Venture Cup Idea Competition in Denmark is an annual business idea competition that takes place at the end of the calendar year. The winners are chosen early next year in five categories: applied technology, cleantech, lifesciences, services and software. The winner in each category receives 25 000 DKK (roughly 3,300€) to kick-start their project. Essentially, the competition is an instrument to reveal the most promising business ideas in the various sectors and help them take the first steps in realizing them. We looked at the technology companies that made it to the final to discover the new innovation coming from Denmark in 2011.
Web of Trust or WOT, the safe surfing software that protects surfers from malicious links, spyware and spam is growing bigger by the day. WOT achieved another milestone on 28th January, 2011 when it announced the registration of its 2 millionth users. Web of Trust had only recently released the WOT plugin for WordPress.
Big day yesterday for Applifier as the cross promotion bar on the popular social network, Facebook closed $2 Million in seed funding and announced its expansion into web based gaming as well. We reported just a couple of weeks back of its plans for expanding into the Silicon Valley, speculating what news it might have for us by spring. All those news are important, but there's another worthwhile mention; the addition of the retargeting to Applifier's cross promotion bar.
BrightArch is a Norwegian based software company that developed a service called OrganizationWeaver. The service is used in large corporations during restructures/staffing changes and an aide to change management. Basically what that means is that large corporations can use the software to help them guide through large mergers or downsizings of companies where you can't simply continue working as previously when the staff is cut in half or doubled. Until now, the company has been financed by the founders. Kima Ventures led the round and was completed by BrightArch's new board of directors. They consist of Scandinavian and UK business executives.
Starduck Studios is a Finnish startup developing Intoloop Kids, a service that enables parents to share their children's memories easily and securely. The three founding members, Henri Liljeroos, Pekka Mattila and Petri Hiissa love Macs, believe in paleotholitc diet and swear by pomodoro method.
Rdio, an on-demand music streaming service from the Skype founders, took one more important step in the race for the hearts, minds and wallets of music-lovers. We wrote previously about the impressive team behind the start-up and their close ties to the four major music labels. On top of that influential human capital, this week Rdio added some monetary capital to advance their business - they closed a $17.5M funding round from new and existing investors. The money will go towards spreading the service to new platforms and new regions as well as for further R&D. How significant is this investment for the company and its competitors?
Last week we broke the news that Sanoma had acquired the Finnish based coupon site Offerium. We promised to dig a little deeper into this and see what the motives and actual tricks of trade behind the deal were. Oskari Lehtonen was one of the co-founders of the company and we turned to him with a few questions about the acquisition itself.
Online shopping is not exactly a very new idea but it is definitely one of those areas that has seen quite a lot of innovation and implementation of newer ideas over time. It started with services like Amazon, eBay, Craigslists, etc and has continued to expand with newer services. Leveraging the same idea Shooples has made it out as the latest startup from Denmark as an online webstore provider.
Who doesn’t want to be a part of a big brand, that is revolutionary, transforming a certain aspect of your life and connects you to millions of users anywhere across the globe? Everyone does, and Skype is definitely one of those brands. Over a 100 million active users, utilizing the communication tool for personal and professional use. And guess what Skype is adding more opportunities for passionate people to be a part of it.
The Mobile World Congress 2011 in February is a definite event to keep an eye on, especially when there is some interesting news associated to the Android based smartphones. There is definitely the same level excitement for quite some innovation in the mobile category but Rightware has plans to make display on Android phones, visually more pleasing.
If you have ever ordered something online or had to send a package, you know how time-consuming a trip to a post office is. Restricted working hours, queues and loads of hassle. An Estonian start-up Cleveron (former SmartPost) set out to change that by launching a network of automated parcel terminals all across Estonia. The terminals consist of a series of lockers: when you receive a parcel you get a text message with the location of the terminal and a unique code to access the locker. Since terminals are often located in shopping centres with long opening hours, you are free to pick up your package at any suitable time. The system works in a similar way if you want to send a package. Cleveron has been operating in Estonia since 2009 but last year the network with it's brand name SmartPost was sold to Finnish Post (Itella Corporation). Cleveron's team kept all the know-how and are expanding their services to Russia, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Twingly, the Swedish startup which started off as Technorati for the European market has been quite a regular mention at Arctic Startup. It is in news once again as Twingly shifts gears towards group communication and microblogging. The shift changes quite a bit compared to what it had been doing earlier; social aggregation.
The news broke out today that Applifier has closed $2M in seed funding. The investors include MHS Capital, PROfounders Capital, Tekes, Lifeline Ventures, and angel investors Jyri Engeström, David Gardner and Lars Stenfeldt Hansen. The terms of the investment were not disclosed. Applifier is also announcing today that they have expanded their ad network into the web gaming space - where pain points are similar to that of Facebook; the market is fragmented, user acquisition costs are high and its becoming expensive to get users. We talked to Jussi Laakkonen about the expansion and they see huge opportunities in the space.
AdAge published an article where it interviews the Mighty Eagle, Peter Vesterbacka, about an Angry Birds promotion that will take place during Super Bowl. Super Bowl is one of the most sought after places to market products and services, but also one of the most expensive. 20th Century Fox and Rovio will be promoting the film Rio in Super Bowl with a promotional code for the game itself. The promotional code, according to AdAge is visible in freeze frames, requiring viewers to stop and view the ad in slow motion.
Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, published its figures for 2010 a few days ago. In the figures are listed all the companies who received government funding, aka tax payer money, to grow their businesses. All in all, there were over 2200 companies who received funding of more than 380 million euros.
The sad part of the equation is that Finnish tax payers funded publicly listed companies with more than 40 million euros last year. This is money, the companies should budget from their own assets or turn to the markets for more financing. For comparison, the Vigo accelerator programme received 42 million euros of funding for its full tenure of three years.
Last year Russia saw three new shopping clubs and e-commerce website launches, one of which was acquired for several millions by Groupon. To get a more comprehensive view of Russia's e-commerce landscape today, here is a handy timeline of the leading web companies that have shaped the market over the years.
Nokia Growth Partners is the leading investor in the latest financing round for Voddler, a video streaming service for the Nordics. Back in September, Elisa, a Finnish operator received approximately 10% of Voddler's stock for 40 million Swedish kronor. Back then, the company was valued at approximately 30 million euros.
75 million downloads translates more than just success. I might label this start to a post as a mere dramatization of a blog post but Rovio’s Angry Birds deserves credit for this. Why? The game has caught attention on every platform; the iPhone, Android, expanding to PCs and Macs, board games and even planning up for an animated series.
Team management is quite a nightmare and it gets awfully problematic when your team members use the Internet to communicate. Quick communication, an eye on the what the plan or upcoming events are for the next few weeks prove a bit difficult. There are quite some services on the Web that help ease the task in the form of Yammer, Toggle, etc but there is always room for one more. PlannerHQ is another collaboration tool for team planning and event management coming from Toggle.
SeriesSeed.fi is perhaps one of the greatest startup related initiatives Finland has seen in a while. The site, put together by passionate individuals, gives away free of charge basic, standardized legal documents for startups. The documents cover the share holders agreement, term sheet and an investment agreement. Finland is a pioneer on this front as similar documents have been made available for the public only in a few startup hubs, such as Y-Combinator and TechStars. One of the key influencers of the SeriesSeed.fi documents are the SeriesSeed.com documents from the US.