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.
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.
Sometimes there are companies that we have briefly mentioned in some of our articles but did not give them the full attention that they deserve. Whenever we can, we try to bring those out and today we wanted to talk about TrackDuck, a startup for visual feedback on your website, project or even mockups.
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.
Every Monday morning, I have about 40-60 tasks that I need to take care of and that is on a good Monday. Since studies show that you should do the most complicated and difficult ones first, the week starts with figuring out exactly which ones those are. This can be and usually is a daunting and difficult task that can take at least an hour. Thankfully, MorningList solves this problem (and many others) for me. The idea is extremely simple. It is hard for your brain to compare 40 things to one another, but it is very easy when they are paired together. So what MorningList does is allows you to compare tasks to one another and thanks to a clever algorithm, you can do this in just a couple of minutes.
Considering how often we cover Garage48, it is fair to say that we like the concept and the event. Still, it is hard to expect that anything extremely serious can come out of a 48 hour event with random teams and pitched ideas, right?
With all the farming games out there, it is about time that somebody addressed the real needs of real farmers and not the virtual ones. VitalFields, a start-up that was created at Garage48 hackathon is attempting to do just that.
The idea is that they will provide a very accurate weather forecast for individual farming fields and in addition to that, they will also give pest and disease warnings. If that wasn't enough, they are developing this into a real-life FarmVille by allowing Farmers to log and keep track of actions carried out on the fields.
This post is done in association with Garage48 and is a part of the prize for the best Press Release amongst the teams that participated in Garage48 in Riga 2012.
According to the lean startup methodology, start-ups go through a cycle of having an idea, building it, getting a product, measuring the data, learning and then starting the cycle all over again. This usually takes weeks, months, years. However MorningList that originated at Garage48 in Riga (Which is also coming to Helsinki soon) went through the whole cycle a number of times during the 48 hour period. They had an idea, revised it a few times. Then they chose a target group and named themselves "Make Ordered List", then they focused on task lists and renamed themselves to something I can't quite recall, finally they realized that targeting a niche is a great start and decided that Morning Task List organizers are their targets and renamed accordingly.
If you had to build a completely functioning system of augmented reality with 3D Models placed upon QR codes to simulate Dungeons and Dragons (Or any other board game) complete with monsters and other visuals based on the position of the QR codes on the battlegrid, how long do you think it would take you? Well at the latest Garage48 event the BattleGrid team did just that in 48 hours, showing exactly what can be done in a short time and under immense pressure.
The New York Times recently ran a piece on the psychology of waiting, and pointed out that what's important is not the amount of time we're actually waiting, but how we perceive the wait. Deep down we all know this, but we stare at the LED board with blank stares, counting down how much longer it's going to take.
Rauno Rüngas, CEO of Qminder, claims that what makes waiting in lines so frustrating is the anxiety and anticipation that comes with having to wait in a fixed location. To update the "take a ticket machine" Qminder has released a tablet and phone solution that offers more precise information about where you are in line and how much longer it will likely take.
Europe's a mess right now. Even Spain has been put on European tax payer life support and more countries could be in the queue for aid. Some falsely believe that the aid itself is something that would pull Europe out of the looming recession. But looking at things on a global level, we don't believe Europe is as strong as it could be. Growing companies are the best way to help and we're producing far too few of them on average.
Furthermore, the state of things in Europe regarding businesses isn't too bright either. Fragmented national policies are not helping entrepreneurs opening businesses in multiple locations, nor is immaterial property legislation where it should be to help protect businesses from illegal use of their work.
For this Friday we thought it would be good to spark some office debates about the state of entrepreneurship and how people on the grass roots level could help to alleviate it if not solve it altogether.
You got an overall sense at the Latitude59 conference that the Baltics are aligning together to become more startup oriented. You could see it in the quality of the pitches, the camaraderie, and the discussions around the event. The Latitude59 conference itself is a signal of that change. The event started off as ITechlaw, a legal conference, and pivoted for the first time this year to become this startup-focused event.
