Danish startup Playday are behind a successful SaaS workforce management program which is the leading software of its type in the Nordics. Now as they look to expand their operations worldwide and capture a huge, unexploited market they’ve partnered with venture capital firm Creandum to get the investment and expertise they need to realise their vision for growth.
Fitbay, the startup that has a novel solution for finding the right sizes when shopping online, recently announced an investment by Creandum and Jesper Buch. Creandum, who has invested in Spotify as well as multiple local startups, and Jesper Buch from Just-eat and now Hungry.dk fame, are both heavy names in the industry.
When we first heard that two VC's and 14 angels jumped on an investment into GetSalesDone by Dexplora, it got us more interested than the pitch itself. In fact, at that point the pitch did not really matter as the investors included the likes of Adrian McDermott (Zendesk Product Management lead), Frank Meehan (Former board member of Siri and Spotify), Chris Perret (Founder and CEO of Nukona, acquired by Symantec) and John Taysom (One of the first investors in Yahoo!). Not to mention Creandum and DN Capital.
To be completely honest, we are still not sure what is the bigger story here, the company itself or the complexity of what started out as an angel seed investment round. After all the CEO and co-founder - Hampus Jakobsson tells us that "the development cost of the app and the system was less than legal costs to close the round." Talk about complicated Term Sheet Battles.
We have been to a million cookie cutter events with 5 minute pitch talks and heavy drinking with no real value. Thus on Tuesday, the 28th of May at the Apollo Live Club, ArcticStartup will bring you the Term Sheet Battle. An event, where you will learn how to negotiate a Term Sheet by watching how it is done live on stage between Sunstone Capital, Creandum and Kiosked.
A term sheet is basically a marriage agreement between a startup and their investor and is probably the most important piece of paper you will ever sign as an entrepreneur. The contents of which can make or break your startup and influence future investment opportunities or exit potentials.
Learning about this is not something you need just when fund raising. Continuing with the marriage metaphor, it is a good idea to figure out what you are getting yourself into before saying “yes” and signing the papers. This is an invaluable experience whether you are a CEO, a dreamer, a developer or an investor.
Stockholm-based VC firm Creandum has closed their Creandum III fund at €135 million. It's been a about six years since closing their previous fund, all while Creandum has been making recent investments into companies like JustBook, Non Stop Games, 13th Lab, Vivino, and just recently, Xeneta. Now that the technology fund has been officially closed, they say Creandum III will be used to invest in 25-30 companies in a mix of Seed and A-rounds.
Creandum's previous fund, raised in 2007, clocked in at €80 million with roughly half as many Limited Partners, showing that investors have seen positive results from the VC firm. Creandum seems to have a good eye, they have over €250 million under management in companies like Spotify, Wrapp, Appear TV, iZettle, and Videoplaza.
I guess we'll finally see in practice what great ideas VCs bring to the table. Stockholm-based Venture Capital firm Creandum is getting their hands dirty at the next STHLM Startup Hack, competing against hackers and designers in the same 12 hour competition. The event is taking place on the 11th of May, and looks to be like an awesome time. It's being thrown in a church, Skeppsholmskyrkan, with support from Spotify, Glesys, and Amazon, as well as Tictail and Uber.
Staffan Helgesson, General Partner at Creandum says "We're great believers in ecosystems and STHLM Startup Hack is a great initiative to further strengthen the community. Therefore Creandum is very happy to be a part of Stockholm Startup Hack and participate with our own team. Come and beat us!"
Co-founder Patrik Berglund claims their company might not look that sexy, but to me, disrupting prices in the absolutely massive container shipping industry is incredibly easy on the eyes. What Oslo-based Xeneta does is similar to what Glassdoor did for employee wages. They offer a price comparison service for sea freight, and yesterday announced they received €1.2 million in financing led by Creandum, with Norwegian private investment company Alden co-investing.
Berglund and one of his co-founders, Thomas Sørbø, got their start at Kuehne & Nagel, a freight company. After leaving in 2011 for shipping and logistics consulting, they realized pricing is extremely volatile, and there was really no transparency in the industry. So they set out to do for sea freight how you buy airline tickets - prices are there in front of you.
In October 2012 we held the Arctic15 conference in Helsinki, where a panel discussion between venture capitalists took place. This discussion proved to be rather interesting, controversial and extremely useful for everyone who wants to understand more about Venture Capitalists and get some tips and advice in regards to talking to them.
