“I see a traditional audience shifting very fast from traditional media platforms to smart devices. And if you look at content usage on these devices, then you see gaming is 50-70% of usage on iPads. Gaming is coming out on top. If you think that’s where audiences are moving, then the next entertainment brands are going to be built on these new platforms,” Andrew Stalbow, CEO of the newly founded Seriously Games tells us.
Around a month ago, the Helsinki gaming scene was buzzing with the news that two executive vice presidents of Rovio were leaving the company to start their own gaming endeavor. Earlier this week expectations grew further as Seriously Games announced €1.75 million in seed funding from Upfront Ventures and Sunstone Capital to build a free to play game targeting the casual / casual plus audience, despite the fact they were so early in development.
In recent years, a duopoly has formed in Finland between two major distributors. So far the S & K-group dominance of the food markets has been an nearly unchallenged one, but alternatives, such as the online grocery store Ruoka.fi, see a chance to get their slice of the pie.
Let me introduce you to a cool start-up you might not have heard about before. Say hi, moi, ciao, hej and sveiki to Bliu Bliu. They’re a small team from Lithuania that look set to make a big impact on the language learning scene with a fresh new approach. Using a learners own input and their algorithms Bliu Bliu work out how many words in a foreign language the learner understands, then their tool looks to match text from many sources to the person’s ability to both give them something to read that will increase their confidence in what they know and gradually introduce them to new words in a natural way.
I spoke with Claudio Santori, CEO of Bliu Bliu, to find out more about where they have come from and how they want to reach out and grow in the future.
With all the discussion around the lack of women in entrepreneurship, it’s interesting to put into the discussion that nearly half of Qualcomm’s european investments are under female leadership in one form or another, points out Jason Ball, Director at Quallcomm Europe.
From the companies we cover in northern Europe, Grand Cru’s Celene Pasula and Tine Tyggsten from Everplaces are just a few of the many tech females who have founded, cofounded, or chair one of Qualcomm’s investments. And it’s not because of a decision to target female led companies, Ball says. It's just a pattern that has emerged.
So you want to start a marketplace for telephones from the 1940’s, because you think its a great niche market and can be an excellent business opportunity. That may very well be the case, but it’s going to cost you upwards of EUR 50 000 to develop the software to give it a try and simply launch your Centurian Telephones Company.
Unfortunately, building market places is tough and having the actual software ready is only the first and perhaps the easiest step. From then on, you have to do a lot of work to make sure it takes off. For most, this initial investment is such a big hurdle that it in itself is off putting.
This is where Sharetribe comes in. They are a marketplace for marketplaces, much like ArcticStartup is a startup about startups. Basically if you still want that marketplace, you can go to Sharetribe and start one in minutes. As Juho Makkonen, the CEO of the company, put it, they are the: “Shopify for Marketplaces.” So yes, you can now create your niche marketplace or Airbnb for dog hotels.
One of the problems of seeing lots of new innovations in the tech space is that once you see some new innovation, it’s hard not to notice how slow and boring that field actually is. It seems that every website search, ours included, is basically plugged into Google’s in-site search. But Google and other competitors have a fairly slow, old fashioned and ugly solution, and the owner has no control of what shows up. To update this field for the first time in years, Helsinki-based AddSearch announces its imminent launch, and that it’s raised €480,000 from Vision+, Tekes, and the company’s founders.
It’s always news when a company goes and secures funding then, just like receiving a thank you card for that thoughtful Christmas present you sent, it’s lovely when a company comes back and lets you know how they’re doing and what they’ve done with the money they raised.
Back in November 2012 Miradore announced that they had secured a €1.2M investment round from Inventure and Belgian ICT executive and industry influencer Willem Hendrickx. They are also participating in the YIC program run by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes), which provides public funding of up to one million euros. A year later and they are back to tell us how the company is growing thanks to that investment.
Editor’s note: This was an unsolicited post by Johanna Eiramo, one of our residents at the Minimum Viable Office, cross-posted from her blog. We need a fresh influx of new startups, so come join us!
Working at the MVO has a hidden advantage that is hard to sell. You’re here and opportunities materialize. Today, I can verify that this is very much the case.
I came to work, found a free desk, open my computer and in walks an old friend, Ismo Rantala of Nest New York fame. He was looking for Will Cardwell (in charge of strategic university partnerships for Aalto University) and Bruce Oreck (US Ambassador to Finland). I haven’t seen either of these two gentlemen in donkey’s years, so I follow Ismo to say Hi! On the way, I find out there’s a pitching session about to start at the Loft, with Will and Bruce doing the sparring. So I grab my computer and here is what I heard:
Technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our live, but the salad buffet? Fazer FoodServices, Metos, Mikkeli’s university of applied sciences and AgentIT have innovated a complete system that will turn healthy eating from a hassle into a quick lifestyle. The Hackman Nutrime Smart Buffet is a computerized self-service food counter which displays the nutritional values of you food, and by doing so, can lead diners to healthier food choices in a less judging tone than a personal trainer.
Inbuilt scales will measure the weight of the desired dish and turn that digit into a calorie value. A personal smart card on your food tray will wirelessly communicate with the food counter, and together they will execute the cunning plot to silently murder your unnecessary body fat by grease deprivation.
I had a chance to write two blog posts about crowdfunding last year, published on 23 October and 26 November 2012. There were no plans for a sequel but this third blog post came up rather spontaneously in an effort to give some advice and guidance to companies thinking of (equity) crowdfunding themselves, how equity crowdfunding affects your company, and what you need to consider when running a company with a lot of shareholders located in different jurisdictions.
Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas? Yes. Is it too early to start thinking about the ArcticStartup and Future Female little Christmas party? Hell no. Get excited because we're going big this year, taking over Helsinki hotspot Kaiku to let our hair down and dance away the stress of working in the startup scene.
Click this link here to get sent to the Facebook page, which is the best way to stay on top of the event. But just know that you’ll be having a good time at Kaiku on Thursday November 21 from 18:00 onwards.
How many people read press releases for fun? There can’t be many I’d think. How many people want to read five from one company in a single sitting? That’s got to thin the already small crowd hasn’t it. Five press releases from a single company in one day seems intense but it also tells you they’re active and possibly doing something important. But who will read all that text to find out what’s going on? I will gentle reader, I will, just for you.
Have you heard of mCASH? It’s a Norwegian mobile payment platform that connects all your funding sources (credit card, debit card, loyalty card, etc) in one payment app, and enables you to pay to anyone, anywhere. Well if you hadn’t heard of them before then get prepared for that to change. They’ve just signed some significant deals with major Nordic banking service providers, as well as Nordic retailers and restaurants.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Conrad Rasmussen, concept designer and copywriter at Tenfour, a creative communications agency based in Töölö.
I recently met Tag of Joy – the Lithuanian gaming startup –at AppCampus here in Finland. They had come to Espoo to improve their new geo-fighting game, Monster Buster, and join dozens of other developers in the hunt for some accelerator funding.
In Monster Buster, players search for monsters in their real-world environment – from the streets outside their home, to the park down the road. The goal: find, fight and capture these monsters on their mobile devices.
Despite all the potential interactivity we could be seeing on the video files embedded across the web, they’re basically still just moving pictures that you can pause and mute. What’s keeping interactive video from getting bigger and faster? Essentially it comes down to a lack of business models and scalability, says Johanna Virttanen, Head of New Business Development at Kiosked.
The Espoo-based company has just released their “shoppable videos” solution to the public, allowing brands, content producers, and publishers to put webshops into any video content - something they say is the first completely agnostic solution on the market.
Tech giant Google has made a €450 million investment into their datacenter in eastern coastal city of Hamina, Finland.
The company has announced the current datacenter is to triple in size. This means it will provide work for over 800 Finnish engineers and construction workers, as well as being a motor to reinvigorate the sleepy industrial region surrounding it.
Ever wanted to book your own rave but haven’t known any DJs to call on? Tried to organise a party and that friend of a friend who swore he could DJ for you has just cancelled and you don’t know what to do? Head on over to Beatsy, a brave new startup that’s looking to connect fans and artists directly, making booking a new or popular DJ easy for the fans and making earning money from gigging straightforward and safe for the artist.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Beatsy, you might remember that earlier this month we covered an interesting store that popped up out of nowhere. The ‘I Love Tekes’ webstore, created by Anssi Uimonen, was built to help raise funds to launch Beatsy, and it looks like it’s helped!
Since around 2007 there has been a huge outburst of accelerators around the world, especially so in Europe. Yet, since the whole concept is fairly new, there are a lot of questions surrounding the practice. Are accelerators successful? Will it be easier to raise money after an accelerator? How much value can an accelerator program add to your company?
These and many other questions, are difficult to answer. Especially so, when there is very little data available on them. Sure there is some public data, that accelerators must submit, but it is very hard to get a hold of real hard-core statistics. Unless of course an accelerator comes up to you and passes on all of their “books” to you. This is what Accelerace from Denmark basically did and there is a lot to learn from what was inside.
In the beginning of September, a loved one to near every Finn died: Nokia was acquired by Microsoft. In truth the company represented a lot to Finns. In the early ‘90s an asset bubble burst around the same time that trade with the Soviet Union collapsed. From that recession Nokia suddenly became the sign of recovery, and Finnish self-confidence grew as Nokia grew on the world stage.
It’s been an experience watching the Nokia acquisition in Finland without the same hangups as the rest of the population - I moved here four years ago, and my coming-to-age in the business scene was long after Nokia’s talent started jumping ship. To me, Nokia’s glory days are just legends passed around in the sauna, told by old timers in the Helsinki startup scene. After the acquisition, I wrote an article, Microsoft gives Finland a Chance to Move On, because that’s what Finland should do. It’s not healthy, mentally or economically, to be a one-company town.
Even casual observers can probably notice Finland’s economy is turning more and more mobile game focused. Sure, the headlines are all about Supercell these days, and it’s tough to go outside without seeing an angry bird. But you’ll notice more and more people starting up companies in the broader Finnish gaming industry, such as help with licensing, cross promotion, and now it’s very own PR agency.
Stockholm’s MAG Interactive have hit some numbers that boggle the mind. Since launching in March of 2012, Ruzzle announces it has hit 45 million downloads with 12 million rounds of the game played. The game is one of those four-by-four word grids that challenge the player to find as many words possible in a given amount of time, like a Words with Friends, for example.
Players swipe their finger across the letters to find words, and adding up the length of all those little swipes within Ruzzle has equaled to roughly the distance of the moon and back 26 times. And I don’t know if you know this, but the moon is really far away. That’s gamification for you. Since launching, the game has hit the top 10 list in 148 countries, with around 40 million players. The highest level players average 180 words per round, or 1.5 words per second.