Arctic15 Startup Competition Now Open!

We've opened the flood gates with Arctic15 and we're coming out with lots of news these days. The latest being the opening of the Arctic15 startup competition. Like said in a post earlier this year, we will do the startup competition in a slightly different way. We have 15 different categories that startups can submit themselves into and through those we will find the winners of each category that will get a chance to pitch themselves on stage in October.

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Check Out This Year's Arctic15 Program And Speakers!

Here we go! We have 12 hot keynote speakers from around the world coming to Arctic15 this October to share their advice in growing scaling businesses. Furthermore, we're only half way there. We'll be seeing 10+ more panelists in August, but we wanted to give you a sneak of the upcoming speakers and our program for this year. In addition to awesome talks, we're going to be hosting the Oohack Open 1, which is Open Ocean Capital's data hackathon on Tuesday th 16th. Lucky developers from the hackathon will get to showcase their hacks on the main stage.

As for the new speakers announced today, we have in no particular order Phil Libin, the CEO of Evernote, Mikkel Svane, the Founder and CEO of Zendesk, Kristjan Hiiemaa, Founder and CEO of Erply, Nicolai Wadstrom, Founder and CEO BootstrapLabs, Edial Dekker, Co-Founder and CEO of Gidsy as well as Niklas Adalberth, Founder and Deputy CEO of Klarna.

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Arctic15 Speakers And Offsetting Our Carbon Footprint

Arctic15 is a very dear child to us. We want to create the most business worthy event for startup entrepreneurs through awesome speakers, networking and business opportunities. We also realise that when you make a great event, a lot of people will have to travel to your event from close and far. This of course generates huge amounts of carbon dioxide and the so called carbon footprint is rather large for an event close to 1000 people.

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Gecko Landmarks Lands $1 Million To Take Location Services To Feature Phones

Location data provider Gecko Landmarks announces $1 million in funding today. The Espoo, Finland based company provides location services for feature phones through text based landmarks. These landmarks provide data for application developers, who can then use location data for maps, checkins, and other services. You might think initially that this solution wouldn't be too accurate, but this example on Google Maps shows quite the opposite.

One use case of Gecko Landmarks is providing text-based checkins, or friend finding based on local landmarks. If you're near a shopping center, for example, Gecko can position you to being close to that landmark and return "Westfield Mall" for example. This workaround of feature phone's technology provides a good level of service, and there's just something cool about there being location services for phones that only display text.

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Touching Base With Senseg - One Of Finland's Hottest Technology Startups

Be forewarned, this post might be a little breathless, but this has to be one of the coolest technologies coming out of Finland right now. The other week I got the chance to go to Senseg's Espoo, Finland offices and get my hands on their prototype tablet. Senseg creates "feel-screens" or touchscreens that offer the sensation of textures when your finger is on the screen.

Their prototype device I used was an old Toshiba tablet that was running Android. Jukka Linjama, Senseg's chief technologist and the head of their human-centric development, was quick to point out that the choice of operating system was just that it was easy to hack, although looking at ArcticStartup's job board, you'll see that they are hiring Android, Windows 8, and Linux hackers, among other positions.

To be honest, my first few seconds with the tablet were underwhelming as I didn't really feel much of anything at all. But you quickly learn how to interact with the screen. I'm used to fat-fingering and mashing buttons on my iPhone, but with Senseg you need to be gentle to get the most precise feedback. I found the way to get the best response was to use more of the side of my finger, and use light taps or movements across the screen.

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Finland's Kippt Releases New Features And Joins Y Combinator

Kippt, the bookmarking service started by Finnish entrepreneurs Karri Saarinen and Jori Lallo, has been accepted into perhaps the world's most famous startup accelerator, Silicon Valley's Y Combinator. Along with the announcement, Kippt has announced new social features that help groups share lists of bookmarks publicly and privately. We covered the company previously just a couple of weeks ago here on ArcticStartup.

Kippt allows users to bookmark websites through a bookmarklet or web extension. When doing so, you throw the bookmark into a folder, allowing you to keep your bookmarks organized. The new sharing features build off of thus feature, allowing users to share their folders publicly or privately.

