Editor's note: At the end of June while everyone was preparing for summer holidays, the FIN-FSA regulatory body published its new guidelines for equity crowdfunding in Finland, which were near opposite what they presented only a month before that. This sudden change in new guidelines have a huge impact on Finland's crowdfunding industry, which in many ways has been at the forefront of the world's equity crowdfunding scene. Below is a guest post by Antti Hemmilä of Attorneys at law Borenius, who has previously written for us on crowdfunding here.
During the last few years, equity crowdfunding has been a fast growing activity in Finland and in the rest of Europe. Equity crowdfunding has proved to be an attractive funding option for entrepreneurs. While still in the pioneering stage, the largest Finnish equity crowdfunding platforms Invesdor and Venture Bonsai alone claim that approximately EUR 3.5 million of funding has been raised via their platforms. Until now, the Finnish crowdfunding platforms have been operating on the widely accepted consensus that they act as a “media”, and thus no regulated financial services are provided.
We were recently invited to the US Embassy in Helsinki by Finnish start up TeamUp. They had gathered the local Finnish media to announce the launch of their new Windows Phone app and expansion into the United States. Founders Donna and Kimmo Kivirauma were excited to present their start up to the press and explain where they are going.
We've covered Adtile a decent amount in recent months, and we think that the company is heading in an exciting direction - which is just one of the reasons we use their ad platform on ArcticStartup.
With the recently announced $4.5 million (€3.3 million) Series A from private investors, the company aims to build an "app store" for what we think may be the way we will see ads in the future.
The name behind Finland's next hyped gaming company comes from a classification of Champagne. Like all fine champagne, Grand Cru needed to age a few years before it's ready.
Late last night Grand Cru released their first title, Supernauts internationally. Our Finnish and Canadian readers have had access to the game since before Christmas, but that's not all the waiting we've had to do. The first news about Grand Cru coming together came way back in May of 2011 when they received an initial round of investment from Lifeline Ventures, with the game title released back in 2012.
Who's making the games that the game industry playing? That's one question I had at PG Connects Helsinki - PocketGamer's satellite conference that brought together Helsinki's startup scene. Many of these gamers are making games where they aren't necessarily the target audience - I don't think anyone was going around the conference saying "dude, did you see that game where you shoot birds at some pigs' castle." Instead I was expecting to see more hardcore games, or something innovating that got gamers thinking.
This could be a much more exhaustive list, but here's the responses I got after a quick walk:
“Many entrepreneurs say they want to be global from day one, we wanted to build a sustainable business from day one.” Lauri Lehtovuori, the young co-founder of ProPlaza, looks relaxed as he jokes about start up life but his comment reveals an understanding of one of the biggest pitfalls start ups face. Without a credible plan for how they will make money many start ups fall before their great ideas have found a market. Together with three friends Lauri is intent on building a company that will not just survive but also blossom, and they’ve started well. Revenue began coming in on day two. "We began by building a sustainable business model and solving a problem we saw on the market. It seems like a good start for us and we are really happy there is value in what we are doing."
We've been thinking too much about events lately, and decided to buzzfeed together a post about the type of people you see at every Finnish startup event. Have any more suggestions? Let us know in the comments.
1. Finnish Game Dev
- Used to work at Rovio (previously at Digital Chocolate)
- Wearing hoodie from current game company
- Working on F2P character-driven iPad game
- Carries stick to beat away investors
On Tuesday evening ten start ups from across Europe gathered in Espoo, Finland, for the second of eight pitching competitions organised by EIT ICT Labs. ‘Idea Challenge’ is the title under which the competitions take place and each event has a specific topic. Finland’s was ‘Smart Spaces’, and the ideas on display were varied and fascinating, with the judges having a tough time picking the eventual winners.
Movies are going online, games are online, social interactions are going online. Why should sports be any different?
It’s been nearly a year since we last talked about the Finnish parenting start up Wauwaa. Then they had closed a seed round to launch an online platform for parents. It’s the success of that platform that has lead to this new round of investment, to improve the website and service to drive even more growth.
