Tickets are now available (here) to our 6th pan-regional event taking place in Stockholm, in the Obaren (map) on the 2nd April from 6pm to 9pm. The evening’s theme will be startups and the future of mobile. Come and hear what's hot in mobile, where we are going, what's in store for the future and where does the biggest opportunities for mobile startups lie.
Make sure you'll show up if you get a ticket (they are free!), or you'll end up on our black list which means there's no coming to our events in the future. SOLD OUT!
ArcticStartup will be hosting its 6th pan-regional event in Stockholm, in the Obaren (map) on the 2nd April from 6pm to 9pm. The evening’s theme will be startups and the future of mobile which is as topical it gets now when iPhone is pushing the industry forward in everything it does, bloggy.se is gaining ground from Jaiku across the region and Spotify is busy building its mobile version. Come and hear what's where we are going, what's in store for the future and where does the biggest opportunities for mobile startups lie.
Just as before, the structure of the evening will take into account the wishes of participants from earlier events. We have been asked to leave more time for networking, but have a solid panel in middle. Thus, we will have one panel with industry heavy weights and the rest of the evening will be left for networking and discussions between participants. Each panel participant will have a chance to introduce themselves before the panel.
They say best things in life are free and so is ArcticEvening (watch a short video on the event here), but we will still have a sign-up system to the event, which we will be opening on the 16th March at 9am (GMT+1 ie. Swedish local time) . Without exceptions, the tickets have sold out extremely fast, so make sure you are here to get your ticket. We are able to host the event free of charge for participants due to our wonderful sponsors. Our sponsors are presented below.
Morris Packer, The Bonnier Group
Morris Packer, born 1962 i New York and living in Europe since 1968, continues to cross borders. With more than 15 years within the media industry he has closely followed the evolution from desk top publishing to the mobile web. With a slightly Faustian relationship to technology he loves print and always has a new gadget to show. Since April Fools Day 2004 he runs the department of Bonnier Mobile Services that provides know-how and technology to all brands within The Bonnier Group.
Teemu Kurppa, Co-founder, Huikea / Ex-Jaiku (Google)
Teemu Kurppa is the co-fouder of Huikea, a mobile startup still in a stealth mode. Before co-founding his own startup he was part of the founding team of Jaiku, a microblogging service that was acquired by Google in 2007. After leaving Google last fall Teemu came back to Finland to found Huikea that he now runs. Teemu is an experienced mobile developer having over 6 years experience of developing end-user mobile applications.
More panelists will be announced in due course.
Our event is made available by our Sponsors. Do take time to get to know them - they are one of the most interesting organisations in the industry. We hand pick our sponsors to bring value to the evenings - these guys are truly worth your time.
Sombiz is a Social Media Business Network of Finnish social media & Web 2.0 companies, research institutions, and other organisations and individuals operating in the field of social media.
Sombiz provides a network for organisations to collaborate, learn from each other, and create partnerships. By connecting business with research Sombiz is stimulating the creation of new innovations. The ultimate goal for Sombiz is to find new business opportunities and help companies to grow and go international.
Sombiz operates as a thematic network of the Finnish Digibusiness Cluster and is a part of the government funded Centre of Expertise Programme (OSKE). In 2008 the building of the Sombiz network was selected as the national “OSKE Top Project”. The project is funded by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
The background organisation of Sombiz is Technology Centre Hermia Ltd.
Sombiz is a Finnish-based network operating internationally. The strategy of Sombiz is a “BUGC” approach: linking Business, Universities, Government, and Communities in order to build and boost the social media business ecosystem.
Hammarström Puhakka Partners
Hammarström Puhakka Partners, Attorneys Ltd is a law firm specialised in business law. The firm has a good corporate practice with experienced M&A advisers acting constantly for domestic and cross-border clients. Specialists provide M&A services to public and private companies relating to assignments concerning private equity and venture capital transactions. The firm is constantly involved with complex transactions in connection with private equity firms and experienced in advising private equity/venture capital investors in divesting their investments.
Dimest, a Stockholm-based startup, has provided a music store solution using which ABBA has released their entire song library online for people to buy directly from ABBA's official web site. Soon the purchases can also be made on blogs and social media sites like Facebook, as Dimest's solution is based on a music store widget which everybody can copy and place on the website of their choice. This way Dimest allows artists to sell their music without middlemen directly to their fans. Through the widget it is possible for example to browse albums, listen to samples of tracks, and watch music videos. What about the most important question? Yes, DRM-free 320kbs MP3. Try it out yourself, I grabbed the ABBA one and placed it here (purchases only enabled in Sweden so far, though):
The record company Universal states that ABBA is only the beginning, and they will try Dimest's solution with many other artists as well, in quest to "give our artists the opportunity to get closer to the fans". As ABBA's version does not allow buying outside Sweden as of now, below is also a widget selling music from Måns Zelmerlöw, the Swedish representative in Eurovision Song Contest. The song's are priced at 10 SEK (around 0.86 EUR or 1.09 USD; there seems to be also a service fee of 3 SEK added, though).
Dimest was founded by a musician and songwriter Jonas Saeed, other co-founders being Hans Desmond, previous Managing Director Warner Chappell Music Scandinavia, and Sanji Tandan, former Managing Director Warner Music Sweden. Due to these connections the firm has established partnerships with all major labels in Sweden, and is currently negotiating with other Scandinavian countries. Dimest is also working with Aftonbladet, the biggest media group in Sweden, and a number of Swedish blogs. The firm has funding from a few private investors, but is looking to raise more funding to support the growth plans.
Interestingly, the solution of Dimest scales beyond music as well - it could be used for any digital content, like books, games, movies, ring tones, documents, lyrics, and software. The founder Jonas Saeed in fact commented to ArcticStartup that their big goal for this year is to launch a global web service available to anyone to upload their digital content, create customized storefront widget, set their prices of choice, and start selling. Dimest offers 90 % revenue share to artists and content providers.
