The Stockholm-based Shotbox team has worked in film and visual effects professionally, but couldn't find storyboarding tool that met their needs for daily production. So like all good startup founding stories, they decided to make their own, targeting filmmakers, animators, game designers, and whoever else needs a handy storyboarding tool. The product is currently free to use in public beta.
As you might imagine, planning and timing every shot is difficult work, no matter if it's a feature length film, or if you only have 30 seconds to squeeze in a full commercial. Traditionally filmmakers and animators have manually created storyboards to plan out their shots, but now Shotbox has put their storyboarding concept in the cloud with the goal of speeding up the development process of storyboarding, all while making their creation more flexible.
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 problem of finding the right "fit" in online shopping is difficult but challenging. We haven't covered Stockholm-based Virtusize yet, which is a shame because it's an interesting solution to solving online fit. Rather than the robot-based solution we've covered with Estonia-based Fits.me, Virtusize offers a 2D measurement solution. Measuring a flat t-shirt with a tape measurer isn't as cool as a robot, but they claim scales better and offers an easier solution for their customers.
"The big difference that separates us is that we start with the garment rather than the body," says Peder Stubert, co-founder of Virtusize. "It's much more intuitive and clear for the consumer."
Now Stockholm's transportation agency is identifying Uber drivers and denying them permits required for Uber's service, as well as stopping and fining Uber drivers on the street through the police. The transportation agency's explanation is that the permit for cars without a meter can only be given to companies that run members of the Swedish royal family, or senior managers in corporate positions. In Uber's terms, they've challenged the status quo, and now they're getting pushback.
Stockholm-based Volumental is one research spinoff that's going to be fun to watch. It's roots go back to Kinect@Home, which made a lot of noise in the news recently with their tool that allows anybody with a Microsoft Kinect camera, which was created for the Xbox, to create 3D models of people or objects in a matter of seconds. To do so, all you have to do is make a circular video of the object with the Kinect camera, and then you can share, download, embed the model for online or 3D printing use.
The project was started as a research project by two Ph.D. students and a professor at the Centre Of Autonomous systems, a research centre at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
With a phone in everyone's pocket, there still seems to be too much friction when you're trying to get rid of your old bike. So to bring a peer-to-peer marketplace to iPhone, Stockholm-based Osom (think "awesome") has launched a polished app that will get you selling or buying in no time.
Co-founder Anton Johansson tells us that the company got its start after the founders decided to start a company after working for Videoplaza and Twingly. The idea came up as the three founders were sitting down and going through their favorite apps and all realized that Instagram has the best stickiness and "epicness" out of their phones. From there, they started to think about how that interface would respond in the e-commerce environment, and realized it was pretty optimized for a marketplace already.
If TV was invented today, what would it look like? That's the question posed by Magine, a Stockholm-based startup that's adjusting the TV.
To put it simply, Magine (think: imagine) is a cloud TV operator. And it's about time we got one. That cable going to the back of your box is nothing compared to the wonders of the internet, and instead of leaving you with the functions available to your three-year-old DVR box, Magine can deliver an awesome TV experience through the cloud, allowing you to do live or catch-up TV on your smart TV, smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Your friends and family have the alpha version of your app on their phone, and you've heard nothing but praises about how beautiful it is, and how it's "the next facebook". But are they just picking up your ugly baby and telling you how cute it is? Deep down you know the answer: Yes. Your friends and family have been concerned about you ever since you started on this crazy project of yours, and lord know's they're worried if you can take any more rejection about your UI or crashes.
Luckily there's a new family in town that's painfully honest. Stockholm-based The Beta Family has launched out a nice marketplace for crowdsourcing usability testing on Android and iPhone.
"The main difference about us and other systems is that we are very open. You can always decide which tester you want to pay to test your app," says Axel Nordenström, CEO of The Beta Family. You might pay another service a fixed amount to receive a certain number of testers, but in The Beta Family you can handpick who you think would provide the best feedback.
Uber is now warming up its engines in Stockholm. The on-demand private car service has been building a lot of hype in Silicon Valley, where - judging from a few anecdotes - people enjoy talking about how they take Uber to places. The service is still in "Sssh... Secret Ubers only!" mode, which basically means they're still in the trial period and cannot really guarantee availability of rides. But I'm sure our Stockholm-based readers like to feel ahead of the curve so feel free to download the app and see if you can catch a ride.
You forget how big Stardoll is, because if you're reading this you're probably not in their 7-17 year-old girl demographic. And if you do know about them, you may forget about them because they seem almost like an institution by now - the service has been around in one form or another since 2004. This Saturday, Stardoll passed the 200 Million member mark, a huge milestone for the company. To give you some idea of growth, Stardoll hit the 150 million mark in late January of this year.
