I haven't seen any Wikileaks revelations regarding startups, not that they should have too much in common in the first place. However, I've just come across a US Embassy cable regarding the video streaming and rental service Voddler via a tweet from Mikko Hyppönen, the CRO of F-Secure. In doing so, the cables reveal some interesting figures from 2009 regarding the service.
Zerply is California based startup, that has its roots in Sweden and Estonia, through its co-founders. Zerply aims to be the best way to present yourself in a professional way. What they currently have available to the public, is bunch of very stylish profile pages which integrate relatively seamlessly to other online services. However, there's a lot more in store according to Christofer Karltorp.
If you can pay your bills via mobile phones why not stamps? Looks as if this is going to see implementation both in Denmark and in Sweden, beginning with Denmark in April.
The system would work by letting users pay for the postage via a text message using their mobile phones instead of stamps. With the message sent and payment made, users receive a code that they can write on the letter or the envelope, which then serves as a proof that the payment has been made. While this is coming to Denmark in April, Anders Åsberg, heard of marketing and development with Swedish postal service stated for TheLocal.se that Sweden isn’t seeing this any time before the summers.
Spotify has announced today that they have reached the point of one million simultaneous customers. This is huge. The company launched its service just some two years ago and they now have million simultaneous customers and over 10 million registered users altogether. However, Peter Kafka from AllThingsD states that Spotify has some 7 million active users in its service, yielding a whopping 15% conversion rate for their service.
The Swedish indie game developer Mojang has won 5 different awards last night in two different competitions, organised in conjunction with the GDC 2011 conference. Markus Persson, the creator of the game tweeted about this earlier today. Minecraft is still officially in beta, but millions of people are already playing and most importantly, paying for the game. To be precise, at the time of writing this Minecraft has 4 884 884 registered users and 1 470 357 have paid for the game (that's over a 30% conversion!).
WiMP, Scandinavia's latest music streaming service will open itself to the Swedish users, beginning March 3rd. This would allow users to signup for the service for 30 days to listen to free music. The service will offer users a quick and easy way to access a countless songs in its archive and has been specifically customized to cater to the Swedish music lovers.
Remember TrueCaller? A Swedish startup that we covered last year, a application that removes anonymity from any call that you may receive. That’s one of the most worrying things when it comes to calls from unknown numbers. TrueCaller simply takes charge of finding the identity of the caller and let you know who the person is.
Freespee, a Sweden based cloud communication startup with a focus on Pay per Call solutions and call tracking launched a revamped website a short while back. The startup has been around since 2008 and it has been growing ever since. I thought about going over a few statistics and they were quite impressive.
Twingly, the Swedish startup which started off as Technorati for the European market has been quite a regular mention at Arctic Startup. It is in news once again as Twingly shifts gears towards group communication and microblogging. The shift changes quite a bit compared to what it had been doing earlier; social aggregation.
There is quite an issue when it comes to web designers and developers looking for a web hosting service. The issues come in numbers, from the additional cost of finding a quality hosting service, limitations of each add more problems to implementing an idea on the Web. To sum it up, it is the scalability that is the problem. Well, some smart folks in Sweden have given it a thought to bring us Startawebbhotell, a web based tool that enables web designers and development firms to run their own hosting service.
Much has been talked about Flattr since the last time we covered the company in May. Founded by the three guys behind The Pirate Bay, Flattr enables easy micropayments as social donations for the whole web. Many described its service as a Facebook's Like button but with money. When we covered the company, it was still in closed beta. Since then, the service came out of beta and, according to TechCrunch, got more than 46,000 registered users with over €114,000 worth of transactions passing through the system within the first four months of being live. This week Flattr announced a few updates to their service that make the company all the more exciting.
Going nuclear with your business, especially when it is related to a geographic expansion is a justified move especially if you are recognized as a major regional player. A similar story comes from the Stockholm based European Music company; X5 Music Group which is branching itself into the US.
The Swedish music company announced that it secured a 7 Million Euro investment from Northzone Ventures. This isn’t Northzone Venture’s first investment in a music related firm, given that they had earlier made a major investment in Spotify, a prominent Scandinavian music startup. With the current investment by NZ, the venture group has given X5 Music the necessary investments to expand beyond Europe and into the US Markets. And if X5 Music is actually able to make this, it will become the first Swedish record label in over five decades to move into the US region. With that said, X5 will be readying to start work at its New York office in early 2011.
