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.
Today Stockholm-based Tictail became a story of tens. They've now hit 10,000 stores in 10 months, and count ten employees on their payroll. This growth is a sign that their hypothesis of becoming the "Tumblr of e-commerce" is working for them by making their platform completely free to use, beautiful, and dead simple to set up.
"We're not talking registered accounts, we're talking real online stores," says Carl Waldekranz, CEO of Tictail. "We also just brought out an interesting figure here. In the first quarter of 2013 our stores have sold as much as they did in the entire of 2012. And the thing to remember here is that is including the Christmas sales of 2012."
All the cool kids are editing their photos with Instagram filters and whatnot, but there's definitely room in the smartphone photo editing space more than the 'Amaro' photo filter. Helsinki-based Sumoing (creators of Sumopaint) has released Repix, a new app that lets users iPhone and iPad users select a photo and edit it more 'artistic' filters than your standard app.
The app is free to download, and brushes offered by the app include Cartoonize, Silk, Dotter, Edger and Posterize. Other, perhaps cooler brushes like "Van Gogh" run in packs of four that cost €1.79. I, myself, am not a huge fan of "drip" paintbrushes and lens flares, but I'm likely not their target audience. Regardless it's definitely fun to paint around and go crazy with pictures with your finger.
Kiosked has now essentially spearheaded its expansion to U.S. e-commerce sellers through a new partnership with EYEMAGINE - a Magento 'Gold Solution' partner. Even though not everyone in Europe might be too familiar with the Magento e-commerce ecosystem, the impact of this partnership is a pretty big deal for Kiosked. Magento is the globally largest e-commerce platform with over 20% market-share in stores.
"We have been working closely with several Magento Solution Partners who build web-stores for brands. Via a Kiosked extension for Magento their customers can now seamlessly import their products into Kiosked. I am excited to see more and more brands turning their content smart with us", says Kiosked’s Partner Manager Jaakko Iso-Järvenpää who explained the details and background of the partnership to us.
Editor's Note: This post is part of a partnership with International VC Zone
With nearly 100 companies participating or exhibiting, Finland and the Baltic States clearly made a lot of noise at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year, the worlds largest exhibition for the mobile industry. The companies from the region clearly demonstrated that this is an important location for everybody, especially investors to be interested in.
As Michael Jackson, former COO of Skype and currently the general partner of Mangrove Capital Partners told Arcticstartup: "This year's MWC was huge! The new venue is massive, and I would say it needs a year to settle down."
Nokia is no longer the single focus point and there are many others that are making a dent in the market thanks to an abundance of talent and strong entrepreneurial spirit. This creates the perfect ingredients for companies that are aiming to conquer the global market. Companies from the region do so through breakthrough innovation and an understanding that in order to be a global player, they need to think big right from the start.
Adding more connectivity to presentations is an obvious trend to embrace - we can do a lot better these days than the same technology offered by MS PowerPoint '95. One such startup is Presefy, located way up in Oulu, Finland, but made a splash here in Helsinki when participating in the Startup Sauna Spring 2012 program. Since then they've rebuilt much of the code, offering a clean presentation tool that keeps you and your audience in sync.
The way it works is pretty simple. You upload your presentation into Presefy, and when you're ready to present, you navigate to the presentation on your phone and select. You then have a URL you can display the slides on a projector or share the code with the audience so they can follow along on their devices.
The main problem with most bookmarking tools is that you either need to do a lot of actions to save anything or you end up with a huge clutter later. Dragdis solves all this by allowing you to drag and drop links, images, videos and text to folders that appear on the right side of your browser the moment you start dragging something. With two full days of Dragdis behind me, I am a very happy user as links and smaller pieces of content ar organized and easily shareable.
To the average person that tracks their physical activity on HeiaHeia, the service feels like a nice B2C product. That's great they have the consumer appeal, but behind the scenes HeiaHeia has been greatly expanding their B2B product where they help companies encourage corporate wellness to lower healthcare costs. Today HeiaHeia announces they've hit more than 100 corporate customers in 12 countries, a sign that things have really been picking up for the Helsinki-based company.
"We are clearly seeing a shift in the market - 100 companies, including several blue-chip multinationals, have chosen to take their wellness programs online. We believe this is just the start - we're going to continue on our chosen strategy to make employee wellness more fun and effective with modern, approachable technology" says Jussi Raisanen, HeiaHeia's CEO and Co-Founder of HeiaHeia.
Editor's Note: This is a sponsored post for UK Trade & Investment
Startups in the region tend to go through a sort-of life cycle where they start from their home base, but as soon as they experience growth there is usually a pressure to expand to other countries and territories.