Campalyst has raised a seed round of funding from Amsterdam-based venture capital firm HENQ. The size of the round was not disclosed. Campalyst creates return-on-investment analytics for social media marketing campaigns. About one year and a day ago, the company first came out of Garage48 with the idea of measuring conversions from Facebook pages, and has grown quickly to a become an full-service social media monitoring service. From Garage48, the company progressed though StartupSauna, and Seedcamp as it tacked on new features and new ROI analytics to measure.
Garage48 Music took place in Tallinn last weekend. 20 ideas were pitched, and 14 gathered the necessary team behind them to take off. The majority of the ideas were focused on music and entertainment, and on the judges panel was Chris Douridas, a 2-time Grammy nominated music supervisor.
The winner, EasyRider, is a tool for festival and event organizers and promoters who deal with musicians. The service bills itself as, "The easiest and fastest way to create, manage, and share your band's technical riders.
The Estonia based Garage48 is organising a music focused event in a couple of weeks in Tallinn together with the Tallinn Music Week. The event is held on the weekend between the 23rd and 25th of this month. Registration ends a week early on Sunday the 18th. The goal of the event is to make people focus on the potential of good services in the entertainment space.
Jüri Kaljundi, one of the people behind the successful events tells us "music and entertainment is our first try to do industry-specific events. We believe that the actual business problems are among the common people, non-tech crowds. Technology is just an enabler, so we want more people from other areas of life to come to the events to get their ideas executed. Focusing on real life problems is very important."
As a woman in the startup community, Dalia Lasaite says she hasn't encountered any serious obstacles due to her gender, and even suggests the opposite: "Starting a company is always hard, whoever you are. But I find that women actually get more visibility and stand out easier as the tech community is made of men - so this is the advantage of being a woman entrepreneur."
Lasaite got into entrepreneurship in 2007, right after finishing her studies. After a bit of brainstorming co-founded the ride sharing website Geogoer, which seems to have closed down. At this time she was only working on the project part-time while simultaneously starting to work at an asset management company. But after playing around with that project for a while, the team got an investment from the Difference Engine accelerator, and Lasaite quit her corporate job.
ArcticEvening Tallinn was held yesterday in the great premises of Technopolis Ülemiste. Around 100 people gathered to the event to both network and listen to a top notch presentation by William Wolfram of DealDash on startup metrics. Technopolis Ülemiste had also sponsored some snacks and drinks at the venue, which naturally helped break the ice. Wolfram gave a very packed and high quality presentation on how DealDash sees and works with metrics. What made it all the better was the personal experience he was able to share in also where they went wrong.
ArcticEvening Tallinn will be organised in just a few weeks. We've already registered about 3/4 of the tickets (overall availability is 120 tickets), but there are still some spots left for those who would want to attend. Now there's one more reason to attend - we will be giving out four free tickets to our Arctic15 event organised 17th and 18th of October. These tickets aren't the traditional one day tickets, but will actually get you into the exclusive first day of the conference. The tickets will be drawn between all those who attend the event (registration isn't enough). We will give more details on how this works by e-mail to those signed up.
Our event in Tallinn is themed around startup metrics and we have William Wolfram of DealDash share his experience how his company goes about metrics. If you want some sneak peak into how they think, listen to our audio interview with him on Unfair Advantage.
Garage48 from Estonia had a growing year of events and other activities to keep it busy. The non-profit organisation organised events in eight countries, on two continents. I participated in their Helsinki event almost a year ago. Here's our post on it with a couple of separate updates.
Weather news can be of immense value, but with my personal experience with weather applications, I find them a bit difficult to trust. Firstly they aren’t very accurate, and secondly they are more for general areas than specific locations. I guess my complaint is that you can’t really be in control of receiving notifications and alerts based on your specifications. WeatherMe is one weather forecast and alert service that keeps customization at its core.
The startup was launched at the Garage48 Tartu and promises to generate accurate weather model for the users. The service relies on providing users with notifications when the weather in their vicinity reaches a certain condition. These notifications are sent in a time frame of 2-24 hours in advance, giving you ample time to react to changes in the weather. As mentioned, most of us already rely on the existing weather forecasts, but those aren’t short term. With WeatherMe you have that option to be as specific as you want, and to be notified whenever you want.
