Norway's Soundrop has gone through a few pivots since it released it's first product back in 2011. At the time it won Startup Weekend Oslo and was riding on the Turntable.fm craze of social listening rooms - which it plugged into Spotify. After pivoting its listening rooms in October of 2012, it then started expanding to mobile, Facebook, and Deezer. With their listening rooms in place, in early 2013 Soundrop realized that putting musicians in their chat rooms and driving the playlist created a fun social experience for artists to connect with their fans.
This last Thursday the first LIFT Nordic event was held in Oslo. Lift is a real time elevator pitch competition. Participants step into an elevator rigged with hidden cameras and an investor, and on the ride to the top have to convince them they are worth their time. If the investor is not interested in doing follow-up questions they step out of the lift, leaving the entrepreneur to take it to the top floor by themselves. If they are interested the investor invites the pitcher out for follow up questions. “With LIFT we aim to bring the message of aspiring entrepreneurs to the public, and the same time help create real deal flow between investors and startups” says Tor Grønsund of Lingopr.com, one of LIFT's co-creators.
Following the hype surrounding #STHLMtech, #CPHFTW, and #EstonianMafia, Oslo hopes to get its act together. After some prodding from the Sillicon Valley the networking lobbyist group for Nordic startups, Silicon Vikings, Startup Norway have taken it upon themselves to get people to vote on a hashtag for the Oslo startup community after deeming the catchall hashtag for Norway should be #Tech_NO.
Weather Wear took home the prize at the 7th Startup Weekend in Oslo last weekend. The app will advise parents on the best way to dress their children for the day based on the weather forecast.
The idea of a visual weather report is not entirely new. US-based Swackett is a well-established solution to the question, "is it sweater, jacket or coat weather outside?", but Weather Wear takes a different approach. It's aimed squarely at parents of young children, and with features like recommending the required number of layers, seems to be particularly suitable to the Nordic climate. The app will also remind parents of clothes to buy for upcoming seasons and events.
The good folks at MESH, the Oslo coworking space we all want to work at, are putting on their fifth event, dubbed MESH #5. We were lucky to attend #4, and have to say it was one of the best trips we've ever taken with ArcticStartup - lots of good people, interesting program, and it's an excuse to see the coworking space's nightclub in full swing. It's short notice, the event is taking place next Monday the 14th, but you can make it happen.
My strategy when traveling is just to wing it, for better or worse. Last week I spent some time in Stockholm for the NordicAPIs conference, and even though I've been to the city a lot, I still didn't know what I was doing, and I noticed I just go to the same places I always go. I probably should have checked out Oslo-based Stay before my trip, which has updated their travel app quite heavily since we covered them a year ago, now tweaking their social features and have now announced their Trusted Traveler program to provide unique guides to cities and scenes.
It's the evening before a big pitch and suddenly you realise your Mini-DVI adaptor is missing. What do you do? The answer may soon lie In the basement of Oslo's Innovation Park, thanks to the folks at SkyLib.
SkyLib is an app that makes your physical stuff searchable, to you, your close friends, your local community or the entire world. You can search around your current GPS position for something you need right now, and borrow or buy it.
The original idea came to CTO Geir Engdahl when he needed to borrow a special screwdriver to repair his laptop, but the project has grown into something far greater, with global ambitions. SkyLib is currently in beta mode and you are invited to try it out at www.skylib.com.
Oslo's mobile authentication firm Encap has announced a major new investment from the ProVenture seed fund. The exact amount hasn't been disclosed, but rumours circling the web put the figure around the $2 million mark.
It's the second major investment in Encap from a Norwegian backer, adding to earlier money from Alliance Ventures. Norwegian startups tend to look abroad for funding rather than rely on the small domestic VC scene, so today's news is a welcome change.
Digital publisher Propell hopes to take advantage of the shift towards streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix as they launch a subscription library of children's entertainment.
Propell is a digital publishing company specialising in children's books, established in 2010. Their 20 published titles are available in 13 languages and have been downloaded over 300,000 times. Their new app is aimed squarely at parents who lend their iPads to their kids, explains CEO Per Harald Borgen:
It wasn't just Helsinki that enjoyed some startup fun at the weekend. We had a blast over in Norway too!
