Lainaaja.fi (direct translation: "lender.fi") is slowly building traction in Finland. The service opened end of last year and it has attracted loans worth of tens of thousands of euros. The concept is simple. Anyone can apply for a loan on the site and lenders, regular individuals, can give offers based on the suggested terms the borrower is asking for. Essentially, it's a crowdsourced way to borrow money and for the lenders, it's a way to make money by borrowing with good rates. Most of the rates on the sites are between 15 and 20 percent, so relative to other "investing opportunities" out there, the return is good.
Netcycler is the Finland based startup that developed an online service to help people recycle their goods. In the most basic form, it helps to do this with two people who find something else they're willing to exchange their own good for. This also works on a larger scale, where you may be giving someone else your good and receiving a good from a third person. Last week, the company announced they're opening shop in UK.
Money, web and music often do not go together. A new Swedish start-up has set out to change that: Menyou offers a platform for uploading, selling and reselling audio-visual content. Anyone can upload their masterpiece onto Menyou and other users can purchase or resell it, getting a small cut from the generated profit. Every time an item is sold or resold, the artist gets most of the revenue and Manyou takes a small cut from the overall transaction. The platform was being developed since 2009 and the website's open alpha version has been live since October 2010.
Earlier this week Grey Area announced a whopping 1.9 million euro series A round from Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. This is one of the largest single rounds into the Finnish gaming companies in the recent years for sure. What makes this all the better for the whole country and Northern Europe for that matter, is that the financing came from overseas from globally respected investors. Ben Holmes from Index Ventures outlined four reasons why they invested in Grey Area. I think this is a good read for all entrepreneurs to keep in mind if they are looking for venture capital.
HeiaHeia, the Finnish originated service to help those exercising keep track of their developement, has announced the launch of their corporate white label service. The corporate version leverages features from the current service, but will be sold to clients through a SaaS-model. The launch of the corporate version will have no effect on the consumer service and it will stay free in the future as well, according to a blog post by HeiaHeia.
Fortumo seems to expand day in and day out. It was only last week when we shared news on Fortumo all set to integrate Bad Piggy Bank with Angry Birds to help Angry bird users make purchases or pay for updates via their mobile carriers. Earlier this week it had more news to share and this time it was Fortumo’s partnership with BilltoMobile.
There is a growing number of sports-related apps coming out of the Nordics and Baltics. Endomondo is one such service that has been quietly getting the world hooked on their sports-tracking app since July 2009. The app is designed for people who run, cycle, bike or do any other sports that involve movement across distances. Endomondo converts your phone into a sports tracker-cum-personal coach. Using GPS the app tracks time, distance, speed and calories burnt in real time, generates a map of the work-out route as well as provides audio feedback. Endomondo app has been downloaded more than 2M times and their website has attracted 800 000 registered users.
I want to be fully honest about this, but I'm really thrilled to be sharing information like this so openly about the venture capital business with the help of Nexit Ventures about the mathematics behind the venture capital business. While it's pretty straight forwards on a basic level, it's great to get these figures actually with comments from an actual investor. In this post, we'll look at the fundamental financials and why venture capitalists are looking for certain growth figures in the way they invest.
We've talked about Tuxera quite a long time back at Arctic Startup. The Finnish based company is the industry leader when it comes to providing NTFS, exFAT, HFS+ and other file system solutions that guarantee Windows, Mac and any electronic device interoperability. It had been quite a long time since we last talked about, hence we thought it would be good to follow up on the current situation with a brief interview. And it's good that we did - Mikko Välimäki, CEO, revealed that they multiplied their revenue 7 fold last year (which would mean it's closer to half a million euros based on the public records)*.
There has to be a bit of Skype in every communication. It might sound a bit exaggerated given that quite a massive chunk of the world is yet be online or take advantage of the latest innovations in technology for effective communication, but talking about Skype for the moment, it registered another milestone.
I'm excited to tell you that we at Grey Area have closed a € 1.9m in Series A from a really great set of investors, namely Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. These guys really understand the game space and how we want to create an entirely new category of games. Could not be happier to have them with us along with Lifeline Ventures, who have been with us ever since we raised a Seed round in 2010.
