As you all know, it’s been an interesting few weeks at Nokia - a new CEO, top executives leaving, the company stock wallowing at absurdly low values. When Ville Vesterinen asked me what I thought of the changes and the cultural and organizational challenges Nokia has to deal with to move forward, I knew I had a lot to say.
I worked for Nokia for a long time mostly in marketing and product development, leaving in the Great Exodus of talent in the summer of 09. My time at Nokia was marked by MS Stinger and our response with S60 and the 7650; the (slow) rise of 3G; iTunes and offspring (iPhone); and the rise of Web 2.0, Google, and Facebook.
Future Female is a new Finnish network for likeminded women who work, use or are interested in technology, business and all-things-digital. For me that reads geek girls loud and clear. It's great to see geek girl networks popping up in the Nordic and Baltic scenes. Especially given how many talented ladies there is out there.
This has got to be the stupidest law preparation I've heard in a while. Today's Helsingin Sanomat writes (in Finnish unfortunately) about a law that is under preparation in the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The law in essence gives the government the possibility to deny the sale of a corporation overseas, ie. an acquisition, if it endangers Finland's "national interest".
Finland's Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice as well as the Finnish Competition Authority have said that the law is too broad. If the law goes through, it can infringe basic rights and the freedom of trade and industry. In my opinion, this is law would be a huge step towards a 1984 type totalitarianism.
Applifier is a new Finnish startup that was pivoted from Everyplay, which was originally a social games developer. Applier is a cross-promotion network of independent social application developers on Facebook. It's user base has blow up over night and gone from zero to 55 million users in four months. The service currently represents over 100 social games and applications, and reaches more than 55 million monthly active users (MAUs). According to the company, it reaches more Facebook users than any social game publisher, except of course Zynga.
‘’The markets are on the web, the production power is on the web, both globally available for everyone’’ Mårten Mickos, CEO, Eucalyptus Systems.
Let’s do a small intellectual play: Web 2.0 services, or the current generation’s internet companies globally, are built for the most part on top of the so-called LAMP-stack. In other words their infrastructure is based on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP – a selection of open source software programs.
This is an exciting week for the Nordic startup scene: each country has seen a boom in startup activity during the recent months, so we have decided to organize a road trip together with AaltoVG, in an effort to bring the community closer.
The idea is to meet with the actors of each country, find new and interesting startup stories, potential partners, and friends!
Veraventure, a Finnish government backed early stage investment organisation, will open up access to its angel network for all startups. Veraventure is known as the government's investment arm to leverage private investors' efforts. Over the years it has accumulated quite an attractive network of private investors from Finland.
In Finland, we think he’s a fool who thinks he’s better than everyone else, disrespects the rules and is probably Finnish-Swedish.
Entrepreneurs are the same. They are opportunists and idealists. In its original French, the word means: somebody who will attempt to create something.
On one hand it’s a risky, lonely and difficult endeavor. But on the other hand, it’s thrilling, challenging and potentially offers great returns (value, jobs). I believe we Europeans, and especially in Finland, spend too much time focusing on the former and not enough on the latter.
Thinglink, a Finnish startup, has come out with a new focus. Little over a year ago we wrote about the company and how they were opening up their Beta. Ulla-Maaria Engeström's blog post goes on to explain how during that Beta phase they explored all the possible variations of linking together people, things and the information the things hold. Even if brief, It's an important account on how a startup can dig out the essence of a minimum viable product (MVP) on their way to product/market fit.
Fruugo, the much-debated ambitious Finnish e-commerce startup (see our previous coverage) that has raised tens of millions of euros of funding, filed its 2009 annual report last Friday. The report reveals the company made a loss of 11,040,071 euros (USD ~13.9M) in the financial year 2009. Despite the huge loss, the result was actually a slight improvement from 2008 when the company made a loss of 14.5 million euros. The report also tells that Fruugo produced a turnover of 8236 euros (yes, not a typo; i.e. USD ~10,350) from the sales commissions in 2009. The company launched its web storefront, available to consumers in Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands (and including merchants from also the UK), in May 2009 several months late from the planned schedule.
Zonga is a new Finnish startup committed to make the Internet experience easier, better, and cheaper for all the globetrotters around the world by providing a mobile Wi-Fi rental service. The company was founded by Internet enthusiasts feeling the frustration of getting and staying online while traveling. While mobile services and Wi-Fi hotspots are getting more and more common, every business traveler knows what pain it is to try to get connected while on the go. Many mobile phones can create a Wi-Fi hotspot over 3G, but while traveling abroad mobile data roaming is usually outrageously expensive and thus not feasible. And Wi-Fi never seem to be conveniently located nor priced.
Something that none of my friends abroad have been able to understand is the Finnish summer holiday. You take four to eight weeks holiday and for this sacrifice you get an extra pay day. For good or for ill, that's nevertheless how we roll here in the Nordics. Not all of us, but most. Most of us entrepreneurs are different though and love to work on cool projects instead shutting down for the summer. And thus, if you find yourself bored out of your mind once your country shuts down for the summer, there is a way out: build a startup!
