When you think about it, with all the buzz about PISA scores it's a surprise that you don't see more Finnish startups in the educational field. Finland's success comes down more to good old-fashioned teaching more than technological advancement, but Finland has a nice brand to be capitalized on.
That's not to say Finnish education startups don't exist. Helsinki-based 10Monkeys is one such example that has an e-learning product designed to get 6-10 year olds crunching math using scientifically confirmed approaches to learning. The company is seeing some growth as well - they've announced a Commercial Partnership agreement with a Saudi Arabian distributor at the IEFE 2013 educational fair in Riyadh in late February.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Natalie Gaudet
In 2011, I was prompted to write an article about the situation of female entrepreneurs. I wrote the article being fed up of being asked the same question countless of times, “where are all the women entrepreneurs”
I wanted to revisit the topic as I feel like the situation has changed tremendously in the last couple of years. I am happy to say that I have seen an influx of women entrepreneurs in our scene.
Numbers are rising
In fact, if we compare, we are doing so much better than the United States. We have estimated that 7 % are women technology founders in this region- (this figure was taken from the Startup Sauna applications.) As opposed to only 3% in the United States (entering American Seed Accelerators).
Spotify has released is web player as a public Beta in the UK, now allowing you to pull up Spotify on your lame office computer or at your friend's house - wherever you've got the internet but the client isn't installed. This added functionality puts them in more direct competition with all the web playing giants, like Denmark's Rdio, Rhapsody, and Grooveshark.
The app is nice to look at, but some notable features are missing - such as apps, playlist grouping, and social features. Much of the navigation and UI is hidden in pop-up boxes, which feel different from Google or Facebook's smoother navigation, but is easy enough to use.
If you were thinking about moving to Denmark to set up a company, you now have an interesting program to apply to. LaunchPad Denmark is a new government sponsored accelerator program designed for entrepreneurs within or outside of the European Union to get set up in Denmark get professional coaching and training, access to capital, cash prizes, sponsorships, and access to Denmark's entrepreneurial community.
Starting March 18 participants can register for the competition and upload their business plans, video pitches and give information about their motivation to come to Denmark. In total, 30 entrepreneurs will be selected.
Editor's note: This article came about on a trip to Murcia, Spain sponsored by INFO Murcia. Find out more tomorrow.
The promise of the internet revolution was that your company instantly has access to every market. While that's true in many respects, there is still friction, uncertainty, and perhaps some boots-on-the-ground time needed before a successful launch in a new country. Just over a week ago I was in Murcia Spain with some Finnish ICT entrepreneurs, where I got a chance to talk to them at this point right as some of them were making their first business footing broad.
It was interesting watching these entrepereneurs ask questions about the best places to hire talent, where to get office space, who to partner with locally, and so on. There are obstacles to overcome - if you're actually setting up a foregin office you have to learn a lot of things from scratch again.
Elisa announced that they have launched Elisa Lompakko in Finland, which is basically an online wallet that you can put money into using a bank transfer. Once you have the money in the account, you can either create virtual credit cards to be used for online payments or put money into your purse which can later be used together with MasterCard Paypass NFC based sticker.
Now, having lived in Estonia, I can go on about the state of the banking industry in Finland for hours. For instance how the paper based passwords without a master password is a security vulnerability. Or how I am used to an e-bank that calculates my expenditure automatically and provides me with a general break-down of what I spend my money on. But perhaps the feature I miss the most are virtual credit cards. They are safe, expendable and you can set the expiration date to be in just a month so as not to get caught into subscription based payments for years to come.
On Thursdays we're going to try to get out of the office and work someplace different. We're sick and tired of staring at the wall in front of us, and realistically all we need is a laptop and hot coffee to get work done. The idea then progressed that we should let people know where we're working from so other entrepreneurs equally bored of the wall in front of them have an excuse to invent internets somewhere else.
Microsoft Owes Denmark $1 Billion While Google, Facebook And Others Do Everything They Can To Avoid Taxes
In the recent news it was uncovered that Microsoft owes Denmark 5.8 billion Danish Crowns (Around $1.015 Billion) in back taxes as a result of Microsoft’s acquisition of Navision in 2002.
According to the Danish tax authorities, following the acquisition, the Navision’s money making assets were sold to Microsofts Irish subsidiary below market value. That company is in turn owned by companies in Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. Which is why Microsoft is often targeted by tax authorities worldwide, as their network of affiliated companies worldwide makes it extremely easy for them to channel profits into tax havens where the corporate tax is virtually non-existent.
Editorial note: This post is part of a series of posts in collaboration with Lappeenranta University of Technology to promote their expertise and tools in commercialising research based innovations.
MeVEA Oy is definitely an interesting spinoff company from the Lappeenranta University of Technology. The company has spun off from the university based on innovative research done in the field of 3D simulation technologies. To be more specific, the technology is focused on industrial cranes and simulating new prototypes as well as training scenarios for crane operators. We talked to Heikki Handroos, currently a professor in machine automation at Lappeenranta University of Technology.
One of the startup jokes is, "We only need to get 1% of the Chinese market and we'll be millionaires..." but all joking aside, how would you do so? Today at the LAUNCH festival Helsinki-based Transfluent is releaseing Sina Weibo (think: Chinese Twitter) support, letting brands hit new markets effortlessly by letting Transfluent's army of translators provide near real-time translation. Three unlikely player's came together last week thanks to some innovative marketing and access to new markets.