There have been music store widgets before as well, but Dimest has a good advantage in their close relationships with the record labels, high revenue share, and the fact that they support all types of content by default. Widget solution in general is really good for viral word-of-mouth effect including the commercial side along. It brings the content all over the web, without having to pull users to some specific web site or storefront. It will not be easy to scale the service, though, as all sellable content will reside on Dimest's servers.
Plugg, the European one-day conference on celebrating of entrepreneurship and innovation announced today the 20 final nominees for the Startup Rally. Finalists also include three arctic startups: Burt and Senseboard from Sweden and Hammerkit from Finland. Plugg is taking place on March 12 in Brussels. If you're interested to see the most promising European web and mobile startups, TechCrunch is offering a 15% discount.
HammerKit(from the ArcticIndex): is a web application service platform that has been developed to make it easier and faster to build dynamic, data-driven web sites. The platform allows an entire web site or application to be designed, assembled, deployed and managed online from reusable components in minutes.
Burt helps marketing agencies to perform better in the new read-write web. They want take advertising and analytics past the cost-per-click methods and banners. Current product offering includes: Copybox - "a Photoshop for copywriters", basically a smart text editor, Mememachine - cloudcomputing for marketing data, and Rich - an analytics tool for campaigns.
Senseboard develops cool wearable technology on for hand gesture based computer interaction. Two hand bands or glovers enable a method for capturing, analyzing and interpreting hand and finger movements.
Total of 133 European companies registered to the competition and 20 were selected from these. ArcticStartup congratulates all the chosen startups and wishes extra luck for the arctic startups!
A mobile video streaming service Bambuser has made new inroads in Sweden. The service is much (if not exactly) like the US based Qik. Bambuser just announced that they released a widely improved version of our application for Symbian S60 and UIQ.
The problem with live mobile video is two fold: First is latency, which kills any meaningful interaction when it passes a certain very low limit. Second, inverserly correlated with the fist one, is the video quality one is streaming. Naturally, a bad quality kills not only the ablity to interact, but quite successfully also the ability to watch the video at all. These two together are the main culprits to why live mobile video streaming has delivered such a terrible user experience.
But now, in order to keep you as close to real-time as possible Bambuser will drop a few frames here and there which often still allows you to get a good video, but will also store any dropped frame or audio that can't get through while you're live and give you the option to complete your video with this data immediately after your live broadcast. This allows Bambuser to keep latency at a minimum while also providing the viewer with a perfect video when watching on demand. Read more about the release here. In addition to the released version for Symbian S60 and UIQ, we have also heard that the company is coming out with a iPhone version soon.
This in itself is newsworthy, but there's more.
Swedish TV4 used Bambuser as a part of their Live talk show "Kvällsöppet" on Swedish national TV. Bambuser was used to provide a live feed from the home of blogger Marcus Birro who couldn't be there in person but took part in the discussion from a distance.
Now, this might sound like a small thing but when put it in a historical context it can be yet again that little snowball that eventually will turn into an avalanche of mainstream. I am not sure whether the big mainstream will ever see a service just like a Bambuser or Qik, but the concept just took another step: To misquote Neil Armstrong, where this was perhaps a small step for TV4, it could be a giant leap for streaming mobile video even though nobody can tell before we can look at it from the comfort of hindsight. The exact format, device, usage culture and context and much of others things around it will change and evolve, but in one form or another, I believe, there is something interesting about to happen with traditional media practically all but dying. Streaming mobile video might be just a piece to whatever is about the emerge, but I believe it has its role to play.
Oricane is a Swedish software company, making a difference in energy consumption. The company has had a strong track record with research into the technology they are now capitalising. One of our contributors, Daiva Naravaite founder of AlpinaSearch, had a quick interview with Fredrik Kallioniemi one of the founders of Oricane.
Daiva: Fredrik, what does Oricane do?
Fredrik: Oricane is a Green software company and our award winning technology is based on patented energy saving algorithms that makes decision processes in software more efficient, we can for example make packet classification and packet forwarding, more efficient.
Daiva: What is your signature product?
Fredrik: Oricane´s flagship product, BioCAM is an innovative solution to well known addressing scalability issues in the core Internet. Internet infrastructure is rationalized, bringing significant lowered costs and reduced power consumption by 75-95% depending on application. BioCAM and is also available in a mobile edition, which is an energy saving IT-security software solution designed for tomorrow´s mobile surfers that request not only a firewall when surfing but also an environmentally engaged operator and increased battery life time in the mobile device.
Daiva: So what else is in the pipeline?
Fredrik: Oricane is also developing an indexing and search engine based on a completely new technology adapted for large "enterprise search" applications. This will be launched under the product name BioDEX. It is a generic self learning search engine for a variety of applications including directory services (i.e., phone directories), data centers, web indexing, and digital communities. BioDEX is also available in a mobile edition that is a patented solution for compressing, storing and searching information in mobile phones and other small devices.
Daiva: How different are both products?
Fredrik: Whereas BioCAM addresses energy efficiency issues when transporting information through the network, BioDEX addresses energy efficiency when information is stored and searched.
Daiva: It looks to me that with this technology you could ambitiously address the world's entire software industry? How?
Fredrik: We specialize in developing methods, technologies and software components to enable computer programs to "do a lot with little". Quite simply, efficiency!
Thanks to Daiva for the Interview!
Spotify blogged last week about a very welcome addition to their catalogue - a partnership with CD Baby. CD Baby has some 250 000 artists and over one million tracks that they distribute to the public through various services, iTunes to mention one.
CD Baby was the first large "label" that signed a deal with iTunes back in the day to enable the addition of smaller and less popular artists - in essence enabling the long tail of music. In many cases, I've heard friends complain that Spotify is working extremely well but it lacks the music they listen to. I'm hoping the addition of CD Baby will fix part of that problem.
Spotify offers an option for artists and labels to signup on their website, but also notes that they won't be automatically added to the catalogue just yet. Therefore, CD Baby means a lot for the indie artists looking for a way in to Spotify. The success of Spotify, in terms of the variety of music, will be determined how successful of a model they can build for the independent artists that do not have a label representing them. If Spotify is able to build a model for the most beginner of artists to join the service and yet keep the signal to noise ratio feasible - they are on to something.
