Startup Wise Guys, an Estonian accelerator that was behind startups such as VitalFields, WappZapp, EpicList and Cloutex. They have gone through three batches of companies so far: Summer 2012, Autumn 2013 and Winter 2013. However since then we have not heard much about their plans for the future and were suspecting that there would be a change coming.
So a few days ago, they announced that they will change their focus towards B2B commerce and adjust their program accordingly by launching "BusinessTech".
When you're young you trip and fall, it's not such a big deal. You simply get up with maybe a nasty bruise if you're unlucky, and move on with your life. For the elderly, this couldn't be any less true. A single tumble can be a matter of life and death.
Last month alone Estonia gained much startup momentum with the rise of the new tech hardware-only accelerator BuildIt and the equally hardware affiliated Garage48 event, which became the most successful of its kind to date.
The next month of April (23-30) will see the Estonian capital of Tallinn swarming with tech folks as the city will be hosting the international information and communication technology week.
Those of us who live in Finland will be familiar with the more than exaggerated prices associated with taxis, but on the southern side of the Gulf of Finland thrives another kind of taxi culture, one that is so casual that it has a strong demand for taxi applications.
Let me introduce you with Estonian Taxify (former mTakso), an application that connects everyone from short notice travelers to unsuccessful designated drivers with their local taxi service.
Estonia's Business Angels Network put out an infographic detailing EstBAN's first year in review. It's an interesting look a Estonia's angel investing scene, detailing the €4.6 million invested by their 59 Angles in their network. In total, the group has charted 83 investments into 66 companies.
Setting up a startup company can prove to be too overwhelming for many potential entrepreneurs who are too unsure of their success to take the necessary first steps. Estonian Garage48 has set out to change this mentality by organizing weekend-long conferences where team effort, positive attitude and motivating deadlines combined will create tangible results.
February 7-9, 2014, marked perhaps the most successful Garage48 event in its 4-year long history, and the first of its kind. The Garage48 Hardware & Arts was held in the city of Tartu, Estonia, and hosted over 130 members from the creative communities of engineering and design, making it the biggest Garage48 event so far.
Estonian start up GoWorkABit has entered Seedcamp, successfully pitching themselves at the first Seedcamp event of 2014 in London. They were competing against 19 other start ups from across Europe for one of the coveted eight places available, and were the only Baltic startup to make it.
Estonian cloud startup Cloutex announces it has raised $600,000 (€441,000) in seed funding. The company provides cloud services integrations to synchronize your customers and records across platforms like Pipedrive, Salesforce, FreshBooks, Highrise, and so on. Integrating data can get messy and time consuming to do manually, allowing Cloutex to charge $29 a month for two integrations, and with six connected services for $99 a month.
Estonia based start-up Svipe will be bringing its card free payment solutions to retail shops around the world with financial backing from the LHV Banking association and mobile payment expert NOW! Innovations.
Svipe's trump card is not only providing a handy application to promote retailers, but creating an equally impressive piece of hardware that increases positive customer experience.
There is one thing I absolutely love and that is gadgets. The beauty of the whole concept is that they are slowly turning from the geeky nerd fab into something a little more mainstream. With the advent of 3D Printing, hardware prototyping platforms such as arduino/raspberry pi and crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, we are truly in the age of gadgets.
Back in the day, when I tried to get the first ever MP3 CD-Player for a couple of hundred bucks, people though I was mad. Now, it is normal to chase gadgets and nearly everybody has some. However what is a lot more impressive, and important, is that we can all create gadgets without having to buy-out factories in China and raise millions of EUR’s in funding. In fact with some of the modern tools for prototyping, it should be possible to put something together in a matter of a couple of days.
As reported by E24 news, the Estonian government plans to create a fund of funds with a total size of EUR 80 million with an aim to invest into startups. The government is set to choose fund managers for the endeavor, and invest EUR 60 million, while the other part should come from private investors.
The total amount will depend on the amount of private investment that this initiative can gather. The fund of funds will be created using the Kredex financial institution, and according to Andrus Treieri, the director of Kredex, the size of the individual funds will depend on the contribution of private investors.
Did you know there was an online games retailer called Viagame that sold exclusively to the Nordics? I didn’t, and hearing about it made we wonder whether there was strong enough demand in such a narrow market to support a business like this. Especially when there’s so much competition in the field from the behemoth that is Steam, and other companies such as Good Old Games, Green Man Gaming, and Origin. Well Viagame, that brave company, have just announced their expansion into the Baltics and have launched stores in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Perhaps they have been thinking the same thing.
Doing your grocery shopping online is becoming more and more common. Pretty much all of the major grocery stores have realized that investing in e-commerce means keeping up with today's markets and customer demands.