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Sulake's Biggest Challenge Yet

Sulake, the Finnish company behind Habbo Hotel that has some 10 million active users a month globally, has run into its biggest difficulties as a company so far. The company has seen its fair share of challenges in the form of financial difficulties that resulted in shutting down its country offices outside of Finland. Last night The Kernel broke the news that Channel 4 in the UK would reveal some very disturbing material regarding the teenage community. The Kernel titled their piece as "Habbo exposed as a paedophile haven".

Before airing the piece on Habbo Hotel, Balderton Capital confirmed to the BBC that they will exit their investment in the business at zero value. The investment firm held a 13% stake in Sulake which by even careful estimates would have been in the low tens of millions. Since the Channel 4 piece ran, Tesco and WH Smith have withdrawn the Habbo Hotel gift cards from sale in the UK.

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Dream Broker Has Grown To €1.5M In Revenue In 5 Years With Elance

Editor's note: This post is part of a series of posts published in co-operation with Elance, the leading source of outsourcing talent in the world. Elance is also supporting our ArcticEvening Helsinki on June 14th.

Elance is helping us with ArcticEvenings in the region and in return we want to highlight how they're helping startups with quick access to talent. On Thursday, Elance representatives will also be present at ArcticEvening Helsinki and therefore we want to highlight a Finnish startup they are working with.

Dream Broker is an online video software company started in 2007 that focuses in video production and distribution. They are a video platform for companies and organisations where open systems such as Vimeo and YouTube don't work. Their service can be used for software tutorials and support, staff competence development, change management as well as communications to name a few functions.

The company has strong growth and in 2011 did almost €1.5M in revenue.

We talked to Ari Heljakka, the Chief Strategy Officer about how they use Elance and how other startups could learn from their use cases for it.

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Startup Sauna Pulls Off Europe's Largest Demo Day

Last night Startup Sauna, the FInnish startup accelerator pulled of something that became Europe's largest demo day with some 750 registered attendees. We've also noticed something else this week with Founder's Week in full swing and Latitude59 taking place in Tallinn - we need to begin to prioritise startup events as we're simply running out of bandwidth. As we're also attending the Latitude59 event in Tallinn we weren't actually able to attend the Demo Day, but based on what we've heard - the Startup Sauna guys and gals pulled off another great event with an awesome late night after party.

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Makies User Designed Dolls (And $1.4M Investment) Sign Of 3D Printing Revolution

An interesting application of 3D printing is shown by London and Helsinki based MakieLab. The company announces their alpha launch of MAKIES, a user designed 3D printed doll. Along with the launch, MakieLab has announced their seed round investment of $1.4 million, led by early-stage investors Lifeline Ventures and Sunstone Capital. The round was also joined by Anime and gaming industry veterans Matthew Wiggins, Daniel James and Cedric Littardi of superangel-fund Ynnis Ventures.

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Family, Kids & Startups

Editorial note: this article was originally written by Chieftain Elina Arponen for Tribe Studios blog. Tribe Studios builds Dramagame - a platform for high quality multiplayer story games. Tribe Studioes was also one of the Arctic15 finalists last year.

I attended an excellent panel yesterday morning which consisted of Paul Bragiel, Sami Inkinen, Russel Simmons and Aaron Patzer. The event was part of the founder’s week organized by Aaltoes. This topic of having kids/family came up in several audience questions and was a little bit foreign territory for most of the panelists.

I feel somewhat of a self-learned expert on the area and thought to write about my experiences. I’ve been running with Tribe Studios now full speed for 1 year and 8 months. My husband, Ville-Kalle, is one of my co-founders from the start. Together we have a boy that’s going to be 4 years in August. Currently I’m pregnant with the second one with an ETA in July. So how do we make it work?

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ArcticEvening Helsinki Next Week - Sign-up Today!

