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.
If you were going to design a car from scratch today, what would it look like and what technology would you put inside? This is the question posed by Scarlet Motors, a new Finnish auto manufacturer with plans to design and build a consumer electronic sports car. On Friday Scarlet Motors threw a launch party in Berlin where it announced it will allow the community to to participate in the product development process.
The company was started eight months ago by Joona Kallio and Julien Fourgeaud, an ex-Rovio employee and designer who are staying close to their roots by calling cars a "true mobile device".
With social media being all the rave in marketing and advertising space, everyone and their mother is using it to try and promote their products, services and (you guessed it)... events.
ArcticStartup is going to attempt this very feat of strength and we are giving away free tickets (and exclusive T-Shirts) to the upcoming Arctic15 conference. Which is promising to be a major event this year with amazing speakers, companies, startups and investors already confirming their attendance.
Editor's note: Please see correction at the end of the article for an update.
We covered Jolla in July as they set about an ambitious task to build a MeeGo phone. Nokia built N9, which was their first MeeGo phone and discontinued the line later on. This meant that N9 was their only MeeGo enabled phone. Many thought that this was a crucial mistake for Nokia as the phone immediately received fans around the world for its UI and usability. One thing that was missing though, at least to the comparison of iOS and Android, was the app ecosystem. Jolla, a new Finnish based venture has picked up the pieces and is planning to release a MeeGo enabled phone later this year.
One of the questions, and perhaps the most important one, that has been asked from Jussi Hurmola, the CEO of Jolla, is that of: "How do you plan to solve the problem with building an app ecosystem for the phone?". Tero Lehto from Finnish 3T publication interviewed Jussi Hurmola and learned that the company will be enabling Android (although he does not want to officially disclose it just yet) as well as Qt-applications.
and HTML5-applications to their platform through something that is called ACL (application compatibility layer) Jolla PR got in touch with us and told us that the use of ACL is currently speculation. They will be announcing more information regarding this later this year.
With two of Helsinki-based Supercell's titles in the top 25 grossing iPad Games in the US, we decided to get in touch with Ilkka Paananen, the CEO of the company, to see if they could share anything about their success.
The two games on the App Store charts are Hay Day, a farming simulator game similar to Farmville in many respects. My colleague, Antti Vilpponen, reviewed the game "for many hours," which got the whole office playing and trading eggs and wheat on the free market. Read Antti's review here.
Supercell's other title, Clash of Clans, is similar, but more within the fantasy realm. In the game, not only do you have to make sure your army is well equipped and adequate against attacks while you're away but also make sure your finances are in order to keep building your village.
What's more impressive is the fact that Supercell is one of the four developers/publishers of games that have two releases in the list. The other publishers include Electronic Arts, GREE and Playtika.
Below is our short interview with Ilkka Paananen.
While Russia has the most internet users out of any European country, the adult population is still just getting online for the first time. A 2011 poll found that only half of all adults in Russia use the internet monthly, an increase of 15% from the year before.
These new internet users (and some experienced ones) haven't built up a healthy dose of cynicism when browsing the web. "Free Viagra? This looks legit," they think. But now, Russian internet powerhouse Mail.Ru group has launched a new version of its browser that integrates Helsinki-based Web Of Trust's crowdsourced website reputation rankings.
The cover story of the upcomming issue of Wired Magazine is highlighting "Europe's 100 hottest startups" by listing ten companies from each city they consider a startup hub. On the list are startups from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, London, Istanbul, Helsinki, Berlin, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, and Moscow.
Reading the list at the ArcticStartup office we have a few "but what about's" that are missing from the cities we pay attention to, but it's good to get an outside opinion of what startups are attracting attention outside of the region.
My only complaint is that they stuck with startups located in only ten cities. I'm sure it helps Wired take photos and build a narrative, but it really excludes a number of startups that should be on a European top list.
Aaltoes has been cranking out more and more high quality programs for startups recently, and Summer of Startups has been their most recent success. Last night, nine of the 12 startups accepted to Summer of Startups pitched at their demoday to a crowd that spilled out of the auditorium. There were many health focused teams pitching at the event, but it was refreshing to see so many startups looking for solutions to real-world problems.
The keynote speakers at the event included Jussi Hurmola of Jolla mobile, the ambitious new cellphone handset manufacturer that is looking to build their platform off of MeeGo, the abandoned Nokia platform, and Heidi Roizen, a Venture Partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and a lecturer at Stanford.