Powerkiss have not released much news this year. Apart from a feature in VentureBeat in June and a mention in connection with The Europas competition, we have not heard much about the company. Just this month, however, they've been pushing out news stories like crazy. First we hear that they've partnered with Wayne's Coffee in Sweden and Finland. The coffeeshop chain's guests can now (in limited locations) ask for a Powerkiss wireless ring from the counter, plug it into their phone, put onto the Powerkiss-enabled table and recharge it during their stay. Next we hear that Powerkiss is the official wire-free provider for Santa in China. That's right: Santa Clause foundation has been hosting showrooms in China to promote Santa and other Finnish exports and Powerkiss has been one of those products. Last but not least, Powerkiss' wireless charger has been officially approved as an Apple accessory. Charging an iPhone/iPod next to you soon! Apart from all the glitz, the case of Powerkiss poses some interesting questions.
Swedish Sillens AB has developed a service called ShapeUp Club, which allows you to follow what you eat and also helps you lose weight through constant following of calories and your intake of food. I'm currently reading the new book by Tim Ferriss - 4 Hour Body, which is a great way to cut down on bingeing around Christmas. One of the key messages of the book is that you need to measure certain metrics to be able to improve on them - something many entrepreneurs understand easily regarding online business. ShapeUp Club is a great tool in helping you understand and follow metrics on how your body reacts to what you eat and how you exercise.
Guidepal is a Swedish startup that offers city guide apps for Android, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry devices. The guides are free to download and use, and contain information about sights and attractions, places to go, shopping etc. typical things you might expect from city guides.
The guides are produced by Guidepal's local city experts and writers around the world. There is currently an app for 27 different cities. Guidepal aims to differentiate from the traditional travel guides by supporting a number of digital platforms, and trying to offer wider and more relevant content than other services.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Kristoffer Lawson, the Travelling Salesman. He's on a 10 000 kilometre drive to meet Nordic startups. ArcticStartup is supporting the project, by covering his travels and findings. This post was originally posted in the Travelling Salesman blog.
When pondering my travel plan I was told by a number of people, even Swedes, that there would be very little in places like Karlskrona. That I should stick to the big centers: Stockholm, Lund, Göteborg, etc. They were wrong, but proving that was to be a challenge.
Via Venture Partners has announced (PDF) raising of a new fund. The fund is its second, amounting to 134 million euros. In addition to the VC's original fund founded in 2006, this makes Via Venture Partners one of the largest VCs in the Nordic region with a total of EUR 268 million of committed capital. The fund targets Nordic high growth potential ICT firms that have a global market opportunity.
Music Ally recently revealed financial report from Spotify Ltd in UK, which showed £16.66 million loss for 2009. When looking at the financial report for Spotify AB in Sweden the picture is quite different. While in UK Spotify's expenses exceeded their sales by more than £16 million, Swedish branch showed an income of 1,5M€ and a profit margin of 15,5%. Net sales for Spotify in Sweden were almost 10M€, which is almost as much as the sales numbers reported by Spotify in UK. The data for Spotify in Sweden did not include detailed break down of numbers for its subscription fees vs. add sales but the UK numbers suggest Spotify makes slightly more money from subscriptions.
Discovery and cross-promotion are important buzz words all over the app and gaming world, especially on the iPhone and Facebook where the amount of new product launches is ever increasing. With thousands of new products being launched each day, it is very daunting task for game developers and publishers to try to stand out and drive downloads to their own apps - at least if not gettng any help. It can be also very hard for the users to find out new content they would enjoy from all the noise. Swedish The Game Trail's purpose is exactly to "guide iPhone gamers down the right path to quality games" and thus ease the problem for both sides.
Widespace is yet another mobile advertising startup from Sweden. The company provides premium mobile ad network to mobile advertisers, app publishers, and developers. Widespace aims to compete in the crowded mobile advertising space by claiming to allow advertisers superior targeting (by e.g. handsets, operators, and markets), being extremely simple and fast to get started, and taking smaller commission than other networks. For website publishers and app developers added promise is automatic revenue maximization by the company's proprietary algorithm. The startup also claims mobile site owners can considerably reduce their ad administration costs with the solution.
The Sweden based Cronlab, a provider of different anti-spam solutions, has closed financing to further speed up its sales and widen its product offering. The financing round is Cronlab's first and was raised from different European angel investors. The size of the round, nor the investors were not disclosed. Cronlab offers both anti-spam hardware solutions, but also SaaS alternatives as well as hosted solutions.
Cronlab is a small Swedish company, that created only 91k kronor (10k€) in revenues in fiscal year ending April 2010. However, in the fiscal year ending April 2009 they generated revenues of approximately 1,4 million kronor (150k€). Update (20.10.2010): The figures represented above only account for CronLab's Swedish business. Cronlab moved their business to UK in 2010 and thus the figures do not completely show their business potential or state of it.
Mozoomi is a Swedish mobile advertising startup, aiming to enable advertising on the wallpapers of mobile phones. The background wallpaper image is one of the most seen images to mobile phone users. Mozoomi believes that the image has limited value to many users, but it can mean a great deal to advertisers. The company has been developing technology platform for making it possible to serve targeted, interactive ads to replace the wallpaper images. Mozoomi aims for the Asias and South American markets, and plans to pilot the service by the end of the year, as mentioned in an interview by Swedish site E24.