ArcticEvening Helsinki will be organised on the 14th of June to discuss "Where are Finland's big startups?" The event will take place at the awesome Aalto Venture Garage from 6pm onwards. Sign-up now to enjoy the panel discussion, network and a plenty of cold drinks before summer holidays. We're expecting to have a good turnout of people as earlier in the day Aalto is putting on an event with Linus Torvalds and the Summer of Startups program has also kicked off at the Venture Garage.

Please take a look at the full program and event description here and also sign-up for the free tickets.

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Lappeenranta University of Technology The Leading Hub For Russian Relations

Editor's note: This post is part of a series of posts in collaboration with Lappeenranta University of Technology to promote their expertise and tools in commercialising research based innovations.

Back in 2003, when I was looking for a Master's program I was accepted into one in Lappeenranta University of Technology as well as a competing one in a Helsinki based business school - I chose the one in Lappeenranta. There were several reasons behind this and I'm honored to see the university working with ArcticStartup to further promote these reasons and spread knowledge of the vast experience and talent they have accumulated.

The reason I ended up choosing Lappeenranta was their 40+ years of experience in combining technology with business in a frictionless way. This same strength has carried the university to this day and will do so in the future as well.

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ZTE Partners With Finnish Rightware To Improve Their UI On Mobile Devices

ZTE is one of the world's largest device manufacturers and service providers to the mobile industry. In Q4 of 2011, ZTE became the fourth largest handset maker with 4,9% global market share. Today, ZTE and Rightware are announcing a partnership where by ZTE licenses Rightware's Kanzi UI solution to their new range of Android smartphones.

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#17 - Taneli Tikka

This week we talked to one of the most well known serial entrepreneurs in Finland - Taneli Tikka. He's been part of many startups, but also built some of his own companies and also bankrupted one, and failed in a few. We talked to him about the ride along all the years and what he has learned, both from the success cases as well as bankruptcies. In addition to this we also discussed a little how the startup environment has changed in the 10+ years from the perspectives of investors and entrepreneurs. Did you know he got 5 million euro investment on a 20 million pre-money valuation on his first company, just based on slideware?

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It's Ok For Founders To Cash In, But There Shouldn't Be Any Reason To Hide It

Yesterday we revealed how Rovio's $42 million investment last year actually went to one or more of its founders, by the look of their financial statement that was filed with the Finnish authorities. We received a lot of feedback regarding that article through e-mail, but also in comments through other channels. The overall attitude seems to one of caution, that we should be careful for digging up information and discussing it in public.

This publication is all for growth entrepreneurship and we feel that the more discussion around these topics we have, with the right attitude and manner of course, the better off the Northern European startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem will be.

Rovio is not a taboo that should not be discussed. It's one of the best things that has happened to the Finnish startup ecosystem in a long time. The execution of its vision will become a case study for future MBAs on how to go about global growth. Believing that if we gave successful companies peace and quiet as media, and thus avoiding studying them in detail, in the fear of damaging the company's future potential is at best superstition.

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BetterDoctor Brings Logic And Simplicity To Finding A New Doctor

It's no secret the U.S. healthcare system is a mess. The lack of transparency is likely why the system has bloated up to a $2.7 trillion industry, and finding the right doctor for yourself is no easy process.

Each year, over 70 million Americans look for a new doctor, and BetterDoctor, built by a team of Finns in San Francisco, is bringing order to doctor search. There is a clear need to bring in higher quality information for people looking for a new doctor: There's around one million doctors and 200,000 medical practices that take care of the 315M people who are insured by tens of insurance companies, which offer over 1,500 different insurance plans. It's not easy to match the right people up.

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Rovio's $42M Investment In 2011 Actually Went To Its Owners

In early May, Rovio came out with their financial results for 2011. Today, the National Board of Patents and Registration Of Finland has received Rovio's official financial filing for the year 2011. One would expect that there is no news value in the filing since Rovio already came out with their results prior to this, but it shows a big discrepancy regarding the company's funding situation. In early March last year, the company announced it has raised a $42 million round from Accel Partners, Atomico Ventures as well as Felicis Ventures.

