Editor's note: This article incorrectly listed Sweden as a country Coinbase is launching in.
If you've ever worked on a construction site, you’ll know management inefficiency leads to a generally slower workpace filled with constant coffee and cigarette breaks while workers wait for delegations from the site HQ. There’s quite a bit of paperwork to be done when it comes to field reports, invoice anottations and customer to client communications, that is, if you do all of those things the conventional way.
The Swedish construction industry is now given the opportunity oil up their site management machinery, and get the workflow moving faster with the help of Fieldly, the fresh SaaS that turns construction sites smarter and more dynamic.
What better way to enjoy the delightful summer than a weekend of camping and nerd-talk in Southern Sweden? Previous years SSWC, the Sweden Social Web Camp has fulfilled this need, with plenty – having attracted over 450 participants earlier years. However, this year the organizers announced they would not be able to host the highly appreciated SSWC. A small group of SSWC fans got together to save the say, and got the blessing to organize G33KC4MP instead! Not at the same spot, but with the similar theme: geeks and nerdy people, meeting up in nature for what is a large unconference. The agenda is entirely up to you and what you want to discuss and learn more about, so you won’t be bound by a strict schedule or boring conversations.
Gaston Lavén, Sweden's Inventor of the year (2011-08/2012-08) thanks to his environmentally beneficial work as an organic chemist, found himself heartbroken after a breakup and in dire need of comfort. As with many startup founders, little did he know his pain would later turn into a business:
Imagine you, as an individual, purchase a car for €5000 from a private person. Money changes owner, so does the car, but before you know it, the car breaks down and turns out it’s nothing the vendor has promised it to be. Worst yet, the vendor refuses to pay you your money back.
Another example. Imagine your company signs a contract worth €5000 with another company (sound more familiar?). Contract agreements are not met and boom, a full blown dispute is at your hands, along with a million other things you need to worry about since you're running a business.
In cases such as these, and cases below €20 000 in general, the incentive to go to court is low. Why? Because the law is insufficient or unavailable when smaller amounts are involved. Besides the shallow legal protection, it’s worth noting that taking a dispute to court is excruciatingly time and energy consuming, and very expensive. Well, unless you give Swiftcourt a try.
Some businesses fail, others flourish, but mostly they fail. That would be generally speaking of course, and figures do change depending on the industry, but it’s a well known fact that a significant portion of start ups will be filtered out within the first four years of their existence.
But you can’t win unless you try.
That mentality of perseverance is what I suppose has been dictating Jens Nylander’s, along with many others’, journey as an entrepreneur. Nylander is a Swedish serial entrepreneur who’s lived through an utter business failure, a success story and now the milestone of becoming father to his third Swedish startup company, Automile.
We have our own ArcticStartup master slides we use for our presentations but still it seems that three quarters of the time I spend on building presentations is still getting things to look right, or figuring out how to insert a graph into a slide when we don't have a good master slide for it. With our conference, Arctic15, just around the corner, I've been making plenty of presentations which is why this "Instagram-meets-powerpoint" startup with Swedish roots look like something I could actually use.
Coffee Stain Studios is the Swedish indie game company behind the first person tower defence games Sanctum and Sanctum 2, the first of which climbed up from top 10 to being #1 on steam sales back in the summer of 2010.
What you may not know though is that Coffee Stain Studios, which is a respectable and serious company, is also behind the rather peculiar Goat Simulator, which has ranked the top 10 steam sales for quite a while.
Four weeks ago Sweden saw the birth of a potentially very interesting new platform, Sportswik. After talking to the founder, I think the platform could provide an innovative solution for thousands of little league and small time/scale sports teams who are struggling to stay funded and raise awareness
Sportswik is what you could think of as an online sports media magazine that hosts coverage for all those who lack the attention from larger media providers. The content is crowdsourced by the readers themselves, taking advantage of the massive availability of smart mobile technology.
Danish startup Playday are behind a successful SaaS workforce management program which is the leading software of its type in the Nordics. Now as they look to expand their operations worldwide and capture a huge, unexploited market they’ve partnered with venture capital firm Creandum to get the investment and expertise they need to realise their vision for growth.
The Arctic15 bus just doesn’t stop rolling. Well it doesn’t have to because it’s purely metaphorical.. What isn’t metaphorical is our supremely awesome editor-in-chief Greg Anderson who will be leading proceedings at our ArcticEvening in Stockholm on the 5th May. He’ll be there in person to show off just how real he is by speaking, although we would ask you to refrain from poking him throughout the evening just to make sure. He doesn’t like that sort of thing.
Two fairly young Swedes behind the security startup Detectify (more on that later) set out one night with a goal of hacking Google. Finding potentially compromising exploits are their day job, and just for fun they wanted to see if they could get some of that hot bug bounty that large companies pay out if you find potentially compromising bugs in their code. The logic for a company like Google is that if they pay hackers, then they don't have the incentive to take advantage of the exploit themselves or sell it on the black market.
