With a phone in everyone's pocket, there still seems to be too much friction when you're trying to get rid of your old bike. So to bring a peer-to-peer marketplace to iPhone, Stockholm-based Osom (think "awesome") has launched a polished app that will get you selling or buying in no time.
Co-founder Anton Johansson tells us that the company got its start after the founders decided to start a company after working for Videoplaza and Twingly. The idea came up as the three founders were sitting down and going through their favorite apps and all realized that Instagram has the best stickiness and "epicness" out of their phones. From there, they started to think about how that interface would respond in the e-commerce environment, and realized it was pretty optimized for a marketplace already.
Tictail, the "Tumblr of e-commerce" has grabbed a solid €1.2 million seed capital in a round led by Balderton Capital and Klaus Hommel. Members of Tictail's advisory board, including Spotify CPO Gustav Söderström and Tumblr COO Fredrik Nylander, have also made personal investments in the company.
We covered the startup's launch last May, and since then they have added 5000 independent stores to their e-commerce platform, with the most traction in Sweden, Germany, Denmark, France and the UK. Rather than going with a one-giant-store approach, like Etsy, Tictail allows you to create your own online store, rather than having your products show up right next to all of your competitors' products.
Sellfy, the Latvian e-commerce platform, announces a seed funding round led by Skype co-founder Toivo Annus, long-time head of Skype Estonia Sten Tamkivi, as well as several telco executives from a leading Spanish cable operator. Sellfy has produced an e-commerce platform aimed at digital goods on social media, allowing anyone to easily sell their digital wares by just sending or sharing a link. The size and details of the funding round were not disclosed.
"E-commerce is broken," says Carl Waldekranz, CEO of Tictail, a Stockholm-based startup launching their public beta today. And after listening to him and seeing the Tictail vision, it's hard not to believe him. Tictail is free, innovative, and aims to become the easiest platform to get your webshop up and running.
Sure there are solutions like Ebay and Etsy that make it easy to get your products online, but if someone is shopping for "shoes" on these sites, you see your products next to your competitors, and they offer almost nothing for branding. And sites like Shopify can get your webstore online, but they cost money, and they really don't make it easier to sell things.
Tictail is pushing to become "The Tumblr of e-commerce," a high goal, but an adequate metaphor to the type of system they're trying to create. Waldekranz points out that only a few years ago, if you wanted to get into blogging you had to use complicated systems like Moveable Type or later Wordpress to get your blog going. The early CMS systems made it easier than manually updating code yourself, but it was still intimidating and not really accessible to non-tech people.
Finnish VC firm Open Ocean Capital has taken part in investing to a French company, Commerce Guys. The size of the round is $5 million in total and other investors that participated include Alven Capital and ISAI, the French entrepreneurs' fund. Commerce Guys are the creators of Drupal Commerce, one of the leading eCommerce solutions working with Drupal. Commerce Guys looks to serve internet merchants by helping them leverage the Drupal platform for their online stores. Open Ocean Capital is famous for supporting companies building value on top of open source projects, for example the likes of Drupal.
Need to find a gift for the holidays? Or do you find a lot of cool items on the web, and want to share them with a community who also likes unique stuff? A Swedish startup called Thingspotter might be the website for you. Thingspotter is a social product sharing service that helps you find, collect, organize, and share cool products you find on the internet. They describe themselves as "Like Twitter, but for physical things."
There is a growing number of people in Russia buying products and services online. Many of those shoppers prefer foreign products and brands: they are often associated with higher quality, exclusivity and status. While some Russian online stores offer a variety of such goods, there is a greater abundance of them on global sites like Amazon and eBay. The problem is those sites are not well localized: their product selection is not translated into Russia, shipping does not work as smoothely as to other European countries and you cannot pay in Rubles. This gap is what Bay.ru is trying to fill: it is an e-commerce platform for Russian shoppers that lets them easily buy items from eBay, Amazon and the likes.
