So you have accidentally enabled data roaming while travelling and your iPad started syncing. Soon enough you will end up with a roaming bill that is likely to be more expensive than your phone. At other times, you actually need the internet while abroad but there is no WIFI or any other connectivity, so you simply must use the 700 EUR per gigabyte roaming fee to go online. This happens to be the current price ceiling for roaming costs as set by the EU commission.
Ukko Mobile, a Helsinki based start-up, is aiming to solve that through the use of patent pending technology which allows for a single-sim, flat-fee coverage in the whole of Europe. Basically you will get one data sim-card that will always act as a local card, no matter where you go. There will not be a need to purchase or switch sims ever again.
Helsinki-ish based game studio Cute Attack has launched a new title on iOS entitled Captain Clumsy. Its a pretty cool game. It stars a clumsy pirate (given by hooks on both hands) who drops his gold from the top of the mast. You have to navigate him him down the masts to collect the gold, and avoid the jerk seagulls.
The game is launching with 26 levels, and they say there's lots of replay value. The app is free to play, and is monetizing through power-ups like gull smashers and coin magnets.
The sun isn't the only thing that's hot in Singapore. A team of Finns at Nonstop Games has raised a €2.2 million round led by Creandum and Lifeline Ventures. With the funding they're continuing their development, and are opening up an office in San Francisco. On top of that, Heroes of Honor, their next game, will launch later this Spring.
Not too many details are shared about the game before it's released, but the game is based in a fantasy world with three different factions fighting for power. Alliances are a big portion of the game - players have to band together and perform real-time coordinated attacks between thousand-of-player armies.
CEO and Co-Founder Juha Paananen tells us that it's slower paced than a desktop Real Time Strategy game, but you can still see and cooperate with other players in real time.
"We played a lot of strategy and RTS games growing up, like Command and Conquer and all those other kinds of games," says Paananen. "When we started we were really excited if you can add something to the genre, because I think it's something that really hasn't evolved on tablets and mobile devices."
Nonstop games has been creating casual HTML5 games, such as Dollar Isle, a city builder and Paint Stars, sort of a Draw Something clone. In their next release they're still using HTML5 as part of their platform, but Paananen tells us that their first focus is the App Store and Google Play stores. When they release the game, they plan to do so simultaneously on both platforms, which should be interesting to watch.
“We’ve been extremely excited about Nonstop Games since our initial investment in 2011 and we think they are building something revolutionary with their new game,” says Petteri Koponen, Lifeline Ventures.
Editor's Note: This post is part of a partnership with International VC Zone
With nearly 100 companies participating or exhibiting, Finland and the Baltic States clearly made a lot of noise at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year, the worlds largest exhibition for the mobile industry. The companies from the region clearly demonstrated that this is an important location for everybody, especially investors to be interested in.
As Michael Jackson, former COO of Skype and currently the general partner of Mangrove Capital Partners told Arcticstartup: "This year's MWC was huge! The new venue is massive, and I would say it needs a year to settle down."
Nokia is no longer the single focus point and there are many others that are making a dent in the market thanks to an abundance of talent and strong entrepreneurial spirit. This creates the perfect ingredients for companies that are aiming to conquer the global market. Companies from the region do so through breakthrough innovation and an understanding that in order to be a global player, they need to think big right from the start.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Natalie Gaudet
In 2011, I was prompted to write an article about the situation of female entrepreneurs. I wrote the article being fed up of being asked the same question countless of times, “where are all the women entrepreneurs”
I wanted to revisit the topic as I feel like the situation has changed tremendously in the last couple of years. I am happy to say that I have seen an influx of women entrepreneurs in our scene.
Numbers are rising
In fact, if we compare, we are doing so much better than the United States. We have estimated that 7 % are women technology founders in this region- (this figure was taken from the Startup Sauna applications.) As opposed to only 3% in the United States (entering American Seed Accelerators).
Microsoft Owes Denmark $1 Billion While Google, Facebook And Others Do Everything They Can To Avoid Taxes
In the recent news it was uncovered that Microsoft owes Denmark 5.8 billion Danish Crowns (Around $1.015 Billion) in back taxes as a result of Microsoft’s acquisition of Navision in 2002.
According to the Danish tax authorities, following the acquisition, the Navision’s money making assets were sold to Microsofts Irish subsidiary below market value. That company is in turn owned by companies in Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. Which is why Microsoft is often targeted by tax authorities worldwide, as their network of affiliated companies worldwide makes it extremely easy for them to channel profits into tax havens where the corporate tax is virtually non-existent.
