Riga is in the fun period of a startup scene on the rise. Unlike Stockholm's giants like Spotify or Truecaller sucking up all the talent and defining the scene, Riga's companies are starting to grow, build new infrastructure, and define what it means to be a startup in Riga without much context.
Garage48 has earned reputation with 48-hour hackathons where typically mobile and web applications are built over the weekend and can-do attitude and entrepreneurial spirit boosted among participants. Last year the team ventured for the first time into the realm of physical gadgets with Garage48 Hardware & Arts, the second edition of which gathered last weekend in Tartu 140 engineers, developers, designers and artists.
The first week of February in 2015 marks a watershed moment for the Icelandic startup ecosystem as three funds announced that they had finished their funding rounds and were ready to invest.
For many years the only VC fund in Iceland was NSA Ventures which was established in 1997 but his origins were government loan funds. NSA Ventures is an evergreen fund so it needs to exit an investment to have funds to be able to invest again. NSA Ventures CEO is Helga Valfells.
Latvian Draugiem Group seems to have discovered Kickstarter after launching two campaigns at once. First: Displio, a small customizable display for your notifications is already funded in less that 10 days. And second: Luxafor, a USB light indicator that shows your colleagues whether you are available to talk is below half of its funding with less that a week to go.
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post for PR Newswire.
Although Public Relations was only recognised as a profession in 1900 with the establishment of the Publicity Bureau by George V. S. Michaelis in Boston, its practice dates back thousands of years. Julius Caesar used publicity to convince the Romans that he was the best leader in his fight for power with Pompeii, and the Levellers in England used pamphlets to promote universal suffrage.
The profession has constantly evolved. In the early 20th century, it moved from being mainly a pastime of governments to the private sector. From the 1950s onwards, the trade developed professionally. Trade associations and agencies were formed. Schools began teaching it and the term became well known.
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post written together with our accounting firm.
Before starting your own company an accountant is an abstract concept - just people in box whose name was on your salary receipt. Having found a good one, we spoke with our accountants, Nordic C-Management about how startups should go about selecting the right firm so they don’t make the same mistakes we did.
Helsinki's Yoga Retreat could be described as sort of a "Farmville for Yoga", first launching as a Facebook game back when that made sense, and eventually moving to mobile as the market shifted. With that background it was easy to think Gajatri Studios have been playing catchup with their tropical Yoga retreat simulation game.
But with the launch of their Heart and Breath features, which plugs their game into heart-rate monitors, you could see they're just adapting and innovating with their described demographic of "women who pay with their own credit cards and are into simulation games, healthy lifestyle, well-being, yoga and high quality content."
In acquisition news, Denmark's Endomondo has been acquired by fitness giant Under Armor in an $85 million deal. The product will continue to be developed under the Endomondo brand but with the acquisition, Under Armour has bought at least 20 million users as well as a fitness tracking platform that plays well with external devices like Android Smartwear and Pebble watches.
Editor's note: our writer Marija Odineca part of the Labs of Latvia team
Just in a month, on March 3, the Latvian startup community platform Labs of Latvia is launching. In our region we have seen a trend of location-based startup community platforms of various kinds, including #CPHFTW, Øresund Startups, #SthlmTech in the Nordics and Startup Lithuania and Startup Estonia in the Baltics. Community platforms are great uniters, storytellers and entry points to their scenes. And I joined building one for my home scene, for all the right reasons:
After Creandum's huge $14 million raise into Sweden's KnCMiner only this past September, news broke that Accel Partners has led a new $15 million round into the company that sells and rents hardware for bitcoin mining professionals. In addition to this $29 million in funding rounds, KnC says it has generated over $100M in revenue since launch and re-invested most of its profits in the mining operation.
Lithuanian Rewalon that debuted last year as a corporate micro-reward service is now expanding into corporate gamification sphere. Over the last year they have quickly gained traction and signed deals with significant B2B clients like Swedbank, American Express and Alfa Bank. Their new product, Challenger, is an extension of their existing corporate loyalty solution based on feedback gathered from clients.
Editor's note: This article originally attributed Aspiro to Norway - it has now been fixed to Sweden
Sweden's Aspiro, owner of music streaming services WiMP and Tidal have gotten a unique exit under their belt after being acquired by Jay Z's company, Project Panther Bidco, for SEK 464 million (€49.6 million).
Startup Zkyon, which is currently developing a service for creating new revenue for bloggers and newspaper publishers, has recently received a substantial investment from Symbal Communication, as reported by8till5.se.
Walk down the halls of the Slush startup conference and it's hard not to notice that there's a lot of health tech coming out of Finland. With GE Healthcare already bumping up against startups at their co-working space at their Helsinki campus, they'll be battling for startup affection with Vertical Health Accelerator, a new Helsinki-based accelerator that has partnered with Samsung Electronics.
Helsinki-based Mobile app developer Seriously announces today some nice round traction numbers coming out of their free-to-play title, Best Fiends, in the "match shiny things together" genre. Namely, Best Fiends has reached 7 million downloads with uses spending 400,000 hours in the game.
The true measure of a VC firm is their return on investments, but you can't help but notice that Helsinki-based early stage VC firm Inventure has been making more and more noise in the past year, both with the quantity of investments and the growth of the organization. Today Inventure announces they've added on two new Venture partners who are working on expanding Inventure's presence outside of their native Finland.
The Swedish e-commerce scene is about to become stronger than ever as the year starts with two new initiatives launched. On the one hand there is launch of groundbreaking measurement tool for e-commerce sector that will help with in-depth analysis of industry’s performance, the E-handel Index. And on the other hand there is creation of new e-commerce park of Sweden a coworking space and logistics center that aims to solve e-commerce companies problems related to logistics, operations or warehouses. What is notable is that the name of Dan Nilsson, founder of Ehandel.se and former entrepreneur behind Roliga Prylar / AlphaGeek, appears in both cases.
Talouselema reports that Jami Laes is leaving Rovio to start his own gaming company, stepping down as Executive Vice President of Games.
You might roll your eyes when you hear that another cross-platform mobile app development platform has raised a couple million, but Norway's Fuse, created by Outracks Technologies, is pulling from their deep knowledge of app development and phone hardware to make it easier for developers to make parallel versions of apps for iOS and Android.
Latvia's oldest co-working space TechHub Riga has filmed a video to promote startup culture and gather some funds for TechHub Riga fundraising campaign. The story of the piece revolves around tech heroes based in Valley of Spirit conquering new heights of success by traveling around the startup world. You can view the piece here: