Funding for new mobile services - put user feedback in use
Agility is essential in mobile service development. Tekes Tempo - Market-oriented mobile services supports companies in bringing their product on the market as quickly as possible and in utilising user feedback for further development. New concepts exploiting mobile possibilities and the ability to generate successful business are expected outcomes from the projects.
Tempo funds early stage development projects. Initial business development is central part of the projects. Possible areas of application are, among others, social media, games, cloud services and the utilisation of location-based information.
Interested in fast mobile development with Tempo?
Find Tempo contact details and more from www.tekes.fi/tempo
To consumers HeiaHeia seems like a consumer product - you see friends sharing their runs and workouts through the service, and the product feels like a social B2C product. But as we wrote last summer, HeiaHeia's business model is targeted towards companies and organizations that wish to proactively lower their healthcare and insurance costs by encouraging more active lifestyles.
For companies like HeiaHeia that have some sort of B2C angle but are doing B2B sales, Raisanen says is important to understand that is that a lot of the things that work on the B2C side doesn't apply to B2B. It's a tricky situation to be in. The service they provide is very dependent on the individual getting excited about it, but at the same time it's a B2B purchasing decision.
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post by Tekes Tempo, where we interview their customers on practical information on running a startup.
Your startup's cashflow is obviously crucial to keep your eye on so we spoke to Rami Korhonen, the CEO of PlayMySong, about how he optimizes their burn rate. For those of you who haven't seen our past coverage of the Helsinki-based startup, PlayMySong allows anyone to create public jukebox out of a playlist on a computer and a mobile app. So if you're throwing a party with your friends, everyone has a say in what song in your Spotify playlist should go next using their smartphone connected to PlayMySong's Spotify app. Or for businesses like restaurants, bars, and gyms, PlayMySong offers a solution that updates the jukebox for the modern world.
If you attended Slush this year, then you definitely have one of the Badger stickers, pictured on the left. After all, the team behind Badger gave out nearly 2 000 stickers at the event, I have one on my freezer and even my desk.
We got together with Joonas Tunturi, the CEO of Social Ark Oy which is the company that created Nextdays and Badger to discuss recruitment in start-ups. They opened shop over a year ago and thanks to getting a Tekes Tempo funding were able to quickly expand the workforce, pivot and create a pretty interesting service.
The focus of Helsinki-based Goosmed is to improve communication in the medical field by building a closed community for health care professionals.
Initially, the company was named Goosevent; founded in 2008 to develop the most suitable tools to share and gather documents for persons’ and community events. The founders have been working in the communication field ever since, now focusing on the growing medical market.
Kiosked is on a mission to turn any sort of visual or social elements into branded webshops, and with it they're on a mission to connect brands directly to consumers through any sort of media. Their service allows anyone to "kiosk" images and videos with products (or whatever content they like) by putting a flash or HTML5 wrapper around the image. When a user hovers over the content, they can find out more information about the product, or buy it right there in the image or video.
Rather than a single solution, the company sees themselves as a platform on which others can build. Their new mobile app created with help from Tekes Tempo is one example of the products that can be built off of their soon-too-be released API toolkit. The app features campaigns from brands, who are crowdsouring the best photos and images of their product in action. The Kiosked app allows users to take and upload digital content, which can be automatically or manually Kiosked into these campaigns.
Face-to-face meetings are a necessary part of the decision making process, but meetings have picked up their negative reputation for a good reason. When no one has time to prepare for a meeting, meeting-goers may not be aware of who they are in the same room with, and have trouble sticking to the meeting agenda. When the meeting is over, many times you don't really know if everyone is on the same page. On top of that, technology in the meeting room may have hurt meeting efficiency more than it has helped it; it's far too easy for colleagues to hide behind their laptop and not use the screen in front of them in productive ways.
But iPads are starting to become the weapon of choice for many corporate warriors, and Helsinki-based Punos Mobile Ltd has come up with solutions to many of these problems by developing an iPad app called Meeting Assistant. Based on their beta testing, some of the most sought-after features allow the users to keep their meetings on time, track to-dos and send notes to everyone right after.
Helsinki-based Kapu Toys has released their first title, Kapu Forest on iOS. Kapu Forest is aimed at younger folks aged 1-4+, and they're staying true to their name in the sense that they're trying to be a digital toy box, rather than a collection of games.
The company itself is the brainchild of five international creatives from the wold of digital design, development, and planning. The idea for Kapu Toys arose in 2011 when the founders noticed that their own children had discovered the use of touch-screen devices, and were mimicking their actions. After more research and discovery, they noticed that many smartphone apps didn’t succeed in providing suitable content for kids.
A somewhat new initiative coming out of Tekes is Tekes Tempo, a program designed to put "feedback into practice" as we called it. In their own worlds, they're a market-oriented mobile services project designed to encourage growth-seeking companies to quickly reach the top of their field.
In 2011, 16 projects were funded with the average amount of funding for each project was just over EUR 43,000. Tempo is designed to cut through the bureaucracy so companies can quickly test out ideas on the market; so far the average processing time has been 33 days.
One company funded through Tekes Tempo this year has been Tellyo, a Startup Sauna Fall 2011 participant that is turning your phone into a personal remote controller that works with existing TVs. We were lucky to have Tekes suggest Tellyo for interview, the company is doing some really interesting stuff at the moment.
Clearly not every start-up makes it, and in this sponsored series for Tekes we thought it would be good to also look at a "failure story" of a company that was previously on Tekes financing. We got the chance to speak with Kai Lemmetty, previously from Floobs, about his experiences with Tekes funding.