Twingly, a Swedish blog search engine, similar to Technorati, but a spam free one and aimed at the European market, is expanding to Germany. Recently Twingly landed its first German customer for its flagship product, Twingly Blog Stream, a service that shows which bloggers have written about each article on the newspaper's website, when it signed a deal with the leading business newspaper Handelsblatt.
Twingly has been launching many much talk about services lately and is now pushing strong into a major European market with Twingly Blog Stream. This is no small feat as according to Twingly's CEO, Martin Källström, "[...] German blogosphere is one of Europe's largest, it's an important market for us. Our search engine, covers nearly half a million blogs in German."
After landing the German deal Twingly has its Blog Stream service on 75 major media sites in no less than 11 countries all around Europe.
Martin Källström boldly claims that Twingly's goal is to be the number one blog search engine in Europe, adding that currently more than a quarter of the company's turnover is from other countries than Sweden, but that he expects that the percentage will grow to nearly 80 percent.
One easily gets the false idea that they are aiming to build a #1 landing site for (blog) Search like Google's. This is never meant to but be there in the background when all the money will be collected from partnering with all the major media sites that have all the eyeballs across the continent. A smart, lucrative and at least so far a successful strategy.
Swedish online backup service Kabooza has gotten SEK 7 Million (EUR 0,65M; USD 0,84M) investment from Aggregate Media, a Swedish VC fund. The money will be used in marketing Kabooza's online backup service through various media. Aggregate Media invests in smaller and middle-sized companies in Sweden who have a big potential in the consumer market and benefit from getting a bigger marketing budget.
Kabooza offers unlimited storage for personal files and photos, providing a simple backup service, which automatically copies the defined files from the local computer to the firm's secure servers. Despite the unlimited storage there is a max limit of 25 GB upload per month per user (Update: this was apparently just a beta version limitation and has been removed). The users are able to access the files remotely over the Internet as well. In addition, the company offers a possibility to generate online photo albums directly in the same service. The albums look nice with ability to comment the pictures, though it is nothing special. The service is only available for Windows XP and Vista for now.
Kabooza offers the service with a subscription, starting from 1 year at USD 49.95 up until 5 years at USD 199.95. Not that costly for unlimited storage, but then again not having any free trial period, and asking straight to sign up for one full year might turn off potential customers (Update: there is a 100-day money back guarantee, though.). However, Kabooza may be aiming to sell the service directly via ISP's and other service providers, since in the registration process it is possible to enter an 'activation code', which can be gotten from 'resellers'.
Aggregate Media's operating pricinple sounds interesting: according to the website, the holding company has four different funds owned by around ten greater media companies. So, the media companies make investments into the startups, get equity share, and then the startups spend the investments on the media companies' media space. How sweet is that? [Of course, I might be missing some details...]
There has been happening around Spotify, a Swedish startup offering a lightweight software application enabling on demand streaming of music. And it's not been the normal buzz where everybody is competing to give praise to the service.
First there was the announcement that Spotify is hiring Gustav Söderström, who’s Leaving Yahoo! Inc. to be the director of portable solutions at Spotify . 'I came to Yahoo! Inc in 2006 through the acquisition of Mobile social software company Kenet Works AB of which I was CEO and co-founder (learn more about me). After two years as Director of Product Management and later Director of Business Development, I've decided to leave Yahoo! Inc in order to join music startup Spotify.' (thanks for the heads up to Henrik!)
Today Spotify announced on a more down beat tone that they are forced to add a country restriction to some songs and remove some songs completely from their playlists. Why? Not surprisingly this required by their label deals.
Despite the small set back, the Spotify team added that their ‘dream is to create a music experience where users can play whatever music they want, whenever they want, it may take awhile but we will keep working at it’. Now that Söderström is on board to lead Spotify's mobile strategy, they are likely to tackle next the ‘create a music experience ... whenever’ the users want it -part. We, for one, can’t wait to see what Spotify on a mobile will look like.
You can find the full announcement below (you should also go read the original annoucement as last time I checked they had no less the 199 comments!) and our previous post on Spotify challenging iTunes here.
- Fortumo - MobileMonday Estonia
- Portal for setting up free and extremely fast web-based mobile services and monetizing them, offering billing in 11 countries and expanding.
- Getjar Networks - MobileMonday Lithuania
- One of the world’s most popular mobile application distribution and developer communities with over 14 million downloads per month.
- Mobintech - MobileMonday Copenhagen
- Offers small digital display glasses, through which the small screen of mobile phones will be transformed into an experience similar to viewing a 30” flat screen TV.
- PopCatcher - MobileMonday Sweden
- Provides technology and products for stripping out talk and commercials from recorded radio music into plain music MP3's.
The firms will be presenting their final pitch in Barcelona on February 16th.
(See the full list of the 20 selected companies on Mobile Peer Awards web page.)
Congrats all four!
24 Hour Business Camp (24hbc) was wrapped up today at noon. 49 new services and apps (and counting) saw daylight in the last 12 hours and these services are not just some quirky apps, but full blown services. You can find all the projects here.
After all the talk I’ve heard during the past year about innovation clusters and what not, which are without exception driven from top down by pouring money into what are effectively projects that are born dead, 24hbc was the first occasion in which I saw innovation truly actually happening. It’s all about passion and caring, and it matters. In a same way as a person can care for her startup, events and even long term projects should have the same burning desire of a single person or a group of people to create something that matters to them and to their peer group. Anything else fails before it has really started.
All the events I’ve been to, 24hbc was the best I’ve seen along with Reboot that takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark (Reboot beign very different type of event and a lot less productive, but the culture was the same nonetheless). It all came down to the atmosphere. People enjoying their peers company and pushing each other to excel after seeing all the effort that Ted Valentin saw to pull all of us all together. Even the corporate sponsor Bonnier R&D had the right people there who not only blended in, but made the event only better. As they wrote in the Live Blog that were set up for the participants, Beata Wickbom and us to contribute to:
“As sponsors, Bonnier R&D´s main focus was to meet all the entrepreneurs and learn as much from them as we could. Unsurprisingly, we soon realised that the temptation to build something ourselves proved to be to difficult to handle.”
They came up with an innovation that reflects the high level of services that all the participants worked on, and most even finished within a mere 24 hours. Here’s Bonnier’s two cents:
“Morris and I played with the new Mirr:or RFID-reader from Violet. It suddenly dawned on us that the new SL bus/underground-card has an RFID chip inside, and therefore most people in Stockholm will have one soon. A world of opportunities open.
With a lot of help from Herman (and Pelle), we made a small script that connected the Mirr:or to the Mobilstart API. When the chip is read, a text message is sent to a predefined phone number, notifying what time the reading occurred.
We think this could become a smart little application for families. When the kids come home they simply place their SL card over the reader, and automatically the parents get a text message saying ‘Hi! Sara came home at 14:15’. “
Bonnier was just a drop in the ocean; The young guns developed equally or more promising services, of which I will surely write about later on once they get off the ground. See all of them here and here. Powerfull stuff!
The Swedish 24 Hour Business Camp (in Swedish; try Google translation and our previous post) has been kicked off in the outskirts of Stockholm today at noon. There is a buzz across the Japanese style Yasuragi Hasseludden conference center with over 50 small teams of Swedish Internet entrepreneurs and developers planning their new businesses.
The event started out yesterday evening with a boat trip to the conference center, where the participants tuned in to creative mood by relaxing and mingling over a sushi dinner in Yukata's, and enjoying spa and the tranquility of the establishment.
Nothing great is born without pain, though (right?), and there have been some problems this time as well. As Ted Valentin, the event organizer, mentioned earlier, "All one needs is a laptop, an Internet connection and an idea." Well, so we thought. The equation almost fell short with major wifi fail lasting from the last evening until the very kick-off of the event. Some hotshot technicians were brought in this morning, however, and got the issue fixed in time for the start, preventing the conference group switching to another location. But the network is still rather sluggish and somewhat unstable.
Nevertheless, the teams have not let connectivity issues slow them down, and are working at full speed. Our hope with Ted and the participants is that these kinds of events will radiate the excitement and entrepreneurial spirit across the whole of Nordics and Baltics.
You can find out more from the event's live blog, and ArcticStartup will also report tomorrow with a new post. We will publish some video interviews later on as well (and of course register the newborn startups in ArcticIndex). See also the Flickr photos.
Cloudo is a web based OS service still in its very early stages. I was able to sign in, but there were quite a few glitches still to be ironed out. This could be also related to the fact that they are getting a lot signups that are slowing down the servers.
From a business perspective it still makes me wonder whom Cloudo is targeting with its service. Cloudo's competitor, Mysites, has stated it will be targeting students and gamers. There is quite a bit of potential for services that Cloudo and Mysites are creating, however, I believe whom they are targeting have to be more clearly defined. For example, neither of these services state the third world as their target market, an area I believe is greatly undervalued by this kind of services yet they are the ones most in need of services like this. High license fees of OS's is something that individuals in Africa and other developing parts of the world cannot cope with.
Signup for the beta and give it a try yourself.
Fruugo, the ambitious Finnish e-commerce startup (see our previous coverage) has announced (see Reuters' press release Tarmo Virki's interview news below) the company is on track to launch closed beta still in January, as stated previously. The service will next open in Sweden by early February. The public opening is planned for April, while the news does not specify in which countries it will be available.
Siilasmaa states in the press release interview they "are working to create a European marketplace, so that all those merchants would find all those consumers and all consumers would find all those merchants." Fruugo has said before the company wants to be the trusted 3rd party of e-commerce. Based on the latest press release news, this means Fruugo aims to unite the online shopping market by opening a "one-stop mall" for Europeans (Europe is the firm's main target market for now, as it has declared before as well). Fruugo will have hundreds of links to different online stores available in its mall. This explains why the company has been using user experience and website optimization and monetization consults. The initiative could certainly become something big if the company is able to execute the vision.
The addressable market is around EUR 60 billion ($79.50 billion), the company states, half of the total online shopping market in Europe last year. As Fruugo stated in the autumn, it targets all consumer durables and content sold in physical boxes. According to the news, there are some 30 merchants currently integrated with Fruugo, while further 100 in the process. The merchants carry brands like Lego, L'Oreal, IBM, Nokia, Adidas, Lacoste and Nike.
The big question speculated a long time has been, what is the business model? Fruugo now states it does not collect any sign-up or monthly fees from the merchants, it only charges transaction commissions. Fruugo's business model is said to mix "online retail with search and price comparison capabilities", and in addition, social networking, which allows consumers utilize their online networks when seeking the best shopping deals. There isn't more information given on the last point, but it certainly sounds interesting if Fruugo has created some way of utilizing social search (cf. Google speculations) while shopping for products, which might lead to much more relevant search results and recommendations.
Just recently, to add to Fruugo's well-known board members Nokia chairman Jorma Ollila and founder and chairman of F-Secure Risto Siilasmaa, Kim Ignatius has joined the company's board (the news in Finnish). Ignatius is Director of Finance and Administration in the Finnish international Sanoma media group, while he served before as Finance Director of TeliaSonera, the biggest mobile carrier in the Nordics. In the same General meeting the board also allowed usage of stock options. Sanoma has been very active in the past years buying internet and media startups so we will see if the corporation plays any role with Fruugo.
Apparently Fruugo's cash position is healthy after all, as the owners are reportedly not after quick profits - Siilasmaa states confidently "The day will come when this firm is cash flow positive."
See full press release interview news below.
While Twitter is hitting a new heat wave, Friendfeed just won the Crunchie Award for the Best New Startup 2008, and dear Jaiku keeps struggling with its maintenance issues, and just announced going open source!, what better time than to bring a new player into the field - Bloggy.se.
