Are The Red Herring Awards "The Frat" Of Startup Awards?

It must be fishing season again, my inbox is filled with press releases about all the startups that all simultaneously won the Red Herring award. Out of the 100 in Europe, we have 12 winners from Finland, 8 from Sweden, 3 from Norway, and 5 from Denmark.

I'm not going to tell any entrepreneurs how to live their life, but I'm going to lay it out as I see it. A startup's journey doesn't necessarily come with a lot of external affirmation, so winning an award with some name recognition, and having a recognizable logo to display on your website is all good and well. And maybe it gives you some sort of legitimacy to potential customers.

But still, it's an award you need to pay €2,900 to be eligible for, which feels more like you're paying for a certificate. I suppose the mathematics for these startups come down to a gamble if they can be listed as one of the 100 winners, and then hopefully receive more than €2,900 in PR.

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36 Nordic And Baltic Companies Make Red Herring Europe Finalists

Red Herring has announced the 2010 Top 100 Europe Finalists. Among these finalists, there are 36 companies from the Nordics and Baltics. There are 6 from Denmark, 3 from Norway, 12 from Sweden, 1 from Lithuania and 14 from Finland.

Red Herring organises a competition annually for startups to find out the most attractive startups across national borders. The Finalists are evaluated on both quantitative and qualitative criteria, such as financial performance, technology innovation, quality of management, execution of strategy, and integration into their respective industries.

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Red Herring 100 Europe Finalists

Red Herring 100 FinalistsThis year's Red Herring 100 finalists from Europe were announced last week. The competition is held annually to find Europe's most promising tech companies. This year the list is nicely populated by companies from the Arctic area. More than 40 of the finalists this year come from the geographic area we cover - nicely done! Sweden, Norway and Finland are most represented and after that come Denmark and Estonia. Latvia and Lithuania still shine with their absence.

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Product Review Aggregator alaTest Gets Red Herring Global 100 Award

alaTest logoalaTest is a web service providing free and independent aggregated product quality information. It aims to simplify the purchase decision offering aggregated professional reviews, product specifications, and a standard quality rating along with the lowest available price in the same location. alaTest has just won the Red Herring Top Global 100 award, and was also selected to the 2008 Top 100 Europe list.

alaTest screenshotalaTest aggregates reviews from 1000+ international review sites, like Consumer Reports, CNET.com, and PC World. The alaTest database is said to currently hold over 4.9 million reviews, while the websites in 15 countries collected 3.6 million visitors in December. alaTest uses a global, objectively aggregated product quality rating it calls the alaScore™ to unify the test criteria and rating scales between test sources. The score enables easier cross-service product comparison for consumers.

alaTest's service is free for the end consumers, but makes money by offering different services to manufacturers, publishers, and advertisers. Manufacturers can get global media scanning services to keep informed about how and where their products have been tested and rated. Product manufactures can also market product updates to highly targeted consumers via the alaTest portal news and newsletter. Publishers can get a broader audience for their reviews thru the service. For advertisers alaTest offers reachable specific target consumers.

During last year, alaTest became profitable and secured a new round of financing.  It also expanded the client base to companies like Kelkoo, Shopzilla, Neckermann, Sony Ericsson, and Intel.

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Red Herring Global Top 100 Finalists Announced

During the weekend Red Herring, a global media company, announced 200 finalists of their annual Global Top 100 technology companies competition. The winners, top 100 out of 200, will be announced in January 14-16, 2009.

There are a few Nordic companies listed that were also on Red Herring's Top 100 European finalists this year, including Floobs, Muxlim and Aito Technologies. Some of the new comers to the global short list include Hammerkit and Ball-IT, which was listed also in 2007.

Congratulations to the finalists and watch out for the monkey business.

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Momail Offers Free E-mail Service to Mobile

Momail is a Swedish startup, founded in 2006, offering a free and global e-mail service for mobile devices.

The company has proprietary technology for optimizing emails and minimizes bandwidth usage for all mobiles. In addition, documents and pictures are scaled, rotated and converted in real-time. Momail promises to provide consumers with the "fastest, smartest and most cost-effective mobile email solution on the market". Momail's user base has been growing fast, and the company has been able to launch the service so far the Momail service is available in 14 countries and in eight different languages, while another 20 countries are in beta. The company also won Red Herring 100 Europe 2008 Award in the spring.

The Momail's mobile solution is based purely on the mobile handsets' own email clients -- Momail just sends the correct settings to the phone over-the-air. Starting to use the service is a breeze, taking just a couple of minutes. While the default mobile email client in the phone may not be a fancy one, at least almost all of the phones launched in the recent years have one, which means Momail is able to support all of them (they claim to support over 1100 models). The technologically more advanced ones may prefer using e.g. Gmail mobile web browser service, but this kind of simple email might be a killer one in the developing countries, where people may not even have email account beforehand. Or if you just want email to your phone now, without knowing or bothering for much more.

Momail announced last week that ex-Microsoft executive Kenneth Lundin has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, while Founder and CEO Roger Grönberg will focus on product and tier one partner development as Chief Software Architect and technology champion.

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Red Herring publishes finalists for Europe 100 list, suspected tax frauds and financial obscurity in the background

Red HerringSeveral Finnish companies have been included as finalists for the 2008 Europe 100 list of the of most promising ventures Red Herring is once again publishing. The companies are Aito Technologies, Floobs, Muxlim, nCore, Severa, Whatamap.com, Widisys, and Valimo Wireless. The winners will be declared at Red Herring Europe 2008 event in Malta on April 14-16th.

While the nomination gives good visibility to the companies, it's worth a note, though, before going boasting around that the reputation Red Herring has is not that good everywhere. There's a whole lot of suspected monkey business going on related to the company. According to rumors (see ValleyWag's posts for example), Red Herring’s CEO and Chairman, Alex Vieux, doesn't pay his bills (nor employees' salaries). In addition, he's got the U.S. tax officials of IRS on his back, suspected of having $2 million in unpaid payroll taxes according to ex-employees. Mr. Vieux has also been said to to have fled French and Swiss police also interested to investigate possible unpaid taxes. A good sign is neither that Red Herring has lost quite a many board members over the last couple of years.

Although not all the rumors may be true, it nevertheless seems the company is in trouble and it's unsure if it's able to turn its course. As a takeaway it's good to enjoy the publicity the nomination brings, but at the same time it's worthwhile to assess what kind of association to have with Red Herring in particular and keep one's ears open.

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