Editorial note: This is a guest post by Jaakko Salminen. More information on him towards the end of the post.
One of the generally accepted wisdoms of the Finnish startup and growth company environment is shortage of private money. Startups run to Tekes for funding supposedly due to lack of available private early investments, and growth companies get sold very early when there is no VC money available. Easily available public funding is often cited as the dragon eating away any lucrative investment opportunities, and the vicious circle is ready.
Or is private money simply being directed elsewhere? In fact some very interesting sources for additional private money could be made available, if we take a forward-looking attitude.
A few days ago I listened to Horace Dediu's Critical Path and it got me thinking that would governments be able to increase innovation and competition through more transparency in the economy. Dediu talked about the movie business in one the more recent shows and he stated it many times that it is very hard to analyse the industry at large as they do not provide any figures on how different players are doing.
Further into the podcast, he went on to explain the findings of his study and more specifically how movies are financed as well as how the accounting works in the industry. Having listened to his findings, I completely understand why there is so little innovation and disruption taking place in the industry.
The lack of innovation was put in concrete explanation in Fred Wilson's blog post on AVC yesterday where he argues that scarcity is a bad business. He writes how he wanted to find something interesting to watch through many different legal movie services, but was unable to find anything worthwhile. In the end he had to resort to a "foreign rogue site", as he put it.
Editorial note: This is a sponsored post by Microsoft and is part of the Hear it from startups -series.
I had a chat with Drazen Dodik, a Microsoft Student Partner, about the Geeks on Wheels tour they did with the other Microsoft Student Partners in November and December. All in all the gentlemen toured some 12 different cities and universities in Finland, talking to students about the possibilities Windows Phone offers. The tour was also an answer to the numerous requests they had received regarding Windows Phone trainings from faculties and different partners around Finland.
Our January's recruiting partner is DealDash, a Helsinki, Finland based startup. They operate a "gamified" shopping site that we've been covering recently. Back in October we covered their growth in quite a bit of detail, but we're very happy to report that this growth has further continued and seems to continue into the future. To fuel this, they of course require the best of talent that is out there.
Currently DealDash is looking for front-end developers. If you've got your doubts about the financials of this particular startup, you need not worry.
Community-powered safe surfing tool WOT reached another milestone this past Monday by passing 30 million downloads. The number of downloads has effectively doubled during the past 12 months and the latest figure checks off a great year for the Finnish company - a year that also included new partnerships with social media giant Facebook and Russian email provider Mail.ru.
The court's order to make Elisa block access to certain websites became our most retweeted story yesterday. It received almost 1500 retweets in about 24 hours. I'm sure the plaintiff didn't anticipate the implications this will have, not only on Elisa but on a variety of other things - potentially even harming themselves. The more significant result to this is perhaps that Finland received a lot of negative publicity in the digital media space for its court's decision. In a time when countries are competing for appeal in the eye of digital media entrepreneurs, a lot of potential candidates saw Finland's position diminish. This may sound far fetched, but it really isn't. Let me explain why.
Elisa, one of the largest internet service providers in Finland, has been forced to block access to The PirateBay for its customers. Elisa issued a press release (in Finnish) on the matter moments ago. The decision was given by a local district court in Helsinki. Elisa has stated that they will seek correction to the decision in supreme court. As of today, all Elisa and Saunalahti (part of the same group) customers will be denied access to ThePirateBay on an operator level, meaning they have denied access to the servers in their name servers.
According to Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish), and two of their independent sources, Risto Siilasmaa will be proposed to become the next chairman of Nokia. Currently, the Chairman of the board is Jorma Ollila. Siilasmaa is the largest shareholder and also the founder of F-Secure, a computer security company.
Are you more active on Google+ than any other social network? Now you're able to also follow ArcticStartup on Google+ and get all our updates in a similar fashion to Twitter and Facebook. Google+ recently came out with its pages feature enabling businesses to create pages similar to those on Facebook. While we don't get a lot of traffic from Google+ currently, we do realise it's in our interest to offer alternatives to our readers in the way of distributing our news. Google+ has also been generally touted as the place where many technologically oriented people hang out.
Gecko Systems is a Finnish technology company that has taken an out-of-the box approach to location based services and markets. Instead of thinking of the obvious (which by Nordic standards usually means Western markets, USA, etc.), they have turned east towards Russia and their solutions, namely Glonass, a competitor to the GPS (Global Positioning System).
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Timo Jäppinen. He is the managing director of a marketing agency Drayton Bird Associates Finland.