“When you sit your activity level is only 4% higher than when you sleep,” said Ida Mänty, Head of Design and co-founder of Cuckoo Workout, when I met her along with fellow co-founder and CEO, Veera Lehmonen, at their office in Espoo. I decided not to correct them on that statement, my activity level is barely more than the average sloth and 4% sounded way to generous a figure. Thankfully they weren’t referring to me, but to the average office worker, which is the massive pool they are targeting with their fun, office based workout routines.
You know what I miss as a Brit living in Finland? I miss pub culture. I miss popping down to your local with a couple of friends, having a pint or two, catching up and generally just relaxing in a warm pleasant local surrounded by locals who feel like an extended family. And I’m not the only one inconvenienced that, as Sori Brewing’s story shows.
First we went around the Baltics and had an amazing time meeting the wonderful startup communities in Vilnius, Tallinn and Riga. Then we swung over to visit our Nordic brothers and sisters in Stockholm and Oslo (Copenhagen we haven’t forgotten you, we still plan to visit.) Finally we're going around Finland, we visited Tampere last week and we'll be in Turku and Oulu soon. But how could we go to all those wonderful places, see so many awesome people, and not bring the party back to Helsinki? Our home and the host city for Arctic15. Of course we’re going to party here!
It seems like a long time ago that we asked the question, “Where are Finland’s education startups?” We got some excellent replied in the comments, but now it finally appears that we’re getting some proudly talking about their themselves. Fantastec, makers of the Wonder Bunny game series have recently come to us with exciting news of a $800,000 seed fund investment they have secured.
It’s been two years since we covered FourChords, the Finnish app that encourages beginning guitarists by breaking down songs into simple, easily-playable arrangements. There are plenty of details in the original story, but as a quick recap: FourChords makes it easy to play music by visually guiding users through songs’ basic chords, lyrics, and timing. So what’s been going on with them since then? A lot.
The Arctic15 pitching competition is back, where we get our readers to help us select the 15 hottest up-and-coming companies in the Nordic and Baltic region. With Arctic15 coming up May 27 and 28 it's then time to put them up on stage in front of our judges, investors, and swarm of attendees.
Every mobile phone user gets these moments when they wish they could automate your phone a little better - like to make a smartphone an actually smart phone. One group of app developers from Finland have been looking for a solution to many of these nearly unnoticeable impracticalities - like having your phone go on silent for the duration of a meeting or automate SMS sending when your kid leaves school. These little things that make life a little nicer.
Editor's Note: The last paragraph has been changed to reflect that the €994 million is not in fact the value of exits. It is the total number of investments that have exited, the exit value is likely to be higher.
The Finnish Business Angel Network (FiBAN) and Finland’s Venture Capital Association (FVCA) released their collected statistical data on investments made into early stage growth companies in 2013 by private investors and VC companies.
Fonecta, the Finnish directories business that was founded in 2002, is known to be the largest acquierer in Finland. With a turnover of around 190 million euro, they understood that the directories business is not exactly a growing industry so M&A became a core strategy in keeping up with market developments. So as a result, in the past ten years, they have purchased over 70 companies from various industries.
When we first wrote about Hello Ruby, the world took it by storm. The original story that we published got picked up by Hacker News and stayed at the top of the popular news syndicate for around ten hours. Four days later, the campaign reached over $185,000, which was huge considering the humble goal of $10,000.
It looks like everyone is jumping on the startup ship. From governments, to corporations, to media, people are getting excited by what by now looks like a movement.
Finnish Industry Investment has raised a total capital of €130 million is the first closing of their new FoF Growth II fund. Major contributions totaling up to €70 million include Ilmarinen, Keva, Elo and the State Pension Fund.
The FoF Growth fund will invest in approximately 10 funds between the years 2014-2018. Evaluations from the the previous fund, the FoF Growth I, give these funds the potential to go as high as €1 billion in value.
