Editor's note: This is another guest post by Mika Marjalaakso, the CEO of Oak Ventures, and a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and startup advisor. He is now blogging about the mistakes entrepreneurs make at www.toughloveangle.com. In this series he focuses on problems he's seen in companies participating in the Nokia Bridge program, but the lessons he draws could be interesting to any new startup. Do ex-Nokia startups face a unique set of problems? Let us know in the comments.
This is part of my Nokia Startups Mistakes series. For a backgrounder, please read the introduction. It is a big challenge for anyone with a long work experience in a large corporation, including Nokia, to succeed in building the right kind of culture for their first startup. It is a huge challenge even if you have a lot of startup experience.
Last March, Nokia and Microsoft teamed up to fund up to €18 million in a mobile application development program at Aalto University in Helsinki. After receiving over 800 applications from more than 60 countries, Appcampus has invested its first million into 30 companies. The team tells us that investments made have been in the €20 000 range, although some have gone up to €50-70 000 depending on the scope of the project.
The program works like this: once a project is admitted to the program and successfully completes application design review, applicants receive 30% of the funds. The rest are then granted when the final product is certified and launched on Windows Phone Marketplace. After the app is out for six months on the Windows phone platform, then teams can expand to other marketplaces.
Yesterday Kristoffer Lawson of Holvi and Mike Bradshaw of Startup Sauna ended their "Burning Platform" tour of the Finnish cities that either have or once had Nokia offices. Nestled in a parking space between the highway and the Nokia Offices was the Travelling Salesman's Land Rover and portable sauna, proudly named the burning platform.
The goal of the trip was to preach the gospel of entrepreneurship and meet ex-Nokians who have dreams of building their own companies. My goal of being there was to hopefully see the cops show up (or at least the fire department), or maybe to see Nokia CEO Stephen Elop shake an angry fist out the window. Either would be a compelling story. The Kick Network guys are clearly more proactive journalists than I am, as they suggested calling the cops themselves.
A stealth startup from Oulu, Finland has been reported by The Finnish National Broadcasting Company (YLE) to be working on a device called Goodspeed. Uros Oy is the company behind this mobile phone sized device that would make data roaming costs obsolete. Today one of the biggest obstacles to using services overseas are the ridiculous roaming costs operators charge users.
In July 2010 the European Union announced regulation that would force operators to limit charges to consumers from data roaming costs. The default monthly cut-off point would be €50, unless the consumer has chosen another cut-off point enabled by the operator. Operators also need to send a warning to the consumer when 80% of that sum has been reached.
Has this change by the EU made users more open towards using data services overseas? Yes and no. While it's more transparent to use these services the usage figures are still far from those in the home networks.
ArcticEvening Copenhagen was organised last night at the to-be-emptied Nokia premises just out of the centre of Copenhagen. The evening was full of interesting discussions and presenters included Kristel Verhasselt of Magento as well as Jussi Koskinen of PayPal. Our main event was a fireside chat with Tommy Ahlers who made my job as an interviewer extremely easy, sharing a lot of advice to the audience with just a few questions.
As said, the event was held at the Nokia Campus premises, a place that will be emptied by the end of June. The space looked eerily empty already, but its future isn't as bad as one might think. In September, a university will be taking over the facilities and in doing so Nokia is also donating millions of DKK worth of gear to the university.
AppCampus, the joint venture between Microsoft, Nokia, and Aalto University with the goal of boosting the Windows and Nokia platforms, has today opened the doors to applications. The program is looking to fund unique, innovative and high impact mobile applications that utilize Windows Phone and Nokia platforms. The program is open to both teams and individuals, and will fund projects anywhere in the world based on their merit. The program will invest in total up to €18 million over the next three years.
Nokia and Microsoft have teamed up to fund up to €18 million in a mobile application development program at Aalto University in Helsinki. Together the two companies will each invest up to 9 million euros into the program, called AppCampus, over the next three years. The program has been set up to foster the creation of applications for the Windows Phone ecosystem, as well as the Nokia platforms including Symbian and Series 40. The program will begin already in May of 2012.
Nokia is using Audiodraft's platform to hold contests to create regional ringtones through crowdsourcing. This isn't the first time Nokia has crowd-sourced their ringtone through the Audiodraft platform, but it sends a clear signal that they have been pleased with the past results the contests have generated.
The new contests run by Nokia are to create regional ringtones for China, India, Latin America, South East Asia and Pacific, and Middle East and Africa. The prize fund totals over $37 000, with each winner receiving $1 500. It's not a bad amount of money, and it provides a great opportunity for a sound designers' work to be used on millions of headsets worldwide. The competition runs until 17 April, and the winners will be announced on 24 April.