Ever found yourself looking for a job? Moreover, did you feel like finding a good quality position that matches your talent was sometimes painfully difficult?
Together with graduates from Uppsala University in Sweden, Adrian Swartz, co-founder and CEO of Cruitway, came to the conclusion that both questions had the same affirmative answer. Additionally, not only was this true for countless of other students including him, there also didn’t seem to be any effective solution out there that really solved the matchmaking issue.
Snapchat asked and answered the question of whether self destructing photos had any wide-scale purpose in society. But what about text? Erik Graf, a developer that has worked on Stockholm-based Guidepal founded his own company with his cousin Thomas Graf, called Textwave, to work on this sort of ephemeral text messaging for Android and iOS. "The project started as a reaction to the fact that Facebook and all of the big companies store all of their users information. Our goal is to create a platform where people can be open and say whatever they want to each other," says Erik Graf.
Several months ago, we wrote about the Swedish Bitcoin exchange Safello and their mission to make doing business with Bitcoin as simple as possible, although without the anonymity that some other exchanges pride themselves on.
They’ve now gone a step further, expanding their reach beyond the borders of Sweden and into the rest of Europe by enabling payment network/option SOFORT, which allows customers to pay for their Bitcoins directly from a number of European banks by direct transfer.
Many game developers and companies choose the safe route of releasing games which follow a well known pattern. Exceptional games, on the other hand, stand out because they break this cycle; They become widely popular thanks to unseen plots, game mechanisms and ways to win, with which they offer completely new angles from which to enjoy the gameplay.
One of my latest favorites in this category was The Last of Us by Naughty Dog, a console game tinted with dark realism which took the entire gaming community by surprise with its skillfully constructed script.
Being different can bring success, but there are no rules that says new games should always bring something new to the table.
This being said, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to have more fresh approaches towards games but the issue seems to be both lack of inspiration and courage to try something new.
How to facilitate inspiration and who's to do it?
Competition in the field of photo marketplaces is very high and when we first heard word of PicHit.Me’s investment we were glad for them but at the same time cautious as to whether they could really achieve the high goals set. We have been told that they might do for photos what Spotify did with music and Skype communications. That’s a very high bar to reach in an area where many start-ups have pitched their tents. So what is it about PicHit.Me that has convinced Swedish VC Almi Invest to put its money behind them?
Those movie stars huh? How annoying is it that they always look so perfectly in shape for every role they play? It’s those personal fitness instructors isn’t it, I bet if we could afford them we’d look just as good, no better, than those stars of stage and screen. After all it’s all Photoshop and soft focus lenses right. But of course we can’t, that would be really expensive wouldn’t it, and how would you even go about finding one?
It’s about this point I should stop asking rhetorical questions and introduce you to Vint. If you’ve ever thought the above, or are just curious about a startup that has closed out a seed round then read on.
We all know that gaming has become sort of a "must-do" thing in Finland with Supercell, Rovio, Grand Cru, Fingersoft, Gray Area and many others. That being said, Sweden is not to be discounted as Mojang and King are rocking the boat over there. Mojang has over over EUR 170 Million in revenues and King is getting ready to IPO. But now there is a new player in town - MAG Interactive that is reporting impressive growth and statistics.
As we have recently written, they have hit over 50 million downloads in their main title Ruzzle and recently launched QuizCross which is also picking up speed. Unlike many other mobile gaming studios, they did not go for Free To Play and choose to monetize through ad revenue and premium versions of the games.
Now, a lot of our readers are either working on their apps or are active app consumers, so are able to judge one rather quickly. However when you are in the process of creating one, it is not quite as easy to make the right decisions in order to optimize the user experience.
To solve the issue, a lot of startups focus on analytics, numbers and formulas. However very few of them actually try to see the real deal, complete with thought processes, emotions and visuals.
Shootitlive is one of those startups that has been quietly doing its thing and getting very impressive traction. In case of Shootitlive, perhaps not so quietly, as they have over 75 newspapers from Europe as their customers and their solution displays images to over 300 million monthly unique visitors.
Since we last wrote about the company in the distant 2011, they were just getting started in the market but already had impressive clients such as The Times, who used the solution to cover the Royal Wedding.
In simplest terms, with Shootitlive, photographers can upload pictures directly to the news sites without the need to export them from the camera. Everything is done in-camera using a special wifi transmitter.
HolidayPhone announces it has appointed Emma Heimonen as CEO of the Swedish solution to mobile roaming. Heimonen has replaced Joacim Boivie, founder of HolidayPhone, who has served as CEO since the start of the company in 2010. Joacim Boivie will stay in the company as part of the board of directors.
