A few weeks ago we published an article where Fortune hinted at possible talks between Nokia and Google with regards to Android. Today Mobile-Review has written about Nokia's potential talks with Microsoft about extending their alliance. In the talks, according to Eldar Murtazin, the writer behind the Mobile-Review article, Nokia's new leadership has had talks with Microsoft for about 2 months now regarding the possibilities to further extend their partnership. The talks are not only around exchange of technology, but possibly creating an entire line of Windows phones.
Since the dawn of man, when we first started walking upright, humans have been curious about the world around them. This desire to understand, to learn, drove explorers to visit new lands, the invention of novel ways to communicate across vast distances, and more recently, during the past few centuries, it gave birth to the news industry. Before the internet the only way to find out about what was going on in your little town was to ask around or pick up a copy of the local newspaper. Then radio and television came along, and that too helped people make better use of the city that they called home. With the internet however, we broke all that. The "global village" was created, was then hyped in the late 90s, crashed miserably, and from the ashes rose the "web 2.0" culture where everyone was told that what they have to say is important, critical in fact, to the future success of the medium. That unhealthy attitude ruined the way we consume and create news.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Teemu Lang from Papula Nevinpat, a company focusing on industrial property rights - patents, trademarks and designs.
I have now worked for about a decade with high-tech startups that are heavily dependent on protecting their core technology with the tools provided by the global Intellectual Property system. I must say that I am more and more intrigued about the eagerness of some companies to file a great number of patent applications in proportion to their revenue at the outset. Admittedly, the companies in question are operating in such special fields of high technology where patenting is key to the company’s survival. I cannot nevertheless help thinking that this filing frenzy may be more related to the fact that the company is at a startup phase than to the field in which the company operates.
Earlier this week we broke the 400 000 euro investment round that Valkee managed to close from some of the top tier angels around. Talouselämä, a Finnish weekly publication, has stated that the investment event that took place this week into Valkee has valued the company at 4 million euros. Esther Dyson, Anssi Vanjoki, Jyri Engeström and Lifeline Ventures received 10% of the company for their 400 000 euro investment. In total, there were six individuals and organisations who invested into the company.
Last night lots of updates came in through Twitter and Facebook that the latter may have enabled its places service here in Finland and Sweden. Facebook Places is a similar location based service like Foursquare and Gowalla, but it doesn't have any game mechanics built into it. The venues are also better integrated into Facebook's own platform. The service was announced earlier this year available in the US, UK and Japan. It also works in many European countries currently. Last night some users on iPhones and Androids were able to check in to venues in Finland and Sweden. The situation has changed for some in Finland, but reportedly still works.
The Kinetik, a Danish StartupBootCamp company, is offering cross promotion advertising on mobile apps. The concept is very much similar to that of Applifier's. The Kinetik offers tools for developers to attract new users to their apps for free. The company is able to offer free visitors as developers also advertise other apps in their own. For each installed app through the advertising, developers will receive credits minus the commision by The Kinetik.
Last night I came home to read some news that Finland is considering adding a copyright tariff on external hard drives. A similar tariff is added to all different empty media, in this case empty CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes and so on. Now, the Finnish parliament is discussing the possibility of adding this tariff to all external hard drives. It's plain stupidity that will offer artists comfort for a year or so, before it begins to both hurt them and businesses selling hard disks.
Jenkatehdas is a music start-up from Finland that's been operating in stealth mode for about nine months but publicly released their service this September. The company describes itself as a Finland's first online rock venue: they host exclusive live concerts in a rented studio and stream it in real time. The audience needs to purchase tickets to be able to view the show (4-5€) and can interact with the band by signing into the chat room on the website using Facebook credentials. Yesterday Jenkatehdas streamed their second third concert ever with Jukka Poika & Sound Explosion Band. Antti Eronen, founder and CEO, did not disclose the number of people watching the show but said he was "really happy with the number of tickets sold, since they were in triple digits". Most of the viewers stayed for over 50% of the show. All the more impressive given that the show was targeted primarily for the Finnish audience (all ads were in Finnish and the band is best known in Finland) and that the start-up is mere months old.
Cherry.ee, the largest Estonian Groupon-kind site, had a big offer on earlier this week. They were selling Estonian Air travel vouchers worth 1000 EEK (64,30 euro) for 600 EEK (38,60 euro). They sold over 6500 vouchers, before they had to stop as it was a little bit too much for Estonian Air. Despite the early stop in sales, they plan to do another flash sale next year.
