Some months ago we had a chat with Mihkel Tali, one of the co-founders of Driftband, the Estonian vision on fashion-ized NFC technology. We were well on our way on having the article pushed out, but then the launch got postponed (not to mention the website wasn’t responsive yet), and so began a long communication blackout. Fresh news kept on coming and required attention; Driftband slowly descended into the limbo of unfinished pieces.
Yesterday, however, Tali got back to us with good news: Driftband is about to launch, and the website is very much up and running.
Editor's note: This post topic was sponsored by UKTI
When thinking expansion, it’s clear many Nordic startups find themselves gazing at the UK, which many consider the first major stop before a full blown global (or U.S.) roll-out. However, startups need cash to keep their machinery on the move, and getting funded in the UK is a whole different story than in the Nordics. Or is it?
We had our own suspicions, so we decided to do some investigation on the topic: we conducted several interviews with London-based VC’s to get our finger on the pulse of UK venture funding.
We know that the Nords and Balts have a thing for last minute entrepreneurial opportunities. So if you have not yet applied for the Europas Awards, you have until tomorrow to do so. For those of you that are not familiar with Europas, it is a startup award that was co-founded by Mike Butcher from TechCrunch, complete with a daytime unconference and the evening afterparty with bars & other entertainment.
Editor's note: this is a sponsored post by UK Trade and Investment
London, a true and original European metropolis, and birthplace of William Blake, Punk rock and British tea drinking. Indeed, London has been home to many colourful things since its establishment more than a millennia ago, but during the last ten years it has provided fertile soil for a flourishing startup ecosystem - one which distantly reminds us of a Silicon Valley yet unprecedented in Europe.
Editor's note: this is a sponsored post by UK Trade and Investment
Whenever somebody asks me why Nordic/Baltic startups are performing so well, one of the main arguments tends to be the fact that they simply have no other choice. Coming from relatively small home markets, they simply have got to think global from day one. If you are in Finland for instance, you can probably conquer your home niche market in a matter of months if not weeks. This, forces companies to think about expansion early on and hence global success too.
Editor's note: this is a sponsored post by UK Trade and Investment
London and UK in general is often a very solid stepping stone for Nordic/Baltic startups. For instance Trasnferwise, Kiosked & Foodie.fm are good examples of startups that have established their second base in the UK. They go there to put their product to the test on the global but yet local market, but what else can you squeeze out of it?
The Nordics are spoiled with strong governmental support for entrepreneurship, especially with initiatives such as TEKES in Finland. However if you start digging into what you can get out of UK, you would be surprised to find that actually it is rather substantial. For some industries it is actually very lucrative, such as in TV & Film and very soon - gaming.
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.
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post with our partner UK Trade & Investment
This years Digital Shoreditch was bigger than ever and it was good to see a lot of local companies attending the UK based startup and entrepreneurship festival. Taking place in East of London and the Tech City, the event attracted more than 14 000 people from all of world and we got in touch with some of the attendants to see what role the event and UK in general played on their business.
Once we started talking, we quickly noticed that all of the Finnish startups that we interviewed talked about one common factor that they noticed in the UK - the cultural differences in networking. As it turns out, once you are on the UK soil, you get sucked into networking. The whole startup ecosystem focuses heavily on networking and tries to match people up as much as possible, which does happen in Finland as well, but nowhere near as much as it does in the UK.
The Google Analytics Of Emotions "Realeyes" Receives $3.2 Million From SmartCap And Entrepreneurs Fund
It is no secret that when people are asked to fill out surveys in marketing research studies that the answers tend to become skewed and biased thanks to the fact that they are made consciously. Wouldn't it be cool if you could use a camera coupled with technology from "Lie To Me" in order to tell what people are really thinking and feeling? Well, this is exactly what the London based but with Estonian ties Realeyes is doing.
The company is basically the Google Analytics of emotions and they are currently using their technology for analyzing emotional reactions to videos through the use of webcams and in-store cameras. This basically allows marketers to know exactly how effective their marketing videos are going to be and at which point exactly the consumers will feel happy, scared, confused and sad.
