We've covered Tartu-based Weekdone winning the annual Estonian design awards, but apparently the company isn't just all looks; they just beat out the 400 other hopefuls in the region to win Slush's massive startup pitching competition.
For those of you who haven't seen our past coverage, or didn't see them up on stage at Slush, Weekdone provides a productivity and task completion solution for the web and iOS that gives managers the ability to see an overview of what they're teams are working on, and how they're competing their tasks. It's gorgeous and powerful, especially if you're using the PPP reporting paradigm, focusing on Progress, Plans, and Problems.
A team leader's job is to make sure people get things done, and you can't improve what you don't measure. Enter Weekdone, the Estonian productivity and task completion application that now announces it has launched on iOS and a major new web version. The app, and now mobile app, helps managers use popular management methods, such as PPP and OKR (or to the uninitiated, "Plans, Progress, Problems", and "Objectives & Key Results") to keep track of all the moving pieces.
Garage48 and Tehnopol have teamed up to throw Mini Seedcamp Tallinn, a half-day event aimed at accelerating 10 local startups through classes, networking, and pitch feedback. The local winners will then be invinted to participate in Seedcamp London in early September. The event will take place July 24.
After the half-day event they'll have another to-be-announced workshop lined up, and then a party at Garage48. The next day the Latitude59 conference kicks off, meaning it should be a pretty valuable time to be in Tallinn. All startups from the region looking into participating in Seedcamp are welcome to attend.
Keeping an eye on your employees or team can still be messy, but Tallinn-based Talentag has launched a new employee status reporting service called Weekdone. Clearly there are a lot of competitors out there- such as Basecamp, Pivotal, or Asana, and we've even experimented with a few of these tracking solutions at the ArcticStartup office to help stay on top of things. But eventually all of them became more trouble than they were worth, and were difficult to fit into our workflow.
Jüri Kaljundi, co-founder of Weekdone, says that they see their strength in simplicity by giving updates on key items - something everyone has time to read.
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."
Utopic, a service created by Estonian Jüri Kaljundi and his team, started off as a way to understand what your friends are sharing online. This was back in March and there's a blog to remind us. I remember talking to Kaljundi back then and it was also a time when similar products were on the market, mainly from the US. It's refreshing to see the new direction of Utopic though - one that focuses on visual bookmarking and content discovery.
It's important to note the difference, even though one could argue that "you could already do this with the previous iteration of the service". It's not what you're able to do with the service, but what it aims to become. It's true, but the new UI and approach the service takes, makes the experience a lot more enjoyable.
Estonian sports software startup Sportlyzer and social network startup Inner Circle have closed seed rounds. The common investor in both is Estonian Development Fund. Sportlyzer also received private angel backing from Rein Lemberpuu, ex-CEO of online gambling value added service provider Playtech Estonia, and Inner Circle's investors included in addition Estonian private-sector firms Regio and Live Nature Eesti.
The team behind an Estonian startup Emp.ly has come out with a new product Talentag. The company is focusing on the online recruiting space and is already a house hold name with their release of Emp.ly in May this year. Emp.ly is a social media recruitment service to post job ads, share them to social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and add rewards and incentives for people to spread the word.
We are happy to announce our 4th ArcticEvening in partnership with Connect Estonia which takes place in Tallinn, Estonia on the 28th January from 6pm to 9pm at Von Krahl Bar (Rataskaevu 10/12). To see more on what type of an event ArcticEvening is go here.
The evening goes as follows: We kick off the evening with a very brief introduction off the Estonian and Finnish startups scenes. After that we will have 4 hot new startups pitching their products each having 3 minutes for their pitch. After each pitch we take a short Q&A. If you're a startup see intructions below to apply.
After the startups are done presenting we will continue with a Panel of prominent figures from the Finnish and Estonian startup scenes discussing the respective startup ecosystems, startups, entrepreneurship, investing and everything that comes with it. To give you a taste, the high level panel include for example Sten Tamkivi of Skype.
We will end the evening with a lively networking where people from different scenes meet each other, find partners and make valuable connections that can lead to concrete business deals.
We will cap the participation to first 100 participants that sign-up. The participation is free, but once you sign-up you should show up or you'll end up on our black list. We recommend to sign-up fast since all the previous ArcticEvenings have been sold out. You can sign-up below:
What: ArcticEvening in partnership with Connect Estonia
Where: Tallinn, Estonia at Von Krahl Bar (Rataskaevu 10/12, map here)
When: 28.1.2009 at 6pm to 9pm (the bar is open until wee hours for networking after the event)
View event on Amiando. The official Twitter/Flickr tag for the night is #arcticevening
Are you a startup? Pitch on stage!
If you would like to pitch at the Tallinn ArcticEvening on the 28th, do send us a short pitch (max 1 x A4) to events-at-arcticstartup-dot-com, where you outline:
1) The name of your team or company
2) Your contact information
3) The product/service idea and business model
4) Market size for your product or service
6) Why should you be picked to pitch
We will choose the four best startups. The deadline to apply is 21st January 2009! Possible travel costs will be paid by the startups.
If you would like to know about sponsoring opportunities for ArcticEvening drop us an email at ville-at-arcticstartup-dot-com
Sten Tamkivi, Chief Evangelist, Skype
Sten Tamkivi is Skype’s Chief Evangelist, building relationships with engineering communities, media, governments and academia around the world. Based in Tallinn, he also looks after Skype Estonia, the company's largest office globally as local General Manager.
