When startups or VC's recruit a new team member, it is normally not newsworthy per say. However when the news has profound implications for the region, such as the time when Max Niederhofer joined Sunstone Capital, this is definitely something to write about.
We were just told that a similar move was made by Chris Barchak, who will be joining the Finland based based Conor VC as a Partner. Barchak was previously a Principal at Fidelity Growth Partners Europe in London and an associate at Index Ventures. Both of them have very respectable portfolios. FGPE has investments in Alibaba, and the Swedish Neo Technology while Index Ventures invested in Facebook, Skype, MySQL and more recently they led €100 million round into Supercell.
Our civilisation has reached unbelievable technological advances. We can make things fly at Mach 20, reach absolute oceanic depths, create clones from single drops of blood but for all of those advances we still can't fully automate accounting. Well, at least not in this part of the world.
Today, the finnish company Zervant, raised €1.3 million from TEKES Young Innovative Companies program and private investors to aid in humanity's search for the simplest way to do accounting. They currently focus on micro-sized businesses and sole-entrepreneurs and have already gathered over 11 000 of them from 125 countries as their customers.
Admit it, the main use of your iPhone or iPad is to kill time. So get on the forefront of timekilling technology by downloading Futureful, a Helsinki-based 'topic browser' that employs a lot of cool tech to serve interesting content tailored to you. Futureful has globally released their app on iPhone and iPad today.
The way the app works is by selecting topics that you're interested in, like 'startups' for example. Once that's selected, other bubbles pop up, such as 'quantified self', which you can combine to your bubble to help you find content combining the two topics, or by leaving the bubbles alone.
The next push to encourage developers to build on open data has started in Helsinki again. Last year we covered Apps4Finland, but before that competition kicks off, Open Helsinki Hack At Home encourages developers to try out and test their tech solutions to everyday problems in Helsinki. With it, they connect developers to mentors and the right data sources to be sure the best ideas come together for the demo day on October 15.
We hope that you are all familiar with Supercell, the company that is making millions in daily revenue and has been the top grossing games publisher in the world ever since they reached the position last year. What some may not be aware of is that GungHo Entertainment from Japan has been the number two for many months and is generating revenues of over $2.5 million a day and is valued at $4.5 billion.
Supercell and Rovio might be getting a lot of attention, but there are a number of other really big gaming success stories out of Finland. The recently launched game: Benji Bananas by Tribeflame, published by Fingersoft, reached over 15 000 000 combined downloads on Google Play and the Apple store. Together with Hill Climb Racing, the two games put Fingersoft to the number #4 spot in the world by monthly downloads, according to the March edition of App Annie index. The top three were Rovio, Imangi Studios and Electronic Arts.
Benji Bananas is a game, where you navigate a monkey through a series of vine swings, collecting bananas and other consumables as you go. As Torulf Jernström, the CEO of Tribeflame, tells us "[They] wanted to make a 'one-button' game. Any idea that was more complicated - was out". So this is exactly what they did, your whole screen is one huge button. All you need to do is touch the screen if you want to hold onto a vine and release when you want to jump to the next one.
Hey, Finland. Where are your education-focused startups? Schools and the education system in Finland has garnered recognition from parents around the world, but entrepreneurs aren't trying to bleed that Finnish education brand dry, like any group of profit maximizing individuals should be.
Listen, I realize that Finland's education value will not translate magically into an app or web service, and that platforms like Kahn Academy and Code Academy may not be the most golden of geese. But parents around the world will drop plenty of money to get the best for their children's education, and school systems would pay for teaching tools with the Finnish flag on it. Basically anything Finnish would have a head start compared to an identical startup from anywhere else in the world.
Finland is notorious for having very long vacations during the summer. Last year, even the Metro was shutdown for a month. The startup spirit, however, remains unbroken and entrepreneurs are working full-time even during the summer. Especially with Summer Of Startups, a two month startup acceleration program by Aaltoes starting their fourth batch on the 7th of June.
The program provides a 5 000 EUR grant and access to a network of seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals. You might remember Catchbox, Healthpuzzle and Netmedi, all of which were started at Summer of Startups.
Since Facebook went public a year ago, it has started actively exploring possibilities for monetization and introduced many new features, which in fact seem to be pretty disruptive for users. This situation opens a lot of opportunities for Facebook-based application developers to improve users’ social media experience.
Espoo-based Fajoya builds a mobile app that allows Facebook users to help request, receive and reward favors from their friends. It aims to accomplish a social mission — to make the world a better place where helping others is something everyone wants to do.
It is no secret online dating is surrounded by stories of disappointments and broken hopes. One reason is pretty simple - you never can be sure if the person behind the appealing profile picture is real. Fake profiles, hidden payments, annoying photos of kissing couples, clumsy nicknames is the incomplete list of what makes experiences of those seeking for a partner online so frustrating.
Helsinki-based Audrey has risen to a challenge to put an end to a disturbing faking game and revolutionize online dating experiences. Launched on 1 May in Finland, Audrey calls themselves the first real identity online dating service.