If you're a project manager or designer trying to sell an app concept to your customers, you've probably learned a customer's reaction to a concept is completely different when it's just a few pictures on a presentation screen or if it's a functional app they can test out for themselves. Interactive marketing is always better, so that's what Helsinki and San Francisco-based AppGyver is offering with their new product, Prototyper.
Developers or designers just have to upload their existing wireframes, mockups, or photoshop images online to the AppGyver Prototyper. The service then allows you to add buttons to the place where you drew them, and give them basic functionality like moving back and forth through screens, using transition animations, or even take advantage of native hardware features, like the camera.
These days the iPad is becoming tool of choice for the meeting rooms. You're not hunched over laptop, but with your tablet you can still find more data and take notes. But according to Helsinki-based Punos Mobile, right now users are too spread between apps and services for the meeting lifecycle. Their new app, Meeting Assistant, lets users prepare an agenda, take notes, and find out more relevant info within the app - all for the sake of more efficient meetings. If this all sounds familiar, we covered them last August, although their solution officially launched last week.
Helsinki has another Fashion startup popping up within its borders. StyleLoving is a new social startup that helps you collect the fashion items you find in one place. It feels close to Pinterest, in the sense that members collect items and follow friends, but is more focused towards clothing, accessories, and the fashion blogging community that surrounds it.
StyleLoving was created by Helene Auramo, co-founder of Finland’s most popular blogger community, Indiedays. “I needed a convenient place to store my online finds. I also wanted to share my finds with others and talk about them,” Auramo explains. “As we are inspired by style finds of bloggers and other fashion forerunners, I wanted to see pictures of their outfits on the same platform with the products.”
Last night the Helsinki Facebooks and Twitters were abuzz with the news that Flowdock has been acquired by Boulder, Colorado-based Rally Software. Flowdock will continue to stay as an independent product, but will be integrated more closely with AgileZen, Rally's project management app. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
If you haven't seen our past coverage, Flowdock is team collaboration software built with developers in mind. Flowdock pluggs into tools like Pivotal Tracker, GitHub, as well as customer feedback channels like Zendesk. A full list of features can be found here. In November of 2011, Flowdock received $650,000 seed funding from Gil Penchina, CrunchFund, Marten Mickos, and IDG Ventures.
YouTube is opening up a localized homepage for Finnish audiences, giving advertisers a new opportunity to target the Finnish audience. This isn't the first time YouTube has come to the region, but it's the first time in years; Sweden received their own localized homepage in October of 2008.
The first Finnish company to brand Youtube.fi is Marimekko. A front-page branding takeover will cost €11,000 a day.
Finland's government-backed Vigo accelerator program has released a mid-term evaluation of the Vigo program with the goals of determining the effectiveness of the Vigo concept for accelerators, as well as how Vigo has impacted high-growth entrepreneurship. Since the Vigo Accelerator program began in 2009, startups have received €100 million in funding (June 2012) when participating in the Vigo program. The collection of nine venture accelerators have a portfolio of 60 selected companies, and include some of the bigger startup names in Finland, such as Supercell, Transfluent, and Zen Robotics.
Of this €100 million in funding, the ratio between public and private money is about a 1:1 ratio. The following diagram shows the funding flows:
Having a flourishing startup ecosystem is great, but what is even cooler is to be able to see who are the most active participants. That’s basically what San Francisco, Hello.fi and Skyhood did when they introduced Startup100.net, a list of the “hottest” startups in Finland. The idea is to measure the social activity, mentions and visibility of companies and their products and mash it all together in an algorithm that will calculate and rank all startups.
We were very curious as to how exactly the list is put together and we got some feedback from Juhani Polkko, startup marketer and co-founder at San Francisco Oy. He told us that the exact methods used for calculating the S100 index are a secret sauce, but he did shed some light on the procedure.
The list is based on URL’s instead of keywords and measures attention received from media, bloggers, influencers and users. There are currently 250 startups that are tracked and Juhani believes that the list is at least 90% accurate. This is a very early beta and they preferred to launch it sooner rather than later and improve based on user feedback. So without further adieu, here are the TOP 25 companies in Finland from Startup100.net:
Grand Cru has made into the finals of the Amazon AWS Challenge, and out of the 12 finalists in 4 different categories, they're the only ones from Northern Europe to make the list. At ArcticStartup we normally don't cover a lot of company-sponsored competitions for the PR flurry that they are, but it gives us an excuse to talk about the fairly secretive Helsinki-based Grand Cru and their upcoming title, Supernauts.
For those of you who haven't seen our past coverage, Supernauts is sort of a sandbox game populated by Superhero-styled worldbuilders. Thorbjörn Warin, their Marketing and Business Development Director says that the easiest (but not the most accurate) way to describe the game is "Minecraftville". "We've had a lot of Minecraft players test the game, and they really like the touch interface for example. You can see small parts of it in the video, you just take your finger and drag and all the sudden stuff happens."