We've finally gotten our hands on the Kauppalehti Optio, which has an extensive interview with Marko Ahtisaari, the Executive VP of Design at Nokia. The article talks in detail about Ahtisaari's past, but also discusses his work to a great extent. Earlier today Reuters came out with a story that Nokia is working on a tablet device, but that's just half the story.
Voddler, the video on demand service for movies and TV series, is now expanding outside of the nordics. Since launching in Sweden, Voddler has over the past two years gathered around 1.3 million registered users in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, and is now making Spain its fifth market.
The common pattern that Nordic startups seems to follow is to tackle the home market and then expand to the UK to start targeting the English speaking world. But with competitors including Netflix and Vdio also fighting over market share, it makes sense to target underserved markets. On this, Markus Bäcklund, Voddler's CEO says, "Spain was an obvious choice for us as our first market outside of our home market of Scandinavia. It is a country of movie lovers, with good broadband penetration and an audience that is increasingly turning online."
Vision+ is a new royalty-based fund set up in Finland that is looking to invest in applications, games, and services on all digital platforms. The model is different from the average VC fund. Rather than taking equity, investor return consists of royalties of the product’s cash flow, offering the benefit of not diluting existing shareholders' equity. Currently Vision+ has raised €26 million, but aims for a €100 million fund.
Nokia held a press event this morning in Barcelona's Mobile World Congress where they announced new phones and services that try to suggest the company is back on track for growth and better profitability. One of the new devices is Nokia 808 PureView that has the social web ablaze with comments and aspiration. The device holds an astonishing 41 Megapixel camera that crunches out 5 Megapixel photos with very little noise.
In addition to the mother of all camera phones, Nokia announced three new Asha devices as well as a lower end Nokia Lumia 610. All of the Asha devices, which are targeted at the next billion mobile phone users, will be on sale during Q2 for less than €100 (before taxes and subsidies).
Nokia has just announced, according to Reuters that it is cutting down 4000 jobs in Finland, Hungary and Mexico as it struggles for better profitability. Finnish Helsingin Sanomat expects that the factory in Salo will see some 1000-1200 jobs cut as part of downsizing the output to match demand in Europe.
Russia's largest search engine has announced it has purchased map licenses from NAVTEQ, the Nokia maps subsidiary. The digital maps will be used to develop a detailed world map for the Yandex.Maps service, which currently shows a more "artistic" than realistic cartography of international locations (a current map of Helsinki is shown below). NAVTEQ's service includes highly detailed maps of Europe, North America, Australia and developed countries in Asia, and show intercity motorways, urban traffic networks, streets and buildings. Yandex says it will gradually add new content both to its desktop version and to its mobile application that supports all major platforms.
Nokia announced yesterday it has sold the 1.5 billionth Series 40 phone to a 21 year old woman in São Paulo Brazil. The phone sold was a Nokia Asha 303, which comes with a touch screen and a pre-installed version of Angry Birds Lite-- a big step up from the Nokia 7110, the first S40 phone sold in 1999. This comes on the heels of Apple's attention grabbing earnings and sales numbers, where it reported it has sold 138 million iPhones since they came into existence in 2007.
Editorial note: This is a sponsored blog post by Microsoft as part of their series Hear it from startups.
Imagine Cup is an annual competition aimed at students worldwide, who are looking to change the world. Each year students compete against each other in many different categories for the best application. Applications are judged by their real world potential in changing the world, but also how viable they are business wise.
This year the finals will take place in Sydney, Australia and Microsoft Finland will be sending one team from Finland to the finals. The team however, has to win the semi-finals in Finland first.
Imagine Cup has multiple different categories available, but if you choose to enter the competition local semi-finals will be held for the Windows Phone Challenge as well as the Software Design categories.
According to Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish), and two of their independent sources, Risto Siilasmaa will be proposed to become the next chairman of Nokia. Currently, the Chairman of the board is Jorma Ollila. Siilasmaa is the largest shareholder and also the founder of F-Secure, a computer security company.
For developers, having as many payment models as possible gives better flexibility for your app's business plan. This is especially important when targeting the frontier of new untapped markets, such as those where the affordable Nokia Asha 303 is expected to expected to be popular. Nokia just announced that they are now supporting in app purchasing for the Asha 303, which is the first for the Series 40 platform.