Guest post by Andy Cars, the founder and CEO of Seedcap AB based in Stockholm. Seedcap AB help entrepreneurs and start-ups to raise capital. You can read Andy's previous post on the 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Often Make When Raising Capital here. Here Andy talks about an alternative to locking-up your valuation too early.
Many entrepreneurs that seek external capital to finance their startups often find the valuation of their companies difficult. How do I know what my company is worth? Moreover, by its very nature the founder often believes his company to be worth more than what the investor is prepared to accept, which in the end leaves the founder without a deal.
‘’The markets are on the web, the production power is on the web, both globally available for everyone’’ Mårten Mickos, CEO, Eucalyptus Systems.
Let’s do a small intellectual play: Web 2.0 services, or the current generation’s internet companies globally, are built for the most part on top of the so-called LAMP-stack. In other words their infrastructure is based on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP – a selection of open source software programs.
As a Finnish modern saying goes, "Life is man's prime time" - but it is sure to end some day, and more and more of our identity will remain alive in the digital online world after we are gone. Managing all your services can already be a daunting task for you yourself when alive, let alone for anyone else looking after your heritage after your earthly journey, be they a spouse, a relative, or a friend. Furthermore, they don't know how you would like your digital identities and remaining traces online to continue, nor have the means to access the services.
Swedish web startup My Webwill has addressed this problem by creating a secure online service that lets you decide how your online Internet presence should look like after your death, shutting down your online identities, or handing them over to friends and family. The service has just launched globally, after a couple of month's beta testing in Sweden.
The Nordic Tech Tour, organized by the independent not-for-profit organization The European Tech Tour has kicked off today. During two and a half days, the selected 30 promising early and later stage growth companies based in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and the Baltic countries will gather together with the leading cross-border venture capital and global corporate firms.
During the event, the companies have twenty minutes to present their business plans to 70 international delegates, consisting of senior partners, VPs, and CEOs from the global venture capital and technology industry, as well as advisors and academics. The investment capital present at the Tour is said to be worth over €10 billion.
Swedish startup Anyfi Networks has come out of stealth mode and announced Anyfi.net, a new Wi-Fi roaming solution. The solution allows Internet service providers (ISP) offer consumers the same automatic Wi-Fi user experience both at home and on the go - users can automatically and securely always connect to the same Wi-Fi access point.
The solution is based on a custom piece of software ISP can install (automatically over-the-air in most cases) into their Wi-Fi hotspot devices, to make the hotspots function as a radio gateway (or access point). The access points direct the raw Wi-Fi radio traffic securely over the Internet to a server in the cloud.
This way, when connecting to a hotspot where Anyfi.net software is installed, users will always be virtually in their home network, without having to login to any new local Wi-Fi network (no passwords are asked after the very first login to the home network). This means the users will also have a fully secured connection, even if the hotspot itself would be untrusted or even in an attacker's control. The solution is also very simple for the end users, as it does not require installation of any new software to the consumers' devices, thus working on any Wi-Fi client device (like smartphone) out-of-the-box. Check out the video below for more info.
Spotify has just announced that it will expand its service offering to Netherlands. Netherlands is the seventh country Spotify is available. The other countries are Finland, France, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Dutch people can now sign up to the service using the link on their website.
It seems that Netherlands came before the US in the end, which shouldn't be a big surprise. Clearing rights and getting the legal side of things sorted out is not a light job to do. It might also make better business sense for Spotify to grow their business in Europe before hopping to US - a show of strength that might ease legal issues later on.
Meniga, the Icelandic personal finance management service, has signed Applicon as its partner in Scandinavia to offer its service to banks. Meniga is an Icelandic startup founded in January 2009 with a very similar plan in mind compared to the famous US company Mint.com.
With the signing of the contract and the press release associated with it, it has become clear how Meniga plans to position their product and get it to market. They have signed the contract with Applicon, which is a Swedish company closely affiliated with banks. Applicon offers its customers a combination of standardized IT software with the help of its 50 strong organisation.
An interesting development: TechCrunch reported that a Swedish startup Klarna (formerly Kreditor), one of the biggest providers in Europe of in-store credit and invoice based payment solutions for the e-commerce sector, has secured funding from Sequoia Capital. What's interesting here is that the superstar VC Mike Moritz, who invested in Google among others, has joined Klarna's board.
Why this is interesting is because the general belief is that US VCs are very rarely interested in investing in European companies, and it's even rarer to see a big name US VC to join a Euro startup board. Just in our previous story our guest blogger, Marita Seulamo-Vargas, reported how the US VCs had advised Nordic and Baltic companies to seek investments primarily from home.