$42 million is about €32.85 million in today's exchange rate. This €30+ million is however missing from Rovio's financial statement for 2011, which begs an answer to the question:

Who did the money go to and why did Rovio feel the need to announce a funding round when it clearly wasn't one?

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Walkbase Releases Tweagle, A Twitter Client Built On Location

Walkbase, has released Tweagle, a new product taking advantage of the company's advanced indoor positioning API. Essentially Tweagle is an Android Twitter client that integrates with Foursquare, but with a lot more useful positioning features for the Twitter world. The app looks polished, and makes it possible to hear what people are saying at a certain bar, club, or festival, for example.

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Giosg Offers Targeted Live Help For Websites

Helsinki-based Giosg has built a sales, marketing, and customer intelligence solution designed to help companies get the most out of live help on their websites. Their main innovation offered by Giosg is the service allows companies to recognize and prioritize the most potential visitors in real time, and then reach out to them using a nicely integrated live-chat solution. The browser-based service is easy to use, and is designed to help any organization increase sales online by targeting only their most valuable potential customers who are browsing their website.

The installation of Giosg requires adding just one script to your website. This script maps your website, and through the settings you can target customers based on the priority you set for each page. If a webshop is running a new campaign, for example, a user could easily set the priority of that page to higher. The business potential for each customer is then calculated, and show graphically.

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Arctic15 Tickets Now Available, First Speakers Announced

Arctic15 early bird tickets are now available at! While the event is still some time away, we wanted to come out with our first batch of speakers to the event as well as more information on the concept itself.

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Rovio Sneak Peeks Angry Birds Successor

Rovio must have had to carefully analyse many different alternatives for the first successor of Angry Birds as that would truly begin to label them as an multi-brand entertainment company. Today, Angry Birds brings in over €75 million in revenue for the company, but due to the nature of the games industry, being a hit business, that revenue will be hard to keep up over the years. To further grow and really get closer to a meaningful IPO, Rovio must differentiate its offering successfully.

Earlier this year the company announced they will be releasing a non-Angry Birds game as well. It is this game that will begin to determine how good Rovio really is. Sarah Lacy's book, which looked at the ability of serial entrepreneurs to create successful companies one after another, titled "Once you're lucky, twice you're good", applies well to this situation.

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Rovio's 2011 Financial Results Are Out

Rovio has today announced their 2011 financial results on their own website. Their 2011, full year, revenue is €75.4 million with earnings before tax €48 million (64% of total revenue). The financial results are definitely strong and in the expected ball park. In the last six months of 2010, Rovio's revenue was around €5 million. Most of the money came in from digital purchases, downloads and add-ons to games. Around 30% fo the income came from sales of merchandise.

In 2011 the total number of game downloads grew to 648 million, while the total number of active monthly users grew to 200 million across all platforms. Rovio launched Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio in 2011 across different mobile platforms and PC operating systems.

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Alekstra To Disrupt Everything You Hate About Your Mobile Carrier

A Finnish company is quietly laying the groundwork to disrupt a trillion dollar industry by providing global and local services for only 10% of the cost.

Alekstra CEO Toni Toikka got his start in 1998 as salesman at Elisa, a Finnish telecommunications company, where he discovered no one had any idea what they used or paid for when they purchased mobile services. Toikka recalls that everyone argued over the minute price, but the devil was in the details. What he envisioned was not only a transparent system, but a global system updated for the modern era.

After a stint as a Director at Nokia, Toikka is the founder and CEO of Helsinki-based Alekstra. Looking at the company right now, you'll see a suite of services designed to lower the mobile phone bills of large organizations, with the overall theme of efficiency and the reduction of billing errors. Their services optimize company's rate plans so they aren't buying features they don't need, and they offer features like Ratemizer, an automated phone bill analyzer that lowers costs due to billing mistakes.

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Less E-mail And Fewer Meetings With Teamvisio

E-mail and meetings are sucking productivity even from the most dynamic and agile of companies. The founders of Somia Reality, a Finnish startup, know this from experience and looked to innovate in this space to reduce the clutter. The founders of the company are also the founders of IRC-Gallery, a hugely popular online social network that has seen its brightest days for the time time being. Regardless of rising competition from the likes of Facebook and other social networking services, IRC-Gallery continues to generate enough revenue to keep Somia Reality ramen profitable to sustain a team of 9 to develop their new service, Teamvisio, further.