FundedByMe has expanded from their native Sweden and launched their equity crowdfunding platform in Finland. The company also offers the more traditional rewards-based crowdfunding platform (think Kickstarter), but equity crowdfunding offers some interesting new opportunities to startup companies by allowing them to raise money by selling shares to a large number of investors who can invest smaller amounts of money. The minimum amount needed to invest on FundedByMe is €50.
How does your team communicate at work? There are a lot of team communication tools out there, but check out Helsinki-based Ninchat, a nicely designed and accessible browser-based chat client. Ninchat is free to use and can be used for any sort of chat communication, but they're targeting the product towards companies that need secure team communication that's backed up in the cloud.
When logging on you'll notice it looks like an online version of IRC. Ninchat CEO Ville Mujunen calls IRC "beautiful" and "impossible to kill", but sees value in adding features and running it in a browser and through the cloud. Ninchat offers a secure backlog, history search, notifications when your name is mentioned, and video chat to get people communicating more efficiently, as well as mobile use as a HTML5 app (with a native Android and iOS apps eventually coming).
A new public competition is attempting to shake up the perception of entrepreneurship as a career path in Finland. Harva on Rautaa (literally "few of us are iron" - taken from a 70's Finnhits song) will select one Finnish entrepreneur per city and have them battle each other for five months. Progress can be followed on their website, where they plan on publishing one at least one video clip every day of the week. Finnish entrepreneurs can also apply with a deadline of today.
The competition is being put together by Pasi Ilola, and is supported by the Software Entrepreneurs Association (Ohjelmistoyrittäjät), Teknologiateollisuus, Tekes, Microsoft and others.
Editor’s note: This guest post is written by Kostas Papageorgiou, a copywriter in Finland who creates engaging content for startups
Right off the back from all the coverage Startup Sauna and Slush has received, it’s easy to forget that there’s also a startup scene outside the Finnish capital region. Turku, the third largest city in Finland, and home for the likes of Walkbase, NurseBuddy and Belon.gs, is slowly, but surely establishing itself as a breeding ground for aspiring entrepreneurs
Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Antti Hemmilä, a Specialist Partner at Attorneys at law Borenius Ltd.
While crowdfunding is not a new concept, it is getting a lot of media attention nowadays. Crowdfunding is evolving and new crowdfunding platforms provide an excellent tool for financing different projects, whether these are art projects, game or hardware/device development or even equity financing. Yet the use of these new platforms and practices needs to comply with the existing regulations, which sometimes causes conflict. The first guest blog published on 23 October 2012 featured legal issues related to using donation/rewards-based crowdfunding platforms, and this second blog addresses equity funding and the use of equity crowdfunding platforms.
The Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen opened Slush 2012 with great enthusiasm about the Finnish startup scene. Katainen has been popping up more and more around the entrepreneurship circles in recent weeks, first touring the renovated Startup Sauna co-working space with Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.
Onstage at Slush Katainen started off his talk by jokingly showing off his multicolored painted nails, which Rovio's Peter Vesterbacka (who also had his nails painted) later explained it signified how enthusiastic and accessible the Finnish Government was. Katainen seemed bemused about it onstage, but Vesterbacka (sort of) has a point - "When has Obama had his nails painted?"
But it wasn't all a princess tea party. Katainen spoke about €200 million worth of tax proposals his government will implement to make Finland a better environment for startups.
Reaktor, a Finnish IT company, is now moving to becoming a hands-on seed investor in Finland. Reaktor solves IT and software needs for large customers like Elisa (telecom), Rovio (one of the leading gaming companies in the world) and many other big names in Finland. The company has been rated the best place to work for four years in Finland, and was once rated as the best place to work in Europe.
The investment arm is named POLTE, which means sort of a "burning intensity" in Finnish. Oskari Kettunen, the head of the POLTE project, defines this as the next step in Reaktor's evolution. Through investing they will be able to use their company's talent to work ground-up with startups. Startup founders will be able to concentrate on their core product, while they help with financial and product assistance.
The Helsinki region is a natural gateway from Russia to the EU, and Russian companies are finding a new home in the Greater Helsinki region. We spoke with Olivier Bonfils, Senior Business Advisor at Greater Helsinki Promotion, where they determined the three main drivers why Russian companies move to Greater Helsinki Area. A few of the reasons seem obvious to anyone that has done business in Finland, but one factor was surprising, to say the least. They determined that first, Helsinki is an easy gateway to European markets. Second, in Finland you have access to an innovation environment that can provide easier conditions to do research and development. And third, for many Russian companies Finland is a good place to do production and assembly of their products.
