Yesterday we did a call for Nordic and Baltic entrepreneurs to show off there startup pads, and we've already gotten hit by Helsinki-based guitar teaching startup Ovelin, maker of the guitar teaching apps, Wildchords and GuitarBots.
In the above picture, Thür says, "You can see our fun room featuring a drum kit, piano, Ramses the weird synthesizer, grass floor, Carsten the crocodile, a tribute to super mario on the wall, and furniture in Tetris block style, a flamingo hat and plenty of other weird things to be discovered."
With Supercell and Rovio being the two major media magnets in Finland, it is easy to overlook what else is happening in the region. We have earlier put a claim on Helsinki being the world's mobile gaming capital, which with Supercell making over USD 2.4 Million a day and Rovio claiming over €152.2 million in sales, is probably a fair argument.
However when it comes to day-to-day success, it is definitely not all about Helsinki. Tampere, a city in southern Finland with a population of just 217,000 is the second biggest gaming hub in Finland and has a lot of initiatives that foster the gaming industry.
Perhaps in some sense, the Tampere gaming industry has an even longer history than that of Helsinki. Traditionally Nokia's biggest R&D site was based in Tampere and in 2007 THQ, the North American games publisher who at the time had a turnover of over $1 billion, bought the Tampere based gaming company - Universomo.
You may have caught our past stories on Ovelin, the makes of Wildchords. The hot Finnish startup grabbed €1.1 million in financing from True Ventures last February, and their guitar teaching app has gotten critical acclaim the world over.
Currently Ovelin is hiring senior game developers, coders, game designers, and is growing the company further. At the moment the company is generally looking at new platforms and new instruments, and will be releasing some new packages soon that contain well known songs, but only from the public domain. Mikko Kaipainen, co-founder of Ovelin, wasn't willing to share anything else about licensing or future plans. But last week the company threw a party in Helsinki with the IGDA to promote their game and celebrate their successful €1.1 million funding round.
In our seventh episode of Unfair Advantage we talk to Christoph Thur of Ovelin. Ovelin has created a game called Wildchords that has attracted a lot of interest both from consumers, but also from investors. Recently they closed a €1.1 million investment from True Ventures. We talked to Christoph to understand how Ovelin went about creating Wildchords, but also how the game has been distributed and what were the steps leading up to the closing of the investment from one of the top-tier investors in the US.
Our sponsor for this week is Gapps.fi - a Helsinki-based company that brings the Google productivity tools to your workplace. They've got a special offer for all those who ping them and say they came from ArcticStartup. Big thanks to Gapps for supporting the show.
Ovelin, the creators of WildChords, has just announced it has received $1.4 (€1.1) million in seed funding from True Ventures. The Finnish company has already seen a great deal of successes for its innovative method for teaching the guitar, which provides instant feedback and gamified hooks to keep up motivation. WildChords counted 100,000 downloads in the first month of its release, and has racked up a full shelf of awards since leaving StartupSauna. With the funding Ovelin plans on strengthening their team and widening the number of platforms it is available on.
This year Barcelona is playing host to the eighth International Mobile Gaming Awards as part of the Mobile World Congress. Almost 500 games in total were submitted for review, and the list has been whittled down to 30 games in 6 categories. We noticed the Nordics and Baltics were heavily favored on the list, and includes 5 games from Finland, 3 from Sweden, and one game from Lithuania.
Ovelin, the creators of WildChords, have recently been on a rampage of success. Before the game's official release, they won the Slush 100 here in Helsinki and several other prizes including Best European Learning Game 2011 and Northern Dimension Music Innovation Award 2011. Now their app is out in the wild and has been topping the "free app" charts in Finland since its release, which is impressive for a music app.
It's easy to see why the game has been taking off. Everytime I see someone insanely "good" at Guitar Hero or a similar game, I ask myself how many more Mozarts or Jimmy Pages there would be in the world if all that focus was put in a musical instrument rather than mashing a couple buttons. WildChords combines the addictive features of similar video games with guitar exercises, so users get hooked on practicing on their real guitars.
Everybody likes playing a music instrument, though a lot of us don't really know how to. That is partially why game consoles that make us feel like we know what we're doing are so popular. Learning to play a real instrument is much harder and is definitely more tedious: you have to practice a lot before you can play a Beatles song. That is why Ovelin, a Finnish start-up, decided to develop Wild Chords, a computer game that is played with a real guitar. We talked with Chris Thür, co-founder and CEO, to find out more about the game and the company behind it.