Teamvisio is heavily influenced by the ageless communication service, IRC, that is mostly used by developers and other online afficionados. Teamvisio takes IRC further though. Where as IRC users are limited to text only, Teamvisio adds audio and video to allow more depth to conversations. However, the basic use case of Teamvisio is very similar to that of IRC - both are considered to be the most useful when used in the background.

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Groupon Acquihires Ditto

Ditto has just announced that it has been acquired by Groupon. While being registered into the US, Ditto has been founded by Jyri Engeström the co-founder of Jaiku. Jaiku was a Finnish company that was sold to Google in 2007. There is no announcement on the price of the acquisition, but by all factors it looks like an acquihire. In other words, Groupon is acquiring the team behind Ditto. Nevertheless, an exit is always an exit.

According to the blog post, Ditto will be pulling the plug on their applications on April 30th. The Ditto mobile application was available to users on the Nokia and Apple platforms. The service allowed people to tell before hand what they were going to do, as to allow for more spontaneous meet-ups. In addition to this, you were able to leave out the specific place you were going to, which allowed for crowdsourcing of ideas from your friends.

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Nearing Bankruptcy, Fruugo Burned Through €40 Million to Generate €100K

Fruugo was one of the most talked about companies in the Finnish startup scene, perhaps due to the fact that the company was able to attract the top executives of the Finnish business world. In the early days, the most well known people on board were Jorma Ollila (the former CEO and Chairman of Nokia), Risto Siilasmaa (Chairman, Founder and former CEO of F-Secure and current Chairman of Nokia) as well as Marko Parkkinen (co-founder of Bob Helsinki and a board member of various Finnish companies), among others. The company has also gained some infamy in Finland due to the millions of euros it burned through in anticipation of their global, multi-retailer online store.

Fruugo has tried to innovate in the space of e-commerce through a multi-retailer site where consumers would be able buy goods from numerous stores on one site and pay in their own, local currency through one check out. The company was started in 2006 by Nils Forsblom, now currently running TenFarms.

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Nordic Countries Lead World In Global Information Technology Report

The 11th edition of The Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World was released by the World Economic Forum with a special focus on the transformational impacts of ICT on the economy and society. The Nordic countries rang in high on the list, withs Sweden ranking first, followed by Singapore and Finland. Denmark came in as fourth on the list, while Norway placed seventh-- one place higher than the United States. The report assessed 142 world economies to assess the impact of ICT on the competitiveness and well-being of the nation. 

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The Google Effect On Media Business

This week has been a good week for ArcticStartup if you would quantify it over the traditional media metrics - pageviews and visits. Our critical piece on the Finnish government's decisions over a strategy group was read by some 25 000 people in just a couple of days. Yesterday on the other hand, our in-depth post on Denmark's questionable Entrepreneur Tax has also built traction around the world, mostly thanks to Hacker News.

As I was watching real time Google Analytics (which tell you how many people are on your site and how your site's analytics are developing in real time) on Tuesday as the ICT-strategy group story spread to new social circles, I noticed something interesting in the way Google treated us as a site. The realisation was that as more people found our story, Google also began sending more people through search results.

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C-Care Helps Companies Better Understand The Lifecycle Of A Product

Editor's note: This post is part of a series of posts sponsored by Microsoft Finland. You can read the other posts over here.

Today we talk to Jari Jukantupa, the managing director of Cieltum, a software company in Finland, on what they are developing and how they leverage Microsoft technology to take their business further. Cieltum has created a cloud based service called C-Care. It's a service that enables clients to manage the complete lifecycle of their products and also reap profits from after sales activities for example. Furthermore C-Care is able to give a complete understanding in the status of your products. The service is aimed for companies who sell technical, complicated, and unique (in the sense that they are custom made) products.

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