Nordic media, take note. Finland is notorious for its lack of entrepreneurs. A collaboration between student-run associations from the top 3 schools in Helsinki (Aaltoes, Hankenes and Hues) has raised 50,000 euros in public funding, to encourage students to create startups during the Summer.
Summer of Startups will take place during July and August and will provide 750 euros per month in funding to each team member, regardless of their school or country of origin. This is the first time such a program does not take any equity, unlike programs such as Y-Combinator, Techstars, or Startup Bootcamp Denmark. The goal is purely educational, in order for students to try entrepreneurship without having to fear from failure. Stanford started a similar initiative called SSE Labs, which will run from June 15th-Sept 15th.
Disclaimer: I am the main coach of this program.
The Nordic Tech Tour, organized by the independent not-for-profit organization The European Tech Tour has kicked off today. During two and a half days, the selected 30 promising early and later stage growth companies based in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and the Baltic countries will gather together with the leading cross-border venture capital and global corporate firms.
During the event, the companies have twenty minutes to present their business plans to 70 international delegates, consisting of senior partners, VPs, and CEOs from the global venture capital and technology industry, as well as advisors and academics. The investment capital present at the Tour is said to be worth over €10 billion.
"Harvard spinoff promises genome sequencing for $30"
This was the headline from FierceBiotech Research, a biotech journal. It's also a game changing development for the industry as a whole and part of a bigger trend of personalized cancer medicine. The first time scientists sequenced a human genome it cost $ 3 billion. Then it went to $ 6 million (2006), then $ 60,000 (2008), in June 2009 Illumina pushed it to $ 20,000, Nov 6 2009 Complete Genomics promised $ 4,400. The prediction for the coming year? $ 1,000 in 2-3 years and further down to $ 100 in 5-10 years.
Last week Tallinn was hot with startup and entrepreneur activity. Latvian travel search engine startup MoVoLo won the Elevator Pitch Competition organized by ArcticStartup and Tehnopol Estonia as part of the Third Annual Tallinn Conference by The International Technology Law Association and Enterprise Estonia. Also ArcticEvening Tallinn, among other startup events the same week, gathered a great crowd of entrepreneurs and likeminded people together.
Finnish web design solution provider Hammerkit has launched a closed beta of the new version of its cloud-based web design tool with revamped UI and features. The company's tool allows web designers to implement even complex websites on their own, without the need for help from programmers. Traditionally web designers have built mock-ups and wireframes, and then transferred these over to programmers to implement and weave in database connections etc. dynamic functionality. Hammerkit aims to revolutionize this old school fashion, allowing creativity without learning complex programming techniques - thus the company's tagline "a tool for the web punk generation."
Silicon Valley Journey - Experience of Finnish IT Startups from Dot-Com to 2010 is a new book published just recently that delves into the secrets of Silicon Valley from the Finnish perspective. It's written by Raija Rapo and Marita Seulamo-Vargas, two Finnish business journalist residing in the Silicon Valley. Pekka Pärnänen of Finnode had also his fingers in the pie in making the book happen. The book is at the same time a guide to how to go about entering the Valley with your startup and a window into the history of Finnish technology entrepreneurship. At least into the history of those who were ambitious enough to try to enter the infamous Bay Area.
When I got the draft copy of the book I thought I would find it boring as I already know most of this stuff. How wrong was I. Come page 20 or so and I had lost track on time and didn't even notice how the war stories and historical accounts had sucked me in. Although admittedly you need to be into technology entrepreneurship to find the book interesting, but given where you're reading this article I think you are just the right type.
Gigswiz, a Finnish startup founded by Juuso Vermasheinä with the ex-Floobs duo Kai Lemmetty and Joonas Pekkanen, has just launched in Beta. The service aims to enable bands and artists to better tell where they have fans who'd be willing to come and see them play. The team hasn't wasted any time as the beta launch came just months after they started to work on the idea in this February.
The service is an analytics platform for the live music industry and it should help bands, their agents and local promoters make better informed decisions on where bands should arrange concerts and tours. GigsWiz gathers fan requests through widgets that sit on the bands’ web sites and is looking to combine it with real-time consumption data from online music services. The actual widget can sit on the band's web pages, MySpace pages and Facebook pages.
A while back EnterpriseHelsinki invited Tom Keller of TechStars to come and speak at their event in Helsinki on their incubation model, how they get high quality startups emerge from TechStars' program and whether this could be possible in Helsinki, Finland since it's possible in Boulder, Colorado, which is mere 100,000 strong town in the Rockies. Boulder, much like Helsinki now, has not always been famous as a hot bed for startups, but has lately become as one.
Partied too hard and lost your stuff? There's a cool new Finnish startup looking to help you out with your lost belongings - FinderBase.com. The was launched only a few days ago, on the First of May in Helsinki, Finland. The launch was handled in junction with the First of May celebrations, where most of the country goes out to celebrate in parks with their friends. Needless to say, a lot of stuff is lost.
