha Paananen tells us that it's slower paced than a desktop Real Time Strategy game, but you can still see and cooperate with other players in real time.
"We played a lot of strategy and RTS games growing up, like Command and Conquer and all those other kinds of games," says Paananen. "When we started we were really excited if you can add something to the genre, because I think it's something that really hasn't evolved on tablets and mobile devices."
Nonstop games has been creating casual HTML5 games, such as Dollar Isle, a city builder and Paint Stars, sort of a Draw Something clone. In their next release they're still using HTML5 as part of their platform, but Paananen tells us that their first focus is the App Store and Google Play stores. When they release the game, they plan to do so simultaneously on both platforms, which should be interesting to watch.
“We’ve been extremely excited about Nonstop Games since our initial investment in 2011 and we think they are building something revolutionary with their new game,” says Petteri Koponen, Lifeline Ventures.
We have recently had the chance to test the Latvian made "Fearless Wheels" at the Tech Chill event in Riga. Fearless Wheels is a motocross mobile racing game that revolves around a story of a boy dreaming to become a motocross superstar, hoping to race at the biggest stadiums in the world. If you are a 70's-80's kid then you might have a very strong nostalgic association with Nintendos's launch title for the NES in 1985 - Excitebike. At least this is the first thing I thought when I started playing, in a good way, it felt good and I wanted to play more.
The first thing that you notice about the game is the production quality, everything feels like it was made by a professional gaming company from the game itself to the fonts and menu design. In fact, many "professional" and long-standing gaming companies overlook this completely. The gameplay is also quite intuitive. It is fair to say that we put the game on our radars at the event.
One of the new things you might have seen on ArcticStartup in the last couple of months is the Flattr button. It's just to the right of this text, you should click it. Ok... read the article first. We've covered them plenty of times in the past, but if you haven't seen our past coverage, they're sort of like a Facebook "like" button, but with real money moving on the button click. We like them because they help monetize content on the web - something we've learned is a little difficult to do.
Malmö-based Flattr's model hasn't become the silver bullet for us, but it's been fun to experiment with. Their model - updated today - makes it as easy as possible to facilitate micropayments with the smallest mental friction. The way it works is users pick a monthly payment into their Flattr account, which becomes the total they can spend. Then, as they browse the web, they can click Flattr buttons (and now basically anything) to send money over to the content creators. At the end of the month, their cash reserve is split equally over all the buttons they've hit.
I've been curious what's happening behind Tunigo since adding it by chance to my Spotify Apps. The app is basically only a playlist directory, and I've been puzzled what's been generating revenue or why someone built it. It's not a hacked-together project - their Spotify and iPhone/Android app looks quite polished, and they offer a large number of professionally curated and user submitted playlists.
Luckily I saw Tunigo has a Swedish flag in the corner, and it's my day job to ask these questions, so I reached out to the company to see what makes them tick.
Your friends and family have the alpha version of your app on their phone, and you've heard nothing but praises about how beautiful it is, and how it's "the next facebook". But are they just picking up your ugly baby and telling you how cute it is? Deep down you know the answer: Yes. Your friends and family have been concerned about you ever since you started on this crazy project of yours, and lord know's they're worried if you can take any more rejection about your UI or crashes.
Luckily there's a new family in town that's painfully honest. Stockholm-based The Beta Family has launched out a nice marketplace for crowdsourcing usability testing on Android and iPhone.
"The main difference about us and other systems is that we are very open. You can always decide which tester you want to pay to test your app," says Axel Nordenström, CEO of The Beta Family. You might pay another service a fixed amount to receive a certain number of testers, but in The Beta Family you can handpick who you think would provide the best feedback.
This week was full of exciting news and brand new startups from the region. Perhaps its because summer is almost here and everybody is trying to launch something great before the good weather hits (the whole one week of it). First, StartHQ launched a business web app directory that uses creative metrics to rank and suggest apps. This caused quite a lively discussion on Hacker News.
This was good to see, but just two days later a bookmarking start-up Dragdis rocked the popularity charts of ArcticStartup, trying to kill our servers with traffic (To no avail). Once again, ArcticStartup was on the top of Hacker News for the whole day. What we did not expect, however is to be there once again the day after with the Tictail news. The ArcticStartup region is definitely gaining popularity and international traction.
I finally 'get' Breakit, the Finnish app that came into Helsinki consciousness at last year's Summer of Startups. To be fair, it is a location-based social app, and lord knows those were played out a few years ago. But Breakit isn't social in the sense that they've slapped a Facebook login onto GPS. Instead they've built a photo sharing service built completely around location.
"Location is the relevant information, so if someone takes a picture at your school or work and says something, you might want to know about it," says Sebastian Schroderus, co-founder of Breakit. So pulling up the app, you just get a stream of everything - lunches, teenagers posing, and drunks on the bus. It's kind of cool - it's the culture and people around you, not necessarially your friends, but maybe that girl you've passed nearly every day on your way home.