Bloggy is a Swedish microblogging service in Swedish, and a one-man show by Jonas Lejon. It all started for eight months ago as a free time project alongside with full time job and a newborn baby. (And then I haven't even mentioned a bunch of other web services Jonas has in his portfolio.) He had been a frequent user of both Jaiku, Twitter and Pownce (recently closed down) but wasn’t too pleased with any of them. He also wanted to bring microblogging to the non-tech savvy crowds, so he picked out the goodies from the other services and molded them into Bloggy.se.
On September 25th last year the first closed beta invitations were given to the Swedish Jaiku community and the reactions were immediate. Speculations on whether Bloggy was going to take over Jaiku were raised. (In Swedish)
The service was well received, as some of the first comments by couple of heavy Jaiku users can tell:
(Translated from Swedish)
- "Thought I was going to call it an early night but happened to stumble in here. Having a crush...:) " @mymlansofia
- “Testing Bloggy.se. Extremely impressed by Jonas Lejon.” @tedvalentin
- ”Bloggy.se is the first serious candidate to threaten Jaiku within "the Bubble" (Jaiku user group) (OMG, what am I saying? I, who can't live without Jaiku)”. @morris
Jonas has been a true crowd surfer since the start, and he continuously keeps asking their advice on both logo design and future features. Bloggy uses Get Satisfaction as the customer service and support tool.
Today, four months later, Bloggy has over one thousand users and growing. The Swedish industry bloggers have listed Bloggy as one of the highlights of the year, and even called it the microblog service of the year. (Both articles in Swedish)
So, what is under the Bloggy hood?
A Bloggy user gets an easy-to-follow user interface with threaded posts and comments, customized profile design, lifestreaming by adding feeds and all standard update (mobile, SMS, MMS) and notification (Jabber/Gtalk, email) features. Bloggy has support for updating both Twitter and Jaiku statuses. At the moment Bloggy is the only microblogging service in Sweden offering outgoing SMS updates (only on incoming SMS). Posts has standardized length of 140 characters, but like Jaiku the comment length is unlimited, a feature that encourages conversations. Bloggy users find new friends and topics on the main page that shows the public feed with current new members and a tag cloud with popular words.
It also offers the "I like/heart" feature, as part of the service itself, as does Friendfeed. There are now rumors about the similar feature on Facebook. Bloggy has support for geolocation services such as FireEagle and Geode, and there is naturally an API for developers.
According to Jonas himself the users have been especially happy about the automatically updated and threaded posts and comments (Ajax implementation). Jonas himself is most proud of the quick response times of the service, alongside the fact that Bloggy already contains almost all the functionality of the other microblogging platforms.
Unique to Bloggy is all the different file upload formats it supports (.JPG, .PNG, .GIF, AVI, MPG, 3GP, .MP3), all up to 20Mb. The user can also upload images via MMS (Friendfeed has Mail2FF).
The service differs from Twitter, Friendfeed and Jaiku in two ways: The user can't choose to be private, only public profiles are supported. It is also possible for anyone to leave a comment without being a registered user.
When now launching (In Swedish) in public beta, Jonas has added more features into Bloggy. It is now possible to update your status using Hello.txt and ping.fm, services that make life easier for those who want to update all their social networks at once. If you rather hang out on GTalk/Jabber all day, you no longer need to leave it to update your Bloggy status, there's support for it, too.
Is there a future for Bloggy?
Microblogging and social networks, as we have come to know, are all about where one's friends are, but with Bloggy filled with lots of functionality, channels on the way and continuous improvement of the user experience, I think "There is likely plenty of room in the niche and custom communities precisely because Twitter is purely public" as Rob Diana on louisgray.com so well argues. Why? For example, I've already noticed the use of #svpt (Swedes on Twitter) hash tag on Twitter just to track other Swedes and Swedish conversations. It's a jungle out there and the need to hang out with your own people and alikes is very strong.
Ted Valentin, a succesfull Swedish Internet serial entrepreneur and the founder of 24 Hour Business Camp (Google Translated site in English here), believes that you we should forget expensive offices, photo copiers and even business cards when thinking about setting up a business. All one needs is a laptop, an Internet connection and an idea. "The important thing is to experiment", Ted explains.
Now Valentin is rouding up a group of the most promising Swedish Internet entrepreneurs and soon-to-be-entrepreneurs to spend two days together in Swedish arhipelago in a Japanese spa working on new business ideas in groups (52 small teams!). The concept in called 24 Hour Business Camp (24hbc), which means each team has 24 hours to work on their idea (hence the name) and when they are done, the teams present their ideas, pick up and head back to Stockholm loaded with inspiration. (Here's more about the 24hbc concept)
ArcticStartup is there as well documenting the project from start to finish. We will not only post updates to our blog, but will be also post short video snippets in a Live Blog with Beata Wickbom . The Live Blog has been set up specificly for the 24hbc and will be in English throughout.
Why is Valentin doing this? Because just as we in ArcticStartup, he wants to push the Nordic entrepreneurial culture forward and inspire creative people around him ...and it's simply just too fun of an idea to not go through with. As Valentin puts it:
The goal of the 24 hour business camp is to have fun, meet other entrepreneurs, test our creative limits, and inspiring other people to build their own start-ups. The inspiration comes from the 24 hour dot com , a similiar but smaller event that took place in Berlin in 2004.
Valentin is also behind the annoskartan.se, which is a search engine for local classified ads (previous post here), which is only one of his many map websites he has released (See all his projects here). Others include Sushikartan.se (the sushi map), Wifikartan.se (the wifi map), Cafekartan.se (the cafe map) just to name a few. Valentin is also runs AcademicNetwork.se - Swedens largest site network for students and academics.
Photo by puyol5 (CC:BY).
I had a chat on Skype today with Christian and Peter from Disruptive.nu about differences and similarities in the startup industry between Finland and Sweden. After a long chat, which I will post online later, we had to conclude that there aren't that many differences in the end - although Finland is admittedly slightly behind by a year or two.
