Even though this blog post will most likely be a feeble attempt in covering the importance and the effect of Steve Blank's visit to Finland and the region last week - I'll still have an attempt at it. Last week was packed full of action and discussion where Steve Blank talked not only with entrepreneurs but politicians, MPs and academia. He also upped entrepreneurship a few notches on the editorial importance for some of Finland's newspapers as he talked to a group of editors-in-chief (including us) why entrepreneurship is of vital importance to nations' success.
Steve Blank was visiting Finland last week to promote the importance of a working entrepreneurial ecosystem to the region. I have a feeling his visit will go down in one of those turning points in history for this part of the world. Not only did he incite more flames into the "Finnish spring" as he referred to the entrepreneurial revolution taking place in Finland, but he did so in a manner that politicians, mainstream media and academics can understand.
Apologies to our regular readers for covering our Arctic15 event quite excessively recently, but the closer to it we get - the better we think it'll be! In addition to this, we wanted to let everyone know that we're sure that the event will be sold out by the end of this week. We've got only 40+ tickets left. Just during last week, we registered more than 100 tickets in a few days.
Audiodraft, the Finnish audio crowdsourcing service (and startup by the same name) has landed a major partnership with Nokia to remake the hugely popular Nokia Tune. The most liked tunes on the Audiodraft page are actually very good and I'd seriously be thinking of using one for my iPhone.
Arctic15 is less than two weeks away. We've worked with multiple different organisations to spice up the week and it seems it's full of interesting startup action for everyone. In this post, we've covered the different events and activities taking place that week. We'll also link to this post from the Arctic15 website and update this accordingly.
September's recruiting partner here at ArcticStartup is Blaast. Blaast is a very talented company innovating in the space of mobile and looking for exceptional people to work with them. Their offering is very interesting, so if you fit their open job descriptions I strongly suggest you contact the company for more information and apply. Check our coverage on the company earlier this year, when they raised financing.
After leading Sulake for 10 years, Timo Soininen, steps down from the position of CEO and joins the board of directors, according to a Sulake press release. The board of directors has named Paul LaFontaine the new CEO. He was previously the vice president for Global Distribution at Disney Playdom. Timo Soininen has effectively taken the company from a small startup in the turn of the millenium to a multi-million euro business globally. Sulake is famous for its Habbo Hotel, online social community for teens. This March we reported on Sulake's revenues growing more than 20% from 2009 to 2010.
The programme to Arctic15 is now out. It can be seen below and also on the event website. Basically the event kicks off at 9 and continues most likely until 6pm with possible delays to the schedule. In addition to the day programme - we'll have an awesome after party where we'll announce the winner of the Arctic15 competition. This of course means that it will be a full day of startup awesomeness! Do check out the conference programme below and purchase your tickets if you already haven't done so. The earlier you purchase them, the bigger chance you'll have that we'll have the time to print your badge in a proper way and make sure you have lunch! Actually we'll have lunch for everyone, but we'd really appreciate you buying the tickets as early as possible.
It's been a tough run up to the Arctic15 conference for startups competing for the chance to pitch on stage. The finalists have now been chosen by the secret jury and they are listed below. Close to 100 companies applied to the competition by the end of July and over the course of August 33 companies made the so called semi-finals and from those, 15 companies came out on top as finalists. The 15 finalists were chosen from video pitches the companies made. This is for two reasons. First, we wanted the companies to have good products and secondly, they would also have to be good in selling and explaining those products.
Tampere is definitely one of Finland's start-up hubs, thanks to the New Factory. The entity was created in 2008 out of frustration with regional cooperation (or lack thereof). 'There was too much talk and paperwork going on between innovation programs and various institutions in the region', shares Jukka Matikainen, Program Director. 'We wanted to create sustainable cooperation between all those partners through concrete projects'. That is how the New Factory's programs were founded. Last time we reviewed Demola, an innovation platform for students and companies. This time in focus are New Factory's start-up oriented programs: Protomo and StartupStairs.
While this isn't exactly startup related news per se, it relates to entrepreneurship very closely. Furthermore, it's quite Finland centric, but I apologise for that, but I feel it applies to other countries in the region as well. Yesterday, one of the large paper machine companies in Finland, UPM-Kymmene, announced that it will shut down its Myllykoski factory in Kouvola. This will effectively cut the region of another 645 jobs. This is a lot for city of 88 000 that has also seen the loss of some 900 jobs through previous paper factory closures in the area. It's a difficult issue on a national level, but a very tragic issue on a personal level for those who lose their jobs.