You can’t do much about Europe – either it will fall apart or it won’t.
Here are three things you can bet money on, though.
First, the politicians won’t save you. They have no worries. And second, the only economy you should worry about is your own.
And there is one piece of good news. Those who start getting things right during a recession come out stronger than those who sit on their hands.
As the year is turning to an end, we'd like to take a moment to wish all our readers a very happy and relaxing holiday season. We have had an awesome year here and we're glad that so many of you have enjoyed the ride with us. To be exact there are more than 50 000 of you who keep coming back each month. That's a lot when we work hard to stay away from any click optimized, SEO focused content. We're of course very happy about this, but it's more awesome for all the startups in the region - they've got the world's attention.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Harri Kanerva, CEO, Founder of Valueframe. The company focuses on providing a SaaS based solutions to SMEs.
I’m writing this at an altitude of 10 kilometers in a plane to London. For an entrepreneur dedicated to the cloud service model the view outside of the window is rather fitting to be writing an article like this. ValueFrame was founded back in 2001. In ten years we have managed to become a key player in the Finnish Professional Services Automation market. We currently have 300 customers with 12 000 users in 14 different countries. This year we were nominated Country Representative for the HSBC European Business Awards. For the last five years we’ve been among the Deloitte Fast 50 list of fastest growing technology companies.
Rovio's Chief Marketing Officer, also known as the Mighty Eagle, has come out with figures regarding Rovio's financials in an interview by Tekniikka & Talous, a Finnish newspaper. In the interview, he also said Rovio is looking to IPO in Hong Kong in 2013. In 2010 Rovio's revenue was around $10 million. This year the company expects its turnover to be around $100 million.
Om Malik, the founder of GigaOm was speaking in Helsinki to a room of media representatives yesterday morning at the Aalto Venture Garage. His visit to Finland is part of a tour to come understand the companies and environment the local startups work in. Before Helsinki, he had visited Berlin and the LeWeb conference in Paris. I managed to talk to Malik about the way he sees these entrepreneurial hubs.
The big part of our discussion circled around the fact that people in Europe always look up to Silicon Valley and how they succeed in everything they do, while failing to see all the potential in front of their eyes. I have to say, while I knowledge the value Silicon Valley has on companies - I wonder how much possibility is wasted when following a given path without truly thinking of the possibilities closer to you. After all, Rovio didn't go to Silicon Valley to succeed - it all started with an innocent tweet by a Swedish athlete in the Nordics (going international I mean).
In the past few years even the biggest and most traditional organizations have taken steps to modernize their services. In the banking business, E-invoicing is here to stay due to the worldwide incentives to get this working. In the For example in Denmark, Tradeshift has seen a lot of traction with their model. The situation in Finland is slightly different due to the numerous operators offering solutions in this area. One of them is Maventa.
We've covered Maventa in the past as well, back in 2010. Back then we called them the rebel e-invoicing provider and it seems the rebels are taking over "the universe".
Just a couple of weeks ago we wrote that Supercell would be announcing multiple new games in early 2012. Well, one of them will be Battle Buddies, and will be available for tablets in the first half of 2012. Supercell's first game, Gunshine.net focused on bringing the experience of social, real-time multiplayer gaming to as many people as possible. Since then, the Helsinki, Finland based company has proved the concept works and raised north of 10 million USD from Accel Partners and others.
Finnish software company Profium, creating solutions for the media industry, has signed a million euro deal with AFP (Agence France-Presse). AFP is the world's oldest news press and they create news in six different languages, around the clock, around the world. The deal enables AFP to take Profium's Metadata Server into global use. The deal is valued at one million euros, which is significant for this Espoo based company. 2010 revenues for the company were 1.4 million euros.
Vesa Perälä, the CEO of WOT, contacted us late last night about the ruling of the lawsuit (which we covered in February) against them. They won and the court of justice in Florida granted the motion to dismiss with prejudice.
The case was brought up against WOT by ten differenf companies, which were later found out to belong to Mr. Ayman El-Difrawi. The companies wanted WOT to remove the ratings and comments left by users against those websites.
It might seem like I've began a holy war against other media corporations out there, but no - I'm just trying to prove how ridiculous the media business is online and just how far it will go for a few more eyeballs. This case in my opinion is a perfect example of such an activity where certain laws become secondary. On December 6th Finland celebrated its independence day and the Finnish president invited the most successful people from various walks of life to the Presidential Palace for a gala evening. This year Peter and Teija Vesterbacka also were invited due to Peter Vesterbacka's work as the CMO of Rovio. Teija Vesterbacka wore a red dress for the evening that had design concepts from one of the birds in the mobile game Angry Birds.
