Arctic15:Exit Path is looming high on the horizon and the journey around the Baltics continues. We began with a full-house ArcticEvening in Vilnius and now we’re coming to Tallinn. In the coming month we’ll be hitting Riga, then at the beginning of May we'll start the Nordic leg of our tour through Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo. Finland isn't forgotten, in fact we're going all out for our parent nation and will be visiting Tampere, Oulu & Helsinki. Keep an eye out for when we announce our event in your city.
Startup Wise Guys, an Estonian accelerator that was behind startups such as VitalFields, WappZapp, EpicList and Cloutex. They have gone through three batches of companies so far: Summer 2012, Autumn 2013 and Winter 2013. However since then we have not heard much about their plans for the future and were suspecting that there would be a change coming.
So a few days ago, they announced that they will change their focus towards B2B commerce and adjust their program accordingly by launching "BusinessTech".
There is one thing I absolutely love and that is gadgets. The beauty of the whole concept is that they are slowly turning from the geeky nerd fab into something a little more mainstream. With the advent of 3D Printing, hardware prototyping platforms such as arduino/raspberry pi and crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, we are truly in the age of gadgets.
Back in the day, when I tried to get the first ever MP3 CD-Player for a couple of hundred bucks, people though I was mad. Now, it is normal to chase gadgets and nearly everybody has some. However what is a lot more impressive, and important, is that we can all create gadgets without having to buy-out factories in China and raise millions of EUR’s in funding. In fact with some of the modern tools for prototyping, it should be possible to put something together in a matter of a couple of days.
It is always great to see when there are two major funding announcements on the same day for the region. In addition to today’s Kiosked funding round, Pipedrive just announced an extended seed round of €1.8 million.
The round was co-led by Rembrandt Venture Partners and Storm Ventures, with participation from TMT Investments and a group of angel investors, including Taavet Hinrikus of Transferwise, Ott Kaukver of Twilio and Rain Rannu from Fortumo.
When I first heard about Uber, I was confident that this would be my ultimate taxi app, if it ever reached Finland and/or Estonia. After all, it was super easy to use, it would get me a good taxi exactly when and where I need it and best of all, I do not have to wait on the phone for 5 minutes.
Unfortunately, Uber did not turn out to be exactly what I hoped it would be. After all it is rather expensive and there is basically no choice in what driver/car you get. Not to take anything away from Uber, they have their niche market and they are doing very well. It was just not something I needed and the same went for a lot of the people I knew.
What I really wanted, though, was an app that would provide me with a choice of all taxies in the area, ranging in price, quality and distance to my pick-up point. However, there wasn’t one. Until now, that is.
Most companies end-up using a variety of CRM solutions to manage their businesses. That is to say, there is no one single solution that would cover all aspects of the business reasonably well, so companies are forced to use a number of them. For instance you might end-up using Pipedrive for sales, ERPLY for stock management and POS solutions, Mailchimp for sending e-mails, Quickbooks for accounting, etc. The problem is, that all of these have their own database and they do not sync with one another.
What this means is that if one of your clients changes their e-mail address, you will need to manually update this information in all of the CRM’s that you are using. An Estonian startup, Cloutex, is aiming to change that by making a service that would achieve full synchronisation with all of your CRM solutions and update data everywhere, automatically for $19 a month. The real revolution of this idea is that you are not limited to just two systems and only updating new data, you can completely synchronise all data.
Fits.me dates back to 2009, when they have received their first round of cash from Arengufond, Webmedia AS and a number of angels. Since then, they have raised several more rounds and are currently one of the top startups in Estonia by the amount of capital raised.
The technology behind the company, robots that can take shape of any human size in order to show exactly how any given garment will sit on you before you purchase online, was always a little controversial.
Some people thought it was definitely the way of the future, however others were not quite so impressed by the developed and did not think the company stood a chance of success.
Whatever you had planned for next week, cancel it. Unless your plan was to go to Latitude59, a startup conference in Estonia that is picking up speed every year. With themed days, it was a blast last time around and attracted great speakers from all over the globe.
This year, the team behind the event tried to make it even more impressive and gathered a great selection of speakers. Perhaps even more interestingly, there are surprisingly many investors who signed-up to speak and attend the event.
Garage48 and Tehnopol have teamed up to throw Mini Seedcamp Tallinn, a half-day event aimed at accelerating 10 local startups through classes, networking, and pitch feedback. The local winners will then be invinted to participate in Seedcamp London in early September. The event will take place July 24.
After the half-day event they'll have another to-be-announced workshop lined up, and then a party at Garage48. The next day the Latitude59 conference kicks off, meaning it should be a pretty valuable time to be in Tallinn. All startups from the region looking into participating in Seedcamp are welcome to attend.