Social drawing platform Drooodle was the popular winner in Oslo. The service takes inspiration from Instagram, but allows users to upload doodles rather than photos. Instead of replying with text comments, Drooodlers (as we assume its users will become known!) reply with doodles of their own. Simple - and fun.
Your time to doodle is limited to ensure the fun experience is preserved and to prevent the platform becoming a digital painting competition. The prototype also included very easy sharing to Facebook and Twitter, a key factor that helped traffic to Drooodle grow significantly the day after the awards.
Apps4Norge was a competition organised jointly by IKT Norge (ICT Norway) and Difi, the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment. Prizes worth NOK 150,000 (€20,000) were on offer for apps and ideas utilising public data to benefit society.
The government did its bit by opening up a raft of new datasets. Location and weather data were the most utilised in the 50 ideas and 38 prototype apps submitted to the jury. The most interesting ideas combined multiple datasets, such as a map application for sailors combining location and weather data.
When we talk about funding rounds, the money seems to be the only thing that matters. But more important than that is what the money is actually buying. With so many fun clauses like liquidity preferences and clawback provisions potentially littering the term sheet put in front of you, it's best to know what you're getting into before you find yourself in a VC's office.
The best way to learn is by watching, so here's an event we're super excited about supporting. Term Sheet Battles are coming to Helsinki, Oslo, and Stockholm in the last week of this month to show 200 attendees in each city what happens during a negotiation.
The digital eyes of Europe are on Amsterdam today as The Next Web's sold out European Conference gets underway. Leading the Norwegian contingent is Swipe, one of 20 finalists in the eagerly awaited Microsoft BizSpark Startup Rally.
Co-founders Horia Cernusca and Håkon Eide have been hard at work perfecting their presentation software since winning Oslo's last Startup Weekend. Today they unveil their product, billed as "a new way to deliver and watch presentations - from any device to any number of devices, in real-time".
This past week we had the opportunity to participate in MESH's 1 year anniversary, and finally check out co-working space that's bringing together the community necessary for an entrepreneurial ecosystem and making some noise about it.
A startup ecosystem is sorely needed in Norway. There are some cool startups popping up there, but despite having the same population as Helsinki and a major tech companies like Opera located in Oslo, you really don't hear of many startups outside the oil and gas industry.
But MESH is making a movement happen by being a grassroots space 'by and for' entrepreneurs. Their 2500 m2 building located right in Oslo's city center offers around 50 desks and 9 offices. On top of that they have an entrepreneur-geared cafe, a new bar (which divides into three meeting spaces during the day), and a nightclub with a retractable roof, which doubles as an event space for 400 people. It's... a nice place.
And the space is growing in cool areas. On top of constructing a bigger community space, they're adding a sound studio for artists that need equipment, and right now they're putting together a Maker Space with 3D printers and hardware tools for hackers and artists to come up with new inventions.
Norway-based WiMP is bringing some innovation to their music streaming platform through the launch of WiMP DIY, allowing unsigned artists to upload their music, and take in 70% of the income. WiMP offers a more editorially focused take on a music streaming service, and with it, these unsigned artists have the possiblitly to be featured in WiMP's NewSound campaign, which highlights new, local music, or to be put in playlists next to international acts.
"We launch this offer to cover a market demand. WIMP DIY is not intended as an alternative to a conventional record deal, but as a push in that direction. WiMP wants to invite artists who do not yet have a record label supporting them, but who have got ambitions of reaching out with their music," says Sveinung Rindal, Head of Editorial at WiMP.
Well, we can follow one Opera story after another. Opera has announced 300 million active users, but the big news is that they're moving from Presto, their own rendering engine, to WebKit. With Safari, Chrome, and now Opera now using the engine, well over 40% of the internet will be displayed through Webkit. The main motivation for this move is likely cost - contributing to another engine is cheaper than maintaining and building your own.