Last year, Rovio did about €75.4 million in revenue. About 30% of this came from different merchandise sales. The rest of the revenue flowed in through the sale of digital content and advertising in its Angry Birds games. Wall Street Journal interviewed Lisa Shamus, EVP of Commonwealth Toy & Novelty, a family business that creates plush toys for children. Shamus in the article shares that they sold about $200 million worth of Angry Birds merchandise to retailers. She continues to state that they are on track to sell $400 million worth of Angry Birds merchandise for this year.
The Founder Institute, claiming the title for the world's largest startup accelerator, is arriving to Finland this fall. The for-profit accelerator was started in 2009 by Adeo Ressi, also the founder of TheFunded.com a website for entrepreneurs to understand how investors compare between each other. Compared to other accelerators, Founders Institute has more of an educational approach to entrepreneurship than a 2-month intensive with hands on coding or business development.
To graduate, you must go through the curriculum that includes numerous lectures on different areas to successfully start a business. Classes are run by the chapter leader, which in Finland is Toni Perämäki. He is the founding member of Boost Turku and has built the Boost Startup Farm co-working space as well as the person in charge of Boost Turku Startup Journey - accelerator. The chapter begins operations in Finland on August 14th with a public event taking place in Turku on selling. Participants are expected to graduate in early February 2013.
August 2nd saw the release of Supercell's second big iOS game, Clash of Clans. Towards the end of June the company released Hay Day and shot to the top of the charts with it. Even today, Hay Day is in top 50 for the top grossing apps in the US.
But back to Clash of Clans. It's a game made for the iPad and iPhone in a similar fashion to that of Hay Day. Both games are expected to be played in short bursts (but then again you can dive in for hours) whether you're comfortably on the sofa with your iPad or commuting to work and waging war on your iPhone.
The Helsinki, Finland based startup Transfluent has launched Transfluent for Apps. It is a cloud based service where app developers can tap into the network of 15000 translators that work in 60 languages. The traditional or more common way to translate applications into multiple languages is to finish the app and towards the end of the development cycle, send all the text strings for translators. Transfluent helps in speeding this up, but making the translation process a part of the development cycle and will thus improve time to market.
Transfluent for Apps works through the company's API. The company's backend has been prepared in such a way that it works well with lean development processes where multiple iterations take place each day. All the texts can be sent to translators multiple times per day, but only those where changes have taken place are translated as Transfluent's system keeps track of different iterations.
Back in June we covered how the Finnish startup Kippt had been accepted into Y-Combinator. The founders are back in Finland for a quick visit and we decided to have a chat with Jori Lallo about the impact Y-Combinator has had on them. Y-Combinator has been ranked the best startup accelerator in the world by Forbes and there are surely others as well.
The reason is quite simple. The accelerator has produced some of the most valuable internet startups in less than 10 years. Since the founding of the program in 2005, companies such as Airbnb and Dropbox have graduated, not to mention Reddit whose co-founder Steve Huffman spoke at Arctic15 last year.
Creating native mobile applications from HTML5 is picking up speed and the Helsinki, Finland based AppGyver is in the middle of this. They've seen steady growth in their client base in the last two years and to speed things up, they closed a $1M funding round. The money will be used to continue hiring of key personnel and expand their business operations into the US. Investors in the round include private investors as well as Tekes and Foundation for Finnish Inventions (Keksintösäätiö). Therefore the amount announced includes both private money and public leverage.
Arctic15 is the premier industry event for Nordic and Baltic startup and growth companies. The conference was organised for the first time last year with some 400 people attending it. This year, we're improving on many fronts and Arctic15 will be over the two days in October.
A big part of the conference is also the startup competition we're putting together. Last year we had 15 awesome companies on stage pitching themselves. However, what's more interesting is the fact that these 15 companies raised $12.85 million in funding in just 10 months since the last conference. Naturally we can't take credit of this for ourselves, but I think it suggests that the best companies in the Nordics and Baltics are present at Arctic15.
Yesterday, Helsinki, Finland based Gajatri Studios soft launched their facebook game Yoga Retreat. It's the first game of Gajatri Studios and developed through an interesting model of financing as well as a small development team that outsourced many parts of their work where they were missing talent.
We thought it would be interesting to talk to Tiina Zilliacus, the founder and CEO of Gajatri Studios about the development and funding of their first game. The story is interesting and hopefully would inspire other women to also try their wings at running a startup.
Compared to shopping malls, the e-commerce sector has it incredibly easy. But Helsinki-based Hyper[in] is attempting to make managing commercial real estate much more plug-and-play. Hyper[in] has produced a nearly all-encompasing platform for managers of commercial real estate. It combines all the things you need to run your shopping mall efficiently, while also creating significant non-rental advertisement revenue for their customers. On top of that they also offer services, like the website behind the shopping mall, making Hyper[in] an easy one-stop shop for their customers.