In an interview with Les Echos, a French business publication, the director general of Nokia France made a remark that that the Nokia tablet would be coming out in June of 2012, and that it would be running Windows 8. Microsoft has not confirmed a launch date of Windows 8, and the details of the new Nokia tablet have been kept to the minimum. At the Nokia World conference last month, CEO Steven Elop spoke positively about Windows 8 the partnership with Microsoft:
We talked about Jongla a couple of years back. The Finnish startup promised to leverage the personal capabilities of the mobile devices and become personal marketing tool. The startup offers smartphone users the ability to send unlimited text messages, videos, images etc across the globe for free. Sounds quite a useful tool for bulk marketing.
The core issues or problem addressed is with the limitations that we have when it comes to the size of the multimedia files we share via SMS or MMS and the quality that we do share is awful by all mean (could be my personal opinion). With Jongla, users are freed of this size and quality limitations with the traditional methods. With Jongla you can share all these files directly to their friends. So this means another application, another setup file, a whole new registration or account association. Well not exactly.
Earlier this week at Nokia World, Nokia announced that it had partnered with Rovio and Angry Birds. In practice this means that all new Nokia Asha family phones will have Angry Birds pre-installed on it. A little earlier in the keynote, Stephen Elop announced that Nokia is making 14 phones each second. Think about it. It adds up to 1,2 million phones a day. Most of those phones aren't smart phones - they're phones being built for the emerging markets. Nokia Asha will be replacing the Series 40 phones and therefore, most of the phones Nokia makes - will come with Angry Birds pre-installed.
Nokia World, taking place in London, is the annual event of the mobile phone giant to showcase its new devices and also share plans for the future. Nokia has announced two new smart phones, Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710. In addition to this, Nokia also announced a new smart phone family for the emerging markets - Nokia Asha. This post is a log of live updates from the morning keynote by Stephen Elop.
In our series with Nokia we continue to discuss possibilities of developing for Symbian. This time we interview Kalle Koutajoki of Foodie.fm about their application and why they decided to go ahead with development on Symbian. Foodie provides an online service around recipes and shopping. Their application is able to give you a shopping list based on the recipe and also helps you see where the products are in the actual store and order the goods to your home door. Let's go ahead with the interview!
We've covered Microsoft's new Windows 8 quite extensively this week on ArcticStartup from the Build conference, but the truth is - all this will have a lot of implications in the different ecosystems regarding mobile operating systems, app stores and what not. Furthermore, enabling Xbox Live to run as an application on Windows 8 OS will have huge possibilities for gaming companies.
Yesterday at the Build conference Microsot CEO Steve Ballmer made a surprise visit on stage to talk more about how the company views new technologies and what this means for developers. He came out to further promote the importance of Windows 8 for Microsoft and what it also means for the whole company, looking forward. In addition to this, he also mentioned Nokia in his talk, but not in an extensive fashion. According to Ballmer, not only does Windows 8 change the approach to pretty much everything Microsoft works with, but it also changes the way how Microsoft views technology - the release itself will make Microsoft pivot and look at new technologies in a Windows centered fashion.
ArcticStartup is reporting from Anaheim, California this week from the Build event taking place until September 16th. I'm pretty excited about the new things Microsoft presented today to an audience of about 5000 developers. Why so, you may ask? With Windows 8, Microsoft basically outlined their tablet strategy and it has implications to their mobile platform as well. This of course makes the news extremely important for developers and startups looking at this space, including those working with Windows Phone and Nokia.
Audiodraft, the Finnish audio crowdsourcing service (and startup by the same name) has landed a major partnership with Nokia to remake the hugely popular Nokia Tune. The most liked tunes on the Audiodraft page are actually very good and I'd seriously be thinking of using one for my iPhone.
Tero Ojanperä (pictured left), a member of the Nokia Leadership Team, will be leaving the company. Forget all the drama that you always affiliate with top executives changing jobs - this sounds really good actually. Ojanperä will be actually moving to work as a partner with Vision+, an investment fund that will be investing into mobile applications to foster the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem.
According to the press release, Ojanperä has built a long career inside Nokia, 21 years to be exact. Ojanperä has been working as the Executive Vice President of Services will leave the company at the end of September.
A recent update to Nokia's Symbian operating system (called Anna) activates the NFC chip installed in their C7 phone and the first application featuring NFC technologies has just been added to Ovi Store. Xchange app lets user exchange business cards, photos and other information by touching other NFC-enabled devices. After the touch, information is sent to users by email and contact details are automatically saved in the contacts section. Symbian's update signifies Nokia's efforts to reassure developers and consumers that the company is not abandoning the platform and is going to support it until at least until 2016.