The discussion took place between Aman Ghei of Accel partners (Invested in Rovio, Supercell, Facebook), Johan Brenner of Creandum (Invested in Spotify, iZettle), Vitaly Rubstein from Rubylight (Former Co-Founders of Odnoklassniki.ru, invested in Ask.fm) and Dmitri Sarle from Arcticstartup as the moderator. During the discussion some "dirty little secrets", as Johan Brenner put it, were revealed. For a complete video, scroll down to the bottom and enjoy the show.
I'm sure a nice bottle of wine is getting opened in Copenhagen today. Vivino, the Danish wine app, has announced it has received $1 million in Series A funding from Creandum. Last year, the app received seed funding from SEED Capital and Skype co-founder Janus Friis.
Instead of focusing completely on wine discovery, Vivino takes the opposite direction to help you remember the bottles you've drank. That makes it sound like an app for alcoholics, but it really solves the problem when you really like the red you've had at your friend's party, but can't remember what it was the next day. To use the app, all you do is take a picture of the bottle and the image matching algorithm figures out everything about the bottle of wine - and even gives you a map view of where the winery is located. If you use the app discretely enough, you can come across as an expert.
Creandum has invested in some well known companies across the Nordic region, but has yet to make any major investments in the Baltics. Today, the Stockholm-base Venture Capital firm announces Andris Berzins is joining as an Investment Advisor. Over the last 18 months Berzins has been heavily focused on the Baltic startup scene, working the chairman and co-founder of Techhub Riga, as well as the Lead Wise Guy at Startup Wise Guys.
Berzins tells us, "I approached Creandum because I want to pull in a really good investor that is close by, knows the region, but also wants to take companies onto the world stage."
In May Finnish Industry Investments committed €7.5 million to Creandum and gave some details about the new Creandum III fund, which has not been officially closed. The press release, however, did state that the fund has already raised €92.5 million at first closing, and aims to hit €150 million by its final closing. This will be a nice chunk of change spread across the region, and it will be interesting to see how many new investments they make in the Baltics with Berzins as an investment advisor on board.
iZettle, the Swedish maker of chip card readers for iPhones and iPads, announces today it has received €25 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Greylock Partners and Northzone. MasterCard, SEB Private Equity and Series A investors Index Ventures and Creandum are also participating in the round. The chip card reader is now being tested in the UK after being available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and will apparently use the funds for expansion.
Whith the funds, iZettle is looking at the European and world markets, wherever chip-card readers are standard. This targets the company away from the U.S., where a similar company, Square, is located. Currently iZettle has 50,000 users across the Nordics and the UK.
Finnish Industry Investment, the government owned investment company, has committed €7.5 million to the new Creandum III fund, which has not been officially closed. The fund has already raised 92.5 million at first closing, and aims to hit €150 million at final closing. The fund's focus is on consumer ventures with internet and mobile technologies, as well as on software and hardware investments.
Today a new travel startup is launching its public beta, which will allow users to explore destinations, plan trips, and get travel recommendations from friends. I know what you're thinking right now. Social travel? My heart's been broken too many times. I don't know if I can commit. But here's the thing. Many smartphone users are already collecting good bars, restaurants, and photos of tourist sites on their travels through location-based services, which is useful for sharing with friends. Unlike other social travel startups that require you to create new content, Stockholm-based Tripbirds builds off of many people's current habits.
"Where most [social travel startups] fail is getting critical mass because you need some content on the site to make it interesting." says CEO Ted Valentin. "What makes us different is that we're building Tripbirds on top of existing services as a travel layer -- on top of Facebok and Foursquare and Instagram, and even more services in the future."
Videoplaza has just come out with an announcement that they have secured a $12 million investment aimed for global expansion. The Series B funding comes from Qualcomm Ventures and Innovacom. We've written about the Sweden based company before as well, regarding their strong growth. With this investment the growth is sure to follow. The company had a great 2011 according to the press release. It served five times greater ad volume than the year before and opened up new offices in Madrid, Berlin and Singapore. It now operates in 17 different countries.