"The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need," says CTO of Opera Software, Håkon Wium Lie.
Oslo is struggling to make a name for itself for its startup scene, but a new co-working space opened its doors in April that aims to become the nexus of the startup community. Located in downtown Oslo, MESH is a huge co-working and event space that has already started providing the networks, orgnaization, and services needed for the startup community to prosper.
The two founders of MESH, Audun Ueland and Anders Mjåset have an entrepreneurial background themselves. About five years ago the two started up a recruiting company focused on engineering students which they sold to their competitors. After that they started another company that didn't take off, but then met up with someone who was looking to patent a solution to protect strollers and other items on planes. After expanding across Northern Europe they sold Pram Pack to Stokke, and used those funds to start MESH.
Stay.com, the Norway based travel startup has come out with a new version of its travel app. Last October we had a detailed write up of the company and how it became to be. For this summer, the company has made its city guides social and user friendly with making them work offline. The applications work on Android and the iOS platforms.
The app features some 116 cities which users are able to download to their phones with a simple tap. Each city guide has numerous sites to visit, restaurants to eat at and places to go. Also, not to mention an offline map that works with the iPhone's positioning system showing how lost you might be. Going offline with the city guides helps with the horrendous data roaming costs one can churn overseas.
bMobilized, the Norwegian-originated creator of a mobile website conversion solution for small and medium sized businesses, has raised $1.5 million (€1.15 million) in series A financing. The round was financed by two European early-stage investors, Alliance Ventures and Investinor. After being founded in 2005 bMobilized moved operations from Oslo to New York City in 2010, where it now has 14 employees.
The company's technology automatically reproduces a website's look and feel on a mobile device, while also claiming to add more functionality than what other mobile conversion tool can offer. The conversion into HTML5 is customizable, and can translate the mobile website into any of seven language. Mobile features like a contact bar, maps, social sharing buttons, product promo window on home page, and other features can also be easily added in.
New out of Norway is betaFACTORY, an incubator with the goal of mentoring and funding 50 companies over the next 3 years. The incubator will be located in downtown Oslo and was put together using the same fundamentals as Y Combinator, TechStars, and other intensive incubators that provide a strong focus on customer development and give a small amount of seed funding. I got the chance to talk with Brian Weisberg, the founder of betaFACTORY about who they are and what they're looking for. The deadline for the application is January 8th.
Oslo based startup Majoobi has published their application which helps anyone create an iPhone, iPad or an Android app - online. Majoobi makes use of HTML5 and users are essentially creating websites that are optimized for the iOS and Android operating platforms. The service is extremely simple to use and will have you up and running in minutes. It took me about a minute to understand it and create a simple site for ArcticStartup as a demo.
Expono is a Norwegian company, working in the field of photo sharing. This is an industry that hasn't had too many newcomers since Flickr has gained ground among the early adopters. Expono, however, has some very neat features compared to Flickr as well as some short comings too. Nevertheless, it is a service worth giving a try. The service is being built by a small five team combo in Oslo, Norway. The company was founded already back in 2007.
Travellerspoint is a Norwegian community based travel website that both combines wiki-style guides and a personal plaform for content sharing. Travellerspoint offers a relatively good source of information on numerous cities as well as a place to host your travel photos as well as blog about your travels. The site is by all means popular - their tour states they have over 178 000 travellers registered as members.
Despite the success with the site (it gathers about 50-60k uniques a month), they have not managed to integrate the different parts of the site very well. I guess this is something that still lacks in many ways across the industry. I have to say that TripSay is perhaps a step closer to this (then again - they do lack the large community TravellersPoint has). By integrating the services I mean the issue of combining them closer instead of having each service in its own "silo" and not cross-linking for example. I'm sure there is a ton of interesting data to be found from the travel stories of people in the blogs - but the link between these and the wiki-style guides is still missing.
TravellersPoint's business model at the moment is advertising and commissions from hotel and hostel bookings, as one might guess. The interesting question to ask is will these sites gain more traffic as people search deeper online for that best deal on hotels in a certain city or will they suffer from the downturn in the same way as the travel industry in general?