Stardoll is a an online paper doll community where you can create your own dolls or build off of celebrity-branded dolls. Users can dress up their dolls, add makeup, and interact with each other in clubs. Stardoll also offers interactive activities, and somewhat educational games for their users. The service is monetized through virtual goods. For 2011, Stardoll posted revenue of SEK 202 million (€23 million) according to Allabolag.se.
Today we got some nice investment news coming out of Stockholm. You may be familiar with Truecaller, a crowdsourced phone directory that helps you figure out who that random number is that's calling you. Today Open Ocean Capital has invested $1.3 million (€1 million) into the company to help it expand globally.
There are so few surprises in today's connected world that I almost appreciate a random phone number every now and then. You get two seconds of confused excitement as you wonder "Why in the world is a German calling me?!" before you take the phonecall. There's something special in those two seconds though. That being said, Truecaller correctly points out that phone directories haven't changed in over a decade. There's a huge market opportunity to build a global network for number search.
The cover story of the upcomming issue of Wired Magazine is highlighting "Europe's 100 hottest startups" by listing ten companies from each city they consider a startup hub. On the list are startups from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, London, Istanbul, Helsinki, Berlin, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, and Moscow.
Reading the list at the ArcticStartup office we have a few "but what about's" that are missing from the cities we pay attention to, but it's good to get an outside opinion of what startups are attracting attention outside of the region.
My only complaint is that they stuck with startups located in only ten cities. I'm sure it helps Wired take photos and build a narrative, but it really excludes a number of startups that should be on a European top list.
Earlier this week iZettle sent out e-mails to their users in Denmark, Finland and Norway that Visa Europe has cancelled their contract in those countries. Since then iZettle has been working on restoring the status of that contract so that it could continue to accept payments with Visa cards in those countries. The story has multiple weird twists, such as why hasn't Visa Europe cancelled the contract in Sweden which is iZettle's home market?
On Monday's blog post iZettle has not commented on the specifics of the agreement and why Visa Europe decided to cancel it. Since then we have learned that it has to do with Visa Europe's policies regarding security standards. Then again, this is where the story gets harder to understand.
Smartphone cameras have long been used as simple inputs for photos and videos, but recently we've started to see a few local companies leverage the camera as much more of a smart sensor for advanced applications. We've only scratched the surface with augmented reality technologies. But with Sayduck launching their first co-branded app, with 13th Lab receiving funding, and with Guidepal in the mix, maybe we're starting to see the signs of a new trend developing in the Nordics.
Starting off the news, Sayduck recently announced the launch of their co-branded app with One Nordic Furniture Company, a Finnish-Swedish furniture brand. The app allows users to virtually test out products in their homes using accurately scaled virtual reality furniture viewed through their iOS device. The app lets you scroll through furniture, change colors of the furniture, and even read the description, price, and dimensions all virtually placed to float around the furniture.
24MAS, the Swedish mobile technology company setup in 2001, is looking to IPO in the US during the second quarter of 2013. The company has three major business areas; mobile marketing and advertising, application development & publishing and managed services & solutions. The company has offices in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe and North America. The company works with over 200 operators, handset manufacturers and technology companies around the world. While being spread out, the company employs only 148 people in ten offices around the world.
As for the IPO, there were no specific figures released yet.
These days, social travel startups the likes of Tripbirds, Tripl, (and maybe even Everplaces?) have been catching our eye. But unless you have a lot cooler friends than I do, they seem to be missing the critical mass to provide the content you need when you arrive in a new city. One Swedish travel startup that we haven't covered since 2010, but has been quietly growing in terms of usage, downloads, and content is Guidepal.
The company was founded in 2009 with the right idea that guidebooks would moving onto smartphones, and since then has seen over 3,5 million downloads and 600,000 registered users from over 170 countries.
The 60 Guidepal apps are broken down by city and are free to download on iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and WP7. Each app provides information on the local restaurants, nightlife, sights, as well as the practicalities. And all the information and maps are available offline. To be sure all the information is fresh and up to date, Guidpal updates the cities information every two months with local guides and travel journalists.
Student Inc. is a nonprofit student incubator at KTH, Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology, run in collaboration between KTH Innovation and Excitera. At its core, Student Inc. offers startups connected to KTH funding, coaching, office space, as well as events, workshops and more. Like many other incubators connected to universities, Student Inc. is focused on getting students the best resources they can leverage collective experience and keep their minds on running their businesses. "We want to help bring up the next Spotify or Skype, and keep the Swedish startup tradition going," says Sebastian Fuchs, the founder and manager of the incubator.
Annia Capital, a Nordic investment firm with offices in Helsinki and Stockholm, is currently looking for high-potentential entrepreneurs that can take advantage of their experience and capital. Annia's focus is fairly broad, but generally they're looking for products and services with clear international growth potential. Most of their investments will be in early stage firms, with a technology focus, or other businesses as long as they are asset light.