Now we're gearing up for the US launch. We hope to have Shadow Cities available on iTunes App Store in the next couple of months. We're also growing really strong, moving into new offices here in Helsinki and hiring a lot new talent to the team.
I will write a longer piece on our future plans soon, but wanted to give you the news right away. I pasted the press release below and am happy to answer any questions and discuss with you guys (Full disclosure: I'm a co-founder at ArcticStartup as well as the CEO at Grey Area)
Groupon has made coupons hot again and other players in the field are taking advantage of that. A new Finnish start-up Dealium promises to deliver best group discount deals through a mobile app that sorts the offers based on user's geolocation and preferences. In practice, it means that walking through downtown of Helsinki users could browse through group discounts relevant to their needs and purchase the deal directly through their smartphones by checking into the cafes or restaurants they prefer. The notification would also be shared with the user's Facebook friends and after completing different activities within the app, users could collect virtual points and compete with other users. The service would be launched into beta in Finland in the beginning of April.
Ever since Nokia announced their decision to join Microsoft in their smart phone strategy numerous sites and people have been writing about the ups and downs of the agreement. However, most if not all of these people are outside the company. Adam Greenfield is a former Nokia designer who worked at the company for 2 years. Since he left, he hasn't touched on Nokia in his blog posts, but this changed a few days ago. He wrote a lengthy post on his observations and thoughts about the company.
It's a fascinating read. Not only for the fact that he has written it as a former employee, but as a designer - a perspective of development Nokia has been publicly questioned to lack when compared to other key players in the industry.
Angry Birds has been on the iOS devices as well as the Android platform for quite long now and reports are that Rovio is in works to bring this to the Windows Phone 7 devices. A bit surprising to me why they haven’t given the Microsoft’s mobile platform a thought earlier? Maybe it was Microsoft alone that had kept the Angry Birds from coming any sooner. We won’t dwell into this side of conversation and will simply stick to the news.
GigsWiz, the Finnish startup that launched last year as what we all would call a fan and artist friendly ticketing service has sailed across the European continent into the US. The startup offers bands tools to manage and collect requests from fans, also providing them with an extensive analytics on what friends want to hear and where.
We have been speculating over Yandex's potential IPO ever since Mail.ru filed for theirs last autumn. Those predictions seem to be coming true: Yandex plans $1 billion IPO on NASDAQ June-July this year, reports Vedomosti (tipped by Quintura). The company has already hired Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank to manage the process. No other details were revealed about the news. Yandex controls 65% of all search engine traffic in Runet and this January the company reported a 43% increase in their revenue. That puts Yandex's annual revenue for 2010 at $410M (88% came from contextual advertising).
We had reported about the lawsuit against Web of Trust (WOT) last week and had mentioned that we will be inquiring Vesa Perälä, CEO of WOT about the same. While talking about the lawsuit alone would have been a repetition, hence we thought of providing a well rounded information on WOT as well. I was quite impressed with its growth, its community is expected to grow to 50 million by the end of the current year.
Angry Birds is making a ton of money off its mobile games. However, a natural extension to sales at this level is to license the characters and other material for merchandising. This is tricky as there are surely companies out there to try and leverage the products without proper licenses. However, one could argue this spreads the knowledge and brand further even though it doesn't bring a dime to Rovio's pocket. Below are a few interesting products and creations inspired by Rovio's Angry Birds, collected by Toxel. Some may be licensed, but others may not - whichever the case, these surely bring a smile to your face.
Last week Vkontakte quietly removed it's open registration policy - you can now create an account only through an invitation. It was announced on the company blog that only users that have tied their accounts to their mobile phones would be able to send invites to new users. Supposedly the new invite system makes the registration simpler and safer. Simpler because when inviting someone you can already indicate their name, birthday and school, making it easier for non-tech-savvy users to create an account. Safer because it reduces the number of fake accounts and bots entering the system. So is Vkontakte aiming for exclusivity all of a sudden or is there something more to it?
Last November we had guest post from the CEO Signom, Ossi Marko, based on their lessons learned in pricing. I like the product a lot and what it's accomplishing so I thought it would make sense to get back in touch with them about their progress and how their go-to-market is working out. Despite being a simple service, a digital method for signing your documents, there are many industries and companies who could take advantage of the service on an enterprise level.