Uusi Tehdas (New Factory) is situated in the very heart of Tampere. The building is full of history: founded in 1835 it used to be a cotton factory and the biggest industrial building in the whole country. Today it's the local center of innovation and start-ups. Instead of old engine rooms, the New Factory has four programs that help students, entrepreneurs and innovators put their ideas into practice: Demola, Protomo, Suuntamo and StartupStairs.
Demola attracts students from all the universities in the area to gain study credits by building demo products for projects. Protomo helps creating start-ups by matchmaking talents, building prototypes and developing business ideas. Suuntaamo gathers a community of users from various backgrounds who are willing to test new products and give feedback. Finally, StartupStairs is an evolving program that helps most potential companies that come out of Demola and Protomo to get funded and expand to new markets.
Editor's note: This is a cross-post from the Steve Blank visits Finland -website. His visit and the awesome agenda for the week is made possible with the help of AaltoES, Tekes, Sitra, Teknologiateollisuus and others. Original text by Kalpana Shah.
Steve Blank is that rare combination of successful entrepreneur and inspiring teacher who’s also an insightful writer. His writings define, explain and predict trends that are sweeping the entrepreneurial world. Customer Development, Agile Development, the Lean Startup, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Business Model Generation are all terms for methodologies that can actually help startups get on in life.
Tero Ojanperä (pictured left), a member of the Nokia Leadership Team, will be leaving the company. Forget all the drama that you always affiliate with top executives changing jobs - this sounds really good actually. Ojanperä will be actually moving to work as a partner with Vision+, an investment fund that will be investing into mobile applications to foster the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem.
According to the press release, Ojanperä has built a long career inside Nokia, 21 years to be exact. Ojanperä has been working as the Executive Vice President of Services will leave the company at the end of September.
Microsoft Student Partners is a great way for students to get involved in the world of technology and services during their studies. The Microsoft sponsored program gives students possibilities to get acquainted with Microsoft technology, services and also meet interesting people in their events. I talked to some students at the Microsoft stand in Assembly 2011 -event held in early August to get their insight into the way they see the program.
Startups, today's the last day to sign-up for Arctic15's Startup-VC matchmaking day on September 23rd. The event will be held at Innopoli 2 from 9am to 1pm. So far we've received interest from tens of startups around the region, but would naturally like to offer this out to as many startups as possible (there are no prerequisites). All you have to make sure is that you'll be in Helsinki for the event if you're among the chosen companies.
The Wooden Labyrinth 3D was one of the more popular Finnish mobile apps before the arrival of Angry Birds from Rovio. To this date, Wooden Labyrinth has been downloaded some 10+ million times. The app was developed in 2009 by Elias Pietilä in February 2009. We've covered Elias Pietilä before when he ran into problems with a game called Pajazzo with the Finnish Moneygaming Association (RAY). We talked to Pietilä about the success of the game.
Since the launching of the game, it has generated a couple of hundred thousand euros for Pietilä. In the beginning of 2009 the game was immediately being sold for a few hundred euros a day. After giving out the free version of the game, the paid version improved sales as well.
Scoopshot is a service by a Helsinki, Finland based startup PS2 Media Group Inc that changes the way media companies work with photos. It's a lot said, but I'm willing to back it up as a person running a media company myself. In all simplicity, Scoopshot makes smartphone owners photographers for media companies. Users can take newsworthy photos and send them to the service through the Scoopshot mobile app and sell them at a set price. Journalists writing stories can purchase the photos at the price the photographer has set. If they wish to purchase the exclusive right to use the photo, they pay ten times the set price. I talked with Petri Rahja and Jussi Liimatainen about the service and what the company is up to.
Slidefy is a new Finnish service that targets a niche need with their offering. In essence, it's a slide sharing solution, but targeted at conference organisers and the like. Slidefy will work in such a way that conference organisers collect attendees' e-mails before the event and send them a link to the material the speaker has provided in advance. Then, during the presentation, users can focus on the actual presentation and not jot down points the speaker makes.
Arctic15, the one day conference that will see 21 international speakers on stage in Helsinki, Finland talking entrepreneurship and startups, is less than a month away. Now's a very good time to buy those tickets and confirm your attendance (you're also helping us by letting know of your arrival well in advance!).
