Every publisher struggles how to present videos with pre-roll ads at the right moment when a user wants to see them. One solution is to embed the related video content into the site’s context manually. It is, however, very costly for publishers. Sprinkle, a Sweden-based start-up, is trying to help publishers automate the process of putting video content into context by publishing automatically context-based videos to visitors.
Creating and sending postcards from your own images is by no means a unique idea. There are a lot of companies offering the service. So when we first talked to Postify, it seemed like they were doing something that has already been done and then some.
However at a closer look, it seems like they do have a hidden gem in there. Instead of focusing on the end-consumer, they want to create a new marketing channel for companies.
Event app Vamos is adding more functionality than crowdsourced Facebook events, plugging into services like Eventbrite, Ticketmaster, and Ticketfly. The reasoning is pretty straightforward - there are more events out there than what's on Facebook, and plugging into paid events can generate some revenue.
I find Vamos to be one of the stickier apps out of all the apps I've reviewed, but it's likely because I fall squarely into their demographic of bored 20-somethings. Their app provides an easy way to see what's going on at the moment, and the Facebook integration gives you an easy way to see what your friends are up to.
"There comes a time, when silence is betrayal" proclaims a Swedish anti-human trafficking website. It is one of the first projects to attempt to publicise their campaign using Swedish crowdfunded advertising site Take Space.
Nordic countries have been among the cutting edge few who’ve embraced the democratising potential of crowdsourcing in governance. Finnish Avoin Ministerio or “Open Ministry”, for example, crowdsources proposals for laws and agenda issues for consideration in the Finnish Parliament. The crowdsourced Icelandic constitution (and its current limbo) has become legend the world over.
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."
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.
Let's face it, we are overwhelmed with data. On a daily basis we get bombarded with tweets and Facebook posts of our friends. Then there are news feeds, e-mails, youtube, blogs and so on. Because of this ever expanding amount of new data coming in, most of us have developed internal filters that help us navigate in this jungle. For instance, I rarely notice cat pictures on Facebook anymore. However in certain industries, it is your sole responsibility to dig through this data and make sense of it, otherwise you will not make any money.
One particular industry is the financial trading sector, where your only hope is to act fast on available information. We could go into a very long debate about whether trading is based on luck, skill or internal trading but let us leave that aside for a second and assume that if you get information early enough, it can give you an edge. This edge would be useless if you got the information in its current format: thousands of tweets, blogs, news articles and Facebook posts. The time it would take to dig through it would would be so long that the market would simply adjust by the time you are done. The trick is to read all of this information in a sort of a visualised summary without the need to go into the specifics.
Nordic media publishing giant, Bonnier, is getting into the accelerator game. Or something like your idea of an accelerator, at least.
Digging into the website details, the feeling is more like aquahires at the concept phase, or a cheap idea sourcing for Bonnier. Rather than the standard taking a standard fixed percentage for a fixed amount of money, they're providing you with a salary, office space, and a mentor. And from you they're taking potentially your IP - the questionable paragraph from their FAQ reads:
The inanities of trademark protection has reached the frozen shores of Sweden, as Google's trademark protection lawyers reportedly gave the Swedish Language Council enough of a hassle that they decided to not to include the word "ogooglebar", or "un-googleable" into the new list of Swedish words.
The logic on Google's end was likely that they need to protect their trademark from becoming a generic term for web searches. But it only seems to highlight the inanities of trademark law, and sets up Google for all sorts of jokes about Google not wanting the concept of "ungoogleable" to exist in dictionaries.
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.
Last week we covered that The Pirate Bay is moving to Spain and Norway, but the Norwegian end of the deal apparently fell through. Geir Aaslid, the head of the Norwegian Pirate Party, put out a statement on Pastebin saying that they could not keep up the financial end of hosting the site.
So last night the news hit last night that the popular BitTorrent site has moved their servers to North Korea. Yes, that North Korea. There are so many weird angles to this story that myself - along with the rest of the internet - am unable to completely wrap my head around the logic of this move, and how it will affect the geo-political copyright landscape in the future.
If you haven't been paying attention to The Pirate Bay in the past week or so, you're missing out on a bit of swashbuckling pirate tricks and stormy seas... you know, the normal pirate life. We'll give you a little history because we haven't covered them since Elisa, the Finnish operator, was required to block the bittorrent site, among others around a year ago. The Pirate Bay was founded in Sweden in 2003, making it a decade old now. A documentary on the history of the site has been released, called TPB AFK, and is available to be watched for free.
Laugh your way to the bank: Sweden's SVT public television network is transitioning to the digital age and now offering all of its content free of charge, online. Unfortunately this also means that anyone with a computer or tablet will now have to start paying television license fees.
FundedByMe has expanded from their native Sweden and launched their equity crowdfunding platform in Finland. The company also offers the more traditional rewards-based crowdfunding platform (think Kickstarter), but equity crowdfunding offers some interesting new opportunities to startup companies by allowing them to raise money by selling shares to a large number of investors who can invest smaller amounts of money. The minimum amount needed to invest on FundedByMe is €50.