In addition to banking, Holvi, a new type of banking service, is bringing clarity to politics. The Finnish service allows organizations to have their own account for storing, payment, and receiving of money, but also provides the option to make their books public. For political organizations and charities - which rely on public trust - this can inspire confidence that money is being managed correctly.
In Finland the local government election cycle is in full swing at the moment, and currently around 30 candidates are using the service to track and execute income and expenditures. Of them, only a few have made their books public, but it's a sign of a new trend. There's a growing open government movement in Finland, which includes avoinministeriö.fi among other websites where the public can vote on issues they would like the national government to consider. If 50,000 signatures are collected, the issue must be brought up in Parliament for consideration.
Today's big news in Finland is the launch of a new Startup Foundation (Startup-säätiö), by renowned Finnish serial entrepreneurs and investors, Startup Sauna and Aalto ES. The foundation looks to advance the state of startups in Finland and create Helsinki the centre of startups and technological innovation in Northern Europe. The foundation will fund and operate three different activities: 1) Startup Life, an internship program where students are sent abroad to work at the best startups globally, 2) Startup Sauna, the startup accelerator program as well as 3) run the Slush conference.
In addition to the above mentioned activities, the foundation will also financially support ecosystem activities elsewhere in Finland to help achieve its goal. Therefore other individual organisations can also apply for financial support.
The Startup foundation is looking to operate with a hefty budget. Its equity upon starting is about one million euros. €57 000 come from individual donors. Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, has donated €300 000 to the newly minted foundation (news in Finnish). The rest of the money comes from the Finnish Ministry of Economy and Employment, Tekes and Confederation of Finnish Industries.
While people have the impression that Helsinki is a one company town, that image is rapidly shifting as more and more exciting companies move and start up in the Helsinki region. Personnel changes at Nokia make big headlines, but the region isn't stagnating.
Right now we're looking at an unique time for companies setting up shop in Helsinki. The capital area is home to the Nokia headquarters as well as many development and research functions, providing a nice cross section of talent to choose from.
How Are Finnish Startups Raising Large Rounds? By Designing Their Startups For The Largest Possible Opportunity
Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Timo Ahopelto, a serial entrepreneur and Founding Partner at Lifeline Ventures, where he is currently a board member, investor and contributor in ZenRobotics, Oncos Therapeutics, Valkee, Enevo and Arctic Diagnostics, among others.
Finnish startups have recently raised significant funding rounds in relatively early stages. These include Supercell's $12 million by Accel Partners and the most recent €13 million grabbed by ZenRobotics from Invus. What is the secret sauce?
Well, I don’t think there are any secrets. There are just talented entrepreneurs going after large opportunities with credible plans.
What we are seeing at Lifeline Ventures is an increasing number of Finnish teams who, from the very beginning, design their startup for the largest possible opportunity. This starts from finding a large, actionable and disruptive opportunity, building a company that can execute on it, continuously asking how it can be bigger, and not giving up on the large plan.
There was clearly demand for a new technology company to go public on NYSE, as Trulia's stocks jumped over 40% on the first day of trading. Pete Flint and Sami Inkinen, co-founders of the company, together with their entourage was present at the event. Accel Partners was also keen on celebrating the success as they still hold on to 19% of the company while not selling any shares in the IPO.
We seldom get to write these kinds of stories, but what a day it was. The stock opened already north of the issuance price of $17 at about $22. It later continued the climb to peak at $25.20 and closed the day at $24.00 totaling a 41.18% increase.
This week we've closed a deal with our last gold partner, Rubylight. Rubylight is a super exciting company that isn't too well known. However, they are the talent and minds behind extremely successful social networks in Russia and Latvia. Rubstein was one of the founders and CEO of Forticom, a company that had built social networks with more than 100 million registered users. In November 2010, Forticom was acquired by Mail.ru (DST).
Helsinki is lucky to host two world-class conferences this fall that are bringing great in speakers from Silicon Valley, Europe, and the region. While both conferences are put together to enable startups get further, they have significant differences and it makes sense to attend both. To make this happen, at a reasonable price, we've partnered with Slush to sell bundle tickets at about 20% discount to those going to both events.
This year's Arctic15 is just a little over a month away and we're ready to announce the 14 finalists (the last finalist is decided by Tekes) that will be on stage to compete for the grand prize, that is now almost €30 000 in cash and prizes. During last week, we received almost votes from almost 3000 people in total. Some categories were clearer than others, but overall - it was still a very tight competition. The 14 finalists are listed below.