I talked to Supercell's CEO Ilkka Paananen on where the company stands today and a little about their future plans as well. Supercell is a hot Finnish gaming company that closed a $12 million series A from Accel in May. We covered the company in February initially and it's come incredibly far since then. Supercell employs some 40 people in two locations and its Gunshine game has shown some incredible traction.
Hopeinen Norsu (Finnish for Silver Elephant) is a Finnish company developing a service called Snipbase. Snipbase is a sort of a scrapbook for ads. This means internet users can click and save interesting ads and companies through online ads, for example, to Snipbase's database and come back to later see what exactly the company had to offer. Not only does it work online, the company tells us the service will work with print ads as well.
Fluid Interaction is a Finnish tech startup working to innovate in the space of user interfaces. We covered the company back in April as they released Different Tack, a new way to view one's Twitter stream. Today they announced the company won Nokia's Calling All Innovator's Social Media category with their Different Tack app. This resulted in $150 000 as a cash prize.
We're extremely thrilled to announce that Felix Petersen is coming to Arctic15! Felix founded a successful location based startup, one of the first that got global traction in 2006 and grew it until 2008 when it got sold to Nokia. After that, he spent a few years at Nokia Nokia working at various positions until heading back into the wild to work on his next startup - Amen.
Amen is a startup in stealth mode and not a lot of it is known. However, it is reported that Ashton Kutcher together with Madonna's manager (and Index Ventures) have invested around $2 million into this Berlin based venture.
I had the opportunity to talk to Jaan Apajalahti, the CTO and co-founder of Sopima, a company changing the way people work on contracts. Instead of passing around documents in e-mails and having a ton of different versions saved locally, Sopima allows companies and different parties to work on contracts in a much faster way by keeping them in a central location. More interestingly for the other founders and entrepreneurs out there, Sopima is built on Microsoft technology - Silverlight as well as Windows Azure.
The Finnish manufacturer and designer of touch based large screens, Multitouch, has secured a 2 million euro investment from the Finnish Industry Investment and Veritas Pension Insurance. The investment will be used to speed up the company's sales and marketing efforts including their international operations. Previous investors, founders and seed fund Vera will continue as owners in the company as well.
The company was founded in 2007 and has received a good start ever since. Earlier this year we covered the company as it designed the Twitter wall for CES. According to the press release, Multitouch has currently clients in 40 countries.
A Finnish startup by the name of GoAct, has released a new way to organise your days activities. Plango is a social, mobile calendar app that changes the way we think about our traditional calendars. Not in the sense that it completely changes it, but more like adds a useful social approach to it all. If you think about it, the most advanced features embedding social in calendar applications has been the possibility to invite attendees and share events - something many would consider seriously outdated in comparison to the advances we're seeing elsewhere. Plango tackles this challenge head on, in an interesting manner.
Arctic15 is getting close and we're getting very excited. For a couple of reasons actually. First of all, this will be the biggest event we've pulled together in a long time. In addition to that, we're going to have very high quality startups in the final, not to mention the speakers we have. We're going to announce the last speaker this week, but trust us - it's going to be hot. So for these, and a ton of other reasons - if you're thinking of coming, please book your ticket today. The summer special sale will end August 19th (or as long as tickets are available).
Nokia's been pretty good at pulling off stunts here and there with their devices. However, this one deserves a special mention. The film itself (embedded below) looks pretty normal and is a short story about a sailor. But only towards the end do you begin to understand the sheer size of the whole setup. Do take a minute or two to watch the making of video as well, it's embedded below the actual stop-motion animation itself. For the record, the phone used in the filming was a Nokia N8.
We're starting a new partnership with Microsoft, as of this month, to discuss how startups are using Microsoft technology to take themselves further. The series is titled Microsoft Bizspark: Hear It From The Startups. Also, just like in the case of Nokia, we're looking to bring you information and content you haven't heard from anywhere else. We're thrilled to have Microsoft working with us! If you have any feedback or thoughts on what you'd want to hear about Microsoft and possibly how they work with startups, don't hesitate to get in touch with us at email@example.com.
Sami Inkinen is perhaps one of the most successful Finnish born entrepreneurs in the Valley. He is the co-founder and Chairman of Board at Trulia, a real-estate service helping people find homes. He gave a talk last week at Aalto Entrepreneurship Society's event and shared some of his advice and experience as an entrepreneur. I was present at the event and I have to say it was one of the best ones I've seen in a long time.
Link: AaltoES Talk With Sami Inkinen (vimeo.com).