Kristian Segerstrale, the former CEO of Playfish, a social gaming company before it was sold to Electronic Arts for $300 million back in 2009. Today he leads the Playfish team in EA and invests through some smaller funds, like that of Lifeline Ventures here in Finland. Playfish wasn't Segerstrale's first startup. Before Playfish he sucessfully build up Macrospace that since then changed to Glu Mobile and went onto IPO into Nasdaq. Segerstrale was on stage yesterday at the Summer of Startups demo day event. He was energetic, inspiring yet very easy to approach - everything you'd expect from a man of such success and experience.
Supercell is a relatively recently founded startup to say the least. It was founded in the summer of 2010 by gaming professionals with experience from Remedy, Digital Chocolate and Sulake. The team members have experience in publishing 165 games on 12 different platforms so I'm at ease to call this bunch a group of heavyweight veterans. But like real artists, these veterans can ship - today, they've released a roleplaying game called Gunshine.net. It's an isometric 3D game built on flash. Just to remind you, the company was founded a little over 6 months ago so they've achieved a lot. Gunshine.net takes place in the near future, in Dawnbreak City, of whose control Labycore mega-corporation and other opposition groups are fighting for.
Aalto Venture Garage is putting together a busy two week program they call Bootcamp. Bootcamp is to be held four times a year and it's an intensive program aimed at speeding up already existing early stage ventures. The first Bootcamp is to be run between September 17th and 30th. They are now accepting applications, but be quick - the deadline is September 8th. A mentoring program wouldn't be anything without high profile mentors and well enough, Aalto Venture Garage has managed to secure a good lineup of Finnish startup professionals. Mind you, the program isn't only aimed at Finnish startups - it's open for everyone around the Baltic rim.
There has been much talk around Slush lately. Yet, it has not yet been very clear at all what is happening and I'm partly to blame. Now I try to shed some light onto the issue and at the same time invite you all to Slush.
In a nutshell Slush is a new Helsinki originated event for startups by startups. The whole process started when I along with a few others passionate about the subject were trying to brainstorm on how to give a boost to the Finnish startup scene, home and abroad. We had an idea that a bigger annual event might be the answer for the lack of visibility among Finnish startups in the global arena. If nothing else, we saw that such an event was missing from the Finnish startup fabric.
After throwing ideas back and forth for while I, Peter Vesterbacka (of Mobile Monday fame) and Kai Lemmetty (of Floobs) came up with an event that would show the best Finland has to offer, once a year every year. Later on Helene Auramo from Zipipop jumped along to bring her positive energy to the team and give it an even stronger startup perspective. Peter came up with the name Slush and so it started.
Finnish summer can be an amazing experience with its nightless nights, but there's also the dark winter we live with the other six months. Thus, any startup born in Finland have equal number of slushy and dark Novembers in their DNA as they have those warm sunny Julys. Many say the one quality a startup needs above all is perseverance against adversity and out of all the languages Finnish is the one that has its own word for describing just that. The word is Sisu and I believe that it has much to do with Finns pushing through those dark slushy winter months. Thus, an apt name especially for a startup event. Having said that, I believe this is the case with startup DNA all over the Nordic and Baltic countries.
After finding the right people to take on the challenge we were ready to start working. What we really aim to do is light up the startup scene, namely by showing students what entrepreneurship can be at its best, and show the international crowd that there is much more to Finnish startups than the tip of the iceberg they've seen so far. Naturally big part of the whole event is to enable the Finnish entrepreneurs meet not only each other but also investors and other businesses from home and abroad.
We know there's a plethora of events that are not working as well as they could for the entrepreneurs themselves, and thus we decided that everything we do should be done in the interest of the startup scene in mind. If something is in conflict with that focus, it will be scrapped from the agenda. For startups by startups or nothing.
Now we are at a point where the website is up and running so we can tell people about the event, invite them along and spread the word. Even the fact that the website leaked out half ready turned out to be only beneficial, since many people wanted to help out. For example the nice guys at Valve volunteered to help out right away. I've also heard that the Bolder guys are ready to do their part and Scred has promised to make the actual platform for selling tickets for the event.
- Success Stories - This is were we have the Finland's finest web entrepreneurs lined up. Risto Siilasmaa from F-Secure, Petteri Koponen from First Hop/Jaiku, Ilkka Paananen from Sumea/Digital Chocolate, Asmo Halinen from Apaja only to name a few of the entrepreneurs that have started small and made it big.
- Technology track - This is modeled on the Startup Developer Gathering (SDG), which was put together by Kai Lemmetty. For Slush Kai is putting together a tech presentation bar none. This track will go on all day and have many Finnish heavy weights like Teemu Kurppa (Jaiku/Google) presenting their insight for the Slush attendees.
- Thirdly, a showcase where up to 40 local startups can show what they have, be it products, services, their team, philosophy behind the concept and what not.
- Fourthly, probably the most important reason pulling the event together in the first place, we have seven pre-screened teams presenting their business ideas to the audience. These teams will be funded by the Slush Fund. The Slush Fund will be in effect just as big as the combined sponsorship revenue plus the proceeds from the sold tickets will allow it to be. In another words we will channel all the money from the event (minus cost e.g. rent for the venue etc.) to the seven teams. If you are a student with an idea for the next big thing you should apply. Instead of writing code and making coffee at one of the big corporations next summer, you could spend the summer of 2009 working on your own idea and have the expertise of most of the Finnish startup community to draw from.
In a nutshell this is Slush Helsinki. An event for startups by startups.
If the website seems that it does not give out all the details yet, it is by no means because we want to keep you in the dark but rather because we are working on the agenda as we go along to make it as good as resources and time allow. ArcticStartup will be naturally reporting what is happening at the event itself but also how the event is developing from now until the day itself in late November. Welcome to the Slush everybody!
Edit: There was a mistake saying October instead of November. The correct date for Slush is NOVEMBER 24th.
The Helsinki based Mobile Advertising Solution (MAS) has launched 123play.com to their UK customers. The site offers free games for mobile phones made available through advertisements. Since we aren't in the UK we were unable to test the games. However, Pocketgamer has tested the games and according to their tests, the service works as promised.
Once you enter your profile information, you are allowed to load the games through WAP-links. The user is presented with mobile advertisements that show up in pop-ups on the browser, where you can click yourself to the WAP-sites of the advertisers.
123play.com works as an operator and thus does not provide any games of their own. They provide, according to Pocketgamer, games from THQ Wireless, RealArcade, Digital Chocolate, Hands-On Mobile, and Indiagames.
Thanks to Juhani for the tip!