Wikimart.ru is Runet's leading platform for online stores. Set up in 2009 by two Russian graduates from Stanford MBA, within a year it attracted over 2200 merchants and raised $5,7M finding from a group of Western business angels and Tiger Global Management. This week Vedomosti reported that Tiger Global invested another $7M into the venture. According to Kamil Kurmakayev, one of the founders, Wimimart was approached by a number of other investors, including Accel Partners and Index Ventures. The reason the company chose Tiger Global was simple: the group did not try enforcing their own vision onto the start-up or dictate how things should be done. Previous investments have been spent on expanding the operations, online marketing and SEO. This investment means Tiger Global has over 50% stake in Wikimart.
As the Valentine's Day is approaching, some men might start frantically searching for original ways of greeting their sweethearts. One Estonian start-up has just the solution for you - knickers in an envelope! The service is called KnickerMail and the idea behind it is this: if you want to send someone your greetings, don't go buy a postcard, flowers or chocolates but pick a pair of knickers instead. You can choose the text for the hand-written postcard to be sent with the undergarment, order and pay for it all online and voilà - you make the recipent blush and smile at the same time. Andrus Purde, technology and business talent behind the start-up, tipped us their story.
Every now and then I boast about the next big thing coming from the Nordics and now I believe I have found a seed for one of those monsters.
Social Shopping is one of the fastest growing online consumer markets and there’s a Finnish startup right in the middle. DealDash, a Finnish startup, is making $200k+ a month and has currently 130k+ users, and its growing fast. Their annual revenue run-rate is approaching the $3m mark and sales have doubled in the last 6 months.
Fruugo, the much-debated ambitious Finnish e-commerce startup (see our previous coverage) that has raised tens of millions of euros of funding, filed its 2009 annual report last Friday. The report reveals the company made a loss of 11,040,071 euros (USD ~13.9M) in the financial year 2009. Despite the huge loss, the result was actually a slight improvement from 2008 when the company made a loss of 14.5 million euros. The report also tells that Fruugo produced a turnover of 8236 euros (yes, not a typo; i.e. USD ~10,350) from the sales commissions in 2009. The company launched its web storefront, available to consumers in Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands (and including merchants from also the UK), in May 2009 several months late from the planned schedule.
The Estonian Fits.me, Virtual Fitting Room, has launched. Heikki Haldre, the CEO of the company, has been at work with his team on the concept for quite some time, winning pitches in Tallinn and overseas. A few days ago we received an e-mail from Heikki announcing that they've finally launched their service and have done so with a British customer - Hawes and Curtis.
On Monday Fruugo, a Finnish startup that in 2008 burned through € 14.5 million, laid off roughly 20 of their 50 employees, which equals to 40% of their whole work force. Fruugo CEO, Juha Usva, confirmed the news to me yesterday evening.
When I asked how much money Fruugo still has in the bank and how long will it last, Usva emphasized that 'the situation is tight'. According to some this means that Fruugo won't have enough money to pay their employees' monthly salary due on the 15th. Whether that's true or not, the financial situation of the company is clearly critical.
Fruugo's launch has been eagerly anticipated since the first rumors last year (our previous coverage). In Finnish and Nordic scale the firm is a huge endevor backed with millions of euros in finance.
All did not go very well, though. Quite soon after opening the service many who tried the service noticed severe problems, and eventually the site was brought down with a note "under maintenance" (screenshot). It seemed the site went online and offline multiple times during the first day. Janne Waltonen, Fruugo's VP Marketing and Communication, commented on Twitter that they were in fact expecting problems and did not want to make a big fuss of the launch exactly because of that.
mobileAxept is a Norwegian startup providing a mobile phone payment system, which directly charges an existing credit card or a bank account.
mobileAxept's solution is based on a patented gateway for securing transactions between the customer, merchant, and credit card companies or banks. The merchants can offer customers a way to pay with their mobile phone, either by calling or sending a SMS to specified numer. However, the payment will be processed on the customer's credit or debit card rather than added to phone bill. This way the phone can be used for quick impulse purchases or micropayments without big overhead costs typically associated with mobile payments.
Scred, a Finnish company building tools and services to help friends, groups and communities manage their money, has released a new version of their service. Before Scred enabled me to track debts and share expenses in multiple currencies. I found the basic Scred service already useful in sharing expenses with my flat mates. Now Scred has come out with a new version of their service, which has a set of new features that take the service to a whole new level.