Their solution is somewhat targeted to commercial real estate owners with around ten good-sized malls in their portfolio. With multiple malls they can offer a management dashboard where whole-mall portfolios are shown, with metrics like sales, service provider management, advertisement sales figures, consumer analytics, and so forth.
Last Friday, the New York Times ran an editorial entitled That's no phone. That's my tracker. The authors Peter Maass and Megha Rajagopalan of ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative newsroom, make the point that today's mobile phones are used only occasionally for phone calls, and instead their main function is to help its owners keep track of the time, our friends, where we go, and how much money we have in the bank.
They suggest a new term for smartphones. "People could call them trackers. It’s a neutral term, because it covers positive activities — monitoring appointments, bank balances, friends — and problematic ones, like the government and advertisers watching us."
A Finnish company, RapidBlue, would fall into their latter category, as they are building the service that allows advertisers, media companies, and store owners to track customers in the brick and mortar stores. The solution uses public Bluetooth signals that RapidBlue's receivers picks up, but does not connect to. The company has determined that that their solution can track the movement of 95% of consumers in the Nordic countries, and 91% in Southern europe.
Most people are familiar with all the convoluted rights challenges around owning music they've purchased, but the problem is only extrapolated for those producing music. Many freelance artists join collection societies like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and Teosto. These organizations were created for keeping track of licensing, collecting and distributing income from the performance and the duplication of compositions. It makes sense for music creators so they can better monetize their works. But when new innovations like Audiodraft come around, it has added a some friction to getting their audio crowdsourcing platform to be a tool of choice for professionals.
Collection societies exist to give musicians a central organization that will take care of their rights. For example, if a composition is broadcast on TV or radio, the songwriter of that composition is entitled to public performance royalties from the broadcaster. The organizations that collect license fees from broadcasters and distribute these funds back to songwriters in the form of public performance royalties are called performance rights organizations.
Smartphone cameras have long been used as simple inputs for photos and videos, but recently we've started to see a few local companies leverage the camera as much more of a smart sensor for advanced applications. We've only scratched the surface with augmented reality technologies. But with Sayduck launching their first co-branded app, with 13th Lab receiving funding, and with Guidepal in the mix, maybe we're starting to see the signs of a new trend developing in the Nordics.
Starting off the news, Sayduck recently announced the launch of their co-branded app with One Nordic Furniture Company, a Finnish-Swedish furniture brand. The app allows users to virtually test out products in their homes using accurately scaled virtual reality furniture viewed through their iOS device. The app lets you scroll through furniture, change colors of the furniture, and even read the description, price, and dimensions all virtually placed to float around the furniture.
As people were beginning to wind down for the long midsummer weekend, the Helsinki, Finland based Supercell went on to launch their new game Hay Day. Hay Day is a farming game like no other. One might think that the world has seen enough of annoying farm game advertising on Facebook from the likes of Zynga, but having played Hay Day through out the weekend for about 10+ hours in total I can say that there is demand.
Hay Day is also Supercell's first mobile and tablet only game, meaning it has been designed for the iOS platform. You can play it on your iPod Touch, iPhone as well as the iPad.
According to Ilkka Paananen, the CEO of Supercell, the launch has been quite phenomenal despite the challenging launch date.
Just during the long weekend, the game has shot to #7 in the US iPad listing while pushing to #13 on the iPhone. Paananen also disclosed that according to their own analysis, they are going to be achieving similar places in their key markets in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, UK, Canada, Australia and so on. In many countries they're already in the top three spot.
The other week we asked where were Helsinki's big startups, and today Kiosked responded with a new funding round. €4.5 million is a nice number for the "content activation platform," but what gives the funding more weight is that this is the first major public investment made by Kaj Hed since pumping money into and buying up 70% of Rovio. The funding round was also joined by private investors and Tekes, and Hed will join the Kiosked board as chairman.
Of the €4.5 million, a million euros comes from Tekes' Young Innovative Companies -program and the direct investments by investors is around €3 million. Kaj Hed's stake in the round is the largest by far.
On the funding round, Hed says, “Disrupting and re-shaping any industry is always interesting. Kiosked is the first to connect brands with their online business logic through their content and fans. It is going to create new paradigms that will change the way brands engage with consumers forever.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you're planning on attending ArcticEvening Helsinki next week, now you have another reason to come - we're giving away four two day tickets to Arctic15 just like in Tallinn, Stockholm and Copenhagen. All you need to do is sign-up and attend the event.
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.