I argued that there are two major weaknesses with the Finnish startup industry; the lack of second (and third) generation entrepreneurs with experience as well as a bridge to fill the gap between the public finance vehicles and venture money. The first part I find to be grown through successful attributes in society in general for startups. The entrepreneurs must have a reason to build a successful company in Finland again and not flee overseas with their exit money (something that you can't really argue against considering the current state of affairs). The second point is slightly more difficult, however even more important I believe. We need to limit the availability of public finance to a certain amount, something I don't know yet, to stop supporting unhealthy companies that fail to create their business on market demand.
Christian and Peter stated that the biggest problem in Sweden at the moment is finding talent and money to build succesful startups. I'd believe, though not undermining the shortcomings, these are somewhat universal problems in the startup industry. Talent is something that can be usually found more of in terms of poor macro economic perfomance as companies lay off talented people in hopes of saving a penny here and there. Yet another reason why starting a company in times recession is a good idea. Which brings me to another important point raised in the discussion - we all agreed that times of recession have less of an effect on startups as they're short on resources no matter what the economic climate is.
I'll be doing some editing on the video interview and releasing it in the near future. If you'd like to do a video interview with us, don't hesitate to contact me at antti (at) arcticstartup.com and we'll see what we can do.
Photo by flo_p
The new web page is neat, demonstrating upfront what the service is about. It also nicely brings forward the player community activity, showing "today's top players" and their winnigs, latest logins, and latest game played in the community (with the option to watch instant online replay).
The mobile application also works smoothly. With your first login you're given 500 credits so you can try out the head-to-head play (and get hooked). You can always practice against the computer AI for free, but since all games are two-player real time head-to-head games, it's quite limited fun. One credit is always equal to one Euro cent (0,01 Euro). By winning games you win more credits (GameJane does business by taking a small cut from the bet). The games are actually quite fun to play even though they're somewhat simple, and it's easy and addicting to pick a match against live opponents.
You can buy more credits by credit card on the web page, or premium SMS texting a short code. The billing fees have been directly transferred to the consumer, though, so it's not that encouraging to get 50 credits with 1 EUR SMS payment. Anyway, the catch is, if you're good enough, you can cash out the credits you've collected. GameJane allows withdrawals minimum of 20 EUR each and maximum of 100 EUR per month. The consumer also pays the (varying) withdrawal transaction fees.
In the negative side of things, there's still sometimes "empty lobby syndrome" affecting the service - there have been times when no other player has been online, and you won't then stay long either. There are a few annoyances in the UI as well. First of all, why do I have to enter my login details every time starting the application? In this kind of service, of course, with real money involved, it may be you want to protect your account from others. But since phone is a personal device, at least the user name should be automatically remembered. One other thing is that there is an annoying beep used as part of the UI every now and then with certain text boxes or events (think about the old PC system beeps...).
Another aspect, which may hinder the virality and mass market adoption is that the first thing when starting the application it asks you to connect to the internet. It may sound trivial to all techie guys and more advanced mobile users as it's a connected service (also, the client is only 60kb, and seems the whole UI is loaded over-the-air). But believe me, that is something that will drop off significant amount of users in the mass market. It would be much better to let the user go to a menu first, and maybe demonstrate somehow what the whole service is about before asking to connect. This somewhat similar as with internet services where you want to get hook deep enough before you ask the user to commit (e.g. create an account). Another disadvantage is that due to the heavy use of network, a) you need to be on data plan, otherwise you'll probably lose your winnings pretty soon; and b) the phone battery is consumed faster than with standalone games.
Nevertheless, the service is rather enjoyable, and it will be interesting to see how Trust Solutions is able to expand the user base.
JayCut, a Swedish startup, offers online video editing and watching technology for businesses to license and for the public to use. The company enables me to do everything I do with for example iMovie, but in the browser. Thus, I don't need to download any clients, and I can save my videos in the cloud. Not only that, JayCut makes video editing also easier compared to what it is with the usual suspects such as iMovie. That said, there's room for improvement as for example the transition effects did not work quite as I had hoped for (see video in my next blog post tonight).
Below is a short video demostration by JayCut staff on how easy the video editing is:
JayCut offers the following services:
- Online video editing technology, fully branded and integrated
- Complete solutions including editing, watching, uploading and community features
- Advertising campaigns letting visitors edit for example their own TV commercials
Despite being a very young startup, JayCut has already achieved a lot in many fronts. They are the provider of a complete video solution to IKEA, which was launched in August 2008 (read more about IKEA partnership here in Swedish). They also picked up the SIME Innovation Day Award 2008 from Google, Telenor and Ericsson. Entertainment Site of the Year 2007 (awarded by a Swedish language e-business site Internetworld), Young European Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 in Business Week, Top 5 Swedish Enterpreneur of the Year 2007 in Internetworld, CNET Webware 100 Video Finalist and last but not least, they secured a small angel funding round in 2007.
The company was founded in 2007 and if already profitable from licensing the editing tool and their video platform. After talkign to JayCut CEO, Jonas Hombert, he said that having so many competitors disappear (Eyespot, bankrupcy; Flektor, removed editing service; Jumpcut, put in deadpool by Yahoo) JayCut is a big fan of the economic crisis. A healthy counter perspective to the very common recession mongering in the industry these days. MotionBox is one of the competitors still actively challenging JayCut's service.
JayCut is soon releasing their new editing tool. Jonas Hombert told us that we can wait the release early 2009. I am sure to follow this Swedish startup and edit most of our videos with JayCut from now on.
This is the best news coming from Sweden since Abba - Spotify has enabled scrobbling. Scrobbling means Spotify now supports integration to Last.fm. This is indeed very big news as Last.fm has a huge community of music lovers that have until lately been left out with using Spotify. I'm one of them and this move has made my iTunes usage totally obsolete.
To enable scrobbling, go to Spotify's preferences and add your last.fm details there. Just to make sure, close the program and launch it once more and you're set.