These days most Finnish startup's limited sales force is focused on the whales: big corporate customers that pull in a lot of money, instead of cold calling the long-tail of SMEs in Finland. But there could be a way to plug into the flower shop down the corner. Finnish mobile operator Elisa tells us that they're launching a new app and service store for startups called Taitawa (Editor's Note: This is a working name) through Appelsiini, a company they acquired in 2010.
Full disclosure: I used to consult Giosg, the company powering most of Finnchat’s chat’s.
Chatting has always been a huge part of the internet. At one point, that was probably the most fun thing you could do, because everything else was too slow. Remember the good old ICQ and IRC days?
Let’s talk about ads for a moment. Looking back in history, advertisement was pretty much always there. Egyptians used papyrus for sales posters and political campaign messages were found in ancient ruins of Pompeii and Arabia.
However it has been the last 70 years or so when advertisement really shaped up. Mad Men TV series shows us how commercial television changed the game in the 60's, from there cable TV opened new horizons in the 80’s. Finally in the 90’s we were introduced to the Internet, where the game changed completely once again.
Today, we are on the verge of yet another shift of epic proportions - the increasing use of mobile devices and the fight for getting advertising right on this new medium. However the whole concept of advertisement is getting increasingly out of control. According to some research we see up-to 5 000 ads per day, compared to about 2 000 just 30 years ago. There is no empty space anymore, if it is empty - chances are it will soon be filled with ads. People have become ad intolerant, banner-blind and overly suspicious. So with that in mind, how do you win the mobile ads war?
Looking at 2013, it is probably fair to say that the two hottest areas in Northern Europe at the moment are Gaming and Health. Perhaps the two are almost opposites of the spectrum and as much as I love gaming, I can't help to think how important are startups that can measure success in lives saved as opposed to money made. Unfortunately they do not get as much hype as many other companies and often escape the radar.
For example there is Mendor, a company focusing on one very specific target market - people with Diabetes. When it comes to diabetes, it is extremely important to know your glucose levels (blood sugar) and track daily changes in order to manage the disease. Missing measurements can mean not doing the insulin injection at the right time which can have severe consequences on one's life. To tackle the problem, most people use blood glucose meters.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Jaakko Lindgren and Laura Pirhonen, Castrén & Snellman Attorneys Ltd
Freedom of contract as a main rule in contractual relationships provides for a large variety of options in startup financing. Instruments combining attributes of both equity and debt – which may also be called hybrid or mezzanine instruments - may help to balance the risks and yields of an investment to a level suitable for both parties, but at the same time with financial evaluation one must remember to make important legal considerations. These include e.g. legal issues relating to accounting, corporate law and taxation. An arrangement, which might be flexible and efficient from the point of view of financing, accounting and taxation, might be hard to comply with from corporate law point of view. In the following post we will briefly discuss convertible notes and an instrument called ”SAFE” - a recent financial innovation by yCombinator – from corporate law perspective.
Be prepared and be warned. This article is dangerous and might cause uncontrollable laughter, screen staring and you might even start questioning the meaning of life. We are going to be writing about GIF’s.
Yes, GIF’s, those small animated images that are looped and cause people to share them violently across the web. GIF’s make the internet go around, if you know what I mean.
There are cat related gif’s, meme gif’s, celebrity gif’s, fail gif’s and much more. They can make you laugh or run away in disgust. But one thing is for certain - they are viral.
Helsinki based startup, Smarp, is on the rise. With major client companies in Finland and the UK, Smarp's social business tools and services, and especially their SmarpShare - Service, have been in high demand.
It's a sweet idea actually. According to their researches, more than half of employees feel like they could publish company related content into their personal social media, such as LinkendIn, if only they were encouraged to do so from the highs of the chain-of-command. That's where Smarp steps in, in the form of a game of some sort.
It may come as a surprise to the humble Danes and Finns, but they come in first and second as having the most positive attitude towards entrepreneurship in the world, according to the Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report compiled by the University of Munich. The rest of the countries we cover were not present in the 24 countries the report interviewed.
Below is a quick copy of the report's findings. The percentage in parentheses is the percentage of people with a positive attitude towards self employment.