There's a number of gossips around the big stealth mode Finnish startup Fruugo currently. The rumor has it they are firing a lot of their employees, their product is late from launch and it hasn't been that well received by potential customers. Fruugo commented earlier they are aiming to become the "trusted 3rd party of e-commerce", set out to solve the problems in the internet ecommerce supply chain making online shopping safer, and "more fun", for both consumers and etailers.
Fruugo is assumed to have tens of millions in funding, and they state having 150 employees. Taneli Tikka also addressed the rumors in his recent blog post, mentioning Fruugo may have been still hiring last month. Fruugo is burning through the cash quite fast with that amount of employees. However, even if the company would be spending around 1M 11M euros [typo corrected] per year, the assumed funding of tens of millions should be enough to carry on operations for quite some time still. If the funding is not as generous, though, Fruugo might be having tough time in the current economic situation.
Fruugo's CEO Reijo Syrjäläinen mentioned in our interview in the summer that the service would be available in closed Beta in a few months. We should see that coming up very soon if the rumors are not true. Taneli has also heard Fruugo would be going for bigger PR at SIME Stockholm.
Building a service sized what Fruugo's comments so far hint of, is likely to be a huge and difficult a task. Thus it may not be any surprise if the old "Pi rule" of startups might have gotten Fruugo as well (take your original plan and multiply the time-to-market by Pi, and divide the expected revenue by Pi).
The mystery Espoo based startup RunToShop that we've covered a few times before has set for launch in September. The core of the company is also coming out in their newly designed website - social shopping through personal recommendations and reviews. RunToShop states themselves as the place to find stuff people really love.
These are of course guessese, but I have heard from a trusted source that RunToShop is not launching in Finland in September. One easy giveaway is the language - it's all in English and they speak English in ...? You guessed it.
Fruugo, the new Finnish startup gathering loads of interest with Jorma Ollila and Risto Siilasmaa on board among others, has been in strict stealth mode. Today, CEO Reijo Syrjäläinen revealed a bit more about their plans to Arctic Startup in a breakfast meeting.
In short, Fruugo positions themselves as the "trusted 3rd party of ecommerce". The major problem Fruugo sees and is trying to solve is in the internet ecommerce supply chain. Reijo described that purchasing from the web is still quite painful; you enter some product name to a search site, and from the thousands or millions of hits you need to figure out where you could and should get what you are looking for. Then, after finding some etailer, the next questions arise around whether you trust the seller, payment options, etc. Also for the etailer, especially in Europe as an example, it's hard to deal with varying regulations, laws, taxes etc. in different countries.
Fruugo believe they can offer the consumers and etailers easier, simpler, and safer way to do web purchases. They see big inefficiencies in the current web ecommerce supply chain, and believe they can streamline it a lot. Reijo didn't want to comment the business model nor the technical concept in detail yet. Fruugo is essentially a consumer company, and their marketing activities will be heavily focusing on creating buzz and interest in the internet.
Currently Fruugo is building the technology platform with especially scalability and partner integration automation in mind, and establishing partnerships with key players in the industry. The service will be available in closed Beta in a few months. So far Fruugo has "some plans" for including also mobile into the equation, people's roots being strongly in the mobile world, but not right from the start. Reijo comments they naturally see a huge potential in the mobile web, as mobile handsets are becoming the main way of accessing web in many parts of the world.
So, what does the mystic equation 1L + 1M + 1P = ? on their web site stand for? There have been all sorts of wild quesses thrown in the air, but Reijo now reveals it's simply "1 Language + 1 Mind + 1 Purpose = Success". So it rather describes the company's culture and mindset than its offering, as was speculated. They are building the company around a strong vision and hand-picked people with strong can-do attitude.
Reijo also states all the key supporters have positioned Fruugo for real success - they didn't even think about establishing the company anywhere else, as all share the same love for Finland. They really want to show that it's possible to create a top-notch internet startup here as well. Naturally Fruugo is going to bring more international color to their team, but the "heart and soul" will be Finnish in any case.
We'll be revealing more about Fruugo later on as things progress. Also note that Fruugo will launch their renewed web site by Monday, with a bit more content than currently.