Twenty-five teams came together at the latest Garage48 hackathon in Riga, where the focus this season was primarily on mobile apps. Of the 25 teams, 13 were able to prototype an app, and last Friday the teams presented a variety of interesting projects. The winner of Garage48 and the audience favorite was Mustache Ninja, who put together a location-based Pacman type game that uses the streets around you.
Garage48 Tartu winner Qminder became part of the Seedcamp family last week after winning a Mini Seedcamp event in Prague. Qminder is the second team from the 48-hour hackathon to join the prestigious startup accelerator program in a short period of time.
Garage48 is about being quick, efficient and productive in the shortest possible time. You have a problem that needs a solution and all you have are a mere 48 hours or so to deliver a prototype. I think that is exactly the reason why many ideas springing from the event are about being quick and effective and “to wait” just seems a bit too alien for each. That’s exactly what Ordimo thought when it found the “wait” in waitress and thought about removing it altogether.
The startup launched at the Garage back in January is about providing a new take on self service for restaurants and bars. What Ordimo does is that it transforms your smartphone into a mobile waitress, where customers can order their items before they enter the restaurant. This translates to a quicker serving and more satisfied customers who don’t have to wait in line to place their orders.
Last weekend, another 48-hour developing competition was held in Tartu. The Garage48 event saw lots of interesting projects being pitched, planned and completed. Yet again, looking at the summary of the projects - Garage48's attendants showed they have what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Not only are the ideas worthwhile executing, some of them managed to gain traction over the weekend already.
Campalyst is a new start-up that developed analytics to measure real return-on-investment from social media campaigns, starting with Facebook. It is a truly Baltic company started in Riga with the team members from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. After less than four months of existence, Campalyst has shown an impressive growth: they went from building a prototype in 48 hours to winning StartupSauna to being among the finalists of Mini Seedcamp New York. We talked with two of the founders, Dalia Lasaite and Jevgenijs Kazanins, to learn the full story of Campalyst and find out how things are going for the company right now.
While Garage48 is still a little under a month away from the African Safari, the event at Tallinn last weekend has had the curtains dropped. The event saw over 120 people working hard in 18 teams to give their ideas a touch of reality. Garage48 is a weekend type company development project, where people of different crafts get together to work on projects for the duration of 48 hours. After the weekend, teams present their results in front of an audience.
We at ArcticStartup heart the Garage48 event for all the rush and enthusiasm that comes forth in the 48 hours of pure innovation. But the weather at the events here in the Nordics and Baltics was perhaps just a bit too cold and needed some equatorial treatment, which is exactly the treatment Garage48 will be getting. Garage48 has announced that they will be holding 5 events in Africa.
Organizing a travel plan or a trip is a definite nightmare. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why we are always seeing one service after another attempt at tackling the problem. Planify is one more that emerged as the winner of the Garage48 Riga. The idea? It emerged from need as the Silver Hage, Co-founder of Planify made plans for his Tokyo trip and couldn’t find any tool useful enough. This led to the creation of Planify.
Ever thought about getting even with someone, but never had the courage to do so? There's a little iPhone app now on the market that might help you in this. The game is called Blow'em and it was started as a Garage48 project in Helsinki, Finland in January. It offers users a great way to have fun with its Perverted Candle, Retarded Tomato, Deep Throat or the Angry Egg. The instructions are simple; point, select your weapon and shoot. That’s it, you don’t really need a user guide on this do you?
Garage48 is one of those startup weekend type events, where people gather together for about 48 hours and develop something that could potentially be founded into a startup. The concept isn't all that old, but the people behind it have been active. This weekend Garage48 will take place in Riga and in the coming months, a lot of other cities will also see a Garage48 event take place. In April (15th-17th), Garage48 will take place in Tallinn, at the end of August in Tartu. Later in the year Garage48 will most likely be visiting Stockholm and Helsinki as well. Additionally, the team will have 5 events in Africa this year.