I interviewed Martin Koppel, the CEO of Fortumo, about the recent deal they did with Rovio. As the story of Fortumo might be somwhat unknown, we also discussed the backgrounds of how Fortumo got started, who invested into them and where they are now. Fortumo is a mobile payments company that has had a very different approach and positioning into the issue of mobile payments. Where as the Western markets are filled with competitors, Fortumo targeted more emerging markets where smartphone usage is soaring and app developers want to monetize their creations.
MyCash, a new start-up from Latvia, has launched a service that helps manage personal finances. Setting financial goals and budgets, receiving timely alerts on bills, finding savings and seeing your spending all in one secure place. Sounds familiar? No wonder - that's exactly what Mint does in US and Canada. Latvian MyCash is not as comprehensive a servivce as Mint, but it's clearly trying to get there. Unlike Mint that directly monitors your bank accounts, you'd have to put every spending and income manually into MyCash. The interface is not as smooth as Mint's but it does not have any obvious flows either: it's clean and simple. MyCash is only available in Latvia, in Latvian and Russian languages only.
Valkee, the startup that is developing an ear light solution to curing seasonal affecting disorder (SAD), has closed a 400 000 euro investment round from many well known investors. Some names include the world renown Esther Dyson, Nokia's former director Anssi Vanjoki as well as Jyri Engeström a Jaiku co-founder as well as Lifeline Ventures. To add to all the success, Valkee has also received a special mention in the Finnish INNOSUOMI 2010 -competition.
As the year's coming to an end - we'd like to take a minute of your time to answer our reader survey. The survey is short and we'd very much value if you had a minute or two to go through it. In doing so, you'll be helping us a lot in understanding what kind of content you'd like us to cover in 2011 and how. The survey is available until the 26th of December.
Image by Marco Bellucci
Guidepal is a Swedish startup that offers city guide apps for Android, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry devices. The guides are free to download and use, and contain information about sights and attractions, places to go, shopping etc. typical things you might expect from city guides.
The guides are produced by Guidepal's local city experts and writers around the world. There is currently an app for 27 different cities. Guidepal aims to differentiate from the traditional travel guides by supporting a number of digital platforms, and trying to offer wider and more relevant content than other services.
While Finland has been one of the countries publicly to be noted for its gracious innovation support systems, many have wondered how all these investments and expenditures can be afforded. The simple truth is - we can't. The private Research Institute Of The Finnish Economy, Etla, has published a set of essays from the sharpest economists Finland has, that demand drastic changes to the way innovation is currently financed. While it is the lifeline of startups and growth companies, I'd argue many if not almost all would agree.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Ville Peltola the Innovation Director of IBM Finland. They are developing a lot of interesting things that startups and entrepreneurs should know. This post has not been paid for.
Not many people think about IBM and startups in the same sentence. We want to change this and that is why we launched the IBM Global Entrepreneur program earlier this year. IBM has also several internal startups operating inside IBM. We'll explain this later in the post.
I wanted to talk to Nexit Ventures, as the year is about to come to an end, about the differences between angel investors and venture capital - how should the entrepreneur view the changing financial market, as well as what are some of the basic rules in deciding which of the alternatives in financing should the entrepreneur go for. We came up with five basic rules that differentiate angels from venture capital. Naturally these are simply generalisations and there are exceptions as always.
For those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, watching how new technologies enabled us to do things that people only dreamed about half a century ago, and then having a front row seat to the transformation that the web has gone through during the 00s, we're now beginning to witness a regression in progress that isn't brought about by what the machines and infrastructure of today are capable of achieving, but instead by the increasing complexity of doing business on the internet and defining what actually has value and what's painfully worthless.
As far as web conferences go, French LeWeb is the biggest happening in Europe so far. With an average ticket price hovering around 1700 EUR, it attracted 3000 participants this year. The guests ranged from Google, Facebook and Twittter executives to latest start-ups from around the world to investors to students and loads of press. Apart from hosting presentations and discussions with dot.com gurus, the conference is known for being a great place to network. How to justify this exquisite but costly experience for a Nordic or Baltic start-up? Depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s publicity you’re after but you’re not part of the Startup Competition, I’d recommend against going to Le Web. The size of the conference is so big that chances of being noticed are quite low. Not impossible but low.
Nordic Game Program has last week granted 3 million Danish Kronor (about 400 000 euros) to seven gaming companies. 136 applications were received and the jury awarded seven companies with the no strings attached grants. The companies also represented the Nordics in a good way, they came from Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Denmark.