Since Facebook went public a year ago, it has started actively exploring possibilities for monetization and introduced many new features, which in fact seem to be pretty disruptive for users. This situation opens a lot of opportunities for Facebook-based application developers to improve users’ social media experience.
Espoo-based Fajoya builds a mobile app that allows Facebook users to help request, receive and reward favors from their friends. It aims to accomplish a social mission — to make the world a better place where helping others is something everyone wants to do.
It is no secret online dating is surrounded by stories of disappointments and broken hopes. One reason is pretty simple - you never can be sure if the person behind the appealing profile picture is real. Fake profiles, hidden payments, annoying photos of kissing couples, clumsy nicknames is the incomplete list of what makes experiences of those seeking for a partner online so frustrating.
Helsinki-based Audrey has risen to a challenge to put an end to a disturbing faking game and revolutionize online dating experiences. Launched on 1 May in Finland, Audrey calls themselves the first real identity online dating service.
Entrepreneurs looking for government contracts, update this negotiation strategy to your rule books. The Finnish Tax Administration is reforming their information systems, replacing seventy tax systems with a single one. Selected was the Fast Enterprises’ Gentax taxation software, along with Finnish-Estonian Nortal, who plans to implement the project for €62 million with the overall price of procurement running around €226 million over 15 years.
Also competing in the bid was IBM, whose bid of €38 million with a total value of €143 million over 15 years was rejected. The Finnish Tax Administration was able to do so under the public procurement laws, which says the contracting authority may reject abnormally low tender.
Headquartered in Espoo, Rightware, develops embedded User Interface (UI) technology and performance benchmarking tools for mobile, automotive and consumer electronics industries, and announced today that it has closed $5.2 million in fresh funding. The Series B is supported by prior backers Inventure and Nexit Ventures, and a new investor Finnish Industry Investment.
The fresh investment will be used to further expand global sales. The money will also go on the continued development of their main product, the Kanzi UI Solution.
According to many, Applifier is one of the hottest startups in Finland and with over 150 million active users in their gaming cross-promotion network - rightly so.
Last year, they announced Everyplay. Which in most basic terms allows in-game replay recording. However it also acts as a gaming video social network as you can share your game replays on Everyplay, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. This, according to Applifier, will drive organic growth for game developers.
When ArcticStartup was on tour to the UK thanks to UK Trade & Investment, we had the chance to meet innovative and exciting companies that were based in the Liverpool Science Park. One of these companies happened to be the Finnish Hammerkit, a company that have seen it all and was forced to change directions, adapt to the environment and fight to survive. As opposed to overnight success stories, Hammerkit is an example of all the hard work that startups need to go through in order to make it out there.
At the meeting, we had the chance to speak to the brand new CEO of the company, Simon Bartolo, who replaced Mark Sorsa-Leslie in February 2013. Bartolo shared his insight and plans for the future.
Do you find your day filled with scheduling meetings, meeting people, and then trying to manage the to-do process afterward? If you haven't done so before, it might be time to check out Helsinki-based Meetin.gs, who has relaunched with a nice facelift and a mobile focus. Their product manages to wrangle together all the loose strings associated with professional meetings by plugging into popular business tools.
To schedule a meeting, Meetin.gs now offers a fully brandable "meet me" page, which enables uses to create and publish a calendar page that makes it easier to schedule a meeting time, which solves the problem of that awful email chain where suggested times are pinged back and forth. This service plugs into the user's calendar, so occupied time slots are automatically blocked out. Meeting location is also included, so transit times and meeting durations can be accounted for.
Rocket Internet Is Heading North - Launches CupoNation in Finland With Norway And Russia Next On The List
Rocket Internet is one of those companies that create a lot attention and there are mixed feelings about what they do. However, it is hard to argue with their success, as most of the companies that are a part of Rocket Internet are largely highly profitable.
Helsinki-based Nosto Solutions announces it has raised €2.2 million in a seed round led by Open Ocean Capital, Sanoma ventures, and a number of angel investors. It's a big number for a company that has just popped up on our radar here in Helsinki. Nosto is still somewhat in stealth mode, and produces an e-commerce marketing solution that gives a platform-independent marketing features for e-sellers. Currently Nosto employs 12 people in the Nordics, UK, and Germany, and their first customers include Angry Birds, Intersport, and Huuto.