All this caused a huge stir online as a result of numerous blogs and media sites showing the dress in a photograph. It's all good publicity for Teija and Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio and Finland except for tiny detail - all of the international outlets that published the picture of the couple walking down the isle, did so illegally.
The Finnish gaming company Supercell, that launched the hugely successful game Gunshine.net earlier this year is working on their next release, Pets vs Orcs. They have stated this in their blog in the beginning of November.
Microtask has been putting in a lot of effort in the recent year or so to expand their operations beyond the Finnish borders. They've been restructuring their business this fall by moving all Finnish operations to Tampere and focusing on setting up their US business on the other side of the Atlantic. We thought it might be a good time to talk to the CEO, Ville "Wili" Miettinen, about why they decided to move overseas and how it has gone for them so far.
Helistin.fi, a Finnish media property owned by Darwin Media, was hacked last night. According to reports, all user credentials were shared online. The site holds a popular bulletin board for young parents as well as a baby book service offered by the Finnish startup Starduck Studios. Intoloop Kids, the service Starduck Studios licensed to Helistin.fi remains unaffected by the hacking. Henri Liljeroos, CEO, stated on the phone to us that "the bulletin board on Helistin.fi was hacked and this does not affect users on our service, which is still up".
HeiaHeia, the social sports and fitness tracker, has launched a new personal training program generator in association with Fazer and SATS. The generator has been one of the most requested features among current users of the tracker. Yesterday’s launch comes just three weeks after HeiaHeia announced a pilot partnership with the Finnish military to provide conscripts with personalized training programs.
Project management is definitely not one of the most exciting tasks if you're forced to use the most boring and non-interactive methods of collaborating with your team. First of all, lots of solutions out there involves too much for users to read, and secondly, most of these management and collaboration tools aren't really user friendly. On top of all that, these first two factors are already too burdened by you having to deliver at 100 percent efficiency. While many startups are stepping forth to make this a bit more interactive, Yodiz already is speeding the task of adding “Interest” to the intensity of project management.
Scoopinion is a community-based news recommendation and sharing service that uses a bit of a different approach to deliver content to your doorstep. While sharing a news item on Facebook or Twitter may sound easy, Scoopinion actually makes the process fully automated.
The secret behind the service is a browser app that tracks your actions on whitelisted news sites. Scoopinion measures the time you spend reading an article and tracks the movement of your pointer during the read. The gathered data is used to automatically rate each news article and to calculate its overall popularity. Whatever you read is also automatically shared with your friends and further rated according to how your friends read it. A collective feed of all the rated news articles is presented on the Scoopinion website, but in order to take full advantage of the service, users are advised to install the browser app, which is currently available for Firefox and Chrome.
Arctic15 finalist Kiosked is rapidly gaining ground with its in-content online sales platform. The startup has now partnered with Suomi24, Finland’s largest web community, to provide interactive online marketplaces (kiosks) to the community’s 2700 discussion forums and 1.3 million unique weekly visitors.
We talked about Jongla a couple of years back. The Finnish startup promised to leverage the personal capabilities of the mobile devices and become personal marketing tool. The startup offers smartphone users the ability to send unlimited text messages, videos, images etc across the globe for free. Sounds quite a useful tool for bulk marketing.
The core issues or problem addressed is with the limitations that we have when it comes to the size of the multimedia files we share via SMS or MMS and the quality that we do share is awful by all mean (could be my personal opinion). With Jongla, users are freed of this size and quality limitations with the traditional methods. With Jongla you can share all these files directly to their friends. So this means another application, another setup file, a whole new registration or account association. Well not exactly.
Mobile Backstage, the multi-service communications platform for bands and their fans, is now available on the Android platform. The Android roll-out follows the launch of the service’s Facebook application last August.
Android owners can now use Mobile Backstage to follow their favorite artists, interact with other fans, play and buy music, check into gigs and much more.
Eat.fi, the Finnish restaurant search and review site, was acquired by MTV Media on Monday. MTV, one of the largest media corporations in Finland, plans to combine Eat.fi with its own food related site, Makuja, in hopes of building the leading online food and restaurant service in Finland.
Rumor has it that Eat.fi was in acquisition talks with an unnamed Finnish media company already in 2009, but the deal reportedly fell through due to differences in Eat.fi's valuation. No figures were disclosed on yesterday’s deal.