The startup ecosystem in the Arctic Valley (pardon us for our selfish term) hasn't always been a very well functioning one. Not that it is extremely functioning today, we're increasingly getting more evidence that the world is noticing your startups, your efforts and most importantly - your passion to change the world.
This week Wired UK wrote a piece on the hottest startup cities in Europe. Three of the nine startup cities in the outlined story are from the region; Tallinn, Stockholm and Helsinki.
We don't promote a lot of events like this, but when we do you can be sure they're worth taking a look at. Two events we'd like to bring to your attention (and you can win a ticket to the Inspire conference, read more details below) today are the Inspire conference and the Startup 2.0 event aimed at mobile apps. The Inspire conference is organised in London between 7th an 8th of June where as Startup 2.0 is organised in Bilbao, Spain between the 17th and 18th of June.
We haven't covered Muxlim at ArcticStartup in the way it deserves to be covered. So, what better way to do it than have a talk with the founder and CEO of the company, Mohamed El-Fatatry. El-Fatatry isn't your usual startup founder in Finland. He's of Egyptian background and went on to start the world's largest muslim-oriented site when still in school. Muxlim grew immensely fast in the early days they didn't really have any competition. One of the drivers of their growth can be attributed to excellent media coverage.
The Europas, the inaugural TechCrunch Europe Awards 2009 for European and EMEA tech companies, were held last night in London, UK. Nordic and Baltic countries had a rather strong representation among the nominated startups and consequentially took home no less than 5 out of 15 categories. But these five wins did not scatter around just any startups. Four out of the five were taken home by Spotify and the fifth one belonged to SoundCloud, which has also its roots in Sweden just as Spotify does.
So Sweden truly lead the Northern European pack and really were an example to the whole Europe: Spotify not only took home 5 wins, but more impressively won Best New Startup, Summer 2008-2009, Best Startup Founder(s) and Best Web Application Or Service (EMEA) as well as was given the The Europas Grand Prix award by the 19 expert advisors, which included some industry movers and shakers and which I had a privilege to be included in (consider this as my disclosure). SoundCloud on its part won the Best Entertainment Application or Service (EMEA).
The Swedish startups are looking to share expertise, learn from London startups, and meet great contacts. The startups in London are:
Videoplaza.com - An ad server for video - they help companies monetize online video.
Jaycut.com - Online video editing - named best entertainment website in Sweden 2007
Bambuser.com - Live broadcasting from mobile phones and webcams - recently received venture backing by a Norwegian firm. (The best bit is that you can get a link send to your Jaiku and Twitter account when you are broadcasting so your friend can go see what you're up to)
Moyu.me - Instant picture messenger - early startup that just launched their service.
I personally instantly fell in love with Bambuser and Jaycut. I already tried Bambuser and it appear to work nicely, although there is a quite a time lag between the time you record it and when the link appear on your Jaiku or Twitter feed to notify your friend.
If you'd like to meet them Anders told me that he'd be happy to meet up. Contact Anders via Twitter (here) with invitations or meet them at the Minibar London at 6pm if you're already planning on going.
Occasionally we intentionally divert from our primary focus on reviewing and reporting on internet and mobile software startups and growth entrepreneurship in and from the Nordic and Baltic countries to examine the European, the Baltic and the Nordic landscape for the entrepreneurs. Here's another take on the issue.
Dirk Van Quaquebeke, the founder of Tailor Nation (Facebook app here), talked to me about his experiences on running a startup while working at the same time in Deutsche Bank, where to set up your startup and whether London is the startup hub you should go to as an entrepreneur.
When I asked what would he do if given the chance to do a startup anywhere, Dirk said 1) do an MBA in IIM in India (given one is a business guy). 2) While at it build a team around you since you get access to the great talent pool while in India. 3) Given there's three founders, one stays offshore production center at India 4) pay people well & even incentivize some through equity 5) build a sales force through the founders located onshore like London (given its a product that needs a sales force).
Dirk emphasized that London is mainly a PR center where its rather expensive to live (something I can assure!), thus living in somewhere else like Copenhagen or Berlin might be equally good or even better option. He also pointed out that you can do development across the time zones, but if you can avoid it do so because you will be much more efficient.