The founding idea behind the company is to bring Amazon-like features that drive more dollars through product marketing, or to retain lost sales. These features include personalized content and triggered emails that get sent if a item is left in a cart, but not purchased.
Traditional Investment Money Goes Crowdfunding: Taaleritehdas Invests Into Finnish Crowdfuning Company - Invesdor
Invesdor, a Finnish equity crowdfunding company, announced today that they received an investment from Taaleritehdas, a local wealth management company with over €2.6 billion under management. It was immediately interesting to point out that the money was not raised through their own platform. Instead it was a deal in which Taaleritehdas Asset Management Ltd acquired Invesdor shares.
Companies such as Fundedbyme chose to go the other way and crowdfunded themselves in order to showcase their system. So we reached out to Lasse Mäkela, the CEO of Invesdor for comments.
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.
So you have accidentally enabled data roaming while travelling and your iPad started syncing. Soon enough you will end up with a roaming bill that is likely to be more expensive than your phone. At other times, you actually need the internet while abroad but there is no WIFI or any other connectivity, so you simply must use the 700 EUR per gigabyte roaming fee to go online. This happens to be the current price ceiling for roaming costs as set by the EU commission.
Ukko Mobile, a Helsinki based start-up, is aiming to solve that through the use of patent pending technology which allows for a single-sim, flat-fee coverage in the whole of Europe. Basically you will get one data sim-card that will always act as a local card, no matter where you go. There will not be a need to purchase or switch sims ever again.
Helsinki-ish based game studio Cute Attack has launched a new title on iOS entitled Captain Clumsy. Its a pretty cool game. It stars a clumsy pirate (given by hooks on both hands) who drops his gold from the top of the mast. You have to navigate him him down the masts to collect the gold, and avoid the jerk seagulls.
The game is launching with 26 levels, and they say there's lots of replay value. The app is free to play, and is monetizing through power-ups like gull smashers and coin magnets.
The sun isn't the only thing that's hot in Singapore. A team of Finns at Nonstop Games has raised a €2.2 million round led by Creandum and Lifeline Ventures. With the funding they're continuing their development, and are opening up an office in San Francisco. On top of that, Heroes of Honor, their next game, will launch later this Spring.
Not too many details are shared about the game before it's released, but the game is based in a fantasy world with three different factions fighting for power. Alliances are a big portion of the game - players have to band together and perform real-time coordinated attacks between thousand-of-player armies.
CEO and Co-Founder Juha Paananen tells us that it's slower paced than a desktop Real Time Strategy game, but you can still see and cooperate with other players in real time.
"We played a lot of strategy and RTS games growing up, like Command and Conquer and all those other kinds of games," says Paananen. "When we started we were really excited if you can add something to the genre, because I think it's something that really hasn't evolved on tablets and mobile devices."
Nonstop games has been creating casual HTML5 games, such as Dollar Isle, a city builder and Paint Stars, sort of a Draw Something clone. In their next release they're still using HTML5 as part of their platform, but Paananen tells us that their first focus is the App Store and Google Play stores. When they release the game, they plan to do so simultaneously on both platforms, which should be interesting to watch.
“We’ve been extremely excited about Nonstop Games since our initial investment in 2011 and we think they are building something revolutionary with their new game,” says Petteri Koponen, Lifeline Ventures.
Editor's Note: This post is part of a partnership with International VC Zone
With nearly 100 companies participating or exhibiting, Finland and the Baltic States clearly made a lot of noise at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year, the worlds largest exhibition for the mobile industry. The companies from the region clearly demonstrated that this is an important location for everybody, especially investors to be interested in.
As Michael Jackson, former COO of Skype and currently the general partner of Mangrove Capital Partners told Arcticstartup: "This year's MWC was huge! The new venue is massive, and I would say it needs a year to settle down."
Nokia is no longer the single focus point and there are many others that are making a dent in the market thanks to an abundance of talent and strong entrepreneurial spirit. This creates the perfect ingredients for companies that are aiming to conquer the global market. Companies from the region do so through breakthrough innovation and an understanding that in order to be a global player, they need to think big right from the start.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Natalie Gaudet
In 2011, I was prompted to write an article about the situation of female entrepreneurs. I wrote the article being fed up of being asked the same question countless of times, “where are all the women entrepreneurs”
I wanted to revisit the topic as I feel like the situation has changed tremendously in the last couple of years. I am happy to say that I have seen an influx of women entrepreneurs in our scene.