This pressure is often fueled by the need to enter new markets, find new talent, get connections to investors or to become a more global player. Many companies want to go to the Silicon Valley but it is usually a distant leap that requires considerable preparation and capital investments. Thankfully there is a good alternative that many companies from the region have utilized and some even incorporated there to begin with - the London based Tech City.
When you go to a museum, you know you gotta get the audio guide. The Museum experience so much deeper when you have your personal guide, but it's quite silly these museums offer physical audio guide devices when nearly everyone has a huge amount of processing power in their pocket. A group of Swedish students has been bringing more technology into museums through their startup, AudioApps, based in Lund and Stockholm.
The idea behind AudioApps came when two of the founders, CEO Klas Moldeus and CTO Ludwig Lejon taking guides of art museums through a local art society that arranged guided tours. "We understood there is such a big difference when you have a guide with you, and when you don't. When we didn't have a guide we didn't understand anything - or at least we didn't. We are engineering students," says Moldeus.
Yesterday we talked about how Copenhagen-based Foap is crowdsourcing mobile photographers to take images for brands, and compared it to Helsinki-based Scoopshot. In yesterday's world, it seemed that Scoopshot was continuing to focus on crowdsourcing photography for breaking news, while Foap looked like it would take over the "extracurricular" space, but the market may be more crowded than that.
We received word that Scoopshot is being leveraged by Oxfam to crowdsource a music video for Coldplay, which suggests a more "general purpose" use for Scoopshot's platform.
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.
Ever want to invest in startups? We've got another awesome roundup of projects coming out of the Nordics that you can invest in. In addition to companies on Invesdor crowdfunding platform, we now are also bringing you startups companies from FundedByMe.
And remember, these projects are 'equity crowdfunded' companies looking for investment, which we're lucky to offer. Compared to Kickstarter, which gives you things like t-shirts or pre-orders in return for donations, with these equity crowdfunding platforms you're actually investing in these companies and receive shares in the company in return. In the U.S. people are getting excited about the JOBS act making equity crowdfunding legal for U.S. companies, but the Nordic countries are ahead of the game.
Have you ever been confused about what web apps to use for your project? Even someone like myself, who writes about web applications all day long, stares cluelessly into Google when faced a problem where there should be an obvious online solution. But Helsinki-based StartHQ is a new web app directory and browser home-page replacement that aides in finding the best app for you to get your job done, by categorizing apps, making them easier to search for, and making them easy to find again once you've signed up for them.
"This is a recurring problem, as I found while working for a number of startups and coaching at Startup Sauna," says Oleg Podsechin, behind StartHQ. "For example it took us a few weeks and multiple conference calls to identify the right web app to handle Startup Sauna warmup submissions."
Start-ups’ have a high need for all kinds of publicity and media coverage but they generally avoid paid advertising channels. Instead they focus on their own and earned channels. This is no surprise considering typical start-ups’ limited marketing budgets. Conversely, they still value traditional media coverage, especially newspaper coverage.
The infographic findings are based on a summary of six case studies of start-up companies’ media purchasing patterns. Idean prepared the study with Project Manager and Doctoral candidate Timo Ketonen from Åbo Akademi University.
Brands are always looking for new and exciting ways to interact with fans, and Malmö-based Foap is leveraging their crowdsourced stock photo platform to run photo 'missions' for brands. The idea makes a lot of sense. Brands need new content all the time for marketing material, and a crowdsourced contest helps generate excitement and interaction.
As we've covered in the past, Foap is the next generation of a stock photo site, where anyone can submit their iPhone photography, tag it, and make it available for purchase. All photos then run for $10 to license, where the revenue is then split 50/50 between the photographer and Foap.
If you're reading this, you're probably not at Mobile Dev Camp in Helsinki - the 'Mobile World Congress' of Helsinki, if you will. The talks have been really interesting and entertaining so far, so you missed out. But there's still a chance to get a bit of the buzz. Later tonight they're throwing an afterparty at Tiger and have grabbed the VIP area with plenty of free drinks. MDC attendees and friends going to be the only ones there for the first hour, so come out and feel like you own the place.
Like all things in life there's a catch - you have to download the Night People Group app to get entrance. So, go to this website, download the app. and then register as a member on the app. The most important step is as you're registering, be sure to select Mobile Dev Camp as the venue (ravintolat). And then bam, you get your entrance ticket to the VIP.
Thanks to everyone who showed up at Johto yesterday for our "Nomadic Coworking" We didn't get a ton of articles out, but we focused on the business end made some awesome connections that really got us thinking. That was half the point, but we'll have more articles ready for you next week. If anyone has some suggestions of where to meet up next, let us know this weekend, and we'll announce the decision on Monday.