The folks working on AMC's The Walking Dead official game, Next Games is strengthening its team size as today it announces it has acquired Helsinki Gameworks, a fairly new studio with no titles released yet, but boasts 130 years of experience in the gaming field.
If the winter blues are already starting to drag you down, then you should probably stop reading right here. This morning Chris Thür, CEO of Yousician (the new name for Ovelin) rang me up to essentially brag about how they rented Greece's largest villa for a month, and have taken their entire team and families down there. He was nicer about it than that, but that's how I took it.
Many of us are spoiled to have our phones do a lot of things for us, like telling us public transport route information when commuting or traveling. However, this is still not as easy in developing countries. Landing there and finding out that there is no way to plan your route electronically is unpleasantly sorbering but luckily, this is exactly what Lithuanian public transport app TRAFI is set out to solve with their next funding round.
Today FIBAN, the Finnish Business Angels Network and Inventure have announced a strategic partnership to enhance their Seed program for the Nordics and Baltics, which we wrote about earlier here. What this means in practice is likely sharing dealflow and running events together, but entrepreneurs only benefit between better links between institutional and private seed funders.
We look at Helsinki as Finland's hub of gaming, but that isn't to say that other studios in the country aren't making some noise. Today it was announced that Tampere, Finland's Traplight Games has raised a $500,000 round led by Sunstone Capital, Finnvera Venture Capital, East Wings, and Henric Suuronen among other angel investors.
This weekend Startup Weekend Oresund was held on the high seas.
As is common at startup events like this, the energy was buzzing – teams where evaluating business ideas, researching competitors, designing prototypes. Unusual was the setting – being arranged on board the ferry between Sweden and Denmark – between Helsingborg and Elsingor. The ferry departs every 20 minutes, which makes for a setting where you every hour are both in Denmark and Sweden – and gives a sense of time passing that a normal event space cannot really create.
Yesterday I was shopping around Helsinki, looking for a dimmer I could put on a power plug to make a new string of lights for the apartment less blinding. One hardware store I found had one, but only if you bought the €20 remote control to control it. In the back of my mind I was thinking "Well, let's just look on Amazon" but in practice that means exercising my German skills or ending up with a UK shaped plug.
Our last post on Kahoot was about the company hitting a milestone 150,000 users per week, but that seems like small change with this year's school season underway. Today Oslo/London-based Kahoot is seeing more than 900,000 unique new players per week now reaching more than 12 million unique students. These are huge EdTech numbers considering Kahoot is an in-classroom tool, meaning their product is able to hit this traction during precious classroom time.
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post for UKTI
Let’s agree that at one point or other, you are going to the UK. If you are in the tech business, it is more or less unavoidable and for most - very favorable, to end up there whether that is for a business trip, a conference visit or perhaps to set-up a second base for your company.
With Reverse Pitching right around the corner, we talk with Tieto, the largest IT services company in the Nordics that provides services to both the public and private sector, to get a preview of what they're looking for. In recent months Finland's entrepreneurs have been paying more attention to the consulting company after the news that Taneli Tikka, popular Finnish serial entrepreneur with positions including CEO of IRC-gallery, COO and owner of Dopplr, and founder and chairman of a Chinese TLD Registry, has joined the company to focus on Tieto's internal growth plans focusing on the industrial internet.
Big news this week – it was announced that Unity, the game engine startup, gets a new CEO – none other then John Riccitiello, formerly at EA. With the move David Helgason, current CEO and founder, will be stepping down to an EVP role.
There's two things Norwegians know - hardware and winter sports, so it's natural that this new product popped up as Kickstarter opened up in the Scandinavian countries. Dubbed AlpineHawk, it's a little electronic device that you attach to your skis or snowboard that connects to your phone though low-powered Bluetooth for both theft prevention and a number of other uses.
If you ever thought about making your own game but always got stuck with implementation, Lithuanian TutoTOONS are here to win your heart. The team has just won the Silicon Valley Comes to Baltics (SV2B) Startup Battle and received a meeting-full trip to Silicon Valley as their prize. Additionally, they were recognized as the best Lithuanian startup and will now represent Lithuania in Get in the ring Eastern European Finals in Sofia and, if successful, advance to the World Finals in Rotterdam during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Formal recognition aside, however, let's talk about who the people behind TutoTOONS are and what makes their creation so special. TutoTOONS is essentially a well-prepared toolkit that allows anyone to create a mobile game for free. They provide most common game mechanics that you can then adjust to your needs and seamlessly brush up with their standard designs or, most likely, with your own characters, obstacles, background and sound within a simple drag and drop interface.
More big news for GoMore, Denmark’s largest platform for private car hire and car pooling. Afterrevolutionizing car ownership last month, the company have just reached the 200,000 member mark. The company receives on average 15,000 members per month and numbers continue to soar.
You can add Small Giant Games to the list of companies like Seriously, Grand Cru, and Playraven who've successfully raised multi-millions before any game hits the market. To be specific, Small Giant announces they've raised $3.1 million in a round led by Stockholm-based Creandum, followed by PROfounders, Spintop Ventures, and Capital A Partners. A group of private investors also joined the round, including Gregory Milken and Risto Siilasmaa.
November is a dark time to be in Finland, but it’s certainly not stopping more than 10,000 startup enthusiasts from getting together under one roof to talk, have fun and possibly (hopefully) score a few life-changing handshakes. The occasion is, of course, the latest edition of Slush.
Slush has progressively become one of those major yearly events that’s reached global acknowledgement in the world of startups. It’s grown immensely since it first saw daylight in 2008, up to the point that it's beating out Helsinki's 2007 Eurovision song contest as the largest largest technical production in the Nordics.
We've written plenty of articles on the company over the years, but looking back we haven't given Stockholm-based Videoplaza nearly the attention they've deserved, considering they've raised $17.4 million since being founded in 2008 and are in the increasingly-important market of video advertising. But today they're making headlines again with the news that they've been acquired by Ooyala, a subsidiary of Telstra, which powers video for hundreds of broadcasters and media companies, with a focus on engagement and monetization. With Vidoplaza onboard, Ooyala can address everything from content acquisition, playback, ad serving, and personalized content. Over time, Videoplaza will be unified into a single offering for their customers.
Today's the day that Kickstarter opens up in Scandinavia, and with it we're taking another look at Kúla, the Reykjavik-based 3D camera solution that works for any DSLR or smartphone. They've opened up a crowdfunding round with a legal entity in Denmark, and are looking for DkK 233,626 (€31,000).
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post for Imperious Group.
The investment market is becoming increasingly competitive, and the Nordic/Baltic region is starting to attract special attention from VC's. Many major firms now have full-time principals and partners looking at startups everywhere between Denmark and Estonia and others often send representatives to local events.
Stockholm-based Instabridge is back in the news again after raising a $1 million seed round (€780,000) from a group of investors led by Swedish VC Creandum. Getting the rest of the invesmtent news out of the way, the round also included GP Bullhound, business angels such as Niall Murphy, former CTO of TheCloud; Scott Bannister, early board member of PayPal; and Felix Hagnö, co-founder and former CTO of TradeDoubler.