Numbers are rising
In fact, if we compare, we are doing so much better than the United States. We have estimated that 7 % are women technology founders in this region- (this figure was taken from the Startup Sauna applications.) As opposed to only 3% in the United States (entering American Seed Accelerators).
Microsoft Owes Denmark $1 Billion While Google, Facebook And Others Do Everything They Can To Avoid Taxes
In the recent news it was uncovered that Microsoft owes Denmark 5.8 billion Danish Crowns (Around $1.015 Billion) in back taxes as a result of Microsoft’s acquisition of Navision in 2002.
According to the Danish tax authorities, following the acquisition, the Navision’s money making assets were sold to Microsofts Irish subsidiary below market value. That company is in turn owned by companies in Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. Which is why Microsoft is often targeted by tax authorities worldwide, as their network of affiliated companies worldwide makes it extremely easy for them to channel profits into tax havens where the corporate tax is virtually non-existent.
If you're a project manager or designer trying to sell an app concept to your customers, you've probably learned a customer's reaction to a concept is completely different when it's just a few pictures on a presentation screen or if it's a functional app they can test out for themselves. Interactive marketing is always better, so that's what Helsinki and San Francisco-based AppGyver is offering with their new product, Prototyper.
Developers or designers just have to upload their existing wireframes, mockups, or photoshop images online to the AppGyver Prototyper. The service then allows you to add buttons to the place where you drew them, and give them basic functionality like moving back and forth through screens, using transition animations, or even take advantage of native hardware features, like the camera.
These days the iPad is becoming tool of choice for the meeting rooms. You're not hunched over laptop, but with your tablet you can still find more data and take notes. But according to Helsinki-based Punos Mobile, right now users are too spread between apps and services for the meeting lifecycle. Their new app, Meeting Assistant, lets users prepare an agenda, take notes, and find out more relevant info within the app - all for the sake of more efficient meetings. If this all sounds familiar, we covered them last August, although their solution officially launched last week.
Helsinki has another Fashion startup popping up within its borders. StyleLoving is a new social startup that helps you collect the fashion items you find in one place. It feels close to Pinterest, in the sense that members collect items and follow friends, but is more focused towards clothing, accessories, and the fashion blogging community that surrounds it.
StyleLoving was created by Helene Auramo, co-founder of Finland’s most popular blogger community, Indiedays. “I needed a convenient place to store my online finds. I also wanted to share my finds with others and talk about them,” Auramo explains. “As we are inspired by style finds of bloggers and other fashion forerunners, I wanted to see pictures of their outfits on the same platform with the products.”
Last night the Helsinki Facebooks and Twitters were abuzz with the news that Flowdock has been acquired by Boulder, Colorado-based Rally Software. Flowdock will continue to stay as an independent product, but will be integrated more closely with AgileZen, Rally's project management app. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
If you haven't seen our past coverage, Flowdock is team collaboration software built with developers in mind. Flowdock pluggs into tools like Pivotal Tracker, GitHub, as well as customer feedback channels like Zendesk. A full list of features can be found here. In November of 2011, Flowdock received $650,000 seed funding from Gil Penchina, CrunchFund, Marten Mickos, and IDG Ventures.
YouTube is opening up a localized homepage for Finnish audiences, giving advertisers a new opportunity to target the Finnish audience. This isn't the first time YouTube has come to the region, but it's the first time in years; Sweden received their own localized homepage in October of 2008.
The first Finnish company to brand Youtube.fi is Marimekko. A front-page branding takeover will cost €11,000 a day.
Finland's government-backed Vigo accelerator program has released a mid-term evaluation of the Vigo program with the goals of determining the effectiveness of the Vigo concept for accelerators, as well as how Vigo has impacted high-growth entrepreneurship. Since the Vigo Accelerator program began in 2009, startups have received €100 million in funding (June 2012) when participating in the Vigo program. The collection of nine venture accelerators have a portfolio of 60 selected companies, and include some of the bigger startup names in Finland, such as Supercell, Transfluent, and Zen Robotics.