The problem of 'fit' when selling clothes online has always been a problem, and since 2009 the Estonian startup Fits.me has been trying to solve it. They are not trying to do this by modifying the sale procedures or offering free return shipping, instead they built robots that can mimic nearly every body shape. Since the company was founded, they have raised around €3 million and were already one of the best funded startups in the Baltic region.
Today, Fits.me announced a Series A round from an existing investor SmartCap and also new investors onboard: Conor Venture Partners, Fostergate Holdings Limited and The Entrepreneurs Fund. The total amount raised is €5.5 million and is a part the earlier reported investment.
Tallinn and London-based Transferwise has added debit card integration, making it easier to speed up the process of sending money abroad at low cost. Previously the process was two steps, where customers had to send money to Transferwise through their own bank, but now customers can add credit card details manually into the website - speeding up the process.
I find it interesting to follow what Seedcamp and the other big European accelerators are doing. It's useful to see what the trends are, and I also enjoy selfishly finding hot new services to check out before my friends. The following list has been invited to the Seedcamp London event, including three startups from the ArcticStartup region: Actual Reports and GateMe from Tallinn, and Together from Gothenburg.
Here's a quick drill-down of the local teams, followed by the full list of accepted teams.
The Startup Wise Guys: Part II is now in production. The Tallinn-based accelerator has taken in eight teams and is stepping on the gas pedal for the next three months with the help of 80 mentors and the #Estonianmafia. Their Winter '13 batch includes teams from Russia, Estonia, Poland, Finland, Hungary, and Chile, and begun yesterday by talking to alumni, getting a tour of the city, and a welcoming party at Garage48 HUB.
Below you'll find a list of the accepted teams. Company descriptions have been provided by Startup Wise Guys.
The old saying goes, you can't improve what you can't measure. A corollary for freelancers is, you can't improve your bank account if you can't mesure your time. Toggl, the cloud-based time management tool, tells us it recently hit the milestone of 300 000 registered users. The time tracking tool enables small groups and freelancers to jot down their hours for client projects, and be able to say what they were working on at the time.
The company says that the tool was initially created for our own in-house use because they found existing time-tracking software was far too complicated. Toggl is based in Tallinn, Estonia, and currently has 12 employees.
Estonia based Fortumo is known for offering in-app payments to Android developers in 70 countries. Towards the end of July, they added subscription payments to their offering. Now app developers can begin to charge subscription payments instead of asking for one off payments.
The company has already started rolling out the service with a number of games and dating sites. "Subscription payments deepen customer loyalty and have shown to increase developer revenue by at least 30%" says Rain Rannu, co-founder of Fortumo. "Recurring mobile operator billing has a potential to become a significant revenue driver for digital content merchants over the next few years."
It seems like every other day you hear news of a new accelerator opening it's doors, but a new gaming-focused accelerator out of Tallinn looks particularly interesting. GameFounders claims to be Europe's first gaming accelerator, and seeks to tap the knowledge of its 60+ mentors to help game-related companies build and monetize addictive games.
Finland's Startup Sauna accelerator as well as the San Francisco-based Gamedojos gaming accelerator are full partners in the program, giving the brand new accelerator slightly more weight. GameFounder is now accepting applications for it's first batch, and will provide each accepted company €10 - 15 000 per company for 9% equity.
Unlike 97% of other accelerators, GameFounders specializes“, explains Kadri Ugand, one of the co-founders. “By focusing on a niche we are able to offer more value in that niche than any unspecialized or general accelerator could.“
Tallinn, and more specifically the efficient grassroots startup ecosystem there, is putting together a conference on June 7th and 8th called Latitude59. The conference is "aimed at the startups and enterpreneurs in our region - 300 miles both sides of the latitude 59", says Priit Salumaa, one of the numerous people involved with the conference. Despite being a startup focused conference, they have created a wider focus to the program pulling in people from outside the usual internet focused startup industry.
The first day of the conference is titled Technology Alternatives and it touches on numerous topics including biotechnology, green technology as well as building the next Rovio into the region. The second day is titled Startup thinktank and flows through different panel discussions and 1:1 chats.
The list of companies accepted to the first Startup Wise Guys accelerator in Tallinn have been released.
Seven eight teams have been accepted, with three from Estonia, and one from Croatia, Ukraine, Germany, The Netherlands, and the UK. Techcrunch reports that the accelerator received over 200 applications. The program will begin the 23rd of April and will end with a Demoday June 30th in Tallinn and July 6th in London.
Here are the teams (plus one startup accepted at the last minute):
On Wednesday, some 100+ people met in Estonia to help startups develop their businesses further in a Seedcamp Tallinn event. Seedcamp's Carlos Eduardo Espinal said that it is about time the organisation came to Estonia as 6 of their investments are from just Estonia and even more from Eastern Europe. I joined the event as an observer, but also as a mentor to give my feedback to the companies.