Why is this such a big deal? There are at least two reasons. Firstly, Last.fm has a huge music community that love Last.fm and want their listened music to be added to the service to find new music in the future, which is the second reason. One of the benefits of Last.fm is the possibility find new music through your peers by matching your musical taste to theirs and for this you need a relatively extensive list of listened songs.
However, there lies a larger possibility here for Spotify. By allowing the usage of third party applications or plugins in conjunction with Spotify, they are creating a healthy developer community that will take the service to new levels. This is one of the reasons why Twitter has been so popular as developers have been able to make use of the service exactly in the way they have wanted to, creating more traction for Twitter itself - something all web companies are looking for.
We interviewed Eric Wahlforss in LeWeb Paris about their startup SoundCloud. It's an interesting company and not your average music startup as they build tools for artists to share that music. SoundCloud has recently moved to Berlin from Sweden and the impact of that move is also covered in the video.
Twingly, a Swedish based spam free blog search engine which is much like Technorati but is aimed at European market, just recently released two new products, a Top 100 and BlogRank. The first one is a listing of the 100 biggest blogs. Unlike in Technorati, Twingly lists the 100 biggest blogs in 12 different languages based on their ranking system that mainly focuses on "inlinks and likes among other things". Their second product is BlogRank, which is a number between 1-10 that shows how big a blog is. BlogRank is similar to Google PageRank but just for blogs.
I checked the top list for Finnish and Swedish blogs, but they were not what I expected. Similarly, Mari Koistinen, an active Finnish blogger, had come to the same conclusion and emailed Twingly asking the reason for this. Twingly's comment below taken from Mari's blog post (Most part In Finnish):
“The list is based on the data we have in our index. It’s why we say it’s from “our point of view”. We have, for example, better index for Europe overall than for US blogs which makes the list quite unexpected in some cases.
The ranking is based on, among many other things, inlinks and “likes” (search for something at twingly.com and you’ll see what “Like” is). Visitors isn’t possible for us to use in this list right now and therefore we don’t. If you use that parameter the list would probably be quite different.
Some blogs with many visitors may not get so many links and sorry for them, for they’re not on our list in that case :)”
That explanation I did not understand at all.
Luckily, I found a conversation regarding the ranking logic in Twingly's blog post (here). I quote:
[comment #17. half way through.]
Also, I read your reply such that frequently pinging Twingly affects the rank. Then how ‘fairly’ does the ranking respond to the ‘biggest’-question that you refer to?
Answer by Twingly:
If a blog pinging us frequently it’s much easier for us to index every blog post from that blog. If another blog don’t ping us at all, it’s possible that we index it anyway but in that case we have some problem to index it frequently because we don’t get a notification (which a ping actually is) every time it’s updated.
The bloggers who ping us frequently is therefore better indexed by us.
Again, thanks. We think it’s great with feedback and questions. They’re really important, so please keep asking!
This time I understood the answer very clearly, but it still does not mean it makes much sense to me to build a blog ranking on that logic.
Sorosh Tavakoli, the CEO of VideoPlaza, has announced on their blog that they have signed a large advertising deal with the Swedish TV4 -broadcasting company. VideoPlaza is a Swedish video startup offering innovative solutions for online video advertising, be that managing, tracking or displaying video advertisement.
Sorosh wrote that, after talking to some of the British online video producers during his visit to the UK earlier this year, he realised the Swedish TV4 is actually one of the biggest online video players in Europe. He cannot confirm this with official numbers though. The deal is pretty large as it covers all the TV4 domains, and not just the main tv4.se site.
Seems like the video market is on the rise for 2009 as Sorosh Tavakoli stated that there will be more announcements in the coming days.
Testseek, a Swedish startup, that informs consumers about the quality and performance of products by aggregating expert and consumer reviews from the web. This is achieved through automatic collection of expert product reviews from more than a thousand Internet publications.
For some products the service gives you also price comparison from a few sites to make the purchase easier.
Testseek.com was founded in 2005 and is developed and owned by Swedes Peter Kolqvist and Fredrik Engdahl. The site has little over 30,000 unique montly visitors according to compete.com. In March 2008 the Testseek.com database held more than 60.000 products, sorted into about 200 categories. Reviews are collected from all over the world, in six languages.
Bloggkoll.com has been a successful Swedish local blog reader service, but the founders are now looking for international markets and have changed the name accordingly to Bloglovin.com. The service has been available as Bloglovin' since September, and gathered from 15 000 to 60 000 visits per week, but now the name has been changed to Bloglovin' for good.
The site offers essentially a simple mass market service to stay aware when new posts are available, having them all in the same place for easier and quicker access, and prevent forgetting the addresses of blogs.
The features are really simple. Each time you log in you see how many new unread posts you have, and also you'll see right away which blogs have been popular today (ranked by the amount of new followers subscribed during the same day), and can select a second tab to view the most popular blogs (in terms of total subscribers). This is a nice feature for first-time visitors, as you can instantly get started even if you didn't know many blogs. For adding blogs on your reading list you use the search function to find the blog you're looking for, and if not already in the service, you can add a new blog with its URL. Another nice way to make things easier with not having to know the URL necessarily, if you've just heard the name of some interesting blog. And there's also the recommendation service "if you liked this, then try out these blogs also". It's possible to create different groups as well to classify the different blogs you're following.
I couldn't find too much regarding the business model; however, there's an interesting micropayment option called Spotlight - with 10 SEK (close to 1 EUR or 1,20 USD) you can get your blog to be visible to everyone currently using the service for 5 minutes. The payment is done by SMS, but currently works with Sweden only. Very nice idea, but would need quite a big user base and further categorization to generate sizeable revenues - theoretically with just one slot, fully booking 24h would generate just 288 EUR per day (or 2880 SEK/345 USD).