Of this €100 million in funding, the ratio between public and private money is about a 1:1 ratio. The following diagram shows the funding flows:
Having a flourishing startup ecosystem is great, but what is even cooler is to be able to see who are the most active participants. That’s basically what San Francisco, Hello.fi and Skyhood did when they introduced Startup100.net, a list of the “hottest” startups in Finland. The idea is to measure the social activity, mentions and visibility of companies and their products and mash it all together in an algorithm that will calculate and rank all startups.
We were very curious as to how exactly the list is put together and we got some feedback from Juhani Polkko, startup marketer and co-founder at San Francisco Oy. He told us that the exact methods used for calculating the S100 index are a secret sauce, but he did shed some light on the procedure.
The list is based on URL’s instead of keywords and measures attention received from media, bloggers, influencers and users. There are currently 250 startups that are tracked and Juhani believes that the list is at least 90% accurate. This is a very early beta and they preferred to launch it sooner rather than later and improve based on user feedback. So without further adieu, here are the TOP 25 companies in Finland from Startup100.net:
Grand Cru has made into the finals of the Amazon AWS Challenge, and out of the 12 finalists in 4 different categories, they're the only ones from Northern Europe to make the list. At ArcticStartup we normally don't cover a lot of company-sponsored competitions for the PR flurry that they are, but it gives us an excuse to talk about the fairly secretive Helsinki-based Grand Cru and their upcoming title, Supernauts.
For those of you who haven't seen our past coverage, Supernauts is sort of a sandbox game populated by Superhero-styled worldbuilders. Thorbjörn Warin, their Marketing and Business Development Director says that the easiest (but not the most accurate) way to describe the game is "Minecraftville". "We've had a lot of Minecraft players test the game, and they really like the touch interface for example. You can see small parts of it in the video, you just take your finger and drag and all the sudden stuff happens."
FundedByMe has expanded from their native Sweden and launched their equity crowdfunding platform in Finland. The company also offers the more traditional rewards-based crowdfunding platform (think Kickstarter), but equity crowdfunding offers some interesting new opportunities to startup companies by allowing them to raise money by selling shares to a large number of investors who can invest smaller amounts of money. The minimum amount needed to invest on FundedByMe is €50.
How does your team communicate at work? There are a lot of team communication tools out there, but check out Helsinki-based Ninchat, a nicely designed and accessible browser-based chat client. Ninchat is free to use and can be used for any sort of chat communication, but they're targeting the product towards companies that need secure team communication that's backed up in the cloud.
When logging on you'll notice it looks like an online version of IRC. Ninchat CEO Ville Mujunen calls IRC "beautiful" and "impossible to kill", but sees value in adding features and running it in a browser and through the cloud. Ninchat offers a secure backlog, history search, notifications when your name is mentioned, and video chat to get people communicating more efficiently, as well as mobile use as a HTML5 app (with a native Android and iOS apps eventually coming).
A new public competition is attempting to shake up the perception of entrepreneurship as a career path in Finland. Harva on Rautaa (literally "few of us are iron" - taken from a 70's Finnhits song) will select one Finnish entrepreneur per city and have them battle each other for five months. Progress can be followed on their website, where they plan on publishing one at least one video clip every day of the week. Finnish entrepreneurs can also apply with a deadline of today.
The competition is being put together by Pasi Ilola, and is supported by the Software Entrepreneurs Association (Ohjelmistoyrittäjät), Teknologiateollisuus, Tekes, Microsoft and others.
Editor’s note: This guest post is written by Kostas Papageorgiou, a copywriter in Finland who creates engaging content for startups
Right off the back from all the coverage Startup Sauna and Slush has received, it’s easy to forget that there’s also a startup scene outside the Finnish capital region. Turku, the third largest city in Finland, and home for the likes of Walkbase, NurseBuddy and Belon.gs, is slowly, but surely establishing itself as a breeding ground for aspiring entrepreneurs
Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Antti Hemmilä, a Specialist Partner at Attorneys at law Borenius Ltd.
While crowdfunding is not a new concept, it is getting a lot of media attention nowadays. Crowdfunding is evolving and new crowdfunding platforms provide an excellent tool for financing different projects, whether these are art projects, game or hardware/device development or even equity financing. Yet the use of these new platforms and practices needs to comply with the existing regulations, which sometimes causes conflict. The first guest blog published on 23 October 2012 featured legal issues related to using donation/rewards-based crowdfunding platforms, and this second blog addresses equity funding and the use of equity crowdfunding platforms.