Tallinn and London-based Transferwise has added debit card integration, making it easier to speed up the process of sending money abroad at low cost. Previously the process was two steps, where customers had to send money to Transferwise through their own bank, but now customers can add credit card details manually into the website - speeding up the process.
If you're a project manager or designer trying to sell an app concept to your customers, you've probably learned a customer's reaction to a concept is completely different when it's just a few pictures on a presentation screen or if it's a functional app they can test out for themselves. Interactive marketing is always better, so that's what Helsinki and San Francisco-based AppGyver is offering with their new product, Prototyper.
Developers or designers just have to upload their existing wireframes, mockups, or photoshop images online to the AppGyver Prototyper. The service then allows you to add buttons to the place where you drew them, and give them basic functionality like moving back and forth through screens, using transition animations, or even take advantage of native hardware features, like the camera.
Last week we covered that The Pirate Bay is moving to Spain and Norway, but the Norwegian end of the deal apparently fell through. Geir Aaslid, the head of the Norwegian Pirate Party, put out a statement on Pastebin saying that they could not keep up the financial end of hosting the site.
So last night the news hit last night that the popular BitTorrent site has moved their servers to North Korea. Yes, that North Korea. There are so many weird angles to this story that myself - along with the rest of the internet - am unable to completely wrap my head around the logic of this move, and how it will affect the geo-political copyright landscape in the future.
You may have already heard that Starttaamo is making some noise over in Oulu, Finland. For a small startup organisation, they are doing remarkably well. Their members have raised a total of 20-25 million EUR, out of which over 10 million EUR comes from non-public sources.
This is especially impressive, considering that Oulu is a small town of 150 000 inhabitants located just 160 kilometers away from the Arctic Circle. We can only guess that this is where the perfect Finnish combination of dire colds, a lot of beer and hot saunas works best. Alternatively it can be Starttaamo’s entrepreneurial spirit, “can do” attitude and no government funding allowed policy, that is helping them achieve these results.
How active are you every day? As the old adage goes, you can't improve what you can't measure, but the new buzz around Helsinki is for Moves - an iPhone app that does a whole lot more than your basic pedometer. Rather than just tracking how much your phone shakes, it helps you understand the types of activity you do in your day-to-day life. Your data is then visualized on a daily storyline that shows where you've walked, cycled, or run to, and well as where you camped out at. The app was launched a little over a month ago, and so far has seen a little over a million downloads.
"The main idea is that it should be really simple and effortless," says Sampo Karjalainen, the Designer CEO behind Moves. "So compared to all those sports tracker devices like Nike Fuel Band or the Finnish sports trackers, they're really good at one run or cycling event, but you have to remember to turn it on, and to stop it. And they also use GPS all the time. So if you go on a long walk, the battery is empty in like five hours."
Well folks, we forgot to get to it last Friday, so here's a Monday Morning update with the roundup of the jobs and events you were eagerly waiting for all last week. Top image is from Helsinki's Startup Sauna's kickoff on Friday, which drew over 500 to the Startup Sauna space.
Startupbootcamp shared some very sensitive and secret data with us that helps us understand how the selection process and the accelerator in general works, who tends to apply and which industries tend to be the most popular.
Let us begin with how exactly people tend to find accelerators and according to the data, the most popular method by far remains the search engine followed by direct approach and social media.
However given the fact that they get around 400 applications it would be interesting to see and compare the quality of applications depending of the source. Are the search engine based applications just driving volume while the referrals from the alumni are where the true quality hides? If so, would it make sense to get acquainted with the alumni and try to apply thanks to their referral or perhaps find an angel investor or a mentor in the program and apply through them?
To consumers HeiaHeia seems like a consumer product - you see friends sharing their runs and workouts through the service, and the product feels like a social B2C product. But as we wrote last summer, HeiaHeia's business model is targeted towards companies and organizations that wish to proactively lower their healthcare and insurance costs by encouraging more active lifestyles.
For companies like HeiaHeia that have some sort of B2C angle but are doing B2B sales, Raisanen says is important to understand that is that a lot of the things that work on the B2C side doesn't apply to B2B. It's a tricky situation to be in. The service they provide is very dependent on the individual getting excited about it, but at the same time it's a B2B purchasing decision.
Here is a story and startup advice from Zendesk, a “startup” from Denmark that has over 25 000 enterprise customers, serving over 100 million people which has raised over $85 million dollars in VC money and has possible plans for IPO this year.
At this years Arctic15, organized by ArcticStartup, Mikkel Svane shared an amazing story of how the company was started over wine and cigarettes The presentation is filled with inspiration from the Zendesk journey that also aims to provide you with some insight of how to build your own startup. Svane also shares his thoughts on the megatrends in the industry as well as the key principles that you can apply to your startup. Without further adieu here is the video:
Here's a little bit of news that gives us a chance to talk about one of the biggest advertising platforms coming out of the region. Videoplaza has partnered with Brightcove to bring HTML5 video monetization support to Vidoplaza's video ad managament platform. They point out that in the past year, viewership of ad-supported, rights-managed video content on smartphones increased nearly eight times, and tablets have become the go-to mobile devices for viewing episodic video content.
We haven't covered Videoplaza in about a year, but they're one of the big ones. In February of 2012 they raised $12 million from Qualcomm Ventures and Innovacom for their sell side ad management platform used to monetise video across PCs, mobile devices, tablets, game consoles, IPTV and Smart TVs. Videoplaza is now headquartered in London with development in Stockholm.