Yesterday the digital gift card service, Wrapp, got another boost to their funding round and added anther big name to their board of directors. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman has joined the board as Greylock Partners added $5 million to the company’s Series A funding to co-lead the round with Atomico. Wrapp received $5.5 million in November from Atomico and Creandum.
iZettle, a Sweden based company looking to crack the social payment problem, has closed an 8.2M euro investment from Index Ventures, Creandum and Charles Dunstone, CEO and Co-founder of The Carphone Warehouse. The round was lead by Index Ventures. iZettle's solution is very similar to that of the US leader's in this space, Square. They have an iOS app that users are able to download for free and then use that app, together with a small chip-card reader, to accept and pay for goods and services with your credit card.
Anil Hansjee, former head of Corporate Development at Google EMEA, joins Creandum the Sweden based Nordic VC firm as an investment advisor. Creandum also recently announced the hiring of Hjalmar Winbladh as a Venture Partner. The team continues its growth in knowledge, but also in the breadth of its networks.
“As Creandum seeks to build the leading venture firm in the Nordics, we strive to build a network of leading individuals to work with. These individuals should have superior deal flow, company building and investment experience, and international network. Anil ticks all these boxes. Needless to say we are thrilled to work with Anil to build global businesses.” says Johan Brenner, Creandum General Partner.
ArcticEvening Stockholm is just around the corner! We have a very good lineup for Stockholm in order and honestly speaking, I hope we could have this panel in Tallinn and Helsinki as well.
Our theme for Stockholm will be Venture Capital and its state in the Nordics and Baltics.
Part of the questions will be provided by the moderator, but this time we'll try something new as well. Since we have the top venture capital companies of the region in our panel - we want to open up the possibility for the community to ask your questions as well. Therefore, do leave your questions in the comments of this post and we'll pick the best and most suitable ones.
We all know the Swedish startup Videoplaza has been on a roll lately with their ad serving technology for managing and monetising online video. Venture capitalist are not disagreeing: Today Videoplaza announced the completion of its €3.5 million (US$5 million) round of investment led by Creandum and Northzone.
Not surprisingly, the capital was raised to support a further commercial development and a roll-out across Europe. More specifically, the funding will enable Videoplaza to accelerate the deployment of its Monetizer ad server platform technology for managing, displaying and tracking advertising in and around publishers’ online video content into more European territories, including Germany, Spain and Italy.
Daniel Blomquist of Creandum, a Swedish early stage venture capital company, has posted an excellent post to their blog analysing the differences between the Nordic countries to other countries as well as analysing the differences within themselves. In essence, Daniel goes on to confirm what Will Cardwell said some time ago.
Creandum has gathered a lot of knowledge about the Nordic venture capital market over the last two years to understand the ecosystem better and thus be able to work in it better. They now share some of this knowledge with us. Their main findings from the report were:
We all love Spotify here at ArcticStartup and use it everyday to listen our favorite tracks. We also know that it was not cheap to begin with for the VCs to invest in Spotify even though it was (and still is) the early days, since the founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon had plenty of experience, capital of their own and know what they were doing. But if you thought it was expensive before, the Times Online reports that "Spotify is trying to drum up a valuation of close to £200m (roughly €230m) as it seeks new investment of between £20m (€23m) and £30m (€35m)."
Times Online further reports that If it Spotify achieves the valuation it aims for, the company will have almost trebled in value since it sold a £13m stake last autumn to Nordic investors Northzone Ventures and Creandum.
We are excited and for once, think the high valuation is for a very good reason. Just recently in an investor forum I heard a VC who had invested in Spotify proudly stating that Spotify is the next Skype, meaning that it will be the next big Internet service success story coming from the region. They certainly have the right direction and I don't think I have seen any company have the same potential since. Regardless of whether Spotify ever reaches a $2.6 billion exit (with current exchange rate some €1.87 billion), or exit at all for that matter, I, for one, would invest in a heart beat.
Daniel Blomquist from Creandum venture capital firm wrote lately how entrepreneurs should focus more on which VC to approach than how to approach. He argues that you can make more out of your time if you try to find out and select the most prominent VCs for your firm beforehand. As Ville Vesterinen and Daniel mention in successive post's comments, it is a sales job. But a bit of clarifying could be used to point out the similarities and try enlighten the whole process further. The fund raising process seems to be somewhat comparable to business-to-business selling process.
Her quote was strongly related to as of being an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is most likely not something one chooses to become, but something one has to do. It's very hard to be an entrepreneur, especially if one is to create a great successful company. To make it, one has to have a very strong commitment.