I find myself at the venue, Tallinn's IT College, around 10 and immediately begin to wonder what makes this place so special that they have two secret service type guys directing traffic in the parking lot.
As I walk into the auditorium, I find it packed with only a few vacant seats here and there. A really good crowd, not only in numbers, but also in terms of their background and experience.
The Estonia based Garage48 is organising a music focused event in a couple of weeks in Tallinn together with the Tallinn Music Week. The event is held on the weekend between the 23rd and 25th of this month. Registration ends a week early on Sunday the 18th. The goal of the event is to make people focus on the potential of good services in the entertainment space.
Jüri Kaljundi, one of the people behind the successful events tells us "music and entertainment is our first try to do industry-specific events. We believe that the actual business problems are among the common people, non-tech crowds. Technology is just an enabler, so we want more people from other areas of life to come to the events to get their ideas executed. Focusing on real life problems is very important."
ArcticEvening Tallinn was held yesterday in the great premises of Technopolis Ülemiste. Around 100 people gathered to the event to both network and listen to a top notch presentation by William Wolfram of DealDash on startup metrics. Technopolis Ülemiste had also sponsored some snacks and drinks at the venue, which naturally helped break the ice. Wolfram gave a very packed and high quality presentation on how DealDash sees and works with metrics. What made it all the better was the personal experience he was able to share in also where they went wrong.
ArcticEvening Tallinn will be organised in just a few weeks. We've already registered about 3/4 of the tickets (overall availability is 120 tickets), but there are still some spots left for those who would want to attend. Now there's one more reason to attend - we will be giving out four free tickets to our Arctic15 event organised 17th and 18th of October. These tickets aren't the traditional one day tickets, but will actually get you into the exclusive first day of the conference. The tickets will be drawn between all those who attend the event (registration isn't enough). We will give more details on how this works by e-mail to those signed up.
Our event in Tallinn is themed around startup metrics and we have William Wolfram of DealDash share his experience how his company goes about metrics. If you want some sneak peak into how they think, listen to our audio interview with him on Unfair Advantage.
We're back with organising ArcticEvenings! This year we'll do altogether six ArcticEvenings and our annual Arctic15 conference (more on the other events soon). We will kick off our events this year with ArcticEvening Tallinn on Thursday, the 1st of March. Our theme for the event is startup metrics. We also have a really good speaker coming to present his view on startup metrics - William Wolfram of DealDash. We recently interviewed him on Unfair Advantage about the metrics they use in DealDash. Back then he said they are obsessed with metrics and data. I'm sure there will be more interesting things to hear and ask William on stage.
Allan Martinson, one of the most best known and experienced investors from Estonia (currently the founding and managing partner of MTVP), has cast concern about the amount of new accelerators and different support programs for startups. He states a valid point, that if every town and your brother has an accelerator they will fail to attract critical mass to support their functions. Martinson states that Baltics really need one big accelerator with strong financing and a strong team to make a splash in the global pond of startup activities.
There really cannot be too much discussion around this topic, and therefore we have included Allan Martinson's original statement from his public Facebook status below.
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.
The Finnish/Estonian mobile device management service, Fromdistance, was acquired on Tuesday by Tampa, Florida based Numara Software. Fromdistance was founded in 2004 and is located in Tallinn, Estonia.
Fromdistance's mobile device management software offers the ability for a company's IT to manage a fleet of wireless devices using a standard browser interface. And as the name implies, Fromdistance allows this software management to take place remotely with no physical contact. The service has been gaining popularity among IT professionals, and is even used to manage the Finnish Parliaments' range of Nokia phones for installation and application management purposes.
Every now and then we highlight a few good events people should attend to make the most of their networking, business opportunities or learning new things. There are three good conferences we believe people should watch in the coming month or so. They are Goto Conference organised in Aarhus, Denmark, Slush organised in Helsinki, Finland and StartupGarage -event organised in Tallinn, Estonia. All slightly different, but surely worth your time to check them out if they're of interest to you. Below's a short break down of each event.
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.
Hardi Meybaum, one of the co-founders of GrabCAD, gave an interesting talk at Garage48 HUB last week in Tallinn on how to raise money in the US. He also explains a few of his lessons learned in doing so in a short presentation found in the blog post on Garage48 blog.
Hardi drew three rows on the wall “This is what it all depends: social traction, product traction and team traction. If you want to raise money in US, you need to develop 3 things: your network, your product and your team.”
We organized an elevator pitch competition the other week as part of the International Technology Law Association's Fourth Annual Baltic Conference. It was the third year in a row we have thrown the pitch competition. This year we had five companies (introduced below) taking part. Flockler emerged as the winner, and the runner-up position was grabbed by Hitlantis by Cognitive Maps Ltd.
The winners and the other finalists (not in any particular order):