It seems I've grown suspicious of Swedish travel startups, or perhaps more specifically, social travel startups. Tripbirds had a really interesting social travel idea, but focused down on hotel booking with a few social features. Tripl was absolutely gorgeous, but shuttered recently. But there's plenty of room for digital improvements the travel sphere, especially when it comes to working with traditional partners.
mTrotter is a Swedish startup that popped up on our radar. They currently don't offer their services directly to consumers, but instead work with travel agencies and travel partners to provide a mobile all-in-one travel planner.
You probably don't need numbers to tell you this, but streaming music is on the rise in Northern Europe. WiMP, Norwegian streaming music service, just published results of a survey it conducted in their current markets, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.
According to their results, Norwegians are the most likely to have access to a streaming service at 61%, while 56% say they do in Sweden, 35% in Denmark, and 16% in Germany.
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.
These days nearly everyone at an office, college classroom, or conference has a internet-enabled phone, and Mentimeter is taking advantage of this connectivity by enabling live polls during presentations. Last week the Swedish startup launched some premium features as well as a site redesign. Together the site gives anyone in front of a crowd a much better toolset than asking "can I get a show of hands...?"
The new re-design allows users to log into the service and group questions into series, enabling an easy flow through a presentation. Previously the startup offered a more one-off type of service, which got the job done but didn't feel as complete as it does now. The basic usage is free for anyone to use, but premium features include branded presentations, as well as the ability to export the data in an Excel format.
When you and your friends are bored, how do you find out something to do? Maybe I'm just bad at knowing what websites or services to check, but if nothing is on Facebook I pick up one of those free magazines or newspapers found in the entrances of shops and restaurants, and flip through what's happening there. But still, it's 2012. There's got to be a better solution considering the amount of processing power in everyone's pockets.
A team of Swedes in Berlin think they've created the answer with Vamos, a beautifully designed mobile app that crowdsources public events from people's Facebook accounts. This is more than just a frontend for your Facebook events; with every new person that connects their Facebook account to Vamos, the event listing gets better as Vamos pulls in and shares the public events every user has been invited to.
Throw away your televisions, Netflix is coming to town. That is at least if you're living in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, or Finland. The U.S. based streaming service offers a deep catalog of movies and TV shows for a flat monthly rate. More specific details about pricing and content will be announced closer to launch, which is slated to be be in late 2012.
You can say the same nice things about Netflix that you can also say about Spotify. Almost all the content you're looking for is just sitting there in front of you, so you don't even need to open up your torrent client to "borrow" it off the internet. In addition, Netflix supports devices such as PCs, Macs, Smart TVs, game consoles, Blu-ray disc players, smartphones and tablets.
To answer that question we've been in touch with AppStats to analyze how these entertainment giants are doing. Stardoll of course is one of the more successful online networks aimed at teenage girls and Rovio has been huge on Facebook due to Angry Birds Friends. Angry Birds was "leaked" to Facebook on February 13th. Already in March the company passed 10 million MAUs (monthly active users).
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.
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.
The Berlin based startup, Readmill, founded by the Swede Henrik Berggren (he's also coming to Arctic15) has a ton of new items to announce. First of all, they are launching a new version of their service that has Library and Send to Readmill features integrated into it. Secondly, they are launching a partnership with six independent launch partners that will allow integrate the Send to Readmill into their stores. And thirdly, the company has secured an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from Wellington Partners.
The Library feature will allow Readmill users to upload all their ebooks to the cloud from their computers and thus have them readily available on all devices that support the app. This is something very similar to the Amazon Kindle environment, where all books are stored on the Amazon infrastructure and downloadable to your device. I was going to mention "easily" in the previous sentence before I started thinking about the Amazon digital file management - Readmill is definitely a simpler service to use.
With things falling into place for this year's Arctic15, we hear some great news from last year's winner, Mancx. The Stockholm-based company has raised $1.65 million in financing led by Almi Invest and Chalmers Innovation Seed Fund, bringing the total money raised to $3 million. With this announcement, the company also tells us they're opening a San Francisco headquarters.
Mancx has built a community for business answers that allows for private individuals to securely buy and sell their knowledge with others. The platform competes with Quora, the Yahoo-answers for businesspeople, but rather than searching for information and finding something from 2010, on Mancx matches incoming questions with the right people to ensure the questioner gets the fresh and deep information they need. The platform also ensures the answering party gets fairly paid for their efforts. '
Perhaps as a sign of how good the cameras have gotten on smartphones these days, a Malmö-based company has introduced a new web service that enables users to sell their iPhone photos. The service, called Foap, is basically a unique stock image directory that allows anyone to buy the rights needed to legally add users' iPhone photos to their websites or publications. Each photo is listed for $10, and revenue is split 50/50 with the photographer and Foap.
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.
Swedish micro payments provider Flatter has partnered with Dailymotion, the world's second largest video portal with 100 million unique monthly visitors and 20 000+ daily uploads. The partnership will allow viewers to directly pay video creators by "Flattring" online videos, creating what they call the world's first crowd-funded social video network.
Flattr buttons found on the web are very similar to Facebook "like" buttons, but involves a real money transfer to the creators of the content you Flattr. A user's Flattr account has a fixed amount of money to give away each month, and at the end of the month this balance is split between websites, podcasst, videos, and whatever else the user Flattrs. The service is designed to easily repay content creators for their time, while getting rid of the mental task of "how much is this going to cost me?"