Katja's advice for an entrepreneur
Besides from the fact that entrepreneurship is something one has to do, Katja shared her best advice for an entrepreneur:
- Love your customer, or get customers who you can love. You'll benefit greatly if you're interested in creating value for your customer.
- Create a company you love to work for, it's going to be long hours along with ups and downs.
- Build a company that is easy to sell. Do your homework on what type of companies are most likely to be bought.
- There are no shortcuts to create value, it takes time. Be prepared on a fantastic, but a long and tuff journey.
- No skeletons in the closet. Keep your records straight like if you were to get listed at the stock exchange the next day.
Recently we wrote about Videoplaza signing a deal with Sweden's TV4. At that point it was not disclosed what they would deliver to TV4. Now Videoplaza has revealed that they work together with TV4 on Replay, a free ad funded catch-up service, which uses Videoplaza's ad server to serve ads. The formats the ads are served to the TV include pre- and midrolls, overlays and companion banners. Campaigns currently running include campaigns from Sweden’s largest advertiser ICA, Ford, SAS and the Red Cross. (see video below in Swedish).
This could also possibly be something that could easily take traction in other Nordic countries as they struggle find new ways to compete against new players like TVkaista (see our blog post here). Not only that, I believe UK and the whole mainland Europe is potentially fertile ground for their solution, where US might be a tougher market with Hulu and the likes.
The company also announced that it has added a new board member, Rolf Skoglund, who started Microsoft Nordics way back in 1985. At the same time Videoplaza announced two advisors: Andy Chen, VP of Digital Solutions at Viacom International / MTV Europe and Joakim Jardenberg, the CEO of Mindpark. All of Videoplaza's non-execs are also investors and stake holders in the company.
Creandum, an independent and partner owned Swedish early stage seed fund which has invested in Spotify has also invested in Videoplaza. We will see if Videoplaza will spark similar kind of wild speculation that Spotify has. Creandum's portfolio includes a number of very promising Nordic early stage companies along with Spotify, and it is likely that Videoplaza is no exception.
Blyk, the free Finnish born (but operates only in UK) mobile network for 16 to 24 year-olds funded by advertising, has signed a frame agreement with Aito Technologies, a Customer Experience Management (CEM) solution provider, for the delivery and implementation of its Business-Driven CEM software product, Aito, to UK market. This follows a successful 3-month pilot installation, which began in May.
Aito takes business intelligence from network traffic data and offers Blyk an easy-to-understand, in-depth analysis of service usage, member behavior patterns and trends.
The information that the software generates is given to key staff directly involved in business management – sales and marketing managers, member service teams, product managers – in a form which is easy to use and act on.
In essence, Aito is an easy-to-implement tool that’s a user-friendly method of making sure mobile subscribers are having a great network experience, at all times, whether making a voice call, sending a text or MMS, or, in the case of Blyk, receiving relevant mobile adverts with their services. The carrier-grade Aito will provide Blyk with a 360° view of the activities and overall experience of its entire subscriber base. .
CEO of Aito Technologies, Anssi Tauriainen, said, “Like Blyk, we know that mobile advertising is set to be one of the most important business models and revenue-generating network activities offered by operators in the future [...]"
Mobile advertising has been already coming from years and is still as annoying as ever. Yet, this is hardly Aito's fault and I admit not having tried Blyk services. That said, even if Blyk works like charm, I already pay fixed monthly sum for practically unlimited calls, SMS and data and can't really imagine the future any other way. For cash-strapped 16 to 24 year-olds teens who adore brands there seems to be something there though. Blyk users receive 6 sms/mms from the chosen brands per day in exchange for 217 txts and 43 minutes of voice calls each month.
For the segment the service seems to be working: Blyk has currently 200,000 member in the UK, which is the only market they are currently serving. Now Blyk is ready to slice and dice the market data into an easy-to-use format with Aito Technologies' help and are well equipped to follow their plans to go pan-European in 2009 potentially reaching 40 million young consumers.
The advertisers seems to be happy as well: Big brands like L'Oreal have seen tremendous results with average click through rates of 29% (ranges between 12 and 43%). Quite a lead from the average mobile advertising average CTR that hovers around 3-6%.