I will disagree with Dirk especially on the MBA bit -if you do an MBA you will most likely rationalize yourself out of all the big ideas and dreams you had, and even if you can stick to your dreams the socialization effect among the MBA students will lure you to the nice (yet bored out of your mind) life at McKinsey. Naturally, there are exceptions for example if you have already started a couple of startups and you like to know a bit more about say finance. In the latter case, an MBA might be a good option to meet other like minded people in a place like Stanford and maybe even learn a bit. But as a rule of thump, avoid MBA schools!
What comes to the location, I believe one should build strong ties to the Silicon Valley (something Jyri Engeström, the Jaiku co-fouder, also reiterated) as it can significantly cut the time to market which might make a big difference from the time the window opens to the point where a competitor has already a critical mass and beyond your reach. That said, I still believe one should stick to the community s/he knows be it Copenhagen, London or Helsinki, since culture and support mechanisms like your family and friends make a big difference and if that is not a big enough reason you might loose not only time but also your money while trying to relocate and adjust.
Serial entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky of FON talked to me in London about why he's so excited about Dopplr, the business model (or lack of thereof) and traveling in general. Here's a recent blog post on Dopplr's new set of investors from yesterday.
Editorial note: We're publishing Kristoffer's report from Seedcamp as they made it to the semi-finals for screening. Depending on the feedback we'll see if we should make this a habit in the future as well. Please let us know in the comments. Thanks to Kristoffer for an excellent report!
On the left two founders from Uniki, Teemu and Tuomas from Scred and Adil and Anthony from Entrip.
Last week we got fantastic news. Scred had been shortlisted as one of only about 40 companies to be interviewed by Seedcamp's distinguished panel — a group of prestigious international VCs. Considering that several hundred companies, from all around Europe (and even some from outside) had applied, this was huge for us. In fact Scred is the first Finnish company to make it that far, and was one of only two Nordic companies present.
Seedcamp, an intensive week long event held in September in London targeted at young entrepreneurs from across EMEA, is one of the biggest opportunities to entrepreneurs on this side of Atlantic and it's open for applications (here). Seedcamp's whole raison d'etre is to provide seed funding and world-class connections for startups in exchange of a relatively small equity stake.
I recommend applying well before the August 10th deadline, as this might be one of the best decision you do as a entrepreneur that can set the pace for the years to come. To make a great opportunity absolutely unbeatable, we at ArcticStartup want to sweeten the deal for all the Nordic & Baltic startups: This is a huge break for any start-up, and thus I will single handedly interview your start-up, any Nordic or Baltic start-up really, that applies to Seedcamp. In fact you have two options. Here goes.
When you apply to Seedcamp before the August 10th deadline you will get a guaranteed 2 minute video interview by me or optionally you can submit a 60 second video pitch of your start-up/product/service, which ever you prefer. Naturally these will be posted on ArcticStartup. In addition, when you apply to Seedcamp you will automatically enter a draw in which we at ArcticStartup will randomly choose two start-ups that can have their logo (125x125px) on ArcticStartup front page for the whole month of September October. Additionally any start-up that will be chosen to take part in the actual Seedcamp week gets also their logo (125x125px) on the front page for the whole month of September October.
So regardless of whether you get to go to London, you'll have a guaranteed way of getting a lot of visibility for your start-up just by applying (We are very flexible on what can be considered a start-up, but will use common sense to cut out any funny business and bad jokes if you try to intentionally game our generous offer). So, now only thing you need to do is apply(!) and write the following to the comments section after this blog post: '[your start-up's name here] has applied to Seedcamp and thus rocks!' or if you prefer you can email me at ville [at] arcticstartup [dot] com. Start applying and I will contact you after I get the confirmation that your application has reached the organizers.
To recap, the Seedcamp format in brief is this: You apply to be able to enter a Seedcamp week, where you learn the ropes and get to know all the people that matter in the European entrepreneur scene. The week will take place in September 15-18 2008 in Central London at UCL. Seedcamp will be holding an open application available online. Based on this, up to 20 companies will be selected to participate in the event. Seecamp can provide you with seed capital and a world class network of mentors that among others include Jyri Engeström (Jaiku / Google), Niklas Zennström (Skype / Joost) and Brent Hoberman (Lastminute.com) to only name a few. Read all about the format here.