Allan Martinson, Managing Partner, MTVP
Allan Martenson is currently the Managing Partner at MTVP. During his career as an entrepreneur, Martinson has been launching, managing and exiting several companies in the Baltic TMT sector, all of which became leaders in their respective industries.
Taneli Tikka, CEO, RunToShop
Taneli, a serial entrepreneur and dealmaker, has an active history of startup life. Taneli has been an entrepreneur since 1999 and has headed multiple companies including; IRC-Galleria.net (Sulake Dynamoid), RunToShop, Magenta, MobileCRM, and Taika Technologies.
CONNECT Estonia is an entrepreneurial membership-based business network with the aim of stimulating the development of growth companies by linking entrepreneurs with know-how, venture capital and other business resources. Connect Estonia is the leading network for supporting start-up's and technology growth companies in Estonia.
Connect Estonia has operated over 5 years across different sectors as an independent non-profit organisation bringing currently together some 70 member businesses.
Jüri Kaljundi is also bringing the OpenCoffee Tallinn to the ArcticEvening.
We have only 100 seats available. Remember that signing-up is binding even though it's free!
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I interviewed Jüri Kaljundi about his past and how he sees the startup market from Tallinn. Jüri runs the Open Coffee Tallinn and will share some insight regarding the Estonian startup scene.
Starting off - who are you, and what do you do?
About my background, started with developing commercial web services and Internet marketing in Estonia back in 1994, when I was 19. Then spent a few years doing enterprise data security systems. From 1999-2001 spent 2,5 years as a co-founder expanding the largest Central and Eastern European online recruiter CV-Online (www.cvogroup.com ) from Estonia to 8 countries, living a year in Prague and Budapest. CV-Online in 1999 was also the first Estonian Internet company to raise VC financing. Again switched to enterprise IT for 4 years, working as a Sales and Marketing Director for MicroLink (www.microlink.com), the largest IT services company in the Baltics. Got bored there and in early 2006 with 3 friends started Nagi as a user-generated online media company in Estonia. This is my third startup and next years I will celebrate my 15 years in web development and Internet marketing :)
Today Nagi operates 3 of the larges photo sharing sites for different target groups in Estonia: Nagi, Fotoalbum and Album.ee and a small local video sharing site Toru. In August we also started Keskus, an Estonian social network, which is also an umbrella site for our 4 photo and video sites. Keskus hosts all the user accounts, profiles, friend lists, groups, mailboxes etc for those sub-sites. We have over 100 thousand registered users and over 130 thousand weekly users. Over 30 million photos have been uploaded, so statistically we are doing quite fine.
In business terms we are still small, just a few employees (the founders) and revenues of around 10 thousand EUR per month. Monetizing user-generated content on social sites has not been very easy. Also one of the problems in Estonia and our region in general is that majority of online advertising revenues go through large media agencies. Most of the online banner ad campaigns are distributed via them between top 5-10 largest portals and newspaper sites, so for small and medium sites it is hard to generate any real revenues. 20% of the top sites get 80% of the revenues, that's how life goes. So for us, the main thing is to get into that 20% :-) Luckily some ad networks (like Klikivabrik) that also cater for smaller websites have emerged. Google for some strange reason does not allow AdSense in Estonia, probably they still us confuse us with Elbonia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbonia (any help from Petri Kokko here?).
TNS Metrix gives a good overview of the top Estonian websites and there is also Google Analytics based GMetrix for small and medium sites. Looking at the Estonian top 10, 4 sites (Neti, Rate, Hot, Everyday) are owned by telcos (Elion, EMT, Tele2) and 6 sites (Delfi, Postimees, SLÕleht, Elu24, Auto24, EPL) by large print media groups. We are lucky to be among the 2 startups that follow, together with Kava.ee (a TV guide, like Telkku.com in Finland).
The unfortunate thing for Estonia is that looking even at the top 50 lists of Estonian websites, there have been almost none which were created by startups and have an impact on the local market. 2007 saw the creation of almost no significant local web-based businesses and 2008 has not been any better. There is a lot of stagnation and standing still, like startups have given up to large established media companies. There are many reasons. There is no enterpreneurial culture. Life as an employee has been quite rewarding for many, as companies have done well in our local booming economic situation. Creating business models for startups in small markets has not been easy, so even if you could create popular web services, the money might not always follow. So the problem for Estonia is not as in many countries matching financing with startups, but to have the startups and people with new ideas at all.
You also run OpenCoffee in Tallinn - how has that gone?
We started OpenCoffee Club in Tallinn in December 2007 and have had 20-50 people at each event. My goal there is not just for startups and investors to meet, but also for tech people from established old IT companies or universities to come and chat. The problem we need to solve there is getting people energized and willing to take the plunge into the startup world. It will take time and pushing and educating. Examples of Estonian founders of Skype and Playtech who made hundreds of millions EUR from their shares has not been enough to get people to follow them. At the same time, the 200-300 employee offices of Skype and Playtech in Tartu and Tallinn is a good educational ground for future entrepreneurs. One of the things I always say is that I am waiting for people to start leaving those 2 companies in numbers, so we would have more startups. Those people should join future OpenCoffee events and of course international visitors are more than welcome. We meet each first Thursday of the month 9-11 AM, sometimes with presentations, sometimes just for networking.
Estonia also lacks people with previous international sales, marketing and commercialization skills, even if we have good product development skills. So the key would be to join forces between people in Estonia and those who have done these things already in Western Europe and USA.
Thanks Jüri for taking the time to answer our questions and giving us some interesting insight with regards to the local startup scene in Estonia. Definitely interesting issues as well as obstacles that we also face here in Finland.