The benefits of online grocery shopping are many, both for the individual customers and the companies who provide the products. Customers can browse and search for their desired products easily and in the full comfort of their living rooms.
In the recent Estonian news, we found out that a company known as "Data Valley Enterprises OÜ" is planning to establish Europe's largest data centre in Estonia. According to the news published on the Estonian Äripäev, the company wants to establish a 30 000 square meter server farm with an initial investment of €170 million and then expand this to 200 000 square meters using a total investment of €600 million.
The announcement was made by the representative of Data Valley Enterprises, Jussi Vartiainen together with Eerik-Niiles Kross, who is currently in the running for the mayor of Tallinn. According to Vartiainen "Estonia has the ideal climate for server maintenance, innovative business environment and favourable taxation. At the same time in the workforce and land prices are cheaper than in western and northern Europe."
Personally I have been under attack on Youtube, Google Search, AdSense, banner ads and outdoor ads. To be honest, it worked, as I used the company to Transfer some of my hard earned cash to the USA and it worked without a hitch. Unfortunately, though, I can’t get the money back easily as you can’t use Transferwise to make the transfers from the US yet.
The Estonian mobile payments provider, Fortumo, just announced a partnership with the Ukrainian mobile operator - Kyivstar. The partnership would allow Fortumo to tap into 25 million Kyivstar customers to make payments inside of Kyivstar’s App Club store without using a credit card.
The first game to be published that will be able to use the Fortumo mobile payments is Cut The Rope by Zeptolab with games from Rovio, EA, Halfbrick, Creative Mobile and Lima Sky to follow.
Sitting at $57 million USD in 2013, the Ukrainian digital gaming market is but a drop in the ocean when comparing to the recent Supercell sale. However when you come back to earth, it is still an attractive piece of the pie to target.
Has the peer lending revolution finally started taking off in Europe? IsePankur, the Estonian based peer to peer lending network has announced last year that they started to allow anyone within the EU to invest on the platform, however it was still only the Estonians who could actually look for a loan. Recently, however they opened up the platform to Finnish residents.
This means that now anyone in Finland can request a loan using Isepankur.fi and many are doing just that. In the first 9 weeks of operations, IsePankur reported 13 million euro of loan applications in Finland. Combined with Estonia, they are now hitting over €800 000 of issued loans monthly. The month of September, for example, reached €859 500 and IsePankur reports a 20% month to month growth of this figure.
If I were to tell you that there is a startup in Estonia that generates 100 000 000 unique visitors per day, is number #80 on Alexa, has over 3 000 paying customers, has more than 40 employees and is aiming for over €25 million turnover in 2013 you might say I am bluffing. Your first guess, thinking about the Baltics is probably Ask.fm. However, there is such an Estonian company - AdCash.
AdCash is an ad network that is concentrating on entertainment and gaming. According to Thomas Padovani, founder and CEO of the company: “AdCash is doing what Google Adsense is doing. The only difference is that AdCash is very focused on entertainment.”
It is always great to see when there are two major funding announcements on the same day for the region. In addition to today’s Kiosked funding round, Pipedrive just announced an extended seed round of €1.8 million.
The round was co-led by Rembrandt Venture Partners and Storm Ventures, with participation from TMT Investments and a group of angel investors, including Taavet Hinrikus of Transferwise, Ott Kaukver of Twilio and Rain Rannu from Fortumo.
The Finnish government confirmed at the recent European State Portals Seminar in Tallinn that they have plans to implement a data exchange layer of e-services that is akin to the Estonian X-Road. In the process, they will co-operate with Estonia as much as possible. For those of you that do not know, X-Road is a data exchange layer in Estonia that allows institutions and people to securely exchange and access public data.
In its simplest form, it makes the whole country connected and anyone, whether it is a public organization or a private one can securely use the data. For instance insurance companies can easily forward information to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. Population register, tax and customs office, social insurance board, vehicle register and others are all connected to the X-Road. Another example is that this is one of the reasons why in Estonia you can create a company online in around 15 minutes and submit annual reports online using an accounting system that is smarter than some custom built accounting software solutions.
When I first heard about Uber, I was confident that this would be my ultimate taxi app, if it ever reached Finland and/or Estonia. After all, it was super easy to use, it would get me a good taxi exactly when and where I need it and best of all, I do not have to wait on the phone for 5 minutes.
Unfortunately, Uber did not turn out to be exactly what I hoped it would be. After all it is rather expensive and there is basically no choice in what driver/car you get. Not to take anything away from Uber, they have their niche market and they are doing very well. It was just not something I needed and the same went for a lot of the people I knew.
What I really wanted, though, was an app that would provide me with a choice of all taxies in the area, ranging in price, quality and distance to my pick-up point. However, there wasn’t one. Until now, that is.