“This is the first step to turn our Advanced Therapy Access Program results into cancer therapeutics”, comments Pekka Simula, CEO and co-founder.
Oncolytic viruses enter into cancer cells where they aggressively replicate. The replication kills cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
The next generation oncolytic viruses address the key challenges of cancer therapy: They mediate sustained anti-tumor immune response, are tumor selective, provide systemic response and have mild to moderate side effects compared to routine therapies.
Eat.fi is hands down one the best designed Finnish webservices, if not the best. I love it and use it weekly, but can't keep thinking it could be so much more.
Facebook just yesterday released its new API in its developer conference f8. This is really big news for everybody. Much bigger than we can yet grasp. With their new really(!) big vision, Facebook will now compete with Google in being the one who parses the web together for the rest of us. Google does it with hyperlinks. Facebook will try to do better job with the meta data from our social relationships. That aside for a moment, let's look at what this announcement could mean for Eat.fi in the short term.
Just as with Yelp, who was Facebook's partner at the f8 launch and have integrated their service to Facebook API, Eat.fi could gain similar benefits by simply integrating its service with the Facebook API. This would surely channel more traffic to Eat.fi as it would let people see who else likes the same restaurants (or even meals) that they do and let the users share the restaurant reviews more easily to their activity feed on their Facebook profile. The Facebook integration would help Eat.fi to get more traffic, but I believe they could do much more.
Veraventure, the government owned venture capital company that works with early stage Finnish companies, has recently become more transparent regarding its investment activities. This is a very good sign and should be carefully noted by venture capitalists and other seed investors not already doing so. With the renewal of Veraventure's new website, one is now able to go through all the investments Veraventure has made.
Shobble is a young new service that aggregates e-commerce stores (sound familiar?), which lets the user rate and reviews the different stores. It's based in Helsinki and only in Beta. And it's build by Jori Lallo - a single student - on his spare time.
Further, Shobble collects user reviews and ratings on e-commerce stores as well as other info that might affect a buying decisions, like delivery costs, available payment methods, return policies and so on. Thus, the service will aim to bring all the conversation from the forums and the grape wine to a one single easily found location. Simple, yet potentially quite powerful concept if the masses will start using it as e-commerce becomes more popular in the Nordics.
Culminatum Innovations is organising as part of its International Business Program an IBP Camp in Helsinki where startups will receive top notch advice and help towards different ways of financing and internationalisation. The camp itself has been hand tailored on the specific needs towards startups and thus it will surely benefit all the participants. This is a quick shout out to all the companies who are at that point in their lifecycle that internationalisation and financing are interesting topics. There aren't a lot of spots left so better hurry up and apply. It's a steal for only 200€ + VAT for a full day with expert advice (and a guaranteed entrance to the already sold out ArcticEvening afterwards).
Ticket registrations for our ArcticEvening Helsinki event are open! You'll find the registration module in this post a bit down the post. Before registering, do take a minute to see what we have in store for you. Like we said before, the topic for the evening is "Investments and things that go with it".
RapidBue Solutions has earlier been working with proximity marketing solutions that use Bluetooth to offer a wide range of content directly to consumers' mobile phones at point-of-sales, events, and exhibitions. Now the company has finalized a new product offering and is starting to expand more widely into the Nordic countries.
Retailers, exhibition and event organizers, and shopping malls, for example, always need better ways to understand their customers, and in essence, learn about their consumers' real movements in the physical space. RapidBlue is now aiming to enable them to better market to their customers and track the effectiveness of the marketing actions and layouts based on real consumer behavioral data. The solution works in any area over any time period, and tracks when, where and how the customers move.
Sendandsee is a Finnish startup. Not by age, but by ethos. The company is older than most non-startups, but they have never lost the promise of super fast growth if only the pieces would fall into place. Now they might just be about to do that.
I had a chat with the founder Aape Pohjavirta and he told me the exciting Sendandsee story. I may get some dates and events a bit wrong, but am sure you can parse the story together. In 1996-1997 Aape and a few other people got an idea that there might be something there in mobile. You still remember what mobile was in -96? Yep, this was the mobile experience back then and we were on the top of the world here in Finland.
2001 saw the emergence of the color screen phones and Sendandsee got the idea to license photos from leading image companies including Getty Images to push through the mobile. In May 2003 they got the first ones into production. In October 2003 they invented the mobile publishing concept and made Symbian and Java clients that in mind. This does not sound like much now, but back then they basically single handedly proved that this was technically possible. This was also when Sendandsee came out with mobile magazines which they sold for €2 a piece. This mobile publishing innovation landed the company on Newsweek cover sometime in 2005. This is also when XML came into the picture, Sendandsee was able to update the content on the mobile magazines and got all the big Finnish media companies to buy in.
It's about time, I've heard many of you say and I agree. It's about time we organise another ArcticEvening to get the growth entrepreneurs and people working to make the ecosystem better together once more. This time it's different though. We've changed the venue to a slightly bigger one so we can fit close to 200 of you in!