The founders themselves state on the web page they feel the other readers are "technical, boring and cluttered with features", so they rather wanted to create a dead-simple service with user-friendly interface for those who just want things to work. This kind of service could indeed hit the main stream, as there might be room for a simple reader that just does the core trick without any distractions, and recommends new blogs on the side. However, it's not going to be an easy task in terms of discovery, and also I'm not sure what the sustainable competitive advantage of the service would be, preventing some other players from stealing the users. Nevertheless, right now the service delivers on its promise. Also interestingly, most of the founder team is around 20 years old, so kudos to the guys for going for it!
MyWidz is a Swedish startup aiming to create a mobile widget community and taking user generated content to the mobile phone. The service is currently in early Beta.
The company plans to tab into the mobile marketing market that they estimate to grow into a 19 billion USD market by 2012. I am not quite as optimistic about the mobile marketing as such, but if done right via an innovative community approach it might yield better results than what have been more traditional approaches, namely blind spamming.
MyWidz is a community service that takes user generated content to the mobile phone by aiming to make development, sharing and collection of widgets easy. WyWidz widgets can be developed by anyone with simple step-by-step widget wizard and then get them send to one’s mobile phone. More advanced users can use MyWidz unique script language to write their widgets from scratch, or use other users widgets as templates.
Before one can start using the service she needs to install a Java client to her phone. For me the client did not work that well as I only got an error message after a several tries. I will keep fiddling with the client on my Nokia N95 and hopefully get to work on my first widget soon, but so far I’ve not seen beyond the MyWidz home page.
That said I did see lots of potentially useful widgets on that home page including a CNN News widget, an Aljazeera News widget, a Weather-Stockholm widget, a UK traffic information widget, and even a Find McDonald’s widget. When the MyWidz guys can push the service beyond the early Beta they are facing tough competition from the likes of Nokia Widsets and Plusmo.
As a market the mobile widget area is as hot as it can get even during economic times like these. Just look at the Apple App Store growth figures. The question is how you can beat Apple in their own game call it a widget or an app, and whether the app market will develop into a centralized or decentralized one over time.
Last Friday, Microsoft launched a new program called Bizspark that offers startups of different ages and stages tools to take care of their software and hosting requirements. Technopolis Ventures, Veraventure, The Finnish Software Entrepeneurs Association and Venture Cup has partnered with Microsoft in Finland to accept participants into the program.
Startups must meet the following requirements to be accepted into the program:
- Be actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core of its current or intended business
- Be privately held
- Be in business for less than 3 years and
- Have less than 1 million USD annual turnover.
Despite being a Mac fanatic, I have to give it to Microsoft for pulling this off. They are sponsoring a wide range of products that suit many companies working in the internet space especially. Also, the packages being offered are tailored for companies in different stages of their growth and thus are also bundled together with their capability to pay for the software.
Fruugo is preparing to come out tomorrow afternoon in a keynote (titled maybe a bit exaggeratedly "Meet the most ambitious start up on the planet") at SIME in Stockholm. Fruugo will explain where the company is coming from, what markets and product categories they will go after, and what are they're next steps.
Prior to the keynote, Fruugo's VP Marketing Janne Waltonen today disclosed a few things to ArcticStartup regarding Fruugo's positioning and go to market strategy.
First of all, the company will focus on physical products in the beginning, concentrating on the favorite products of online shopping like books, records, games, clothing, electronics, etc. Fruugo is running a closed Beta at the moment with a few tens of retailers and consumers, and they are starting an invitation beta in January targeted to consumers.
The first three online shopping segments they're targeting will be a) early adapters of social media and online shopping, b) pregnant women and mothers with babies, and c) outdoor sports enthusiasts (say diving, hunting, fishing etc.). The first is pretty self evident, the second two have been selected because of the unique characteristics in their online shopping behavior, based on extensive amount of research and focus groups. Waltonen explained pregnant women and recent mothers value, and are very active with, social relationships, product recommendations, comparisons, and have a huge need for detailed product information on the web. In the outdoor segment there are likewise very active communities formed around certain sports, with the habit of using web extensively for information and purchases.
Fruugo will start from the Finnish and Swedish markets, then expanding to key markets elsewhere in the Central and Western Europe. Waltonen commented Fruugo doesn't t have direct competitors as such, and most of the players concerned with Fruugo entering their space could actually rather be quite interesting partners (like Kelkoo and other product comparison sites for example).
Regarding the recent rumors, Janne Waltonen set straight they've indeed done some adjusting on the cost structure, somewhat due to the economical environment, but much due they being done with heaviest R&D and are moving more into more operational structure now, which has eliminated a few roles. Anyway, Waltonen told Fruugo's own workforce has been reduced less than 10%, in addition to terminating some consulting and outsourcing contracts. Some of the rumors out there are quite off the scale from their point of view (like their rumored private jet), but they haven't wanted to spend time commenting all of that before their phase of more active PR starting from tomorrow.
Apparently Fruugo's got something working already, as Waltonen told he's actually already bought and received all his Christmas presents using the company's service. We (and Santa) look forward to hearing more tomorrow.
Saplo's founder and CEO Mattias Tyrberg tipped us that Saplo, the Swedish semantic text processing technology firm, and a winner of Seedcamp, is going to participate in two VC events in California (previous coverage of Saplo). While in the area, Mattias and Fredrik Hörte from Saplo will also visit a few big firms like Google and Facebook, and look for other potential partners, customers, and investors.
The first event is Mini Seedcamp, which aims to give the startups a chance to meet face-to-face with the local startup and investor scene, and discuss anything from their product to investments. Seedcamp hopes to give the Valley folks better understanding of European startups, and show the participating European startups the US entrepreneurship culture in action, and help them connect with advisors and mentors.
Another event is organized by Invest in Sweden Agency North America (ISA). ISA has gathered a delegation of 20 Swedish early stage wireless, IT, electronics, and internet startups seeking risk capital, and takes them in front of some of the biggest VC firms in the US. The event takes place tomorrow November 11th in Menlo Park, CA. ISA is reporting to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and markets Sweden, its industry clusters, funds and individual businesses to North American companies and investors.