Floobs was a live video streaming service for sports clubs and bands, allowing users to record and stream video from mobile phones and supported video cameras. The company was started in 2007 before mobile live-streaming was even on the radar, and could be somewhat compared to what Bambuser is today.
You may have caught our past stories on Ovelin, the makes of Wildchords. The hot Finnish startup grabbed €1.1 million in financing from True Ventures last February, and their guitar teaching app has gotten critical acclaim the world over.
Currently Ovelin is hiring senior game developers, coders, game designers, and is growing the company further. At the moment the company is generally looking at new platforms and new instruments, and will be releasing some new packages soon that contain well known songs, but only from the public domain. Mikko Kaipainen, co-founder of Ovelin, wasn't willing to share anything else about licensing or future plans. But last week the company threw a party in Helsinki with the IGDA to promote their game and celebrate their successful €1.1 million funding round.
Tekes offers a wide variety of financing vehicles fitted to meet the needs of different types of companies in different points of their life cycles. Even going outside the startup sphere, Tekes supports organizations like heavy industry as well as academic and research initiatives.
But for most of our readers, there are a few plans designed to meet the needs of growing companies. Here are some details that are good to know about before going into your first meeting with Tekes. For most of you out there, the main funding vehicles offered are R&D funding, Young innovative growth enterprises, and work organization development.
Editor's Note: This series of posts is sponsored by Tekes and produced in co-operation with ArcticStartup to share experiences from startups about their funding experiences.
From offhand comments in forum comments, hackathons, and local tech events, I'm sure many first-time Finnish entrepreneurs have some pre-formed negative-leaning opinion about how the Tekes bureaucracy works. Without getting into a discussion on how society should support entrepreneurship, realistically there has to be some sort of balance between bureaucracy and free government money. With too much bureaucracy, the system can kill entrepreneurs time and crush innovation. But if the system is too loose, you then have "entrepreneurs" buying fishing boats for their summer cabin.
Where is Tekes on this scale and how should you mangage it? To get to the bottom of the bureaucracy, we talked to Joonas Pekkanen, who's been part of a few Tekes projects. He's currently the CFO of Flockified, who are gearing up to release a full-fledged version of their group buying service. Their teaser page proudly states, "WE'RE BUILDING THE BEST DAMN GROUP PLANNING AND GROUP DECISION MAKING TOOL EVER," which we'll cover more on later in the post, but first, here's our interview with him:
Before applying for Tekes financing, you need to know how Tekes' money can be used. When you apply for financing, you will meet with your Tekes representative to come up with your own spending plan, which will dictate what you're allowed to spend Tekes' money on. It's been described by the entrepreneurs I've talked to as a flexible enough system as long as you confirm new expenses not included in your plan with your Tekes representative before spending any money. Last month, Elina Arpponen gave an example of not including travel costs in her original plan, but luckily she was able to re-allocate expenses with just an email to her representative.
As mentioned earlier in this series, Tekes doesn't give you money upfront to spend. Tekes reimburses entrepreneurs' receipts that stick to the funding plan laid out with their Tekes representative. But generally speaking, Tekes money can be used for any costs associated to research, development, and innovation activities. These include costs like:
With the new year right around the corner, I'm sure many ArcticStartup readers have it in their mind to finally start a company from that business idea they have knocking around in their head. If you're in Finland, you may find help getting off the ground with funding from Tekes, the "Finnish funding agency for technology and innovation." Getting the funding process started with Tekes is fairly straightforward. The basic steps are to first be prepared to answer basics about your company's plans, to send in a sounding form to make contact and discuss more about your company, and then to prepare the actual application.
Before submitting anything to Tekes, take a second to familiarize yourself with is a list of test questions your Tekes contact person will likely ask after you submit your application. I'm sure you've seen these Due Diligence questions before, but its good to solidify your answers to questions like "Who are your potential customers," early in the stage where your company is applying for Tekes financing.
Our coverage of Liilak about a month ago provides a good picture of the idea crowdsourcing service, but after talking to CEO Jarkko Jokirinta as part of a series of posts on behalf of Tekes, we learned more about the next layer they're placing on top of that service. "We aim to be the de facto link between people and businesses all around the world," says Jokirinta. "When anyone has a praise or an idea about a product they use every day or business they somehow are in connection with, all they need to do is open Liilak and share their thoughts."
In this way, they're moving towards more of a combination of Twitter, Foursquare, and a feedback system. Through each other's praises and by following other people and their suggestions Liilak allows people to learn what is buzzing. "We empower the crowd to think of better ways of doing things and create enough buzz to get the Businesses to listen."
For the first of a series of posts we're doing in cooperation with Tekes Tempo, I had the opportunity to talk with Rami Korhonen of Playmysong about his financing through Tekes. If you're unfamiliar with Tekes Tempo, you may find a past article we did helpful as some background. In general, Tempo's goal is to quickly test products out on the market by providing financing as quickly as possible-- their aim is to provide financing within one month of a startup's application. The program's goal not necessarily to develop a finished product, but rather to gain more knowledge of markets and users.
But back to Rami and Playmysong. We've covered PlaymySong in the past, but if you haven't heard about them, Playmysong is a social jukebox app that lets you control the background music you hear when you're out at a bar, diner, or similar location. The new version of their iPhone app released last week shows your Facebook photo in the upcoming playlist, and allows you also host your own social stereo on your iPhone.