Finnish media Digitoday knows that in addition to Blyk, Aito Technologies has currently six commercial pilots running in Europe, including Finland. Digitoday also reports that Aito has around 700 potential customers, traditional and virtual mobile operators. Along with these, Aito is going after ring tone, community and added value service providers in the mobile space, which there are around 2000 to 3000.
Spotify, a Swedish startup offering a lightweight software application enabling on demand streaming of music, has opened up its service for public.
Earlier on we wrote about rumor that Spotify had raised €15m round from various investors. Last week I received a confirmation that Creandum and Northzone Ventures has invested undisclosed sum to the Swedish startup (more bout this here).
It's no wonder the startup is investors' latest darling as it just recently signed significant licensing deals with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, EMI Music, Warner Music Group, Merlin, The Orchard and Bonnier Amigo.
The service launched on October 7th 2008 in UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Throughout the remainder of this year and into 2009 Spotify will be rolled out to further markets.
Spotify offers three different subscription models: Free, Day Pass and Premium accounts. Day pass cost you just under one pound sterling for 24 hours whereas the Premium account costs you 9.99 pound sterling a month. Free account is advertising funded, but if you have received your free account via an invitation already earlier on as I did, chances are you don't need to deal with any advertising yet. Advertisers that have signed up to be included from the launch include Ford, T-Mobile and Xbox.
In comparison, the service is better than any other music service I have seen so far. Spotify allows you to share songs and playlists with friends, and even work together on collaborative playlists. It will also recommend music you might like based on what you've listened so far. To my delight it also seems to do the recommendation very accurately to match my taste. Martin Varsavsky used a fitting analogies for the service.
[...] Spotify is like iTunes but with on-demand. It’s like Joost, but for music! It´s like Pandora without the need to vote and with your ability to listen to music anytime you want. It´s like Last FM without the community.
The only downside was that some of the current users saw many of the songs on their playlists disappear as Spotify cleaned their playlist to reflect the current copyright agreements that they have been able to push through. Regardless, I think this is a minor disappointment and the users will possible see many of the songs reappear as Spotify tries to get more record labels behind them.
You can also post and vote on your favorite playlist Digg-style at Spotylist. Spotylist also allows you to find new playlists that others have posted via simple links. I already found two good ones just from the blog comments.
The fact that another service has already build its own offering on Spotify's core product is a solid example that there is something very special about this service. Forget Last.fm, go Spotify!
TechCrunch UK just reported (here) that Spotify, a Swedish startup offering a lightweight software application enabling on demand streaming of music, is rumoured to have raised €15m round (massive €71.6m pre-money valuation) from a Scandinavian VC fund Northzone Ventures.
As TechCrunch UK commented "Northzone themselves have declined to comment, but Creandum, another of Sweden’s top VCs, is also understood to have taken part in the funding round."
ArcticStartup met Creandum at Seedcamp in London and a partner at Creandum told us that he is very excited about Spotify when we asked what are the most interesting Swedish startups at the moment. On the face of it this would support the rumor, even though we can't confirm it either.
I did an extensive interview with Daniel Blomquist from the Venture Capital firm Creandum. Daniel is an associate at Creandum and profiles innovative companies that have the potential to become market leaders in niche markets. He shares great insight on Nordic companies and gives some first hand tips on venture financing.
Many thanks to Daniel at this moment!
What’s the big idea behind Creandum, what's the philosphy so to speak?
Creandum was founded based on two important strategic principles. Firstly, from a market perspective, we identified a market opportunity due to the lack of professional venture capital investors in Nordic early-stage technology companies. We have seen through extensive analysis of the Nordic venture capital market that significant value has been created in companies that are less than 5-6 years old, which means that one has to invest early to be part of these successes. Secondly, from a resource perspective, we noticed that in many successful US early-stage venture capital firms, the investors often had entrepreneurial and technology backgrounds. This was rarely the case in Europe or the Nordic region. That’s why everyone at Creandum has an entrepreneurial background being involved in building and growing start-ups. Some have also worked as business angels before joining Creandum.
I've heard from relatively reliable sources that Aito is definitely onto something big and good here. Initial demand for the product/software they are building is incredibly good. The software as far as I'm informed, is a tool to analyse network traffic and thus serve as an indicator for operators to streamline their services. For example, as funny as it sounds - not many operators know the percentage of successfully delivered MMS messages in their networks and as far as I know, Aito's software will help with these sort of problems.