Most companies end-up using a variety of CRM solutions to manage their businesses. That is to say, there is no one single solution that would cover all aspects of the business reasonably well, so companies are forced to use a number of them. For instance you might end-up using Pipedrive for sales, ERPLY for stock management and POS solutions, Mailchimp for sending e-mails, Quickbooks for accounting, etc. The problem is, that all of these have their own database and they do not sync with one another.
What this means is that if one of your clients changes their e-mail address, you will need to manually update this information in all of the CRM’s that you are using. An Estonian startup, Cloutex, is aiming to change that by making a service that would achieve full synchronisation with all of your CRM solutions and update data everywhere, automatically for $19 a month. The real revolution of this idea is that you are not limited to just two systems and only updating new data, you can completely synchronise all data.
Fits.me dates back to 2009, when they have received their first round of cash from Arengufond, Webmedia AS and a number of angels. Since then, they have raised several more rounds and are currently one of the top startups in Estonia by the amount of capital raised.
The technology behind the company, robots that can take shape of any human size in order to show exactly how any given garment will sit on you before you purchase online, was always a little controversial.
Some people thought it was definitely the way of the future, however others were not quite so impressed by the developed and did not think the company stood a chance of success.
Whatever you had planned for next week, cancel it. Unless your plan was to go to Latitude59, a startup conference in Estonia that is picking up speed every year. With themed days, it was a blast last time around and attracted great speakers from all over the globe.
This year, the team behind the event tried to make it even more impressive and gathered a great selection of speakers. Perhaps even more interestingly, there are surprisingly many investors who signed-up to speak and attend the event.
Estonia's Plumbr is transforming into a full featured SaaS product by adding more centralized features and a wider scope to their code performance detection service. Since launching about a year ago, the company has gained about 100 paying customers, including names like Ericsson, TeliaSonera, NATO. Since launching, the main benefit Plumbr provides is memory leak detection for Java, memory leak detection for Java, which can save your application from crashing and your development team many stressful days of work. For the average company, tracking down a memory leak could take a few weeks of pouring through code, but Plumbr's Java agent can track it down in about 30 minutes.
Before this SaaS update, clients had to install Plumbr on each workstation individually, and the alerts and results would only be visible to that workstation. With the new Plumbr 3.0 update, users can attach Plumbr to as many applications as they wish, with alerts now being created on the server side.
The big idea? Smart bicycle brake light. How can a light be smart? For one it knows when to shut itself off (Hint: when the bike is stationary) and when to start blinking again. It also detects deceleration, allowing it to act as a brake light.
This is the story that will explain everything you need to know about the Baltic investment market, outlining the current trends, introducing the key players, listing major investments and exits. It does not get much more comprehensive than this, so grab a chair, get a coffee and dig in.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE INVESTMENT MARKET
Before we start with the statistics and introductions, let us take a look at the Baltic investment market in general. The scene has been changing and developing and over the course of the last 5 years, the number of startups coming from the Baltic States was growing rapidly, most of them requiring seed and early stage investments.
The problem of 'fit' when selling clothes online has always been a problem, and since 2009 the Estonian startup Fits.me has been trying to solve it. They are not trying to do this by modifying the sale procedures or offering free return shipping, instead they built robots that can mimic nearly every body shape. Since the company was founded, they have raised around €3 million and were already one of the best funded startups in the Baltic region.
Today, Fits.me announced a Series A round from an existing investor SmartCap and also new investors onboard: Conor Venture Partners, Fostergate Holdings Limited and The Entrepreneurs Fund. The total amount raised is €5.5 million and is a part the earlier reported investment.
Today Spotify has expanded into seven new markets, hitting four countries under ArcticStartup's radar: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and everyone's favorite, Iceland. It's part of today's bigger push, where they've expanded into Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Mexico. This now brings them to 31 countries, by my count.
There's not much more to say about this news, but for our readers in the Baltics or Iceland, it's worth the download. For better or worse it's become one of those services I don't want to live without - I like having 20 million songs on my computer or phone, and Spotify's UI is clean and constantly improving.
The Region Is Going Green: Click & Grow, Indoor Garden & Fresh Wall Are Crowdfunding To Bring Plants Into Your Home Or Office
Here is an overview of the 'growth', in the very literal meaning of the world, startups of the region. These companies are trying to bring the joyful experience of being a gardener into everybody's home and office. Without actually any need for doing anything about it.
After all, three startups from the ArcticStartup region, are seeking crowdfunding in the region: Estonia's Click & Grow, Finlands Fresh Wall and Indoor Garden. Click & Grow as well as Indoor Garden are aiming to allow you to grow a variety of plants at home without any gardening knowledge, skills or time investments. Fresh Wall, on the other hand, as the name suggests is going to put a huge wall of self-watering plants in your house or office.