A new coworking space officially opened its doors late last week in Stockholm. Dubbed SUP46, or Start-Up People 46, the 1272 square meter space is handsomely located in the very center of Stockholm on Reringsgaten 29. To open up the space, last Friday over 300 people threw down with Daniel Ek, the CEO and co-founder of Spotify.
"Our vision is to make Stockholm the number one startup city in the world," says Jessica Stark, CEO and co-founder of SUP46. "Though Stockholm is one of the world’s leading startup hotspots, the lack of a centrally located meeting & co-working space for the startup community has been obvious."
Wired UK's next issue focuses on the top ten startup capitals in Europe, and lists ten of the hottest startups from each city. Helsinki and Stockholm were selected out of our region, and we feel they've done a fair enough job.
Here's their list, with links to our (AS) coverage of the startups. Pick up the issue when it hits stores!
In Helsinki, they list:
Internetdagarna (“The Internet Days”) has long been one of the highlights of the Swedish tech calendar. Last year, I recall meeting a number of amazing start-ups at Internet Discovery day. Some, like Memoto, have since gone from small Swedish fry to global sensations. Apart from meeting a number of ICT entrepreneurs, I was also privileged to hear Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor and one of the founders of the Creative Commons, speak.
As equity crowdfunding is starting to become more widely accepted, even newer ways of funding and starting a company emerge. Take a look at the recently announced partnership between the originally Swedish crowdfunding company FundedByMe and the Danish accelerator program - Accelerace.
The two companies intend to both “push and pull” startups from and to one another. In other words, you could go through the Accelerace accelerator program and then immediately jump onto the FundedByMe crowdfunding platform in a few easy steps. Alternatively, you could go to FundedByMe directly and then take part in the accelerator program after you are done. You could even include you intentions in your pitch, for example.
Despite how much I love the platform, I've come to terms with the fact that Spotify's social features really aren't that good on a basic level. I was interested to read headlines the other day that the Swedish music streaming service is adding chat to the platform, as it's a sign that they're still trying to do something with "social". But I've got plenty of ways to talk to friends, and with 20 million + tracks, the only way to make sense of the catalogue is to put together playlists, and share some of them with friends.
And there, what can you do? You can organize your tracks, give it a title, and put it on your public Spotify page, but I'm hungry for the low hanging fruit.
It should be the perfect storm: take one hotbed of ICT start-ups, a culture of entrepreneurship and a culture of early adoption when it comes to the latest tech development, and add reward-based crowdfunding. ICT entrepreneurs should be flocking to crowdfund their latest app, game or innovation. And yet they’re not; while arts and culture has embraced crowdfunding as a way for filmmakers to stay independent, Swedish ICT entrepreneurs aren’t as interested – when it comes to the local sites, that is.
Instead, big names like Volumental and Memoto are flocking to Kickstarter. On the face of it, this might be because the reach of the platform is larger – and, indeed, that perception exists. According to a recent report on the state of crowdfunding among ICT entrepreneurs in Sweden, ICT entrepreneurs do think that there is more money to be made on American platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Not so long ago, we wrote about the amazing technology behind Volumental. Basically it allows anyone with a depth camera, like the one on Kinect, to create 3D models of just about anything. All you have to do is simply record a 360 degree view of the object and their web-based solution will do the rest.
The problem is, there are limited ways in which you can use this. Of course there is gaming, 3D art, 3D modelling, etc. However the real attraction is to be able to scan an object and instantly print it on your 3D printer. This is what Volumental wants to achieve and to do so, they turned to Kickstarter. They are looking to raise a total of $20 000, which should allow them to hire a full-time developer to build the web-based scan-to-print app.
As it stands, it would take you a lot of work to make a printable 3D model. Basically you need to isolate the object you want to print from the background and all the other captured objects. Then you also need to make sure that the figure would sealed and waterproof, the edges need to be smoothed out and more. Volumental, tells us that all of this can be done automatically and they know how to do it.
The 3D printing revolution is on the rise and as research suggests, you can save up-to $2000 a year if you have a 3D printer at home. Being able to scan objects will not only make your life easier but will allow open a lot of doors even if you do not have any 3D modelling skills. Imagine being able to scan broken household items, fixing them in 3D and printing them out. Alternatively you can make a copy of you kids favorite toy or perhaps extra sets of your kitchen appliances?
In return for supporting the project, the backers get anything from a T-Shirt to a license for unlimited printable models. This hints at the final monetization and pricing idea that the team has for the future.
The campaign was launched yesterday and so far they have gathered $4 310, which is about 20% of the funding goal. You can check out the project here and watch their Kickstarter video below:
Top Image Courtesy of Shutterstock // 3D Printer
Noah, who recently turned 17, is the youngest board member at Stockholm Makerspace.
Makerspaces, Hackerspaces and FabLabs seem to fit much the same mould: a communal space where like-minded, creative folk can share space, machinery and, most importantly, ideas. The two key characteristics of such a space are, first, the community and, second, the gadgets.