Annia Capital is not built around a traditional fund structure, but are investing their own funds and engaging co-investors on a case-by-case basis. Instead of a specific investment plan, Mikko Silventola, a founding partner at Annia Capital says, "Our premise is that the support we can provide (marketing, contacts, know-how, etc) is at least as important as the capital we provide and hence we want to make sure we partner with the best possible people/institutions for a given situation"
ArcticEvening Stockholm was held last night at the Hub Stockholm, where around a hundred people from the startup scene gathered to talk about startups, growth and everything else. The guests on the panel included Carl Waldekranz (Tictail), Peder Stahle (iZettle) and Hjalmar Winbladh (Wrapp). I have to say that this was most probably the easiest panel I've held in a while - the reason was simple; these gents know their stuff. It made me think though, looking at all the successful companies in the room, what is it that Sweden has that Finland doesn't?
ArcticEvening Stockholm is just under two weeks away. In the three full days we've had registering tickets we've registered about 3/4 of all the tickets, meaning there are about 30 or so of them left. Our guess is they'll run out early next, if not earlier, so sign-up if you want to attend. The crowd is going to be great, but so are the panelists we have signed up. We have Peder Stahle from iZettle, Hjalmar Windbladh from Wrapp and Magnus Fredin from Klarna on stage discussing the future of commerce.
Like in Tallinn, we're going to be giving out four Arctic15 tickets to the attendees that come to the event (you'll receive information closer to the date). The Arctic15 tickets will be valid for two days meaning you'll be able to attend the exclusive first day as well.
Our second ArcticEvening of the year will be held in Stockholm on the 29th of March. The theme of the event will be the future of commerce and to make it all the more exciting, we have three fantastic Swedish companies at the event to share their views. We'll be having a panel discussion with Klarna, Wrapp and iZettle to talk about how they see the commerce changing and evolving through technology, but also how consumers are changing their behaviour.
Swedish entrepreneurs can now start reaching for truly divine heights as a former Greek Orthodox Church in the city of Stockholm has been converted into a full-blown, multifunctional coworking space for startups.
The Entreprenörskyrkan (Entrepreneurs Church) hosts 300 square meters of open plan office space with two conference rooms, a telephone room and a small kitchen. For 3600 SEK a month (ex. VAT), startups receive everything from basic utilities to furniture, wireless broadband and cleaning, not to mention invaluable help and advice from fellow startups. The church currently houses 15 companies but there’s room for about 30 office slots altogether.
According to Mobile Payments Today, Paypal is testing a NFC payment system in Stockholm at two retailers, Alpingaraget and Webhallen. The new app, called PayPal Instore, uses NFC stickers affixed to smartphones to enable purchases. After downloading the app, customers just need to swipe their phone over the terminal to display and confirm the purchase.
Nordic Startups, a brand new accelerator program for Swedish web and mobile startups, will soon start its operations in Stockholm. According to the accelerator's representatives, the program will be modeled after some of the world’s leading accelerators, such as TechStars, YCombinator and Seedcamp.
Nordic Startups plans to take in six new startups every three months. During each three-month period, the accelerator will provide startups with in-depth coaching, mentoring, office space, and a fun and enriching work environment. The program is largely based on lean startup methodology and includes an investor demo day as well.
Mark it down in your calendar - December 1st. That's the day we will be throwing a little pre-Christmas party together with Future Female. The event will take place in Siltanen, Hämeentie 13B here in Helsinki, Finland. The event is expected to kick-off at around 6pm. Even though, the event is free we'd like you to sign-up with a form that will be provided at a later date. To learn more about signing up to the event, join the Future Female facebook page. This is also the first time Future Female events are open for men.
Sweden is the land of entrepreneurship. Though the population is rather small, the rate of innovation makes it to the top of the list in the world. Over the last five years, the entrepreneurship ecosystem has been flourished much more and now there are more monthly events, mingles and conferences for entrepreneurs. This post is my short notes for one of the famous events called 24 hour business camp.
A couple of weeks ago we covered Rebtel and their improvement to their iPhone application. Little did we know that last week they came out officially with a whole lot more than just free calls between iPhone users, as we titled the post. Rebtel has announced some cool new technologies to their application as well as making the free calls platform independent.
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.
Many apps and browser-based maps help you find your way around a town and discover its attractions. You can always check what places visually look like with Google Maps but that does not (yet) apply to indoors areas. CityFinder from Stockholm, Sweden built a new service on top of Google Maps that offers a 360° tour of indoor and outdoor locations of interest like restaurants, museums, shopping malls, hotels and various other attractions. So far the map has only been built for Stockholm but Oslo and Copenhagen would be covered next.
CrowdCulture is a new initiative in Sweden, which looks to bring a new way of creating culture. The concept combines private money together with public money to fund the creation of culture. It works in a simple way. There are projects in the service, which individuals can fund, the public will then double all the private money in the fund to bring more leverage.