Entrepreneurs looking for government contracts, update this negotiation strategy to your rule books. The Finnish Tax Administration is reforming their information systems, replacing seventy tax systems with a single one. Selected was the Fast Enterprises’ Gentax taxation software, along with Finnish-Estonian Nortal, who plans to implement the project for €62 million with the overall price of procurement running around €226 million over 15 years.
Also competing in the bid was IBM, whose bid of €38 million with a total value of €143 million over 15 years was rejected. The Finnish Tax Administration was able to do so under the public procurement laws, which says the contracting authority may reject abnormally low tender.
Headquartered in Espoo, Rightware, develops embedded User Interface (UI) technology and performance benchmarking tools for mobile, automotive and consumer electronics industries, and announced today that it has closed $5.2 million in fresh funding. The Series B is supported by prior backers Inventure and Nexit Ventures, and a new investor Finnish Industry Investment.
The fresh investment will be used to further expand global sales. The money will also go on the continued development of their main product, the Kanzi UI Solution.
According to many, Applifier is one of the hottest startups in Finland and with over 150 million active users in their gaming cross-promotion network - rightly so.
Last year, they announced Everyplay. Which in most basic terms allows in-game replay recording. However it also acts as a gaming video social network as you can share your game replays on Everyplay, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. This, according to Applifier, will drive organic growth for game developers.
When ArcticStartup was on tour to the UK thanks to UK Trade & Investment, we had the chance to meet innovative and exciting companies that were based in the Liverpool Science Park. One of these companies happened to be the Finnish Hammerkit, a company that have seen it all and was forced to change directions, adapt to the environment and fight to survive. As opposed to overnight success stories, Hammerkit is an example of all the hard work that startups need to go through in order to make it out there.
At the meeting, we had the chance to speak to the brand new CEO of the company, Simon Bartolo, who replaced Mark Sorsa-Leslie in February 2013. Bartolo shared his insight and plans for the future.
Do you find your day filled with scheduling meetings, meeting people, and then trying to manage the to-do process afterward? If you haven't done so before, it might be time to check out Helsinki-based Meetin.gs, who has relaunched with a nice facelift and a mobile focus. Their product manages to wrangle together all the loose strings associated with professional meetings by plugging into popular business tools.
To schedule a meeting, Meetin.gs now offers a fully brandable "meet me" page, which enables uses to create and publish a calendar page that makes it easier to schedule a meeting time, which solves the problem of that awful email chain where suggested times are pinged back and forth. This service plugs into the user's calendar, so occupied time slots are automatically blocked out. Meeting location is also included, so transit times and meeting durations can be accounted for.
Rocket Internet Is Heading North - Launches CupoNation in Finland With Norway And Russia Next On The List
Rocket Internet is one of those companies that create a lot attention and there are mixed feelings about what they do. However, it is hard to argue with their success, as most of the companies that are a part of Rocket Internet are largely highly profitable.
Helsinki-based Nosto Solutions announces it has raised €2.2 million in a seed round led by Open Ocean Capital, Sanoma ventures, and a number of angel investors. It's a big number for a company that has just popped up on our radar here in Helsinki. Nosto is still somewhat in stealth mode, and produces an e-commerce marketing solution that gives a platform-independent marketing features for e-sellers. Currently Nosto employs 12 people in the Nordics, UK, and Germany, and their first customers include Angry Birds, Intersport, and Huuto.
The founding idea behind the company is to bring Amazon-like features that drive more dollars through product marketing, or to retain lost sales. These features include personalized content and triggered emails that get sent if a item is left in a cart, but not purchased.
Traditional Investment Money Goes Crowdfunding: Taaleritehdas Invests Into Finnish Crowdfuning Company - Invesdor
Invesdor, a Finnish equity crowdfunding company, announced today that they received an investment from Taaleritehdas, a local wealth management company with over €2.6 billion under management. It was immediately interesting to point out that the money was not raised through their own platform. Instead it was a deal in which Taaleritehdas Asset Management Ltd acquired Invesdor shares.
Companies such as Fundedbyme chose to go the other way and crowdfunded themselves in order to showcase their system. So we reached out to Lasse Mäkela, the CEO of Invesdor for comments.
The Region Is Going Green: Click & Grow, Indoor Garden & Fresh Wall Are Crowdfunding To Bring Plants Into Your Home Or Office
Here is an overview of the 'growth', in the very literal meaning of the world, startups of the region. These companies are trying to bring the joyful experience of being a gardener into everybody's home and office. Without actually any need for doing anything about it.
After all, three startups from the ArcticStartup region, are seeking crowdfunding in the region: Estonia's Click & Grow, Finlands Fresh Wall and Indoor Garden. Click & Grow as well as Indoor Garden are aiming to allow you to grow a variety of plants at home without any gardening knowledge, skills or time investments. Fresh Wall, on the other hand, as the name suggests is going to put a huge wall of self-watering plants in your house or office.
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.