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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Arctic15 early bird tickets are now available at Arctic15.com! 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I had to read this article on Tietoviikko (in Finnish) three times to realise that no, it's not an April fool's joke at all. It was published today and is apparently and very unfortunately true. The article is in Finnish, but it's about the government creating a strategy group to form a new strategy for the Finnish ICT-industry for the future. There are three really big problems in this approach. The first is that most of the people in the strategy group are the wrong people for so many reasons (hint: take a look at how their companies are doing). Secondly, just as no business plan is able to survive customer contact, no strategy is able to completely survive market contact. It's all assumptions against market forces. Thirdly, all the truly growing industries that work in the digital space have been left out, no matter how you cut the definition of ICT.
Let's dive in.
I've covered Scoopshot in the past as well and I've found the idea really intriguing - most possibly for its simplicity. The app helps media companies crowdsource images from their communities through the app. The media companies can either freely purchase images the community has taken or give more detailed tasks for the photographers on specific topics. We've learned of some very impressive numbers on traction the app has achieved.
Editor's note: This post is part of a series of posts sponsored by Microsoft Finland. You can read the other posts over here.
In this article we talk to Jukka Partanen, the CEO of Digna IT Oy, which is a company that specialises in invoice collection services. They help companies manage invoice collection through their service instead of using expensive third party solutions, that can lower the amount of money your company would get. In essence, they're making more money for their clients by giving them more tools for collecting late payments.
Much of the Finnish startup scene has been debating the aftermaths of an article Helsingin Sanomat (largest Finnish daily) published on Sunday about the CEO and founder of Muxlim Inc, Mohamed El-Fatatry. The title of the article, directly translated, is Mohamed's Bubble. We've covered Muxlim in the past as well. In the article, Helsingin Sanomat journalist Esa Mäkinen, paints quite a dim picture of the entrepreneur and how he received hundreds of thousands of euro in government support and then shut down the site.
Helsinki based Grand Cru Games (previous coverage here) is announcing a $2 million seed financing round from Idinvest Partners. In addition to this, the company is also making public its first game title it is working on - Supernauts. The $2 million in funding comes mostly from Idinvest Partners, who is a France based venture capital firm that has around €3 billion of assets under management. Other investors in the round include Rick Thompson, Anil Hansjee, Henric Suuronen and Nicolas Béraud. We talked to Markus Pasula, the CEO and one of the six co-founders of the firm about the deal and the upcoming game.
Lifeline Ventures, also one of the Vigo accelerators, has announced the launch of a €20 million fund for early stage growth companies. The investors in the fund include Pension Insurance Ilmarinen, FoF Growth, Sitra, Finnvera, Troll Ventures, Juuranto Invest and the founders of Lifeline Ventures. We talked to Petteri Koponen, one of the co-founders of the firm to understand more about the fund.
The fund is called Lifeline Ventures Fund I and it has an investment period of 5 years which is included with the 10 years of the overall age of the fund. The first five years of the fund lifecycle will be used to make new investments and the latter five will be used for follow-up investments.
Meetin.gs, the Helsinki-based meeting organization tool, announces today that it has made an acceleration deal and has received early-stage funding from KoppiCatch, an accelerator in the Vigo program. On top of that, Meetin.gs has found what seems to be a perfectly suited partnership with the Netherlands-based Seats2meet.com's network of business centers.
We covered Arctic15 finalist Meetin.gs in depth last fall, and noted its ease of use, low friction for new users, and the removal of unproductive conversations out of your email inbox. The service takes care of the whole meeting lifecycle, from planning a suitable time, collaborating on materials, and including online meeting participants through Skype.
We've finally gotten our hands on the Kauppalehti Optio, which has an extensive interview with Marko Ahtisaari, the Executive VP of Design at Nokia. The article talks in detail about Ahtisaari's past, but also discusses his work to a great extent. Earlier today Reuters came out with a story that Nokia is working on a tablet device, but that's just half the story.
A group of Finnish startups traveling in the US together with Alexander Stubb, Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, rang the famous bell opening the trading session this morning in New York. Stubb is traveling with a group of startups in the US, meeting with members of media, investors and other stake holders while promoting Finland as a rising startup nation. Later in the journey, the delegation will travel to Silicon Valley to visit networking events, universities, internet companies as well as investors to promote the companies coming out from the region. Below we have a few photos of the event from this morning.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Richard von Kaufmann, co-founder of Zipipop and Chairman at Reality Creating Media. He has studied in great detail the different crowdfunding opportunities for some of their clients and we thought that it would be a great chance to understand the industry by sharing his findings with our community.
Government-based innovation funding agencies around the world have a great challenge to continually identify the innovative concepts and teams with the best chances of success. In recent times there has been growing criticism of the effectiveness of some Finnish funding mechanisms, but similar issues affect public funding agencies around the world.
It is now generally accepted that diversity in team compositions leads to better decision making, and there is growing evidence that, given the right conditions, other means of increasing the range of opinions also produces better results.
This then begs the question as to the validity of relying on just two or three staff, or at best a small committee, to make decisions on the funding applications that are submitted to national innovation funding agencies.
This article makes the case for opening up the decision-making to involve larger communities, using known crowdsourcing principles and social technologies, to improve the quality of funding decisions. It also introduces the potential benefits that could come from developing a government-backed crowdfunding platform that would make it easier for private individuals to invest in early-stage startups.
The ridesharing options in the Nordic countries are few and far between, and the available options don't leave users with much access when unteathered from a computer. Ants is a mobile-based ridesharing service inspired by Foursquare and Instagram, and is free to use. The service allows users to search and offer rides, give feedback, follow favorite drivers, and instantly share details on Facebook and Twitter. Payment for the ride is independently settled between the riders.
A network worth mentioning that's playing a large supporting role in getting women interested in digital entrepreneurship is Future Female, Helsinki-based network of likeminded women who are inspired by new ideas and the world of digital opportunities. Future Female is for women, who work, use or are interested in technology.
The organization operates as a platform for women to mentor, share, learn, connect, contribute and enable the next generation of excellence via informal and interactive get-togethers, workshops and seminars. They pride themselves on being a friendly and easily approachable network, balancing business with pleasure. There are no age or title limits, you can come as you are.